Posted in quilting

Arch Leftovers

After a nice long break and trip to visit family, I’m ready to get sewing again. It’s time for another mini quilt. This small gems can be framed and hung as art, or turned into pillows, journal covers or other accessories. I plan to use many of the hand-painted fabrics leftover from making the Gateway Arch quilt. I have so many scraps!

This fiber object starts with four small daisies.

I like this fabric because it has the appearance of a watercolor sketch. I’m going to use these squares as the focal points for some monochromatic log cabin blocks. First I tinted the background with my color choices. Then I gathered matching fabrics in a wide range of values.

What a beautiful picture, with several hand-painted fabrics included!

Starting with the daisy square, I sewed on strips, working from light to dark. It was a relaxing afternoon, listening to the radio, cutting, sewing and pressing. After a few hours I had these four log cabins done. They are roughly seven inches square.

Sometimes you need to turn your fabrics to the wrong side, especially if you find the tonal value needed. Here are the back sides of two of the squares, showing reversed fabrics.

And here are the four log cabins arranged in a pleasing fashion.

In my next blog, I will carry on with joining the squares, making the quilt sandwich and quilting the resulting block. See you then!

Posted in quilting

Gateway Arch: Nine Views

A culmination of six months spent thinking about and working on it, here is the Gateway Arch quilt. I finishing sewing on the binding while watching the Super Bowl (Yay KC Chiefs!) I feel an odd combination of elation, satisfaction and relief. The finished object is largely what I had envisioned.


The colors are wonderful. The curving shapes are a good representation of the real arch. I’m happy with the embroidery.


The construction flaws bother me a little more that I had expected them to, especially the waviness of the right border. How did that happen?


The arch shapes were made from hand-painted fabric cut apart into shapes that mirrored the arch’s steel panels and then fused to a solid background. This piece was then cut into the sixteen square background block on the left edge and appliqued on the right edge before being top-stitched in matching thread. Shading was painted on with acrylic paints after the block was finished.


I had a lot of fun with free motion quilting. I chose patterns to emulate aspects of the landscape or city-scape. I did a lot of experimenting with thread colors, either matching or contrasting with the background colors as the spirit moved me. Eventually I hand painted some thread to get the colors I needed. The idea for the fireworks came from my memory of a July 4th trip when my family stopped in St. Louis for dinner.


This project was a real stretch from the perspective of skills required. Thanks go to for all the quilting tutorials I accessed. I learned a lot about painting on fabric, matching points, sewing curved shapes and putting the whole thing together. I also learned about the limitations of my current tools and studio space.


What’s next? I have a few ideas. But first I’ll be taking a short break from quilting to focus on painting, knitting and teaching.

Posted in painting, quilting

Artful Santa

Ho, ho ho – I must have been a good girl. Santa left me some wonderful art supplies this Christmas. He knows that I am playing around with color these days.

True confession: Santa was working from my list. This set of 36 watercolors is made by Arteza. The first thing I did after unwrapping them was swatch each color. The Prismacolor pencils are the erasable type. I’ve been told these are very useful in sketching, specifically the line drawing used to start a water color.

Since Christmas day I have been working fairly steadily on the Arches quilt. I’m pleased that I have finished assembling the hand painted backgrounds of the16 blocks that make up the quilt design.

Block C1 (Center top) The chalk line indicates where the arch starts.
Final Block – L3 Bottom left. I’m so proud that I matched all the corners.

The images below show a few completed blocks compared to the reference photos I worked from. Here is the upper right block.

This photo shows two blocks, representing the slender upper sections of the Arch.

I’m on a roll now. My hope is to finish the quilt top before the new year.

On a shopping trip to Tulsa I found the backing fabric – a purple-black color with a graffiti style print on it. I still need to choose border fabric. But what color? I am considering something lighter, just to provide separation from the dark blue and purple of the background. But I don’t want the border to compete with the bright yellow-gold of the subject fabric. Suggestions would be welcome.

Posted in drawing, quilting

Welcome to Winter

Here in the central time zone we are mere hours away from the winter solstice – the official start of winter. With all the busyness of Christmas preparations, I didn’t make a special fiber object to celebrate the change of season. Instead today I am recycling one of my Inktober drawings made on the prompt of Snow. The reference photo I used for this charming scene was taken in front of my brother’s home in Ohio. While I did use artistic liberties with the content of the background across the pond, the scene is essentially like reality. There is an air of nostalgia about it, not unlike the way I feel at this time of year.

