Respect Your Gift

“Respect your gift. Not everyone can or wants to make a quilt. If your gift is to do so, then by  all means make quilts.” Betty White in Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine, Aug/Sept 2013

I’ve found my “creative home” in quiltmaking! Pleasure, joy and satisfaction in playing with fabric is how I experience piecing and quilting. To share that knowledge with those who are likewise interested pleases me.

I’ve often commented that the library has stored my favorite quilts books for me! Since I started quilting in 1994, the Fayetteville Public Library has moved to a larger (and greener) building Perhaps that move happened because of my prolific interest in reading about quilts and quilters! What do you think? Of course I am joking, but using library facilities is a wise use of resources. Every book that graces those shelves is one less book I have to store! And some of those quilt books are heavy. Sharing books and other materials creates community resource centers rather than private holdings. My mother, Marie, introduced all four of her children to our local Miami Springs, FL library at an early age. I figure I’ve been climbing library steps every month of my life–at first in my mother’s arms.

I volunteered to do a series of quilt programs as part of the Fayetteville Public Library’s “Explore Your Senses Series” this summer. On Tuesday, May 27, with help from librarian Nancy Hartney, we hung twenty-four quilts in the second floor reading room with its brilliant daylight lighting. I chose a range of quilts: vintage, time span, contemporary and modern. The quilts will hang for the entire month of June. Over the front desk is a vibrant Amish-style pieced quilt. We named this quilt “Joint Custody” because Valerie Doiel hand quilted it after I discovered it as an abandoned quilt top rolled and taped up at a local charity thrift store. We each added our efforts to the work of the original unknown quilter who had a great “eye for color”.

Please read about the four Wednesday night programs and pick all that interest you. Bring your friends and tell everyone that beginners are welcome.

"Joint Custody" is a Time Span quilt because Paula discovered the unfinished top at a thrift store and Valerie Doiel hand quilted if, making it a group quilt owned jointly by Paula and Valerie. For all of June everyone can enjoy this dramatic quilt hanging at the Fayetteville Library.

“Joint Custody” is a Time Span quilt because Paula discovered the unfinished top at a thrift store and Valerie Doiel hand quilted if, making it a group quilt owned jointly by Paula and Valerie. For all of June everyone can enjoy this dramatic quilt hanging at the Fayetteville Library.

 

Quilt Month in the Ozarks: June, 2014

Antique Quilts: A Visual Feast of Plain & Fancy, June 4 from 6-7:30

Quilts reveal much about their maker and her life. See the vintage quilts and explore the stories contained in the fabric and the stitches. Learn useful information to help you date quilts from1870-1970.

Contemporary Quilts: Building on our Past, June 11 from 6-7:30

Today’s quiltmakers still play with fabric–from feed sacks to batiks to hand dyed fabrics. The many avenues of piecing, appliqué and quilting all offer challenges to anyone intrigued by fabric. We quilters explore this broad range of quilting territory with quilts that range from traditional to political to whimsical to outrageous. Come see what we are sewing today.

Memory & Scrapbook Quilts: Historical Documents, Personal Mementos, June 18 from 6-7:30

View quilts with vivid stories and colorful characters. Memory quilts may contain photo transfer pictures of family and friends, cartoon segments, favorite t-shirts, etc. Scrapbook quilts include souvenirs and artifacts from our lives. Think how your own memories could be translated into fabric.

Sew Your Own Log Cabin Block: Create with needle, thread and fabric scraps, June 25 from 6-7:30

Bring your tools (including a pincushion and scissors), or we will provide equipment and fabric, encouragement and instruction following a short display of log cabin quilts. Beginners welcome.

 About Paula Mariedaughter

Paula is an avid quiltmaker and amateur historian. She has been collecting vintage textiles since the early 1970s and has taught quilting in the area for nineteen years. She has a political science degree from Maryville College located in the mountains of east Tennessee where she first developed her interest in homesteading skills. Her presentations always include props and artifacts from earlier eras as well as her collection of quilts with “personality”. Paula currently teaches quilting classes at Lonesome Pine Quilts located 16 miles southeast of Fayetteville on Highway 16E.

Posted in Black Accents, Contemporary Design, Hand Quilted, TimeSpan Quilt | Leave a comment

Love My Tools!

