Catching Things Up and Planning New Quilts

I wanted to try to make a dreamscape using this method.  I missed taking the photo that week for a number of health related reasons, so I chose to use one I took early in the summer, since I missed the deadline an everything else.  Anyway, here's my dreamscape photo...I think this catches me up to date with all the challenges finally.

I wanted to try to make a dreamscape using this method. I missed taking the photo that week for a number of health related reasons, so I chose to use one I took early in the summer, since I missed the deadline an everything else. Anyway, here’s my dreamscape photo…I think this catches me up to date with all the challenges finally.

Without going into it, I have been a little off my game the past couple of weeks because of minor foot-related and other health issues, but I’m back on my feet now and am getting better every day. I finally caught up with all the missing photos in Ricky Tim’s 52 Week photo challenge today.  So while I was encouraged by my doctor to stay off my foot, I did a lot of planning for new quilts and even drew out some of the designs for several of them.  I am very excited about the new quilts I have on my agenda, but I am questioning my sanity.  😀 😀 😀

Next Deep Space Quilt:  I did a lot of mulling over of photos from NASA to determine my next deep space quilt and a couple of them convinced me that I will do a spiral galaxy quilt next.  I have wanted to do one for some time, but the picture of the day that showed real detail convinced me this was my next quilt project after my current Waiting…2 quilt. I probably won’t make that particular spiral galaxy, but will choose one that shows the full spiral.  Still, it is great to have such a nice detailed image for reference as I make it.   I am planning on multiple videos and photos as I make this quilt to help me in developing a workshop and accompanying book.  I will also be making small samples using my methods for this one.

Canterbury Bride:   I have nearly completed the design work for this next in my Canterbury series quilts.  This is likely to be my last Canterbury quilt, though not my last Ancient Manuscripts quilt.  I will continue on with those until everyone is sick of seeing them…LOL…so I designed the border and the concept for an illuminated manuscript quilt of Adam Names the Animals.  I love making these quilts.

So here are is my current list of potential quilts.  These are not in order in by any stretch of the imagination:

  1. Waiting…2 Recast of the first storm at sea but woman has her daughter with her, borders are smaller or nonexistent (in process)
  2. Hoffman Challenge 16: Happy Forest Small whimsical quilt with embroidered animals and lots of appliqued butterflies, sequins, beads, just over the top…this is just for fun, but I will enter it if I finish in time.
  3. Deep Space 3: Starburst Spiral Spiral starburst Messier 94 3rd in deep space series.  I have this one all worked out in my head on how to approach it.  These never get drawn out before hand except a minimal placement guide directly on the fabric.
  4. Canterbury Bride 3rd in Canterbury nearly done.
  5. Ancient Manuscripts: Adam Names the Animals. Part of the series of ancient manuscript style quilts in silk, similar to Canterbury series…This one is Adam names the animals
  6. Ancient Manuscripts:  Arthurian Legend 1…2…3…..LOL
  7. Japanese Ikebana quilt 2…follow-on to Kanazawa Memories.
  8. Waiting…3 Nurse waits at the airport for the return of her lover from war…the plane is coming in in the sky
  9. Ancient Manuscripts: Noah’s Ark. Part of the series of ancient manuscript style quilts in silk, similar to Canterbury series…This one is loading the ark with animals
  10. Japanese Ikebana quilt 3…Fan Dance By Moonlight revisited Japanese fans and flower arrangement for use with video workshop and manual
  11. Whole Cloth Contemporary whole cloth inspired by ancient quilt with dragon in the middle and Celtic symbols..done on silk with dramatic thread colors
  12. Jacob’s Ladder Jacob’s Ladder pictorial using Jacob’s Ladder traditional blocks for the ladder itself
  13. In Full Bloom Flower Applique/Embroidery laden quilt, from Beth’s photographs/Joint with Beth
  14. Heirloom Quilt Using Mom’s unfinished needlework and sepia pictures with traditional quilting, beads, crystals…crazy quilt blocks alternating with sepia pics.
  15. Swarkovski crystal music/Houston special Jazz 1920s, city with music coming from lit windows with silhouets, and rising and exploding into fireworks
  16. Marvin Memory quilt: Like a Tree Psalm 1 (Tree by river with words) with fabulous landscape work, the Psalm somehow incorporated in the quilting
  17. Dark Forest in 3D Dark, old, partially burned out forest with tall trees and beam of light making it through to floor of forest where the ruin of a church stands. The light shines through the window. The forest has owls, other birds, foxes, and other woodland creatures. This is a three dimensional
  18. SteamPunk Black textured fabrics and leather with gold, brass, and other metallic threads and fabrics
  19. Deep Space 4: Sky Elephant
  20. Fiery Volcanic Scene with Phoenix and Dragon fighting…full of fire and sparkles, showing a high degree of surface design work.

