Monday, December 28, 2015

Pink and Orange

Pink and Orange

More circles!  Yay!! This is one of my stashbuster projects...the one in which I learn to piece circles in the form of the block known as Drunkard's Path.  I pieced many, many circles for this quilt.  And about half way through I learned how to do it without cursing so much! Ha!
On the left I have 8" pink circles on solid orange backgrounds.  On the right, I have 6" orange circles on solid pink backgrounds.  I thought the two sides would look significantly different because of the colors.  What I learned, which is especially true for this color palette, is that that the value of the color was more significant.  The placements of lights and darks (whether orange or pink) is what adds movement to the design.  And for me, the size of the circles also plays a less dominant role than I thought it would.  I like it though.  It is cheerful and fun.
And, then I decided to try some really big circles, for the back!  And, because the front is practically blinding, in your face, a LOT of color, I opted for a quieter design on the back.  Then if I got tired of color, I could go for a more relaxed feeling.  I pieced these giant (maybe 30" across?) circles from some neutral fabrics in my stash.  I also won a $50 gift certificate to the Cloth Pocket from a little block contest at our Austin Modern Quilt Guild meeting with my good friend, Sherri McCauley.  I spent that pretty quickly and added to my collection of neutrals.  These came in handy for the back too!

I have already started quilting this one, but I'm not quite finished yet.  And I don't have pictures of the quilting.  I will eventually get it finished and share it with you.

Last note for today, this project has led to several others already!  With the image of a big circle in my head, I started working on One Earth (and here). And, after a trip to the Houston Quilt Market I got a commission quilt for a fabric company (which you may have already seen on Instagram or Facebook), but I will blog about it next week!

Monday, December 21, 2015


66" x 64"
The photo above shows the design of all the elements, but unfortunately did not capture the texture from the quilting at all.  I am frustrated by how hard it is to take a good photo of a mostly white quilt.  So many photo sessions!! Argh!  I tried outside.  I tried inside, with photo lights, with the flash, without any lighting.  I tried using my old Nikon and my new Canon.  I tried many, many fixes on Photoshop to make the photo look like the actual quilt.  Many times I got all the colors right, except the green kept getting distorted.  In photo terms, it is called, "What you see is what you get".  This is supposed to work using the RAW mode.  Mine did not.  And I also shoot with a grey card from MacBeth (which I can never remember the correct name).  Meanwhile, it is very obvious when shooting a white quilt when you get the lighting wrong.  This one was close to the best I could do.  I am so grateful that the detail shots are so much easier.  The photo below looks like the quilt.  I love the way the quilting lines show every tiny little ripple. 
And despite my ranting, I am so happy to tell you that this quilt was juried into QuiltCon 2016!!  I am very pleased that it will get a public audience, one that is in person, because of the afore mentioned problems with my photographs of this quilt.  It will definitely look better in person!

You can read more about how I made it on a previous post from last March, here. As for the personal meaning for me?  I was nearing the end of a long period of grieving and wondering if I should stop quilting.  I had decided to sew up all the fabric I had into quilts (the Stashbuster project), and then quit.  Or maybe quit?  I didn't know where I was going.  I felt lost.  I also felt like I was over the hill, falling.  The metaphor of these beads falling off a string, not knowing where they were going to land fit me perfectly!

And, if you have been following my blog, it will be obvious that I haven't quit yet.  I am still working on the Stashbusters, on and off, but my muse has started singing to me again and I am working. Happily working.  And last, I would like to share with you a funny picture of my cat that I previously posted on Instagram.  The cats are supposed to stay off my quilts.  This kitten hasn't learned that yet.