 

  • QUILT MONTH at the Fayetteville Public Library! Every Wednesday in June 6-7:30  June 4: Antique Quilts
    June 11: Contemporary Quilts
    June 18: Memory and Scrapbook Quilts
    June 25: Hands On Quilting–Make a small log cabin block. Everyone welcome.

 Love My Tools!

“I feel energized when working with tools that are beautiful and have stood the test of time.” Bernard Maisner, skilled calligrapher featured in MS Living November 2012

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I do feel energized when I sew and create on this lovely cast iron machine. Sitting quietly, I guide the fabrics with my hands as my feet create the up and down rhythm needed to move the needle and join the fabric in a sturdy lock stitch.  I feel the energy of creativity. I feel connected to the generations of women who played with the alchemy of sewing. We are making magic! And, this simple machine I am propelling could last hundreds of years if properly cared for. I admire my sewing machine’s function, yes. My eyes enjoy the sensuous lines and the gilt letters and scroll work common in another era. My work horse is beautiful, not plastic.

Connecting to the animate and inanimate objects around us comes easily to humans. We depend on our homes for shelter and on food for nourishment and on vehicles to transport us. But to find satisfaction in our lives can be a challenge. What part does the “craze for machines” play in that challenge?

In 1909, the young Indian scholar Mohandas K Gandhi was returning from England and wrote Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule detailing his view of the problems facing his modern world. The book was immediately banned by the British who ruled the continent of India at that time. This excerpt about the usefulness of machines seems equally relevant today, over 100 years later, as the corporations and machinery dominate our lives:

“How can I be [against machinery] when I know that even this body is a most delicate piece of machinery? The spinning wheel is a machine, a little toothpick is a machine. What I object to is the craze for machinery, not machinery as such. The craze is for what they call labor saving machinery. Men go on saving labor till thousands are without work and thrown on the open streets to die of starvation. I want to save time and labor not for a fraction of mankind but for all. I want the concentration of wealth, not in the hands of a few, but in the hands of all. Today machinery merely helps a few to ride on the backs of millions. The impetus behind it all is not the philanthropy to save labor, but greed. It is against this constitution of things that I am fighting with all my might …. The supreme consideration is man. The machine should not tend to atrophy the limbs of man. For instance, I would make intelligent exceptions. Take the case of Singer’s Sewing Machine. It is one of the few useful things ever invented, and there is a romance about the device itself.” See Gandhi’s complete 1909 book here: http://www.mkgandhi.org/swarajya/preface.htm.

The romance comes from the knowledge that by using a leather belt to connect the foot treadle to the balance wheel, I can pump the treadle and move the needle to sew a perfect lock stitch and sew almost anything. The simplicity of the machine is its elegance.

Prior to the invention of the sewing machine (treadle) in the mid 1850s, all clothing and bedding was produced in the home (usually by women and girls) and often began with the spinning of the linen fibers or carding of the wool to make yarn. Growing, harvesting and carding cotton was not any easier. An enormous amount of life energy was spent sewing for a household. Purchased fabric was a luxury. Learning to sew was a necessity. Powering a sewing needle with human-power was a revolution! In another section, Gandhi adds bicycles to his short list of helpful inventions.

My foot-powered Singer treadle sewing machine No.115 was made in 1921, three years after Gandhi wrote these words. I bought it for my 60th birthday in 2005. I will never know who used it before me. The only facts I know are that I bought it in Oklahoma and it was in excellent condition with its original instruction book. It had been separated from the original sewing cabinet, but I had a cabinet that fits it well. Since then I have bonded with this machine! I find it especially useful in the winter when the short days mean our solar electricity can be limited. I can use my treadle during daylight hours because it sits in front of a nine foot tall window giving me lots of light. Because my treadle sits near our trusty Harman woodstove I’m warm and content.

It seems the craze for machines and devices has accelerated and come to dominate the lives of millions on the planet–even endangering the planet itself.

 

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Realignment

I've named my version of a convergence quilt "Realignment" since I shuffled some of the components around and added a fifth fabric.

I’ve named my version of a convergence quilt “Realignment” since I shuffled some of the components around and added a fifth fabric.

“Creativity is usually seen as an individual attribute but it depends on opportunity for expression and a receptive audience.” Margaret Cruikshank

“Realignment”

Sharing a day with friends and acquaintances while playing with fabric is my idea of heaven! Last Saturday (February 15) we set up our machines, ironing stations and cutting boards as we gathered to learn from another guild member. The Rogers Public Library was the setting and Sheila Bayles was our teacher. Taking four different fabrics we used a technique developed by Ricky Tims which he called “Harmonic Convergence” to sew and slice and converge fabric pieces–like magic–into a new whole.

