Category Archives: Quilts

Why do Quilters use the Painter’s Color Wheel?

I am taking a virtual quilting workshop that is basically a lot of fun, BUT, the instructor is relying on the traditional Red, Yellow and Blue color wheel for choosing the colors to use in our quilts.

For example, I randomly chose Tetrad Blue. So, I made an improv quilt with two sets of complimentary colors: Blue/Orange and Red-Violet/Yellow-Green. The idea was to start with monochromatic blocks with different values of the colors and then mix them all together. The mixing proved too chaotic and I felt it was a non-harmonic clashing mess. So rather than merge it all together, I softened the look with negative space and came up with this:

And I ended up liking it. Sometimes I even love it. It definitely looks better in person.

Next up was a small minimalistic quilt. I tried working with the color wheel but ultimately the blue fabric I picked seemed to look really interesting with the yellow and yellow green fabrics I pulled out of my stash. But, even though I thought it all looked okay together, I could not make it work on the color wheel. I pulled out my Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool by Joen Wolfrom and still could not justify the use of my colors. Regardless, I decided to use the colors:

Maybe improv is not your thing, but I do think the colors work, and it was a fun time putting it together. And, yes, it went beyond minimalistic, but never mind about that!

So I began wondering about the use of the color wheel for quilting. Should I be relying on it to pick “complimentary” colors? Do orange and blue go together? Here is an article I came across: https://blog.asmartbear.com/color-wheels.html

If you read through the article you will see alternative color wheels. Both the wheel based on light and the one based on the CMYK printing ink (process color) show yellow across from or complimenting blue, rather than orange. And, that is what I did in my second quilt.

If I had followed the traditional mixing color wheel I would have had a violet and yellow quilt.

There is a lot of discussion regarding the traditional color wheel and its shortcomings. Here is another article: https://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/color13.html. I have not read through the entire discussion, but the point it this: the Wheel is controversial! My favorite quote from that article is this: “Experienced artists learn to use the color wheel as a compass to color improvisation

I am looking at a CMY Mixing Color Wheel which I think makes more sense.

I also have another tool that my friend Peggy Anne recommended years ago, The Color Scheme Bible by Anna Starmer. She used this to put quilt kits together for her shop for years with great success. I did not find any schemes that featured Orange and Blue in Anna’s book.

Tom’s Ties

Tom asked if I knew anyone who would be interested in making a quilt with his collection of ties. Who me, did I know someone? So, of course, I am now making quilts out of silk ties. I had to practice with Bob’s before I would commit to taking on Tom’s Ties.

Here is what I came up with for Bob

The plan for Tom’s Ties is a little different:

Here is what I have so far for Tom:

If you are working with silk in a quilt it is best to stabilize the fabric somehow. You can use a fusible interfacing for this. I have used a light weight fusible woven interfacing with silk in the past. For this quilt I decided to paper piece the blocks, as the paper provides stability. The other thing I decided to do was to spray the silk with Best Press, which worked great and did not harm the fabric.

Keep in mind that silk ties are not dye fast. They bleed like crazy, so be careful with the steam on your iron and when all is put together DO NOT WASH THIS QUILT IN WATER. The only safe way to clean a silk quilt is vacuuming it!

Virtual Quilt Show

The Boston Modern Quilt Guild is playing with the idea of a virtual quilt show. I am going to play with that idea here with some of my quilts.

Click Here to see BMQG Group Quilts

Thank You Jane, 2108.

Jane Stickle finished her quilt in 1863. People are still enchanted and challenged by her unique quilt blocks. Even with all of my modern gadgets and fancy machines I still had a lot to learn from Jane. Could not have managed to get through all of the blocks without help from the Dear Jane Group lead by Pat Kowalczyk at Quilters Common, which met for 4 years starting in 2013.

Checkerboard Skew Revisited, 2020

In 1973 Beth Gutcheon included this design in her book “The Perfect Patchwork Primer”. This book inspired quilters to take a fresh look at quilting and her designs are still making us ask what is a modern quilt and showing how timeless modern is.

Seeing Red, 2020

Are you seeing a red and white quilt? This is actually a pink and white quilt, but color is often a matter of opinion. The design is based on a half scale Fibonacci sequence used to determine the width of strips used. I borrowed Ricky Tims Convergence technique and sewed the strips together, rotated and then cut strips again.

Storm, 2020

During the pandemic I found myself trying a virtual workshop. I took Mid Century Modern with Carole Lyles Shaw. This is improv to the max. You start out with a big pieced circle and then you just keep slicing, relocating and adding. I posted my progress online and Carole commented that I should keep slicing! At some point I was satisfied with my slicing and this is the stormy result.

