Moving Along

It seems like progress has been slow lately, but if you just keep plugging along, eventually stuff gets accomplished.

I thoroughly enjoyed my quick trip to Santa Cruz for Maria Shell‘s workshop! I stopped at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and they had a brand new exhibit up–what a treat!

Maria’s workshop was great, and she had lots of ideas for us to try using solid fabrics to make prints.

I had this great grouping of fabrics in my tote bin, and right away I thought “wouldn’t those work together well?”


So I used them to make these curved pieces. When I started working on them, I wasn’t quite so charmed with their colors. So I put them up on my design wall when I got home, and I am pondering the possibilities. Even if I don’t use these particular pieces, I love the technique that she taught, and I know I will use it again soon.


My gardener was due for a visit, and so the pressure was on to finish the quilt for his first granddaughter. Do any of you have “issues” with charging for your work? I don’t ever want to do anything for free, but on the other hand, I would not pay what I charge for a baby quilt–I want to say “go to Marshall’s, you can get a great baby quilt there for a fraction of the cost.” Nonetheless, we traded work hours for the quilt. MLG has done a miracle in my yard–worth so much more than a quilt.


Here is the finished quilt–I just quilted simply around the birds, put some radiating lines around the “frames,” and did simple wavy lines in the sashing. I ended up following the fabric pattern to quilt the border. I wanted it to be sturdy, but not too densely quilted for a quilt that I hope is used and loved for a long time.


I had the idea to cut out one of the bird prints, and use that space for the baby name and info. I was really pleased with how this came out.


In the meantime, mostly in the evenings, I kept plugging along at the little squares that I was embroidering. Last night I finished the 153rd square! Now I am going to quilt it, and add a backing fabric onto it. I had a muslin back on it, just for stability, but now for the first time I am going to try my idea of adding a second back so that the embroidery thread work won’t show on the back. I am only going to show you a few of the squares that I finished. You’ll have to wait until its finished to see the whole thing.



(oops, I just noticed I didn’t finish the french knots on this one!)



And now on to the studio!

A Quick Note

I am back from the Houston International Quilt Festival, and leaving tomorrow for a workshop with Maria Shell. Houston was absolutely fabulous in so many ways. Of course, in Texas everything is bigger, right? Well, the biggest surprise to me was the way the quilts were displayed. There was so much room between the aisles, and even more room between the separate displays. Not once did I feel that I was “fighting the crowds” to see the quilts. Even the big winners were never that crowded.

I got to attend the show with my best friend, Robin Fouquette the absolutely fabulous long arm quilter. Robin lives in Oregon, and so we don’t get to see each other quite as often as we’d like. This picture also gives you a little idea of how well spaced the displays are.


Sometimes they have a lot of instructions about which quilts you can photograph, and how or when you are supposed to share those with others. So I just picked out a couple that I thought would be okay. I have a definite love for Japanese quilts. Their workmanship and composition and use of color–everything about them just inspires me. This quilt was made by a mother for her daughter, and when I went by one time, she was there with her daughter. I just caught this candid moment, and I love it.


Here are a few details of her quilt–I think all hand done, if you can imagine.



Here is the other quilt I will share, because as you see, the quilt maker has done a good job of giving himself photographic credit. Luke Haynes works with used clothing as his raw material. Its just astounding what he can do with it. Oh, and in this picture you can see that they used clear plastic tape to block off the quilts. I loved that, as it allowed you to get a better view of the quilt as a whole composition.




Saturday night there was a bit of excitement at our hotel. We got on the shuttle to come home from the show and dinner out, and the driver announced that he would not be able to take us back to our hotel. Evidently there was a fire. Yikes! Fortunately, he was able to get us within a block of it, and by then most of the excitement had cleared up and they allowed us to come into the hotel. Some of the younger firemen were posing with quilters and other guests, but I enjoyed this group, who were just looking on and having some coffee. The fire was actually outside the hotel, in a manhole or something.