My quilt top is pictured above after I reworked it some at home and added two borders and a touch of a fifth fabric. The process takes concentration to follow each step. Here is where I started. I wanted to use this black cotton sateen skirt with white embroidery I found recently at a thrift shop. Then I chose the other three fabrics to complement and contrast. The touch of green was added later.

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We worked steadily all morning while laughing and visiting with each other. We shared tools and tricks consulting with Sheila or each other if we got stuck. The transformation process was tricky, but created amazing combinations. After lunch we spent time on the last grouping and carefully matched seams to line up each row of contrasting fabrics. Most of us finished sewing our tops and each quilt top featured startling combinations of contrasting fabrics. Each of us showed her top as she finished sewing and pressing it. We admired every one of the tops and took pictures to record the effort.

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Here is the quilt top Therese Ramsey created with her choice of clear bright fabrics. Something did not seem quite right with my own top. I scrutinized it when I got home and realized I had turned some of my strips upside down. By placing the quilt top on the portable design board I’d created, I could see the design issues I faced.

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Something did not seem quite right with my own top. I scrutinized it when I got home and realized I had turned some of my strips upside down. By placing the top on the portable design board I’d created I could see the design issues I was facing.

Every combination of fabrics resulted in interesting colors woven together. Hazel McFall  (left) created a seascape effect and Cindy Askins’ version looks like a desert sunrise to me. Once we have sewn the strips, we each face the challenge of how to orient the resulting composition. Charlotte Ralston chose purple midnight colors.

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After much visual examination at home, I decided to move one on the strips from the far right side back to the far left. As I kept looking and considering, I wondered if adding another sliver of color might be a solution.

In conversation with Nora Krein at the class she had commented on the variegated polka dot fabric I was using and how the fabric moved through numerous colors including a touch of lime green. Remembering her casual comment inspired me to pull out a favorite lime green fabric with tiny gold dots. Yes, I liked that addition! I would use a small inner border of the green. Next I decided to insert the green for a zinger in that strip I had just moved to the far left side.

I carefully ripped out the cross strips of red in that one row and replaced them with my zinger green.  Once I realigned my strips, I was finished and had a title! Borders were tricky, but I found a combination that pleases me. The off-center border weights the lower left side, but does not enclose the design. And the 5″ wide border gives me a chance to highlight the large scale red floral fabric. After I machine quilted it, I added a black binding with  a lime green flange. I’ve been inspired by the class and added my own take on the convergence design. What fun!

More fun when you view Raija Salomaa’s finished quilt and the detail of her quilting in this photo she sent. You can see that each of us had to choose how to orient our quilts to the best advantage. Raija rotated her quilt top 90 degrees in the finished version. Several of us finished our quilt tops by the February 27 guild meeting. Many of us from the class of twenty-one quilters showed our work to the entire group that night.

Raija rearranged some of her strips in class to achieve this balanced effect for her quilt top. On the right, you can view her lovely machine quilting.

Raija rearranged some of her strips in class to achieve this balanced effect for her quilt top. On the right, you can view her lovely machine quilting.

 

Posted in Black Accents, Contemporary Design, Large florals, Paula's Quilt | 1 Comment

Gold Dust

Gold Dust

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“Anything I create becomes a doorway through which others can access my ideas and concerns, if they care to.” Peter Korn in his book, Why We Make Things and Why It Matters

Gold Dust began with the traditional block called the Wagon Wheel composed of twelve segments in a hexagon shape. I had a piece of glitzy gingham I wanted to try in this setting. The small gingham check was done in black and gold lame! Gingham checks were a part of my girlhood. Mother sewed outfits for me and my sisters in this sweet fabric. My black and gold gingham was sophisticated, not sweet. I found another copper color lame to add to my mix of batiks and large scale florals in the pieced blocks.

I pieced the blocks on my vintage Singer Featherweight and hand appliqued the circles in the center. I  had fun choosing fabrics and finally had a pile of blocks to play with on the portable design wall. Because I live in an 800 square foot house, I prop the 42″ square design board covered in flannel on a dresser drawer and work from there.

