Another New Book

How can I resist Judy Martin? Her stuff is great! Scraps is Judy’s latest book and I think this is the answer to my comment in a recent post about Knockout Blocks and Sampler Quilts, Martin’s previous book. Scraps is a project book. Many of the blocks used in the quilts seem to come from Knockout Blocks and Sampler Quilts, especially noticable in Cooperstown Stars. She has patterns for every skill level and the directions seem to be clear and well illustrated. Though I dislike sections on “how to make a quilt”, Judy’s is very well done and I often read this section in her various books, because I always seem to learn something. Three-of-a-Kind is similar to a free Block of the Moment on Judy’s website called Celtic Squares. She has great BOMs and I keep them all for future when I have skads of spare time.

Sewing Accomplishments

I did get some sewing and fabric work done over the weekend. Nothing fantastic, but it felt good just to be handling fabric.

I actually finished this block on the way back from our ski trip the first weekend in March. I didn’t get around to pressing it until this past weekend. I started this block years ago in an Elly Sienkiewicz class when I thought I might want to do a Baltimore Album Quilt. Two blocks taught me my lesson. All of you who do needle turn applique’ are goddesses. I will never be one. This block will go into the orphan block quilt that I plan to make when I am old.

I just stopped receiving the 4×4″ squares from Benartex. I decided not to renew my membership in the club as receiving the 4×4″s was starting to get on my nerves. I no longer wanted to find a place to stash them and have given up on making a 4×4″ square quilt. However, this group came and was on my sewing table on Friday when all of sudden I became desperate to sew. I just sat down and sewed them all together. They are definitely in the color scheme of Robyn Pandolph, a color scheme that I admire. I always think I might make something in this color scheme, but then always end up adding hot pink or lime green, which isn’t this scheme at all. This was a good way to get it out of my system with very little effort on my part. Now I have a big rectangle of squares on my design wall and am not sure what to do next. I could do nothing and just admire what I have when I am in a Robyn Pandolph sort of mood. I could make a table runner. I could make this the center medallion of a quilt. I am not sure yet. Still, it was fun and fun is definitely a good thing.

I also finished my block for the Sampler class. The technique was foundation piecing and the block is a simple New York Beauty. I am not happy with it at all. It is too simple. This block made me think that I could just keep these blocks as class samples and not make them into a quilt. This presumes that I will teach a sampler class again. There is something about the blocks together that makes me not want to make them into a quilt. I will have to figure out what.

I also made progress on SLB’s wedding shower quilt. I cut all the blocks and all of the strips that we picked out. I plan to start sewing the strips this weekend.

RE: More Thoughts on Dots — I also began cutting 6.5″ squares of dot fabrics with the thought of making a simple yet happy quilt with all of the dot fabrics that I have. So far I have four blocks. Immerhin.

Various and Sundry (aka more thoughts on dots)

At the drugstore, I happened upon BH&G’s Spring 2006 issue of Quilts and More. I had never seen this magazine before and was immediately drawn to the quilt on the cover. There should be no suprise that this quilt was made with dot fabrics. The block is called, according to the magazine, at least, Dolly Madison Star. I haven’t looked it up in resources I consider to be more reliable, so I can’t say at the moment. I tried to find a picture of the quilt on the web, but the BH&G people don’t have it on their website so you’ll have to trust me that it is a seriously cool quilt. Excellent use of many dot fabrics. I would actually consider making a quilt similar to this, because it is the perfect quilt for a grey, wet and cold winter in a life-sucking beige house.

Dots are definitely on the mind, but so are some new books that I have bought or received as gifts.

In general I don’t like books that are mostly patterns. I like books with lots of great pictures that depict quilts that show me something new and inspire me to think outside of the box.

The Modern Quilt is a pattern book, but the designs are innovative and fun. They are supplemented by smaller pictures showing different colorways. There are bits about putting together colors. The best part is that the authors (and publishers, I suppose) had the guts to include patterns with curves and other odd shaped pieces. This tells me that they are not condescending to the lowest common quilting denominator. YAY!!! Some of the piecing reminds me of Ruth McDowell’s Piecing book.