Process Color, 2019

I wanted to work with the four colors of ink that I am always feeding my printer to see how bold they might look together. I had been playing with the Ricky Tims Convergence Quilts style so I went from there and here is the result.

Hope, 2020

I am working with a group of ladies in the do.Good Stitches Hope circle of quilters. We are an online community working through Instagram and Flickr to design and share quilt blocks. I designed this quilt, collected the blocks and put this quilt together. It is always amazing how the quilts come together with just a little bit of prompting for fabric selection. The rainbow of colors gives us all hope for less cloudy days ahead.

The following contributed blocks to this quilt: Sherryl Barnum, Jeanine Conner, Angie Fitzreiter, Heather Flegel, Cath Hall, Christie Kline, Suzy Lampman, Susan McKinney, Jennifer Mendola, Sarah Terry

Garden Trellis, 2020

This is another one of my Stack and Wack quilts with a new more complicated block that makes the quilt look like a Garden Trellis. I have a pattern for this quilt and was scheduled to teach it at Quilters Common, but then suddenly everything changed. Hopefully I can get back to teaching classes later this year!

And here are two Group Quilts that the BMQG have put together:

“Orange You Glad We Made This Quilt?” and “Shattered” are group quilts created through distanced and virtual togetherness. The design process began with a group brainstorming in a park. Participants then made curvy starter-blocks using materials provided by the guild, followed by a virtual workshop where the starter-blocks were altered by random prompts. The improvised blocks were brought together at a backyard design session where two quilt designs emerged. Although the two quilts were made from improvisational blocks that were essentially the same, the resulting quilts were very different. The process was truly collaborative and fun.

Orange You Glad We Made This Quilt?, 2020, Long Arm Quilting by Rebecca Loren

Shattered, 2020, Long Arm Quilting by Patrice Denault

Dear Jane Revisited

I had a comment on my Dear Jane Quilt, which I am now calling “Thank You Jane”, because I learned so much about quilting during my Jane Journey.

The comment was regarding the sashing on the quilt. The sashing was borrowed from Tula Pink’s City Sampler Book, as explained in a previous post.

I have come up with some drawings which should help to explain the dimensions I used for the Trellis Sashing. The first thing I did was add a 1/2″ border around each Jane Block to increase the size from 4.5″ to 5.5″ finished. From there I prepared the sashing as shown in the drawings. The dimensions shown are the unfinished sizes. Cut pieces the sizes shown.

In Praise of Silk

Don’t miss the Silk Exhibit at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell. My Cube Life Quilt is on display with some really extraordinary quilts by award winning quilters.

 

 

I am honored to have been given the opportunity to exhibit my Cube Life Quilt along with these fantastic quilts.

This is the second time I have made this quilt.  Here is the first one made with cotton quilting fabrics.

Pam Weeks saw my cotton version and loved it.  She said if I made the quilt in silk then she could include it in the exhibit.  This was last year some time.  I went about collecting silk for the quilt and finished it in time for the show.

This quilt went together more easily than you might think.  It is pieced in rows, or in this case columns, of paper pieced triangles and diamonds. The colored cubes are shimmering silk; the gray cubes are a more subdued linen. The background fabric is silk noil.

I became intrigued with three dimensional blocks after seeing quilts featured in Jeffrey Gutcheon’s Diamond Patchwork book. The tumbling blocks become more of a cubic space when you add sashing to each diamond and when you consider the color value and placement of the fabrics that you use.

We all spend a lot of time in cubic spaces. Many of us have spent our careers working in an office cube. Why not add a splash of color to your cube? And, silk makes it so much more luxurious!

In Praise of Silk, May 1 through August 4.

Playing with Convergence Quilts

Ricky Tims published his Convergence Quilts book in 2003.  I was brainstorming with Jolene at Quilters Common trying to come up with a good idea for a workshop.  She mentioned that she had seen some Harmonic Convergence quilts on the internet, perhaps Pinterest?   So of course I did some researching as soon as I got home and discovered his book.  I checked a copy of the book out from the incredible New England Quilt Museum research and lending library.  (I volunteer there on Thursdays).  The book has a lot of interesting projects to try, but the trick is finding the right fabric combinations.  I found his original Harmonic Convergence project the easiest to work with.  In fact I found it so easy that I could hardly stop picking out fabrics and making them.  It is fun and easy to put these stunning little quilts together.  Here are the ones I have put together (so far!)

Here is a pictorial overview of the process:

Start with four 16″ squares.  Sew them together is pairs, layer the four squares and then cut strips increasing in size by half an inch from 1″ to 3 1/2″.  For the quilt in the photos there was enough fabric left over, so I cut an extra 1″ strip and used it as a border.

Open up the strips and then rearrange them as shown here (click to zoom in on any of these photos).

