Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Charmed Remix

Charmed Remix
80" x 80"
It is hard to believe that it has been 3 months since I have posted anything.  I have been hard at work, but with other home improvement projects.  Meanwhile, this little quilt had been bothering me. (See previous post.) I had 'finished' it, but I didn't really like it that much, and it felt unfinished.  And it was blocking my creativity. Something needed to be done.  Then I had a flash of an idea that I thought might work, so I did a mock up on Photoshop, and I LOVED it.  Which just meant that now I had to DO it.  I knew it would be a lot of work, and if you are interested, I will show you what I did below!

First step was removing the old facing on the top and bottom of the quilt.  Easy!
Next, I drew the cutting lines across the surface of the quilt in a permanent marker.  Then I stay-stitched very close to the black lines before cutting the quilt apart with my scissors.
After all the pieces were cut, I rearranged the order of the quilted pieces, and looked at it for a while.  It definitely looked a LOT better in the new arrangement. So, I began by stitching the first two pieces together with a zigzag stitch, meanwhile wishing that my zigzag stitch was wider, but it is not. 

The reason this looks so complicated on the photo is because there are actually two passes with the zigzag, one from the front, and the other from the back.  And, they also neatly line up with the stay-stitching I did before cutting the quilt apart. On the back side, I used Mistyfuse on fabric strips first pressed right on top of the seam, and then I put the zigzag stitch on top of that.
I have a lot of experience with this type of quilt construction because we used to do this all the time when we made our group art quilts. However, because this was a really large quilt, and intended to be used, (not just hung on a wall), I wanted the front side to be prettier, and I also wanted those seams to be stronger.  So, I pulled out my original stash and began the hunt for matching fabrics to cover that seam. 
After finding them all, I cut them to size.
Then I chain pieced them together in a long strip.
Pinned right sides together on the quilt and then stitched the cover strip on.
I intentionally made the original cut 1/4" off center, so that when I added this cover strip, the seam would be exactly center of the block once it was stitched on and pressed to one side.
Then I turned under 1/4" on the raw side, and pinned it down with tiny applique pins, and handstitched in place.

Then I repeated all these steps on the other 3 seams.

To complete the illusion and also strengthen the seam even more, I decided to extend the existing quilting lines on top of the cover strip.  It was about this time I was starting to question using so many different colored thread choices. I think I used about 45 different colors.  Nuts!
There were some vertical lines, but most of the new quilting lines were horizontal, spaced approximately 1" apart on 4 different seams.  It made for a lot of thread ends to tuck in.  I didn't think I would ever finish, even though I was so close to the end!
The illusion is complete! Here is a closeup detail of one of the seams.
In the end, it was a huge amount of work.  But ultimately it was worth it.  I really like the quilt now, and I didn't before.  Also, since finishing this one, I have moved on to quilting another one that has been languishing on the shelf.  More about that one later! 

This work not only cured my creative slump, but it also gave more meaning to me and it feels more authentic.  A lot of the fabrics used in this quilt are children fabrics. I love them!! It not only reminds me of the fun I had as a kid, but also the joy I had parenting my children when they were young.  The cut apart blocks remind me of when my marriage broke apart. A broken home represented here by a cut apart log cabin block. Once again I am in awe of the process of quilting and how it connects deeply with a part of my life. In this case, with lots of effort and attention to detail, the quilt was reformed in a beautiful fashion. I like to think the same thing of coparenting and raising our kids, that with lots of effort, attention to detail, and hope, it can be done beautifully. 

Last if you are wondering how bright this quilt really is? Here is a photo of it in front of my house on an overcast day.


Friday, May 27, 2022


79" x 79"

This quilt is sadly one of those that I don't really like that much after it is finished.  I began it with such wild enthusiasm, and then it didn't have the overall visual appeal that I thought it would.  A great lesson for me, one that I am apparently still learning.  But, I believe it is probably a shared experience.  And it is disappointing to spend so much time with it, and then not like it in the end.  

Regardless of my feelings for the overall look of it, I LOVE the closeups of the little fabrics.  And it has hundreds and hundreds of different fabrics! You can see more of these in previous posts from last fall (part 1, part 2, part 3).  It is a quilt that I LIKE getting close to.  And, there are some things I like about the design. For example, I love how the alternating light and dark solid fabrics make the blocks kind of twinkle and move your eye around.  It kind of reminds me of a stack of Starburst candy. 