Ruth McDowell’s Fabric Journey is another recent acquisition. She is, without a doubt, my favorite quiltmaker. Jane Sassaman and Judy Martin run a close second, but I love Ms. McDowell’s nearly exclusive use of piecing and her nearly exclusive use of commercial fabrics. She really teaches, and demonstrates in her quilts, the extraordinary things that a quiltmaker can do with piecing and celebrates good technique. Fabric Journey gives insight into several of Ms. McDowell’s quilts. Ms. McDowell discusses several of her quilts, the inspiration, the use of fabric and various piecing techniques. This is not a pattern quilt per se, but the reader can use the descriptions to create their own designs. Again, Ms. McDowll does not condescend to the reader. She gives the impression of assuming that, with practice, anyone can piece the way she does.

Whimsical Quilts by Carol Burniston was a total impulse buy at Thimble Creek. The reason I bought it was because it had a great and fun pattern for appliqued flamingos. You never know when you might need a pattern for flamingos, right? It is a pattern book, but it does have fun colors and lots of good photos. The other quilt I like in the book is called, oddly enough, Hot Tamale Sunflowers. There is also a fun sheep quilt that I would never make, but it is cute. The books also includes a fish qult with a lot of possibilities. The book makes me smile, so it was worth the price.

With my birthday money from RBL, I bought Mary Schafer American Quilt Maker by Gwen Marston. I have a number of Marston’s books and really enjoyed the workshop on Libertated Quiltmaking I took from her a few years ago. The quilt I made as a result of the techniques I learned in the class can be seen on The Mary Schafer book has nothing to do with Liberated Quiltmaking, however. It is a history type quilt book depicting the work and collections of Mary Schafer. The quilts are classic in style, though many of them have a twist, such as Grandmother’s Pride, 1980, pg. 111. I also like the pictures of Schafer’s templates, patterns, family photos as well as the numerous color photos of quilts scattered throughout the book.

For my birthday, JZS was kind enough to buy me Textile Designs from Thames and Hudson, which has been on my Amazon list for an eternity. This is a book that shows the history of textlie designs for the past 200 years. It is great to look at the variety of patterns through 200 years. I particularly like some of the futuristic patterns, such as those in the Geometric section on page 199 and those on page 185 and 186. It occured to me that, if I found the perfect pattern on one of the pages, I could scan and print it to fabric for personal use only, of course. Fabric designers should look at some of the 20th century designs in this book recolor and reprint them. Pattern designers seem to focus on the Civil War type colors and patterns at the moment and those are just too boring (in design) and too depressing (in colorways) for me.

Index to the Laura Wheeler Quilt Blocks is one of a series of indexes that Rose Alboum from West Halifax, Vermont is putting together. This index is one of the ‘block dictionary’ type books that I love. It has the name, number and a sketch of all the blocks designed by Laura Wheeler. There are no templates or patterns, but the blocks could easily be designed in EQ5 or by some other pattern design method (e.g. normal drafting). Perhaps Ms. Alboum will cut a deal with The Electric Company and EQ will issue ancilliary CDs with these patterns on them! Again, it is great to see the old patterns because they have odd shaped pattern pieces. I look forward to seeing more of Ms. Alboum’s work.

Another impulse book buy, while I was in Seattle in January, was Paper Piecing Picnic by the editors and contributors of the QNM and Quiltmaker magazine. Again this is a pattern book, but there are some nice photos, especially of Indian Wedding Ring, page 72, Dandelion, page 67, Trip to New York, page 63, and Fireworks, page 43. I also like the row quilt layout of Sunflowers, page 52, but am not so excited about the square-ness of the actual sunflowers. Also the mathematical relationship of the center to the petals seems a bit off to me, but it could be the photo in the book. The photos in this book are clear and there are many of them. The instructions, if you like paper piecing seem to be easy to understand. I also like the bright colors.

B&B sent me Kaffe Fassett’s Museum Quilts, also for my birthday (what a bonanza this year! WooHoo!!!). For Fassett, it is all about the fabric and I love the many fabrics that he uses and the combinations that he comes up with. The designs/patterns have the feeling of classic quilts, but the fabrics and details make them fresh and new. I also love it that he is not afraid to mix color and pattern. There is always more fabric, so why be concerned that patterns might clash? I like the way a number of the quilts reflect mosaic floors. Unfortunately, the publisher seems to have required the ubiquitous “how to make a quilt” section. I don’t know why publishers just don’t refer to some other more complete book on quiltmaking rather than forcing authors to waste 30-50 perfectly good pages on an inadequate section on how to make a quilt. Not that the directions in this book are poor, but making an entire quilt, no matter how good the directions, cannot, IMO, be explained in 30-50 pages. The space would have been better used for a few more quilts or a gallery section.