I had twenty-five blocks and was ready to move forward. I arranged and rearranged the blocks. I left it and came back to it, but it was being tricky to find an arrangement that “hung together”. I fiddled and I fussed. I got discouraged. I left it alone for a few days.

I remembered the observation and suggestion that my friend and mentor Lila Rostenberg had made years ago. She suggested that since, in our culture, we read from left to right and start in the upper left hand corner, our eyes are accustomed to viewing in this manner. Her general advice was to start with lighter blocks in the upper left hand corner and move the eye downward and across the composition with the darker blocks to the lower right hand corner.

With fresh eyes and some patience I came upon the arrangement of light through the middle that you see here. Jeanne later told me she was not sure I was going to be able to “pull this one off”, that’s how frustrating it was!

The next challenge was how to concoct a border. I realized I was “done” with piecing more of these hexagon blocks, but I could take that wagon wheel shape and cut “setting blocks” that exact size using interesting batiks to finish out the edges. That part was fun! I was like the horse heading for the barn–I could see the end in sight and I was happy with what I saw coming together. Note that I used a light batik for the upper blocks and a darker batik for the lower blocks forming the border.

I used a simple machine quilting pattern of meadering curves and spirals to machine quilt Gold Dust on my 1971 noncomputerized Bernina 830. My favorite batting is Cream Rose cotton needlepunch batting from Mountain Mist, but I use other brands of thin cotton batting when I find it on sale. By the time I finished the binding and the label I’d com eup with the name. In my mind’s eye I can see a hand tossing gold dust and it catches the light as it falls.

Gold Dust (47″ x 56″) is still one of my favorite quilts. I believe it is a favorite, in part, because it was a hard one to birth! I persisted until it came together in a pleasing way. Please consider using my unusual border solution whenever it suits your purposes–we are here to inspire each other! Of course, it would be nice if you decided to give me credit for the suggestion and if you sent me a picture of your quilt.

Posted in Contemporary Design, Paula's Quilt, Pieced Border | Leave a comment

Wallflower

“Inspiration is where you find it.” Paula Mariedaughter

Inspiration breaths life into any project whether it be woodworking or cooking or quiltmaking. Inspiration will keep you engaged in a project long enough to see it through. When I saw a picture of an Evening Star quilt (see below similar to this on the cover of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine (October, 1993), I was intrigued. That quilt was made in New Jersey circa 1890 by an unknown woman with imagination. She relegated the pieced Evening Star blocks to the background in favor of the dramatic large scale florals in the setting squares. She was a free thinker, often large setting square were cut of plain fabric and would feature elaborate quilting. I wanted to try my hand at creating my own version! The magazine had the cutting dimensions so I would not have to draft my own pattern.

Wallflower was inspired by a circa 1890 quilt made in new Jersey by an unknown woman.

Wallflower was inspired by a circa 1890 quilt made in new Jersey by an unknown woman.

After choosing fabrics for the stars, my trusted Featherweight helped me piece the twenty stars mostly on light backgrounds. Rounding up lively large scale prints was fun, but I could not find a border fabric that pleased me. In person the setting squares are more dominant than they appear in this photo.

I had to put this top aside until I found the border fabric it called for. Months later, I knew it when I saw it. The ideal fabric appeared in the booth of one of my favorite quilt shops at our 1999 quilt show. Mama’s Log House is always packed with fabulous fabrics, but this pillar print added the visual movement I knew I wanted. This would be a different quilt without this pillar print.

I used my vintage White sewing machine to accomplish the quilting and bound it with a burgundy red. I labeled it Wallflower because I enjoyed the idea of all these flowers gracing a wall over 100 years after that New Jersey woman created her quilt. I finished Wallflower in 2000. Size: 66 x 70.

Below is the magazine cover that inspired me. The antique quilt is in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Photographs appear in Roderick Kiracofe’s book The American Quilt:A History of Cloth and Comfort 1750-1950.

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Posted in Reproduction of an Antique Quilt | 2 Comments

Passionflower

Passionflower was an experiment in hand quilting using two threads in the eye of that tiny needle! I used a pale lavender cotton thread and a sparkly pink rayon thread to add a touch of shine to the quilting. All cotton fabrics, but featuring several purple Nancy Crow fabrics. size: 54"x 54"

Passionflower was an experiment in hand quilting using two threads in the eye of that tiny needle! I used a pale lavender cotton thread and a sparkly pink rayon thread to add a touch of shine to the quilting. All cotton fabrics, but featuring several purple Nancy Crow fabrics. size: 54″x 54″”Passionflower” features vibrant contemporary fabrics in a traditional pattern named Blazing Star, Star of Bethlehem, but today is most often called Lone Star. According to quilt historian Barbara Brackman this center medallion star pattern dates from the 1830 era proving the versatility of this diamond shaped eight-pointed star.

