Saturday, November 30, 2013

More Digital Pinwheel Colors


Blue-violet is the darkest color on a 12 tone color wheel.

This is Violet

I've decided to make four blocks of each of the twelve colors on a twelve-tone color wheel: Red, Red-orange, Orange, Yellow-orange, Yellow, Yellow-green, Green, Blue-green (aka Teal), Blue, Blue-violet, Violet, Red-Violet. That means I'll have 48 blocks.

I don't know how I'll lay the blocks out yet, but a plan for this quilt is forming in my mind.

Sort of.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Green, Red-Violet, Red

More color blocks for the Digital Pinwheel.


Many folks think Pink is a light red. Not true. Pink is a light Red-Violet. (A red-violet is a red-red-blue)

When you add white pigment to red pigment, what you get is a salmon pink, so that's what I tried to show here. (Because although I am a quiltmaker, I am also a painter.)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Finished Spools

The Spools quilt is all finished. I'm happy with the way it has turned out.

We're supposed to have almost two inches of rain today, so there won't be any outside photos any time soon!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Colors of the Digital Pinwheel

The digital pinwheel blocks are easy to make, so once I settle down in my sewing room and get to work it's easy to make four blocks at a time. I've made four greens, four teals and one blue one. I'll make eight different colorways, and my plan is to use different WOWs for the backgrounds.

Green (this probably ought to be "yellow green", but we'll see what happens. This is a "stash-busting" quilt, so I am using what I have.)

Blue Green (Teal)

Blue (I particularly like the WOW for this one.)

Note: the pattern is Digital Pinwheels and it's from the Modern Neutrals book by Amy Ellis.

Monday, November 25, 2013

In The Studio

The little ironing table is great. You can see my new arrangement in the photo above.

I cut all the fabric for the Digital Pinwheel quilt. Rather, I cut enough fabric for four blocks of eight colors, or 32 blocks.

I was Skype'ing with my son yesterday and happened to tell him I was working on an easy quilt while I figured out where I was going with the Chicken Quilt. I sent him photos of the blocks I had made and the colors I had chosen along with my working design.  He showed the photos to his fiancĂ©e, "Look at what my Mom calls a little nothing quilt..."

It made me laugh.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Portable Ironing Table

My back has been feeling better lately, and part of it is because I've been doing my sewing while sitting, and refraining from standing. Since ironing is something I've always done standing up, I began to wonder if I could figure out a way to do it sitting as well.  Many years ago I read about a quilter who had converted a wooden tv tray table into a portable ironing table.

I thought it sounded like a good idea, so I started looking for a wooden tv tray table. It was easy to buy a set of four, but I couldn't find a single one by itself.

Yesterday I found one at one of the big box stores. It was really small, only 14-1/2" x 19", so my dad screwed a larger piece of plywood to the top. This added two inches all the way around.

I covered the table with a piece of cotton batting, then added a second layer.

Next I covered the table with Insul-brite, stapling it over to the underside of the table. I have an electric stapler which made this process easier.

Lastly I covered the table with fabric.

It folds out of the way when not needed.  Woo hoo!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Stash Depletion Strategy Quilt?

So I was looking at my stash, wondering if I could pare it down a bit and make a few quilts. Silly question, the answer is undoubtedly YES. So I browsed through a few of my books and saw this.

We all know how much I love neutrals (NOT!), so I decided my version would have color. But how much fabric would I need (since I rarely by fabric in larger than half-yard cuts).

Turns out if I make this using four basic colors, I only need quarter yard pieces. Well that works! So I had to go shopping in my stash.

This has potential.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

62 Inches Left!

 Thank goodness for NOVA on PBS. I can watch it on the little TV in the dining room. It makes it easier to sit and sew for a while if there's something to keep my mind interested.

Here's the view from my chair when I got started last night.

I've now stitched down 250 inches (635 cm) of the 312 on this quilt. Now I've got one corner to turn, and one short side to finish. I'll have it done this weekend.

When not sewing, I've been reading. I read the Dressmaker of Khair Khana, David and Goliath, and Spider Woman's Daughter.  I'm also working my way slowly through The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon. I say slowly because I love the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novels and want to savor this one, so I limit myself to one chapter a day.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

165 and counting

I have 165" left on the binding of the Spools quilt. I've got one long side done, two corners, and most of one short side done.