Oh, so bad blogger that I am, I didn’t take pictures of any of the people I was able to meet up with. Thursday night Robin and I were able to have dinner with Ricky Tims and his partner Justin Shultz. So fun to have a little time to catch up with Ricky (we were friends over 30 years ago, when we used to show dogs together!! so weird to say “thirty years ago…”) I got to chat with Jenny Lyons, my SAQA friend. And I briefly met Maria Shell when she gave a free demo at the “Meet the Teachers” area of the show. This was a great feature–they had ongoing 30 minute demonstrations by various teachers. All were well done, and it was also a nice place to sit and take a short break :) Last but not least, I finally met up with long time friend and blogger, Kris from Australia! That is the fun of blogging–you meet people online that have similar interests, and then once in a while you are privileged to meet them in person. Kris had a beautiful quilt displayed at the show, and she won second prize in its category!!

On Sunday another blog friend picked me up and we got to spend a couple of days visiting–doing what we like best: talking, eating, stitching, and watching favorite TV shows. It was an absolutely great way to end this trip, with a day of relaxing before the long journey home. Shelley and I met because of our mutual interest in healthy living, and because we both have a Texas/California connection, we have been able to get together fairly often. One time we met at a frozen yogurt shop and I taught her to knit. One time she took me to her local quilt and knitting shops, and we had oh so much fun shopping, and then sewing together afterwards. This time I made a little quilt sandwich for Shelly to try the embroidery with perle cotton thread.

Shelley did some outstanding embroidery!


She decided she wanted to make a sun in one of the circles. She did say that she might not be doing too much of that satin stitch in the future. But I love the way it looks!


Before I left, I asked her to pick out some colors of perle cotton that she liked, and I picked out a few more to fill in light and dark values, and left her a little “kit” to continue working on her piece.


While I was at PIQF and Houston, I was trying out a lot of long arm quilting machines. I have been thinking seriously about whether or not I “needed” one of these. At one booth at PIQF, they were using a frame under the sit-down long arm. I loved it, especially because of the knobs on the side. It seemed to keep my hands in a more ergonomically correct position. When I got home from PIQF, I investigated, and found out that this hoop/frame was made by Martelli. And then I realized that I could use it with my Janome sewing machine for free motion quilting. So when I went to Houston, I was on the lookout for this product, and with BF Robin’s approval, I bought a set (an 8″ and 11″ hoop.) When I got home, one of the very first things I did was to pull this out of my suitcase and give it a try. A very nice product, and one I think I will really use frequently.


Oh, so as long as we’re talking long arms, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking. I had tried just about every brand of sit-down long arm out there. I did not like them, and so I was definitely investigating traditional frame long arm machines. On Robin’s recommendation, I tried the Juki, and I LOVE that machine. I spent a lot of time at the Juki booth in Houston, talking to the reps and the educators about the machine and how it works. On the last day, when we were both getting a little tired, I said I’d like to go back to the Juki booth one more time. And when we walked over, I said, “I didn’t even try their sit down machine. Well…..!!! I sat down, gave it a try, and suddenly there were angels singing in the convention center. I LOVED it!! In addition to loving how it sewed, there were a lot of other factors that made it “perfect” for me. For one thing, it requires way less space than the frame machine. I like the way my studio is set up, and if I did get a frame, I would have to rearrange the whole studio, and it would be pretty crowded. In addition, I have knee and back problems, so even if I did get the frame, I would be looking for a stool that would work with it. And lastly, no learning curve. As much fun as it is to watch other people using their long arm, it is a different quilting motion, and there would be some time before I would be able to quilt as well as I do on my current machine. Oh, and if I did ever want a frame long arm, this machine could be easily converted to the frame type.

I came very close to buying the machine that day, but I am going to wait. I like to think about big decisions. And that is the end of my Houston report! My bin is packed with solid fabrics, and I am ready to leave for my workshop with Maria, “Making Prints Out of Solids.” 

Quilting and Stitching Along

Last weekend I went to the Pacific International Quilt Festival (fantastic!) and in less than a week I will be in Houston for the big show! Its my first time to go to Houston, and I am going with my BFF, so am totally excited about the experience.

In between I have been stitching away on the ‘many crosses’ quilt. I started out with some diagonal stitching on some of the crosses, and then didn’t know where to go with it. BFF suggested spirals, and I love those, so when I came home from PIQF, I found a leftover block from that quilt and did a few spirals on it, then tacked it up next to the real quilt on the design wall. I could see right away that that was too distracting, and the thought came into my head “you need to quilt each of these crosses individually.” And just as quick as that, I was off and quilting. It made me so happy to have a plan. Here’s a few shots of what I’ve been doing.




