Quilters Lead Pieceful Lives.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Pandemic - Part 2

I have now sewn over 100 masks!

Here is a sampling of some of the fashion-forward folks you may see wearing them all over the country.

And click here for one of the many articles on how to avoid fogging your glasses while in mask mode.

Stay safe....practice social distancing....be smart...wear a mask...save a life.


Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Quilting During A Pandemic

There are already thousands of stories, memes, posts, Tweets, "Top 200 Movies To See" lists, musical parodies, etc., about how people are finding their way through this never-ending Spring of 2020. Even in this very dark time, it is amazing how much incredible creativity is coming forth.

So what is a quilter to do?

I was about 1/3 the way through a quilt for our den, and had one more baby quilt (for a friend's granddaughter) in the queue when things began to get worrisome. We were very early adopters of the stay-at-home policy (easy for introverts like me!). And it looked like the hunker time would last quite a while. So I mentally began to suss out how much time to spend each day working on them to make them last as long as possible, or at least until we were paroled.

Sure, I can order patterns and fabs on-line and have them delivered, but one needs to have a project in waiting to do so.

Then, the word began to spread that there was a serious mask shortage for the medical community. Suddenly, the interwebs were filled with all kinds of DIY masks: with elastic, one-piece, with ties, sewn, glued, even from old bras!

Perfect!!! I have lots of time and a huge stash of fabrics!

I contacted our local hospital and offered to make some for them. They requested that I make a prototype and send it to them and they would let me know; so I did. That was two weeks ago and I have not heard back.

Time went (slowly) on, and then the conversation changed to everyone wearing masks when they go outside. Boom! Just like that I had a dozen orders from family and friends. But, just as with my morsbags, I make and distribute these for free. Oddly, the masks take just about as long to make (40 minutes) as the bags!

Here are some of the ones I have made so far:

Let me know if you would like one. I will try to turn them around as quickly as possible (via mail or no contact delivery).

And...one day....I'll be able to get back to finishing those other quilts. 


Sunday, January 5, 2020

All Different, Yet All The Same

This quilt took longer (6 months from design to completion) and more time (almost 200 hours) than any other one I have made in a long, long time.  About half of that time was spent in the designing, cutting, and laying out phase (with several major revisions along the way).

The inspiration for this wall hanging started with a photo I saw on Pinterest. The idea was to use many same-sized pieces, but to give the effect of the 3D cube by arranging them in a particular way. Each of the colored rectangles is 1" x 1.5". So this is not a true "postage stamp" quilt, where all the pieces are square. But at 1,086 pieces, it does have a similar look.

The background "strips" are made of a variety of blue, gray, green, brown, and red pieces (about 50 different fabrics), alternating with white. The same fabric does not repeat in any given row! Those five colors repeat in groups going across. They are then offset by one in each following row.  So looking down the piece you'll see the same blue, gray, green, brown, and red pattern repeated.

The "cube" is made by arranging the purple fabrics (about 20 different ones) in such a way that there appears to be 3 sides. It is all done by having more or fewer purples (and whites) on a given "side". Though these fabrics are randomly arranged, again, the same fabric does not repeat within a row. And it is off-center to add a little extra interest.

As to the title: It has two meanings.
First, the literal one. As noted above, there are many different fabrics in this quilt. Each row is unique. Yet all the pieces in the background are the same size and shape.

Second, a more figurative meaning. This quilt was donated for auction to Hands of Peace at their Spring Benefit. This is an organization that brings together Israeli, Palestinian, and U/S/ teens each summer for two weeks of intensive dialog with the goal of raising the political, social, and self-awarenessof the participants, and ultimately to their involvement and leadership in achieving positive peace. So the title refers to the fact that all people are different, yet, at heart, we are all the same, and that we have more in common than we may realize.

As usual, I chose to do minimal quilting. It is all ditch quilting using clear monofilament thread.
The unusual thing I did this time was to finish it with a facing technique, rather than a traditional binding (A big shout out to my quilting buddy Donna for suggesting this approach).

In most quilts, there is a border. Then, you sew on a strip of fabric to finish the raw edges; that fabric may be the same as the border (so it blends in), a contrasting color, or a fabric used in the quilt top itself.

But this quilt has no border, and adding a thin contrasting binding fabric would unnecessarily draw the eyes away from the main focus of the piece: the cube. So Donna suggested the facing technique. I don't believe I have ever done this before! You basically start the same was as with a traditional binding: sew a small strip of fabric on each of the 4 sides (in this case I chose to use the same fabric as I used on the back). Then, instead of simply flipping rest of the strip over to the back, you actually flip it and roll the full 1/4" sewed part of the top piece with it! Doing this gives you the finished edge you need, but leaves no trace of the facing fabric on the front of the quilt! So the top pattern truly goes edge-to-edge!

