3 Favorite Quilts from 1 Quilter!

When I noticed that 2 of my favorite 11 quilts at AQS-Charlotte were by Jean Larson, I knew I had to meet her. Luckily, while I was trying to figure out how to contact her, she contacted me! Jean has lived in Chattanooga since the early 1970s, so we met at AQS-Chattanooga.

First, as a refresher, here are the two quilts that attracted my attention at AQS-Charlotte:

modern quilt AQS

This quilt by Jean Larson won the Original Design award in the Modern Quilt Challenge!  The Modern Quilt Challenge exhibit was on display at AQS Charlotte as well as other shows during the year.

modern quilt, AQS Charlotte

The Market is Up, another quilt by Jean Larson

Jean entered a different, and maybe even more interesting, quilt in AQS-Chattanooga:

quilt AQS Chattanooga

Jean (right) and I pose in front of her quilt, “Barbed Wire” at AQS-Chattanooga

There are so many things to see in this simple quilt!  First, the design is tessellated!  Jean is a mathematician by training, so she explained it to me, but I’m going to have to ask her to write a guest post to explain it to you.  More on that later.

Second, those variations in yellow are for real, not just trouble with exposure on my camera ;-)  The two yellows add complexity to the quilt.  And finally, although I couldn’t see it until she pointed it out, this quilt is actually a grid of squares in alternating colors:

Look at the quilting, too!

So, here’s a little bit about Jean:

She’s had several starts at quilting.  Her first quilt, in 1976, was a traditional log cabin made with the quilt-as-you-go method and using poly-cotton fabrics, which were about all that was available at the time.  Her second, in 1984, was an orange and turquoise quilt that she worked on while potty training her two adopted boys!  She began quilting seriously in the late ’90s.  In 2012 she discovered modern quilting through a neighbor, and she hasn’t looked back since.  She’s an active member of the Chattanooga Modern Quilt Guild and apparently knows everybody–numerous people stopped to chat with her while we were talking about quilts at the AQS show.  She had a quilt accepted for the first QuiltCon in 2013, and it has been published several places as an example of good use of negative space.  Here it is:

modern quilt

Lanterns, by Jean Larson, was accepted for Quilt Con 2013

Jean says she likes simplicity and alternative grid work in quilts.  She is inspired by geometric shapes and by fabrics–especially stripes.  She loves the mathematics of tessellations and plans to make more tessellated quilts.  I look forward to seeing them!

And I’m going to beg her to write a guest article on tessellations for my next design-your-own-quilt post.  If you know Jean, encourage her to do it!

24-Step Dying to Quilt

Have you ever admired the rainbow of subtle colors offered in hand-dyed fabrics?

Cindy Lohbeck

Cindy Lohbeck

But they are expensive, so, while at AQS in Chattanooga, I took a 24-step hand dye class with Cindy Lohbeck.

Cindy is an excellent teacher.  She has her process down to very precise steps, well explained, that make it difficult for students to make a mistake.

I had NO IDEA how much was involved in fiber-reactive dying!  After 3-1/2 hours in class, we had 24 bins of fat quarters (FQs) in dye to take home and finish.

fabric dying

Part of the fat quarter bins, now at home in my laundry room

It took another 6 hours of work at home, though part of that time was spent waiting for the fixative to work, or waiting for the washer and dryer.  There was a LOT of rinsing by hand in HOT water to get all the extra dye out before the fabric was put in the washer and dryer.

fabric dying

Thank goodness for a deep sink for rinsing!

Cindy’s instructions continued to be thorough and complete, so I had no trouble.  (I think she should write a book and call it “Dying to Quilt” :-) )  She provided all the materials needed for the project, including 24 fat quarters of PFD (prepared for dying) cotton fabric, dyes and reagents, measuring equipment, and even the special detergent for washing the final product!