In the late afternoon, and into the evening, I watch TV shows and stitch away on the little squares quilt that I put together just for the purpose of having something to hand stitch. At first, it was disconcerting to try to do any stitching on these little two inch squares. But the more I’ve done, the more I’ve gotten into it. Each one is a little composition on its own. Some I am following the print of the fabric and using that as a guideline for my stitching. Others I just do whatever I want to on top of the print. I think there are about 150 squares on this quilt, and last night I counted 75 of them already stitched. Its really amazing how much you can accomplish by hand when you just keep working at it.




I probably won’t be back to blog until I return from Houston. Oh, and then I have only a few days at home before I leave for my workshop with Maria Shell! And then I’m never leaving home again :)

A Great Opportunity!

Earlier this year I watched a webcast on SAQA by Maria Shell. She was so organized and articulate, with lots of great visuals. I was immediately interested in learning more about her. I found her blog, which is an outstanding blog–well written, and with lots of fun and interesting photographs. She even provided a link to some music that I really enjoyed :) And besides all that, she does absolutely wonderful work!

Treasure Map

Maria has studied extensively with Nancy Crow, but has developed her own unique style of quilting and piecing and creating art. She will be speaking several times in Houston, and I am really looking forward to that. But I am even more looking forward to taking a workshop with her in Santa Cruz, CA at the South Bay Area Modern Quilt Guild, “Making Prints out of Solids.” There are still openings in this workshop! I would encourage any of you to take advantage of this opportunity if you are anywhere in California. Maria makes her home in Alaska (part of what makes her blog so interesting!) so this is a rare opportunity to learn with her. I am totally looking forward to a day of cutting fabric into little pieces and sewing them back together :)


(P.S. Many thanks to Maria for graciously allowing me to share photos of her work on my blog!)

Ghosts of Quilting Past

Oh my my my. I showed the fire quilt to MLG (master landscape guy) and that gave him the idea that he could buy a baby quilt for his new grand baby from me. I have lots of unfinished quilt tops, and was pretty sure one or two might work for babies, so I said I’d look around and show him what I had available the following week. I looked in my quilting closet and found a few, and then went out to the storage shed to look through the bins that were out there.

If ever I thought my art quilting had not improved over the years, I found proof in those boxes. In the “what was I thinking of” category, there were several almost completed “art quilts.” Distressing. Too bad to even share on this blog.

But the good news was, it also made me look at all of my many unfinished projects, and I found a fair amount of really nice, traditional type quilt tops.

I found a top that MLG liked for his grand baby, featuring plants and birds :)


And I found this little piece that was essentially completed. I was enamored of buttons at one point, and had quite a collection. And just playing with colors and wool and thread. Yesterday afternoon I quilted the straight lines  on the background, and then decided that I liked the backing fabric for a binding. I went to my chair to hand sew the binding on, and there was this hank of perle cotton on the arm of the chair. Hmmm. That would be a fun way to sew the binding down.

And ta! da! A little fun piece is finished.


Close ups:



You can see I sewed the wool squares on by hand and by machine. Also, notice how the wool squares are “wonky.” Wool tends to want to stretch out of shape while you’re sewing it. That’s okay with me, but I’m not sure what you would do if you didn’t want that to happen. Maybe use fusible?

Anyway, this look has given me a lot of quilting to think about and hopefully work on. Best stop writing and get to work!

The Fire Quilt

Our community is still reeling from the aftermaths of the Butte Fire. The final report was just released last night–the fire is 100% contained. The fire started on Wednesday, September 9, and I evacuated the following day. I came home tentatively on Saturday, the 12th, and the following morning, I somewhat reluctantly made my way to church, which was still close enough to the fire that it was smoky in the building. Our church was filled, and several families were there whose houses had burned to the ground! It was such a moving service of worship and sharing. I had an idea for a quilt and drew a little sketch in my journal.

