Patches and Panels


I wanted to share this quilt because it is not a typical quilt of any sort.  I simply wanted to put together pieces drifting around my sewing area in the colors that the mommy of little Liam loved.  I wanted to do it organically and make it work.  when I looked at it and held it I felt like I had succeeded!  I really enjoyed making this quilt. I felt a lot of love and deep connection with little Liam and his family while I was making this quilt.  It is loosely inspired by Rayna Gillman’s book, Inspired Free Form Quilting which I love!  I made a quilt for my 3rd grand daughter’s birth from her book and it was not only one of my favorites but it was so much fun!

It may have become obvious to some that I have been quilting for a number of years and still not really explored the arena of traditional piecing. I have to admit the obvious, that  1. I am not good at exact detail work and 2. I don’t like the exact detail work of piecing. 3. I really wanted to quilt anyway. 4. Liam does not care! For the traditional piecing experts consider my blog ‘remedial quilting’ and if you are new to quilting and nervous about getting into it due to the intimidating complexity of traditional piecing  consider my blog a wade into the shallow end of the quilting pool to get the hang of it and build confidence.  It is an amazing hobby and it does not have to be so difficult it keeps beginner sewers out of the pool entirely. So play around with your scraps, have fun and jump in.

Sweet Stripes Baby Quilt: II

I have made two of the Sweet Stripes baby quilts, using the same design premise and many of the same fabrics for two separate sweet babes in two families.  This one was for my niece whose name is Lia Kaliani and I am thrilled to say that she loves her quilt!  She will be two in a few months and so I completed her quilt quite late. I did give her a quilt I bought at the Austin Area Quilt Guild show when she was born.  The joy of giving her a quilt made with my hands was significant.  That she loves to sleep with it and pulls it up over her head every night is the icing on the quilting cake!

I have had a policy to send my large quilts to be quilted on a long arm professionally, but the many baby quilts I make to give to friends and family I have quilted myself. My quilting on this quilt is unsophisticated and looks somewhat stilted to me now. It was one of the last made before I decided to stop being scared of free motion quilting and JUST DO IT already!  I have entered a new era in my quilting journey and started quilting with a free motion foot and the feed dogs down and I am truly on my own!  I will track that process in another blog post.  I am not apologizing for the simple quilting here because learning to quilt and really being at the stage you are at is part of the process.  We cannot all be expert level when we begin and too many people deny themselves the joy of crafting and the arts due to feeling they must be perfect or at least good. I say that is nonsense.

It is the process that is a large part of the joy. I have loved learning to quilt over the last 21 years and much of it did not come naturally to me. I was not great at it. I came to quilting from a design standpoint ( I loved the design process of  a quilt) and my crafting ability was mediocre at best, my attention to exact detail nonexistent.  Designing, choosing fabrics, and sewing quilts is a difficult process with multiple steps and a dozen or more skills.  Especially if you are not using a pattern but are designing your own.  So many skills to learn, so many abilities to master. I did it even when I was not sure I could or I felt the outcome would be crappy. And sometimes it really was.  There are new studies that show doing something creative helps humans be happier and healthier even if they are not good at their chosen craft.

And it did make me happy and it did improve the quality of my life, as creativity does every single day. So I have keep on doing it and it makes me happy still, even when my quilts are not perfect. I am enjoying the process, being exactly where I am in this creative journey. I am pleased to say that little Lia seems to enjoy this quilt with all its imperfections that are so lovingly stitched.


Delicious ‘Sweet Stripes’ Baby Quilts I

I feel a deep and satisfying compulsion to make baby quilts, so many baby quilts!  I wish that I could make one (or more) for every couple or young woman/baby I am connected to. It is somehow an extension of mothering; almost as though I can reach my arms around that baby in a baby quilt hug.  I have been known to say ” I don’t think I will ever finish a masterpiece because I stop every few months to make a baby quilt!”  I word it like a complaint but truly I think it is more fun and more satisfying to finish and give a baby quilt than any masterpiece.  I cannot really make that comparison yet due to not completing any such masterpiece. When that day finally comes I will describe the comparison properly and blog it dutifully  right here. For now my masterpiece is  a “mommy piece”  and I think that baby quilting is the perfect bridge in my efforts to transition between full time mommying and full time art/crafting.  It is somehow a little of both.

