Florida fun…

…or maybe not so much fun. I will be the absolute first to admit that I really hate the tropical climate of Florida. But that climate produces some of the most beautiful flora, and it’s different every time we are here.

From a stand of bamboo


to late blooming azaleas


Thought these were supposed to be spring flowers!

And then there is this perfectly colored hibiscus


Makes me think about doing a real nursery search to see if this color is available in a hardy hibiscus that I could enjoy in the cool of a Michigan summer!

No time to do much on this trip but try to enjoy my mom and make things better wherever we can. Trying to do some sewing, but it’s a problem…mostly because I have not been able to decide exactly what I want to do on this piece. I think I may have figured it out, though. It needs more embroidery, which I think gives it a bit of a lacy look.


With beads, of course! Couldn’t get my camera to focus close up ’cause I was in a hurry, but I’ll take more pictures when I get more done.

Little bit at a time, one bead at a time, one stitch at a time…keep on stitching!

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Filed under Beading, Family news, Life, Quilting

Love workshops!

When you go to a new city and teach a workshop to women that you don’t know and that don’t know you, it can be a challenge. But when you start the day with a great facility like this


you know that things are going to go well! Look at all that space!

I will preface the rest of this by saying that I forget to take pictures during the day…because I’m teaching! I can usually take a few shots at the beginning of the day and catch a few when everyone is packing up, and that’s what happened here at the Common Threads Quilt Guild in Lafayette, IN.

No one brings the same fabric selection, but most everyone brings plenty of fabric.


They got an awesome start making elements in non-traditional ways.

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And started putting those elements on their design walls


This artist started with a combination of warm and cool colors


and came to a design that kept them separate on the edges and blended them visually through the center.


She knows where she’s headed with this and is confident of her techniques as she continues forward.

And Tammy, I think, started with more traditional fabrics


and is working towards this much more dramatic piece.



Drama again, and combining curves!  Well on her way to her goal of creating a great piece for fall.

There were so many wonderful pieces and I always forget my camera until half the class has packed up and gone home! What a wonderful group! Everyone was so eager to give everything a try. Enthusiasm was the word of the day and my day working with these lovely ladies was wonderful.

And THEN one of the ladies, Anita, shared part of her work with me. She took me to a co-op gallery of which she is a member and it was spectacular! She brought part of the Marie Webster exhibit, recently held at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, along with some new pieces to the gallery. It was beautiful and I am so grateful for the opportunity.

And then it was time for a quick run home to change suitcases and hop on a plane to Florida. Trying to visit my mother as often as possible and when the airfares are cheap and you have the time, it’s off we go!!! That means you may or may not get any posts for the next couple of weeks!

Time to board our twice-delayed flight…sheesh…driving next time!





Filed under Art Quilts, Learning New Things!, Quilt Design, Teaching, Teaching Quilting

Holes in Quilts part 3

One more hole today–I want to do a triangle. Same method–main fabric and facing right sides together, stitch around the shape and clip the corners. Turn and press.


I’m feeling very confident with this technique now and this only took a few minutes to do. Seriously, it was about 5 minutes!

Decided to forge ahead and try to finish this one. Placed it on a variegated wool square, at an angle.


Rather than keep it all neat and tidy, I decided that I wanted frayed edges. And that I would do all my stitching by machine, not hand embroidery.

This is as far as I got—close to done.


Of course I want to add some beads, in and around the center section. I may add some hand stitching before I’m done, too. Don’t know that yet, but I’m happy with it so far.

All in all, I’m quite pleased with my hole-y quilt experiments. Lots of fun and I’ve increased my confidence in creating holes by quite a bit. I think there will be more holes in my quilts in the future.


Filed under Designing Quilts, Learning New Things!, Non-traditional Quilts, Thinking About Quilting!, Weekly Special

Holes in Quilts part 2

Circles! I want to make big hole-y circles! More than a single hole in my piece of fabric, like the rectangle I just did.

Dark fabric is attracting my attention today, so I started with this.


I cut a bunch of squares (about 3.5″, but remember that size is optional–whatever you want to work with!) and placed them on the main fabric where I wanted my holes to be. And that’s where I made a rookie mistake.


I wasn’t going to try any overlapping or partial circles, but notice how I artfully angled each of the squares? Didn’t want everything facing the same direction. Forgot that I was going to do circles…duh! no angles in circles! I was originally thinking square holes and the angling would have been cool. However, this is only facing, so it really didn’t hurt anything.

Created the holes the same way as the earlier rectangle. Stitched around each drawn circle and cut out the centers through both layers. The main difference with a circle is that you need to clip all around the seam allowance, not just a clip in the corner!


Circles done and now to decide what I want to see behind them.

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All those above were single pieces of fabrics and this next one has patches from a charm pack.


Don’t know yet what one I’ll go with but I want to try one more hole before the end of the day…holes today, finish later!



Filed under Designing Quilts, Learning New Things!, Tutorial

Holes in Quilts part 1

Nope–not horrible accidents with your favorite snuggly quilt, but deliberately creating holes while you’re making a quilt. I was reminded of this technique last week and it’s been nagging at me until I did some today. If you have ever sewn clothing, it’s simply a facing, like a pocket opening. If you haven’t done that, here’s how to make a hole-y quilt.

