I always have to start a new quilt

I seem to be on a mission to make classic quilts. Well, the colors are classic, I put my own twist on the patterns.  Last year I made a red and white quilt, except it also had black. At one of the quilt meetings, Arlene Arnold informed us that black was a very hard fabric to dye. So until Aniline dyes in the late 19th century, they didn’t have a lot of black fabric. So what about all those widows in black you ask? They would take old dresses and over-dye them. They were probably more muddy brown than black. But what do we know about what people wore 150 years ago? We know what we see in the movies. Which is all well and good, but they aren’t wearing authentic clothes from that period.  Recently I heard someone say she wishes she lived back 80-100 years ago – cuz judging by the movies their clothes were amazing….  I’ll just say here, she is young.

So this whole preamble is simply to say, I want a red and white quilt. I am happy to use all shade of red and if it’s a print, it’s fine if there is white in the red prints. The background will be solid white, no white on white prints.

I was immediately attracted  to this quilt made by Laundry Basket Quilts, it is called Alaska. I really like it, but I want this as my jumping off design inspiration, not to make this quilt,

So for the center, I’m going with an oval Mariners compass. Luckily I have a template in Judy Mathesons’ book.

Paper piecing for the win. It is beginning to take shape.Yes, I am more than happy to use different shade of red. My background is a solid white, I will be playing with a lot of prints in red.Almost done, need to piece the center.

I love the curved look one gets without using curves, storm at sea, or the corner blocks in ‘Alaska’ do this, something I will try and replicate.

I enjoy having a basic idea, rather than recreating and exact quilt.


Rainbow Mice

What else could I have named this quilt?It is all done! Wasn’t my choice of subject or color and yet I had a great time making this.Here it is with all the mice and hearts quilted. Needs some background quilting.Went with free hand lines, sort of big and loose.Bound it in green and orange. Btw, most of the solids are from my stash. Certainly the green was. As soon as I used it I could tell that it was a poly-cotton. I used it anyway, I hate it. I must have bought it at JoAnne’s. They mix in the cotton with the blends and I guess I needed that color. There was some leftover – it went into the trash. Yes, I am that much of a snob.My usual binding technique is to sew the binding on the front of the quilt, flip over and finish the binding by hand. This time, I had fun with it. Sewed the binding to the back, then chose a decorative stitch – one that looks like cross-stiching, and sewed it down on the front. Adds a fun touch and to be honest – is probably more secure than my hand sewing.Back of quilt. I felt that my first attempt at the Mickey silhouette was a little small, but no need to waste it. I also took all he remnants from the hearts and made one rainbow.Some closeups.

Then, I popped it into the washing machine and dryer. I need to show this off at a few of my guilds and then it will be gifted. I know it will be very very loved.


Civil War era quilts

A chance to see Civil War era quilts in two different venues. Well, there were some pre-war and post war. Just saying 19th c. quilts doesn’t sound right.

On Saturday I was at the Huntington Library for an amazing tour. More on that later. Usually when I go, I’m walking around the gardens, at a friends suggestion I went into the American Art Gallery, boy am I happy I did.

I went to see the exhibit Becoming America, Highlights from the Jonathan and Karin Fielding collection. Some paintings, a lot of crafts and of course quilts.The background of this Bethlehem star is really a lovely blue not grey. What can I do, the camera sees what it sees. Since it is made from solids, I’m going to guess it was from the south. Look at those feathers!!  A flying geese quilt.Here is an incredible quilt. Bethlehem stars, Broderie Perse – this is where one cuts motif out of chintz fabric and appliqués them, a way of stretching out that very expensive chintz that came from Europe. Then we have smaller pieced stars as well as very accurate saw-tooth borders.

