Sunday, September 18, 2022

50 Quilts from 50 States - New York


Its interesting that I am writing this post while I'm in New York, but
the inspiration for this quilt came from my previous visit in 2014 (OMG was it that long ago?). Saul and I made a driving tour of New England that included visits to family in Brooklyn and Ithaca, a drive up the Hudson River valley to the Finger Lakes district and then through the southern part of the state back to Brooklyn.

As I was pondering which of the many interesting sites should be my inspiration, I of course thought about the New York City sky line, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the hustle of Manhattan, and architectural points of interest. But the thing that struck me most of all were the various water courses and how they reflected the sky and surrounding buildings and foliage.

The water ways that caught my attention were the East River - its color reflecting the grey of the clouds overhead and the buildings surrounding it.

 As we drove north through the Hudson Rive Valley, we followed the Hudson, swollen and muddy from recent rains.

Then we stopped in Syracuse for a visit to the Erie Canal Museum.  The canal was completed in 1825 and was the first navigable water that connection the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.

Next stop was wine tasting at one (or 2) of the many wineries along the banks of the Finger Lakes - Cayuga Lake to be specific. The lake was a beautiful blue and the sweet wine slushie I had was refreshing.

Niagara Falls was the highlight of a different trip back in 1996 and in fact I'll be going again tomorrow. The mist got everything damp - a nice cool down during the hot weather.

So here were my five water ways. I like to design in odd numbers of motifs - surely I heard that in an art design class at one time. Now, how to represent them? French Braids. A technique I hadn't used before, French Braids would be great to represent the dynamic, ever - changing water ways. 

I just happened to have a batik jelly roll in the muddy browns and green colors of the Hudson. A couple off trips to quilt shops added some grey, blue, and sea foam colored jelly rolls and some yardage that I wanted for the constant squares down the middle of the braid. 

I started work on  this quilt while visiting my Mom near Phoenix Arizona. Although not my standard work area, it served me well for the week that I was there. I'm not sure how Mom felt about the mess though.

Here is  pic of the almost-finished quilt top. Water ways are from left to right - Erie Canal, East River, Niagara Falls, Hudson River, and Finger Lakes. This was a lot of fun to do - picking out colors, deciding how wide to make the braid sections, and how to bring the sections together. 

The pattern (when finished) will be available to download or by mail from my Etsy Shop

Get Curious about New York! It's a great place!

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

A Week with Ricky and Hugo

Did I mention I love workshops? Oh, and retreats? Oh, and Colorado? Oh and Ricky Tims? Oh, and camping? Put them all together and this was how I spent a week in May of this year (2022).

I loaded up a couple of my Ricky Tims projects - Colorado Rhapsody, and the Portland Maine Lighthouse (each of these quilts will get their own post later), my sewing machine and sewing tackle box into Tilley - my new to me toy hauler (hauling a sewing machine, not motor cycles), and headed west for LaVeta Colorado where Ricky lives, creates, and holds his retreats.

I went on a retreat back in May 2019, which is when I started Colorado Rhapsody. At that time I didn't have a trailer, so I stayed at LaVeta Inn, a very nice, but pricey hotel. So on this trip, I decided to bring Tilley and camp in the local RV park - that way I could spend money on Ricky's hand dyed fabric instead of a hotel room and eating out.  A Quilter has her priorities!

My son AJ's birthday was on Sunday May 22, so I left bright and early on Monday, stayed in a church parking lot in Lamar, Colorado (thanks Harvest Host) and arrived in LaVeta by mid day on Tuesday. Except for some bumpy roads which resulted in one of Tilley's windows busting out, the trip was uneventful (no speeding tickets for me this time). 

The RV park was just a block from Ricky's retreat center, so I could actually walk. Did I walk? No, but I could have! I was able to pack lunches, cook breakfast and dinner, so I saved some money, which, of course, I spent on fabric and a new hat in LaVeta.

There were 6 of us quilters there, plus Ricky and Hugo, so we got lots of personal attention from Ricky (well, and Hugo too - he cooked a fabulous lunch for us one day, and kept the jokes and teasing going all week). Everyone worked on a different project, so we got to hear Ricky's guidance on multiple techniques. Several of us were working on the Rhapsody technique.

With Ricky's help, I finished designing, cutting, and ironing on a million applique shapes that illustrate Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, the Tree of Life, and the cardinal directions - all to represent Colorado in my 50 Quilts for 50 States project. Stitching these million shapes down has been my focus for the remainder of the summer and I'm only about 2/3 done. I heard Ricky when he said that you can have as many fiddly shapes as you want, but remember that you'll have to sew each one down. Somehow it didn't really register though.