Looking at the photos of my finished quilt tops above, I am going to point out that on my turquoise and red quilt the strips are not arranged correctly!  Can you see what I did wrong?  Does it matter???

Once the strips are arranged CORRECTLY, sew them all together.  When I was pressing the seams, I spun the seams so that half of the seam was pressed to one side and the other to the opposite side.  Trust me, do this and it will be much easier to sew the second go round of strips together, because everything will nest together nicely and increase your accuracy.  If you want these to end up pressed to the dark side then remember to press to the light side when you are first sewing your squares together in pairs …. I did not do this in the example … live and learn!

Once the strips are pressed, rotate the fabric panel, and cut strips again increasing in size from 1″ to 3 1/2″, plus the extra 1″ strip if you are including the border,

 

Rearrange them and sew them together again to complete your Harmonic Convergence square.

I finished one of mine on point, two of the others with borders, and the bright solid colored one is finished with some modern asymmetrical negative space.

I am I the process of quilting these, and finding they are a great way to practice my free motion quilting.

I designed my modern convergence in Electric Quilt 8 and printed an outline of the quilt to draw out my quilt plan.

 

 

 

 

Squares within Squares

I recently joined the Hope Circle of Do Good Stitches which is a group of 10 people working together to make quilts to be given for charity and comfort.  I joined just in time to be asked to design a quilt for the month of October.  I came up with the idea to have everyone make Squares within Squares blocks.  These blocks all have a center square which is perfect for fussy cutting novelty and floral fabrics.  Here are instructions for making the block.

These blocks are 8″ finished squares.  I used white background fabric(s), a different dark colored fabric for each block and a different coordinating novelty and/or
floral fabric for the center of each block.

For each block cut an exactly 4 1/2” by at least 5” piece of
white fabric and one from one of the colored fabrics. Sew
together on the long edge. Press towards the colored fabric.
Cut 2 pieces from this that are 8 1/2” x 2 1/2”.

Then cut an exactly 2 1/2” by at least 5” piece of the same
white fabric and one from the same colored fabric as above.
Sew together on the long edge. Press towards the colored
fabric. Cut 2 pieces from this that are 4 1/2” x 2 1/2”
Fussy cut 1 square that is 4 1/2” x 4 1/2” from your novelty/floral
fabric.

Sew together as indicated in the photos. Don’t worry about the direction
of your fussy cut square if directional!  Press seams towards the
center block.

Here are six of the finished blocks:

I had a few of design ideas in mind.  These two are 7 x 7 blocks:

This design would require 8 x 8 blocks:

This is what I went with. The sashing is 1 1/2″ and the borders are 4″.  The quilt finishes to 73″ x 73″.  I will update this post to include a photo of the finished quilt.

AND … here is the update.  This quilt was donated to the MassGeneral Hospital for Children.

  

Dear Jane I finally finished my quilt

I just wanted to share my finished Dear Jane quilt with the world.  It took me four years to make 115 Dear Jane blocks.  The group I was meeting with every month was talking about doing a show with our finished quilts.  I really wanted to have a quilt ready for that but there was just no way that I was going to get another 110 blocks done in time!!  Then I saw one of Tula Pink’s layout for her City Sampler quilt and I was completely inspired.

Once I got the top put together I was happy, but, quickly became nervous with the thought of quilting it.  I had some ideas, but was not quite confident enough to dive in.  I made a small Jane with my left over blocks and quilted it.  I was pretty happy with the results, but waited until I had  done some free motion quilting on a few other quilts before I was brave enough to quilt my Jane.

Finally, almost one year later, I put the top on my longarm machine and just did it!  I actually enjoyed the whole process.  I was listening to some music while I quilted which put me in a great mood.  Vertical Horizon and Mood Taxi were a couple of the artists that came up on a playlist that my husband had put together for me.

So here is the almost final result taken before I put the binding on.

Kaleidoscope Magic

I have been having too much fun making kaleidoscope blocks lately.  Every time I look at a fabric now I am wondering how well it might work for kaleidoscope blocks.

Bethany Reynolds has books on this technique which includes patterns for blocks with 45 degree triangle quilts as well as 60 degree triangle quilts, and she also includes patterns using diamonds and half square triangles.  Her books are Stack-n-Whack and Stack-n-Whackier.  Check out your local quilt shop to see if either is available.  They might even order a copy of them for you.   Or you can just make some blocks and create your own quilt or quilts with them.

This week I will be sharing my enthusiasm at Quilters Common  in Wakefield, MA.  I am teaching a workshop on the process for making these quilts.  I also have a pattern available for this quilt which is available exclusively at Quilters Common.

Here is a quick rundown on the process.