This is attributed to Mary Seeds Moon, made in Baltimore around 1840.A detail of the quilting, OMG. This quilt is in phenomenal shape, which means it probably wasn’t used much. One of many painted boxes. This is a quilt pattern, so I have to share.On to the Valley Quiltmakers guild meeting with Arlene Arnold. She farms up in Colusa CA and she loves and collects these wonderful old quilts. Here she is in all her glory in her Civil War garb. She bought this when she was sharing her quilts with Civil War reenactors a number of years ago. Got to get as much use out of it as possible. Her she is showing her version of a quilt that is similar to Mary Seed Moon’s. Unlike most of her collection, this was purchased from a museum that was liquidating it’s textile dept.

The larger pieces of chintz in this quilt look very similar to the border in the Fielding collection. Unlike today, where we have so many options in fabric, there was less choices in those days. An Expensive Chintz could very easily have found it’s way to two quilters.The lecture started with us saying the pledge of allegiance, how refreshing. The first quilt Arlene showed is this Seven Sisters quilt.  This pattern was developed in the south to represent the first 7 states to secede from the Union. The North forbad flying the Stars and Bars, so intrepid women made this quilt pattern over and over and displayed it in the window, on railings.  At some point Northern soldiers may have caught on, but they never bothered the women or their quilts

Southern quilts were usually made with solid fabrics and northern quilts had many more prints. Look at the effort that went into this baby quilt.Nine patch with prints. Two quilts made by the same quilter. No, she didn’t sign her quilt, but she did include hearts in her quilt. Here is a quilter who makes sure that her signature block be large and noticeable!Front of the quilt, from the north, see all the prints. But…Here is back. I have been known to use orphan blocks on the backs of my quilts. Look at how many this quilter has. I think most of us today prefer the back to the front.Another kind of signature, quilting in the quilters scissors!

I am very fortunate to be able to see these wonderful quilts, made by women over 150 years ago.


Mickey-Minnie rainbow quilt

I rarely sell my handwork, it simply isn’t worth it, on the other hand, giving quilts to deserving people isn’t a problem for me.

So my DIL wants something for a very special teacher who is now a friend. Nina loves Disney and rainbows, two things I’m not that crazy about.This is an image that Becky shared with me. Ok, I get the idea, no way would I ever make something like this, but, lets go with the idea.It is very easy to find a silhouette of Mickey online. I used Mistyfuse  and actually machine appliquéd using monofilament.It went quickly. These are 10″ blocks.Of course, I have to have some Minnies!Throwing everything up on the design wall.I added hearts.I think this is the final layout. At this point the quilt will be 50″ x 60″, I wanted it a little larger. This isn’t a lap quilt. It is meant to be cuddly and warm, so I need to increase the size.Here we go, now it’s more like 55″ x 72″, much better. Now I have to plan out the quilting.

I am now spending Tuesdays up at the new location of Quilts n’ Things in Altadena. I’m driving Aytan to his new school which is 20 miles away. Instead of going home, I start out in a coffee shop, and then by 10 am I’m up here for 4 hours, sitting and sewing with new friends. It’s lovely

I will probably bring my featherweight sometime and work on pillowcases. Meanwhile, handwork is in order. Do you remember this quilt? I finished it a few months ago, but really it’s not finished until it has a label.I had these labels printed up at Spoonflower. As you can see, I add the actual last two digits of the year by hand. In this case I even embellished the printed border with some embroidery. Now this one is ready to be gifted for the holidays, yes I have someone in mind.

While I was here in walked Charles Phoenix, his editor is right next-door! I have heard him lecture, have his autographed book. It was a delight, and boy was he impressed with this quilt. It was a mutual admiration society. Go look at what he does, he is all about Americana – in a loving, funky fun way.


Owl finished, well except for the label.