After the designing and cutting was complete, I moved on to a
second quilt - Portland Maine Lighthouse. This quilt uses the Gridified Art Quilt technique that I learned in a online workshop I took with Ricky last summer. So I finished (well, started actually) foundation piecing the lighthouse tower and house, started the background blocks, and made some really good progress. I needed some addition sky fabric, so I couldn't complete it there, but almost! 

It was a productive week with some really great quilters who are now new friends. We had dinner at a couple of great local restaurants, visited the home of one of our local students, shared music, quilting ideas, stories, and basically bonded over the week. Here is some of their work - they are some talented artists!

I hope I can do this retreat on a semi-regular basis - maybe every couple of years. I learn so much about my creative process and various techniques. And of course LaVeta is beautiful!

Curious about Ricky Tims and his quilting, photography, and music? Check out this multi-talented man here, on his website.

A Top is Born - Finally

Due to the way I sew - multiple projects at a time, I don't finish tops very often. They are spread out over time. But this summer I have been concentrating on finishing a few quilts. The first finish is Spring Meadow.

I started this one at Quiltworx University in Tucson in 2019.  The process for Quiltworx University goes like this - everyone (about 50 quilters) does the same mixer. That means a pattern is broken down into 4 sections - center, first border, outer section and outer border. Then, for each section there are anywhere from 4 to 7 different options to choose from. So, even before fabric choices are applied, everyone's quilts will look different. The add fabric and you really have a terrific line up of wildly different quilts. The mixer for QU 2019 in Tucson was Prairie Star Mixer. 

I chose my layout options and fabrics on Quiltster, submitted it and like magic it was there, in a box waiting for me when I arrived.

Saul was a good sport and agreed to go with me to Tucson. It was held at Tanque Verde Ranch outside of Tucson, a beautiful desert property with Southwestern buildings and stately Saguaro cacti and colorful scrubs.  Oh, and did I mention, the food was delicious - Saul's favorite part.

In addition to lovely hours of sewing, we were treated to a trunkshow by Judy. We got to see a bunch of new projects coming out. I always look forward to this and I make a list of what I want to make next.

Fast forward 3 plus years: sweet Saul's passing, COVID, some more travels, and several quilts. In July of this year (2022) I went to Quilt Camp at the Quiltworx retreat and training center, spending 10 days working on Quiltworx quilts with other Quiltworx fans. 

I opened the tote with my Meadow Star project and my first thought was "What was I thinking when I used these colors? It looks like the Easter Bunny yacked up on the wall." But as I got all the pieces up on the design wall and began assembling it - especially when I added the Kaffe Collective Cabbage Rose fabric, it all came together.  Granted it wasn't my usual color palette, but I liked it.

Its 100 inches square and will cost a pretty penny to have it quilted. I've started saving! It feels so good to get one of the beautiful Judy Niemeyer quilts finished. Judy designs them 
 so they are not difficult, but they do take perseverance. Oh, and I started a new one while I was there, so my net Quiltworx project numbers didn't change.

 If you're interested in learning more about Judy and Quiltworx, let me know. I have an entire trunkshow dedicated to the beautiful Quiltworx quilts.


Friday, August 12, 2022

Cruising and Quilting - Does it Get Any Better Than This?

Me: We should go on a quilting cruise!

Friend: Yes we should. Here is a good one.

Enter COVID and everything got cancelled.

Friend: I think cruises are going again, want to go on this one to the Eastern Caribbean?

Me: Sure Do!

We booked through Dawn at The teacher is Annette Ornelas of Southwind Designs. The Quilt is cute. I buy the pattern and choose the fabrics, The excursions look good, we sign up for a couple. We wait, and wait. We get vaccinations. We get tested. It's a GO!!!!

I love cruises anyway, but a quilting cruise combines the best of all
worlds. The plan is to sew only on sea days, reserving port days for excursions. We boarded the hugest cruise ship I have ever seen in Fort Lauderdale - Royal Caribbean's the Allure of the Seas. After getting settled, we met in our sewing room on Deck3 and got to know our machines, Jenomes provided by Scott.

We we got to start on our projects the next day. Teacher Annette was amazing. She developed a very cool technique of inserting fabric between 2 other pieces of fabric and then after sewing and pressing, it looks like an elongated flying geese block. Except that it's dimensional and after piecing the rest of the block you are supposed to fold the points up and top stitch them. This results in the cutest little curved points.  Needless to say, I bought several of her patterns to take home. One especially would make a great class project.

Dawn set up a private trip to Caribelle batik factory for the day we were in St Kitts. The site was beautiful, nestled into a little valley, with gorgeous foliage of every size, shape, and color. 

We were able to use stamps dipped in wax to make our designs - I used turtles - and them dye them in purple or a deep indigo dye bath. It was wrapped up in bags and safely stowed until I got home to rinse the extra dye out. I had blue fingers for a day!

Of course we had the opportunity to shop in their store. I bought a poncho thingy that will look great with some brown leggings and a 4 yard piece of fabric that I intend to use as a backing for the quilt I made during the cruise.

The eight days went by way too fast. Some of the 38 quilters in the group finished their tops plus the bonus projects Annette gave us. I got a little over half done. I plan to work on it during a couple of upcoming retreats. 

So I'm back home, having to make my own bed, prepare my own food, no cute little towel animals waiting on my bed, no more rum punch under tropical canopies. I'm dressing in layers because it's 35 degrees outside. But I'm already planning my next cruise with Annette - next April. Saving my pennies.

Come cruise with me!

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Jumping on the Temperature Quilt Bandwagon - Getting Ready

 I've decided to jump on the Temp Quilt Bandwagon. In fact I'm going to be the the wagon master - I'm leading a SewAlong starting in January 2022. I've created a FB group called 2022 Temperature Quilt SAL with Denise - so feel free to join the group and sew with us.

What is a Temperature Quilt and why would I want to do one? I started seeing Tempestry projects which are knitted representations of location and temperature, a visual to show how temperatures are rising. I was immediately intrigued and started experimenting with how to do this as a quilt. 

Since the tempestry projects allocate a row per day, the maker ends up with a nice small/medium sized wall hanging. When I thought about this same format in fabric, I thought about .5 inch row per day x 365 days = 183 inches. Too long! So next I decided to do every 3 days - that cut it down to about 60 inches. OK, so manageable. I decided to do the first year of my life and got the data from NOAA for Santa Clara California for October 1957 - October 1958. 

I picked out some cool batik fabrics and then using a quilt as you go technique I started to sew a row for the temperature on every third day of the first year of my life. I didn't get very far.

Fast forward xx years. Temperature quilts are the IN THING. I kept procrastinating until this year, I'm finally going to do it. And to help me with accountability, i decided to do a SewAlong. 

The first thing I need to do now, before the year starts, is to get prepared. So, today I'm figuring out what format to use, how many fabrics to use to represent, and get my organization charts ready. I'll get fabrics next week.

I have a Temperature Board on Pinterest with all kinds of different blocks that would work for a Temp Quilt. OVERWHELM! I like them all  (these are not my quilts). Check out my board for ideas for your Temp Quilt!

Since I just took a Flying Geese class from Sally Jennings, during which I used the Bloc_Loc ruler, I've decided to do the flying geese version. The high temp will be the "goose" and the low temp the "sky".  If I want to I can make one of the sky pieces white if it rains. The Bloc_Loc ruler is a great ruler to use if you are making scrappy flying geese. Since I have the  2 by 4 inch ruler, that will make a perfect size  - about 48 by 60 inches. If you want to get one, check out their website. Decision Made!

I spent about an hour making a fabric swatch chart and a daily recording and progress chart. Shoot me an email at if you want me to send you a copy.

Next week comes the fun part - assigning fabric to temperature ranges. Can't wait!

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Confessions of a Sassy Stripper

 I love doing trunk shows for guilds. It was so sad last year that so many trunk shows and workshops were cancelled due to Covid-19. I've done a couple of virtual trunk shows but I love being back in person with guild members (all masked-up).

This week I got to do an in-person trunk show with the Silver Needles Quilt Guild in Salina, Kansas. It was so good to be back in the guild environment. Upcoming activities, community outreach, show and tell. It was all so familiar and wonderful.

My trunk show was called Confessions of a Sassy Stripper and was all about Jelly Rolls and projects with other strips.

While I was working at Mea Bernina, the owner came to me and asked me about hosting a jelly roll club - we decided to call it the Sassy Strippers. My mission was to come up with project and techniques that used jelly rolls and other types of strips.

Best place to start? The Jelly Roll Race, of course!

Years ago, the jelly roll race was really the thing. Its still a thing! within an hour (more or less), you have a cute quilt top ready for quilting for a baby, charity quilt, or lap quilt.  There is really a lot you can do with the Jelly Race quilt - leave it as is, insert a vertical strip, add appliques, and much more. The one I did was in black and white and I added a vertical strip with some red accents. I love it. It was simple, the colors are striking, and I could make it again and again.

So, we were off - now to dig deeper into Jelly Rolls and JR patterns. 

It used to be the Jelly Rolls were made from a single collection.
Collections tended to be larger and could more easily include 40 unique fabrics. Today, there are usually 2 or 3 of each fabric in a Jelly Roll because collections are smaller. My favorite Jelly Rolls are the ones curated by individual or shops - 40 fabrics that coordinate well, even if they are from different collections. I had the fun task of curating several Jelly Rolls while working at Mea Bernina.  

There are several (ok, millions maybe) patterns that feature Jelly Rolls. My mission was to develop original or locate free patterns that challenged the Stripper Club members. 

One of the early challenges I took on was a bargello quilt. I loved bargellos but never quite got the idea of sewing strips together, cuttings them into substrips, and then UNSEWING. It was the unsewing that really confused me. But after I did it, it was crystal clear. After experimenting with the size of the substrips and whether they go "up" or "down", I developed a pattern that used 3 exactly the same Jelly Rolls in rainbow solids. The resulting quilt I named Iz's Rainbow to pay tribute to Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and his version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I teach this technique in one of my workshops - its one of my favorites.

Continuing to look for challenges, I found a block and redrafted it to work with 2.5 inch strips. I call it Stop and Go because it requires the technique of partial seams. For this quilt I used a half Jelly Roll curated from a collection we carried at the time with the addition of some coordinating solids (don't ask, I forget the name of the collection, and its not available any more anyway. So sorry). The addition of a plus sign sashing really makes this quilt unique. 

These are just three of the quilts I've made with Jelly Rolls. I'm still experimenting with different techniques and projects - not just quilts, but bags, baskets, rugs, table runners, and art wall hangings. So many fabrics and projects to do! If you are intrigued by these patterns, you can download them from my Etsy Shop.

Curious about Jelly Rolls? Get one and get to work! It took me 98 minutes to sew and press my Jelly Roll race. 

On Your Mark, Get Set, GO!


Friday, March 5, 2021

The Curious Quilter is a Camping Quilter!

 I have always brought handwork along whenever I travel. But then I discovered the RV Quilters group on FaceBook and saw pictures and read stories of people piecing and quilting in their RVs. A whole new world opened up for me.

I began to develop this fantasy about driving around the country in an RV, pulling into a quilt shop parking lot, setting up my machine and starting to sew away.  Well, I'm almost there. I've become a Quilting Camper! 

I bought my little TearDrop in July. I named her Trudy and began taking her on trips - for a few days to a week. After the first trip I started bringing my sewing machine and quilting set up. I've fine tuned my set up over the months and now I have something that works well for me.

On most (ALL) of my trips, I look for new local quilt shops to visit. I have found that visiting a quilt shop makes it possible for me to feel like I already have a friend in the area. When I tell the shop ladies that I'm camping near by, it really gives us something to talk about. 

There are so many quilting inspirations to see while camping. Nature, colors, patterns, art, and architecture. In Manatee Springs, the park building had this great Barn Quilt -  Inspiration is all around!

I'm a bit hamstrung by the weather. I used to be a fair-weather snow skier. Now I'm a fair-weather Quilting Camper. No rain, of course. not too windy. Neither too hot nor too cold. But just right!

Most campgrounds have picnic tables. I have a selection of cute, seasonal vinyl tablecloths that I immediately put on the picnic table. First comes my smallest Bernina machine - the B325. Its great for traveling, workshops, and retreats. It has enough of the stitches I use on a regular basis. I always laugh a bit when I look down at my foot pedal and see it sitting on the grass, gravel, or sand. Next comes my cutting mat and ironing mat, usually to the left of my machine. My tool box sits on the bench on my right. I use rulers, my phone, my solar lanterns, and the occasional glass of wine to hold down my fabric and paper pieces that threaten to blow away in the breeze. I even have a little bleacher pillow to sit on to cushion my rear from the hard bench.

Projects? As you probably already know I love to work on lots of projects simultaneously. That method doesn't lend itself to camping where space is usually limited. But I get bored fairly easily when working on one project.  So, how to provide diversity of projects while limit the space required for lots of projects? So far, the answer to my dilemma is a complex Quiltworx project  - in this case Dinner Plate Dahlia. It's got lots of varied shapes, fabrics, and techniques to keep me on my toes. And it all fits into one double Art Bin tote. 

So my set up works well, but I don't usually sew for more than a few hours at a time. I have knitting and hand work along if the weather is iffy, or after dark (in my tent by lantern light).

I love being a Quilting Camper! Campfires, sight seeing, visiting quilt shops, and sewing. It doesn't get much better than this.

Curious about campsite quilting? Come join me for a day or 2. Either locally or on one of my adventures further away. It's so fun!