I know I’m a little crazy.  I just don’t want to loose these ideas as they float by, so I do a lot of drawing and notations to try to keep them.  I think I need a clone…LOL…but that wouldn’t be as much fun.  I have no idea how many of these I will make, and I probably will make some not shown here too.  It’s a good thing I’m retired!!!

Sew what do you think?  Any favorites?


Completing the Woman and Child Applique Pattern

I love being able to share things with my friends.  It is fun, it is helpful…especially when they give me feedback…and it helps me keep things on track..  So I thought I would show you some of the various stages of my drawing and what I now think is the completed applique pattern drawing.  I would still like your feedback if you see something that really stands out that needs changing.

Here is the original one I used for the first quilt “Waiting…”

finished detail as shot 2

I thought I should change her for the new Waiting… quilt 2.  So I tried drawing several new women drawing.

Woman looking to sea_001 woman 2_002woman 3_004









Then I decided to go back and recast the original one.

Wind blown woman 2











After some feedback I realized the hair was not right and the clothes are not colored properly.  I also drew a little girl.  Here are some of the stages of that process:

girl's faceChild_007child








Woman and Child for Waiting..











So after some tweaking and moving and so forth, here is where it is now.  Keep in mind when looking at this that it is just a pattern.  The only thing printed will be the faces and hand.  The rest will be created from various textures of fabrics, thread work, highlighting and lowlighting from inks or paints, but I do work best when I have a pretty good idea of how it really will look when finished.  The woman’s dress, cloak, and hair are still not quite right, but that will be changed as I work through making the applique.


I am so looking forward to getting these put together now.  I will make several versions of both the woman and the child and see which ones look best, and, after talking it over with Beth, my DIL, I decided to print out multiple faces and hands on a single sheet of fabric and set up a practice sandwich with it so I can figure out the best quilting for those.  The faces are not large, but always the most difficult to quilt.

Sew there you are.  These appliques are so important to the overall quilt.  They aren’t easy, and they have taken a lot of time.  I need them, though, to make the quilt I see in my head.  I also have gotten together most, but not all, of the special pieces of fabrics I painted, pulled from my stash, and ordered for this.  I am only waiting on the velveteen for the girl’s and woman’s coats and hat and the furry yarns for the edges.  Time to sew!

Sew happy everyone!  Have a great week.  Please comment on my blogs.

Addendum:  After some feedback, I made the girl smaller, the woman’s chin less prominent and did a few other changes to the hair.  Here it is.

Woman and Child Final_001

Waiting…, Quilt 2: Drawing the people

For my second quilt in the Waiting… series, I am struggling not only to draw the woman right, but to add a young girl at her side.  I tried a lot of different women, but decided to go back to more or less the same woman with some differences in hair and clothing, so that drawing is progressing, but the child has been a huge struggle for me so far.

First of all, you need to know that I have to get the drawing right before I can make the applique.  The only thing I plan to print onto fabric are the faces and hands of the woman and the girl.  The rest might be appliqued fabrics, yarn, and thread painting.  Still, I have to get it right so I have a pattern to go by.