Monday, December 14, 2015

One Earth, the back

One Earth, the back

I decided it would be interesting to piece the back.  I had 4 big white quadrants left over from the front that I wanted to use for the center here.  So, I pieced the back using about 6" squares from these lovely pastels that were included in my fat quarter stacks from Hoffman Fabrics. 
I opted to replace the darker purples with gray and then made 4 of these sets to look like this:
That big grey line is where my two design walls meet....
Next I pressed a freezer paper template to each section and cut them out like so:
Next, they were stitched with the white circles, another giant drunkard's path block, and the 4 blocks were stitched together:
I LOVE the effect!  Very pretty!  Also, I always make my backs bigger than the fronts, to allow for some shifting while quilting.  So after quilting and trimming to the front of the quilt, it looks more like this (except the colors are a bit duller in this photo, I don't know why...):
And, I kind of like the trimmed off edges.  And though it was lined up when I basted it, you can see a subtle distortion and uneven shapes on the edges.  It doesn't bother me, even though I thought it would.  It is part of what happens when you quilt in a spiral.  Here's a close up of the quilting:
Luscious!  I love the side angle view too!
And, if you are wondering, I don't always put something interesting on the backs.  It just depends on the quilt.  I have a giant quilt waiting for it's turn to be quilted and it has just a solid piece of fabric on the back.  I am not kidding! :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, December 07, 2015

The Making of One Earth - Tutorial

The Making of One Earth - Tutorial

I had been playing with improvisational curves.  Unfortunately, I like my curves too curvy.  And, the improv curves work better with less curvy curves.  Ultimately, this technique failed for me for this project because my pieces got increasingly distorted as the shape got larger.  So, I opted for the more traditional approach for curved pieces.  This is a method that works!

Draw your curves on a piece of freezer paper.
Cut out the paper shapes.
Press them to the RIGHT side of the fabric.
DO NOT cut along the edge of the freezer paper, DO cut 1/4" from the edge of the freezer paper, thus adding your seam allowance.
Then sew the pieces together (right sides together).

Bonus: The freezer paper templates can be reused many times!
I started by drawing some curves.  

If you would like to see this is action, here's a short video of drawing the curves:

Also, I wanted my biggest and last curve to be a perfect circle, like a Drunkard's path pattern.  So, I started with it first, and used a tape measure with holes punched in it (I punched the holes myself!).

Also, I mentioned in the video that you can make one big circle if you make 4 templates like this.  Too silly!  You don't need to make 4 templates, that's the beauty of having a template.  Draw it once, and then use it 4 times to make a circle!

Next I cut the paper shapes apart with a rotary cutter.  I did not hit the lines exactly, but that is really not too important, as long as you add the 1/4" as you cut your fabric to the actual edge of the freezer paper template.  Press them to the right sides of the fabric, and cut them all out.
Here is another video showing using scissors to cut the seam allowance:
Here are all the pieces for one quadrant of the earth. You can see the seam allowances peaking out from the paper templates.

Next, gently peel off the freezer paper and then stitch the pieces together.
Fold each piece in half with the two sides touching and crease the middle, then fold again.  You will have pieces that look like this.  The creased folds will help you pin the pieces together.

When opened, it should look like this:

Here is a photo of how to match the creases:

Place one pin at each side, and a pin for each fold:

I like to sew with the larger piece on the top.  Even though the folds look unwieldy, it is not too hard if you sew slowly.  Here is a video with a few tips:

After sewing fabrics for all four quadrants, I selected a background, in this case white fabric.
Then a made a template for the background from the unused outer corner of the arcs I drew and cut earlier.  Sorry, but I didn't take a picture of that one!  You can get an idea of the shape by looking at the shape of the white corner pieces in the photo above.

Next up, the little i's.  I used Mistyfuse on the back of all my fabrics.  It is super easy and quick and fun!  Cut out a piece of the Mistyfuse and press it to the back of the fabric using a teflon sheet to protect your iron.  When it cools, peel it up and cut out your shape.  I used varying widths and heights to make the i's and then decided their placement on the quilt top before any of them were pressed into place.

Last up, layering with batting and a backing (which is another post!), and quilting with my favorite grey Masterpiece from Superior Threads:

I had a LOT of fun with the quilting!  It was fun to pick a different pattern for each of the layers.  I did not have fun quilting the 1/2" concentric spiral of the background.  I love the way it looks, but it is not fun too do it.  I should also mention that I quilted the background BEFORE fusing the "i" shapes on.  It made it much easier to get the effect I wanted.  Then I went back and quilted the i's too!

