Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Birds! Birds!

That's Mrs Goodneedle on the right, who drove all the way from North Carolina to take my class at Quilted Threads. (OK, it was really to visit her mother, on the left, but still.) They two ladies had a great time.

 Karen wanted her bird to be reminiscent of a Cardinal. I would never have thought of using a striped fabric like that. Great job Karen!

I usually make bright birds, but this bird from subdued fabrics that Kathy made is absolutely stellar!

Margot shopped for "wingy fabric" during the lunch break, and made a fabulous bird.

This is Barb's bird. "Next time I make one of these," she said, "I'm going to put the bird legs closer to the bird breast. This guy looks like he could fall over." It's a good observation, and would be an easy fix on this pretty terrific bird.

Here's Ricia with her finished butterfly and bird.

Sarah worked hard to make sure her bird was absolutely perfect.

Everybody in the class worked hard and we all had fun.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Asterisk Flowers!

My class at Quilted Threads on Saturday was a success, even though I made the egregious error of forgetting to bring the fabric cutting list handout to class.  Oops. Sorry ladies! Won't make that mistake again.

There were eight students in the class, and although they each made at least one asterisk flower, butterfly, bird and heart, I didn't get pictures of everything. Here are some of the students with their finished asterisk flowers.

Margot was so excited to make the asterisk flower, she forgot to insert the center in the final strip before she sewed it together. She was still very happy, as you can see.

Kathy has taken each of my classes and made a terrific asterisk flower. Millie agreed.

Karen was overjoyed to finish her asterisk flower.

Ricia didn't have enough hands to show off her butterfly, bird and asterisk flower, and I, like a putz, chopped off her head in the photo! You'll see her later, when I show off the birds everybody made.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Homage to Many Squares

Here's a complicated looking design that really isn't.
I've got five different purple fabrics. Each of these WOF strips are 1-1/2". The cream strips are 2" wide.

I've sewn them all together with a 1/4" seam.

Cut the big strip crosswise into 1-1/2" strips.

Sew the strips into pairs, offsetting the rows by one unit.

And on and on until I've sewn all the strips together.

I pressed the strips to one side, one at a time, and very carefully.

 The end result is a series of graduated colored squares on point.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Not Yet Hip To Be Square

You know how there's something you SHOULD be doing, but you can't stop yourself from doing something else?  Well, that's what happened here.  All the top and bottom cream strips are 2" wide (except for that one between the orange and the rust in the middle, that one is 1-1/2" and the orange and rust are 2" wide.) All the other colored strips are 1-1/2" wide, cut WOF.

Soon, there will be lots of squares.


Thursday, July 10, 2014


Yes, the word is supposed to be "It's."

I agree with those who said the apostrophe doesn't "read" quite right, but I think one of the bigger problems with this word is that the "S" is too big and overwhelming. It's what you see first, and I am inclined to think it needs to be significantly smaller. It's really a nice S, though, and I love the way the paisley print follows the shape of the letter.  Looks like this S is destined for the Misfits bin.

Yes, this is the beginning of a word quilt, and it is the first word in the quote. I think it needs to be a lot more assertive and unambiguous.  Let's face it, if you have to struggle to read/understand the first word of a sentence you might not continue reading.

I really want you to continue to read because the quote is something I tell my students all the time:

It's only fabric.
It isn't Gold!

Looking at the entire quote (instead of hearing it in my head), I can see there are a couple of other places I can use the lady as an "i". 

She could be more effective as the "i" in "fabric." Because the whole point of the phrase is to get my students to stop fetishizing their fabric and think if it as raw materials - material that needs to be USED to make a finished product.  Putting her in the word "fabric" might make viewers start thinking about how to use fabrics differently, and at least get them to actually USE what's in their stash.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


I need your opinions. There are no wrong answers.

When you see these letters, do you see a word? Is the lady at the beginning a distraction, or do you know what letter she stands for? In other words, is this word readable?

Thank you.

Monday, July 7, 2014

How Big is Big?

This is the finished QUILTS OF VALOR panel. It is 19" tall by 108" (9 feet) wide. It's designed to fill the back of a ten foot wide show booth.  It was also designed to grab your attention, which is pretty easy to do when the letters are ten and twelve inches tall.

My cat Millie, however, remains unimpressed.

For those who do not know, the only patchwork I make is free pieced, which means these letters were made without patterns or templates and these letters are NOT paper-pieced.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


The letters U-I-L-T-S are 10" tall. Looking at it now I should have left more space between the I and the L.  I haven't sewn the Q to the rest yet.

Speaking of the Q, I hate when this happens:

This is what I have so far, and I am pleased with it:

Saturday, July 5, 2014


I was asked to make a banner for the local QOV group. Usually I start with the first letter in the phrase, but this time I had something special planned, so I stared with the V. What was the something special? I wanted to use serifs.  Here is the finished word.

The serifs are the little extra bits you see above on the V, A, L and R. The top right arm of the V will have a serif later. I'll add it when I create the top border.

The other special element I had planned was to use a five pointed star as the negative space in the O.  So how do you make a five pointed star without paper piecing?  With a lot of forethought. Here is how I did it.

