Little Workshop Week

I’ve got two girl babies coming who will need (expect) quilts, and I also need to have some little bags, so that was my work for this week:

It’s harder to work with silks and slippery shiny fabrics, but at the same time, it’s fun because the results are so lovely:

Also made tablier style Christmas aprons for two buddies:


VIQ (Very Important Quilt)

The problem with a very important quilt is that you can over think. I know what I want a baby quilt to be – I want it to be colorful. I want it to be lovable. I want it to be big enough to go to pre-school and kindergarten for nap time. I want it to end up a beloved rag, dragged here and there, washed innumerable times, all used up.

I’ve probably made a hundred baby quilts. But when it came to a quilt for my first grandchild, I dithered. Nothing I could come up with was good enough. Finally, I had to give myself a good talking to, “JUST GET STARTED!” I yelled at myself in a figurative way. Just do it.

It’s an OK quilt. Not the best effort I have ever put forth, but I came to the conclusion – it’s not the quilt that is important, but the recipient. God willing, he will love it because it came from me, and because I am a safe place, a place he can count on for unconditional love.

So – it’s just a quilt. For a very important Quentin! ๐Ÿ™‚


Sometimes I am afraid that some people don’t much like home made things, and you never know who is going to be a person who likes them and who is going to be a person who doesn’t. I made a glorious quilt, a prize winning quilt, and the person I gave it to used it to stabilize a rock table. (00)

My Uptown New York niece, when I hesitantly asked her if she ever wanted a quilt, already knew what she wanted, and picked out the fabrics for it from my stash, and wrote commentary – which I returned to her years later – on what the colors meant to her. Surprise surprise!

I hesitate to give these duffels, just more home made stuff, but most of my friends seem to love them. I had made a Hawaii Quilt for my oldest friend from university, and she loved it, so I made her a duffel with the leftover fabric. She loves it!


I have some wonderful friends, they are also long long time friends, and they love to fish. At Christmas, I made a fishing apron for him, and for this summer, I made them a matching bag for gear to take on their boat. (They loved it!)


My sweet niece just had a baby girl, and while I was giving her a bunch of girly-girl clothes, I gave her big brother a big-boy bag for books and toys, with his name hidden (in quilting) on the bag. He loved it!


This one I haven’t given yet – and I am hoping my sweet daughter-in-law doesn’t know about this blog or doesn’t care about this blog and won’t see it before I give it to her next week, full of baby clothes. She taught English in France for a year:


Because I am slow, and because the lady who taught me how to make these is painstaking, and taught us how to line them completely so no seams show, and how to make nice stuffed straps that don’t hurt your shoulders – they take about a day each to make, but they are so wonderful in these days of bring-your-own-bags.

Barbie Gets An Edge

It’s not really starting a new quilt if you are using up fabrics and pieces you’ve already cut, is it? It’s like using stuff up, not going out and buying something new?

I went to my box of scraps and thought it would be fun to do a quick pink quilt, you always need a girlie quilt when a new baby girl comes along and I had a lot of pink 2 1/2 inch squares to use up. I thought it would be fun to put some 1 inch borders around each one, just to liven things up a little bit.

It isn’t a quick quilt. The four patches were a piece of cake, but putting the borders on is WORK. And I know I am making it harder on myself, but it matters where the colors go, like different colors have to be touching, and they have to sort of drift into one another . . . don’t they? It’s taking a lot longer to put together this top than I intended. At the same time, I find myself enjoying the process, and isn’t that the point, too? I am not doing this like a factory, it’s supposed to be FUN, not work!

Here is where I started:

This is where I am:

I still have six more rows to go:

Here’s where I am having fun – you know how Barbie is all sweet and that sweet pink, mostly like Pepto-Bismo Pink, some innocent and light pinks, sometimes hot pink, but very very pink, right? But I am thinking about Barbie grows up, Barbie faces real life with all it’s thrills and disappointments, the good times and the betrayals, and Barbie shifts into some raging reds, some violent violets and some outrageous oranges – all full of pink, but verging on out-there. I’m having a lot of fun with it. It makes me grin. It’s not a baby quilt. It’s not even a little girl quilt. A girl has to grow into this quilt!

Al Fardan Quilt Room

When I was living in Kuwait, I had a wonderful view from my quilt room – I looked out over the Gulf. Directly below was a busy street – always something interesting going on – and across the street, a family park. It was a fascinating microcosm, and a wonderful aerie for a quilting eagle. ๐Ÿ™‚


Now I am back in Qatar, in Doha, and in the same exact villa where I lived when we came to Doha in 2003. No view, but more space and great light.