I have combed the internet to find a good model for the little girl standing in the right pose with more or less the right clothing.  The closest I came are two girls from Dover Pictura and neither one of them are right.  Here they are:

Girl with hat and flowers Girl with muff


So I am struggling to draw a little girl with all my requirements.  She has to be pretty, she has to be a little windblown, though not as much as her mom, because she is shielded a little by her mom.  She has to be looking out to sea, and she has to be dressed in the mid 19th century outdoor winter clothing.  So far, I have managed to sketch the head, and that’s all.

girl's face


The head, of course, is the most important part and also the most difficult.  That’s the part I will printout in fabric and use as an applique.  The rest of it has only to be properly proportioned and designed, because that’s just a pattern, unless the drawing is wonderful, then I may use much of the whole drawing for the applique and just add embellishments of thread painted hair and the yarn for the fur edging.  I have spent a lot of time drawing this head with some frustration.  Now I have to paint her.  I’ll show you the finished woman and child when I get it done.  It takes time, but if I want to make this quilt, I have to do this.

Sew happy everyone!  I hope to have it ready to make the entire two appliques by the weekend.  What color do you think her hair should be?


A Journey to Art Quilts…One Problem Set at a Time

I am not yet seventy and have been sewing for over 60 years, having begun when I was 4 or 5.  It may seem odd, but I clearly remember sewing as a small child on my small Singer, set up next to my Mom while she sewed on her “big machine”. I made Barbie doll clothes (the only real good use for a Barbie, as far as I was concerned), pot holders, and the skirt for a dressing table at first. When I was about  eight I made my first complete dress.  It was quilting fabric, I believe, with maps and sailing ships and so forth on a blue background.  It had box pleats for the skirt and a simple top with, yes, set in sleeves.  I remember wearing it to school with great happiness and not a little pride.  From that time until the present, I made many things… bags, hats, dresses, wedding dresses, tailored suits–even men’s tuxedos–men’s ties, scarves, overcoats, fur coats, and just about anything for the home, but I did not quilt.

On October 1 of 2003, the love of my life passed away and I subsequently moved to be near my oldest son and his wife who were expecting my grandson.  Shortly after I moved, my daughter-in-law, who had taken up quilting and enjoyed it so much that she bought a longarm for her own use, suggested that I might enjoy quilting.  And so it began…

Now I had done just a few wall hangings and fabric as art before this time, making my church’s banners, and a few other wall hangings, but they were not quilts, and they were a long long ways in quality from where I am now as to what I can make for a show quilt.

Sew I set about to learn to quilt about a year after his passing.  It was a great solace to my sore heart following the death of Marvin.  I had something new and grand to learn, because I found that even though I could make almost anything else using fabric and thread, I could not make a very good quilt.  Surprise! It took me several years because I was working, hard, for the government at the time.

The quilts I made at first had really bad bindings, the designs were mediocre, and the quilting wasn’t very good.  They weren’t terrible, because I was, after all, a professional quality sewist.  But I was not a quilter, and I wanted to compete.  Using someone else’s patterns never really occurred to me.  I really don’t know why.

The best thing that happened in this journey was that Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims decided to pull together The Quilt Show on the Internet in 2007.  They brought in the great quilters who demonstrated how to do things…and one by one I picked up a new skill or tool and ran with it.  Given my long solid background of sewing and art, I could pick up the techniques with just one show, which I was able to watch over and over.  Sometimes, I bought a book that was mentioned and then I started taking classes with these great quilters themselves whenever I could get to a quilt show.  More recently, I have found online classes that are available and I can take them right here at my own studio, and yes, I still take classes.  What a great thing!

When I first became aware of the use of paint on quilts as an art form I was opposed to its use, thinking it wasn’t, somehow, right.  How silly of me.  The first time I realized I was wrong was when I saw Hollis Chatelain’s Precious Water, which took Best of Show in Houston in 2004.  If you look at her work, you will realize it is beyond question fine art that is not only beautifully painted, but a well crafted quilt in fabric and thread, and truly worthy of the prize. The competitive traditional quilting world was really shaken over this, I think.  Many felt that quilts are supposed to be for the bed, to cuddle with, to love, to wrap your baby with, and were not meant to ever be art for your wall.  Or if you did use it as art for your wall, it should be to show the great beauty of this historic traditional craft and only traditional.  I am sure that many still feel that way today, however…

