Sunday, December 4, 2011

Finished Finishing

Enough of finishing.
Here's the last of the lot:
It's called Free Floating.
And here are a couple of details:

The details show a couple of my all-time favorite fabrics.  
The blue-green fingerprint with the occasional black dot is glazed, which gives it a wonderful crispness.  And it is vintage--exactly what vintage, I don't know, but it was well-aged when I got it years ago at Beverly Hills Silks & Woolens.  BHS&W was a set decorator's paradise where bark cloth and 36"-wide fabric, as well as almost anything else you fancied, could still be found on the bolt. The other fingerprint fabric is an African Dutch wax print. I like the two together--the fingerprint collection.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Another UFO Moved to the FO Column

The Finishing March plays on; a post-manuscript-completing urge to complete something else.  Namely quilt tops from the Past.  This time the top was made in 1998....  Or, at least, as close as I can figure, it was 1998.  And I may have this story totally tangled, but, as I remember it, here's how it came about:  Judi Blaydon, a literary enthusiast, issued a challenge to retreat goers. Use a passage Judi chose from The War of the Roses, a novel by Warren Adler, as the creative springboard for a quilt.  
Doing lots of fusing I made a small top, displayed it along with other challenge results at the retreat, and then put it away.  But, when I came across it recently, I was happy to see it again and thought it deserved to be quilted.  
I especially liked the positive/negative thorns.
And the yellow-green/green-blue/red combo holds up.  
Another FO for our guild's mini-quilt auction, April 2012.  Yea!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

More UFO's into FO's

Two more UFO's became FO's at stitch group this morning.  They are both destined for the mini-quilt auction at the Kaw Valley Quilt Guild show in April 2012.  Proceeds go to local non-profits.  

You've seen both of these projects in unfinished stages.  The first is from the workshop Carol Taylor taught this summer.

The second is Sarah Fayman's second challenge--the challenge fabrics are the solid brown, deep blue, and violet. 

Both pieces were free cut.  I tamed the 9-patches with a ruler before sewing the blocks together.  

Done and done.

Monday, October 31, 2011

All that glitters...

Thanks to Linda Frost for a swell idea!  Sitting on my back porch, Linda asked if the privacy fence around the back garden belonged to us or the neighbor.  When I told her it is ours, she brightened and said she had seen a photo online of just such a fence with marbles in it.  Not long after she left that afternoon, Linda sent the link, and I was pretty knocked out.  

Yesterday my husband helped me drill holes in a section of our fence where afternoon sun streams through the slats.  We made two basic sizes of holes and then customized most of them with a burr to accommodate the somewhat-less-than-uniform small and medium marbles.  Here is the happy result:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Taking the "U" out of UFO's

Bobbi Finley and I are winding up a new book, which C&T Publishing will be releasing in August 2012.  We are very excited about it and will tell you more about it as the release date nears.
We made some really terrific quilts for the new book.  A LOT of quilts--there are 18 projects!
We had a wonderful time making the quilts for the book, but, in order to get them all done by deadline, we didn't work on much else for quite awhile.
Now that the deadline has come and gone, I am all about finishing, finishing, finishing some of those UFO's cluttering my shelves.  So, imagine my smile when local quilter Lori Kukuk, recently empty-nested on account of the Boston Red Sox organization's drafting her son for its pitching squad, expressed a need for something to keep her occupied...  She took a top I put together in 1996 (Clinton was President, and we'd never heard of Homeland Security) and quilted it with a simple, overall design.
Here's a photo of the quilt, not yet bound:
It's a strippy using blocks my grandmother made long before I knew her and fabric from the stashes of gone-but-far-from-forgotten friends.  There weren't enough of any one type of my grandmother's blocks to make a quilt, and, because they were all constructed from the same family of inexpensive feedsack and dress cottons, I used them together and arranged them in strips.  I put my grandmother's smaller blocks on point and framed them with a friend's green-on-green that is very close to the green from my grandmother's era:    
And here is one of her postage-stamp blocks:
 The back I pieced way back when has a hand on it and this inscription:
Made in 1996 by Carol Gilham Jones using Grandmother Themer's blocks and fabric from Louise Townsend and Marion Mengel.

