Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cowgirl Dreams

"Cowgirl Dreams" 80" x 80"

This is one of those quilts where I can honestly say,
"The fabric made me do it."

Since before I started making quilts, I've been collecting fabric with a cowgirl theme. 
Some of it goes back to 1997!
I think it's because of watching all those TV Westerns as a kid.


One of my favorite things about this fabric is the names of the characters.
The cowgirls are Emmy Lou, Grace, Red, Ma, Kitty, Ginny, Nell, Jesse, Jolene and Rosa.

The cowboys are Hal, Hap, Slim, Squirt, Tex, Luke, Jeb, Rey, Gus and Pole Cat.

The horses are Sadie, Smoke, Maverick, Rio, Blanco, Big Star, Cookie, Juniper,
Mojave and Freckles.

A cowgirl needs her boots, too.  So they fit in the corner stars.

I decided it needed fringe, and found this fake buckskin.  Perfect!
I'm looking forward to quilting on those rope lines.

I think the cowgirl spirit might fit for all of us quilt-makers.

The pattern for this quilt comes from the book, Freddy and Gwen Collaborate Again, 
by Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran.
It tells how to make the large center star.  I added the corner stars and border.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A finish, a stencil, and a birthday!

"Mardi Gras"  74" x 60"
I've been quilting this for the last month.

The border is yukata cotton from Okan Arts.
I had fun outlining the leaves and flowers.

The fans are a mix of old shirts, plus new and vintage fabrics.

The binding is an old Ralph Lauren home decorator linen, 
leftover from a chair cover.  
I don't have the chair anymore, but I couldn't let go of this fabric!

The batting is Hobbs Tuscany cotton/wool mix, 
which gives the quilt extra crinkle when washed.

Last week I received this wonderful quilting stencil from Barb's new Etsy shop.
I'm thrilled with its nice large size!  

I'm going to use it to hand quilt this next spring.

First, I'll finish my winter project, which I started last night.

Now for the birthday news.  Tomorrow is my big six-oh!
It's a happy occasion for me.  I see it as the beginning of the "third act" in the play of life.

These blocks are going to be part of the Pi Project.
Did you know that Pi Day is 3/14/15?  
This one is very special because these are the first five digits of Pi.

I didn't know about it until my dear friend in France, Katell, announced it on her blog.
It took her post to tell me that the Pi Project is happening in my very own state!

They're making a long fabric ribbon with the digits in Pi.  They'll take as many 9.5" blocks 
as they can get, with a rough deadline of Feb 14.

Maybe your blocks will join mine!
The Pi Project, PO Box 2127, Vancouver, WA 98668

Click here for a wonderful showing of Pi blocks from France!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

One Small Expression

It's been a sad week since the tragedy in Paris.  
But we are lifted by seeing the enormous numbers of individuals from all over the world who are expressing their solidarity in the fight for human rights.  

I, like many of you, have felt silenced, not knowing what to say or do in support.

Today Katell, my dear friend in France, offered news of many ways that stitchers are expressing their thoughts and feelings.  

"Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow" by Marie Christine Chasseraud

I was especially touched by Crayon and Pencil, maker of this quilt, who proposes an initiative for us:

For the unspeakable and to remember,
Let our needles go, 
Reaction to what happened  these last days, against obscurantism of any form,
but also for girls to go to school everywhere in the world …
let us sew, embroider, quilt a pencil on each  work this year !

So I have begun.  

Friday, December 26, 2014

Pendleton Patchwork

I hope you've all had a very sweet holiday with loved ones.
Here's what I gave to my 24 year old son for Christmas.
A lovely friend named Merry gave me a bag full of Pendleton wool scraps last month.  

I used the scraps almost exactly as they came out of the bag.
The wool is already heavy, so I didn't add backing or batting.  

Pendleton Woolen Mills is based in Oregon, where I grew up.
I have fond memories of going to their factory store with my grandmother when I was little.

The company started weaving woolen blankets to trade with Native Americans over 100 years ago.  
The symbols and colors carry meanings for various tribes.

I'm happy to say that my son was thrilled with his new blanket!

Wishing you all a very happy and creative new year.
I'm looking forward to seeing your starts, your finishes, your struggles and your successes.
Happy 2015!


Monday, December 8, 2014

Another Finish!

"Contentment"  49" x 49"
I've been going through my pile of flimsies, thinking about the ones I want to quilt.
This one cried out to me recently.  

I put it together a year or two ago, with leftover blocks from five different projects.
The words came from instructions in Tonya Ricucci's excellent book, Word Play Quilts.

On second look, the original house block seemed a bit muddy.
So I decided to do a little "home improvement."

Hmm, not exactly what I was looking for.

The third time was the charm.  Now for the quilting.

After stitching in every ditch, I sewed thin matchsticks around all the letters.
Then I added easy back and forth designs and small stippling.
I used puffy wool batting so the letters would pop out.

The half-square triangles got their own simple flower shapes.
Dark binding popped the colors.

Don't you just love finishing?
I surely do!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cultural Fusion Quilts Blog Tour!

I am so happy to recommend Sujata Shah's beautiful new book, Cultural Fusion Quilts!

You may know Sujata's gorgeous quilts from her blog, The Root Connection.
If you've visited her there, you know she has a unique and fanciful eye for design and color.  

She grew up in India, where vibrant color and pattern are everywhere.
In the book, she tells the story of coming to the U.S. as a young bride, feeling like 
"a character from a color film that had walked into a black and white film."

With Cultural Fusion Quilts, she introduces us to her world of color and design, 
and helps us step into that joyful place with our quilt-making.