I got everything unpacked except my quilting room, and then I got really sick. My friend in Kuwait felt sorry for me and flew down from Kuwait and unpacked and put away everything in my quilt room. Before she left, she scolded me, and told me before I start anything new, I have to get working on my stack of unfinished quilts. Yes, she stacked them up for me, and then said “just start at the top and work your way down to the bottom.” She said it in English, but it might as well have been in Arabic – it just isn’t language I understand.

She also sorted all my threads by color and application, and bought special transparent storage boxes so I could see exactly what I have. I felt both very wonderfully taken care of – and also deeply ashamed, that she should see all my flaws. I thank God she loves me anyway.

When she said “What is this box?” and I said “shiny fabrics” she just grinned and said “I have a box called shiny fabrics, too!” Whew!

I told her you really have to trust someone to allow them to come in and unpack your quilt room, it is like someone in your underwear drawer. It’s personal! She just laughed and said she knew things were not the way I would have put them, but it would be easy, a little bit at a time, to get things organized my way. “Like one week you can organize the whites” she said. . . . Ummm. Maybe she better come back – the whites are still not organized, LLOOLLLLL!

Moving away from Doha, and coming back, I changed a few thingsin the quilt room, but not much. What I really love is that I have great light, all day long, coming in over my left shoulder and from behind.

This is the books, teaching materials and reference books. Oh, umm . . . err . . . and the stack of unfinished quilts that I must work on in the background.


This is fabric storage (behind the purple and green curtain), ironing station and business station:

Even room for a drying rack when my visiting Kuwait quilting buddies bring me more of the fabulous batiks we love to use in our brighter quilts:

The hand quilting station, although we all love this chair, and it is where I sit to read the paper, work on my computer, draw out plans for a new quilt, or where my husband or cat sometimes sits:

My work table:




There’s even a bed that someone COULD sleep in, except that most of the time it gets heaped with projects I am working on.

I also need to show you the Quilting Assistant Station:

I love this room!

KTAA Annual Exhibition

There were some totally fabulous entries, and the grand winner – who could argue! Shyamala Rao just knocked the socks off everyone with her fabulous quilt.

Mine were much more modest.

Ursa Major was the most fun. I don’t normally like mysteries, but this one gave me a lot of control. Every step had suggestions, and measurements, but you had a lot of latitude within the instructions. Mine shows the great North Star in the center of the quilt, and the Big Bear, endlessly circling the North Star.

Kathi Ewan’s instructions were just fun! I felt so free! I knew the fabrics I wanted to use, and the quilt kind of made itself. Normally, I start out knowing where a quilt is going, but this one, with each step, I rested and reflected before making the next round, and I got more and more excited about the quilt with each step, ending with the silvery little salmon circling on the penultimate border – a bear’s gotta eat!


At one point in the quilt, I tried some low-contrast piecing, the star has two kinds of white. I wasn’t happy, and was going to change to higher contrast when LeAnn Aldulrahim said no, to go with the white on white and try the quilting technique Paramjeet taught us two years ago with the zig-zag stitch. “Hmmm,” I thought, and went home and did it in silver, and oh – what fun. The bear tracks circling the quilt, the 45ยฐangled borders around the center medallion and again at the last border – just fun. I had a great time with this quilt. It’s icing on the cake that it won the Children’s Choice award. I made it for the child within!

Another joyful, childish quilt – The Stars that Dance in Southern France (in their underpants) was started to use up some of the provincial French fabrics I gathered so lovingly for so many years, but found myself thinking I was turning into Gollum with his precious, if all I did was look at them now and then and say “someday . . . ”

My husband added the part about the underpants, and I just let it stand. I thought it was a hoot.
Stars that Dance

It took third in the Traditional Pieced category. It makes me smile when I look at it.

Last but not least, KaleidoStars is a baby quilt for a new baby on the way, sex unknown, but I loved these Indian batik fabrics we found down in the souks, and couldn’t wait to get my hands going on something that would show them off and let the lines and dots sing and move around the quilt. It’s all about the motion:


They’re all packed away now, except for KaleidoStars, which I need to mail soon, very soon. We are moving back to Qatar at the end of the month, and just today I finished packing up (AAARRGHHH!) the quilt room.