Tag Archives: Jean Wells

Facing All Decked Out

After I finished quilting “All Decked Out” I decided to try another way to sew on an edge facing. Most methods leave you with lumpy corners. However, Jean Wells gives a way to face your quilt in her book, “Journey to Inspired Art Quilting,” that keeps extra fabric out of the corners.

You sew together the ends of 2 to 3 inch strips to form a frame that you sew onto the edges of your quilt. The tricky part is getting the frame to match the dimensions exactly.

After you sew around the edges you turn back 1/4 inch on the loose part of the frame. To make this easier, you leave 1/4 inch unsewn on the strip joining seams. You then turn the facing, press the edge a lot, and hand sew the facing down.

As the picture above shows, I did a lot of quilting, which doesn’t show that much on the front.

For those of you who don’t remember this quilt, it’s one of two I created from squares of surface design experiments. The center is an embroidered paint stick rubbing of a glass salad plate. The salmon colored squares are sun prints from crocheted doilies. The blue with white swoops and dots I made in by screen printing with thickened dye. The multi-color sort of pink-purple squares are fabric created from scraps, cheesecloth, and stencil prints. The solid pinkish squares are hand dyed fabrics. The border is made from a Spoonflower printed photo of my deck, run through a filter and done as a mirror image. I did throw in some Marcia Derse fabric in four squares.

I quilted it with variegated 40 weight cotton thread, sort of following the curves of the swoops.

This post is linked to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, Techniques

It Came From the Back of the Closet

When I was in college (many decades ago) I bought a jug of apple cider from a roadside stand, drank some of it, stowed the jug under my bed and promptly forgot about it.  Months later I found it, opened it cautiously, and decided to taste it.  It had turned into a lovely beverage with some kick.  Of course, it could just as easily have turned to vinegar.

I was in a similar situation last week when I found some forgotten abandoned projects tucked away in my fabric closet.  One, a heart done using the storm at sea pattern, was left unfinished because I couldn’t figure out how to finish it.  The other, an improv piece, was one I had planned to do up using stupendous stitching techniques.  I had even backed it with fusible fleece and fused some organza to it.  But there it sat in a recycled plastic container for a year and a half.

In the time since I abandoned these two I’ve learned different techniques and ways to look at my work.  So, inspiration struck and I finished them.  Hopefully the results aren’t vinegar. Once I added the photos to this post I was amused to realize the two pieces have remarkably similar color schemes.

making_tracks2Making Tracks benefited tremendously from Jean Wells’ books, especially ways to insert curved pieces and mount little quilted pieces. I used a hand dyed gradient done by Vicki Welsh for the framing piece.

heart_in_goldHeart in Gold reflects my awareness that sometimes a work can get too fussed at.  Originally I planned to do a checkerboard border, but I came to see that would take away from the main focus – the heart.  I think the muted gold border helps tone it down while the white dots give it some frivolity.  And Gwen Marston’s advocacy of different sizes and colors of border strips helped, too.

My question to you is, what’s in your closet?


Filed under Completed Projects

A Gift To Myself

I’ve reached the age where there are few surprises under the tree.  That’s an observation, not a complaint.  One of my gifts this year was an Amazon gift card, which I promptly used to purchase quilting books.  Guilt free book buying is a great gift.  I like actual paper books about quilting rather than ebooks because the pictures are better.  Also, most quilting books are oversize and ebook devices simply can’t show a whole page at a time large enough so I can read it.

Jean Wells’ latest book, Journey to Inspired Art Quilting, was one of my gifts.  I’ve been dipping into it at random and assimilating lessons from it.

journey to inspired design quilt book by jean wells

This books covers many of the topics found in other art quilt books – color, value, design, etc. – but I like the very practical tips and techniques interspersed with the big picture stuff.  It’s helpful to find hints about practicalities such as how to sew disparate bits together.  (Use coping strips.)  It’s not doctrinaire, but full of gentle suggestions and some exercises to get you started.  It also has ideas for ways to finish and hang your quilts.  I think it’s too easy to fall into the “slap a binding on and you’re done” mindset.

Along the way Jean talks about the decisions she made when creating quilts illustrated in the book, and how sometimes her initial plan changed because it simply didn’t work or she found a better way.  She makes it clear it was a better way for her.  She doesn’t expect you to create clones of her work, but to find your own way using some guideposts she has found to be helpful.  As Jean says, “We learn by imitation in the beginning, but in that process, imitation becomes interpretation”

I want to try at least one of the assignments – creating a small paper mockup of a landscape photo using colored paper/magazine images.  No worries about “wasting” fabric, but a great way to work out colors and their proportion for a project.  Too often I stack up fabrics I want to use, but forget that I’ll be using them proportionally.  That bright color really won’t be overwhelming if I use just a smidge of it.  And the line work assignment gets around any fears about drawing ability by having you trace lines from a photo and then reduce the image to an abstraction.

So, thanks to the gift card giver.  This book is the next best thing to flying out to Oregon for an in-person class with Jean.

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Filed under Books, Inspiration

What Draws You To A Quilt?

I suppose any rationale for why you like a quilt is ex post facto, like love itself.  You have a positive emotional response and then you try to parse the reasons for it later.

The quilt below made from a Mary Mashuta pattern rang all my bells when I first saw this picture.  One, I love curves in quilts; two I love stripes (though I wish the quilter would have made sure the striped fabric on the inner right formed a mitered corner;) three, I love the hand quilting that curves around the central motif; four, I adore the plump curvy binding.  And I haven’t even mentioned the Kaffe Fassett fabric.


The quilt below is so unlike anything I’ve ever made or am likely to make, but I love the way it contains our entire world in what looks like a snow globe. It’s a message quilt, but has wonderful balance and I’m a sucker for trees. Look at the village in the distance and the way the branches seem to embrace the sun. And the color scheme – mostly taupes – is so not on my radar, but I love it here.

ohash_save_our_earth“Save our Earth”
Kazuyo Ohash

Jean Wells (of the Stitchin’ Post) makes quilts closer to what I hope my work will become.  She started out in traditional quilting and her work has become more abstract with time.  Her recent work is based on close observation of the natural world.  It transforms rather than reproduces photographs she’s taken.  “Cross Cut II” below is Jean’s interpretation of a tree cross section.  I love the periwinkles and greens she used and the radiating spokes.  I just bought her latest book, Journey to Inspired Art Quilting, and am savoring it like a box of really good dark chocolate.

tree quilts by jean wells


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