Monthly Archives: July 2013

Bars quilt–WIP

IMG_2094Here is the finished quilt top for my bars quilt. I’m really happy with the colors and the loose feel of the design. I was thinking of using Lotta Jansdotter’s Glimma in Slate for the backing, but I think it might be too dark. What about Simpatico wavy stripes in peach? Too gentle compared to the front? I’ve been inspired by all the interesting choices of binding I’ve been seeing lately. I think there a lot of options with this design. I’m looking forward to finishing this one!

P.S. It has rained every day in July here in Gainesville, FL, so all my photos have been light challenged. Hoping for sunnier days ahead!

Will work for Liberty


My mother wanted to me to make her some cushion covers to go with some newly acquired Union Jack pillows. While I would have made them for nothing, I did accept two yards of Liberty Tana Lawn in Gray Pepper in exchange. Since I was bartering with my own mother (terrible!), I wanted to make these covers as close to perfect as I could manage.

My mother chose Essex linen in navy and flax and Liberty in Navy Mauverina, and I pieced the front in a simple stripe that echoes the Union Jack. Sadly, when I first cut a strip of the Liberty, the pattern was not straight–even though the fabric was neatly pressed. It worked better to cut the width I needed first (instead of one long strip). Then I used the pattern as a guide to cut the correct height. It was worth the effort–and I’m sure I can find a use for those crooked scraps.

I thought about quilting the front panel to encase the seams, but worried that the side seam would be too thick to handle with the piping, which seemed an essential touch for these cushions. Instead, I used French seams for the piecing and then top stitched close to the seam on the right side. Here is the wrong side–tidy!


I finished the cushion with an envelope enclosure in the back and added buttons, which keeps the back opening from gaping. Here is the inverse of the cushion above with the matching Union Jack cushion–pretty nice!



Lately, I have been really interested in monochromatic design–or maybe duochromatic (not a word apparently). I love this painting by Jasper Johns (photo courtesy of the MOMA website).

jj_greentargetI also love these two painting by Marc Rothko (photos courtesy of the National Gallery of Art).

1MAA69rothko_1964There is something serene about these paintings that really appeals to me. I am very tempted to make a Double Wedding Ring quilt in all green, but I wonder if it defeats the purpose of piecing fabric to make a quilt in similar values of the same color? I like the idea of simplifying a quilt as much as possible without losing the quilti-ness. What do you think?

Liberty traveler dress


This is the second Traveler Dress I have made. The Lisette pattern (Leisl Gibson‘s grown-up line) is so well written and easy to follow that I was confident enough to use Liberty Tana Lawn. Just like with her Oliver and S patterns, Leisl adds lots of tips and tricks to help you make a really polished garment. I was nervous about making something with a collar, but I went slowly and carefully read the directions and ta-da!


I am already thinking about making a chambray version!


Amish bars

No, not drinking establishments for the Amish, but a very simple and appealing design created by Amish quilters. Years before I ever thought of making a quilt, I fell in love with the pictures in this book. I was working for a publishing company during a particularly ruthless merger, and discarded books were a sad perk of the layoffs. I picked up this little book and was amazed by the gorgeous colors and graphic designs.

_DSC0713I love the bar quilts the best–the design and color combinations feel so comtemporary. This one is stunning.

_DSC0715I finally saw an Amish quilt in person at the American Folk Art Museum‘s quilt show in 2011. Up close you can see all the gorgeous hand quilting that makes up for in intricacy and detail what the piecing lacks. (The quilt below is a recent award-winning quilt by Diane Loomis, Five Bar Blues. The quilting is just incredible.)

ceddc1b059d0d76f6ff3a5393d756761I also learned a little more about the origin of the designs and the use of color. The Amish used woolen cloth– the same that they used to make clothing–but in quilts they had more freedom to use color. In person, the richness and subtle sheen of the wool is also apparent. I’d love to try a quilt using wool cloth–I think it would be so luxurious and practical.

This book, The World of Amish Quilts by Rachel Pellman and Kenneth Pellman, looks like a great resource.

Set of coasters

_DSC0757I just finished this set of six coasters. I cut out the pieces for my Liberty Traveler Dress, so I had some lovely Betsy Blue scraps. The frame and back are Essex Navy. I love Essex–the linen-cotton blend sews up beautifully and wears really well. I made a band from  linen ribbon that I bought in a sale a Brooklyn General (miss that store!) and finished with another Liberty scrap. This set would make a great hostess gift for all you house guests out there. I’ve added the set to my Etsy shop. If you sign up to follow my blog, you will get a 25% off coupon–good deal!


I should finish my dress this weekend–if all goes well. It looks good so far!

Paper sketches

I usually start my quilt designs in a sketchbook by making little origami paper quilt tops. I move the little scraps of paper around–like a very small scale design wall–until I like the arrangement. The origami paper colors correspond really nicely to Kona cotton, too–so, when I have a design I like, I match the paper colors to my Kona color card (greatest quilting purchase to date!).

When I scale up my design, I make a rough plan on graph paper to get a sense of fabric quantities. Then I work organically to piece the top–cutting out rough shapes, piecing and trimming as I go. Because the final design is improvised, even if  I repeat a general design, no two quilts will be identical.

I just completed a series of quilts inspired by Ellsworth Kelly paintings and I am excited to start a new series. I am debating between an improvised stacks design or a simple Amish bars style. Here are two paper sketches and the sketch for one of the quilts in my earlier series.


Which design appeals to you?