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

One Earth

One Earth
47" x 47"
and other stuff going on....

Confluence.  I just love that word.  This quilt was the confluence of multiple things going on in my life and in the world.  Part 1: One odd piece was related to the terrorist attacks on Paris.  I had the television on, which is unusual for me because I don't have cable.  I was watching the news in horror as the situation unfolded.  That was the first I heard of the Climate Talks that were about to happen in Paris.  And the last thing I would want is for terrorists to prevent that from happening.  But I also had the fear, the unavoidable and understandable fear.  I was worried that it would be a set-up for another attack.

Part 2: And, I have been shopping for a new car.  The criteria was NEW, ah yes!, and it had to have better gas mileage than my old minivan.  You may be wondering, but this is how the second part of the story is related to the first part.  I want to do my part to help the global climate, as small and insignificant as it feels, it all adds up.  I went searching for hybrid or electric car.  I am so disappointed to tell you that it is just not working out for us.  My son is too tall.  He keeps hitting his head on all the smaller and more fuel efficient cars.  It doesn't help that he is so inflexible and refuses to sit in the front seat, that's the Aspergers...and it is something I can work on, but it will take time.  And I will have to temporarily give up another goal if this one becomes a priority.  NUTS!!  That left me shopping for a big car with bad gas mileage, and despite the fact that the price of gas is dropping, it just hits me the wrong way to buy a bigger and badder car.  And, it requires trying out more car models than I have the patience for.  I am the odd bird, I do not like to shop.  So for now, we are still driving the old car, and will continue to do so...

Part 3:  While at Quilt Market, I was given a giant stack of fat quarters of Me+You from Hoffman Fabrics.  They were very nice to touch so the first thing I did when I got home was to wash them and iron them dry.  It was a lot.  And since I like to sew, this was a gift I can totally appreciate!  Unfortunately, many of the colors are just not colors that I want to look at, much less sew with.  So, I took out the pretty and bright and pure colors and set them in their own stack.

That left the darker earth tones and the lighter pastels, each got their own stack.  They sat that way for a week, and one morning I woke up with this image in my head.  And, I knew that the earth tones would actually be for the earth image.  And, I LOVE the way bright colors pop with neutrals, so they would be the "i" figures.

It nagged me for 2 full days.  I think sometimes we call this the MUSE.   One week later the quilt was born, with slight modifications of the design, fully quilted, and ready to go.  I entered it into QuiltCon2016 on the last day of registration.  Keeping my fingers crossed that it will get in!

For me this quilt is about the expression: we have more things in common than the things that separate us.  We all have family,  and community, and we all live on one earth.  We have to take care of that earth for our survival.  The climate talks are a crucial part of that, but only one part.

Next week I will show you how I made it.  My studio assistant, aka, my daughter, helped me film a few very short videos with some techniques I used.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


52" x 44.5"

This is my latest.  I have been thinking about it for a while, trying to firm up the design in my head.  I wanted to say something about the incredibly fast growth of my town.  I heard that 100 new people were moving to Austin, EVERY DAY.  People have to live somewhere, and I imagine many new houses being built.  And they are, and it is good for the economy.  But, there is a cost.  The animals are displaced.  The hills are razed, and rain washes the earth into the streams.  This is a natural process, but the rate is too fast.  It adds sediment to the streams which chokes out the life of the organisms living there.  It feels like we have lost site of protecting the environment which is our source of sustenance.  With this steady growth, how will we change to become better stewards of the earth?  As a society are we becoming more "developed" or less?

The process:
I used a giant screen to make the background from newspapers, mainly the Wall Street Journal.  I tore the newspaper pages into hills, and placed little squares of black construction paper on it, to make the houses. Then I carefully layered silk organza on top.  Next, I placed the screen and squeeged gel medium through it.  After it dried, I used water to gently remove as much paper as possible from the back.  You would be surprised how thin the final layer is!  This is called a paper laminate.

