Susan’s Ideas Explode

I took a class with Susan Cleveland at AQS-Paducah this year and it was excellent. Susan manages to be both pleasant and precise as a teacher and has many, many tricks for improving quilt making skills.

Thinking of Susan’s creativity and sense of humor, I decided to make my SAQA donation quilt a picture of ideas exploding out of her head.

Here’s the resulting piece:“Susan’s Head Explodes”, 12″ x 12″, a tribute to Susan Cleveland

Susan is known for (among other things) her binding techniques, prairie points, and Dresdens. All these involve her signature precision and attention to detail. I used some of her techniques in this little quilt and added several of my own. Here are some details.

First, the martini glass. Please note that I have no idea whether or not Susan drinks alcohol; I just couldn’t resist this use of a prairie point!

You can see my binding up close in this detail photo. I used a flange to accent the edge. The little spheres are wool balls cut in half, a technique I learned from Susan.

The red exclamation mark is made with Kraft-Tex to avoid any risk of fraying on such a small element.The flamingo is a plastic button! Following a suggestion from a reader (Elizabeth, in response to my Habitat House), I removed the shank and glued the button to the quilt.

For one of the prairie points, I put a clear spherical button inside to hold it open a little. This button was one of my happy finds in Paducah, so it deserves to be in the piece!

The wool blend felt used for batting was a suggestion in a recent book by Sue Bleiweiss. It worked quite well in terms of being stable and easy to use.

Quilt Stats:

Name: Susan’s Head Explodes!

Designed and made by: me, with inspiration from Susan Cleveland

Finished size: 12″ x 12″

Materials include: Commercial cotton fabric, hand dyed fabric (Cherrywood), hand dyed embroidery thread (Artfabrik, Laura Wasilowski), Kraft-Tex (C&T), plastic buttons, commercial rick rack, wool felt balls, a polymer clay button, wool blend felt for batting, and various commercial threads.

Note: As always, the links in this post are for your convenience. They are not affiliate links.

Happy Habitat House

The Gate City Quilt Guild, which I recently joined, makes little house quilts for the local Habitat for Humanity. Each family then gets a little quilt as part of the ceremony in which they take over their new house. Of course I wanted to make one, so here we go!

The quilts are approximately 12″ x 12″, so I began by cutting two 13″ squares of fabric, one for the front and one for the back. I recently read in Sue Bleiweiss’s latest book that she uses a wool-blend felt for the batting in her art quilts, so I gave that a try. I cut the felt 12″ x 12″.

This is the back

I turned the edges of the front fabric to the back, turned under the edges of the backing fabric, and edge stitched the 3 layers together. The felt “batting” was easy to work with and avoided the puffiness that can distort a quilt when using regular batting.

I used Heat n Bond Lite to fuse the door, windows, and roof to the house, then fused the house to the quilt top.

The finished quilt front

I added stitching to the grass and tree for texture, and to make rays from the sun to show sunshine falling on the house. I collect fun buttons, so I had a round one for the door knob and some little flowers for the yard.

The buttons were shank-type, so I had to make little holes in the quilt to push the shank through so they would lie flat. The felt batting was extremely stable, which helped a lot with this process. Here’s the back, showing the button shanks held in place with little pins.

Although I like my quilt, I must say that there are some very talented quilters in the group and some of the houses were more realistic than mine! I look forward to learning a lot from these ladies.

Quilt Stats:

Name: Happy Habitat House

Size: 12″ x 12″

Designed and made by me

I hope the family who receives the quilt will enjoy it, though of course it is unlikely to look like their real house!

Atomic Sunflower

This started as an experiment with some leftover fabric, then sort of wandered off into an art quilt for the International Quilt Museum’s “Modern Meets Modern” challenge.

The fabrics are scraps of Michael Miller Cotton Couture left from another project. I saved them as a group because I particularly like the color combination. I started cutting the wedges freehand while working on a Cindy Grisdela-inspired project. When I decided to make them into a circle, I found a large platter in my kitchen and traced it because the rim was irregular. I then used reverse applique to set the circle in its background.

