Monday, June 29, 2009

On Art and Memory

Last week I received my June S.T.U.D. quilt from Karissajo.  Isn’t it beautiful?

The challenge was to make a quilt that uses texture.  She wrote that she had the ocean in mind as she made this – so the pleats in the fabric suggest waves.  It probably isn’t clear from the picture but the sashing and border fabric is a nubbly linen with hand embroidered crosses to suggest sand. 

It’s just perfect.  So beautiful in its own right. Karissajo couldn’t have known this, but it also awakens memory.  I live in Colorado now so it’s all about the mountains, but I grew up in New Jersey.   

I look at this little quilt and the week I spent at the Jersey shore with my best friend the summer before senior year rises in all its nostalgic glory.  I hear the cacophony of hundreds of little tinny radios playing the latest hits (“Hold your head up, hold your head up, hold your head high”) and it’s right there, the smell of salt water and coconut oil – because who knew about skin cancer back then?  We were on the bake!  Sand pulls from beneath my feet as I stand at the water’s farthest reach, a long, long horizon before me.   Or night time on the pier, circling dizzily on a spinning disc as George Harrison sings, “Here comes the sun, do do do do, here comes the sun . . .”

My gosh, it was a gorgeous time, though we didn’t realize, of course, how precious  youth is and how deeply the moments we collected would embed themselves.  How could I know then how it would strike me now so many decades later?  Such a sweet and touching memory.  As we strolled, Marcia and I, at the end of the pier where the rides and the booths clamored with noise and light, it was this wild sensory overload, but just a few steps down from all that and suddenly the clamor and noise fell behind us and the ocean was there, insistent, waves rolling, a lacy veil of white foam gleaming in the black and stars opening overhead.  And so right to be there with the friend I treasured with a passion.  Sweet memories, indeed.

And I, too, have a little quilt to send on its way.  I can’t show all of it yet since it doesn’t go in the mail until later today, but here’s a wee corner.

I love these little quilts that travel to me from elsewhere and come to stay.  They are quilts that I wouldn’t have made myself and they bring that newness of vision with them.  And yet, they also speak to me and become mine, as art should. 

Quilting, as always, opens doors.  What a lucky day it was when I started that first quilt and fell in love.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Red and Black

I really like to see the foundations from Miniatures in Minutes earn their keep.  This quilt uses a variation on the Square-in-a-Square foundation.

First, I took the five by five grid and trimmed it so that a four by four grid remained.  Then, instead of working with the Square-in-a-Square template given in the book, I created a new one.

To create the template, line up the quarter-inch line on a ruler with one of the seam lines that forms the inner square. 

Draw a  line along the ruler edge.  There’s your template shape.

Tip: when I create my templates, I use heavy duty template plastic since that gives me a stronger edge.  I also write the name on the template and cover it with SelfSeal laminate so that it doesn’t rub off.

As always, I place all of the center patches at once.


Sewing this particular foundation is even easier than the full on Square-in-a-Square directions in the book.  The line up on the triangles makes for a particularly easy foundation sew line.

As you sew the foundation, simply pivot in a square.

Here’s the resulting block.  It finishes at 6" square.

For the red and cream version, I simply sewed four blocks together. 

This is obviously a very easy block (with a lot of great design potential – I’ll have more patterns forthcoming) and one might ask why use the Fold and Sew method to make it.  For me, the answer is the same as always: Fold and Sew is fast, it’s easy, and it’s precise.  Everything lines up perfectly, and I don’t have to work to make that happen.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Take One

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while – try using some of the foundations from Miniatures in Minutes as borders.

The checker squares border uses the 13-Square foundation.  The outer border uses the Square-in-a-Square foundation.  Once I got past the miscalculations that are inevitable when it is my math impaired self at the helm, it all went together very quickly and smoothly.  It finishes at 10 1/2". 

This one may be saying, “I’d like to be a pillow, please.” 

Monday, June 22, 2009

Love the Pretty Colors

Sometimes I think the greatest distinction amongst quilters isn’t between contemporary and traditional quilters, it’s between those who love hand work and those who don’t.  I’m in the “don’t” category.  It took me a while not only to figure this out (therefore the two bed size quilts I hand quilted because I thought plowing through the parts I didn’t much care for just came with the territory) but to accept it was okay to not like handwork. 

Which is to say, one of the capabilities in EQ that I never mastered is the drawing features.  I just don’t do enough applique to have really felt the need.  But every once in a while I do get  an itch.  Today would be one of those days.  So, I appreciate how easy the program makes it for me to work a little something up.

I started with the Four Corners block from the “Classic Applique: Folk Art” add-on library.

