Sunday, December 10, 2017

Roman Tiles - Part 3

Back in August (wow….4 months ago) I posted about starting a new quilt based on a tile church floor from Rome.   The last thing that I wrote was that I wasn’t happy with the background fabric and that I was going to start over.   I finally got around to it again and here is where we are now…….


Now that is a loaded question.   I don’t WANT to start over but  I know that I will be happier with the project if I do, so reluctantly I chose the “yes” button!!

Since I had a chance to make it even better, I decided to start with the background fabric, this time using a PFD (Prepared For Dyeing) cotton and a new pot of paint…..


After it dried, there were a few whiter spaces that needed to be painted so I used a sponge and added more color.  This was the final product…..


With the first version, I was using freezer paper patterns to lay out the quilt but had a fear that, since I hadn’t laid out the ENTIRE pattern, I would get to the last corner and it simply wouldn’t fit.  So I used this reset to do it right.   I drew out the entire pattern using white pencils and was pleased to see that it would fit well on the background…..


I started again with the center circle and then added the first corner piece…..


My plan is to work the one round in each of the corners and then go back a fill in the rest of the sections.  So, here goes…….

I added the other three corner circles, fairly pleased with how it was looking…..IMG_4522

But, when I got it up on the wall I could see that the bottom left circle was too dark and would get lost in the background fabric.   I peeled off some of the darker fused triangles, replacing them with lighter colors.   I was happier with the result…..


….but it really started to look good when I added the first circles of “setting stones”…..


The bottom right circle is the same color as the others but apparently had more light from the nearby window!!!!

It was about here that I went to the Houston show and came back with my newfound desire to focus on the details of my work, so I made some decision which have slowed the project down a great deal but which I hope will help the overall design.  My original idea was to fuse all of the pieces onto the background, set it up for quilting and use the quilting to hold each of the pieces down.  But then I got to thinking that I really wanted to “tiles” to float on the background and for the background to recede.  If I quilted on TOP of the tiles then the edges would be receding too.   So the decision was made to stitch each of the tile pieces down first and then just do the quilting on the “grout” portion.  It has taken an amazing amount of time to stitch each of those little pieces down but I am still happy that I have made that change.

At one point I had thought about getting all of the pieces fused in place before I started the sewing process but had noticed that some of the smaller ones were starting to peel off so I stopped and sewed them all down.

During this sewing process I started noticing that some of the fabrics were already beginning to fray so I decided to prolong the project further by painting around EACH and EVERY piece with Fray Check.  Fortunately it was something that I could do at night while watching TV with Michael……IMG_4544

So now I have stabilized every piece that was already fused down and I am ready to tackle the inner circle of each of the larger circles.   I am going to make my life a bit easier and go ahead and paint fray check around each piece edge BEFORE it is fused to the top and I will also force myself to persevere and sew each section down as I finish it.

More to come….and hopefully it wont take another FOUR months!!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Other People’s Money and Other fun things!!

Today, I drove to Atlanta with my friend Linda to help her pick out a new sewing machine.   She had used my Juki and really liked it so off we went to buy one for her.  While she was trying out the new machine, I did some looking around (which is always a bad idea)!!

I was excited to find a set of nested circle machine quilting rulers…..IMG_4663

As soon as I got home I had to try them out!!!   Each ruler is 1/4 inch wide and they were fairly easy to use.  Here are my first attempts…..


Yes, there are a few wobbles and one where I simply quit and started over, but for the most part I am happy with them.  The individual  rulers are a bit slippery so I may need to find some VERY small pieces of grippy stuff (the technical name) to hold them in place better.

The guidelines were drawn in place using a tool that I bought at Houston…..IMG_4665

While I was there, I also invested in a sampler pack of rulers put out by Westalee…..


It came with 6 different rulers that can be used to made an infinite number of different designs…IMG_4666

Since I was already in “play mode” I pulled out the petal ruler and gave it a try as well…..IMG_4668

Before I could try any others, I ran out of bobbin thread (sigh) and, besides, it was time to fix dinner order pizza, so I reluctantly put my play things away!!

But, the good news is that tomorrow I am free until the all-important football game at 4:00  (University of Georgia vs Auburn University) ….GO DAWGS, so the plan is to spend most of that time in the studio!!!