Once dry, I used Mistyfuse to gently place the yellow squares and black triangle roofs.  Some were done after adding the animals prints to the borders so that the houses could overlap into that space.  The faucet was printed on paper, and then made into a paper laminate as well.  I fused it with Mistyfuse on to the sky section.  Quilting was done in narrow 1/4" bands following the shapes of the hills with my favorite Masterpiece grey thread.  I had a lot of fun shopping for the animal prints.  I love, love, love the ghost bunnies and the tiny Japanese critter fabrics on the bottom.  I think I got both at Bunny's Designs.  I also shopped at the Cloth Pocket which is becoming a favorite!  Here are some detail shots for you. 
Houses falling out of the sky, like a giant faucet has been turned on.
foxes and deer
bears and more deer
tiny critters and ghost bunnies
And, I am happy to tell you that this piece has been selected to show in SAQA's Concrete and Grasslands exhibit which is opening at Grant's Pass Museum of Art in Oregon some time next year! It's a good feeling to make something I like, and then get to share it!

Friday, November 06, 2015

Crowded House

Crowded House
72" x 72"
Crowded House - detail
Earth Stories is opening today at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles.  I feel quite proud to have a piece in this exhibit and of all the wonderful places that it is being shown!  Earth Stories runs from Nov 6, 2015 to Feb 28, 2016. 

SAQA's exhibit: Earth Stories
There are many stories of hope across the globe. Both individuals and small groups are working on projects that, when added together, make a positive impact on increasing the quality of life on this planet. Earth Stories celebrates the stories of people or projects that enhance the planet, make a significant difference in restoring and/or protecting the environment, increase sustainability and otherwise improve the earth we all occupy.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Houston Quilt Festival 2015

Houston Quilt Festival 2015

I returned earlier this week from Quilt Market and the awards ceremony for Quilt Festival.  It was such an amazing experience, and it had been a few years since I had been to Quilt Market.  I went with an open heart and an open mind.  I had no agenda to seek.  I wanted to look and try to find inspiration to move forward in my work.  I do believe I have succeeded.   I am so hyped up with ideas and adrenaline from Quilt Market, that I have been working non-stop in my studio since I got home.  It is great to be inspired!
Two Deer (or Too Dear)
And, until I can post about my new work, I would love to share with you my sweet success at Quilt Festival!  My quilt, Two Deer (or Too Dear!) won a second place award!  It is quite an honor!  And, I was presented the award by Becky Richards of Hobbs Batting, who sponsored my category, Whimsical Art Quilts. I had just met Becky at Quilt Market, so it felt very special to get an award from her.

I also had 3 quilts in SAQA exhibits.  And it was not too long ago when I got mostly rejections from SAQA, so I feel quite honored to have these 3 quilts in Houston at the two new SAQA exhibits, Balance and Wild Fabrications.
Fifty, Female, and Fearless


The Long Necked Cats and the Long Legged Bird
I had a quilt in Affinity, which is an exhibit by Dinner@Eight Artists curated by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Jenison.  This is my 7th year in their exhibits, which is very dear to my heart. This quilt is called Dot, and uses the same batiked and dyed circles as the cat quilt above.
For the first time, I had a quilt accepted to What's for Dinner? which is another exhibit by Dinner@Eight Artists.  I rarely make quilts about food, so I have never entered.  But, this year has been a big change in my eating habits and exercise.  It's all about trying to find good health again, and this idea popped into my head.  And, I love it!  and what it means to me!  Very special!
I Could Have Been a Bear
I also have a quilt in the IQA auction.  It is an honor to have been asked to participate in this fundraising opportunity.  I hope it raises some money for them, and pleases the person who wins the bid!
Night Ride
And, I almost forgot, one quilt that is very dear to my heart, Innocence.  This is the quilt that I submitted to the Quilt Alliance contest, Animals We Love.  I was REALLY hoping to win the Sweet 16 Quilting Machine, but I did not.  The quilts for this contest are shown in several exhibits, and then auctioned off on eBay.  I am still hoping to make a pattern for this one, and hopefully quite soon!