I admire Sally Collins precision work a lot and her latest book is another that I purchased with birthday money. It is called Borders, Bindings & Edges. First, there are excellent pictures of Collins’ quilts, but include other artist’s work as well. This is a book about techniques. Collins believes that precision piecing is important and this book thoroughly explains how create different types of borders, including mitered corners. She also discusses bindings (thus the title) and has lengthy discussions on different types of finishing. If you want to improve your technique, I would recommend this book, as well as one of previous books, The Art of Machine Piecing: How to Achieve Quality Workmanship Through a Colorful Journey and Small-Scale Quiltmaking: Precision, Proportion, and Detail.

Quilt Visions 2004 is a catalog of the Visions show, held in San Diego every other year. This is my perfect book, in many ways: no patterns! I like Cacti I by Nancy Cordry, Autumn Splendor by Nelda Warkentin and Weavings 12 by Marie Castle Wing, but am annoyed by the ‘quilts’ that look like photographs. I could discuss the “is it a real quilt” issue with people for years, but the bottom line for me is that if there is no piecing or applique, then it is tending to not be a real quilt. This, of course, begs the question of wholecloth quilts, but perhaps they are not quilts either? For photographic reproduction ‘quilts’, I just don’t see the point. Take a photo and move on, IMO. This book comes with a CD, which I haven’t had the chance to review yet. I like the trend towards including CDs with books and guilds creating CDs of their shows (go to Content Innnovations, LLC’s Website to buy a couple of CDs from local Northern California shows). It makes the shows less ephemoral to me.

Aja gave me Art Quilts: A Celebration for Christmas. Again, this book has no patterns or project sheets. It is a catalog of 400 art quilts from 1995-2003 arranged by year. I love it! First, I am happy that they are not telling me how to make these quilts. Second, I love the organization. Someone (a librarian, maybe??) got the publisher to organize the quilts in a way that makes sense. This organization makes it easy to see how art quilts have evolved. Third, I like the selection of quilts chosen. I can appreciate the wide variety of techniques, including photograph type quilts, when there are a wide variety of techniques shown and you can see the photos in context. I hope the publisher does well enough with this edition to do future updates of this book. Buy Art Quilts: A Celebration to show support!

Karen K. Stone’s book Quilts was one I bought when I bought the companion software from the Electric Quilt Company last year. It is a pattern book, but there are a few photos that show her inspiration and the close-ups of the blocks are so good that it makes the pattern part worth it. Her fabric combinations remind me of Kaffe Fassett’s.

Judy Martin is one of my favroite block designers. She is prolific, supports herself with her own business and doesn’t condescend to her readers. Sense a trend here? The blocks she designs are classic with a twist. She also seems to want people to try out odd shapes and teaches how to create them. Her book, Knockout Blocks and Sampler Quilts has an amazing number of new block designs and quilt layouts to try. It is, however, a bit of a disappointment. Note: definitely still worth purchasing! The designs are great, extremely creative and fresh, but there are no actual fabric quilts shown in the book. It looks like all the quilts pictured are computer generated. I can appreciate the speed with which one can create computer generated designs and, thus, produce a book, but I want to see actual fabric quilts made with the patterns. I would love to see an update of this book, or a companion book with actual fabric quilts shown. I bet Judy could find fans to create blocks and quilts that could be used in the updated version of the book, if she doesn’t have time to do all the sewing. I’ll sign up for a block or two! If you like blocks, this book is still a wonderful resource.

Cookies and Quilts is also a Judy Martin book which combines quilt patterns with decadent chocolate recipes. This book has lots of photos of quilts. Not all of them are star quilts. It is primiarly a pattern book and there are no sections with blocks only. I haven’t tried any of the cookie recipes, but the photos of the cookies look delicious.

Thoughts on Dots

I had a lot of driving to do today and had a thought on dots as I headed out. I have been collecting a lot of dot fabrics lately with the thought of doing another Interlocking Triangles quilt. I definitely want to work on that project, but I have enough dots to choke a herd of horses, so I could do a number of projects with them. The ones I bought recently, especially the pink (3rd from the left), made me think of cutting 6.5″ squares (6″ + seam allowance) out of a bunch of different dot fabrics and sewing them together. It would be another quick project, but it might be really nice to see those dots out in the open.