50 or so inches (127 cm) is about my maximum in any given day. The rest of the time I've been reading or just goofing off.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Same Old, Same Old

The Spools quilt is 73" x 83". That's a total of 312 inches all around. I've stitched down 90" so far, so I've got 222" to go. It's going to be a long (and boring) haul.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Spool Time

 I added the binding to the Spools quilt, Now I have to sew the binding down.

It's a big quilt, and it's going to take me a while.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Font Factory Finish Friday

The Font Factory is finished. I made this quilt to show students the way I categorize letters for free-piecing. They are grouped by construction.  To fill the empty spaces I added my signature butterflies, a bird, heart and asterisk flower. I didn't expect to like this as much as I do.

When my Mom was over last weekend and Meh'd my Chicken quilt, she took a look at this. "That one, I like!"

"Ma, you're so funny. I made this just to show my students an easy way to sort the letters to sew together."

"Well I like it." 

We both laughed.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Binding Font Factory

Regular readers know I sew my binding down on the front of the quilt rather than the back. I have a description of it here for those who are interested. For those interested in WHY, the answer is here.

One more sewing session and the binding will be finished. Then I will have to sew down the last edge of the hanging sleeve.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Font Factory Approaches the Finish Line

The Font Factory has been quilted and I'm working to finish it. My design was is full of letters and I need a little respite from the chicken.

These old typewriters are the hanging sleeve. I didn't have enough of the new, bright typewriter fabric, and would have had to piece the sleeve, and the pattern would go the wrong way, so when I saw these old typewriters I thought it would be fun to include them.

The binding fabric is this fun typewriter key fabric.  This is one of those times when if you're going to go for it, you should just keep going.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Value of "Meh."

I really enjoyed telling the story of lunch with my Mom, both on this blog and to my colleagues at work. What was really interesting though, was the reactions. Most of them were of the "You are so lucky to have a relationship with your Mom where you can tell each other what you really think," variety.

My Mom thought Julie's quilt, "See Rock City," was a knockout, and deserved "Best in Show."

This is true, and thank you all for reminding me how special our relationship really is.

But that isn't what struck me. What really struck me was the concept that many artists simply don't have anybody to give them a good critique. What's a good critique?  A good critique recognizes craftsmanship (or good drawing), design (or structure), execution (or technique.) The rules apply to these no matter what the medium. A good critique will tell you if what you've created is what you think you're looking at. Let me explain. Sometimes you work so hard on something you can't see it. You can't see what's wrong, you're too close. You need to step back, or take a walk and look again with a fresh eye. A good crit comes from somebody else, who brings the fresh eye. Somebody who isn't tainted by being in love with the idea.

The most important thing is the crit is about the WORK, and not the PERSON. My Mom can paint, and draw. She's been making a living as a working artist for over 40 years. She knows what she's doing, and she can tell right away.

We also know the difference between what we like (subjective) and what we're looking at (objective.)  I am not interested in making traditional quilts (subjective), but I can tell a really good one from a mediocre one (objective.)

The subjective is what the "Meh" came from on Saturday. My Mom simply loves color, and a mostly grey chicken quilt just doesn't float her boat. (Meh!)

But "Meh" can also mean, "It's not as good as it could be." or, "It's just so-so."  It could be a good idea and poor execution, or some variation of "good start, lost energy, direction..." whatever.

My Mom thinks this could be an award-winning quilt and deserves to hang in a museum.

 Regular readers know I'm always after the emotional response. I want you to look at my quilts and say "WOW."  The Black Box does that. If you followed along my journey of making that quilt, you know there were times when it just didn't have that punch, and I set it aside for a while to regroup.

"Meh" isn't necessarily a BAD thing. "Meh" can simply mean, "I've seen it a million times before, it's pretty, but it's boring." If you like making pretty and same-old-same-old, that's OK. It's not for me. Which is not to say making lovely quilts is a bad thing. There are a lot of truly beautiful quilts out there. Hell, I make pretty quilts too, in between the "Arty" ones. They are different, and they have different audiences.