Here is a view of the flipped and tacked facing piece on the back. You can also see the ditched quilting lines.  

It is said that "quilters lead pieceful lives".  Here's hoping that someone will bid on this quilt so that people in the Middle East can also lead peaceful lives.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Forest Friends

If this quilt looks familiar, it is because this is the third incarnation of it that I have made. But each one has its own set of animals (well...mostly), and completely different background fabrics to give it a unique look.

The animals are done using the paper piecing method. Some of them have over 30 separate pieces!

The back of the quilt is filled with flowers and buzzing bees.

The second one was actually for the same parents, when they were stationed in Australia. Now they are back in the Chicago area and have a new daughter, Mira.  This one was designed to show many of the animals of the North Woods (you know...just over the border).

Here are the previous ones:

Animals Down Under:

and North American Animals (created January, 2001, in the pre-blog days):

I wonder where they'll go next and what kinds of animals they will find there!?!?!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Monkeying Around With Numbers

Got a request from Nancy, one of our travel friends, for a new baby quilt.  Her specifications were:
"It’s a boy. The “theme” should be MATH NERDS! The Mom is a high school math teacher and the Dad is a stock broker."!!!

What to do?  I looked around for fabrics with numbers and equations, but couldn't find anything that would work.

It is, after all, a BABY quilt!  So I wanted to satisfy Nancy's parameters but still have something that baby Eli would enjoy.

Finally found a very cute fabric with a pattern of numbers AND monkeys!  What could be better?

But then, what pattern could I use?

I played around and eventually decided to make one up based on a Fibonacci pattern. This is a sequence of numbers that is found in many places in nature!

                                                Image result for fibonacci sequence

You get it by adding the current number to the previous number. So: 0 + 1 = 1   1 + 1 = 2   2 + 1 = 3  3 + 2 = 5   5 + 3 = 8.....and so on.

Here is how it looks graphically.

If you connect the diagonal corners in each square (using a gentle curve), you get the "nautilus" or "fern" shape.

So...I designed the quilt using the 1," 1", 2", 3", 5", and 8" squares. This gives an 8" x 13" rectangle (as above). When you rotate each group 90 degrees and line up the outer edges, it creates a square in the middle. I used similar looking dotted fabrics in the usual red-orange-yellow-green-blue-purple (rainbow) colors, and put the monkey fabric in the middle square. To clearly separate the Fibonacci sections, I outlined each with a 1/4" mini-sashing in solid blue. I then used the monkey fabric as a wide border (and for the binding).

Quilting was done with rainbow variegated thread. I created cardboard templates with the appropriately sized and shaped curves for each square. Doing so allowed me to pretty accurately sew the Fibonacci curve. And notice the monkey tails and the random Fibonacci-looking swirls by each monkey!

The quilting on the border is a sine wave pattern .

Here is the finished quilt (front and back):

I hope Eli AND mom and dad like it. They can use it to teach him about the beauty and magic of numbers. Nerds rule!

Baby Eli and friend!!!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Quilts for Sale!!!!

In the last 25 years I have made over 160 quilts! (Not to mention hundreds of reusable bags, many aprons, iPad covers, etc.).

The majority were made for a specific person. But a number were made just because I liked the pattern or wanted to try something new. These have beautifully graced our house (and also my mother-in-law's).

But, sad to say, the time has come to part with some of these. It will be hard to let them go, but I know that whoever buys them will love them as much as we do.

I have created a new blog label ("Needs A Loving Home") to help you find these quickly (click in right-hand sidebar), and have marked each (at the end of the regular post) with the size and asking price (which includes shipping in the US).

Check them out and let me know which ones you are interested in!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Rainbow Blocks

Seven years ago I made Sweetie Pie II for Skyler; this one is for her new brother Crew!

Crew's mom Jereme wanted something "colorful, but just with squares. No theme, no animal shapes."

So I came up with this pattern:

A rainbow of colors all based on a 6" block.

It starts on the outside with 6" RED squares.

Next is 6" blocks of ORANGE and YELLOW, but these squares are each 3" on a side.

Then a 6" block of GREEN made up of 2" squares.

In the center of which is a 2" block of BLUE made up of 1" squares.

All in all, there are 60 different fabrics!!! (and it's just 30" x 30".)

And one more wild rainbow fabric on the back!

The quilting was done with rainbow variegated thread and is all in the ditch except for the square in the middle of the outer red blocks.

And "Crew" was also monogrammed in a similar variegated thread.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Awww! Giraffes!