I like to look for fabrics with large prints that have different shapes and colors.  You need to pay attention to the repeat of the design on the fabric. You can work with any repeat, but I have found that I like working with a 24″ repeat, which is usually pretty standard with the larger print fabrics.

Since the classic Kaleidoscope block consists of 8 45 degree triangle blocks, you need 8 repeats of the fabric.  8 times 45 is 360, which gives you a full circle!  Plan on buying at least 5 1/2 yards of fabric of your kaleidoscope fabric.

The first thing I do is cut my fabric in half lengthwise.  This way you will be working with half of the width of fabric and this will allow you to have some flexibility with your fabric.  You can either set up two sets of repeats of the fabric for cutting triangles, or you can use the other half of the width of fabric for length of fabric borders.  What you do with the fabric depends on what you have in mind for a quilt.

You can snip and rip your fabric down the length or carefully rotary cut it.  To do this I just rolled the fabric as I went to keep it out of the way.  Snipping if faster and more fun, but it may pull at the threads in the fabric, so don’t do this if your fabric is not a robust weave!

(As you view the photos in this article remember you can click on each to enlarge it.).

Layer the 8 repeats on your cutting board with the salvage on top.  The next thing to do is to carefully cut eight repeats of the fabric.  Each piece should be about 22″ x 24″ and they all should be pretty much the same.  Once you have all eight repeats cut, layer them and match them up by placing a pin through the same spot in all eight layers.  Secure that area that you have pinned by placing a second flat  head pin in and out of the eight layers.  Repeat this process with a few pins about 2″ in and each about 3″ apart from the side of the layers of fabric.

Once you have the pins in place you can take a look at the edge of the layers to see how well lined up they are.  Make some adjustments by repining if necessary.  If everything is lined up then go ahead a cut one strip of fabric for your blocks.  For my pattern I cut 5 1/2″ strips.

Next cut the triangles.  Bethany provides paper templates in her book, but I like using a 45 degree acrylic ruler.  Mine is the Simpli-EZ Ruler by EZ Quilting.  You should get 7 sets if triangles from each strip of fabric.  Cut through all eight layers at once.  Be sure you have a new blade in your rotary cutter.  I like using a larger 60 mm cutter because you get better leverage and a quicker cut.

Next step is to sew your triangles together.  First sew four pairs, then two pairs together and then the two halves together.

 

Consider trying this!  If the back of your fabric is suitable you can achieve a mirror effect by alternating the back of the fabric with the front!  To do this sew each set with both pieces right side up.

These two photos will give you an idea of the difference between using all of the right side of the fabric and a block with every other triangle with the reverse of the fabric.  The same set of identical triangle pieces were used for both photos.  Both are beautiful!  Which would you use?

To finish the blocks I cut two  4 1/2″ squares for each blocks and then cut them once on the diagonal.  Then I sewed each half square triangle to the corners of the blocks.  The triangles are over sized so that you can trim the blocks to the correct size.

Here is a picture of this quilt in progress:

And here is another finished version of the same quilt pattern.  The blocks on this one are all fabric right side up which creates more of a spiral effect.  Pictures show the front and back of the quilt.

The pattern is available for sale at Craftsy!

And a couple more finished using the same fabric.

… and one just getting started.  (it’s addicting!)

Reverse Applique for Susie Q

I used reverse applique for the melon on the Dear Jane LS6 Susie Q triangle. It would not be too hard to applique this melon but reverse applique on a seam gives you a very neat finish and this method is great for really small, impossible to applique melons.

The idea is set the melon into a seam so that you don’t have to turn raw edges under at a point.

For this block start with 2 pieces of background fabric that are 5½” by 2”. Sew them together on the long edge twice to reinforce the seam because you will be cutting into the seam for the applique.

Cut out your melon template for reverse applique. Fold the template in half with the shiny side out. Line the fold up on the seam line of the background fabric and press in place without placing your iron on the shiny side of the template that is on top! 😉

Carefully cut out your melon shape leaving a ¼” seam allowance.

Remove the template, open up the background piece and press the seams open. Unfold the template and iron it on the front of the background piece centered over the cut out for the melon. Carefully rip out ¼” of the seam at the points so the seam allowance can be folded back for appliqueing.

 

For this triangle block place a 3” x 1 ½” piece of print fabric behind the background fabric centered under the cut out. Baste the pieces together and reverse applique the melon. Trim the excess print fabric on the back leaving a ¼” seam allowance. Rotary cut the background fabric at one end of the melon leaving a ¼” seam allowance. Sew this piece to top of your triangle with the melon centered and lined up correctly. For this triangle the rest of the block was paper pieced.

To finish the triangle trim using your Dear Jane Triangle ruler.

I have used this method on a few blocks. When I see a small melon that needs to be appliqued I try to figure out a way to use this method!