All the applique done! Now it’s time to thnk about how to quilt this.By mistake I cut out and prepared this section, it is smaller than the ones on the front, so of course, it goes on the back. I don’t think my machine applique is very neat, but, it’s on the back.Here is a close up of the border, I thought I took a before picture, I had quilted within the squiggles. I didn’t like that look, so I painstakingly removed that quilting. I only left it in the yellow sections. This is becoming a theme with me, removing quilting…For the owl itself, I simply quilted around all the applique.Except for a little echoing in the wing and body.I wasn’t sure how to quilt the background. Irene recommended feathers. I love quilting feather, so that is what I did.The stems of the feathers sort of form an echo quilting around the owl. The frame is much looser and more freeform. Hopefully, the attention is on the bright owl and not the frame.Here it is finished, in all it’s glory. Hanging on the wall! Yay!  As I look closely at this picture, I can see where it isn’t a perfect rectangle, I don’t care. I doubt people will come in and comment on that, if they do – it’s their problem. This is a handmade quilt, it’s not meant to be ‘perfect’.  I will be submitting it to shows, because I think it is amazing. I will keep you posted where it might be going.  And if it only goes to the local guild show, that is fine by me.

I have mentioned that I don’t view my quilting as fine art. I view it as an expression of my creativity, and believe me, perfection isn’t that important to me.


Round Robin, the reveal

I had one quilt left to work on.Here is it before my border.Have you noticed that all my borders are either curves or applique? Well no, the very first border I did was diamonds using Deb Tucker’s ruler.Wow, look at mine! I am really pleased and surprised at how this came out. I love the asymmetry of it. I am not going to quilt it right away, I need to let it all sink in.Now, it’s time to show off the other quilts. All together there were 18 people who participated. This was a wildly successful venture, I think we all had a good time. The quilts are really impressive, so here goes:Talk about complete improv, and yet it works very very well.This one looks like it could have been a kit. Almost as if six different people didn’t work on it. Really amazing.
Hey, look, I got someone else to do some applique here.Southwest.Calm and quiet, I am the one who did all the colorful flying geese, gave permission to other quilters to go a little wild.How different they all look!And here is another one that looks so well planned.  It was 15 quilters, Scott started with a warm and a cool, one group only had 5 members so he filled in.I may have missed a few, although I am the photographer, my camera is really acting up these days. Sorry, to those who’s quilts didn’t make it into my photoshoot.

I had a lot of fun with this. But it is a one and done. I don’t feel like I want to participate in a round robin again. The guild is trying to get a bee going – no thanks. I really appreciate other people’s work, but I think I’d like to stick to my own work without collaboration.


VMQG Round Robin

I’m writing this as I go, but by the time I publish this, at least six months will have gone by.

My modern Valley guild is having a round robin. This is where the participants make a center square, then we put it in a box with a journal and some fabric. In the journal, we write our likes and dislikes. Then each month, the box moves to another quilter. The order is always the same.Here is my center block. Yup, I had to add some applique cuz that is what I’m really into right now.  My requests were no improv, I really don’t like improv. I’m noticing that the eyes on this owl aren’t great. Since then, I’ve been adding applique to my DWR. I feel that my curves and circles are improving with practice.

I bought a really cute box and put in a lot of fabric. Unfortunately, out instruction sheet only arrived two days before the exchange, and one thing we were told, was put all the fabric in the box. Turns out that isn’t true,  we can add our own fabrics to the quilt. I hope the people who get my box do so, even though I put in a lot of choices. I should have taken a picture of the block I got on it’s own. I didn’t, so here it is with my border, coming together.  Yup, I’m using my Deb Tucker tools.Adding some corner blocks in blocks.Maybe this is a better arrangement?Here it is, my part is done. Funny thing, the center block was 14.5″ which isn’t a standard size. I thought I may have to add a small border between the block and my border, turns out, it fit perfectly! That was sheer luck. I do like how I included some of my own prints with some solids.  I won’t see this until the end.