My friend Chela helped with input regarding the center design.

When I saw the Modern Meets Modern Challenge, I thought this piece would be a good fit, so I finished it up after Christmas, just in time to submit it. You can see the contest and the entries here.

Mine was not judged a winner, but here’s the good news: I agree the winners are better.

In looking at the entries, it’s clear that the better designs go all the way to the edge of the quilt, while mine is isolated in the middle. I’ve noticed this element of design several times over many years. In good modern designs, the design extends to the edge, often with the implication that it goes past the edge. But this time I got so wrapped up in what I was doing that I didn’t think “outside the circle”. 😀

As Nelson Mandela said, “I never lose. I either win or learn.” So, on to the next quilt!

Woo! The Book I’ve Been Waiting For!

I’m a fan of Cindy Grisdela’s work and have gone through the exercises in her previous book, so I was thrilled when C&T sent me Cindy’s new book for review. Adventures in Improv Quilts covers the basics of design and color, but includes some more complex quilts than her previous book. Some of them remind me of Maria Shell, whose book I also love.

Photo courtesy of C&T

Cindy’s colors are bright and interesting. She often combines colors I wouldn’t have thought to use together, which causes me to look twice at the design. That’s a plus!

Photo courtesy of C&T

The book includes plenty of detail on technique. I was especially amused (and gratified) to learn that part of Cindy’s design process is to outline the size for the quilt with blue tape on her design wall. I’ve done that for years and find it a very effective way to think about filling the space as I design. Validation is always nice!

Photo courtesy of C&T

The book includes a chapter on color choices, which will be welcomed by numerous quilters who worry endlessly about the “right” colors. I choose my palettes intuitively, with better results some times than others, so maybe I should pay more attention? I love the color examples in the book, starting with basic palettes and progressing to the addition of other colors or values to give the project variety.

Photo courtesy of C&T

Cindy then goes on to cover the basic principles of design. These won’t be news to most quilters, but her examples shine. I think I will go back to the “bits” left from working through her previous book and see if I can enhance them by using some of her examples from this book.

Photo courtesy of C&T

My favorite advice in the book: “Don’t fear wasting fabric”! That’s a liberating thought!

My second favorite is one of her tips for free-motion quilting, but I think it could apply to most any part of the process: “If you feel like you’ve made a mistake, keep going. Either ignore it or do it again so it becomes a design element.” I love that! I love this book!

The book is available here, but this is not an affiliate link. C&T sends me books for review, and I tell you about my very favorites among them.

 

Eight Years

I’ve now been blogging weekly for 8 years. One of the best things about it is “meeting” people from all over the world and reading about what they are doing. Some of them have been at it even longer than I have, though many of the bloggers I’ve “met” have since quit writing.

Here are my current favorite quilts from each of the years I’ve been blogging.

Rising star art quilt

Rising Star, made for the Quilt Alliance TWENTY contest in 2013

quilt photo

My Zippy Star Quilt and Pillow as shown in Modern Quilts Unlimited, Summer 2014

modern quilt

Happy Squares, designed and made by me, 2015

improvisational quilt

Cherrywood Toss, 2016.

scrap quilt

Scrap quilt made with strips that finish 1″ wide, 2017

Equilateral Triangles, 2018

My “Little Green Man” quilt, June 2019

“Clamshells? Really?” 2020

I’m going to delete many of the older posts since I doubt they are serving any purpose at this time. I have had a book made for each year, as suggested by my friend Linda, so I can always look back at them if I want.

Landscape Quilting Books

I’ve been making landscape quilts for years and have collected several books on the subject. Since I’m going to be teaching landscape quilting again soon, I thought I’d list the books I am familiar with as a resource for anyone interested in the subject. This absolutely is not an exhaustive list of all the books available; it’s just brief reviews of the books in my own collection.

Create Landscape Quilts by Meri Henriques Vahl, C&T, 2021. This is by far the best of the bunch if you want to put people in your quilts. She covers all the basics but particularly excels at detailed directions for including realistic people. Since I have a “hang-up” about drawing people, this was especially helpful for me. Of course, she has a number of examples of art quilts that do not include people, as well. Her technique is basically collage with a tulle layer on top. Look at the amazing detail in this sample of her work!  Book available here.

Photo courtesy of C&T

Happy Villages by Karen Eckmeier, 2nd Edition, The Quilted Lizard, 2014. This book presents step-by-step instructions for making a number of landscape quilts. It is easier to jump right in here because of the specific instructions, but some of the pieces she uses are tiny. I used tweezers. This is another collage technique with a tulle layer on top. Connecting Threads had it here for less than the used book site I generally go to.

I made this little landscape based on the ideas in Happy Villages

Mickey Lawler’s Skyquilts by Mickey Lawler, C&T, 2011This is a fabric painting book, entirely different from the previous two. It does address some basic principles, and if you enjoy fabric painting this is a good place to start. The author uses several different dyes and paints, which are explained in the book. I did not invest in most of them, but did enjoy using my Setacolor dyes and her ideas. I particularly like her suggestion to use tracing paper over your finished quilt to decide where/how to quilt it, since quilting lines can make all the difference in any type of quilt. It is available from C&T as an e-book here, or I found a good price on a used copy at Abe Books (use their search feature to find what is available).

This pine tree has green flannel for foliage and lots of free motion quilting for texture

I “painted” the sunset here with markers, and attached a little charm I found in my stash

Easy Batik Landscape Quilts by Patricia L. Brown, AQS Publishing, 2011. The technique here takes advantage of the natural variability in batik fabrics to make more realistic looking landscape quilts without having to apply paint or other media. Ms. Brown makes paper patterns and uses piecing and applique to assemble her quilts, so a tulle layer is not necessary. There are examples of both realistic and abstract designs with specific instructions for making a number of them. I have found that batiks are, indeed, excellent for landscape quilts, but I don’t have the patience to make paper patterns the way she does. (I made one landscape quilt using patterns I designed in a workshop with Georgia Bonesteel years ago, so I did try!) At the time of this writing, Connecting threads had a good price on it here.

The mountain in the background is made from a batik so did not need to be painted to have the right appearance. The commercial prints in the foreground were altered with markers.

Accidental Landscapes by Karen Eckmeier, The Quilted LIzard, 2008.This book has an excellent discussion of the elements and techniques that make a successful landscape quilt without resorting to technical language or going into too much detail. The sample projects she uses to teach techniques are easy and helpful. Her examples are much less elaborate than those in most of the other books, which is especially nice if you’re just getting started. The publisher sells it through Amazon.

Batiks and markers were used in this little quilt, and I put a UFO in the sky 🙂

Points of View by Valerie Hearder, Martingale, 2007. This book covers a variety of media that can be used in landscape quilts, from commercial prints to fabric crayons, paint sticks, and embroidery. She constructs the quilt on a muslin base, which I have found helpful. She shows how to use tulle and batiks as well. If you want just one book that covers a variety of techniques, this is a good one. I particularly like the way she plays with scale to add interest to some of her designs. This was available through Thrift Books at the time of this writing–use the search feature to find available copies.

This one was made with fused fabric, using techniques I learned several years ago from Laura Wasilowski

The Art of Landscape Quilting by Nancy Zieman and Natalie Sewell, Krause, 2007. I love Nancy Zieman’s practical approach to sewing and quilting, and this book starts with how to generate ideas and goes right through to finishing the quilt. There are no instructions for making specific quilts. Instead, the authors use many pictures of landscape quilts they have made to explain a variety of techniques for making your own designs. At the time of this writing, the book was unavailable through Thrift Books and available but not cheap at Abe Books. It was $71 on Amazon, so better check your library!

I think I made this one so I could use those round red buttons!

Landscape Quilts for Kids by Nancy Zieman and Natalie Sewell, Krause, 2004. This is a fun book that covers all the basics. I especially enjoyed her idea of cutting out people and animals and applying them broderie perse style to the quilts. She gives tips on how to print pictures of your own kids on fabric for use in landscape quilts. Amazon had one left at a reasonable price as of this writing, but Abe Books had a better price for a used copy; use the search boxes to see what they have available.

I found pre-printed fabrics for everything I needed to build my husband his ideal woodshop 🙂

There are many more landscape quilts waiting to be made from the pictures I’ve taken at beautiful places we have visited.

One of these days I’ll use this as inspiration for a landscape quilt

Please note: the links are for your convenience; they are not affiliate links for which I get paid. I do receive books from C&T for review, but I only review the ones I like!

 

Class With Maria Shell!!!

COVID rolled over my plans to attend the Vermont Quilt Festival (VQF) this past summer and take classes there with Maria Shell.  So imagine my excitement when I got an email from VQF offering one of Maria’s classes online!  (Here’s the link if you want to learn more.)

This is the Announcement from VQF

I signed up immediately and started gathering the materials–there really isn’t much needed in that department since I’ll be in my own studio for the class!  The class will be interactive, and the student information included lots of funny reminders like “Remember, we can see you.  Wear pants if you plan to stand up!”  I have no idea how to mute my microphone or much of anything else, so there’s no telling what they’ll see/hear from me, but I’ll be sure to be fully clothed 😀

As you may know, I love Maria’s book (here’s the link if you want to know more about the book.).

I’ve made some “mat-cut stripes” inspired by her, though I haven’t figured out yet what to do with them next,

as well as a little art quilt for which I used her method for making free-cut flying geese.

This quilt is titled “Blue Ridge–Cardinal”

One thing that is different about Maria’s technique for improvising is that she does NOT just combine fabrics randomly.  She looks to see if they go together visually before she sews.  Her quilts are graphic and striking, and I look forward to learning more from her.  I’ll let you know how it goes!  And here’s the link to Maria’s site if you want to explore her work more.

Just a reminder:  The links in this post are for your convenience; they are not affiliate links that generate money for me!

Happy As a Clam?

This is a little art quilt I started years ago just for fun.  It took quite a while to figure out how to make the clam and finish the quilt.

The “clamshells” were made by cutting out circles from fusible fabric and arranging them ever-so-carefully in rows.  I then fused the whole thing, and there it sat for a couple of years.  I considered adding a layer of netting, but ultimately just quilted it in waves.

I drew the clam early on but couldn’t decide how to put it on the quilt.  I considered thread sketching, drawing and coloring with pigma pens, etc.  I wanted a method that wouldn’t risk ruining the quilt if I didn’t get the clam right the first time!

Finally I read Karen Fricke’s article about thread sketching on stabilizer in my copy of The Best of Quilting Arts. (This book is an excellent resource, but it’s “old” so you probably can get it used.)  That method worked perfectly for me.  I was able to create the clam and then attach him to the quilt.  I printed the question mark on fabric and then cut it out and attached it.  For the dots going to his dialogue bubble I did, finally, have to draw directly on the quilt.

The edge is finished with satin rat-tail, a technique I learned in another class.

Quilt stats:

Name: Really? Clamshells?

Original design

Techniques: Fusible applique, machine quilting, thread sketching, drawing and coloring with permanent markers

Finished size:16″ x 16″

Quilted by me

Elizabeth’s Village

My blogging friend Elizabeth (OP Quilt) has designed a number of nice patterns and I recently found myself “forced” to make one because it is so cute.  Here is one of her samples.

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Eastman

She has given instructions for multiple variations in the pattern.  (I love all of them.)

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Eastman

Naturally, I didn’t quite follow the pattern.  I had some cute fabric left from another project so used it for the town square in the center.

When I was finished, I wanted to make the quilt large enough to be used as a donation quilt (crib size), so I ordered some wilderness fabric to surround the town.

And here’s the finished quilt:

Quilt Stats

Name:  Elizabeth’s Village

Pattern:  Merrion Square, by Elizabeth Eastmond

Finished size: 39″ x 39″

Quilted by:  Julia Madison

And yes, I used the same fabric for binding as for the border.  You may want to check out Elizabeth’s beautiful projects on her blog and website: OPQuilt.com.

If you’re interested in her patterns, they are available through Payhip.