Four Corners EQ block

I wanted a block that would finish at four inches and this has too much going on for that size.  I removed the loopy leaves at the top part of the stems  and moved the lower leaves up.  I wasn’t in love with the sharp points on the inner flower so I deleted it.  Then I stole a center that I did like from another block, Rose and Leaves (also from the Folk Art collection).

Rose and Leaves EQ block 

A little cut and paste and I had a new block. 

Rose Crossing EQ

Granted, this wouldn’t be a hard block to design on my own, and it would be easy enough to draw.  But, for me, anyway, the point is that I wouldn’t draw and design it on my own.  What I like about EQ is that I can browse existing blocks, think about how I might change this or that, and then create a block that I can use in an original quilt design I build in EQ.  As always, EQ is there to provide the jump start for my creative process.

I have really come to love the look of traditional patterns done up in bright contemporary fabrics (just a little more Kaffe love here).  This will be the center block for  a mini medallion. Love the pretty colors.

More tomorrow on the first pieced border.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It’s a start

This was an experiment.  The quilts in the book are all pretty traditional, but for a while now I’ve toyed with the idea that the 13-Square foundation could make an interesting background for an art quilt.  It’s summer break, so it’s as good a time as any to move from playing with an idea to playing with fabric.   Here’s the result:

Terrie makes an art quilt.  It’s my first shot at making something like this, so I’m feeling a bit intimidated about sharing photos of such a beginner’s effort.  But then, one of the things I love about the quilt community is how it encourages experimentation and stepping outside the box.  This is me, stepping out. 

First, I just laid out squares and created the background.

I used a mold I picked up at Joann’s to make the faces (with air dry clay) and painted them with Lumiere paints.  I really love the faces.  The layering of paint colors gave them this wonderful patina effect.

I sewed on bunches of beads.  Let me tell you, those beads pretty much blew the “in minutes” idea right out of the water.  (My husband, the mathematician, said: “It still takes minutes.  Just a lot more of them.” ) 

There was a learning curve here and there’s obviously more for me to discover about balance and design and I’m sure stuff I’m too ignorant to even know that I need to know, but I feel like I answered my question.  Can the foundation work to create an interestingly textured background for an art quilt?  Yes.  (I think so anyway).

And, well, yeah, a beginner’s take, but I think it’s important to love what we make with our hands.  Criticism is all fine and good, but I really try not to let an awareness of my limitations get in the way of enjoying what I do.  So, I’m liking this at the moment.  I like it as a little quilt, for one.  The faces, the beads, the colors.  I also like it as concept.

As I was making this, I kept thinking about dreams and the unconscious.  I’ve always found the fact of the unconscious fascinating, the idea that a significant portion of what constitutes who I am and why I  feel what I feel and do what I do is, for most intents and purposes, invisible, that like an iceberg, 90% of what makes me “me” lies beneath the surface. 

As I sewed on the beads (and sewed and sewed), this quilt began to represent that mysterious, hidden territory we each carry inside us.  The small faces with the closed eyes seem so interior: meditative and self-contained, alien and magic.  They are locus points for what might arise and coalesce.  The larger face, the one with her eyes open, is the translator.  She looks out.  She has the power to actualize. 

It’s a dark underworld with its own underworld geography, a river that glitters and light that arises from itself.  Purple shadows shift in a perpetual twilight and breed the shadows of deeper night.  Shakespeare said, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” 

So, yes, I love my little experiment.  It’s got poetry.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Little Bit on Angels

When I was young, I thought I’d grow up to be a saint.  Of course, it wasn’t long before I noticed that all the saints had an awful lot of misery in their lives and, more often than not, even more miserable deaths.  I revised my expectations.  Majoring in English was much less lofty of a goal but, taken all in all, the worst side effect seems to be that I permanently signed away any likelihood of traveling first class. 

Still, given that unfulfilled childhood dream, how could I pass up the chance to call myself an angel instead?  This little quilt (called “Cowboy Up” because it makes me think of rodeos) is an angel quilt for Doll Quilt Swap 6.

I am so grateful to the quilters who take on the task of organizing the doll quilt swaps.  What a job!  (Can’t wait for them to take a breather, gear up, and get it going all over again.  DQS7 anyone?)  And, seriously, they are the real angels!  Giving so generously of their time so we can all share in the fun. 

Hey.  All this talk of angels just triggered a (very old) memory:  when I was young, say eight or nine, I took the idea of guardian angels very seriously.  It seemed to me only right that being a guardian all day long would be a pretty tiring business and that, come nighttime, they would need to get in as good a sleep as I did.  Only, well, they had these wings, big wings that took a lot of room. 

I tried to explain this to my mother when she came to tuck me in and was surprised to find me wa-a-ay over on the side of the bed.  “But my guardian angel needs the room!”  She was unmoved by the argument.  She ordered me back to the middle of the bed.  I scooted over, apologizing in my head to the angel whose wings I was squishing.  And, of course, as soon as my mom shut the bedroom door, I slid right back over to teetering on the edge.  Just a little secret between me and my angel. 

Remembering that just makes me smile, as good a way to end the day as any.  And, really, I think I have to say kudos to my younger self – because making room for your angels seems pretty wise, all things considered. 

Monday, June 15, 2009


So, here’s the Civil War reproduction version of the tumbler quilt, my remembrance for having had the thrill of sitting next to Barbara Brackman (someone I’ve long admired) for a bit at Quilt Market.

I’m a little worried that the pink binding may be a bit over the top.  Do I need to redo that?  Thinking . . .

I thought I’d add a few notes about process here:   I wanted a soft and gentle effect with this one.  I have to admit, I have some favorite stand-bys with fabric selection when I’m making a reproduction style quilt.  One is simply to throw everything in the pot.  When every color is in the quilt, they usually figure out how to play well together.  Still, the effect can be a bit crowded.  A simple brown and pink combination is also one of my favorite combinations.  It’s very sweet, but it is also kind of restricted.  It looks planned.  (I don’t mind that effect at all, but it isn’t always what I’m aiming for).  So, this time I decided to add in blue to the pink and browns.  The three colors create a scrap look that is  quiet and unified. 

I don’t usually lay out patches when all I’m doing is a random scrap quilt, but this time, since I really wanted to work that soft, quiet effect, I went ahead and laid out the patches.  This pattern is very basic – simply alternating light and dark patches.

I cut a few extra patches so I’d have options as I laid them out.  The patches floating at the top are the ones I rejected.  Since I wanted a quieter quilt, most of the ones I decided to leave out were light colored patches. Instead, I softened the light/dark contrast of the pattern by using a number of  medium values where the pattern called for light patches. 

I don’t usually work from patches laid out in rows, but since I liked how everything was looking, I decided to keep this order and sew it up.

I also thought I’d add a little here about how I quilt the borders:

Since it is so easy to resize quilting motifs in EQ6, I often pull my border quilt pattern from EQ.  These motifs came from EQ’s add-on library, Quiltmaker Quilting Designs.

The motif didn’t exactly fit my border size but I could see that it was close enough that I’d be able to make it fit by fiddling a little as I was tracing the design onto paper.

I use Golden Threads Quilting Paper.  One of the things I really like about using this method with miniatures is that the paper fits over the entire (little) quilt so I can draw all the borders on one square of paper. 

I draw the dimensions of the inner border onto the paper (the black line).  Then I draw a line an eighth inch beyond that: the line I want my quilting design to touch (the red line).  I draw diagonal lines coming out from the corners so that the corners will line up neatly.  Using those lines as a guide, I trace the design onto the paper.

I pin the paper to the quilt, using the black line as a guide for placement.

I take a little breather before the actual quilting and work on my doodle scrap to warm-up my free-motion skills.  I tend to stitch small stitches in the curves and then bigger stitches on the straight-a-ways, so I particularly work at trying not to do that.  (As my own stitch regulator, I can say that my stitches tend to be  uneven charmingly erratic).

Then, the quilting itself.  A little bit of a botch-up here.  I got off track when I stitched the lower loop, so when I came back around to stitch the upper  loop, I deliberately when off the line there as well, trying to keep the loop a little fat.  Now, I could have stitched the second pass correctly and then taken out the stitches where I got off the first time and redone it.  But this is folk art.  Those little imperfections make it more personable.  (At least this is what I tell myself.) 

But most of the quilting came out reasonably well.  Good enough, says I.

Then, simply tear off the paper and it’s ready for binding.

Of course, I couldn’t do all this without assistance.  Here’s my helper, Wyatt, the Wonder Dog (aka Duke Wyatt of Earp):

Wyatt’s a working dog, and since we are sadly lacking in both sheep and cattle, he’s had to create his own job description.  His mission, as he sees it, is to help keep me limber and balanced.  It’s a tough life for a working dog but here he is, valiantly laying in the middle of whatever path I need to take so that I have to walk over and around him in order to do anything.  To keep it lively, he sometimes stands up in the middle of my stepping over him so I must engage in bizarre hopping motions to avoid hitting the floor in a six-legged tangle. 

Poor guy.  It’s hard work.  You can just see how it exhausts him!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Putting on the Glitz

There seems to be a lot of crossover between the scrapbooking world and the quilting world.  At least, a lot of quilters I know are also really talented scrapbookers. They show up at quilt meetings with beautifully elaborate photo albums that are themselves works of art.  I, alas, am not one of their kind.  No lovely creative albums line the shelves in our house.  In fact, most of the family photos are shoved into boxes which are shoved into a closet. 

In a burst of conscience a couple of summers ago, I actually spent a few weeks sliding photos into album sleeves.  Babies, toddlers, elementary school, Halloween and Christmas.  I’ll admit, a lot of cuteness there.  But then, well, sometime around when the the kids reach twelve and thirteen, the pages go white and blank.  

I’ll get back to it someday.  Maybe even this summer.  Could happen.   Meanwhile, in my world, scrapbooking isn’t going to conserve my memories.  (Though it is possible blogging will provide a level of motivation that those boxes of randomly piled photos do not).  But there is fabric.  And while  fabric may not conserve memory, it does honor it.

So this little quilt (11" by 12 1/2") is a bit of homage to my time at Quilt Market.   I loved seeing Kaffe Fasset talk about his fabrics, so this is my Kaffe Fasset memory quilt.  It may not be clear from the photo that all the dots on the black tumblers  are crystals (because I was just a little bit star-struck). 

And because for a little while at the C&T booth I got to sit next to Barbara Brackman, I think another version done up in Civil War reproduction fabrics would be a nice bit of parallelism.  (Though the Civil War will, I’m sure, remain appropriately bling free).

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Just a little EQ love

It was a lovely surprise a few weeks ago when I opened my latest Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine and found this as I was paging through:

Terrie EQ

I knew the ad would be coming, just not when. It is such a thrill for me to be in an EQ ad.  My first version of the software was EQ3 and I’ve been playing ever since.  What a great program!  Among other things, EQ taught me confidence.  It made it so easy to begin designing my own quilts.  I could immediately see what I liked and didn’t in a design.  I learned about color and value and balance in a design. 

The latest version has so many new fun gadgets that are a blast to play with and make designing easier than ever.  In future blog entries I’ll write about how I use  EQ6 in my own quilt designs. (Random Recolor, Serendipity, Automatic Borders – oh, how I love you!) 

But, for today, I thought I would simply show a quilt with a couple variations that I designed.   Click here to go to my website where you can download the EQ6 project file.   Note, the first: the quilt design is copyrighted.  You have my permission to make it up for personal use or to donate to charity endeavors.  Note, the second: I don’t have directions for this written up (apologies to anyone interested).  It is available only as an EQ6 project.

And, no, this one is not a miniature! 

Sandelin Stars 1

And because one of the things I love about EQ software is how easy it makes it to try a quilt with different fabrics and because what’s not to like about pink and brown together, here are two other versions of the same pattern:

Sandelin Stars 2

Sandelin Stars 3

I think this could be really fun done up in some large-scale bright contemporaries but I haven’t gotten to that design point yet.  I have started on the red, white, and blue version, however.  Any chance I could have this done by the 4th?  (N0.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Messenger Bag and Eighth Inch Borders

Well, here’s the new bag.  Definitely a learning experience here!  There’s a couple things I’d do a tad differently but basically this is a go. (The colors in the photo still stink.  You’ll just have to take my word for it: this is very southwest and glow-ey and the colors really are fabulous).

Two things I’m particularly happy about: 1) that I figured a way to put the zipper in that I liked and 2) that I came up with a new way to add an 1/8 inch accent border that is really simple. 

First off: the zipper.  This makes me incredibly happy.  I wanted it to have a bit of a gusset and be cut so that there weren’t coils in the side seam allowance making things bulky.  So, let me say, with all due modesty, “Who’s your daddy?!”  Look at that zipper!  (To give you a sense of how far off certain shades are here: the actual color on that zipper is a very deep burgundy!  What the heck?) 

And, for those who are interested, here’s how I did the eighth inch blue accent border:

  1. I cut the strips one inch wide (instead of the technically correct 5/8") and simply sewed them on as usual.
  2. After all the inner border strips were added, I placed  the 3/8" mark on the ruler down the seam line and drew a chalk line down the edge.
  3. I added dabs of glue (using Roxanne’s Glue Baste-It) down the inside of the chalk line.
  4. I then lined up the next border fabric (which I also cut 1 inch wide – even though it’s destined to be a quarter-inch finished) with the chalk line and lightly pressed to hold it in place.  (You obviously could use pins or just hold it in place if you are adverse to the idea of glue).
  5. At the sewing machine, I lined up the edge of my quarter-inch foot with the edge of the second border fabric. 
  6. After sewing, I trimmed the accent border (the blue fabric) to an eighth of an inch past the edge of the red fabric (so there would be a gradation on the seam allowances – creating a flatter surface).
  7. That’s it.  Iron it open.  NOTE:  I used the same technique to add the quarter-inch borders as well.  (Draw the chalk line at a half-inch).