Our travel friend Michelle requested a quilt for her about-to-be-born grandson Dashiell.

I previously made this one for grandson Decker in March, 2016. For that one, she requested elephants.

This time it was "giraffes...with some teal". I found a really cute pattern (hence the name we chose) from Sew Fresh Quilts. It had giraffes and a beautiful range of blues (I used the fabrics recommended in the pattern).

It is a bit hard to see (you may need to zoom in on the photo), but I used a decorative stitch to create a central "rib" in each of the leaves. The leaves themselves are in 3 shades of green, so the ribs are also done in similar-shaded greens.

I found a backing fabric that also is teal with a riot of giraffes!

For the quilting I used clear monofilament thread. I ditch quilted each of the horizontal rows, and then also ditched around each of the giraffes. Basically...it's invisible!

For the binding, I used leftover pieces of each of the 6 shades of blue. Each was then matched and cut to the same length as it's row counterpart (above and below the middle darkest one). By doing this, you can barely even see the binding! (It's actually more visible on the back.)

And now Dashiell has successfully arrived!  Hope he likes his new playmates.  

and a later picture:

Monday, April 2, 2018

NOLA Houses

Our daughter Emily lives in New Orleans (i.e., NOLA; you can see the quilt I previously made for Em's house here), and works for Habitat for Humanity (click for main web site or NOLA site). Last fall she was promoted to a new position which included her own office! So she asked me to make her a quilt of NOLA houses to put on the wall.

For those of you who have never been to New Orleans, you may not realize that it features an amazing variety of architectural styles. These range from one of the standard and ubiquitous styles, the "shotgun" house (a narrow house where the rooms are arranged one behind another), to the grandest of mansions in the Garden District. In between are many shapes and sizes, and often featuring the bright colors one usually associates with the Caribbean islands. Click here for a visual sampling!

So I had a ton of options to choose from . My original thought was to do a traditional block quilt with maybe 16 squares, and each square being some pieced version of one of these houses. 

But around this time my quilt friend Kathleen Warren and I got together for a working (well....really playing) session using her abstract quilt-as-you-go freeform technique.

She is a true artist with a definite eye for color and design. She helped me "cut loose" and just randomly build up a design on a pre-cut piece of backing fabric. The idea is to fill the space and then mount it on a 10"x10" pre-stretched canvas.

As I was doing this, the proverbial light bulb went on in my head. Why not do individual houses like this and mount them on these same 10x10 frames!?!?!  I love to mount my artwork on stretcher bars, but these have almost always been larger pieces; I had never considered doing an individual mounted block.

Then, these could be hung on her wall in lots of different arrangements and switched from time to time. Em liked the idea, and then we set out to decide which ones to do.

We definitely wanted to do her cute house (narrow, but not a true shotgun), and also wanted to do one of the popular versions that Habitat builds down there. I had decided that I would make 8 in total, so we began to look for others to use. We found a few, and I set to work.

As I do a lot, I "translated" these images into a grid pattern in Excel. I then made them using a combination of sew-and-flip, paper piecing, and fusing. So these are not "quilts" in the traditional sense; more fabric art. 

For the most part, I tried to match colors of the fabric house to those of the actual house  The hard part was portraying the dimensionality of each in the (basically) two-dimensions of the fabric. In some cases I think I succeeded; in others, the final versions have a flat look.

Each house has from 80 - 100 pieces! I then fused the completed houses onto the background (of grass and sky). Then, the completed piece was staple-mounted to the canvas frame.

After much work, we decided that 4 was plenty!

Here is each one; first the photo used as the model, then the actual fabric version.

First, the Habitat house (under construction):

Next: a double-wide (usually two shotguns joined with a common wall):

Then, a colorful and ornate beauty:

And finally: Emily's house!

Here they are just hanging around:

...and on site at the Habitat For Humanity office in NOLA with Em:

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sweet Hearts

This is the third quilt I have made for a great-grand-child of my mother-in-law's friend Peggy.
The other two were "Confetti" (11 years ago; pre-blog!!!) and "Sesame Street" (2015).

The theme for this one was "pink hearts". I found a patchy heart pattern and then designed the quilt top. It was all made with scrap fabrics, except for the border and back, which I bought specifically for this project.

The idea was for the centers of the hearts to be made up of pink fabrics, and the outer edges (and multi-squares sashing to consist of non-pink fabs. Though that's what I did, it might not be clearly apparent; there's not enough contrast between the pinks and non-pinks.

I ditch quilted around the edges of each heart and the white squares with white thread. Then I shadow quilted a heart (pink thread) inside each of the six hearts. 

Cute and colorful!!