Finally, after drying and ironing the fat quarters, I had a glorious array of colors!

hand dyed fabric

24 steps of color, plus 2 extras

There are 2 multi-color FQs made with fabric I brought to class to use up the “extra” dye produced in each step.  Can you see them?

Now what in the world am I going to do with this fabric?  Suggestions?

12 Bright Quilts from AQS Chattanooga

There were lots of good quilts, so I’m choosing to show bright ones!  Later this month, I’ll have an interview with a modern quilter from Chattanooga.  Meanwhile, I hope you find these quilts as inspiring as I did.

modern quilt

Sherbert at the Beach, by Stacey Day

art quilt

Art DeCOW, by Connie Donaldson

pieced quilt

Winter Jewels, by Michelle Renee Hiatt and Barbara Bregman

modern quilt

Sunset, by Leanne Chahley

Philippine quilt

Quilt by Gina Abayan, part of a display of beautiful quilts from the Philippines

modern quilt

Freeze Frame in Motion, by Judy Holahan

modern quilt, art quilt

Delaneyville, by Fran Stinson

modern quilt

Red Rectangle, by Judy Mercer Tescher

modern quilt

Rainbow Bright, by Jennifer Hynes

modern quilt

3 Sisters, by Veronica Hofman-Ortega

modern quilt

Fall Migration, by Tamara Watts-McPhail

modern quilt

A Feather Runs Through It, by Veronica Hofman-Ortega

Your Inner Designer 6: Copy Somebody Good!

Truly original ideas in design are really, really rare  More often good designs are inspired by other good designs, and most designers start by copying other people.  There’s nothing wrong with that–just give credit!

Door with art glass window

Glass window, designer unknown

For example, here’s a door I admire in a friend’s house.  It got me thinking that it would be nice to make her a table runner with a design similar to the glass in the door, especially since the dining table is right by the door.  I may start out by copying the design, but my table runner won’t be an exact copy.  I want it to be obviously inspired by the door, but I probably couldn’t make an exact copy even if I wanted to.  And I’m not going to sell it as my own “original” design without reference to the door, either.

Here’s the first attempt:Craftsman inspired table runnerThat may be obviously inspired by the door, though in fact both are inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and Craftsman styles of design. If you don’t know much about those styles of design, Google them.  There are many similar designs to be found, so I can make LOTS of designs of this style without copying any of them.  Here’s the second try:Craftsman style table runner

This one has a little more detail.  Another master of this style, popular in the early years of the 20th Century, was Charles Rennie Mackintosh.  William Morris textile and wallpaper designs were the same historical period, and you may have seen Moda’s extensive line of William Morris-inspired fabrics.

One last try:table runner

So go look at some books on the history of design (the history of advertising works too) and make some designs inspired by what you see.  It’s a good starting place when you think you don’t have any ideas, and you’ll eventually come up with something your really like.  Then it’s time to make a quilt!

Here are the first 5 posts in this series:

Your Inner Designer 5: A Program to Make Your Own Palette!

Quilt Design 4: Choosing Your Color Scheme

Your Inner Designer 3: New Blocks From Old

Your Inner Designer 2: Many Block Arrangements

Find Your Inner Designer, Part 1

10 Quilty Secrets

Several of the blogs I read have recently revealed “10 Quilty Secrets” and I thought it sounded like fun, so I’m playing along. If you would like to see some other bloggers’ secrets, here are the links: The original post seems to have been at 13Spools.com, and the idea has been picked up by several blogs I follow, including Catbird quiltswombat quilts, and Christa quilts.

And so, here are my 10 Quilty Secrets:

1. Although I’m participating in Marti’s UFO (unfinished object) finish-a-month this year, I had FAR MORE than 12 UFOs at the beginning of the year. Oops, still do! Here’s the August finish, a quilt for Ronald McDonald House made from orphan blocks:August-finish

2. My nearest LQS (Local Quilt Shop) is an hour away, which I take as an excuse to have a good stash at all times ;-)

3. If I start a quilt and don’t like it for some reason, I abandon the plan and turn it into something else–another quilt design, a table runner, whatever.