There was a scrap of wool that jumped out of the scrap basket, begging to be used, so I obliged. Partnered it up with some squares of African fabric that I had and I was ready to go. By the way, size doesn’t matter with these…you can make the hole any size or shape that you’d like. I’m working with pieces here that are in the 5-10″ range.


You need a main fabric and a facing fabric. The brown wool is my main fabric and the facing fabric is the light brown print. Put them right sides together, where you want your hole to be. Then draw your shape on the facing fabric. Or draw your hole shape on the facing first and then put the fabrics together!


Stitch completely around the shape, directly on the line. The next step is to cut through both layers about 1/4″ inside that stitched line. Don’t be shy now–you’re trying to make a hole!


You will need to clip the corners right up to the stitching–be careful not to cut the stitching! All that’s left is to turn the facing all the way to the back and press.


You can see that my corners aren’t very smooth, but I worked them a bit more after this pic and got them nice and flat.


Now you do have a couple of options. I wanted a teeny bit of that facing fabric to show on the front, so I pressed it to show. You can press so that none of your facing fabric shows. You can trim the facing fabric smaller or it can actually be the same size as your main fabric. After you fill the hole, you can choose to topstitch around the edge, plain, fancy or by hand! What’s missing in this picture, though, is what I want to have show through that hole!

It can certainly be a single piece of fabric, but I wanted to have a little pieced design inside that dark color. And to refresh your memory, my most basic improv block is stack-slash-move—stack your fabrics right side up—cut through all layers with angled cuts–move the fabric in each stack to a different position in the stack.

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Then stitch each layer back together. So, I pieced together a little block and put it behind the hole!


It worked! And I like it! So now I’m not simply playing with scraps–I want to finish this! Time to audition background fabrics. But first I had to audition beads, of which I knew I had quite a few that would work with these fabrics.


Yep–beads will be added!

First I tried a dark background, discharged black.


Maybe light would be better.


Not horrible, but let’s just say that I tried many, many more and I think I have decided on this one.


The entire piece will be another of the 12 x 12’s that I do, but further work will have to wait because I want to make more holes!!!

Next time will be all about circles…and a rookie mistake!


Filed under Art Quilts, Designing Quilts, Learning New Things!, Weekly Special

Geodes again

But I’m not talking about those lovely geodes that come from the Gem and Mineral Show.

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One of the things we did with the kids at Blue Lake this summer was to make geodes out of wool roving. It’s pretty easy to do. You make a super jumbo stack of roving, any and all colors. Then you roll and stuff it into a small bag, tie it tightly and run it through the washer and dryer.

I used a lot of the brightest colors I could find and the unsplit geode came out pretty darn lovely.


Now you generally only split a geode into two halves and enjoy the loveliness of the inside. And it was indeed lovely. But my plan was to make several thin slices–harder to do than I thought–and use them in a similar manner to the stone slices.


They are bold and bright and they can be sewn through or have beads added or…or…or…


I love new and exciting possibilities!


Filed under Art Quilts, Big Wool Adventure!, Color, Contemporary, Learning New Things!

BIG problem–solved!

And it’s not my most recent issue with the fused, not-square, impossible to bead piece!

Probably the oldest unfinished object on the to-do pile, I had a lot of concerns on how to fix the issues with this one. I checked and this one was last worked on in February…that’s a long time for me to leave something sit.

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I think you can tell from this next picture that there’s a bit of warpage going on after my intense quilting.


I tried every stretching and blocking technique I knew and there was no hope to make it flat. So I decided to cut it and overlap the stem and leaf sections. What did I really have to lose? If I couldn’t make it lay flat, I could always cut it into sections and use them for backgrounds for something else. But it still took a deep breath before I could make that first cut!


I overlapped and flattened and pinned and proceeded to quilt it down in the circle area. I am so careless sometimes! I had the wrong color bobbin thread in–really wrong!– and had to spend a couple of hours ripping out 10 minutes of quilting. But the second time, I did a better job of it!


You can hardly tell where the overlap is, until you get really, really close up.


I added heavy couching around the cut leaf parts along with couched leaf centers and a heavy center stem. It worked quite well!


You can see that it really makes a difference in how big this piece will be when I finally square it up. It will be more like this when finished.


The whole piece started out at about 45″ square and will probably end up about 34-36″. There is more quilting to finish around the outside edges, which I can happily do now that I know how big I’ll make it.

Decisions still to be made…edge finish. I can go conventional with binding, non-traditional with cording, even a sculptural corded edge, or faced. Original plan was corded, either straight or sculptural and I’m probably going to stick with that idea.

Original plan also was to add lots of beading. I’m not sure if I want to do that now. I’m kinda liking this just the way it is. AND I want it to be done, done, done!!! I’ll finish up the quilting and go ahead with an edge plan because this one can definitely still be beaded after the rest of that finishing work. OR I may quit right there, depending on the mood of the moment when I get those last stitches in!



Filed under Art Quilts, Designing Quilts, Quilting, surface design