…quilters are a loving and inclusive group as a whole, and not very many of them are what one might endearingly refer to as “old biddies” or “quilt police”.   This past several years I have witnessed art quilts move from shocking other quilters to a position of their own in the show quilting world.  These quilts take all kinds of forms…now you can make a traditional quilt as art just to show on the wall, and that is grand, but you can also use the quilt as your medium to produce art of many styles and be respected for it.  Exquisite, interesting, modern, and often full of emotional pull  art designs can now be realized in fabric, thread, paint, beads, and other embellishments, and be treated with the same respect as the exquisite traditional quilts and contemporary quilts have always been in the show world.  And the wonderful thing is that this in no way has diminished the great appreciation of the traditional beauties also shown.  It is hard now to predict whether a traditional quilt. a contemporary quilt,  or an art quilt will take Best of Show just from the category alone.  They have become side by side equals.  I hope you feel that is a grand thing.

I see little glimmers here and there that the traditional art world may even be beginning to warm to such show quilts as “real”art.  I suspect, however, that this one will take even longer to be seen by the traditional art world as side by side equals to the more traditional forms of art of painting and sculpture.

So what is required of me, as a now professional art quilter, to continuously reach higher as both an artist and a quilter? I believe it is imperative in keeping the creativity alive to constantly reach beyond one’s abilities to pull meaningful art out and share it with people.  It is just plain fun too.

How is this done?

I just came home from watching the movie made from the fabulous book by Andy Weir “The Martian”.  I found it inspiring.  It is largely the story of how the people involved, and in particular the protagonist who was the guy left on Mars in the mistaken belief he was dead, solved the enormous problem they were faced with on how to keep him alive until rescue could come, and how to rescue him.  Each vastly overwhelming problem was approached by solving a smaller set of problems and each of those sets by solving each part of that problem one step at a time, and readjusting as new problems arise.  Never giving up was the key.

This is the same approach I try to take on a much lesser scale to creating my art in the form of quilts.  I see so many things in the world surrounding me that inspire visions of quilts within my mind.  I must have a hundred quilt ideas tucked away in the recesses of my mind by now and new ones come nearly every day.  So I must first solve which quilts I will actually make, and draw out the design.  I ignore whether or not I think I can do this design or not until I actually start making it…breaking it down into individual problem sets and breaking those down into individual steps.  Sometimes along the way, I change the design because the original concept did not work.  So now it becomes something doable.  My mother used to constantly say “inch by inch it’s a cinch”.  She was right.

Of course, this approach came from my mother and father.  It carried me through my life as a wife and mother and my years of work for the Federal government where I did work I can not tell you about, but the approach was often the same to accomplishing anything difficult…break it down into workable components and do that.  It’s the same approach as it takes to make a man’s tailored suit…accomplishing each section one by one and finally putting it all together and then adding the final touches.  It is the same approach one must use to make a fabulous traditional quilt…one section at a time…one small component at a time…just don’t give up and fix the mistakes along the way.

Just a few weeks ago, one of my more unusual and difficult to make quilts won a ribbon for “Best Use of Color” in its category.  It was “Sky Horse”, which had also been shown at last year’s Houston show.  I hope to make more deep space quilts based on NASA’s great photos they have that are (mostly) copyright free.  I am taking an online class right now on painting nebula using Corel Painter 16, and have found it giving me many ideas on how I can improve future nebula quilts.  And in some ways as meaningful as a ribbon, one of my smaller quilts was just appraised in replacement value alone (does not include the design work) for over five thousand dollars by an AQS certified appraiser.  I have a friend who just sold one of her smaller art quilts about the same size (that also just won a Best of Show) for ten thousand dollars to an art collector.  This, my dear friends, seems to be progress to me for us art quilters.  May it continue, and wish me well as I try to make however many of the quilts buzzing around in my mind I can before I either get too old or join Marvin in heaven (whichever happens first).

Sew happy everyone!  Make that master quilt or piece of furniture or tailored suit or amazing decorated cake you have always thought you couldn’t do…solving one problem set at a time.  Oh, rest assured that I still love the traditional quilts made to cuddle and made for the bed, the lap, the baby, and the dog…well worth the making and a treasure to love.