Category Archives: Art quilts

I Really Have Been Sewing

Recent posts to the contrary, I have been giving my sewing machine a workout between a fantasy, glittery collage piece and assignments for my “Mod Meets Improv” online class.

The fantasy piece evolved from the latest bunch of sparkly scraps from the theatrical costume shop, plus some donated fabric (the birds) that was going begging.

The Costume Shop Jungle

Much of the fabric was leftover from dresses for “Dreamgirls.”

The green fabric was tricky to work with as it shreds easily. I hope to give my jungle a pillowcase finish and then outline quilt some of the birds and flowers.

My online class, taught by Elizabeth Barton, has pushed me to develop several quilt designs on paper. The class title may say improv, but if it’s a class with Elizabeth you know you’ll be designing on paper first. Some of the homework has been a bit basic for me, but the feedback has been helpful, as always.

The top row are practice pieces: floating 4 patches, curved piece grid, and half square triangles in a complementary color scheme. In the bottom row are some of my better colored pencil designs. The one on the left follows the lines of the traditional rail fence. The middle design is based on outside stairs I saw from our Airbnb in Quebec.

I’m now working on an original mod/improv design that has lots of negative space, in white of course. I’d forgotten how you need to press towards the darker fabric when you work with white fabric. Otherwise, the darker color shows and when the darker color is red, it really shows.

The class has been fine, but I’m sorry more students aren’t active in the online forum. It’s a great chance to get feedback and see what other students are up to. You can watch a video of work done in previous classes.

I’m linking to Nina Marie’s Off The Wall Friday.

4 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Modern Quilting

My Quilt National Pilgrimage

Every odd year the Dairy Barn in Athens, Ohio, hosts the prestigious juried show Quilt National. Since I live in Ohio I try to get to Athens to see it. Last weekend was my chosen time.

I arrived for the show’s opening, which featured short talks many of the artists gave about their work. It made for a crowd, but I loved hearing about the thoughts behind the works. Some artists talked in abstractions; others cried.

How did I think this show compared with previous ones? It seemed solidly in the middle, with a heavy emphasis on abstract work. Craftsmanship quality was good and there was a mix of previously shown artists with new ones. I don’t recall any wildly offbeat pieces or any that I felt didn’t belong there. On the other hand, while I admired many of the works, there were few I had an emotional response to.

Lots of: piecing, solid colors, parallel line quilting.

A bit of: experiments with quilt shapes (one was like a gathered curtain, another was separate tubes of bound cloth,) social statements (women’s rights and the wall,) use of digital design.

Little of: representational art, photographs, multi-media (i.e., over painting), dense showy quilting, unconventional materials.

Following are photos I took that are clear enough to publish. There were many other works I wanted to capture, but crowds made that difficult.

“Agitation” by Helen Geglio is made of old shirts found in an attic. Geglio said they still smelled of bleach. She noted how laborious laundry used to be and said a woman invented permanent press.
Margaret Black’s “Curb Appeal 17” is large and shows how black and white can anchor a piece.
Anna Brown’s “Ebb and Flow” represents kelp. The bits of lime green sure catch the eye.
Susan Callahan’s “Stove Top” is based on photographs printed on fabric and then painted. It turns out she’s a chef.
Carson Converse’s piece is subtle and represents the antithesis of her day job.
Chris Edmonds’ “Grasslands: Winter Approaches” is the piece most likely to be praised by my husband.
Eleanor McCain had the largest piece, all mounted on a very long rod. She demonstrated how you can easily shift which part shows..
“Backyard” is taken from Barbara Oliver Hartman’s rear yard. She named the tree on the right Ginger.
Detail from Jill Kerttula’s “Gingko Street” that shows how she augments her photos with fabrics and stitches. The shadow at the bottom is my hand. Her take on QN is here.
Margarita Korioth carefully planned her work on her computer, and created fabric from newspapers in 3 languages that represent her background.
Cecile Trentini’s “Shadow Alchemy” is made of cyanotypes of a wildly diverse group of objects.
Isabell Wiessler’s “Horizonte VI” is based on a photo, but made more abstract with paint and stitch.
Here is Anne Wu talking about her “Shi Sha Square on Square.” There’s lots of bling in each square and there are lots of squares.

I was glad I had the chance to see some rock stars of the quilting world – Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry, Betty Busby, Jean Wells Keenan, Eleanor McCain, Sheila Frampton Cooper, to name a few. I even had lunch with two of the artists. Unfortunately, I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked with the pieces themselves. For one of the show juror’s takes and lots more photos, check out Judy Kirpich’s post. You can see the award winners here.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

9 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, Quilt Shows

Next, Please

After many years of making quilts I find myself in a strange position. Right now I have only two unquilted tops, and one of those I may change, so that leaves just one. As for UFOs, none come to mind though maybe one or two small ones lurk hidden in the bottom of a drawer.

So I have no excuse not to get cracking on new designs. The time has come to work up all those drawings and inspirational photos I’ve saved. I’m starting with a photo of a puzzle by Rex Ray that I saved many years ago. A recent BluPrint class on bias tape applique by Latifah Saafir jogged my memory of that photo, and I decided to develop a mash up of that puzzle and bias tape.

Rex Ray Rallenta puzzle

First, I pulled together a pile of fabric possibilities because, for me, fabric almost always comes first. I wanted to use black and white prints for the curved shapes, with black bias tape edges, and backgrounds in bold solids.

Then, I developed a rough sketch from the Rex Ray puzzle and some rough dimensions for the blocks.