4. And sometimes those I-don’t-like-this projects just become long term UFOs :-(

5. In my world, a good quilt is a fast quilt.  I’m not patient enough for the zillions of little hand-pieced hexies, for example.cartoon hexie

6.  For that matter, I DON’T EVEN LIKE hexies!  Yikes!

7. I value good design in quilts and in other useful objects.

8.  I LOVE to learn new techniques and try new things, so I take lots of classes  Even if they seem like stuff I could do easily without a class I always learn something.

9. We’ve moved a lot, and one of the best ways I’ve found to make new friends is to join a local quilt group.

10. I think every quilt needs a little purple!

So, what are some of YOUR quilty secrets?

3 Perfect Ideas

Pieced quilt, circles

The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

1. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

I made this quilt a long time ago to practice circles, and the quotation that inspired it came to mind recently when I was debating which quilts are “good enough” to be submitted to juried shows.  It probably is obvious that the design above is more interesting than the “perfect” one shown below:

pieced quilt, circles

Perfect Isn’t So Good

2. “Perfect” is well enough done that you are satisfied when you look at it, but not so over-worked that you’re sick of quilting by the time you finish it.

To make a perfect quilt, It helps to start with:

  • The right pattern for your skill level
  • Fabric you love
  • Techniques you enjoy (e.g., paper piecing, applique, whatever)
  • The right tools, well maintained

3. You may be more capable of “perfect” than you think.  It helps to have friends who keep you honest!  I recently had trouble making my seams line up on a medallion-style block and my friend Jerri said, “You’re too good a quilter for that!  You just don’t want to bother!”  Oops, she was right.

And here’s a book that helped me with “perfecting” my blocks:  

Sneaky Piecing by Beth Ferrier

I found this book with lots of tips on how to improve piecing accuracy and got a lot better with just a little practice!

I recommend the book if you want to improve some of your skills, too.

pieced quilt block

Swap Block–88 little squares!!!

And look at this lovely swap block with the corners all matched up!  It isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough :-)

6 Orphan Blocks, 1 Donation Quilt

I’ve probably mentioned that one of the ways I’m motivating myself to get rid of the excess in the studio is by joining Marti’s UFO finish of the month over at 52 Quilts.  As part of my ongoing effort to “clean it up, move it out” I’m making a series of donation quilts out of my orphan blocks.

pieced quilt blocks

Orphan blocks from a recent project

I had these 6 blocks that I liked, so I looked for fabric to go with them. The bright turquoise went well, but I had enough to join them only, not to frame them.  Searching for something to make it wider, I found a piece of black/white chevron fabric and decided it needed to be used, and FAST.chevron fabric

My daughter recently point out, “When you find chevrons on your mouthwash bottle, they’re on the way out!” :-D

Finally, I had some colorful Michael Miller dots that seemed to fit in:Michael Miller dots

And WOW!  A very “lively” improvised quilt.Donation quilt

I’m going to practice free motion quilting it on my new Bernina, and it will be the August UFO finish of the month.  Then off to Ronald McDonald House it goes.




11 Favorites from AQS Charlotte

The quilts at AQS in Charlotte were inspiring, and there were more modern ones than at most AQS shows. Here are 11of my favorites. They aren’t necessarily the judges’ favorites; those are available on the AQS website here.  I judge mainly on innovative or attractive overall design; the judges have another set of rules.  I hope you enjoy my choices!

