And we decided to make a birthday quilt for our friend, mentor and teacher Margaret Linderman.
And we decided to make it a surprise!
And we wanted all of her peeps to be able to create a part of the quilt.
I thought of the French Roses quilt, created by Heather French. It is a versatile, layered, fabric flower that Margaret and her students have made many times for many people.
I drew up a layout with the blocks on point that would have 50 flowers – enough to include many friends!
Then I added in a center that could have an image of Margaret’s muse, Frida Kahlo, in a flaming corazon.
Margaret’s daughter Janis Stob and I sent out packets of background fabric, a black shadow for each flower (to add a visual punch) and inspiration appliques. It will surprise none of you that I have quite a collection of Alexander Henry fabrics from which to draw folklorico inspiration!
When the blocks came in we gathered at Wooden Gate Quilts, in Danville, and worked on a layout.
Janis sewed the blocks all together, making many extra where we needed more, leaving the hole in the middle for Frida.
I created a heart from dupioni silk and cut flames out of bright batiks. Margaret’s favorite image of Frida Kahlo was printed on to fabric to adorn the center.
To make an exciting edge to the heart I glued lots of small flower appliques to a layer of black batting which would add dimension, color and texture. I stitched them all on the longarm and cut them out with the black shadows visible.
The appliques surrounded the corazon and then I created a frame for the photo of Frida.
The outer “border” was composed of more corazons, most made by Janis Stob and Kathy August.
The quilt began to take shape!
Of course, even though we started MONTHS in advance, the quilt didn’t get on to the longarm until the DAY BEFORE THE PARTY. And we still had to add bling and bind it!
I had a marathon 6 hours on the longarm to get it all quilted!
That night we had a bling and binding party! You won’t believe how fast Pat DeForce got that binding on for us!
We added crystals, beads, do-dads, bobbles, milagros and anything else we got our hands on to make the quilt more “Margaret!”
The next day we threw her a surprise party!
Please hold for Part 2, wherein we give Margaret the quilt!
Look for our quilt at Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, California, this weekend!
I’ve been looking for quilty love in all the right places, I’ll tell you that.
I need to create a background foundation for the January Obsession quilt before I go any farther with the appliqued flowers, and I have been looking to the imagery of the Mexican and South American serape blankets for a starting point.
With the linear nature of these textiles and the gradating stripes, the little chunks of colors in some, and the white triangles in others, I’m on track for a colorful background for the quilt. I spy black stripes, graduating monochromatic sections and bold, clear colors.
The January (obsession) Quilt has made a bit of progress.
I continue to find inspirations for shape, pattern, and color, like this darling little candelabrum that my dear friend Laurie gave me. It stands about five inches tall and it is intricately painted. The five-petaled flowers and the two-color leaves are making the brain cells work! The frilly painted lace motif is also something I am intrigued with.
And this little birdie has me really trying to figure out if I can incorporate birds into the piece!
You may remember this image as where I left off in the last post.
I got the flower’s center on to the longarm and then scribbled on it for a bit.
Here it is cut out. You can see that I leave some parts, including the outsides of the pieces, unquilted so that I can have places to stitch when I add it to the quilt’s background later.
These little blue flowers are about four inches in diameter, so you can get some idea of the scale of the pieces.
I cut up a batch of little blue flowers, like the ones in the birdie candle holder, and gave them pink and yellow centers. These reddish-orange flowers are also promising! I made both four- and five-petaled ones.
I scribble-quilted circles on the nopales and gave them a nice big black batting edge.
I absolutely love them!
I don’t know if this is where the flowers will eventually live – but I like it for now.
Next up are more large-ish flowers. Yellow.
And my new favorites… the white flowers!
I’m off to Road to California tomorrow and will be taking a longarm class with Angela Walters. Maybe she can beat some of my bad, scribbly quilting habits out of me.
January is Make YOURSELF a Quilt Month – I have spoken and therefore it shall be…
What’s the deal, you ask?
The holidays are over – as I mentioned in the last post – and it’s time to move on. As creative people we are often compelled to make quilts for people as gifts – in fact, many of us make ALL of our quilts as gifts.
This can be both positive and negative.
The positives include: You feel good giving a special gift. People like getting hand-made things. You made it super special. You actually finished a project.
Here are some negatives: It’s an expensive way to give a gift. You worked outside your palette or comfort zone and didn’t enjoy it. It came out “ugly.” It took a long time. The person doesn’t always understand or appreciate what you put into to making the quilt. It gets put into a closet. You rarely see the quilt (if ever) again. It gets used as a dog bed. It ends up as a doormat. And so on.