 

“Make visual decisions visually!” Lorraine Torrence

“Passionflower” began in a class taught by Jan Krentz who is the best teacher I have experienced. She taught from her book Lone Star Quilts and Beyond. The book contains careful instructions on how to strip-piece the accurate diamonds needed to create each of the eight section of the star. Another section of the book gives multiple ideas on possible designs to fill out the eight spaces around the star. We were encouraged to mix and match the techniques to create our own unique Lone Star!

Because each individual diamond forming the star has multiple bias (and very stretchy) edges this can be a difficult quilt to create and to lay flat. Historically many quilters have abandoned their unfinished top because it would not lay flat. The other innovation I appreciated using in Jan’s class was a hinged mirror placed by the tip of a small mock up we each created of the fabrics we proposed to use in the large diamond. The mirror reflected the mockup into a full star allowing us to preview the color combinations. If we did not like the reflected image we could adjust our fabrics before piecing.

Each step of the way Jan showed us how to avoid potential problems and how to double check our work insuring that we would not be disappointed with the outcome. She brought lots of useful tools to class for us to experiment with. Jan provided helpful insights when her input was requested. In fact, the orange accent color around the star points was her suggestion. I appliqued that tiny line of orange to the setting squares and setting triangles behind the star points. The rest of the quilt I pieced on my vintage Singer Featherweight.

Since it was a one day class the other of the design ideas evolved later. I am pleased with my choices, especially how the spiky star points contrast with the enveloping circle composed of the same shaped star points. I believe those contrasts help keep the eye engaged. I also believe that introducing the orange and turquoise accent colors in that outer circle enlivened the color scheme.

Then there are the bold purple/indigo fabrics designed by Nancy Crow. These appear in the center, around the star points and a different version appears in the four corners. Using a bold, printed fabric in each of these spots is one mark of contemporary design. I began the quilt in August, 2002. The top was finished in October, and I finished the hand quilting in March of 2003.

I used a bold Hawaiian flower filled fabric with a black background for the backing. The label contains a passionflower printed on fabric. I named this quilt because it recalls the wild passionflower vines that I remember from my childhood in Miami Springs, Florida. The flowers of that vine are a delicate swirl of elements around a dark center.

This pattern intrigued me to create three more Lone Star quilts–all very different:

"Pine Cones for Winter Solstice: Greenery to Honor the Rebirth of the Sun" The curved beauty of the Eastern White Pine Cone is featured in this border print fabric carefully cut to frame the star. 62" x 72"

“Pine Cones for Winter Solstice: Greenery to Honor the Rebirth of the Sun” The curved beauty of the Eastern White Pine Cone is featured in this border print fabric carefully cut to frame the star. 62″ x 72″

 

"Richmond, 1898" reproduces the quilt I imagined my maternal grandmother and her older sisters were working on in Richmond where they all lived. I used reproduction fabrics common to that time period. size: 61" x76" Made in 2003.

“Richmond, 1898″ reproduces the quilt I imagined my maternal grandmother, Mamie Coghill, and her older sisters were working on in Richmond where they all lived. I used reproduction fabrics common to that time period. size: 61″ x 76″  2003.

I discovered this fabric, called "Georgia" in honor of the artist Georgia O' Keefe who often painted thse moonflowers, after teaching a Lone Star class at Spinning Stars. I knew I wanted to feature this fabulous fabric in the eight setting squares of a lone star. I was so enthusiastic about this new project that by the next week I had pieced the central star. After reading Ruth McDowell's book on color I was inspired to experiment with weaving color in and out to suggest transparency in the outer series of diamonds. This original design is the fouth in a series of lone star quilts from 2003. size: 59" x 73"

I discovered this fabric, called “Georgia” in honor of the artist Georgia O’ Keefe who often painted thse moonflowers, after teaching a Lone Star class at Spinning Stars. I knew I wanted to feature this fabulous fabric in the eight setting squares of a lone star. I was so enthusiastic about this new project that by the next week I had pieced the central star. After reading Ruth McDowell’s book on color I was inspired to experiment with weaving color in and out to suggest transparency in the outer series of diamonds. All the Moonflower fabric sections are hand quilted. This original design is the fouth in a series of lone star quilts from 2003. size: 59″ x 73″

