Iceburg Experiment

My friend Paramjeet showed a new piece at our Quilt Guild meeting on Monday. She is working on half square triangles for a quilt, and with the trimmings she had left over from trimming down the half squares so they would be perfect, she made a small wall hanging of little irises in a field. It was beautiful. I looked at it and thought “I could never do that.”

Except that today, as I was finishing the quilting on the Lenten Cross, my mind kept turning to all my scraps from my own half square triangles, from the mystery quilt I am working on, and how they are all right here, right in the waste basket and hmmm. . . . I dug them out.

Paramjeet used flannel . . . so I go digging for flannel, only two, one orange with orang-er stripes, no that won’t do, and one purple . . . well it will have to do. I cut a square about 14 inches to play with.

I did just what she said she had done, well, maybe not exactly because I had a pile of scraps and I couldn’t remember how she made them all lie still while she stitched, I think she said they just stuck to the flannel but mine are not so well behaved, so I have to innovate a little . . .

And just as I am thinking what a total failure I am having, I make myself keep going, make myself finish, clip away the excess tulle, pin it on the wall, walk away, turn around and see if it looks anything like an iceburg on an icy sea . . . and . . . it does! Magic! Thank you, Paramjeet! 🙂


Update: Well, my little bubble has burst. A friend said she really likes my “praying hands” even though the attachment was labled “iceburg.” Sigh. Back to the drawing board.

Lenten Cross

I’ve been thinking our church needed a new hanging for Lent. We meet in the basement of a church that is not our own, and we don’t have a lot of things to make it our own. Lent this year is particularly somber, and as I am experimenting with low contrast (because I really love high contrast and I need to challenge myself) I envisioned a lighter purple with texture on a darker purple.

I went straight home from church, pulled out the fabrics and started cutting. After I got the main parts assembled, I needed to let it hang a little bit so I could percolate how I was going to finish it.


The lighter purple is an Italian textured silk I just love. The center is cut from quilter’s plastic, covered with the darker purple and then with the silver fishnet, an effect I just love and reflects Kuwait’s fishing and pearling history.

The priest blessed the cross today, and it can be hung tomorrow.

African Pathways Quilt

I know it looks like I haven’t been producing for a while and to some extent, it is true. I am working on a mystery quilt, I am working on a serious hand applique border to a pineapple quilt, and I have finished a few little projects but I forgot to photograph them, and once they are gone, they are gone, sometimes I don’t even remember I did them!

This one I just finished, and it was a labor of love.

In June of last year, a dream came true – we were able to take our son and our daughter-in-law on safari with us in Zambia. We stayed in the Robin Pope Camps – Tena Tena, Nsefu and Nkwali – and a second dream came true – at Nkwali, we stayed in the famed Robin’s House, which was pure heaven for a party of four who would then be going in separate direction. A third dream came true – they loved the trip as we hoped they would.

I had intended to make this quilt all along – for our son and his wife – and I started it, and had a lot of fun with it. I’ve been collecting fabrics forever with an African theme, and then a good friend had spent several years in Africa and I begged for some scraps from her, which she gladly and generously gave me.

Then my husband had a trip scheduled to the states unexpectedly, and I have an opportunity to get the quilt sent back with him. It hurried the process a little. I had it all put together and machine quilted, but I wanted to quilt some animal tracks on the paths. More on that later.

I don’t have a way to hang the quilt properly to get a good full scale photo – the quilt finished size is 84″ x 84″ – so I put it on the floor, climbed a ladder, shot the quilt and then tried to shop out all the background, so that is why it all looks so funky.

My husband says he loves this one almost as much as I Left My Heart in Africa.