I know we all feel like a quilt is the “perfect” gift, especially when someone has a baby. So make a baby quilt for yourself, your sibling, or your grandchild. Good plan. But, you don’t have to make a quilt for your aunt’s cousin’s hairdresser’s dog walker’s step-daughter. Draw the line, people. Just because an egg has been fertilized somewhere in the continuous United States DOESN’T MEAN YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO MAKE IT A QUILT! Buy a onsie or a stuffed giraffe once in a while, for Pete’s sake!
I think and fret a lot if I am making a quilt for someone else, whether it is a commission or a gift. I worry about the theme, tone, fabrics, colors, size, pattern, quality of workmanship and everything else there is to perseverate over. And that, my friends, is just NO FUN!
When I’m making myself a quilt I take risks, I make mistakes, I work very fast and spontaneously, and I really enjoy it. Except when it tortures me and looks ugly. But even that’s OK with me!
The real reason that I want you to make a quilt for yourself is that you make such interesting choices when you create for yourself. You don’t have to worry if the recipient will like it, if it will “go” with their stuff, if it will be appreciated. Often you’re bolder, braver, and, I hope, happier when you’re working with a beloved palette, with fabric you love, on a quilt you’re excited to make. If you have to make adjustments you’ll feel less stressed. And you’ll most likely enjoy the process more and care less about the product!
So it’s make yourself a quilt month and that means me, too.
I have to do some quilt work for other people this month, but at least twice a week I am going to work on a quilt just for me. I would like to share my process with all of you. Even if it ends up a big hot mess (as my friend Kris says.) I hope you’ll join me on my journey!
I have only a vague idea of what I am going to make. It’s going to have huge quilted applique flowers and leaves. It will have vibrant colors.
I am going to make it up as I go.
I want to take the feel of this tiny postcard with the quilted appliques and bow it up HUGE!
Inspiration for this project comes from my love of certain colors and imagery that I often find in Mexican art and tiles. I have been pinning on a Pintrest board I’ve titled Obsession – see it here.
This new fabric from Alexander Henry is a good starting point.
I’ve been quilting and painting on these fabrics…
And this is really where I get the most excited!!!
I started a flower today!
I cut shapes out of batik and cotton prints.
Ultimately the flower needed seven petals.
The next step was to turn the flower parts into appliques – quilted on to batting.
I chose black batting because I really want the appliques to have a very definite edges and a sharp, coloring book look.
Here the petals get layered on to the black batting on the long arm.
I quilted the inner parts of the petals using both a variegated orange Superior Rainbows thread and a solid lime green polyester in the needle and a darker pink variegated thread in the bobbin.
The quilting is really scribbly and I don’t like how it came out. I didn’t glue the pieces down and the edges got all puckery. The batting was all stretchy and it moved a lot under the needle. At this point I’m thinking I’ve wrecked it all.
I cut the parts of the petals out, leaving about a quarter of an inch of the batting showing.
I quilted the inner ring of petals separately because I thought it needed the punch of the black edges.
I’m going to need to quilt the center, but maybe it’s not totally terrible after all.
If you haven’t gotten down to the Museum of the San Ramon Valley in Danville to see the Quintessential Quilts – a Floral Fantasy show, you still have ten days to hustle down there. I’ve worked with the museum volunteers to create a really beautiful collection of quilts which showcase flowers. We were able to gather quilts with flower appliques, flower fabrics, painted flowers, embroidered, embellished and everything in between!
We have fresh flowers delivered twice a week, compliments of our local floral businesses, gardening groups and stores. The rooms smell lovely and it’s a delightful little exhibit.
We’ve also been able to include some very interesting men’s quilts in the “man cave.” We wanted to be sure everyone know men quilt, too. Even if they don’t do loads of floral quilts!
My teacher Margaret Linderman and I will be doing a free demonstration and our raw-edge floral work on Saturday, September 28 from 11:00 to 12:00. Come early to get parking. The farmer’s market is going on at the same time and it’s a bit of a busy corner of the world!
Be sure to come by Saturday, September 21, to see the lovely Sandra Newman demonstrate hand sewing hexagons. She’s created some packets for everyone to try them out and then you can see her beautiful work, too! Also from 11:00 to 12:00.
Zippidy Do Da was one of the classes I taught up at the Quilter’s Affair teaching week as part of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt show week.
It was planned as a kids class, but we had lots of grown ups sign up, too! That turned out to be a great combination for me, as everyone’s work inspired each others’ and we had a lot of fun.
My youngest student, pictured here, made her first ever quilt block during the first session, and that provided me the BEST MOMENT of the entire week! She had made the block oversized and raggedy on the edges. Then she traced the 10″ template on the back for trimming. I took it and trimmed with a rotary cutter and then held it up to show her. Her face lit up so brightly and she actually jumped (practically out of her skin) for joy – it was a priceless moment and one I’ll always remember!