Monday, October 10, 2011


The Douglas County AIDS Project's annual fundraising art auction is coming up.  Last year a small group of us made and donated Vuvuzela:
This year we've gone in quite a different direction.  A member of our quilt guild inspired us when she showed an antique silk quilt that has been in her family and on which she'd been doing some conservation work. We slightly modified the pattern of the antique quilt and stitched blocks using primarily remnants from a tie maker.  We unified the composition by using a dark red, changeable silk in two corners of each block.  The quilting is machine herringbone stitch on major seam lines.  Here's the happy result:
We hope it makes a fortune for a very worthy non-profit organization.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lotus Project complete

Some months ago I wrote about a Florida/Michigan group of quilters who had chosen Bobbi Finley's Lotus pattern from our book, Tile Quilt Revival, to use for a project in which each member of the group made her own Lotus quilt in her own choices of fabrics. (See this blog for January 24 and 26, 2011.) The Lotus quilts are complete, and here is a picture of the quiltmakers and their quilts:
They are beautiful!  Thanks for sharing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sarah's Challenge(s)

Back from the top of the world.
This glorious photo was taken by Bev Chapman, who has such an eye!  She's a trooper of a hiker, a great story teller, and an extraordinary photographer.  We were on the summit of Snowshoe Mountain on a gorgeous August day.  

So, back in the Heartland now and back to the design wall and the sewing machine, with an August 1 manuscript deadline behind me and UFO's to transform into FO's.  
Sarah's first challenge is DONE:
As promised with acceptance of the fat quarter (see the border) that started this challenge, it will go in the mini-quilt auction, proceeds to non-profits, at our guild show next spring.
At the guild's show-and-tell, it was great fun to see the variety of ways folks used the challenge fabric. Sarah rose to the occasion and announced a second challenge.  This time, 3 solids--deep blue, brown, and violet.  She had "a little bit Amish" in mind.  Here's the top I've made, which I'm calling, Not at All Amish:
Here's a detail in which you can see the 3 solids:
The violet is a beautiful thistle color, isn't it?
Happy September:

Friday, July 22, 2011

As Anticipated

I'm happy to report that Carol Taylor's free-cut workshop was as enjoyable as anticipated.  A day with a pile of favorite fabrics and no templates--how could it not be great?
My somber group of fabrics, with dashes of yellow-green and school bus yellow thrown in, got the nod.  Here is what is up on my design wall now:
I'm auditioning values and waiting for inspiration on the inner border before thinking about where it might go from here.  Stay tuned.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Exciting Prospect

Carol Taylor, a marvelous contemporary quiltmaker, is the guest speaker/teacher at our guild this week. I'm signed up to participate in her Circles workshop on Wednesday, and I'm very much looking forward to it.  It will be interesting and exciting to hear what she has to say about design process; and it will be such fun to spend a day sewing without a fixed purpose for the sewn product.  That last part is what comes of sewing, for months, quilts intended for  a book.  As rewarding as that is, there's nothing like "aimless" cutting and stitching.  So, I'm more than ready to wake up Wednesday morning with the prospect of a day devoted to freely playing with color and pattern and learning a fresh approach or approaches to my favorite geometric shape, the circle.  
Here are the fabric arrays I've gathered (with a day still to go and, as always, reserving the right to change my mind for any or no reason):
This is the somber one.  I love the grays and blacks and grayed purples with an odd orange handdye thrown in for a spark.
Here's the other.  Predominantly swimming pool blue and deeper values of swimming pool blue.  It's in the upper 90's and humid here.  Has been for well over a week with no cool front on the horizon.  Wonder why I'm drawn to that lagoony blue.....  Not just in this fabric bundle, either.  I just got home from the paint store with lagoony blue chips to consider for our dining room wall, which currently is red.  How do you suppose I'll feel about that lovely cool color when the season has changed?
Stay cool.  Don't change major wall colors during extreme weather--tantamount to grocery shopping while famished.
Looking forward to Wednesday.  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Workshop Wonders

Here is a a basted block from a workshop earlier this week:

That's right!  A doily surrounded by tile pieces.  Don't they make a fine combination? The maker of this block was pleased with the look of it, but noted that the edges of the doily would have to be securely stitched to the background fabric if she were going to have someone machine quilt it for her. 
Another workshop participant pieced and fussy cut one of the circles in her block to give this great mirror image effect:

And how about these paisley orange peel shapes?
Pretty wonderful.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sarah's Challenge