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Black Accents, Contemporary Design, Hand Quilted, Lone Star, Paula's Quilt | 1 Comment

Spectator Pumps

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo de Vinci

When I first saw my quilt “Spectator Pumps” from a distance of thirty feet it took my breath away! I’d underestimated the visual impact of these star blocks because I had been working on my quilt at close range. The strong contrast of black and white clearly divided down the center riveted my eye. I made this quilt specifically for my special exhibit The Drama of Two Color Quilts I put together for our March, 2009 guild quilt show at the Springdale, AR Holiday Inn Convention Center. I’ve long admired the dramatic pairings of two color quilts made by women in the last two centuries, and wanted to showcase some historical examples as well as contemporary examples. We displayed almost fifty quilts. “Spectator Pumps” drew a lot of attention.

"Spectator Pumps"  features a modified Ohio Star block, but is my original design created for my 2007 special exhibit "The Drama of Two Color Quilts". Hand quilted and features a black wool fabric from my 1980s TWA flight attendant uniform. 48" x 48"

“Spectator Pumps” features a modified Ohio Star block, but is my original design created for my 2007 special exhibit “The Drama of Two Color Quilts”. Hand quilted and features a black wool fabric from my 1980s TWA flight attendant uniform. 48″ x 48″

Six months earlier I began thinking of making a two color quilt with sharp contrast. The strongest contrast I could imagine was black and white. I chose to work with the Ohio Star, one of my favorite blocks, using fabric I had on hand. This modified Ohio Star block is a traditional block, but this design is my original idea. The upper left section of the quilt has black stars on a white background. The lower right section reverses the colors. The five blocks down the diagonal center are each divided to create a strong diagonal line switching colors. Using my 1946 Singer Featherweight I piecing several blocks. I played with them on the design board and realized I could create a secondary block design by slicing off the plain corners where the blocks meet and by adding a triangle of contrasting color. Once the blocks are sewn the four triangles form a small square of color. This is a technique I’ve found useful for increasing visual interest in other block quilts.

The black is cut from my TWA flight attendant uniforms worn in the early 1980s. Those uniforms were designed by American designer Ralph Lauren and featured a quality year-round weight wool fabric. I valued the fabric and the uniforms. I had cut up one jacket in 2007 to use pieces of my uniform in my quilt Union Made, but still had lots more. The white is actually a cream color furnishing fabric with a very subtle swirling print chosen because the weight is similar to the wool making it easier to piece.

The actual quilting was the biggest challenge. I believed that machine quilting would have interfered with the simplicity of the design. Yet the fabrics were too heavy to do a fine quilting stitch. My compromise was to hand quilt in-the-ditch where a larger stitch would not be readily seen.

I have a working title for a quilt as I am piecing it—this is a way for me to refer to this particular work in progress. By the time I have spent all the time piecing, basting and quilting it, I usually have come up with a title I’m pleased with. Not so with this quilt. I had to stretch back into my memory bank to think of a strong personal connection to black and white. I remembered my first pair of high heeled shoes. I was about fifteen when my mother and I went shopping for this symbol of growing up in 1960. We chose as elegant 3″ heeled Spectator Pump of crisp black and white pattern agreeing this shoe could go with any outfit. For anyone who might not be able to picture this style, it is similar to the pattern of wingtip shoes worn by men. I’ve not worn a high heeled shoe in forty years, but I do have fond memories of those shoes and shopping with my mother.

Working from our passions and expanding our interests keeps our quilts fresh. I’ve heard it said that, “We teach what we want to learn,” and I learned more about how important “value” or contrast can be in designing a quilt. One of the things I love about quilting is the many avenues always available to us as quilters. Here I explored working with a limited palette, reusing a quality fabric, working with a furnishing weight fabric, and designing a block that reversed colors across the center of the block.

Posted in Black Accents, Contemporary Design, Hand Quilted, Ohio Star Block, Paula's Quilt, TimeSpan Quilt, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Quilting as a grand adventure…

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Basket of Dimes is formed of one half inch yoyos. I transformed this vintage pillow found at a flea market by adding borders to make it into a 21″ x 20″ quilt with hand quilting. The slightly askew basket handle adds to the folk art charm.