So I get a call from Gina, she hands her blocks over to me, she won’t make it to the April meeting so can she drop off her April project? Sure!She added a simple narrow border. At first, I thought I’d wait until May, then I realized that I hand off to Pat, she lives far away, it will be easier to give her two blocks this month. So I get to work.I introduced another color, if we all stick to the original color theme it won’t matter what we add, it will all blend into one. Case in point, I kept thinking that I was dealing with one center block, not a block and one border. You know me and my love of applique right now. I happen to have a pattern from Carolyn Friedlander, it included the arrow and the orange blob. These days I’m getting pickier about patterns I buy. I know, it’s their livelihood, but I don’t often feel like it was worth my money.Since this is a modern challenge, I also felt the need to keep the elements spaced apart. Notice the little grey circle in the upper right corner?It now should be on the lower left corner, but it’s gone. I had a problem with that grey, I even tried to make an arrow, no glue I used would stick to the paper, so I gave up, even though no one will notice, I took it out and replaced it with a red circle. That is because I am crazy.

I won’t have a block in May, let’s see what I get for June.
Here is what I got for June. I’m seeing a lot of repetition of fabrics and points, be they triangles or diamonds. I feel like shaking things up a bit.The black confetti fabric was in the bag. I went with some of the print colors, but using some of my own solids. Since there is red in the confetti, I decided to introduce it into the quilt. I pulled out My QCR Mini, the ruler that gives me great curves.The row on top is my first try, I don’t like it, so I rearranged the blocks, so instead of a teardrop, I know have half clamshells. I like it much better.I’m not a big fan of improv, but the blocks just weren’t going to fit, so I had to add a 2″ strip of the black. What to do in the corners? Why not contrasting white.I think it’s looking good! I like how I reintroduced black as well as solids.

The rows are getting longer, I think there is only one more border to go.



busy weekend

I went on a quilting retreat with the Valley Quiltmakers Guild to Timble Towne in Bakersfield. More on Bakersfield later.

I agreed to finish up the opportunity quilt for the guild. Someone had dropped the ball and this raffle quilt is the biggest fundraiser every year.  I really took on a very big job, especially since I wanted to finish it on this retreat.The Lone Star had to be assembled, and then a complicated quilt put together.  I had brought my ‘sewing machine’ not the machine I use for quilting, it works fine, but I’m used to piecing on my other machine.Stage one, done! The triangles are a little wonky, I did have to trim them some before putting in the next border. I also had to create the border myself. Little by little the zigzag border grew. We did take a break to go get icecream, a well needed break. Most people were working on their own projects, or quilts and small objects for the quilt show we put on in May.

It’s was 8 pm at night by the time I got to this point. I had started work on Friday afternoon, this was Saturday. I was exhausted. I usually like to take my time. Now I was just rushing.The star blocks were made ahead of time by other members of the guild. I made the light green blocks on the top and bottom. Somewhere along the way, the red blocks got lost. They were delivered to the president, but she couldn’t find them. so I had to make these two as well. We know that now that the quilt top is done, she will find them no problem. Such is life.

The quilt is  98″ x  86″, it will be sent to a longarm quilter. I am done!!!Sure I’m smiling, I finished before noon on Sunday, stayed for lunch and then drove home. Luckily the Castaic Fire didn’t affect the 5 freeway.Just a couple of fellow quilters. The relief that this is done is palatable!Some people had already left by the time we got this picture.  I think this would be perfect on a king size bed.Look at all the other projects people worked on, definitely a very creative productive bunch.I was able to hand this over to the guild president. I hope next time I see it, it will be quilted.

All members have to buy $20 tickets, we can resell them or encourage others to buy tickets. So if you really love this, let me know!


It’s been a slow week

Yom Kippur is over, not my favorite day of the year. I don’t find the fasting all that hard. It’s what to do for 12 hours. The evening of Yom Kippur isn’t bad, a quick dinner then Kol Nidre. I enjoy this service very much. The next day, I’m not that crazy about being in Temple. I never was one who felt spiritually uplifted by services in a synagogue. As a child, I was Orthodox and it was simply part of the routine. As an adult, I have pretty much become a High Holiday Jew, at a Conservative Temple.