Hope your weekend includes some creative time as well……

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

International Quilt Festival–Final Roundup

Now, almost three weeks later, it is time to finish up my posts about IQF.   I found the show to be amazing and encouraging and I came away with tons of ideas and thoughts about my future in quilting.   The main thought that kept coming to my mind was the need to concentrate more  on the details and to spend the time needed to finish a project strong!!

Here are a few of my favorite quilts……

This quilt by Caryl Bryer Fallert was part of the Tactile Architecture exhibit……IMG_4098

… were these two by Jill Kertula…..IMG_4273


I was mesmerized by the interplay of photographs and fabric… much movement!!!

I have seen this quilt by Olga Gonzalez-Angulo in magazines but the photos did nothing to show just how amazing it was…..IMG_4190

Of course this is just another photo so I guess that I am not helping you too much!!!

This piece by Jan Reed called “The End of the Drought” was very evocative…..IMG_4264

There were several pieces that were reminiscent of the Zentangle movement including this piece by Mikyung Jang……IMG_4293

Our four-legged friends were well represented as well.   I loved this fun quilt by Hiroko Miyama aptly named “You Know What?”…..


…and this quilt by Lea McComas entitled “Cruisin” just stole my heart…..IMG_4308

As a side note, when I showed my daughter this quilt she immediately started sending me photos of her German Shorthair Pointer with hints that she would LOVE a quilt of Riley!!

And, this little guy looked like he would crawl right off of the wall (by Tonya Littmann)….IMG_4326

There were some interesting uses of fabric in this piece by Soyoung Chung…..IMG_4340

When you moved in closer you could see the many layers of fabrics that were used to perfect the tree trunks…..IMG_4339

In the portrait quilt gallery, this piece by Gillian Shearer, entitled “Did you see that"?” was one of my favorites……


As far as shopping went, I enjoyed walking thru the vendors and watching their demonstrations but didn’t purchase too much.   There were some threads from Superior and some Machine Quilting Rulers that I would have had to order from Australia and a few other small bits and bobs.  But, as I often tell shop owners, what I really need is a 30-35 hour day!!!

Before I end this post, I want to give a big shout-out to my sweet husband who encouraged me to go on the trip even though it came at a rough time for him, and another shout-out to Linda, my very special friend and traveling companion!!


So, now I am back home and deep in the midst of Holidays, decorating, working and the other parts of life that somehow manage to steal my quilting time, but I am working hard to find time for this wonderful creative outlet…..I hope that you can do the same!!!!


Monday, November 20, 2017

International Quilt Festival–Ricky Timms seminar

When I started thinking about classes to take at IQF, I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to do anything that would mean carrying a bunch of supplies with me.  Also, I was going to the show for inspiration and not really for new techniques. So, when I saw the Ricky Timms seminar called “Dream It, Design It, Make It”, I knew that it was for me. 

And, I was not disappointed.   He spent his three hours showing us some basic design elements and techniques and encouraging us to go forth and create….just what I needed to hear.

He first began talking about Skills and Technical Excellence.  He defined “technical excellence “ as how well you did what you INTENDED to do!!  He also commented that intuition can take you so far in the creative process and when you have exhausted it then the technical knowledge kicks in.   How many times have I seen that in my work!!!

Next he worked thru the various elements that make up a quilt, starting with LINE.  His comment here was that it was the artist’s job to control the viewer and that the use of lines was an excellent way to do that.

Then came SHAPE with him hypothesizing that shape is more powerful than color.   To demonstrate this, he told us that when we saw the next slide we were to shout out what color it was.  The only problem was that the shape of the object said BLUE but it was printed in RED.   Almost all of us immediately said “Blue” but then quickly changed our answer to “Red”.

The third element was VALUE.  I loved his comment that “color gets the credit but value does the work”.  He encouraged us to spend time in the areas of our quilt that contain contrast (and interest) and not to sweat the other areas of the quilt as no one will be looking there anyway!!!

Fourth was TEXTURE, which he called the “surface character”.   He further defined this by saying that it doesn’t have to be touchable with our hands but can be touched with our eyes.

The last two elements were SPACE (positive and negative) and FORM (has height, depth and width).

In the second hour he moved into the principles of organization which he reminded were only guidelines and NOT laws…..

Harmony  -  glues all of the parts together

Variety  -  the counterweight to Harmony

Contrast  -  change and shift size and color

Elaboration  -  Embellish, embellish, embellish!!

Balance  -  Symmetrical, asymmetrical or radial

Proportion  -  keeping things in scale, although whimsy is created when things are out of proportion.