Sarah Fayman of Sarah's (fabulous) Fabrics in Lawrence, KS, is issuing a fat quarter of this fabric--
to any member of the Kaw Valley Quilt Guild who will use it to make a small quilt, c. 18'' to 24'', to donate to the guild's mini-quilt auction for charitable purposes.  A very real aspect of this challenge is to use such a large-scale print in a small quilt.  After pondering the possibilities, I decided a tile block centering on the challenge fabric and bordered with it was my answer.  Here's the block in progress--you may be able to see the needle and thread poised to stitch the central circles of the challenge fabric:
I'll post a photo of the completed block with the border.
Sarah plans to make this an ongoing challenge, issuing fat quarters of a different fabric every few months.  It's going to be fun to see what people come up with, and it's a great idea for stocking our mini-quilt auction.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Atlasta Hasselblad

So, here is the perfectly sized and detailed Hasselblad crocheted by Nadra Dangerfield for John Gary Brown:

It's awesome from every angle:

Who needs to understand the impetus when the product is so engaging?

And something else delightful--an illustrated edition of The Elements of Style!  Not just any illustrations, but illustrations by Maira Kalman.  She is a visual columnist for The New York Times and writes the blog, And the Pursuit of Happiness.  She has such an interesting and quirky way of looking at the world--her Illustration for The Elements of Style's Table of Contents is a watermelon pink package tied with string...

I came across the wonderful little volume while sorting books at lunchtime today.  The Friends of our local public library twice a year conducts a grand sale of donated books.  Proceeds, of course, benefit the library.  I help in a tiny way by sorting books into sale categories.  It's always a joy to come across something unknown or unexpected, and it certainly was a joy today to find, of all things, the classic style manual with charming illustrations.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Off the Subject

A bit of a departure is always good.
A friend has sent this link:
She sent it with the mild disclaimer, "I'm not sure I understand the impulse." Ditto.  But I would say, I do not understand the impulse.  Understanding why is absolutely unnecessary to enjoying the product, though.  
It reminded me of when a friend crocheted a perfectly sized and detailed Hasselblad for a photographer.  Tune in again soon for photos of the stitched camera.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Variations on a Theme

I have such a good time teaching a tile block workshop.  It never fails--there are always interesting people in a workshop who quickly absorb the simple, direct construction of a tile block and then make it a means to express themselves.  
To illustrate the point, here are just a few photos of blocks-in-progress from a workshop yesterday afternoon in North Kansas City. 
An adoring grandmother featured her granddaughter.  The quilter admired a simple circle/semi-circle block from Bobbi Finley's Lotus tile quilt, and she wanted to incorporate her granddaughter's picture in a block.  To satisfy that combination, the quilter adjusted the center tile of the block to fit the oval format of the little girl's photo and built out from the oval with petals upon petals, as in Bobbi's block.  Simple, effective, delightful.
Another quilter used floral prints in an unexpected and wonderful way--as the tail of a shooting star.
She was very pleased with the look of this violet block and was contemplating other blocks in other color schemes.
Several quilters worked with Oriental-theme fabrics.  Both chose dark background fabrics; one, in fact, chose black, but that black was patterned with gold and will add a rich dimension to the block once she has revealed it by stitching  the tiles down.

Another quilter chose black-and-white fabrics for her tiles and a vivid turquoise for the background--brilliant!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Soft Tile Trivets!

Ruthmary Schnauer of C&T Publishing has posted a fun entry at
The post, dated April 6, is called, "Soft tile trivets inspired by Tile Quilt Revival."  

At an in-house "craft camp," Ruthmary taught her colleagues how to make soft trivets using C&T's product, Insul-Fleece, and designs from Tile Quilt Revival.  There are some great photos in her blog, and she gives step-by-step instructions.  Have fun.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pattern ID

Here's something quilters will identify with--Pattern ID, a current exhibition at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City.  I can't tell you how happy it made me. And, if you love pattern, and if you're a quilter I'm guessing you do, it will be an exciting experience for you, too.

The thread that ties the very diverse pieces together is artists' use of pattern and dress in expressing their personal and communal identities.  Nick Cave, who grew up in Jefferson City, Missouri, makes wildly imaginative costumes featuring the kind of elaborate, crocheted doilies, potholders, and dresser scarves (among many other tactile things) so familiar to anyone who's ever perused a Heartland secondhand store.  Moroccan Lalla Essaydi photographs women draped in acres of fabric she has covered with henna calligraphy in rooms with floors and walls entirely patterned with henna calligraphy.  Pattern paradise in gorgeous, giant photographs heavily laden with social commentary.
Nigerian/British Yinka Shonibare dresses headless female mannequins in fabulously interesting costumes of Dutch wax cotton prints.  His piece in an exhibition called Through African Eyes that I wrote about awhile back knocked me out, as did his Three Graces in Pattern ID. 