Sujata taught quilt-making at a shop in the Seattle area for several years.  
I had the good fortune to receive her help while selecting fabrics for some of my quilts.
Over the years, we became friends, and I was invited to try the technique she presents in the book.  

I found it easy, fun and new.  The results create unique quilts with just enough quirkiness to add a sense of the maker's own hand.  No two quilts could ever be alike with this technique!

You'll find my quilt in the book.  Today I'll show you some of my process in making it.

I started with pinwheel blocks.  I just love the way each one dances in its own way!
This is one of the many configurations of the Rail Fence block on the cover.

Once I made many, I tried out different arrangements.
Above, I've alternated warm and cool pinwheels.

Each cut set made a group of four. Here I tried grouping the sets 
and placed all the red ones in the middle.

I kept making blocks, (I couldn't stop!), and decided to alternate the sets by warm and cool colors.

I had enough leftover to make another quilt. 

I decided to add them to the border, and make it queen size. 

Now it's my favorite quilt to sleep under!

To win a copy of this book, enter a comment, and make sure I have a way to email you.   I'll do a random drawing Saturday night, 12/6, at 9:00 p.m. PST, and post the winner on Sunday.  If you're in the U.S., you'll receive a print copy.  If you live outside the U.S., you'll get the ebook.

Here are the dates and locations for the next blog tour stops.

Thursday December 4 Victoria Gertenbach @ The Silly Boodilly

Friday December 5 Rachaeldaisy @ Blue Mountain Daisy

Saturday December 6 Lori Dejarnett @ Humble Quilts
Sunday December 7 Casey York @ The Studiolo

Monday December 8 Malka Dubrawsky @ A Stitch in Dye

Tuesday December 9 Sherri Lynn Wood @ daintytime

Wednesday December10 Bonnie Hunter @ Quiltville's Quips and Snips

Thursday December 11 Jake Finch @ Generation Q

Friday December 12 Jan Burgwinkle @ Be*mused

Saturday December 13 Janet Treen @ Quiltsalott

Sunday December 14 Lindsay Conner @ Lindsay Sews 

Good luck!

Monday, November 17, 2014


I finished quilting and binding this quilt over the weekend, washed it and took a nap under it today!

75" x 66"

Here's the quilt that inspired me.  
It's from Roderick Kiracoffe's collection shown in his fabulous new book,

I wish I had the opportunity to meet this quilt maker.  
I'd love to talk to her about her brilliant design and the fabrics she used.
One can only imagine her process.

Mine is made mostly of shirt scraps.  I imagine hers was too.

I pieced the scraps randomly in strips of darks and lights. 
Looks like she did too.

For quilting, I couldn't tell how she did hers.  Roderick said it was done in purple thread.  
I decided to stitch in the ditch by machine, and add some hand stitching in just a few of the large blocks.  

The hand stitching looked so good, I had to keep going!  
That added another month of evenings to the process, but it was worth it.
Here you can see before and after the hand stitching.

The idea for knots on top came from the lovely and talented Carolyn at Material Obsession in Australia. 
I love the little bit of added texture they provide.
The binding is corduroy, nice and soft to touch.

I love how it looks when folded on the couch.
Every new lap size quilt at my house gets it's debut here.

I've thought of several names for this quilt:
"Many Thanks to Roderick"
"Hour Glass"
"Courthouse Steps"
"Day and Night"
"Dark and Light"

None of them have stuck.  That's fine.  
I doubt the original maker named her quilt, 
so maybe I won't either.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Oh No!

Every quilt teaches at least one life lesson.  Right?
More often than not, the lesson for me is: SLOW DOWN! 

AFTER I spent several weeks piecing, machine quilting and hand embellishing this quilt, 
I decided to test some of the fabrics for color-fastness before washing.
See that piece with the safety pin?


Needless to say, I should have SLOWED DOWN and tested the fabrics BEFORE I used them!

I picked out the offending piece, cut away its stained neighbors, and replaced it.  
Luckily, there appears to be only one piece of this fabric in the quilt.

Phew!  Not too difficult.
I top-stitched it on so I could find this piece and remember the story.

In the end, the quilt had its way with me.
There's just no getting around learning these life lessons!


Here's the color-fast test I use:  
Spray a little piece of your fabric with water, 
place a paper towel on top, and iron until it's dry.  
If it comes up clean, it's colorfast!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Falling in Love

I'm thick into the process of quilting this this top
inspired by a wonderful quilt in Roderick Kiracofe's new book, 

I usually approach machine quilting with a "grin and bear it" attitude.
 "Just do it."  It'll feel good to have it done.    

I decided to stitch in the ditch, "every stinkin' seam," as Cindy Needham
teaches in her excellent Craftsy class.

So, I was going along, a few minutes or an hour at a time, trying not to rush myself.
Noticing my stitches weren't perfect, and forgiving myself for that.
Stitching, stitching, more stitching...

And then I started to fall in love. 

 Slowly stitching around every piece brought the stories to mind.

Oh, there's that red flower that T gave me from her mother's stash.  How sweet.
I love it next to the gingham I bought in Norway!

And there's that piece of men's shorts I bought at Goodwill with S.  That was a fun trip!
And the men's shirts that M and I have shared across the globe. 
Oh, and the golfer shirts that T sent from Florida.

There's a tiny sliver of red and white.  How'd that get in there?
Did I really put a scrap of bark cloth in this?   I like it!

Now I really don't care how the quilt looks overall.  
It's the stories, the connections to sweet friends, 
the memories of the design process that matter.  

I'm sure we've all experienced this.  
It's one of the greatest joys of quilt-making--
working closely with our fabrics and remembering the stories behind them.  

Wishing you finishes and love this season!