In the next couple of days, I started working on my idea. I had the thought that I would finish it in a week and share it at church the next Sunday. Hahaha. Anyway, I got out all my landscape fabrics (I didn’t have nearly as many as I have had in the past,) and my fire fabrics (surprisingly, I had quite a few fabrics that were fire-like, since red is not one of my favorite colors.)

And then I sat and stared at the pile of fabrics for a day. I don’t know how to do this. So the next morning, I just took the fabrics and placed them on the design wall in the approximate area I thought each should be. And that’s when I had the beginning of an idea. Instead of making it a realistic landscape, I would just make a representational simple patchwork of the colors and fabrics I had chosen. A start!

I think it was googling “fire images” that gave me the next idea. I knew I wanted to include pine and oak trees, but in the fire pictures, many of them were just in outline. That’s what I would do–I would make silhouettes of the trees. Again the thought, I don’t know how to do this. But I googled “oak tree drawing,” and sure enough, there was the inspiration I needed. I was able to draw a rough outline of an oak tree pretty easily. The pine tree was even easier. So there it was.

It took a whole day to zig zag the trees in place, because I don’t like using fusible. But, these were huge pieces, and I had the idea to just use little pieces of fusible to make sure they stayed in place. I found my package of Soft Fuse, recommended by Sue Nickels, and it worked fantastic. In fact, I liked it so well, I might use it a little more in the future.


I took a picture, and sent it to BF, and that made me think it looked a little empty. So the next morning, I got out a few more “fire fabrics,” and added some flames.


Now this is the part that I was very sure of. I planned to have the doxology written in large block letters across the middle of the quilt. I thought about making block letters with black fabric and fusible web. But that will take so long, I told myself. I’ll just embroider them. Hahahaha. Two weeks later, the lettering was finished :)

Two days of quilting, and an afternoon of adding a facing, and the quilt is finished. Its always so fun to finish a project and really like what you have done. Its the reward at the end of a long, sometimes boring, sometimes worrisome journey. I’m excited to share it with my church this Sunday.

Here’s some close-ups of the quilting:




And here’s the finished quilt:


Quilting Fast and Slow

Well, I had ANOTHER little interruption to my normal schedule. I had volunteered to donate a quilt to Noah’s trainer for her organization’s annual fundraiser. She takes in dogs that are essentially hopeless, and turns them into good citizens so that they can be adopted! Anyway, I knew about this way ahead of time, but did I do anything? Noooo…. The event was on Sunday, and Saturday afternoon I was looking for something to donate. I found a top I had actually made into a sandwich, and thought, how fast can I quilt this? It was a challenge! I decided to try my walking foot one more time. I don’t like it very much, but I was hoping it would save me a bit of shoulder hunching so that I would be able to quilt for a longer period of time. I planned to do straight line quilting, varying the distance from 1 1/2 to 4″ apart. Nothing fancy, but it would make a sturdy quilt. I quilted steadily until about 7pm. Got up the next morning, and quilted the rest of it, and then put the binding on. Threw it in the washer and dryer, and left just in time to get to the event at 3pm! ….only to find that it was cancelled due to the aftermath of the fire… well, at least now I know how fast I can quilt.

This was the quilt I did with the leftover squares from my color experiment a while ago:


For the back I used the very last of the leftover squares!


And then it was back to work on my fire inspiration quilt. And there we have an example of some very slow quilting. The lettering I chose to be large, and I needed to do a double line of stitching with #5 perle cotton on each letter. I felt like I was moving in slow motion.


Finally, the day came when the lettering was done, and I could move on to the quilting. That I could do in a day, I was pretty sure. Wrong… to start with, I chose a thread that I really liked, but it was #12 thread. I put a metallic needle on the machine (larger eye for the  larger thread,) and started in. You just have to work slow with the large thread.


After doing the one tree with this thread, I decided that was enough of that. I chose different threads and went back to work. Ahhh, that was much better.


Still, I had to work fairly slowly, as it was fussy quilting, working around the lettering.


Now, this morning, on my third day of quilting on this quilt, I can see the finish line. Hopefully, I will be able to share the finished quilt with you this weekend!


In case any of you reading this blog do not read my other blog or follow me on Facebook, my nice calm life was interrupted a week ago by the Butte Fire! It was fairly close to my home, but then the wind took it in a different direction. Me and the doggies evacuated for a few days. But now the fire is under control, and all is returning to normal, at least in my little life.