I started with the Elephant tracks:

The elephant tracks took a lot longer than I had thought they would. I had done them on the entire path. Time is growing short. I did one set of lion prints:


And then, nearby, I did one set of impala tracks:


That is going to have to do. I told my husband, whose tracking book I had used to do the animal prints, that the hungry lion was waiting in the bush and ate the impala, and that is why there are so few lion and impala prints. :-0

Here is the label on the back (you can see the backing fabrics on the entry for March 2, 2009)


The rest of this entry is purely for people who love fabrics. You have been warned. 🙂

There is one fabric in this quilt that is almost thirty years old. It is the remainder of three meters of fabric I bought when we lived in Tunisia, lo, these many many many years ago. I loved it then, and I love it now. It has been in all three of the Africa quilts, in many other quilts made for family members and close friends, and now I am down to mere scraps, fortunately, enough to include in this quilt, because Tunisia, although North African, is truly also Africa. The pattern featured Bedouin jewelry patterns, the hand of Fatima, crescents, special pins to hold the sefsari together at the shoulders – and it is in turquoise and purple (be still my heart!) with black and white accentuation. Here it is featured in the center, and the second scrap is in the upper right quadrant of the quilt:



I was really really lucky to have a good friend who had also lived in Africa – she shared some scraps with me. There are people who might think some of them are ugly – an artist friend of mine told me once long ago “there are no ugly fabrics, only people lacking in imagination.” She also told me “the eye will blend!” two mantras I repeat to myself when I start obsessing over just the right fabric or just the right placement. She was right. You can cut chunks out of fabrics, any fabric, and make it work. There are some really really fun fabrics in this quilt:

Don’t you just love it? This one was from a big orange, very orange celebration of Gabon’s independence!

This fabric was from Senegal; don’t you love the digitalized palm tree?

I will admit, it was a challenge for me working in browns and yellows, not my favorite palette at all, but I find when I force myself out of my comfort zone, I grow, and learn to see thing in new ways. Some of the colors here I really did not like, but my artist friend was right – the eye will blend. Africa is a country of enormous diversity, and the quilt incorporates some wildly disparate colors, prints and values.








African Pathways is made with two simple blocks – a hatchet block, sometimes also called an anvil, and a 4 patch. In this quilt, all blocks were 4″ finished. The hatchet block is made by stitching a 2 1/2 incl square diagonally across opposite corners (diagonally) and cutting off the excess, leaving a 1/4 inch seam, flipping the top down and ironing, and a four patch is made up of 4 smaller blocks, cut 2.5 inches.

I have a friend who is a beginning quilter. When I showed her how the quilt was made, she said “Oh! I could do that!” It was an Obama moment – “Yes. You can!” 🙂 This quilt pattern is a real confidence builder, and a great teaching quilt.

There are many, many ways these flexible blocks can be put together. Other quilts using these blocks are here:

Hugs and Kisses
Black and White and Blood all Over

Quick Quilts for Charity (Instructions for making two hatchet block quilts)

Here is my computer plan for the quilt; having the grid all mapped out helped me to plan the pathways and to know how many of each fabric to cut for pathways, how many 2 1/2 inch squares to cut for the 4-patches, and how to place them. The quilt is built in quadrants and then sewn together.


Happy Anniversary, lovebirds. 🙂

He Loves My Backsides ;-)

“I really love this fabric,” said my husband, fingering a piece of faded fabric with giraffes striding across the plains. He had just finished telling me about a man he had met and they discovered they were both quilter’s husbands, so they had a lot to talk about, including “har har har” how their wifes said they could quilt when they retired.

“Good reason to keep working,” they concluded.

“Why is it so faded?” he asked, and I reminded him that we live in a bright sunny country, and I keep this quilt wrong side up on the bed so the front part doesn’t fade. I make my quilts to be used, not kept in some dark closet, preserved for the ages. I want my quilts to be worn out. We aren’t going to live forever. I don’t care about a legacy – I want people to enjoy using the quilts I give them. My husband says he wants to be buried in this one.

Sometimes when you are working on a quilt, there are fabrics you love, but they just don’t work in the quilt you are making. That’s what happened with these. I managed to use small scraps of them, but the scale of the giraffe and the guinea fowl was so large that they wouldn’t fit in the pattern I was using. Since this is the first Africa quilt, and I had no idea I would ever make another, I wanted to use up all the Africa / Africa theme fabrics.




“Show me the backing on the newest Africa Quilt” he demanded, so I showed him and he loved those fabrics, too.

He was with me when I bought this one in the airport in Lusaka:

These were pieces I added to complete the back. I am glad I am married to a man who can appreciate fabrics!