Thursday, July 31, 2014

Now You See It

Now you see it.

Now you don't.

Watch this space. Hey, just because I cut my finger doesn't mean everything comes to a complete stop!  Although I did have to make a few special purchases last night...
Um, yeah.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


I was slicing scallions for coleslaw last night and I got a bit too 43nergetic. I slic4d a pad of skin and finrg4rnail off my middle fing4r.  Because there was nothing to s4w tog3ther the doc at Urgent care put a tourniqu4t around my fing4r to stop th4 bl44ding and then appli4ed a piece of surgical gel or artificial skin and th4n wrapp4d it up.

It makes typing a PITA but the worst part is that I cannot g4t it wet for a week. (not so much w4t is the issue but inf4ction.)  Yes, you r4ead that right. A WEEK. That means I cannot wash my own hair, and have to tak4 baths in my incr43eibly stupid tiny bathtub. It means no washing dish4s, and oth43r stuff I will no doubt discov4r as th4 w44k progr4ss4s.

In two days I have to go back to get the dressing changed. A week aft4r that I can wash my hands and get it wet. The wound has to h4al and th4 n4w skin has to form b3efor4 I can get it wet.

The good n4ws is that no fabric was harm4d or damaged in any way. The bad n4ws is that I won't b4e sp4nding much tim4 in th4 sewing room.

Can't typ4 for crap 4ith4r, as you can s44.

Th4n again, th4 doc and nurs4, whil4 th4y w4r4 g4tting r4ady to put the pad on my fing4r, I t4as4d th4m about th4ir "t4chnical terminology". Th4y w4r4 calling things "that thingy" and, "you know what I m4an, that gizmo..."  Their r4ply? "This is th4 happi4st urg4nt cas4 w4 hav4e had all day."

So I am v4ry awar4 this could hav4 b4e4en a lot worse and I am thankful for small favors.


Remember the game Tangram?

My sister had it on her Kindle Fire and I thought it looked fun so I downloaded it to mine and started playing.

It's a puzzle game, and you make different shapes and configurations using the seven flat shapes (called "tans".)

 So I started playing,

and in no time at all I was filling shape after shape, most of them in less than a minute. I finished up the "geometric shapes" and moved on to animals.

Those weren't very hard either, and the thing that aggravated me the most was flipping the yellow parallelogram. It kept getting stuck, and cost me valuable seconds. Heck, I wanted to see if I could solve one in less than 30 seconds (So far my record is 26. They're not all that easy. Some have taken me as much as ten minutes.)
Then I started thinking, "This is lame. It isn't even HARD! How come it is so easy for me? I look at the shape and know quickly how to arrange the pieces, but more importantly, I already understand the relationship of the shapes to each other?  Why is that?

Well, the answer was pretty obvious once I thought about it. These are really nothing more than combinations of variously sized HST's, and as a quiltmaker, I'm intimately familiar with how they work together.

I'm going to continue working my way through them, even though they aren't much of a challenge any more, but seeing the various ways these seven shapes can make various cats, dogs, birds and other animals is a great resource for making free pieced animals. I don't have to make them exactly like the puzzles in the game, but it's a great place to start experimenting.

You know how I keep saying you never know where you'll find inspiration? Well you never know where you'll find a good idea either, or a good resource!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

This and That Thursday

My son and DIL sent me these lovely flowers for my birthday, which was on Monday. It was one of those "0" years and I am still "in the Nile" about it.

This is where Millie has been camping out during the hot weather. On top of the Black Box quilt under the air conditioner. That cat's no fool!  The Black Box will be going to Paducah next week and on to Chattanooga for the AQS show there in September. If you see it, let me know what you think.  Millie is making sure the quilt is marked as HERS before it goes.  The other quilt on the coffee table is Julie's "Hidden Potential."  When I've got the AC running at night I cover myself with two quilts because it gets chilly, so I want to keep it handy.

As you can see I've replaced the Black Box quilt on the wall with "Too Much Chicken" (also known as "the chicken quilt"). It looks really nice.  It's a pretty nice quilt if I do say so myself. I made it as a lark and had a lot of fun with it, so I'm really pleased it turned out well. Here's another shot of it.

I've finally had a chance to sit and watch Gerald Roy discuss the exhibit Quilts and Color at the MFA Boston. You can watch it here: It's about 90 minutes long, but it's full of great stuff.  Gerald Roy appraised several of my quilts last year. At the time I didn't know that he was a Very Big Deal in the AQS.  We had a lovely chat while he looked at my work and exchanged views on quilts and quilting today. I was delighted to find we agreed on so many issues. He really loved my Nine x Nine quilt.

It was funny, when I was telling my pal Julie about the appraisal experience, she asked who had appraised my quilts, and I told her, she was like "OH MY GOODNESS! HE'S THE BEST APPRAISER in the COUNTRY!  How did you get him?" My answer was something on the order of "Um, I dunno. He lives two hours from my house?"

I've managed to get that awful summer cold that's going around, so I'm taking it easy. I'm still working on the Homage to the Square idea.  Here's a sneak peek of what's coming.

See this band of blue and white?

Would you believe it's exactly the same as this one, except for color placement?

I'll leave you to figure it out.

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.