Sunday, October 9, 2016

Organized Chaos

Here's my version of Sujata Shah's wonderful pattern,
"Organized Chaos."  
It's a joy to make, and a great way to use scraps.

The color scheme started with this home decorator fabric.  
A friend and I took on the challenge to make a quilt with it.
I thought I might use it as the border. 
In the end, both the fabric and the quilt shouted, "No!"

I quilted it with wool batting, and stitched in the ditch along the outside edge of each block. 
Then I added perle cotton 8 details.

Keeping with the scrappy theme, the back is a hodgepodge of large scraps.

You can purchase the pattern at Sujata's etsy shop here.

Meanwhile, I was fooling around with some "orphan" blocks. 

And the challenge fabric found it's home!  

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Playing with Plaids

I've been having fun with plaids, and finished this quilt top recently. 

"Plaids II" 58" x 76"

It's inspired by a quilt I've long admired, a 1930's quilt in Roberta Horton's collection.
It's shown in her book, "Scrap Quilts, The Art of Making Do."

All the plaids came from my stash, mostly shirts from the thrift store.

I made another quilt out of shirt plaids in 2013.

Earlier this summer, I received these wonderful madras plaids
from Beth in Houston.  
They came along with an adorable little pouch she'd made from a shirt cuff! 

I've also been cutting up my husband's old shirts.

Looks like there are more plaid quilts in my future!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Back to front binding tutorial

Since some of you asked, here's a tutorial on how I do a back to front binding--
that is, using your backing fabric as your binding.  

I got the idea from the Gee's Bend quilts.  
Mine is done a little differently than theirs, 
but it serves the same purpose.
I can hear the Gee's Bend gals saying,
"Why cut off good fabric when you can bring it around to the front?"   

I'll also show you what Gwen Marston taught us about 
making an extra wide binding, 
which is sometimes a good design element.   

If you want an extra wide binding, 
start by cutting your batting bigger than your quilt top.
I do this with scissors, so I don't cut into the backing fabric.
It's OK if the cutting line isn't perfectly straight. 
I made mine 1/2" bigger.

If you don't want the wider binding, 
just cut your batting to the edge of the quilt top. 
Scissors are still a good idea.

Next, cut the backing fabric.
I lined up my ruler with the quilt top edge, rather than the batting edge.
I cut the backing fabric 1-1/2" bigger than the top.

Then fold over and iron the edges on two opposite sides of the quilt.

If you want mitered corners,
 fold the fabric diagonally UP TO THE BATTING EDGE.  
Then fold and iron the other two sides of the quilt.

The corners will fall into place nicely.  Pin if you like.  
Stitch around the edge of the whole quilt by machine or by hand.

Voila!  Here's how it looks on the back.  
After cutting, this binding took less than an hour to complete!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

"Housetop" is Finished!

"Housetop," 60" x 60"

I finished hand-quilting this just in time for picnic season!
The top was made in a class with Gwen Marston back in February.
It's called "Housetop" because its inspiration came from the  
Gee's Bend quilt designs that go by the same name.

I quilted it with Barb's big fan stencil and #12 perle cotton.

It includes an old linen napkin and a scrap of polka dots from a friend in New York.

A lovely floral dress,

An old skirt,

An apron from the 60's or 70's,

And two tablecloths from the same era. 

Both were round and had 4" white fringe.  
Remember those out on the patio table?  

This wonderful Jane Sassaman print was perfect for the back. 

I made a wide back to front binding, like the Gee's Bend gals do.
(If anyone wants a tutorial on this, let me know.)

And it's already been launched with the first picnic of summer!

Happy summer--or winter--to you!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Thinking of Fathers

I just finished this quilt top,
all made from shirts that were worn by my father, my husband and myself.

It includes seven pockets,

several shirt buttons,

a few labels,

 some tucks,

and a very special paisley that belonged to my dad.  

The shirt backs will make up the quilt back.

I'll quilt this one by hand, feeling the gratitude for 
my father and my husband, 
and how they've contributed to who I am today.

Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

New Gwen Marston Online Classes!

"Red Square VI" by Gwen Marston, 2008

I was asked to review Gwen Marston's new "Abstract Quilts in Solids" class on
It's great!  

By Gwen Marston

This is one of two classes taught by Gwen on  The other one is "Liberated Quiltmaking."
As many of you know, Gwen will retire from teaching next year.  
But we can take these classes forever!

So, if you've always wanted to take a class from Gwen and you've never had the opportunity, here it is!  

Click here to sign up!

Here is my review of the "Abstract Quilts in Solids" class.

Wonderful! It's almost like Gwen is working with you personally in your own sewing room. In her characteristic warm, clear and sometimes humorous style, Gwen shows you many of her tricks to making lively and beautiful improvisational quilts. Beginners and advanced quilt makers will learn how to make their quilts more artistic, exciting and playful with "little experiments" that Gwen shows you how to do. She demonstrates how to "liberate" traditional blocks, add odd angles, and create curves with ease. She also talks about choosing colors and designing as you go. Excellent class! Thank you!

 Here's an abstract quilt in solids that I made in 2011,
totally inspired by Gwen and her methods.
"Ode to Anna Williams" by LeeAnn Decker, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Utah's National Parks and English Paper Piecing

I've just returned from a two week trip to see some National Parks in Utah and Arizona.
There were long car rides, so I took along my EPP stars.

I started with this star in Seattle.

We flew to Las Vegas and rented a car. 
We also went to the Neon Museum, a fun place to visit in LV.

The first park we visited was Zion National Park in Utah.  
Wow!  A very beautiful place.  

After that, we went to Bryce Canyon.
Another natural wonder!

Next stop was Moab, Utah, which is close to many of the parks 
AND they have great a quilt shop!

From there, we hiked Arches National Park.

Then we headed to Navajo Nation.  
On our way, we stopped at "Newspaper Rock"
and saw these petroglyphs, all made before 1300, A.D.

In Monument Valley I spotted these Navajo rugs.

Then we saw ancient ruins of the Anasazi at Canyon De Shelly.

The finale of the trip was the Grand Canyon.

Here's the chunk of nine stars I'd made before, (on the left,)
along with the 18 stars I finished on the trip.
Now they'll be packed up and ready for the next travels.

Besides having a great time, I developed a true appreciation for our National Parks, 
the Navajo Nation
AND for English paper piecing!