Quilters Lead Pieceful Lives.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Remembering Ken

In August, after a long battle with cancer, my wife’s Uncle Ken passed away. Ken was a fascinating person and a collector par excellence of a wide variety of objects. One of these was his collection of neckties. So Aunt Max asked if I would create a quilt using them. All quilts are special, but this one is truly unique. Even the fabric composition is unique (for me) as it is comprised of cotton, flannel, polyester, and silk! Using the ties as a starting point, I tried to capture Ken’s essence.

Ken’s main passion was movies. He had a large collection of vintage films, projectors, posters, and other paraphernalia. Related to Ken’s love of movies (especially serials) is the fact that he was also an author: (see "To Be Continued" and "To The Rescue"). Thus, I included a fabric with images from classic horror movies. (This fabric is also the back of the quilt.)

He was also a professor of communications at Iona College in New York. So there are some squares devoted to teaching / school.

At one time, Ken and Max owned and ran Shire Village Camp in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. Hence the camp-related fabric.

Finally, Ken loved music, and, of course, his taste was eclectic. He loved classic music from the 30s and 40s, but he also liked the rock-n-roll of the 60s and 70s. Every Sunday he listened to Jonathan Schwartz on public radio. So I included the fabric with the musical notes.

All of these theme fabrics are surrounded by squares cut from Ken’s ties.

With this quilt as a symbol, we will always remember Ken.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Shana's Choice

This quilt was made for our good friend Shana Lowitz. Shana comes from a very artistically gifted family. She asked me to design a wall quilt that had visual interest, but was not too busy; one that had some structure, but also some randomness; in soft rusts, corals, greens, and browns.

The pattern is loosely based on one from the book "City Quilts" by Cherri House.

Though the quilt is relatively small (about 38" x 26"), it is made up of 20 different fabrics. And no matter how closely you look, you won't see any quilting. Why? There are 7 rows, each comprised of a number of "block" units. Each row was then sewed to the previous row directly onto the batting/backing in the "quilt as you go" fashion (the same as I used for the small handbags I made a few years ago). Thus, no visible quilting on the front and only 7 straight lines on the back!

As Shana and I were designing it, we tried to come up with an appropriate name. Alas! We were unable find one worthy enough. So, once again, I am opening up naming rights to everyone. Please submit your choice either by commenting directly on the blog or by emailing me. Shana will have the honor of picking the winning name from all of the entries. The winner's name will be posted and he/she will receive a morsbag in the color of their choice.

Update: There were 17 entries in the "Name the Quilt" contest. As you can see, Shana chose "Shana's Choice", which indeed it was! The winning entry was submitted by Pauline (who knows a thing or two about quilts!). Thanks to all who submitted.

Friday, September 24, 2010

This Makes Me Happy!

A multi-colored bedspread made especially for my biggest fan (in terms of the number of my quilts she has, among other things), my mother-in-law Pauline. Though it looks like a scrap quilt, we actually picked and purchased 30 different fabrics specifically for this project. Even so, when we laid out the pieces to arrange it, we had to include one piece from my stash to fill in the last spot. You'll have to visit Pauline's apartment to try to find it!

I did minimal shadow quilting using a clear monofilament thread. That way the quilt stitches are nearly invisible, letting all of the bright colors show through.

And the name of the quilt? It is Pauline's suggestion. Perfect, no?
Click to see other views.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Two Alef-Bet Quilts

Last spring, by coincidence, I learned of two soon-to-be new little people.

One was the first child of our religious school director and his rabbi wife.

The other was the fifth child of the daughter of friends of ours. The daughter and her family live in Israel.

When I offered to make a quilt for each family, both suggested a Jewish theme. So I began looking for suitable patterns.

Then I found this Hebrew alphabet (or, more correctly, alef-bet) pattern.

I don't normally like to make the same quilt twice, but this opportunity was too good to pass up.

I used the same fabrics in both, but slightly changed which colors went with which letters. Each block is paper-pieced.

Remember that Hebrew is read from right to left, so the letters are: alef, bet, gimel, hei, vav, zayin, chet, tet, yud, kaf, lamed, mem, nun, samech, ayin, peh, tzaddi, kuf, resh, shin, and tav. There are also 5 "final consonants" (versions of other letters) in the alef-bet. These were not included. Nor were the vowel symbols, which go below the letters.

There are two other symbols (in the bottom row). The one on the right is the Star of David (or Jewish Star). In Hebrew it is called the Magen David which means "shield of David". There are many ideas about the symbolic meaning of the Star of David. Some Kabbalists thought that the six points represented God's absolute rule over the universe in all six directions: north, south, east, west, up and down. They also believed that the triangles represented humanity’s dual nature – good and evil – and that the star could be used as protection against evil spirits.