quilt AQS Charlotte

Joy, by Peg Collins of Colorado

The Modern Design Challenge had loads of great quilts, but I only took pictures of my very, very favorites:

modern quilt AQS

This quilt by Jean Larson won the Original Design award

modern quilt, AQS Charlotte

The Market is Up, another quilt by Jean Larson

quilt AQS Charlotte

Mid-Century Modern II, by Serena Brooks, won the Improvisation award

modern quilt AQS Charlotte

Canopy by Helen Garland

There was a display of art quilts, including this one by an art quilter whose work I really like:

art quilt AQS Charlotte

Artfabrik, by Laura Wasilowski

And I liked this quilt by Miriam C. Coffey, who is in one of my guilds:

quilt at AQS Charlotte

This, That, and the Other, by Miriam C. Coffey

And there was a big display of quilts from the Tentmakers of Cairo.  I’d heard about them (from you, Bert!) so I was glad to see some of their work:

Tentmaker of Cairo quilt

quilt by Haissan Kamal

And finally, some quilts I just liked for various reasons:

Dear Jane variation at AQS Charlotte

Jane As A Teenager, by Anya Tyson

art quilt at AQS Charlotte

Out of my Box, by Kathy McNeil

quilt at AQS Charlotte

Fiesta Fireworks by Julia Graber

Your Inner Designer 5: A Program to Make Your Own Palette!

I mentioned Design-seeds.com in my last post as a good color resource, but there are SO MANY others!  Today I’m going to tell you about just one, and I hope you’ll check it out and enjoy it.  Others to come in the future!

—Today’s Feature: Palette Builder—

screen shot from Palette Builder

Here’s a palette from a picture I took

It’s free!  It’s easy to use!  Anne Sullivan and friends have a fun app accessible from their blog at Play-Crafts.com.  Just go to the blog, choose PaletteBuilder from the menu along the top, and you’re IN.  You can upload a picture of your choice and the app gives you a palette that looks a lot like the ones on Design Seeds with two fun differences:  PaletteBuilder uses YOUR photo, and it gives you colors in Kona Cotton that closely match your palette!

screen shot from PaletteBuilder

Palette made from my quilt

But let’s say you love the palette in my “Study for New Mexico” quilt and want to use it for a quilt of your own.  Just find the quilt on my blog, load the picture into PaletteBuilder, and there you go.  The Kona cottons are chosen for you!

screen shot from PaletteBuilder

PaletteBuilder may “see” individual colors better than your mind does

This program may be especially helpful with a picture like the one above.  First, I wouldn’t have thought to put those shades of lavender in there, but I’m pretty sure they would show up well as shadows if I were converting this picture to a landscape quilt. Second, if you’re working on a desktop computer instead of an iPad you can move some of those little circles to sample parts of the picture that might have been left out (like the purple crocus in the top picture.)

So if you have a photo with lovely colors that you would like to see in a quilt, you can start here for your palette.  Now, go have some fun!

Here are the previous posts in this series (click on the title to go to the post):

Quilt Design 4: Choosing Your Color Scheme

Your Inner Designer 3: New Blocks From Old

Your Inner Designer 2: Many Block Arrangements

Find Your Inner Designer, Part 1

It’s Out!!!

I’ve been WAITING to tell about my Zippy Star quilt, which appears in the Summer 2014 issue of Modern Quilts Unlimited, and here it is!

quilt photo

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

Didn’t they do a great job of the “glamor shot”?  I love the setting

And the magazine has clear instructions with lots of helpful pictures.  OK, I wrote the instructions and their staff improved on my pictures, so both are pretty good!  There’s a pillow cover to go with the quilt, just for fun.


This is one of several pages of instructions

The Michael Miller company worked with me to choose fabric for the quilt and I’m very pleased with how it came out.  The central square fabric is called “Tara’s Fireworks” and is a print made from a quilt one of MM’s employees created with their Cotton Couture solids.  So of course the star points made from Cotton Couture solids match perfectly!

fabric for quilt

Some of the beautiful Michael Miller fabrics

The quilt is fairly small (48 x 58) so I quilted it on my home machine.  This was such fun and I’m so pleased with how it is featured in the magazine!

magazine cover

Here’s the magazine cover. It should be at Barnes & Noble and Joann’s soon!