Thursday, December 27, 2012


I had no idea how important the sound and look and feel of flowing water would be to my emotional health during my stint with my friend at Mayo Clinic. But fountains were everywhere and I spent a lot of time by them, finding healing and escape. Since returning home, I've been thinking about how I could depict the movement of water in my quilts.

I was particularly fascinated by the flow of water down the rock-face of the fountain at the Charlton Building - barely visible except for one spot where it rippled right to left over one of the stones. I've played around a bit with various configurations of lines in my sketchbook and think I may have hit upon a quilting design to mimic the effect.

I worked a bit on more organization of the studio the last few days. One side of the closet had two of those multi-peg hangers that I decided were the perfect place for my silk ties (looping them over a hanger has not been the best solution). As I sorted through and hung them up, I ran across these two which remind me of that right to left rippling of water. Do you see it or is it just me? No matter, these two have been set aside for my first water quilt.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Modern Christmas

Sending you holiday greetings via a drawing app on my Kindle Fire, itself backed by a fake (projection) fire. Ahhh, the wonders of the modern age. Not the Christmas day I grew up with but pretty nice all the same. Hope yours is peaceful and blessed.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Looking for the Magic

While the majority of you are probably hustling with last minute holiday preparations, I finished what little I'd decided to do and went back to work on my half-square triangle quilt top. That required setting up the second banquet table as I needed more width on which to rest the top while I pinned the borders. However, I did not put the table on the bed risers yet - I kind of liked the stepped version for this part. As anticipated, I am liking the versatility of the two worktables rather than just one big one. However, I may have created yet another problem for myself: these tables are too thick for the clamps I use when layering quilts for basting. Suggestions anyone?

As for the quilt, isn't it beautiful? As much as I admire scrap quilts, especially the antique ones of which I own a few, I myself have made surprisingly few true scrap quilts. Must be that part of me demanding order and control. At any rate, I am very pleased with the way the many fabrics work together in this simple design. And if you think the borders are not the same size, your eyes do not deceive you. I should have figured a row or two more of the triangles to make this quilt come out a little closer to a conventional size. Instead, I just made the top and bottom borders 2 inches wider, which is not an unheard of solution in the antique quilt world. I'm still pondering the quilting.

As I was pressing the final seams, I suddenly remembered I hadn't thought much about backing fabric, and oh dear, I still have not fully unpacked the studio. My brain has not been the best at retrieving information lately but still, I started a mental search of my inventory of larger lengths of suitable fabric. Of course, I could always go with muslin, but I'm not altogether sure I even have that much muslin around. I do have a small stack of reproduction fabrics that had made it onto a shelf; I casually flipped through them for ideas. Not sure what exactly jogged this memory but suddenly I was pretty sure of a perfect solution and where to find it. I'd bought lots of yardage of a particular line that was the basis of St Hilary's Star, including a pink one that might go along with the pink in the piecing. I got that print in several colorways and you can see two of them laid out on the table in the forefront of the picture. Either would work well - I just have to decide which one to go with.

And in the process of finding them, I found my longer lengths of batiks, neatly stacked in the top of the large bin of totally unrelated fabrics and ufo's. That's them on the ironing board. I'd been wondering where I'd packed them and this might have been the last place I would have looked.

I guess this is where the "looking for magic" part comes in. I've been resisting both organizing as I unpack the studio as well as working in what's set up. I think it partly overwhelms and depresses me at the same time - still so much stuff and I have no clear plan of organization yet. I think I'm waiting for Tinkerbell or Cinderella's helpers to magically put everything in place for me. What I am discovering is that until I actually start working in the space, I won't find those solutions that will turn this into an efficient workspace. I had the same issues with the kitchen, but once I started really cooking in it, I could take a cue from where I automatically reached for something, and try out other configurations until I hit upon solutions that worked. Yesterday's session helped me see that one storage unit may need to be moved and that where I'd temporarily parked my basket of cutters and marking tools was in exactly the right spot. Guess I have to make my own magic.    

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pondering the Quilting

Save for a good pressing, the half-square triangle quilt is ready for borders which will be cut from the brown fabric. It may be some of the first reproduction fabrics that came on the market back in the 1990's. Do you remember Smithsonian's "Copp Family" antique quilt and the fabric line based on it? This brown floral is from that RJR Fashion Fabrics line.

In my experience, solving one technical problem in a quilt is just likely to lead to other problems later on. I decided early on to press all the seams open on this top to avoid the bulk that would otherwise crop up at these multi-seam intersections. I remember those kinds of seams causing problems during quilting. However, my default quilting strategy for an antique reproduction like this would be to stitch in the ditch. Oops - when you press seams open, you no long have a ditch to stitch in.

So as I stitched the rows together, I pondered just how I would machine quilt this top. And then I wondered how my readers might approach this problem. Do send me your ideas in the comment section. If I decide to use your suggestion, I'll send you a little something based on the leftovers from this project (which you may have to wait a bit to receive). Bear in mind that this is not a show quilt, nor an heirloom quilt, but a quilt I plan to use like a utility quilt so I'm thinking fairly basic quilting here. The squares are 3 inches and the border will probably be 8 inches wide. 

Sunday, December 09, 2012


This is what it looked like standing on my back deck Friday - our first real snow.

Such fat fat flakes that stacked up to about 4 inches of the white stuff. Maybe now I can get serious about Christmas!

Progress continues but slowly on the unpacking and sewing front. My tables arrived Monday - two 6 footers that fold in the middle that are easy for me to carry, set up and move around. They should give me lots of flexibility.

I know there are products out there specifically to raise the level of tables like these, but I'd spotted these bed risers at a local store so decided to see if they would do the trick. They raise the table slightly higher than my old work surface which I think is a good thing. Have yet to actually get out the mat and cutter to see if indeed it is a good working height. If not, can anyone suggest alternatives and where I can find them?

I've stolen an hour here and there to continue work on the half-square triangle quilt. I've found the fabric set aside for the borders and have about half of the rows joined to each other. This is a much slower process than sewing the units into rows as I must pin every intersection. Had I not pressed all the seams open, I probably could have gotten away with "nesting" the intersections without the need to pin. Or maybe not. I think when I get to quilting I will be glad I don't have all that bulk at the joins. Or maybe not...

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Up and Running

When I fired up the old Viking, it hesitated, then took off in its usual reliable manner. I'd gotten all the half square triangle units arranged on the design wall and decided to set up a machine even though I still have much to unpack and arrange in the studio. Using the continuous piecing method of sewing down off the wall, I now have all the units into rows awaiting their seams to be pressed. I've ordered up some tables after all, realizing that my plan c of using a dining room table I already have would be insufficient for this very first project; need something longer for layout and cutting the borders that also has a surface not scratched by the safety pins I use for basting. I took a little time yesterday to move a few boxes out of the way and unpack two more to clear the way for their arrival on Monday. I'm surprisingly reluctant to make decisions about where to put the little things and a few storage units. I'm hoping that this space can be set up a little more logically and efficiently with things grouped better, but already I'm feeling a little defeated about that. Didn't want to just throw and toss but that's kind of what I'm doing with the hope I can better organize later. And I know how far off in the future "later" often is for a procrastination expert like me. I just divert to my happy place at the machine which hums along.