A Visit to Thimble Creek

After work yesterday, I stopped by Thimble Creek since I happened to be in the neighborhood. I always liked that store. I remember it being very different from New Pieces and Cotton Patch when it opened. I liked the high ceilings and the energy. They also often had really nice quilts hanging up.

The energy has changed there. The people seem much more businesslike and not as friendly- not unfriendly, just not as friendly. Perhaps they were just being businesslike. I certainly have no objection to running a business as a business. Perhaps I was giving off “don’t bother me” energy.

The store is smaller since the last time I was there (2 years ago!). They gave up the part that had housed the gallery and solids area as well as books. The cashier said that they still had the same amount of fabric, which I could believe. The store seemed a little more crowded and not as open and airy as in the past.

I had no trouble find some fabric to purchase, however. Dots, of course! I bought the following:

I had hoped that the icky green would match the fabric from the Sampler, but I don’t think it will. It is a bit too yellow. I think I will have to give up and use a substitute for the icky green in the Sampler.

I am thinking that the next Interlocking Triangles quilt will have the background shown in the previous post with the Jennifer Sampou spirals and dot fabric. Now just to complete the pattern and get started.

I was also inspired by some of the quilts they had hanging up. Some I liked the patterns and others I liked the color combinations. I didn’t take photos as they stopped allowing that the last time I asked. I didn’t,however, ask this time. It seemed like a lot of the patterns or color combinations I liked were by a pattern company called Uptown Girl. I couldn’t find anything about them on the web, so if you know their website, send it along.

I drew a picture of one in my journal and will see about posting it.

Wash Day

SLB’s Shower is fast approaching. I MUST get the invites out and the quilt blocks started. Before I could start I had to wash the background fabric. It is a Moda, I believe and will look very nice:

I know it is difficult to see the subtle shades of pink and yellow, but it will be a nice background on which people can draw.

Not wanting to waste water, I decided to wash other fabrics as well. They were:

I want to use this as a background for the next Interlocking Triangles quilt. It isn’t started yet, but I have the background:

This fabric will be perfect for another in the Women’s Work series.

I have been updating and reading over some of the statements has helped in my creative process, I think. Now I just need time and energy!

Is it Possible to Have too Much Icky Green?

These are the blocks that I have made so far as examples for my beginning quilt class. I usually keep most of them at the office for teaching purposes, so this was the first time I had put them all up together on the design wall.

The first thing I noticed was that there was too much of that acid/icky green. Not that you can really have to much of it, but I need to use more of the purse conversational with the black background in the future blocks (still have a fusible applique’, a foundation pieced block and some others to complete) and well as the tone-on-tone blue dot.

This is definitely a good example of why you should look at your quilt blocks before you finish them and put them together. I am not Paula Nadelstern who works on a tiny table and never looks at the whole quilt while it is in process. She is a genius and I strive to be like her.

I made one of the alternate blocks, the Nosegay, and had a lot of trouble which taught me to not slack on the templates. As some background, I was trying to print templates and HP Mobile printing, which never worked properly anyway, had taken over all the print functions on my computer. This prevented me from printing from
EQ5 directly. Always one to revert to pencil and paper, I drew out the block with pencil and paper and made the templates on graph paper. It went together fine until I got to the cone part of the block. The two background pieces were obviously too small.

Here is a detail of my transgressions. ;-0

I checked the template with the fabric and they matched. I couldn’t figure out the problem, then work got busy and we went skiing. Finally, this week I was forced to prepare some more templates for class and took drastic action by deleting the pathetic HP Mobile Printing. Now everything works fine. I can’t print directly, but I can save to PDF, which HP Mobile Printing was preventing from EQ5. I redid the templates for the Nosegay and sure enough all of the original templates were fine, except for those two tricky background pieces.

Now the block looks like this:

And here is the detail.

I also finished the basket. I like the way it turned out and was pleasantly surprised when I used the purse conversational with the black background as a background.

Class notes

My students are back in the groove of quilting, so tomorrow I will give them their next block, a foundation piecing block. I picked the New York Beauty for the block with the Pineapple as the alternate. Not sure which one I will do. Perhaps both.