Dominance & Emphasis  -  Make what is important…..IMPORTANT

Movement  -  takes the viewer on a journey

Economy  -  Keep it simple and go back to basics.  As Leonardo daVinci said….“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”

My favorite quote of the entire workshop is that he loves the dialog between himself and his design wall……what a great way to think of it!!

He ended the workshop with an encouragement for us to look at the things that keep us creating and the things that hinder our creativity, and then he told us to go home and BE CREATIVE!!!

On that note, I met Linda again and we hit the floor again to see what we could see…..IMG_4471

The show was divided into a lot of smaller exhibits.  One of our favorites was by Danny Amazonas, a magnificent fiber artist from Japan.  The first quilt that we saw was this HUGE Koi pond…..


We walked around the corner and saw even more wonderful pieces…..



….and my all time favorite……


Now, technically they were not quilts as they just had a backing and no batting, but the way that he used the fabrics was astounding.  I also loved that he used only commercial fabrics and I could point to many that I owned as well.   He finished the top with what looked like a free motion zig-zag stitch done with monofilament thread.  If you google his name there are several videos showing his work in progress.

The other exhibit that I loved was the Cherrywood Fabric “Van Gogh” challenge.   The rules were as follows…..

Most of the quilt top had to use the official VAN GOGH blues and black Cherrywood fabrics. Accent colors of Cherrywood were allowed. The  entire quilt top and binding had to be made from Cherrywood Fabric and was to be 20 inches square.  Any technique or fabric manipulation was acceptable as long as it maintained the color and character of a textile quilt.  

The results were magnificent…..


….and of course I was drawn to the sunflower…..IMG_4162

I excitedly looked to see what the next challenge is and found a bundle of royal purple fabrics……Image of The PRINCE Challenge

….but the theme is “Prince”.  Not being much of a Prince fan I am not sure that I will participate but I will definitely keep an eye out for future challenges!  My friend Deb has encouraged me to go ahead and buy the fabric just in case inspiration strikes!!!

I spent much of my time studying the exquisite machine quilting that was shown.  The texture that can be achieved is so exciting…..IMG_4180




This quilt by Kristin Vierra called “Star of India” was magnificent…..


….as was “Wickedly Green” by Debora Poole…..


I left this exhibit with LOTS of ideas for making a whole cloth quilt!!!

One final comment for the day….. I spent quite a bit of time with Cynthia England, author of the book “Picture Piecing”…..

I have been enamored with her quilts for many years but never thought that I would be able to pull off the technique.  But, she very patiently demonstrated her technique and answered a myriad of questions which increased my excitement about trying it sometime.   She posed in front of my absolute favorite of her quilts……


I left her booth with a new found respect for her!!!IMG_4397

Linda had a class that afternoon so we met up again at 5:00 and headed out to find someplace to eat.   The only problem was that a parade to honor the World Series Champion Houston Astros had just ended and approximately 1 MILLION Houstonians were downtown as well so finding someplace with a wait time of less than 3 hours was a bit of a challenge.  We finally stopped at a McAlister’s Deli and spent a fun evening sitting outside and watching the city of Houston walk past!!

One day left……

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Highlights of the International Quilt Festival–Machine Quilting Forum

After doing a quick view of the quilts on the opening night, I woke up early on Thursday morning ready to start getting serious about the show.   I began the morning with my first class….the Machine Quilting Forum.  I had no idea exactly what this would be like but ended up enjoying three very informative hours. 

The session began with each of six women giving a short talk, telling us how they came to be a quilter and what had influenced their art over the years.  We then split into groups and spent 20 minutes with each quilter and learned some amazing things…..

My first session was with Cathy Wiggins who specializes in quilting on LEATHER and boy did she get my attention quickly…..IMG_4194

Being a cowgirl at heart, her work made my head spin!!  And, the thought of collaborating with Michael in some of his leather work just seemed too good to be true.  She gave us some basic information and told us that she has a book coming out in March….  “Quilting Leather on Any Machine”.  And yes, she does all of this work on a regular home sewing machine!!  She said that the only requirement was that you use a “leather needle” which actually cuts a hole in the leather rather than just pushing it thru like a fabric needle does.  I loved the textures that she could get from the leather…..IMG_4197

And I have to admit that I have already bought some needles and given it a try with some of Michael’s leftover leather scraps.  I am thinking that his leather is a bit too thick for the job but I have pre-ordered her book and cant wait to have a full-fledged try with it in the Spring.  The most daunting thing about the process is that, because the needle actually cuts a hole into the leather, you cant make a mistake because it will show…..YIKES!!