Work on the Arches quilt continues. I have solved some of the technical issues facing me in piecing the blocks together. The blocks on the right edge of the quilt have been pieced and pressed. Here are two.

As I finished stitching the lower right block, I started to feel a real sense of accomplishment. My idea is actually coming together, just the way I envisioned it.

Posted in quilting

Autumnal Equinox

I have been sewing like a mad woman, trying to finish the Oakleaf Hydrangea quilt. It’s very close to finish now – needing only the binding sewn on. I ran out of thread yesterday just as I was finishing quilting. So today, I am giving that project a rest to celebrate the change of seasons.

For the first day of autumn, I am making a block using a technique that I haven’t tried yet: reverse applique. My idea is to do a tree silhouette, with negative and positive images of each tree half. When describing this to my husband, he came up with the idea of making each side equal – to acknowledge that the first day of fall has day and night of equal length. I agreed and got to work on a sketch.

I chose a charcoal gray fabric to make the reverse portion of the image. Here is it, all cut up and smeared with glue.

My background fabric will be a gold print, to represent the forest in fall. Here is the positive image glued to the background and the final block with both images in place.

The other pattern I wanted to try is the Maple Leaf. I have seen really pretty quilts made in this pattern. I plan to use up left over hand painted fabric from the hydrangea quilt as the background color.

Green for the background and orange for the maple leaves.

I found instructions for this pattern on The Spruce Crafts website, by Janet Wickell. Maple Leaf is an exercise in half square triangle construction. Here are the stem pieces, made with one orange and two small green.

Okay, I didn’t takes pictures of every step in constructing the remaining squares. Basically, you make four half square triangles in the two different colors, then combine one solid background, three solid leaf color squares, the stem and four half triangles to make each block. I made two blocks. Here is the finished object.

I will add some stitching on the tree square, and perhaps quilt a bit on other parts of this work. But right now I am off to buy more thread.

Janet Wickell’s site and instructions for the maple leaf pattern are found here:

Posted in quilting, recycling

Addressing UFO Sewn Objects

Six months into my adventures with Daily Fiber Fun, I find myself surrounded by a bunch of Unfinished Objects. Here they sit, silently reproaching me for leaving them in a partial state of completion: unfinished, unused, unloved.

Resolved to address the cries, I have selected this guy to work up into an FO.

I made this 21 inch square block of hexagons during my week of learning to piece angular shapes. The teacher behind my success is Joanna Figueroa and her class on Bluprint, “Smarter Strip Quilting.” Since I had a bunch of fabric left, I turned to Joanna’s class again for another lesson. This time, I used the same type of piece – a 60 degree triangle, but cut in a way that makes diamonds.

I reasoned that this shape would work nicely with the hexagons as the back side of a large sofa cushion (!) After sewing and cutting many 1/2 diamonds, I came up with an arrangement that ignores the diamond shape (!) I’m going with chevrons instead.

Five columns of diamond shapes, roughly 21″ wide.

Skills that I learned in class the first time helped me speed through any little technical difficulties encountered while making this block.

Nesting the seam allowances together makes it a breeze to match points.

That said, it still took me the better part of Sunday and Monday to make.

I added white triangles to balance and fill the chevron ends.

The next step is quilting. There was so much going on in the chevron block, I decided not to risk messing it up with bad machine quilting. But I did choose to quilt the hexes, using parallel and dot to dot machine quilting technique.

I Love the red cotton thread.

Now to construct the pillow: I recycled a zipper from a disassembled cushion and a king-sized feather pillow which had got slightly mashed over the years. After I squared up the two blocks, the zipper was inserted into a side seam and the four sides sewn together. Using 1/2 inch seams and zig-zagging the seam allowances make it sturdier. Here is the completed pillow, resting peacefully on my sofa:

And here it is showing the chevron side:

Which side do you like better?

A big shout-out to Joanna Figueroa. You can find her class here:

Posted in quilting

Piecing Free-Form: Abstract Sunflowers

I have spent several hours this week-end on the sunflower design that I started Friday. In addition to time spent it also cost me one drop of blood and one band-aid, when I got my first rotary cutter cut. On the plus side I gained a lot of experience and realized my design. Here are the blocks all pieced together.