Next came practicing the bias tape technique. I had already signed up for a discounted trial of BluPrint so I could watch Latifah Saafir’s class on bias tape applique. Her technique seemed sensible so I tried it out on a sample block.

Let me note here that I dislike BluPrint as I’m constantly bombarded with ads that encourage me to purchase stuff from them, there’s no interaction possible with the instructors (you could chat with the instructors and fellow students on Craftsy, see this link about this), and the bias tape applique class isn’t listed as one of the “own forever” classes. I have an email in to BluPrint about that.

Latifaah has you begin stitching the bias tape on the inside edge using a zipper foot and moving your needle position. The cupping of the outer edge is supposed to happen. That gets fixed with lots of steam and ironing.
I’ve added an inner shape and more bias tape. I don’t like the shapes or the line you can see on the bias tape where the edges don’t quite meet. And let’s not talk about the fabrics. But that’s why you do a practice piece.

It seems I’m capable of using this technique and I think it has possibilities for my design, so all I need is yards of black bias tape and some shapes. Then, the fun of matching up my fabrics will begin.

16 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, In Process, Inspiration, Project Ideas

A Change of Perspective

Last week I subjected you to umpteen iterations of layouts for “Arches.” I know, I’m the only one who saw much difference among all the versions. This week I’d like to present my final layout and thank all of you who made such helpful comments. They guided me to the version I will quilt.

It turned out I simply needed to make the width the long side, which changes how the parts relate to each other. I also added a turquoise strip along the bottom with a few narrow strip insertions.

Monty Don’s program (one of those sweetly earnest British reality TV shows featuring “Britain’s favorite gardener”) on French gardens may have subconsciously influenced me. All the gardens had geometrically pruned hedges and espaliered trees. The tall, narrow pairs of mirror image curves remind me of that rigorously trimmed French greenery. Not my taste in gardens, but I like it in a quilt.

10 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Modern Quilting

If I Sew It

I know I’ll be ripping it out tomorrow. Some projects demand that I change my mind after the sewing is done. My current project, “Arches,” is like that. After an early burst of inspiration that came together in a few hours, work on it since has been a slog. Each time I make a change, something else is off, and my seam ripper rears its pointy head.

Someone sent me a photo of Colleen Cole’s “Pockets of Time,” and I just had to start free cutting curves into solid color fabrics. I think my piece is different from hers. Certainly my palette is different with the turquoises, cobalt, hot pink, putty, and brownish gray.


Early stages when I thought I was close to done.
Then I started fussing, and added a divider between the left third and the right two-thirds
I decided the overall shape was too dumpy, and went to a thin version. This may blow my aim to have a piece at least 36 inches wide, which is a minimum for many shows.
Trying a pink strip instead of blue. You get points for finding it.
Gave up on tall version and went back to dumpy, minus the dividing strip. Hate it.
I’ve gone back to a tall format and kept the left side strip. I think this may be where I’ll stop, except for some minor fiddling around the edges. Sometimes I just get tired of a piece and want to call it done.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

10 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Modern Quilting

Two Years of Mystery

Sometimes I conclude I should give up on a piece – it just isn’t coming together, an average first grader could do better, lots of effort only seems to make it worse, etc. I suspect you’ve been there.

“Blues” was my latest reason to throw in the rotary cutter. It began with lots of blue and blue/green fabrics, and included hand embroidered blocks. It ended in deep frustration and taught me there’s a reason why Paul Klee is considered an art master and I’m not.

My inspiration was Klee’s “It’s About Time.”

I mangled it to this.

Dated 10/17

Feeling utterly defeated, I hung it on a hanger, shoved it to one side of the fabric closet, and ignored it. I made other pieces since 2017, but this one kept bugging me. Damn it, I had put too much time in it to abandon ship. I cogitated and remembered another Klee painting. If he got me into this mess, surely he could get me out.

The possible solution I saw was to use transparent colored organza and narrow strips to give my poor “Blues” coherency. At first I played with tissue paper and overlays.

Then, I painted a lot of silk organza, cut it into strips, and backed it with Misty Fuse. I was so glad I had a 5 pack of Teflon sheets. Then I began playing.

I added thin bias strips, many of which I made myself (insert pat on back here.)

It didn’t seem like enough, so I added already fused spheres from an earlier project to echo all the circles in the original fabrics. By now I had certainly strayed from the original inspiration.

I added a few more spheres and will sew them down, along with the thin strips. Once that’s done I can quilt it after I cut off about 3 inches from the left side.

Oh no, more decisions. At least I have a title – “Let The Mystery Be.” Thanks to Iris DeMent for a great song. I’ve linked to Off The Wall Friday.

11 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, In Process

A Touch of Frost

No, the weather in northeast Ohio isn’t that bad, though we did have snow last Sunday. I’m referring to Robert Frost, the poet. I named my latest piece after a line of his from Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. “The woods are lovely, dark and deep” strikes me as the perfect articulation of my design.

33 by 38 inches

Since I last wrote about this piece I’ve quilted it in gentle curves to suggest tree bark, and faced the edges. I also frayed the raw edges of the bias strips.

Here are some details.

I used a tree stencil, a cotton lace curtain, spray Marabu paints, commercial and hand dyed cottons, linens, edited photos I took, bias tape, and Pellon Easy Pattern. I knew I’d find a use for my experiments someday.

Here’s hoping I won’t be stopping by woods on a snowy evening for several months, but will enjoy the emergence of new leaves instead.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

15 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects