Monthly Archives: July 2016

Thoughts of Houston


International Quilt Festival is on my mind today…my quilt is now in FedEx’s hands and on its way to be judged (πŸŽ‰πŸ˜‰), while I sit here with the (fabulous) new-format 2016 edition of the IQF catalogue (best train reading ever). 

As I read it, I find myself feeling very grateful to be a part of our quilty community! The first time I went to Houston, my friend Clare O’Donohue (whose books you must read if you haven’t) told me, don’t worry, in a couple of years you’ll feel as if you know everyone. While I’m not quite there, it is such a pleasure to read through the faculty pages and see folks who are now my friends. My experience of the quilt world had been one of incredibly kind, generous (and of course insanely talented) people.

So…if you’ve not taken the plunge because the sheer size and scale of the event seems daunting…I say, go for it. For your entertainment, here are my journal entries from 2013, when my adventures really began πŸ™‚ —

June 13th

“Congratulations! Your quilt ‘Neon Kitty’ has been selected for inclusion in the special exhibit Festival Awareness Project 2013…”

Sitting on the train home to Connecticut, I see this email pop into my inbox. Oh. My. God. Houston. Really? My someday-I’ll-go-there dream was coming true. Of course, if my quilt was accepted, I HAVE TO go! The people sitting around me are no doubt startled by my trying-to-be-quiet squeal, followed by a rapid fire text to my (very patient) husband and my best quilting buddy. Only fellow quilters could really understand…

Ok, next….hotel room secured – check…JetBlue flights booked – check.  

June 13-20

And now…to construct the hanging sleeve. Hmm. Ok, read instructions…wonder about that “pleat”…re-read instructions…my, these guidelines are awfully…technical. Perhaps written by the flight engineers at Mission Control? Read again, measure a dozen times, email the (very patient) Special Exhibits folks for clarification. Try to ignore husband who is hugely entertained by the spectacle of his Harvard MBA spouse praying that she doesn’t get disqualified by an illegal hanging sleeve.

Whew. OK, sleeve done…label, check..pack in enough bubble wrap to cover my entire quilt studio….and off my baby goes. Get back to work on Pet Postcards!

July 31

Aha, class catalogue is out, ok here we go. Wow. Lots of classes. LOTS. Huh, no supply lists. Ohhhhh….in the back. Wow, long lists…this will challenge even my ability to NEVER. CHECK. A. BAG. Amazing list of instructors!!! Snag an all-day class with Noriko Endo…lectures with other amazing art quilters…want to take every class. Wonder how much time I should leave to shop? I mean, look at the quilts? So excited…driving spouse nuts as I can’t seem to talk about anything else. Is it October yet?!



Fun Finishing Technique for Small Art Quilts πŸŽ¨

Part of my preparation for my Really Big Project includes producing samples of my small pet portrait quilts. This is a very streamlined version of my technique that is great fun (and you should see what my students have created with it!). 

One of my favorite ways to finish small pieces uses inexpensive cording from a terrific trim shop in the garment district –address shown above for your next trip to NYC. (An added bonus in this store is the presence of two shop cats named Rick and Rack ;).) I keep lots of different colors in my studio.

To try this…

  1. First, trim your piece and run a zigzag stitch all around the piece to stabilize the layers
  2. Then, set the width of your stitch to maximum and lay the cording along the side of your piece. Hold it taut as you stitch:
  3. As you approach each corner, slow down, then use needle up/down manually a few times to make sure the thread catches the cord. You will end up with a piece like this:
  4. For some pieces –think Christmas tree ornaments–this is perfect, simply tie at the base and at the ends of the cord. For a small quilt, you will probably want to trim (carefully! It can shred), then stitch all around the piece one more time, tucking those ends in as you stitch past that corner. Ta da, a very neat finished edge (and some extra color if you use variegated thread as I did here):

Wishing you lots of quilting and a/c this weekend!β˜€οΈπŸ”₯

Make What You Love

Early this morning, the list of finalists was posted for International Quilt Festival’s ‘World of Beauty’ show. For every “yippee!!,” there were an almost equal number of disappointed quilters. For everyone whose quilt made it, heartfelt congratulations! For those who did not receive good news this time, please remember a few things:

  1. I would bet the ranch that pretty much everyone on the finalist list has been in your shoes. In some cases, multiple times (more on that later).
  2. You should be proud of yourself for trying. I have several very talented friends (one in particular–you KNOW who you are) who have not yet taken the plunge…but you have put in the considerable time, effort and heart required into your submission. As my mother used to say to me, “the worst thing they can do is say no.” (We will put aside the memory of the boy who actually hung up on me when I called him for a date…)
  3. Your piece may not have been a fit for this show, but there are many many other shows for which it might be just the ticket.

Once you have submitted enough entries, some patterns tend to emerge. With one exception, every piece I have struggled to create to “fit” a certain exhibit…was rejected. I wrestled with one quilt…tried to make it fit one theme…then entered it in two other major shows, to no avail. This poor piece should be in therapy by now.

By contrast, the pieces I created for the pure love of the subject have fared much better. I did not make them specifically for shows, but to celebrate beloved pets and particularly lovely landscapes. I had fun and they came together easily. While I am delighted that they travelled to national shows, they simply make me happy. (This is not to say that every piece you love will be accepted…but the sting of rejection will barely be felt. Case in point, my little cat who thinks she is a lion, created for the Cherrywood Lion King challenge…she may not have fit that show but she is a successful piece in my eyes.)

So…treat yourself to some chocolate/fabric/both (some inspirational photos shown below ;))…and go create something for the pure joy of it!

“Ruby” 🐾🐾


My studio is still full to the brim with WIPS related to my Really Big Project ;)…all to be revealed soon! Because one of my favorite cats makes an appearance in the current issue of Quilting Arts magazine- a fast and easy way to create a pet portrait- I thought I would share my original interpretation of Ruby, titled “Unforgiven” (created for IQF’s “Raining Cats and Dogs” 2014 Special Exhibit).
It all began with an email from a dear friend, trying to console me for the outcome of the AFC Championship game on the previous evening. (Hint: my beloved NY Jets lost!) She had snapped a truly hilarious picture of her cat during an early Christmas celebration:


First step was to turn to my favorite app, Mobile Monet, to turn it into a more easily-traceable illustration.


Then, enlarge and trace a pattern on the back:


I should note that this was before I discovered the wonders of MistyFuse, so I had to work in reverse for my paper-backed fusible. Next step, gather my reds from my Superior thread stash and head to my local quilt shop and buy LOTS of fat quarters of reds for that bow…


Then make a key so that I would not lose my mind putting the 51-piece bow together:


Lots and lots of tracing and trimming later, Ruby and her bow were coming together. 


I had a great deal of fun with her lovely eyes, which I nearly always create on white/light fabric and fuse to the face:


Tsukineko’s Fabrico pens are one of my favorite tools! 

Next challenge, the background (which was too busy in the original photo). I opted for a batik background that would contrast nicely with all of those reds, and added a suggestion of a human holding her by stitching in a cashmere “arm,” bit of body and hand. The inside joke about the cashmere is that is was thoughtfully provided by my feral cutie, who had chewed so many holes in one of my sweaters that it landed in my stash. It was a flat surface so I quilting in a cable pattern and “cuff” for fun:


This piece spent quite a bit of time on the longarm (that bow!!). I used marching thread in the bobbin each time to create a ghost image on the reverse:


After quilting Ruby’s face and bow so densely, I needed an equally dense background fill…bubbling (pebbling?) is one of my favorites.

Lessons learned:

– paper-backed fusible has its place, but the construction process would have been much faster with MistyFuse! This was the last piece I did without it.

– get over the fear of stitching the eyes! I was so afraid to make a mistake and ruin my ink work…in retrospect she would be even prettier if I had. This was also the last piece in which I did not stitch the eyes…they are now my favorite step.

And the title? It referred to my question to my friend: would Ruby ever forgive her for the indignity of that bow ;)?

Happy Independence Day πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰


In honor of the holiday weekend (and because I cannot yet share my Really Big Project), I couldn’t resist sharing a very small piece constructed in honor of the ultimate summer drink, the gin and tonic ;).

This is actually a fun example of using up some of the strange things that accumulate in my art supply drawers:

  • Emphera saved- the packaging from our favorite tonic water and fun, stitched on
  • Odd bit of iridescent clear plastic = ice cube
  • Scraps of heavy fusible + scraps of silk = slices of lemon and lime
  • Length of polyester cording from my favorite trimmings store, Daytona (in the garment district) = zigzag stitched on as a binding
  • Scrap of denim from a favorite OLD pair of jeans = background 

Small projects like this one are an incredibly fun way to celebrate big or small moments in your life…what’s hiding in your “I’ll use this someday” drawer?

Have a wonderful holiday and make memories :)! β˜€οΈ