If anyone tries out that border technique, let me know how it goes.  Of course, I’ve probably just reinvented the wheel and somebody out there is already doing this, but since it’s new to me, I’m feeling pretty full of myself at the moment.  (Always a fleeting experience!) 

Anyway, I like the bag well enough but between figuring out the zipper and coming up with this new trick on the accent border, I’m a happy camper.

Monday, June 8, 2009

And the winner is . . .


And the winner is:


Thanks to everyone who participated. I’ve loved reading your comments and really appreciate them.  I’ll be responding individually over the next few days. 

Meanwhile, drop by again because I like giveaways.  I’ll be doing more.

Now, like everyone else, I’m just waiting to see Sewn come up so I can check it out!

Debates and Dumb Mistakes

Okay, I know better.  Really, I do.  You should always pre-wash.  Particularly with hand-dyes.  Pre-wash.  The instructions on the package say to prewash.  Each and every book or magazine article or teacher who’s offered advice on this subject decrees with magisterial authority, “Pre-wash!”  I have even ruined a little quilt or two by not pre-washing.  I know.  I do.

So there is really no excuse for why last night when I was moved to start playing with the wonderful Ricky Tims’ hand-dyes, I just starting whacking away at the fabric without pre-washing.  No excuse except that I wanted to play right away and the voice that said “Pretty fabric NOW” won over the voice of reason muttering, “Pre-wash.  You know you should.”

So I cut.  I played with the little squares.  I came up with a design I liked.  And then, finally, I listened to the voice of reason that said, “You should take some of those fabrics and run them under the water and see what happens.” 

Whoa, baby, did they run!  Who knew?

But, those fabrics are precious, aren’t they?  One, because they cost approximately 3o dollars a yard (and so beautiful they are worth every pretty penny).  Two, because I bought them last March when I went to La Veta to film an episode of The Quilt Show (more on that later, including another fun giveaway headed your way).  What to do?  . . .  Hand wash all those tiny squares and then pick them apart and lay them out to dry.  Yup.  That’ll teach me.  (I only wish.  Because I know myself pretty well by now and, the honest truth, the next time temptation strikes?  Temptation wins).

So, lots of little squares all laid out to dry.  But, really, aren’t those fabrics just luscious?


After washing and drying, here’s the layout for the mini.

Why do I have such trouble getting the color purple with my cameras?  Those blues really move to purple, and the lightest color is actually a bit of peach.  The golds are kind of orange and the reds are both redder and rustier.  I imported into Photoshop and sco0ted  little dials back and forth like a mad little fiend.  Did I ever get the colors right?  Not even close!

Now, decision time.  I’m going to use this Trip Around the World for the decoration on the flap of an envelope purse.  Need to decide whether to go for the darker hand-dye fabric for the purse body because I prefer the color or  go for a lighter rust/brown because it’s linen and I prefer linen.  I took pictures but the color on them was so awful, they’d be useless for comparison.  You’d probably advise me to scrap the whole idea, and really, the colors are very, very pretty.

If it comes out well (meaning if I figure out the dimensions and the right way to add the zippers I want), I’m thinking this will be July’s web project. 

Saturday, June 6, 2009

All Sewn Up Giveaway


I’m new to blog land but it doesn’t take long to realize that one of the fun bits is all the giveaways.  I had so much fun with the last giveaway, I definitely want to get in on this one, too!  So, I’m giving a way of copy of  Miniatures in Minutes and a charm pack of 99 batiks cut into 5 inch squares.

“Charmed to Greet You,” the tumbler charm quilt project in the book, uses 99 patches. 

Frankly, if I cut the squares only 2 1/2 inches square, they would still be bigger than you need for the pattern.  (The pieced foundation section of the quilt finishes at 7 inches square).  But, on the theory some of you might want your batik charms for something other than a miniature (really?  you would?), I went ahead and cut them 5” square.  My love of batiks goes way back so a lot of these batiks have been out of the stores for years.  They have all been washed.

In order to be eligible for the giveaway, browse my blog and leave a comment on this blog entry that responds to something you’ve seen here.  Monday evening I’ll randomly draw a name.  Meanwhile, check out the Sewn website and check out all the giveways.  And hang on for the launch because this looks like its going to be a very exciting site!