Thursday, December 26, 2013

Another Landscape from my class


This student went toward the realistic side and used fabrics with designs that depict the clouds, trees, flowers, water and desert. The creek even has a pebbled bank on each side.


So, quilting it was just a little different than the usual textures. I just had to follow the clouds in the sky fabric. I echoed each colored area in the sky to get the density of quilting that I wanted.


And, I put a forest of Ponderosa Pines in the dark green area. The fabric beneath that already had trees, so I just outlined them.

Of course, the creek had to get a swirly water treatment. But, other than that – texture, texture, texture!


And, just for a little seasonal fun, here's a picture of a “modified” deer caution sign I took in Bridgeport, California, this past Fall.


The end of all exploring will be to arrive where we started and to see it for the first time.”

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Lure of Woodland Quilts

I'm blessed to live in a place where you can see elk and deer walking across your road almost every day. In fact, here's a pic I took a while back of a few of the boys hanging out in the neighbor's yard.


This next quilt is the 2014 raffle quilt from my guild. It didn't take us long to realize that woodland style quilts do better here than any other style. Everyone wants a woodsy quilt for their cabin.


It was put together by a couple of our talented ladies, and I think they did a wonderful job.


The animal silhouettes are cut out of ultrasuede, so they have a lovely texture.


For the quilting, I tried a variety of leafy shapes  and textures for the multiple sashings. And, of course, I put pine boughs onto the tree shapes.


Yes, we have bears here, too, but luckily we don't see them! LOL!


The animal shapes are even recognizable from the backside.


Lots of photos of this one, but I really like it! Hope you do, too!

Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss...but, also the sense of where you are going and why.”

                                                             Eddie Cantor

Friday, December 6, 2013

More Rolling Landscape

I've posted before about the simple Rolling Landscape quilt that quickly developed into a Series of 6 landscapes. Subsequently, I was asked by my quilt guild to teach a class on my free-hand cutting and curve piecing techniques. Here's a picture again of my first landscape, a sunset.


And, here is the first one I get to quilt for one of my students. Wow, what a sunset! And, the purple mountains! And the rolling greens that flow past the waters, down to desert sands at the bottom. Beautiful!

That black piece represents the city lights as seen from a distance. Can you see the tiny night lights?


While I usually quilt these pieces with tiny textures that don't really represent anything recognizable, the setting sun on this piece just cried out for radiating sunrays. Gives the sky so much depth, don't you think?

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

K.I.S.S. It!


When I'm deciding what kind of designs to put on a quilt, I often think to go the more elaborate; fancy feathers and such. But, sometimes, the more simple motifs fit a specific quilt.

Like this's kind of whimsical in its choice of fabrics. So, I decided a more basic, but still graceful, feather was more appropriate. The feather running through the colors is vein-less, so it only takes one pass. And, I find it runs around corners very easily, too. The paths vary in width from 2 ¾ to 4 inches, and the feather adapts happily.

For the black path, a little more, but still a rather simple vine runs through the space.

So, sometimes I have to remember to Keep It Simple, Silly!

And no, it was not easy quilting gold thread (Glide Cleopatra) on black fabric with little white dots on it. It was so hard to see the quilting line. But, I 'm very pleased with the result.

A wise man sometimes changes his mind, a fool never.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

360 Shamrocks


Yup, I quilted 360 little shamrocks on this, the happiest quilt I've seen in a long time. First of all, I love French Braid quilts, especially the ones with the black strip to make it look like stained glass.

Then, there is the happy rainbow and shamrock print that my customer chose for the focus fabric.

I think she picked her colors for the rainbow bands very well, don't you?

I suggested doing a little leaf motif through the bands, and she asked “can you make them little shamrocks?” Oh, yeah. I'll figure out how to do that, I thought cautiously....

We were both very happy with the results.

You can't do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and its depth.”
                                                                         Evan Esar

Friday, October 25, 2013

How do You choose Thread Color?


Choosing the right color of quilting thread can be especially hard when the quilt fabrics have strong contrast, like this blue and yellow Log Cabin (one of my favorite color combinations; blue and yellow. The other is pink and green). What will look good on the blue may quite possibly look awful on the yellow.

After I decide what the quilting plan will be for a quilt, I next dig into the thread drawers. Having the quilting plan determined first is very important, because what thread might work for an overall edge-to-edge design may not work for custom designs. And, of course, with custom quilting, you may want to change thread colors as you go.

In this case, the yellow path was to have an unstructured feather and the blue path a wandering vine. And, the big blue border to have a delightful combination of both.

So, taking out all the colors that might work, I throw hanks of thread onto the quilt surface. I always try to throw out something that, at first thought, I am sure will not work, because once the thread is on the quilt surface, sometimes magic happens. On this quilt I chose a medium gray, a dark golden yellow and a lovely reddish brown. I didn't think I wanted any blue, as it would have to be a pretty dark blue and I subscribe to the idea that a light thread looks much better on dark fabrics than a dark thread looks on light fabrics. (Although I'm not that crazy about how this thread looks on the pale, pale backing. Oh, well.)