This was my first “Sweet Stripes” baby quilt pulled together from random and close at hand scraps and a few carefully chosen prints and batiks from the shelf. I was completely winging it, as I like to do when making a quilt for daily use. I try to create that professional quilt look from the random fabrics I have and sometimes I like the result and sometimes I am not sure…

That spray bottle in the foreground is 505 spray to baste the 3 layers together that makes the quilting process SO MUCH EASIER!! I learned that little trick at the Ricky Tims seminar I attended and blogged about here An Open Letter to Ricky Tims.  It cuts the time it takes me to make a quilt by a half to a third.  It also cuts out one of the least fun parts, involving all those safety pins and pulling, taping and worrying!

I think the best best thing about making these quilts is seeing the mommies that I gift them to, wrap their little ones in them and carry them around until they fade and almost fall apart.  It is kind of a funny response when so much of quilt work is quilt preservation and careful handling so that they last the longest!  The sweet mommy that I gave this to carries it everywhere she goes and it simply warms my heart.

It is not perfect and as I wrote to the mommy who thanked me via Facebook the picture below,  “I enjoyed making it! It isn’t perfect but that is never my goal in a baby quilt–snugly, colors that work and lots of love in the stitches!”

If It Looks Like Fabric…Or Stash Transparency

I have a (not so) secret obsession.  I used to keep it mostly in bins, boxes and closets–in the back of the house.  Something happened, something went wrong, horribly wrong.  (as I write that I am smiling gleefully inside my minds eye, the same minds eye that is picturing my fabric stash) My fabric stash has grown since I moved into this house in 2004.  When people notice that there are an exorbitant number of books and stacks of fabric in my house, I feel guilty, I squirm and try to explain…I tell a lot of people that I inherited my beloved grandmother’s stash of fabric when she died–and it is true I did!  She had a LOT of fabric. It is here, I sew with it, Lexi and Jianna sew with it and we do projects with it. I tell a lot of people that my friends move overseas and bring me their fabric, books and various treasures that they are not taking with them.  And it is true!  That really happens.  I explain that I keep clothing that is made of fabrics I like to cut up and sew with. And it is true! I do, I really do and I have for a long time.

But seriously, I have gone beyond that amount by about 10 times at this point.  I can’t believe I am really writing this. Sigh, I want to come clean about my stash.  It is like nothing I have ever seen except in one place.  I was watching a video about quilting that I love and have watched over and over and there is a short clip on a Quilt Artist filmed in her studio.  The studio is about the size of a large 3 car garage and is filled with those white folding tables.  Every table is covered in bolts of fabrics lined up standing up and down bolt edge on the table! An incredible amount of fabric to be sure.  She was unapologetic and her work was fairly well celebrated on this show.  I frequently want to whip out a picture and say “see there are quilters with even MORE fabric than you are seeing here in my living room/hallway/storage container/guest bedroom!” 

If you are sensing a bit of conflicted feelings about this fabric, you are a very astute reader! I am conflicted.  I want neat orderly areas to work and sew and live and store the materials that I work with and create among AND I want to have access to thousands of excellent options for sewing and crafting and designing and quilting at any given time. I want to be able to think and say I am a moderate person who does not carry material goods to excess  AND I want to own any and all fabric that I see, would like to use in the future and is accessible to me as well as keep any and all fabric that I have ever owned or had the option to own for the same reason.  I want to be moderate, but for me and my work style this is moderate!

My habits as a quilter/seamstress are somewhat disorderly in that when I am working on a project I start with an inspiration piece and then I begin digging and looking and sifting and sorting through my stash, looking for the perfect colors/prints/textures to complement my inspiration piece.  As you might picture to do this successfully lends itself to a large, messy, accessible stash of fabric. My greatest nightmare is that someone comes along and puts all my fabric in boxes.  You would think it might be losing my stash but with it all out of sight, I might as well have lost it because I can’t work with it that way.

Perhaps I am an extreme person, not exactly on the same scale as everyone else (I think some professionals refer to that as being on a certain end of a certain spectrum). Perhaps I am trying to set up for the way I work.  Perhaps if I called myself a quilt artist, had all this fabric in a studio and was not apologetic in the least it would simply be the materials an artist will work with.  But somehow I am not there yet.  Somehow I feel both guilty and completely justified and an artists delicious anticipation at such a vivid variety of fabric (paints) to work with.