I still have to finish the damn Nosegay and am thinking that I will have to completely redo the bottom (cone) part. It just doesn’t fit. C’est la vie.

I did have osme success with applique’, however. The Grandmother’s Flower Garden petals are applique’d to their background. This is one of the blocks from the class that has been kind of languishing.

I also worked on applique’ from an Elly Sienkiewicz class that I took years ago at Thimble Creek. It is one of the blocks from one of her Baltimore Album Quilt books. After doing two of the cut snowflake type blocks I decided that there was no way I could do an entire Baltimore Album Quilt. Still the block I worked on is nice and I did want to finish it. My applique’ leaves a lot to be desired, but it shows me making progress. The journey not the destination. I look forward to finishing it so I can say that one UFO is off the pile.

Fabric Painting

After the CQFA Steering Committee meeting at KAM’s house, we did fabric painting. KAM organized the whole thing and it was a nice ending to the meeting.

This is my first attempt:
After my first attempt, we watched a five (or so) minute segment of Simply Quilts. It was good to watch after, because I wasn’t too influenced by the demonstrator.

Here is the piece that I finished after we watched the segment.

One thing I got out of the segment is that simple shapes seem to be better, so I worked on this one:

My final piece is the best one IMO.

It was GREAT not to have to do any organization for the project but to just start painting on fabric. KAM was so generous with her paint, fabric, etc. It was wonderful. As you may know, I am not a big fan of messy work. I did enjoy doing this project as I could just play and not worry about making a masterpiece.

I plan to try the presentor’s idea of doing some curved strip piecing through the middle of my piece. I don’t want to make these the center of a piece. I just don’t think they could stand up to the scrutiny.

DCM and I discussed not having enough time to just play and wreck fabric pieces. We are both having a hard time getting over the feeling that each piece we make must be perfect.

A topic for another day….

Forced Creativity WORKS!!!!

This is the block that I made today. I wanted to get it done to show my students and just hadn’t made the time. I decided that I was in the groove and did it this morning. I thought I would run my errands first, but realized that that was deadly and did the pieced part of the block first. After cutting, it took me about half an hour to do the main part of the piecing. HALF AN HOUR!!! That is nothing. How could I forget that piecing, once you know what you are doing, takes no time??!!?? Later this afternoon I appliqued the handle and sewed the two halves togther.

I am pretty excited now and will, perhaps, make the Nosegay. I gave the Nosegay to the students as an alternate block to the 8-pointed star. I always give an alternate block, but haven’t made many of them for this project. Nobody has done the Nosegay including me. It is the traditional version with inset seams and not Doreen Speckman’s version with no insets.

I think the colors are pretty bright, but I like the brightness and the different way in which the fabrics react with each. The purse fabric is a new colorway, as I ran out of the other colorway. I like this colorway better with the bright green and pink. I am wondering if I should redo the other blocks with this colorway? Seems a little crazy, but I am the woman who took apart a whole back of a quilt, because I needed to use some of the fabric on the front of another quilt. Stranger things have happened. 😉

My sis said she didn’t really like the color combination. Oh well. I have to admit that I was getting tired of it until this most recent block. I like it. We’ll see how it ends up.

This is an interesting photo that I took before I cut and placed the middle pieces. You can see that I was having some trouble cutting the background so that it all lined up. I eventually got it right, which you can confirm in the photo at the top.

My problem with lining up the fabric the way I did is that two sides of the block (top and left) are on the bias. I have to remember that so that I can take care in handling the block later.

I still have to applique the Grandmother’s Flower Garden to a background, so perhaps I should do that instead of starting the Nosegay. It shouldn’t take too much time, especially if I machine applique the petals. Stay tuned.

New books

One of my faithful readers asked me to publish a list of quilt and creativity books that I acquire. It would be nice if I wrote a review of each one, but I will start out with just a list.

Paper Piecing Picnic from the editors and contributors of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine and Quiltmaker Magazine. Thanks JCN!
Kaffe Fassett’s Museum Quilts with Liza Prior Lucy. Thanks Beth!
Textile Designs: 200 years of patterns for the printed fabrics arranged by motif, colour, period and design by Susan Meller and Joost Elffers. Thanks JZS!
Mary Shaffer: American quilt maker by Gwen Marston. Thanks, Ruth!
Borders, Bindings and Edges: the art of finishing your quilt by Sally Collins. Thanks, Ruth!