Everything is free-form pieced, except for the small green shape that joins the sunflower head to the stem. These were appliqued. You can probably see that the green fabric has stretched out of shape. This fabric was just too light weight for the purpose. Next I used the dark grey fabric to sew on a 2 inch sash.

While I admit that the final product has a certain home-spun charm to it, I’m not in love with it. I do plan to keep working on it though. I’ll add a fleece and a backing and quilt it. But not right away. I need a break from quilting.

Posted in quilting

Piecing with Free-Form Shapes

The first thing I did in my studio today was re-sew the wonky row of yesterday’s triangle quilt sampler. It looks better now, but certainly not perfect. I decided I could live it. Now I feel free to move on to free-form piecing, a skill I have been wanting to try for several weeks. This technique utilizes the rotary cutter, but not always the grid ruler. Leslie Tucker Jenison treats her rotary cutter as if it were a pen or a paint brush to do improvisational piecing. Her quilts look very gestural. You can see her tutorial at

I’m not ready to improvise yet. But I do have an idea for a semi-abstract design based on sunflowers. Here is the sketch of my idea.

This piece is divided horizontally into four rows. I assigned color values to the various sections, and divided each row into workable blocks. The fabrics I selected have a nice range of values, and three of them are solids. I think they will play nicely together in this design.

The next few hours were spent puzzling over the shapes, cutting, re-cutting, stitching, and, oh yeah, ripping out at least once. At the end of my allotted time, I had finished the three blocks of the bottom row. What do you think?

The width is going to be roughly 12 inches. I think it will end up about 24 inches tall.

So far, I really like it. It’s going to be an interesting experiment. And maybe even turning into very nice fiber object.

Posted in quilting, sewing

Triangles – the Finale

“When we last saw our heroine, she had cut and sewn all the pieces needed for a triangular quilt sampler. Let’s check in on her now.”

Okay, folks, not quite all the pieces. In reviewing my block cut, it seemed that two more hexes would be necessary if I wanted a complete sampler of the technique. So I cut and sewed two more. Here are my pieces before beginning assembly:

Here is my preliminary layout

This quilt is made up of six rows, grouped in twos. For the middle section, I will use two triangles at each end, to fill in the gaps where my cutting tools are sitting in the photo. Assembling each row is fairly simple. I start at the left and sew the pieces together in the normal fashion. The drama begins when the grouped rows are sewn to each other. Will the white triangle points match up and the hexes join properly?

Row 1 and 2. Not quite a match. I also notice a decided curve in the top edge. Wish I had see that before I proceeded to the next step.
Rows 3 and 4. Better! The edges are straighter also.
Rows 5 and 6. Best! Everything matches and is straight.

And here is my sampler all sewn together. I did a quick trimming of the outer edges, but I don’t have a long enough cutting mat or Omnigrid ruler to properly square it up.

I’m happy with this so far. This view is of the quilt turned sideways. You can see rows one and two on the left, with the decidedly wavy edge. I will probably remove these rows and try to straighten the edges before re-attaching.

Posted in quilting

More Piecing: Get to the Point

It is a really fine day to be in my fiber studio. The sky started out pouring with rain, and it ended up raining very hard again this afternoon. Today my goal is to practice piecing with triangles. For some reason, I find this shape way more interesting than a square or rectangle. I have been on-line viewing a wonderful tutorial by Johanna Figueroa, through You can find this lesson at

Her first lesson is based on a Japanese block she discovered. She calls it Jelly Girl. Here is an image of her example quilt:

As you can see, it is a hexagon pattern. But inside each hex is a swirling shape made up of six triangles. The hexes are spaced apart with white equilateral triangles. She promises that it will be easy to piece together.

I have small amounts of these three fabrics, so this will be a sampler. To start the project, the fabric is cut into 2 and 1/2 inch strips, across the grain.

Next the strips are sewn together in twos. Here are my strips after pressing.

This is where the triangle part comes. Using an Omnigrid ruler that has lines for 60 degree angles, the strips are cut into equilateral triangles. For the three types of strips, I ended up with six types of triangles.

They look like Christmas trees!

Next six triangles are laid out into hexagons. Only three of the triangles are sewn together at a time. The two halves of the hexes will not be joined until the rows are sewn together.

Here are my results at the end of the day:

I love the whirligig shapes.

I also cut the white equilateral triangles, which will be used as spacers. This colorful sampler will get finished next time.