Cathy had one quilt in the show itself, a piece called “Another Day”……IMG_4289

All too soon the bell sounded and it was time to move on to Patt Blair who talked about ways to make “knife-edge” facings to your art quilts, and just look at her magnificent quilts…..  IMG_4199

Her biggest trick is that she does some stay-stitching at various points of the process and also trims extremely close to the edge of the piece.   Her technique is described in detail on her blog at  I will definitely remember it the next time I am finishing up a quilt!!

The next session was with Nancy Goldsworthy who talked about “The Art of the Pantograph”.  It was obviously designed more for long-arm quilters although she did talk about using the pantograph on a home machine by piercing it and using a pouncer to chalk in a design.  My favorite thing with her was her encouragement to stop and play and to break the rules!!!  Sometimes we need to hear those things!!!

Next was Jenny Lyon who talked about “Finessing your Free Motion Quilting – Small Changes = Big Results”.  And, based on the pieces that she had hanging behind her, she knows what she is talking about…..IMG_4203

Her basic message was to pay attention to some of the routine choices that you make when working on a quilt and then see how much difference they make.  There were two things that she said that stuck with me.  The first was what batting to use.  I have to admit that I tend to use the easiest one around, which in my case is a fusible from Hobbes.  I know that I really should try different ones, but often it just seems easier to use what I am used to.   Maybe I can branch out one of these days!!!   The other thing that she talked about was basting and this is really the reason that I love the fusible so much.    You dont have ANY pins to dodge when you are quilting  AND you dont have to use a messy spray.   However, her basting method might just work.   She pin bastes on a grid and then uses water soluble thread (top and bobbin) to stitch between the pins.  Once that is done she removes the pins and is able to work on the basted piece with worrying about pins.  And, the water soluble thread easily washes out…..hmmmm…something to think about!!

The 5th session was with RaNae Merrill who has just come out with a book called “Free Motion Mastery”.  Her teaching approach focuses on 6 basic shapes (straight line, C-Curve, Circle, Teardrop, S-Curve and spiral), with the assumption that once you have mastered those, you can easily quilt almost any design around.  The one tip that I really liked from her was to practice the design you are about to quilt by drawing in the air or on a table, but holding both hands together just like you would at the machine.


She suggests holding a small acrylic ruler in your hands or even just a piece of clear acetate with a dot drawn on it.   I can really see how this would build muscle memory and hopefully make it easier to quilt some of the designs.

My last session of the morning was with Catherine Redford, a spunky English lady who does some amazing modern quilts and does almost entirely straight line quilting…..IMG_4211

She had a couple of interesting tips.   The first was to run a stiletto down a seam before stitching in the ditch.  She said that it helped to open the seam and make it easier to keep the stitching in the right place.   Now, the other tip was one that I shouldn’t have to be TOLD but….. have you ever used masking tape to mark straight lines?  I have tried it and always got frustrated because I would accidently stray onto the tape and then I had a big mess to deal with.   She reminded us that we didn’t have to sew RIGHT next to the tape but could use it as a guide and stitch a 1/4 inch away from the edge…..DUH!!!

After I got out of class I met up with Linda and we decided to hit a few rows of vendors!!  My first purchase was this cute batik piece…..


I am not sure exactly why it called to me, but I cant wait to layer it up and have some fun with quilting it!!!

After a while, we ended back at the quilt show end of the auditorium.  Here are a few of my favorites……

The piecing was amazing in “Red and White Stars”, made by a group of women from the Austin area…..


The most amazing thing about the quilt is the fact that it was made by a GROUP of women….how did they ever get such complicated blocks to fit together so well!!!

There was a wonderful exhibit called “Made in New Mexico” and this quilt kept calling me back over for another look……IMG_4230

It was titled “Old Blue” by Michelle Jackson and was made with fusible applique.  On one of my passes by the quilt I finally noticed that it had a tulle layer over the applique…..IMG_4234

This is a technique that I have been wanting to try so looked at this quilt with even more appreciation!!

We spoke to the maker of this quilt, Karlyn Lohrenz, for a long time.  It was part of an exhibit featuring just her work and she seemed completely overwhelmed that her work was in such prominence at the show.  IMG_4238

Ok….enough for now…..more to come!!!!

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