I’m getting tired of the mini speeches, the musical interludes, and I do not like the choir. Luckily I go to a service that doesn’t have a choir, but I do pop into the Choir service for one prayer session – Yizchor, remembrance prayer. This year it’s for both parents.

What really gets my goat is how certain Rabbis have to inject just the slightest amount of politics. At this point it sickens me, my one holy day of the year, my one chance to be cut off from all that ugliness and the Rabbi has to virtue signal. You wonder why I don’t feel like spending a lot of time with my fellow Jews.

But spending time with family was wonderful, both the before and after meal. I spent time reading an art book with my granddaughter, she is getting it! My DIL suggested going back to LACMA with the kids, I think I’d rather take them to the Norton Simon.If summer is over, and it is, then at least I get to enjoy the Halloween decorations. Fall here in So Cal, is cool mornings and evenings and hot days. The days are much shorter, so I do enjoy the fun decorations, I hate the real gruesome ones. Give me witches and ghosts and fall colors and I’m happy.Still working on my hand applique, I’m liking the results, but it is slow going.  Bought this at Michael Levines last week. I’ve already cut a shirt out of this. Tomorrow I leave for a 3 day retreat with my Quilt Guild to Bakersfield. I will be working on the Guild opportunity quilt, someone dropped the ball and I’m picking it up. Just in case I finish the top, I have this project.

We will be spending 3 days at ThimbleTown, and yes, I know I’ll spend some money… So you know me, a new city, a chance to explore. I mentioned to some of the other participants that I am going to explore downtown Bakersfield. All I got was blank stares and the question why??

Because every city, town or hamlet has something to share. Bakersfield has some good Art Deco and a great 1950s vibe.  I don’t understand people who are unwilling to explore their surroundings.I know, this knit is most probably polyester, I couldn’t resist. I love the color, and it was on the sale table at Michael Levines, so a long sleeve knit dress will be happening.My Meyer Lemon tree is very happy and full of lemons. That reminds me, I should give it some food, now that it is so busy producing fruit.

Next week will have much more content, after a busy weekend.212


Busy being creative

I’ve been busy creating.  Item number one is the blue sweater:To me this is a fail, I didn’t like it from the get-go, I went to support a local shop and it was a fail. You are probably saying, it looks fine, well to me it doesn’t look fine.  Not only that, I didn’t even enjoy the knitting process.I spent more money than I would have liked on a simple sweater, I didn’t enjoy the knitting and I don’t really like the end result. I kept at it rather than just frogging the whole thing. At some point I will  want to knit another sweater, but I’m going to be much more careful. When that yarn store didn’t have much selection and had no patterns or magazines, I really should have just walked out.  At the moment the ‘local’ yarn store I really like is down in Westchester near the airport and really isn’t local at all. I went to my actual local yarn store and bought this yarn for a shawl. Have I mentioned they don’t carry a single yarn that is simply solid?!?!  I am enjoying knitting this, it will be a gift. Once blocked I expect the shawl will be lovely. I still think I’d prefer it if the yarn weren’t tonal. I guess I’m back to buying online – even though that has its pitfalls as well. Light matters, this is the exact same corner of my owl quilt. I think the second photo is more accurate. As you can see, I’m busy appliqueing the border. It is going to take time, I think I need another quilting project in the mean time.This is what the applique looks like from the back, with the seams glued down.  I’ve been using different glues. I don’t like the June Taylor glue, I do like the Fons and Porter, I especially like that I can buy it at JoAnn’s with a coupon.Four corners done, I want to fill in the background, it will be a lot of work but will be worth the effort. Joel asked who this is for? For us, not giving this one away! I will probably try and put it in some shows, I think it is that good.Look at this owl I saw in a shop, on a little girls dress in Montreal. It is machine embroidered, but I will probably copy this, do it by hand on the label of the owl quilt. Just saying.