I also have a few pieces at the Mistyfuse booth.  I LOVE Iris dearly, and use her Mistyfuse in almost ALL my quilts.  I LOVE the product, it makes my ideas come alive! Iris has a new product coming out called Bunny Paper.  She gave me a sample to try, and I am looking forward to it! The first one is the quilt I made, Welcome Home, for Sue Bleiweiss's new book, Colorful Fabric Collage.

Welcome Home
The second is just a sample of dots on a scrap, something that people can touch to feel how soft Mistyfuse actually is!
Dot Sample
Now, it's time to get back to work!  I am making a few really big quilts, and am happily sewing a fun backing for the next one!  QuiltCon 2016 is coming up, and I need to get my entries ready!!

Thursday, August 27, 2015


40" x 40"

The theme to the Dinner @ Eight invitational exhibit was Affinity.  This was soooo easy for me, as I love and am attracted to so many things!  The hard part was choosing which one!  I decided to combine some of my favorite things, like colors in wild abandon, and circles (of which there are a lot of in this photo!), and repetition which I find so fun and oddly calming to a sometimes anxiety ridden world.  This piece culminates all of those and more.  I also got to have fun making the little dots, with dyeing lots of fabric, stamping circles on them, bleaching each piece, cutting apart all the circles and redistributing in different dye baths.  Then I boiled out the wax on each individual dot, and finished washing to process the dyes.  Lots and lots of repetition.  I also love that the little dots make up a big dot, much the same way that individuals make up a community (lovely little metaphor there).  I also love the expression "everything comes full circle".  And like my "i quilt", I wanted an iteration of the theme, dot, so I added an extra repetition in the middle.  Can you see it spelled out?  Brings back a bit of nostalgia for me in those old colorblind tests! 

Here's a close up of all those dots.  Each one was machine quilted with a matching color of thread.  So that was a lot of thread changes, a lot of starts and stops, and a lot of thread trimmings. Big thanks to Mistyfuse and Superior Threads for making art easier!

This quilt will be premiering at the Houston quilt show this fall!  Awesome! And TODAY is my special day to be interviewed on the Dinner @ Eight website!  Nice!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I Could Have Been a Bear

I Could Have Been a Bear
15" x 24"
Wahoooo!  My quilt got juried into What's for Dinner!  This is a super fun exhibit curated by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Jenison every year.  A big long table is dressed up, complete with chairs around it, and all the food quilts are placed on the table with interesting 3D art for centerpieces. It premiers at the Houston Quilt Show every year, but this is my first year that I thought of an entry for it, and made it, and got juried in!  I don't normally make quilts featuring food, but this year I have been on a bit of a health kick, which started with my diet. And since I eat a lot of salmon and fresh fruits and vegetables, I often think I could have been a bear.  However, unlike a bear, if I had to stand in a freezing cold stream of water to catch my dinner, I might starve to death!
Here is a detail shot of the berries.  I put Mistyfuse on the fabric first, and then individually hand cut all the berries.  After they were fused to the quilt top, I decided to add a little flourish of paint, aided by a new star bit from my electric drill.  Hey, a tool is a tool is a tool!
Here is a closeup of the salmon and the bear claw.  I also used a lot of Mistyfuse to make the fancy scales, fins, gills, and other fish parts.  I used a number of different pink fabrics and was surprised when some of my choices just did NOT work.  That is why they have to audition for their spots, because some work, and some do not.  The fabrics for the bear claws were fused onto black felt and quilted, then cut, and then assembled in layers.  I found the actual claws in the bead section of Michael's Craft Store, and I can tell you I was very pleased at such an awesome find!  It totally makes the bear claws work!

I had such a blast making this quilt!  It has been months since I have worked on an art quilt, and I can tell you fabrics were flying!  My studio became a giant pile of fabrics, both the ones I used and the discarded ones.  I also tried to learn something new for this quilt and tried doing some curved piecing for the background.  I was quite please at how easily that came together.  Youtube is an amazing universe of learning!