I made three points of the star and surrounded two with the background red fabric on two sides. One of the triangles only needed the background fabric on one side.

The points were sewn around a white triangle. The (seriously) cool thing about sewing this five pointed star together is that I didn't have to sew into corners. It wasn't hard, but it was tricky.

My star isn't 100% perfect, but it's damn close and from a few feet away you can't even tell.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Rack

Call it karma, or serendipity, but sometimes things happen just at the right time.

Two weekends ago when Julie was visiting, I was telling her that I had too many quilts and not enough walls on which to display them. Julie has almost 200 quilts at her house, and there are probably 60 out on display - on racks, on quilt ladders, on the backs of couches and chairs, on beds, over tables, in cabinets and hanging on walls.

Julie's answer wasn't a surprise. "You need a quilt rack."

I tried to think about the places in my apartment where I could put one. "Mmm..."

"...Or a quilt ladder," Julie continued, "you don't have room for a quilt cabinet."


We pulled into the parking lot at Quilted Threads and during the three hours we spent ogling and fondling fabric, we joked about which of us would end up with the higher bill. (She did, an easy guess given that she bought ten yards of one particular fabric to use for the back of a large quilt.)

Afterwards, we were walking to a nearby restaurant for lunch and we met a woman walking in the opposite direction. "Were you looking for me?" she asked. Um, no.  She explained that she was the proprietor for the "gently used" gift shop steps away. "I just have an errand, I'll be back in a few minutes. You should stop by."

I smiled politely, but Julie replied, "We'll visit your shop after we have lunch." I wasn't exactly thrilled. I think "going shopping" when you have nothing in mind to buy to be only slightly worse than going to the dentist for a filling.

Julie and I had a lovely lunch, and then walked back down the street toward the lady's shop.  On the sidewalk outside the door was a quilt rack.  We stopped.

A quilt rack. Too funny.  Julie reached over and looked at the price tag, then turned to me. "Do you like this? Could you find a place for it?"

I thought a minute. "Actually, yes. I could put it in the dining room, right underneath the spot where my sampler quilt usually hangs."

"Would it be in the way?" Julie asked.

Mentally I measured the rack, and thought about that wall in the dining room. "No. It would fit perfectly."

"Good," Julie replied, picking up the rack, and carrying it into the shop. "Happy Birthday."

(That's her quilt, What Matters Most on the front, and my sampler quilt, Letters From Home behind it. The Black Crayons quilt is behind that. I'll show Julie's quilt to my students in July, since it has butterflies, birds, asterisk flowers and hearts on it, then send it back to her when the class is over.)

About AQS Chattanooga, no, I will not be traveling to visit The Black Box at the show. If you go to the show and see my quilt, send me a picture and tell me what you think. Julie's See Rock City quilt will be there too.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Portrait of a Chicken (or two or three..)

My very tall nephew helped me hang "Too Much Chicken" on the fence at the local playground so I could take some pictures.

btw, The Black Box has been accepted into the AQS show in Chattanooga. Here's the list of all the quilters whose work will be on display.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Life Is 'Tweet!

It's officially a flimsy! And it has a name, "Life is 'Tweet!"

It is 40-1/2" x 47-1/2" (102.8 cm x 120.6 cm)

I'll take a picture of it outside tomorrow.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Almost a Flimsy

It's almost a flimsy. Everything is sewn together. I need to add a couple of inches of WOW all around, and then square it off and it will be Finito.  

Julie suggests I keep unquilted flimsies around to show my students. She says that it's helpful for students to see how my work is put together. They can see that when they look at the wrong side of my quilts. This won't get quilted until my class is over.

I cannot tell you how happy I will be when this thing is off my design wall. It has been bugging me for some time.

(BTW, the top edge of the quilt looks wobbly because it is on the bias, and I've stay stitched the edge to keep it from stretching. It does look funny, but once I sew the border strips on, it will be fine.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Asterisks, Front and Back

I am sewing the asterisks together, and since they are arranged any which way, sewing them together is pretty interesting. I try to visualize how to sew them together without sewing into corners. First I trim the edges of the asterisks straight, and I usually add a chunk of background WOW fabric to one side, then put it up on the design wall to figure out where the next piece goes, and keep going from there. I don't usually end up with "exactly" what was on the design wall, but as long as I have a photo to guide me (hint hint: use your phone to take photos for reference) I'm in good shape.

 I'm not done. I still have to add one asterisk in the upper right hand corner, and I have to sew two more to the left side.

In these photos you can tell I use WOWs interchangeably. I like the variation they provide. I like the way the light hits them differently. Whenever I go fabric shopping I always buy about five or six WOWs in half yard pieces.

Here's what the panel looks like from the wrong side.

How do I get it to look this nice? I press the crap out of stuff, and I use steam. After I press, or before I sew one piece to another, I trim the edge to make sure it is straight. When I sew I pin the pieces together.

Julie watched me when she was here. "I pin stuff," I told her as I was getting ready to sew something together.

"You use a lot of pins," she said.

I shrugged. "Whatever. It works for me."

At any rate, the backs of each and every quilt I make look as nice as the back of the asterisks you see above.