The structure of the star, with two overlapping triangles, has also been thought to represent the relationship between God and the Jewish people. The star that points up symbolizes God and the star that points down represents us here on earth. Yet others have noticed that there are twelve sides on the triangle, perhaps representing the Twelve Tribes.

The other symbol is the hamesh (meaning "hand" in Hebrew; also hamsa in Arabic). It is an old and still popular amulet for magical protection from the envious or evil eye. The words hamsa and hamesh mean "five" and refer to the digits on the hand. An alternative Islamic name for this charm is the Hand of Fatima, in reference to the daughter of Mohammed. An alternative Jewish name for it is the Hand of Miriam, in reference to the sister of Moses and Aaron.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Batik Coins

This is a pattern commonly called "Chinese Coins" because the solid blocks are said to look like stacks of coins. I guess if you squint and tip your head sideways you could come to that conclusion. Anyway, this is a very simple pattern, and I made it to use as the project for my next quilt class in September.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sweetie Pie

Cute little creepy-crawlies, flowers, butterflies, balloons, and oh-so-sweet pink and yellow with pindots!
The 9-patch squares are worked into the border, and.....
repeated on the back.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Flight of Fancy

I really went out of the box (for me!) with this quilt:

First, by fussy cutting and arranging the theme fabric (bird / flowers / Japanese-style motifs), it is almost a realistic landscape scene. My work is usually much more geometric.

Second, it is done using a combination of piecing styles: It is a 9-patch, but also includes both big and small solid patches of the theme fabric. Usually, a quilt is made using just one type of piecing technique.

Third, in order to smoothly incorporate the 9-patch squares into the theme fabric, I used the watercolor approach. That is, adjoining squares and patches blend together to appear as a smooth transition.

Finally, it is quilted using several different design elements (what was I thinking!). The orange setting points were shadow quilted. The large and small bird squares were free-form quilted with arcs to represent the shape of the birds' wings, the clouds, and also to reflect the curved motifs. The 9-patches and adjoing squares were ditch quilted, but only in parallel lines from bottom right to upper left to help reinforce the flight path of the birds.

One other note (which you quilters will certainly appreciate): When I took the pattern (from 9-Patch Pizzazz by Judy Sisneros) into the quilt store to buy fabric, we pulled an interesting bolt off the shelf and started building around it. After a few minutes we realized that it was the same fabric that was used in the pattern! Believe me, this never happens in real life!!!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Point, Counterpoint

This is a work I designed based on the painting, below, by Geraldo de Barros. The original (an enamel, 23.5" x 23.5", 1952) is in black, white, and light blue. The hues and shapes do indeed appear to show movement, or, at least, tension.

I did my version (29" x 29") in the primary (rainbow) colors. It does not have the same sense of movement as the original, but I believe that the bright colors and interplay of the shapes against the stark black background do have an interesting vibrancy.

For the quilting, I chose to do stipling. The thread colors match the black or colored fabrics. So if one looks at the back of the quilt (which is a solid black fabric) the outline of the points and counterpoints on the front are clearly visible.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Normally in a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces all fit together such that you see the finished picture but don't see the tabs and slots. In this "puzzle", the opposite is true. Hence the title. This piece will be donated to the United Way of Lake County for their annual fundraising auction.

The back is a piece of fabric that has been in my stash for over 10 years! Never could find the right piece for it...until now.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Another wall hanging made with multi-colored fabric. The fabrics are dyed in different colors across their widths, so that when pieces are cut, they subtly change and blend in the finished piece. This piece will be donated to the United Way of Lake County for their annual fundraising auction. Click to see other views. I couldn't decide what to call it, so I solicited suggestions from the core group of people that access my blog. Well....there were 24 entries submitted by 17 people in the "name the quilt" contest. Lots of "kaleidoscopes" and "spinning" themes. The winning name was submitted by Nancy Coolley. I think it really captures the essence of the pattern.

And....if you want the to hear the song by Foreigner,
click here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

3D Tucks #1

Although I have made many faux 3D quilts, this is actually the first real 3D quilt! That is, sandwiched between each vertical strip is another strip. This "tuck" strip has black fabric on one side and a second fabric on the other. The second fabric is cut from a piece of fabric which is dyed from purple to yellow and back again across its width.

After all of the strips and tucks have been sewn, the tucks are ironed against the seam line so that they pop out of the quilt body. A line of decorative stitching is added to hold them in place.

Looking at the quilt from either side gives different perspectives as the tucks and colors shift across the surface.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Diamonds Are Forever

This is the second quilt in a row that we actually get to keep! I made this basic "block and sash" quilt using colors to match those in our bedroom. Click to see how it looks on our bed.

This quilt also will be used as the pattern for my "Advanced Beginner" class in May!