When my Mom looks at one of my "pretty" quilts (Sunshine, Exquisite, Rainbow Baby) and says "It's nice," in a rather bored tone, I know what she means, and I'm not offended. (For the record, my Mom loves the Red Sticks quilt, and the Sunburst Rainbow.)

The "Meh" can also be a swift kick in the ass. It's a "Look, it's okay, but you can do better than that." It's a call to action. It's a "What happened, did you lose your nerve?" or a "Is that it? You're stopping there?"

Want proof? When my Mom saw the Barns quilt when Julie first put the blocks together, do you know what she said?


Yup. I had had my own reservations, so I called Julie and told her. Julie had been having second thoughts on her own, so she took the quilt apart, removing the dark blue border around each barn, and then went into her studio and made it better. The result is the photo at the top of this post.

We learn best not by the things we do RIGHT, but from the things we do WRONG and if we're paying attention... by the things that elicit the "Meh."

I love my Mom.

Monday, November 11, 2013



and DIVAN.

My design wall is getting full.
I've made all the words I originally planned.

Letter count so far: 172 

It was funny. I had lunch with my Mom on Saturday. "That quilt of yours with the box... " she said, "the one where the words pop out of it... (The Black Box)  That's a piece of art, and deserves to hang in a museum."

Then she continued, "The one you're making now, with all the letters," she paused. "Meh."

I laughed. "Ma, the one I'm making now with the chickens is just a silly quilt. It isn't anything close to the Box. I'm not done. I've got a lot to do still." 

Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 10, 2013


OK, so I made this yesterday, but anyway...

This is a collection of the letters during the second step.

A little bit farther on in the process...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pizza and Gumbo

I've made PIZZA and GUMBO.

Let's see, what's left?

I'm almost there! LOL

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fabric Hunt

No sewing last night. I needed some more of the background fabric so I drove up to my favorite quilt shop, Quilted Threads in Henniker NH.

I also wanted some more greyish fabric for the letters, another light grey or two for a background, a brighter blue-ish for something that has yet to appear in the quilt, and anything else that might look good.

The middle grey is a possible background, the grey on the left is for letters, the muted teal will probably be letters and the blueish on the far right is for something I haven't sewn in the quilt yet.

This burnt orange will make an appearance later. The grey on the right is the same as the one in the photo at the top.

The fabric on the left above is the background fabric I went to QT for. The fabric on the right is something I saw as I was heading to the cutting table. I had walked around the entire store three times and thought I looked at everything, but I missed it until my last pass. It hit me, and when something like that hits me, I've learned to pay attention. I don't know if it will end up in this quilt, but I bought two yards.

I don't usually buy fabric I am in love with unless I have a plan for it. Otherwise, if I love it too much, I won't cut into it, and that's fatal.  But this might just show up in the quilt somewhere.

And back to the SOS. Queenie, it's generally known as "Mystery Meat" on a Shingle. You can use your imagination for the correct first word.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


I actually make Chicken Tetrazzini, so that word has to go in the Chicken quilt.  Legend has it the dish was named for an opera singer of great girth and appetite.

Instead of just showing you the finished word, I thought you might like to see my progress. Generally I don't make multiple letters at once, but if they are all made from the same fabric I will.

Step One. I'll leave you to figure out which parts go to which letter.

Step Two. As letters were finished, I moved them to the design wall.

Step Three

TETRAZZINI is about 36" wide.

Here's a view of the design wall. This quilt will be BIG!  How big?  Hell, I dunno. As big as it needs to be. I do have an idea of how this is going to go together, but I won't worry about any of that until I have made a lot more words. Then I'll figure it out.

BTW... NO, I will not make "SOS". Sure, I know what it means (I wasn't born yesterday). Three reasons:
1. It doesn't make me think of chicken.
2. I don't think it's funny.
3. I think it's in poor taste.

Just a clarification here, in case anybody thinks I'm a prude. I have no compunctions using the F-bomb. But I won't make it in fabric.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Last night's word was CASSEROLE. The tallest letter is barely 4" tall, but the word is 30" wide.

Here is a closeup of the two S's.

These nine letters took about 90 minutes to make. Tomorrow's word will be either SANDWICHES or TETRAZZINI.  Or something shorter!