Fascinated by fabric from girlhood I’ve found my creative home in quilting. What I really love is finding the elements and putting it all together. I’ve long described myself as a mixed media collage artist—this allows me many options. I have no formal training in art. As a girl, I expressed myself in artistic ways including scrapbooks, collage, sewing and fashion. My talented mother, Marie, loved creating with fabric and I believe this love is in my genes or at least in my Scotch-Irish heritage.  I learned to sew with her guidance. Sometimes I look at a piece of fabric or a simple tailored dress and think, “Mom would like that.” Or I think, “Mom, would call this ‘gippy’ ”–her favored description for something overworked or overdone.

What inspires me? Sometime it is something recycled, sometimes it is a pattern or a designer fabric. Sometimes it is a guild challenge. Since the early 1970s I have searched thrift shops and flea markets for “something looking for me”–something that calls my name! Usually it is a textile of some sort. We grew up with beautiful fabrics at home and in the stores. At that time when you bought ribbon it was silk–not polyester like most stores sell now. Polyester had not yet come to dominate the sewer’s marketplace.

Almost thirty years ago I made my first quilt–a baby quilt for my sister Lea’s young son, but it was not until 1994 that I had the time to begin quilting with a passion. That year I met Lila Rostenberg who had recently opened her shop, Quilt Your Heart Out, in nearby Fayetteville AR. Lila became a mentor and a friend sharing her fascination with florals with me and helping me develop my own skills. Her shop often served as an informal community center for area quilters. I thrived in this atmosphere and began teaching classes at Quilt Your Heart Out in the mid 1990s.

Two hundred and fifty quilts later I still feel the excitement of playing with fabric in my mind and on the design board. Some of those quilts are small, others are large. Some I hand quilted and many I machine quilted. Often I’ve combined both hand and machine quilting on the same quilt. My primary machine is the one I bonded with in 1969. With one of my first TWA paychecks, I took the bus to the Singer dealer in downtown Kansas City, Missouri and carried my Singer Featherweight home to my apartment on the Country Club Plaza. A quilting friend passed on her 1971 Bernina Model 830 to me a decade ago–this is the machine I still count on for my machine quilting projects. I can do my own maintenance on both of these workhorse sewing machines.

Historical quilts thrill me, batiks fascinate me and bold plaids call to me. I can’t resist large scale florals on dark backgrounds. I could go on here, but I won’t. I’ve learned that so-called ugly fabrics have their place in my fabric stash. Because I have kept a record of all the quilts I have sewn, I can see that most often my inspiration to start a new quilt has been a particular fabric or fabric combination.

What inspires me? Sometime it is something recycled, sometimes it is a pattern or a designer fabric. Sometimes it is a guild challenge. Since the early 1970s I have searched thrift shops and flea markets for “something looking for me”–something that calls my name! Usually it is a textile of some sort. This summer I swooned over a vintage pillow tucked in the corner of a flea market booth. The black sateen background contrasted with the shapely basket formed of yoyo fabric circles the size of a dime.  I knew it was a treasure! I took it to our quilt guild that evening and other quilters agreed.

At home I removed the polyester stuffing and framed the basket with a simple border then hand quilted it. Of course I added a label telling where it had been discovered and documented what I had done to turn it into a small quilt. I named it Basket of Dimes. I feel sure the original maker would be pleased to know how we appreciate her handwork eighty years later.

I like to “hunt and peek”—looking for connections and relationships. What elements are similar? What would draw these objects together? I hunt and gather. Combine and recombine. This involves lots of fooling around or, my favorite description, puttering. If the word “putterer”was not so awkward, I would use it rather than artist. “Play” is the central element in my “work”. I believe we all have creativity lurking inside just waiting for a chance to come out and play. Inspiration is meant to be expressed and to be shared.

I see this blog as chance to share my quilts and to describe the inspiration which allowed each quilt to come in to existence. Other quilters have been a major influence on me and my quilts. I plan to write about how we influence each other. I encourage other quilters to write about their own creative experiences.

Many of my quilts are scrapbook quilts or memory quilts full of visuals and vital events in my life. Perhaps, too, I can describe myself as a visual historian. I want to record happenings and thoughts and attitudes that shape my life. Quilting is my grand adventure!

Posted in Black Accents, Hand Quilted, Paula's Quilt, TimeSpan Quilt | 2 Comments