Thanks go to people, because I bought the books with birthday money or was given the books for my birthday. I know this isn’t an exhaustive list, so check back. I am a lucky girl.

Forced Creativity: Kissy Fish

Kissy Fish is a small piece that I created so I would have some handwork and be able to try a few things. I haven’t worked on it lately due to time, and didn’t for a long time, because of an injury. In a continuing effort to sew and make progress on my quiltmaking, I pulled out the project and brought it with me to DS’ appointment today.

Every Friday I have about an hour to do something portable and not computer related. I have been bringing blank paper and writing letters. Over Christmas, I brought Christmas cards and wrote those. It occurred to me today that I could bring a portable sewing/quiltmaking project and make some small progress.

In the detail above I have placed slash marks in the area I was able to accomplish in the hour I had to work on it.

One reason I started this project was because of the embroidery articles in Quilting Arts magazine. I thought I would like to try some of the stitches, but am not interested at all in Redwork or an entire project based on embroidery such as a crazy quilt. I also had a lot of beads and thought it would be good to try beading out. Around that time I saw the work of quilt artist, Susan Carlson, on Simply Quilts and was inspired to try both beading and embroidery in a free form sort of way on Kissy Fish.

It is not meant to be a great work of ART. It is meant to be a test piece for me. I hope that it comes out well, but I am giving myself permission to do what I can and screw up if I need to. It is quite liberating to think this way.

Efforts at Creativity Successful???

George is DS’ much beloved “Lovey.” As a Beanie Baby, George wasn’t designed for the difficult life he has been allotted. George gets laid on, rubbed, tossed, swing by his tail, hidden, etc. In the last little while, I have convinced DS that George is getting old and needs to be coddled, so George mostly lives in bed with 37 other stuffed animals, a body pillow, 4 regular pillows, numerous books and magazine and is only subject to extreme love at night.

Periodcally George gets too much love and begins to leak as DS is preparing for sleep. This creates cries of abject horror as they did tonight. There is no putting off the repair of George or there will be no sleep for any of us for hours. The sleep, when it finally comes, will the sleep of exhaustion and tears — not restful sleep. I must immediately go up and repair him.

Creativity comes in mysterious ways and I guess this is preparing me for what is to come or continuing the brief spurts of creativity I am forcing on myself.

An Effort to Be Creative

I spent the weekend in Seattle with JCN. We hung up her drapes, which are silk and called Poppy, but the color really looks like raspberries. I was somewhat inspired by the embroidery of Riita-Liisa Havisto of Finland, which was on display, with her daughter’s work at the Nordic Heritage Museum. You can see an announcement at or find much about their work using this search.

The detail fo the stitching was wonderful. It made me want to do hand stitching.

Janome 11K

I had been thinking of this machine lately and had a chance to go and look at it on Saturday. I am in love. The thing is wonderful! I want it. You can see all of the bells and whistles at the official Janome 11,000 page.

I have a Janome 9000 and have been very happy with it. Lately I have been lusting after a new machine and the 11000 looks wonderful. It has the same precision sewing that my current machine does, the color screen (that uses a stylus and not fingers) as well as the larger bed that some of my pals have been raving about in the
Janome 6500. I believe that is that the correct model.

The 11000 can read from CDs, straight from a computer or, as I mentioned from a flash drive! There is a USB slot so you can stick a flash drive right into the
sewing machine! Talk about cyborgs! This is a computer-sewing machine
cyborg, if there is such a thing.

The cost, with all the bells and whistles is too much. I don’t have it.

I went to a different dealer than I have been visting and they were very nice, very attentive and not slimey. Classes on using the machine and the software are included for as long as I own the machine. They also have an embroidery club that meets every
month. They offer membership that club free for a year after you buy a machine. I don’t do a lot of embroidery, but I enjoy the simple things that I do with the embroidery module. With the 11000, it sounds like Janome has made the embroidery module much easier to use and manipulate the designs, so I might use it more often.

Sigh. I just wish it weren’t so much, though I am sure it is
worth it. I told DH about it and he didn’t say anything. I will just
have to work harder and save my pennies. Or win the lottery.