The yellow was tossed out first, and the gray was a serious consideration. But the reddish brown was just perfect, especially given the dark red accents in this quilt. I knew the thread wouldn't show on the red inner border, but that's alright. When the thread is going to get lost anyway, it's a perfect time to try out a new, maybe more difficult design. In this case, I tried a Swirl Ribbon Candy design I saw on Kim Stotsenberg's blog.

The following is a step-by-step showing how I tamed that wavy lower border.


After a little steam and basting.

Then, the vine goes down.

Then the design is finished. It worked!

Live by what you believe so fully

that your life blossoms.”


Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Little Seasonal Fun

In the spirit of the season, here's a little Halloween fun. This little quilt (well, there are actually two, brought to me by a couple of friends who worked on them together. Relatively beginner quilters, although you can't tell from these cuties) will get many embellishments when they are returned to the makers. Tiny black buttons for mummy eyes, little bat buttons in the sky and orange yoyos turned into tiny pumpkins.

That thin black line next to the 9-patch in the upper left will get lots of ripped fabric to turn it into the perfect witch's broom.

Don't you just love that wonky zigzag border? I saw that on a site that was using this pattern as a Block of the Week. Wish I could credit the quilter, but it was not noted.

Raw edge, torn muslin strips make up the mummy face. Just a white oval until the eyes are added.

Yeah, the black blobs will get button eyes, too and a yoyo flower will grace the hat. Don't you just love embellishments?

The pattern in the blue diamond shapes is an official Zentangle pattern, named Paradox. Have you discovered Zentangle yet? Crazy great way to doodle beautiful patterns. Go to to find out more. It's my Go-To way to relax.


"Life is a banquet, and some poor suckers are starving."
                                                                              Auntie Mame

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Boxy Stars

So my original thought for this piece was that it needed something curvy and swirly to soften the hard, straight geometric lines. It's a wedding present, so the customer asked for “something special.”

But, for some reason I went ahead and stitched it in the ditch before knowing what I was really going to do. After that, I tried to put feathers in the negative space. Whoa, Nelly! That just did not look right! So, out they came.


And, then the quilt spoke to me and I knew right then and there, it needed wide diagonals! My creative side had to play with the direction of the diagonals, and so I switched around anytime I thought it would look better. And, it does!
And, was I ever glad that I had put in the stitch in the ditch, which made it so easy to travel from one diagonal to the next. Karma!

We're all here for a spell; get all the good laughs you can.”

                                                                     Will Rogers

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Jelly Roll Quilt


This is a very modern looking quilt, and it should probably get a modern quilting design. What is a modern quilting design? Well, just like the quilt itself, the designs being used on modern quilts today are very simple; straight lines, wavy lines, pebbles and simple circles.


But, that's not what this quilt top maker wanted. You see, this is actually the second one she has handed me to quilt. For the first one (sorry, long enough ago that no pictures), I tried to quilt each colored stripe with a different sashing design. Wow, that was kind of hard. 40 different designs?!! When you do that, it is inevitable that some designs will look great and some, well, not so great.

But, my customer loved it and wanted this one done exactly the same.

To improve on the last one, this time I decided to choose just a few designs and repeat them randomly. That way, I could pick my favorites. And, I think the piece has a less “jumbled” look to it, too.


Then, I used a swirl doodle fill in the white spaces to set it off.


Here's a couple of different looks at it.


Generally, my philosophy on picking out quilting designs for a piece is to keep it simple. Not too many designs, and they should coordinate with each other in size and style. This quilt is the result of breaking that rule!

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I love trapunto!


This little lovebirds quilt is just so sweet. I knew I wanted to stuff the birds so they would puff up a little. And, I'm sure glad I did.

I cut the rough shape of each bird from poly batt (all 40 birds!). Then, as I got to each bird row, I spritzed each poly shape with quilt basting spray and tucked it in place between the top and the regular batting. The dense stipple really lays the surrounding area down so the birds are nicely rounded.

The design for the blue 4 patch blocks just popped into my head. A combination of free motion and use of a curved template.


I tried something I've never done before, and that was to use a simple border design, mirror-imaged to fill the border space. I really like how this turned out, although it was kind of hard to do. I mean the first pass with the first border design was easy. But, then when you quilt the mirror-image, you had to watch the design shape as well as the first quilting, so that the mirror-image landed in the right place. But, hah, it worked!

The border has a filigree-look to it from the back.

Karen McTavish always says to do the hard thing. She's right, this border treatment turned out so cute. Just what this quilt needed!

(Sorry, I had a couple more photos, but they wouldn't load.)

Remember that happiness is a way of travel – not a destination."
                                                                                      Roy Goodman