The catalogue for Pattern ID includes an essay on cross-cultural uses of textiles by Cecilia Gunzburger Anderson.  She says the Dutch wax prints originated as a Dutch roller-printed imitation of Indonesian batiks that became iconic of African culture.  Today there are still some European designers and manufacturers turning out a product called, "Real Dutch Wax," and there are many, many African-made versions of the roller-printed cloth called fancy prints. Here's a particularly wonderful fancy print from The Art of African Textiles, a catalogue from a 1995 exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery, London:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Collage + Cloth = Quilt

Want to make your eyes happy?  Well then, here's the website for you:  

Judi teaches and has written a wonderful book, Collage + Cloth = Quilt, about her technique for designing quilts from collages of personal photos.  A haiku by Claudia Alldredge, one of Judi's students, says it very well:
Favorite photos
Fractured into a collage
Blueprint for a quilt
The quilts Judi has designed and made based on photo collages are truly breathtaking, and you can see many of them on her website.  

Lucky, lucky me--I am one of the quiltmakers who has had the opportunity to learn Judi's design strategy from her.  Here is my quilt, Water Ways, designed from a collage of photos of water plants, reflections, and a stone wall:

You can see from these details that Water Ways is machine-pieced with just a couple of incidental hand-stitched details and machine-quilted:

And if you want to do a little shopping after feasting your eyes on Judi's quilts, also featured on the new website are Judi's delightful stitched paper quilts.  I'm very happy to say that one of the paper quilts, the Patron Saint of Seamstresses, graces my studio.  Now that I've seen her on the new website, I'm longing to have Gertrude here, too....  

Welcome to the web, Judi.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Spotlight on Ann Burgess

Ann Burgess (a/k/a C. Ann Burgess) is a magician with fabric.  She dyes, paints, and marbles the most marvelous fabrics and then incorporates them into stunning quilts of her own design.  

Ann made a tile quilt that is included in the Gallery of Contemporary Tile Quilts in Tile Quilt Revival:  

The only commercial fabric she used on the top is the gray batik background fabric in the blocks, which you see as the narrow channels of "grout" around the tiles.  All other fabrics you see are hand marbled, dyed, and painted.

The tile quilt technique, with its large and simple shapes, creates an ideal showcase for interesting fabrics.  Ann recognized the potential in a tile quilt for putting her fabrics to good use.  She designed 15" tile blocks with large, graceful tile shapes that show her fabrics to great advantage:

Here is a detail of one of her exotic dragonflies:

In this last detail, in addition to the marbled tile fabrics, you can see a bit of the fabrics Ann painted and dyed for the inner and outer borders of her quilt:

Thanks, Ann, for sharing your inspired creations.  

Monday, February 7, 2011

Home Again, Home Again

Home from a weeklong quilting retreat.  It was great fun and wildly productive.  Even so I'm happy to be with my sweetheart and mutts and happy to be sleeping in my own bed.  But it certainly is quiet and sedate around here--hardly the creative beehive of the retreat.  

This is the sort of thing I miss:  Sharona, the owner of a wonderful quilt store in Berkeley CA called New Pieces, posing in front of her design wall wearing the dress she later actually incorporated into the quilt behind her........

Bobbi Finley and I met at this annual retreat twenty or so years ago, and we've been sewing together pretty much continuously since then.  The 2011 retreat was no exception.  We planned, cut, and stitched two quilts and made a lot of progress on a third.  No wonder I slept 12 hours the first night home.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This just in from Florida

Here is another photo of an Orlando version of Lotus:

So elegant.  Thank you, thank you Orlando stitcher for sharing.

And with the photo came an explanation of the Orlando-Michigan connection.  The maker of this quilt is a member of a quilting group in Orlando and has a sister in Michigan.  They take turns suggesting group projects.  In this case, her sister suggested making Lotus.  The project is in progress.  We can expect to see a group photo when the Lotus project culminates.  I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, January 24, 2011


The cherished reward for Bobbi and I for writing about a little-known quilt type/technique is hearing from folks who have enjoyed learning about tile quilts and have made their own.  

Bobbi has heard through the quilters' grapevine of at least 6 versions of her Lotus quilt, which is on the cover of Tile Quilt Revival.  

It sounds like the hotbed of Lotus versions is Orlando, and there is another version somewhere in Michigan.  

To date, we have only one photo from the Orlando group:

But we're hoping for more.  Thanks, readers.