Everyone started with a center piece and added strips on either side.
Some students planned the blocks to go together.
And other students created more improvisationally.
Everyone did a wonderful job…
I was proud of F. for finishing her quilt top in only six hours. She was so creative to try the string piecing straight, on the diagonal and in the center triangles that we made a special foundation for. She particularly loved the Ninja fabric I had brought to share!
Sheila had a great large-scale cat print to inspire her quilt. We had a bit of a laugh when I was trying to figure out why her machine was making such tiny stitches. We determined that she was holding the fabric too tightly and the result was teeny stitches. She got a real kick out of my calling it the Baby Death Grip!
In all, I couldn’t have been more pleased with my ‘kids!’
One of the classes that I am teaching at the Quilter’s Affair up at Sisters, Oregon, this year is called Zippidy Do Da.
The quilt is made up of twelve scrappy, string-pieced, ten-inch blocks.
Originally, we wanted to offer a relaxed-style quilting class to young students and kids at the Quilter’s Affair, so we invited children ages 8-12 in the morning and thirteen to adult (I was thinking like 22 years old) in the afternoon. As it turns out, some (most) of our afternoon “kids” are much older than 22 and we think that is JUST FINE! It’s going to be a fun class and I’m excited to be teaching it.
We made the cutest, string-pieced pot holders last week in my drop-in kids class at Wooden Gate Quilts, in Danville.
I’ve spent the morning creating samples and I wanted to share my sewing and some other examples of string-pieced quilts!
String piecing is no more than sewing bits of fabric together, usually onto a foundation like a piece of muslin or paper, trimming the edges, and then sewing the scrappy blocks together.
The foundation can be a variety of shapes. With these rectangles there are many ways the blocks can be sewn together.
The strips and foundations can be any size you want.
You can also sew same-size pieces in either straight or diagonal settings.
Last summer my fabulous student Mia made a wonderful quilt using this technique.
Mia quickly saw that the blocks can create a pattern if you are deliberate with the fabric placement, so she make a drawing of the quilt and wrote in which fabrics she needed in each section to create the diagonal squares. It came out great, and I’ll be able to bring it with me to Oregon to inspire the students!
Well, I’m now gearing up for going to Sisters, Oregon, this July for the wonderful Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show and The Quilter’s Affair, where wonderful classes go on all week.
One of the ways the quilt show gives back to the community is through a fund-raiser called Wish Upon a Card. The project collects money for cancer patients in the area.
Being a teacher at The Quilter’s Affair gives me the benefit of having my postcard framed and put into a silent auction during the teaching week at the high school. Last year my postcards were a bit clunky and awkward, but they looked so much better with the wonderful framing job that is provided by HighDesert Frameworks.
Making a quilted piece that is only 3″ x 5″ is a MAJOR challenge for me. This means that the pieces need to be TEENY WEENY. And I mean MINUTE!!!
My new work is all about making quilted appliques, and, with this in mind, I set out to make a little vase of flowers.
The only fabric that I liked for the project and which had flowers small enough for the postcard was this wonderful skull fabric – made by my boyfriend Alex, of course. I am in love with these colors right now and I loved the gold glitter on the motifs. I cut out the flowers from the eyes, chins, cheeks, foreheads, and background.
I glued little cut-out flowers on to black batting and trimmed the edges to leave a shadow of the batting all around. I really like how this effect makes the flowers pop.
I created a wall and table on the 3″ x 5″ piece of fusible card and auditioned the placement of my bouquet.
Then I used some variegated threads and some fancy stitches and sewed around the table and the outer border. I wanted to give the piece some visual interest and texture before adding the bouquet.
The vase is made out of a fabric with cacti all over it. Some of the flowers, like the one in the above photo, were pieced from several parts of the skulls, including the eyelashes. I was working to get a balance of color and the different flowers in a variety of sizes.
I stitched the appliques in place with gold thread on my regular sewing machine.
Then I felt compelled to add the WORLD’S SMALLEST BEADS! Look at them! They’re smaller than a really tiny thing! Can you imagine the pain I went though?!? Me who doesn’t do hand work!?! Poking myself with the needle every other minute! And I can’t even begin to talk about the size of the eye of the needle or I’ll need medication (more medication, that is!)!
I’m pretty happy with the results (after all that torture).
I hope it raises loads of money, and I’m glad that I won’t have to make another one until next year!
Anyone can donate fabric postcards up to July 1 to be sold for the charity. Yes, that means you can be tortured, too!
Here’s what the website says:
Please consider donating one (or more!) fabric postcards for this worthy cause.
• Postcards should be 4” x 6”
• To be considered for Challenge prizes and silent auction, cards must be received by April 15
• We are happy to accept cards for sale up to July 1st
• Please include your name and address and mail to: