Monday, December 28, 2009

Marie Henry

After Christmas I worked on some pieced blocks to go with the applique blocks I made last winter. From the top: Windblown Square, Duck and Ducklings, Carrie Nation,This and That, and Cake Stand. These blocks were so fun to piece. If you remember, I made the applique blocks bigger than the book calls for. The book has 6-inch blocks and I am making 8-inch blocks. Still small enough to be dainty, but big enough for my applique skills.

However! I did not think about having to enlarge the pieced blocks, too. It was not difficult to draft blocks that are based on four patch, but the five block Duck and Ducklings took some thinking. Alex Anderson explained how to do this on a recent Quilt Show. Between her instructions and some others I finally figured it out. The light went on, so to speak. I will try to explain in the next post.

These blocks are on point in the finished quilt. The book I am using is Marie Henry's Teach Yourself Blocks from the Past.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


"Trees are the earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven."
Rabindranath Tagore

I have been pondering this quote from a travel calendar since I read it in October. The idea of trees speaking to the Universe is one I have considered for some time. All plants and animals do this continually; they simply are one with all that is. We humans are so busy doing most of the time, if not all our lives, that we forget this natural connection.

I used Misty Fuse in this project. All the fabrics except for the sky are batiks. The quilting thread in the sky is a blue and green Mettler variegated; the water quilting is done with a blue variegated thread. Love that variegated thread for the depth and interest it imparts. Oh, the tree is done with brown variegated, too. The piece is 15 x 20 inches. I made a facing for this quilt rather than a bound edge.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Summer in the hallway

No quilting today. We got sent home from work at noon because of the snowstorm so I wallpapered the hallway. Strawberries and vines=Summer in the Hallway!

My brother has been doing some work for us. He sheetrocked two walls and put in a new threshold for the front door. Last weekend I painted the ceiling and painted all the trim and doors. I went to Tate's in Bath on Saturday morning (with a stop at Halcyon for sock yarn and Mariner's Compass for three spools of thread) and bought wallpaper. They have $8 rolls of paper, just my budget!

I started tearing apart the hall many years ago and I have the pictures to prove it. My son was only a toddler and he helped. Now he is off at college and I finished it up today! Well, let's ignore the floor for now. Hubby made supper including a pudding pie. Now I am going to collapse!

Monday, November 30, 2009

the dog ate my homework

Okay, so it is the cats, not the dog. I don't even have a dog! I put this quilt sample on the table and by the time I looked through the viewfinder it was covered with cats!

I have been busy planning a wall hanging that I am very enthused about. I was inspired by a line of poetry and designed something simple with a pine tree at the center. The machine quilting will be a strong element in the design.

Here is a mock up of the design so that I could practise machine quilting. The blue rectangle and blue shapes represent the tree. I really wanted to be sure I could machine quilt around the "tree" in a flame pattern before committing to the real quilt.

I have been looking at Leah Day's 365 Days of Free Motion Quilting Designs. If you haven't seen it take a look! She has short You Tube videos every day showing her design of the day. She inspired me for this quilt.

The middle photo (orange thread) is the back side of another practice piece for this wall hanging. On the "front" I fused several layers of fabric so that I could tell what the stitching would be like on my final piece. I started with a wavy line of leaves then just tried all sorts of stitching. Can you tell I was having fun? I really like some open space in machine quilting like this piece has. However, my tree quilt will not have any open spaces, just different types of quilting. I hope you can click on the images and really see my quilting.

I used Misty Fuse for this project. I used it once before at a workshop and was less than thrilled with the result. I have heard so much praise for this product that I decided to try again. Now I am a big fan, too! I thought you needed a teflon sheet to put between the iron and the fusible, but I found using parchment paper works just fine.

Got to make a trip to the store to buy thread, then I will get to work on the real quilt. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! Here is a picture from the quilt retreat I went to recently. I sure am thankful for all the good friends I have met through quilting.

While you are counting your blessings today, take a look at the Kiva link in the sidebar. Make someone happy today!

Love and Blessings to all!

Saturday, November 7, 2009


November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring."

- Elizabeth Coatsworth

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Machine quilting

I have so many completed projects waiting to be quilted. I was tempted to start something new this weekend, but decided what I really wanted to do was try some machine quilting on my new Janome. I've done allover meandering on a few big quilts on my old Pfaff, but when the thread kept breaking I just gave up.

Quilting on my new machine is so much fun! I borrowed a Ricky Tims DVD from the Back Road library and got inspired. I reviewed a couple of books I have on machine quilting and away I went. I started with the sashing. The first thing I did was free motion leaves and vines. These came out okay, nothing special.

Next I tried a "wave" pattern from the book Quilting Makes the Quilt. I traced the design onto freezer paper, cut it out, and used it as a stencil. Wow, how easy is that!

I decided to quilt each block in a different design. This quilt is the sampler we did together in our Tacoma Lakes chapter. Sampler quilt blocks, so now sampler quilting! I tried Diane Gaudynski's clamshell motif described in her machine quilting book. I penciled in the first or bottom row, then did the "bunny hop" as she describes it for the next rows. A few wonky bits, but my goodness, it all blends in and the overall effect is marvelous. Yummy!
Still working from Diane G's book, I tried this design on the pinwheel block. The design is based on a grid. You make a curve from one point on the grid to the next, making a vertical line from one side of the block to the next. Then you sew up the other side of the same vertical seam, making the oval shape. When the vertical lines are done you sew the horizontal seams. Quite effective, although my ovals are not exactly regular that is what practice is all about!

Three blocks done, six more to go! Stay tuned for more.....

p.s. 3 blocks you say? Yes, I forgot that I don't have a picture of the third. You can see a glimpse of it. he he

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mermaid quilt

"The Word for World is Ocean" Here is my mermaid quilt. It is going into the Back Road Quilters show in Gardiner, Maine this weekend. Oct 24-25.

Really fun to make, especially the quilting!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Columbus Day

Does it seem like I only post on a holiday weekend? I really do mean to post again before Thanksgiving. :-) By the way, Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends!

Last month I attended a dye workshop with Sonya Lee Barrington from San Francisco, brought to Maine for the fall PTQG member's meeting. Sonya has been dyeing fabrics for 30 years, so she had quite a store of knowledge and experience to share with us. It was a fun day; I even took a day off work to attend.

At the workshop we were introduced to a number of different techniques to create visual texture with Procion dyes. One method is to take 3-4 inch strips of fabric and braid them very tightly. Immerse in dye and when completed "unbraid". This creates a white (the original color of the fabric) and color spotted fabric. You can then braid the strips and dye another color. Sonya had some beautiful examples of this.

Another technique that is very simple and effective is to scrunch up a fat quarter in the toe of a nylon knee-high sock. Tie the sock and immerse in dye. You get a lovely mottled fabric.

The third method I chose was to sew a piece of fabric into a tube and slip it over a piece of PVC pipe. You then twist the tube and scrunch it down the tube, so it is very tightly twisted. Rubber bands hold the fabric top and bottom. The whole thing is immersed in dye. I had white fabric and put it into yellow dye. The result is a diagonal yellow stripey fabric. I want to sew it into a tube again and immerse it in another color, say orange, to get another layer of color.

This past Saturday I joined the Art Quilt chapter of PTQG. We had Suzanne Drown Trout of Portland give a batik workshop. Another fun day! Batik is a resist dye process. We painted with melted soy wax on our muslin squares. I made sea stars with lots of dots and practiced writing, too. We used Sumi brushes, which are used in Japanese calligraphy. We also got to try a special device called a tjanting, which is especially good for applying fine lines and details.

After drawing our design in wax we were ready to paint with dye. We were given the three primary colors of dye mixed with a thickening agent. I mixed up a peachy orange color and then experimented to see how well the colors mixed together on the fabric. I left some areas open and applied solid yellow next to the orange. A chemical water could be added to the dye to thin it and make it flow more quickly.

I really enjoyed batik and would like to try it again at home. The soy wax washes out easily with hot water and soap. No tedious removal of wax the hot water, scraping, and ironing. That's for me!

After lunch we discussed the December meeting and also challenges to work on. Lots of great ideas and it was so good to be with so many other women who are enjoying the creative process. I felt like I was with "my" people!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

On Labor Day weekend DH and I drove up to Baxter State Park for two nights of camping. The first morning we woke up to a frosty world. The field our lean-to was in was covered with frost. My toes were chilly, but DH made hot coffee and all was well.

We drove to Kidney Pond, had a tailgate breakfast and went on a hike. We must have missed a sign because we ended up walking in a circle, which was rather perplexing. Our map did not show the trail we were on, but later on we found a map that helped us figure out where we went wrong.

Well, nothing is ever really "wrong" is my belief. We did not make it to our intended destination, but we ended up paddling in a canoe on Kidney Pond and saw this huge bull moose.

He was at the outlet where it is fairly shallow. We watched him for awhile then paddled off and saw a female moose and a youngster at a distance. They were probably a pair we saw earlier in the woods on the way to the pond. We paddled back to the inlet and the bull moose was in the middle of this part of the pond, with great long strings of vegetation dripping from his muzzle. DH paddled around him in a big circle while I held the camera and made a short video.

Now here is my picture of perfection. Knitting mittens, "Cottonweeds" coffee mug, the lake and mountains. Can you hear my sigh of contentment?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Painted Desert

Pro Chemical & Dye had a booth at Maine Quilts. I have bought dye from them in the past and had such fun creating a rainbow of delicious colors. I remember spending an afternoon dyeing fat quarters with the help of my DD and her friend, but that was 8 years ago. I have been wanting to dye more fabric, but the process uses so much water I put it off. We have a shallow well and I did not like to use so much water. But this year, thanks to all the rain (see a silver lining in this rainy summer?) I feel free to use all the water I want. This colorway is called Painted Desert.

The dyes used are an olive green, a fuchsia red, and a rich purple.

I arranged thirty plastic cups in three rows of ten. Into each cup I crumpled up one fat eighth (9 x 22).

Three jars were filled with the three basic colors, then the fun began! Following the dye recipe each cup got a different proportion of two dyes, either olive and red, red and purple, or olive and purple.

The mottling comes from the scrunched fabric. The more you lift up the fabric and allow the dye to penetrate, the more evenly dyed your fabric. I left mine nicely scrunched.

I used cotton sateen so there is a bit of a shine on one side which adds to the richness. It is subtle but just lovely.

Being a Maine girl, I don't know much about Painted Deserts! Maybe I should rename my collection. Hmm. Tourmaline? Katahdin Splendor?

I bought five yards of fabric which is enough for thirty fat eights and a yard or so extra. I cut 31 9-inch strips by mistake, so I put the last strip with the large leftover piece of fabric and put them in a big basin. The last of each of the three basic dye colors is used on these tail ends. Then the last of the dye activator is poured over the fabric. I didn't have much dye activator left, so I think that is why the color is quite light compared to the color dye I poured onto the fabric.

Still, quite gorgeous! You can leave the fabric in the dye for 4-24 hours. I rinsed my fabric after four hours. I am very pleased with the results. I am going to do this again and it won't be in 8 years!

Coincidentally, the Pine Tree Guild newsletter Patchwork Press arrived in the mail Friday. We are having Sonya Lee Barrington come to give a lecture and workshops in September. She is a textile artist from San Francisco. Her first workshop will be dyeing fabric. I would like to attend, but it is on a Friday which is a workday for me. I might have to take a Personal Day!

p.s. I haven't a clue as to what I am going to do with my dyed fabric!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Paula Nadelstern

Paula Nadelstern is having a one-woman show in New York City at the American Folk Art Museum. She will be on CBS Sunday Morning Sunday August 9. You can also see a video tour of the exhibition on YouTube produced by Click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2. Anybody up for a trip to the Big Apple?

Sunday, August 2, 2009


I just saw this on Pam Holland's website-a free online magazine that is starting in September. I signed right up and so can you. Here's the link-a-dink. Just scroll down and click on "register here".

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Maine Quilts 2009-32 Annual Show

I took many photos at Maine Quilts 2009. In no particular order, here is a selection. I like to take a picture that includes the quilt information so I can refer to my show book later. This first quilt features the card trick block. It is called "Parisian Solitaire" by Jennifer Varney of Hudson, N.H. Machine quilted by Susan Thibeault. I really liked how she fussy cut border fabrics to get a special effect.

Isn't this awesome? It is by Back Roads member Carolee Withee who is also a member of Art Quilts Maine. This is called Bright Spirals. By the way, I must compliment Maine Quilts for the show brochure. Each quilt is listed by category and includes a statement by the quilter. Abbreviations are used to designate such distinctions as machine or hand pieced and whether a quilt is machine quilted on a long arm by a professional or by the quilter on a domestic machine. It is good to have that information. Also included is an index of quilters and the page number for their quilts in the show book. I like that so I can look up my friends and some of my favorite quilters.

This is one of a few quilts I noticed made by men. This one is by Steve Wright, professionally machine quilted at Whippersnappers. It is called Fish Celebration. All the large triangles are fish theme fabrics, some I have never seen before. I imagine he collected fish fabrics for some time to make this quilt.

Wow, is this one bright! It is called Hot Flash, by Laurel Lashar. She says it is her first entry in a quilt show. Really nice work. I am sure many viewers got a chuckle from the title. Can you relate?

I always look for quilts by Jeanne Marie Robinson. She makes such delightful art quilts. She is another member of Art Quilts Maine. This one is called Orange Aid. I love it.

Tacoma Lakes Quilters had a challenge to use fabrics from their stashes (and I know some of these ladies have prodigious stashes) to make "Fool Around Fun" by Susan Fuquay. This one is by Judy Raymond who must have the biggest stash of green fabrics in the whole state!

This appealing little cottage sits in the center of a lovely applique quilt. The rest of the blocks are charming baskets of flowers. I particularly liked this house. The red sawtooth border really added to the overall effect. "A Summer Place" by Monique McLellan. Hand appliqued and hand quilted.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of Lone Star quilts at the show. The colors for this are soft and restful. "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" by Janet-Lee Santeusanio of N.H. She says 'the watercolor setting squares/triangles and over 700 Swarovski crystals give this pattern a contemproary new look.' She won a blue ribbon, too!

I just looked up the information on this quilt. I really liked it and now see that is by a 12 yr old boy! It is called "Aberash (African Word Meaning "Gving off Light")" by Steven Minns. He says 'I just loved working with African prints. It was a challenge to work with them because they were heavy and the gold in them was hard on the machine's needle. Original design. Paper piece, machine pieced, machine quilted on domestic machine.' I am impressed by his use of many fabrics and his treatment of the borders and sashing.

"Autumn" by Ann Titus, professionally quilted by Darlene Street. It wasn't until I got up close to this quilt that I realized that the center and borders are printed not appliqued. I really like it and am impressed with the quality of some of the panels available now.

Here is another quilt using pre-printed blocks for the center of the stars. Called "Serendipity" by Jan Fox, she says it was a kit she won as a door prize at a Cobblestone Getaway. Some door prize!

This bright quilt is by Wendy Rose of Bowdoinham, someone I remember from the library. It was fun to see her quilt at the show. It is called "Starry Night: Artist's Palette". Professionally quilted by Lynn Irish.

Great fabric choices!

"Delft Jar" by another New Hampshire quilter, Wendy Coffin. She says she admired Kaffe Fasset's work and made her own version. Professionally quilted by Sue Foster. I am interested in this quilt because of the color palette, which is typical of Kaffe Fasset. My own quilts have much more contrast than his and I don't think I could really make this work, but it is certainly luscious.