I don’t think I ever showed you the finished quilt P.I.N.K. I do love it, and will use it as my favorite lap quilt this winter.


I quilted each block a bit differently. That probably kept me going on it.


I love how a quilt crinkles after you wash it!


Last week, B.F. (before fire) I was determined to get back to my rug. I finished the hummingbird and these trumpet flowers. And that’s as far as I got. Hopefully, more rug hooking will be on slate for Monday.


To get back into the studio, I did a little fun, no-meaning playing around. These star blocks are all done with my box of little two inch squares. Very fun to first piece some four patches, and then to choose two more colors to make these stars. I actually like this method of making the star points (or flying goose blocks.) There is a seam in the middle, but it seems to be a very accurate way of making those   blocks. I just take the two inch squares, and draw a line right down the middle diagonal and then stitch on the line.




B.F. I had started hand stitching on this piece. There are 150 two inch squares, so lots of places to do a little doodling. This was the hand project that I grabbed to take with me when we evacuated.






Speaking of evacuating, I did not take much with me when I left. How do you decide what to take and what to leave? I did not take any of my finished quilts. I took my Singer Featherweight, and I took my rug hooking wool stripper tool, as it was near the back door, and I am quite fond of this tool :) I just took one handwork project, and one knitting project. Three changes of clothes (just right!) and the best thing I took was the doggie bed. It kept the girls calm in a new environment :)

In church last Sunday (in the midst of the Butte Fire) we had such a special service. There were several couples there that had lost their homes to the fire. I did have a little inspiration for a quilt about the fire, and I am working on that this week. I will share that with you next time.

In the meantime, be safe and be thankful!

Be Filled With Joy!

I finished this little green and pink piece, even though I had misgivings about my color choice after starting it. It is a lot of stitching for something that doesn’t really have that “pop.” But I enjoyed the stitching, and I think it represents the simple message “Be Filled with Joy!”


Some close-ups of the stitching. I still choose to stay with the simplest of stitches–straight stitches in different combinations (running, outline, satin, etc,) lazy daisy, and french knots. There are probably about 30 colors of “pinkish” threads in this piece, in perle cotton, sizes 3, 5, 8, and 12.





I decided to add leaves in the empty spaces.



My wish for you this Sunday morning, is that you would be Filled with Joy!


Is A Puzzlement

Anyone else out there a fan of old musicals? This is one of my favorite songs from “The King and I.” IS A PUZZLEMENT, the king says emphatically! Anyway, that’s what happens when you madly piece together blocks without measuring or using a straight edge. At some point, you’ve got to “pay the piper,” and figure out how to fit them together.

Remember? Here’s the start–just three simple blocks. Three different sizes, in my mind.


And here’s the finished collection of them. I pretty much liked the way I had put them up on the wall as I went along. I do think about where I’m placing them at the time. At this point, I had pretty much run out of the fabric, and I was thinking about what I wanted to use as a spacer/background fabric.


I agreed with Jenny. I didn’t actually want a background fabric. So I found a few more pieces of the Cherrywood, and just used those as “spacers,” when the blocks just wouldn’t fit together. I also made a few smaller squares to fit into the small spaces.

Here I think you can see I am starting to put together chunks of blocks. This actually requires a LOT of thought, and my brain gets tired.


As I take pieces from the design wall to the sewing machine, here is my simple method to remember what I was doing. I put this big pearl head pin up in the corner where the block came from. And I put the smaller pin in the upper right hand corner of the block I am working on, no matter how big or small it is. That way I remember which way it goes when I get back to the design wall.


And here is the finished top, “His Kingdom Will Never End.” I am very pleased with it. One of the things I was trying to avoid was long straight seam lines. But at some point, there is no way to avoid that, unless you are willing to do a lot of “Y” seams. I was not willing to do that.


But I stubbornly wanted this red (and brown square) in the center of the quilt. This is the only place I did (machine stitched) Y seams. I am pretty proud of how well that came out!


And thus ends another quilt puzzlement. Now it will wait while I think about how I want to quilt it. By machine, no double, because I tend not to want to work by hand on a piece with so many seams. Now its time to clean up the studio, and think about my next project!