It is also the first one in a long time that is NOT two-sided.  I found a suitable fabric for the back, and am happy with it.  I also chose to face this quilt and flip the facing to the back.  Each square has a different color attached, and one that is different than the front.  It makes me happy!

Here it is from the front side, folded, with the back and the facings showing a little bit! 

And, apart from my disappointment, it is so lovely to finally have another finish! I have been struggling with repetitive use injuries from obsessive quilting.  My solution is to work on multiple projects that are in different stages. I can work briefly on tasks that utilize different parts of my body.  It is difficult to work this way.  I find that I like completing a project before moving on to the next one.  I had racked up 4 different quilt tops doing this, and then had 4 quilts to quilt, which sort of defies the purpose!  This one is finished.  On to the next... 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Quiltfolk Magazine

I have had photos of my quilts in magazines before, but I always had to send my own photographs for those. This was the first time someone came to me to photograph my work. In fact, they sent two people. Azuree Wiitala was the photographer, and she spent most of the time running around my house and yard taking photos. Trevor Holloway took my quilts, one at a time, and very respectfully and gently styled them for the photos. He also did a great job of light-shifting, which mean that he held up big reflectors to help move the light to a better position during some of the photographs. I ran back and forth from being the subject of the photo to consulting with the quilts and assisting Trevor.  It was kind of mind boggling, the number of photos and the number of quilts, just to get a handful of really great ones that made it into the magazine. And it was fun!

Azuree Witala, I managed to snap a photo of her in my studio while she was photographing me.

Trevor Holloway, holding up my quilt, One Earth, on my deck and hiding behind it so that he won't be in the photo.

Me in front of my newly completed quilt top, Rainbow Gardens.

Here are a few more of my favorite out-takes. The first three are the required "have the quilter pointing at something" shots.  Although the pointing thing may be interesting, to me it is significant and special because the artists hands are what make the quilts. Love these shots!
My absolutely favorite part of making these batik panels (aside from the colors) were the painting of the hot wax to make the white dots.  From my quilt, Butterflies.

Again, this dotted fabric was made in my batik studio.  I drew every white dot with hot wax.  Very contemplative experience, and I like the way it looks, and I 'needed' it for this part of the quilt, Caterpillars.

A random stack of my journal quilts, which helped me in my journey to become an art quilter. 

There is a picture of my cat, Pumpkin Pi, in the last few pages of this issue, but I like this one better.  The little photo bomber is standing on his cat shelf, next to the little cat quilt, Innocence

The antique desk just under the little quilt was a gift from my neighbor, Lucy Milliron. She was also an artist and made the most exquisite watercolors of the natural world.  When she died, it broke my heart. We were very close friends and she had become a part of our family. She was 88 and her husband had died a full 10 years before her. They used to travel a lot and I used to keep a watchful eye on their house while they are gone.  I am still doing that even though they don't live there anymore. 

There is another part of Lucy that stays in my studio, also captured by Azuree. This photo is significant to me because it captures so much in one small photo:
When Lucy died, I kept her paint brushes.  They are sitting in yellow wooden blocks that her husband Walter made for her by drilling in holes of different sizes for her brushes.  Such a sweet gesture, one of love and support.  And, though you can't quite see, there is a framed photo sitting between the rows of them on one of their fishing trips to Rockport, TX.  I think of them both every time I grab a brush.  

In the very front is a framed postcard made by my good friend Frances Holiday Alford. She invited me to join the Art Quilt Bee.  Our bee members used to meet at her house (until she moved to Vermont) and make group quilts together. So many fond memories of our times together! And, it was a nice surprise to see her quilt in the same issue.  She has a quilt in the section on the Texas Quilt Museum. 

The paper figure of a girl was an exercise from a class I took called Lifebook.  I learned a lot about mixed media in that class and have gone on to continue making mixed media pieces to play with design.  After I get a thick stack of pages, I bind them together into books.  Now, I also love making books!

I also like this staged photo of me using a tjanting tool.  It is a batik tool that allows me to put fine lines of liquid wax on a piece.  It is very different than stamping designs with a tool.  It is much harder to control and requires a lot of patience.  It is more fickle to things like temperature control and composition of the wax. In the picture below, I would never use this tool on the piece that is front of me (that one is made by stamping with an object, in this case, a piece of cardboard packing material from something that was shipped to me). I am holding a folded paper towel to catch the drips.  It is THICK with many many drops of wax. 
This tool was used to make the next two quilts.
A Few of My Favorite Things

And, though this one was an outtake, I have seen it in a promotional spot with several other quilt artists on Facebook. The Heron, the Kayak, and the Grebes: Part I

This next set I like because the light, color and angles were so very good!

Diverging Distractions

Just Around the Corner

Two Halves

And, last is a photo of my quilt, Bloom.  It was hanging on the zip line outside when the sun peeked through.  All afternoon we had been chasing the light.  A great photograph is made with a good photographer, a good subject, and perfect lighting.  That afternoon we were fighting intense glaring sunlight.  It finally paid off for this one because it backlit the quilt.  And, we can see the other side which is my quilt, Seeds! Perfection!!


That's about it for the photoshoot.  You can see more photos on my Instagram and Facebook accounts. I will say that working with Quiltfolk was a dream.  They were so incredibly professional and the process of putting together a story was seamless.  I really like that they did copy checks/fact checking with me about both the stories and the photos. I have had that go wrong on many occasions with other publishers who skipped this essential step.  I also like that I was included in the social media promotion.  And, I liked that they sent me a free copy of the magazine.  This used to be an industry standard. However, the world is changing, and this kindness and respect is rarely offered to artists. My hat is off to you Quiltfolk! Respect and appreciation!
You can get a discount in April, May, and June if you use the code below! Cheers!

Friday, March 25, 2022

the Pouf

Form and Function (and pretty), the Pouf

I had a mess with these foam floor tile thingies that kept falling out of their storage spot.  Mostly it was just annoying.
And, it has been like this for a long time.  I recently had my front deck rebuilt and put in a new railing.  The new look had me inspired to use my deck differently.  I bought an outdoor rug from Target and then started shopping for poufs.  I already had the furniture I liked, but thought it needed something, just a little something to go with it. That's when I got the idea to solve two problems with one project.  
Not only does this spot look better now, but I can also move that thing around and use it for different tasks.  It is a great foot rest for when I am sitting and hand quilting.  It also works great to stand on to reach the high spots on my design wall.  AND, it looks fantastic outside on the deck (where it was designed to be used).  

The making of the pouf took me a long time, though it shouldn't have.  However, spring is happening here, and I have been spending many many hours every day outside, inspecting the new buds, trimming off the brown bits of plants, raking live oak tree leaves, transplanting, weeding, and spreading compost everywhere.  The garden is shaping up beautifully! And it lifts my soul to be working outside.  And then I am too tired to do anything else...which is okay, because there is no deadline for making a pouf!

The selection of fabrics and cutting went quickly. That lovely dark brown is such a nice contrast for the florals and pale blues.  And, it goes great with the new deck railing color!

Then came the quilting, which took longer. I decided to try different quilting ideas on the different sides, just for fun, and just for practice!

Then came the trimming to size, and since I was cutting through the quilting lines, I needed to zig-zag all the edges. 
For such a small project, it seemed to have a lot of surface area.  Here are the pieces stitched together before adding the zipper.
Yep, the zipper is really BIG!

The moment of truth, will all the foam floor tiles fit inside?
Yes, YES THEY DO!  The bag is a little loose, which makes it easy to put the floor tiles inside.  I think it would look better if I stitched those seams a little bit smaller, but it functions better with a little slack in it.  So, it will stay loose.  Also, when this thing gets dirty (and it will get dirty!), I can unzip, and toss it in the washing machine! YEASS!!
you can see the zipper on this side

the other side, with more colorful florals

Thanks for stopping by.  I can now return my attention back to quilting (well, and, um, the garden!)

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Quilt for a Graduating Senior in Foster Care

Nine Patch Plus Block quilt for Day1Bags

This is a quilt I made to give to a graduating senior who has been in foster care. This quilt project required a non-gendered theme, twin sized, and with a pillowcase to go with it.  

It is hard to imagine what a non-gendered theme quilt is. However, the privacy of these teens is of utmost importance, so they could not tell us gender, or match us with an actual person to make something more specific for that individual.  With that, I simply picked colors that I liked and am hoping that it will find it's person!

In Texas, teens normally age out of the foster care system at age 18.  There have been a few changes to some of those rules, hopefully in response to the fact that teens don't go from kid to adult just because they have a birthday.  It's a process.  I wanted to give a quilt as a show of love and support.  A big wrap of love to congratulate the senior who has come so far, and to keep them warm for the struggles ahead. 
If you would like to know more about Day1Bags you can find it here.  You can also contribute in other ways without having to make a quilt if you are interested! :)