Chained Islamic Stars

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While the previous quilt was just playing around, this quilt is the real thing. I’ve been involved with this quilt since I started quilting. I was so new! I made a lot of mistakes in my ambitiousness, and it took me about fourteen years to figure out how to get it right.

First, I designed it. I use graph paper when I am working out a design. I designed it and cut all the pieces. I pieced one and had a lot of trouble doing it. Then I moved to Saudi Arabia and all the pieces stayed in a box, which I would look through later as I moved again, to Germany, to Qatar and to Kuwait.

Upon my move back to Qatar, my angel friend who unpacked my quilt room because I was sick scolded me for all my unfinished projects and told me I had to finish them.

“Just make a list and do them,” she told me sternly, and every time I finish one, I think of her, and of her graciousness, her love of doing good for others.

So back the second time in Qatar, all my Qatar friends having zipped out for the summer, I pulled out the pieces and pieced the blocks. I was more experienced, more confidant, and the piecing went well. There were some problems, lots and lots of seam lines, like a pineapple quilt.

Several months ago . . . maybe a year ago (LOL) I made a back for it and sandwiched it. I still was at a loss as to how to quilt it, even after all these years. Finally, I said to myself “finished is better than perfect” and did diagonal lines. Then, taking a deep breath, I practiced some free form feathers on some practice battings, and then dove in. It went amazingly fast.

I did have to do a little picking out here and there, and re-doing. I’m still getting this feather-thing down, but I love feathers, and I love that once they are finished, most of the flaws disappear. After I washed the quilt and it shrank a little, the flaws were almost non-existentent.

So here is the irony. I love the quilt so much that I have re-graphed it in a more simple way and I think I will do it again in a bigger version. I guess I am just a glutton for punishment, but I love this pattern, complex fabrics, background so serene, so like Islamic tiles.

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African Dreams

I actually finished this quilt back in July, but it is a gift, and I didn’t want to take the chance of them seeing it before it was Christmas. They dream of going to Africa. It’s been a long time in the making; I started cutting for the quilt while I was still with the Q8Quilters, in Kuwait, gathered all the fabrics and pieces in the ubiquitous plastic bin, and hauled them to Qatar and then to Pensacola for more cutting and ultimately the piecing. This is one of those quilts that was a lot of fun to work on because I loved the fabrics so much.


(It looks lumpy because my trial wall hangs over my book/storage cases, and sometimes things from behind poke out and make the quilt bulge in some places)

Many of the fabrics are genuine fabrics I have found in Africa, have been given by people who lived in Africa, or were sold to me by Africans. Some batiks I found at a little shop in Edmonds, WA, where they sell objects made by African women as a means of supporting themselves. As I have less and less genuine African fabric left, the quilt pieces I use are smaller and smaller! I hate to waste a single fragment!

I tried some different kinds of quilting on this, and while it went together quickly and was fun to put together, at the end, you have all this bias edge and it is hard to make it all match up, or at least it was for me. I love the look, and one day I may try another, but I will be thinking how to avoid having that bias on the outside edges, hmmmmmmmm. . . . . (thinking)

Pine Trees Quilt

This was the second quilt I cut out and started, but probably the ninth or tenth quilt I actually finished. I did all right putting the trees together, but when I was finished, not all the tree blocks were the same size, and I had to gain some experience before I could figure out what to do.

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(I cut borders in dark green and sewed on to each block, then trimmed so all the blocks would be the same size.)

I love green and white – must be some Scandinavian heritage thing – and I loved working on this quilt, and for all its flaws, it is still one of my favorites.

Flaws? I should tell you? *she sighs* Ah yes. Well, if you look closely, you will see that the tips of some of the trees were cut off because I didn’t leave a consistent 1/4 inch at the top of each block.

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And, I took months hand quilting snowflake motifs on the border and on some of the tree blocks, only to discover that it was a waste of time, the snowflakes did not show up as snowflakes, not unless you are like 2″ from the quilt! I liked the idea of a snow-y pine forest, but there are probably better ways to accomplish it.

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I learned something about myself doing this quilt – the greens I like are very blue kinds of greens. I have an antipathy to yellow greens, although they have their place and sometimes they are the only appropriate shade . . . my heart is blue-green!

I used the more yellow-green leftover pine trees on Dad’s Alaska Quilt.

Dad’s Alaska Quilt

I’m glad I made this quilt when I did, althought I doubt my Dad ever used it before he died. He wasn’t really a quilt kind of guy. Whatever. I am glad for me, that I made it for him. It was made with some wonderful batik fabric with bear and moose on them, and I found some perfect batik fabric like Alaska salmon, and added some pine trees left over from one of my very earliest quilts (which I haven’t yet photographed!)

The blocks are bear paw, alternating with this wonderful north woods fabric. Yeh, it’s a little busy. I love it anyway. If I had to do it over again, I would use a plain black as the alternating blocks, but still use the northwoods fabric on the border.

There is one block in there that bugs me. You know how some very good batik fabrics are almost identical front and back? I can see one block that is going the wrong way. Wrong in that in all the other blocks, the animals are facing the same direction, but in one block they are facing the opposite direction. Would you have noticed if I hadn’t pointed it out?

I am gathering my “babies” photos as fast as I can. I have run into the priest for whom I made a quilt, and put a prize-winning entry on the back side, as he loved Paris. I am remembering two other quilts nearby I will attempt to photograph before I leave here. Woo Hoooooo!

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Mom’s By the Sea Quilt

This is an early quilt from my love affair with Kaleidescope quilts. Although the quilt looks blue, it is predominantly purple in one corner, green in another, arctic ice in yet another and blue in one. The trick is to blend these colors and make them flow, at the same time creating a sea-like motion.

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I have done several variations on the sea quilts since. I have an entire shelf of fabrics of sea colors. My delight in the kaleidescopes is using the same piece of fabric in one place as a dark, and in another place as a light.

In the bottom left corner, I quilted sea grass. I hand appliqued fish and sea horses, and even an octopus on the finished top, then quilted in a huge octopus in the purple corner, (the appliqued octopus hints to the location) and sea horses in another spot, and swarms of fish in various other places. I don’t tell people about the quilting, I just leave it to them to discover it for themselves. Some do, some don’t. I always tell them there is a secret or two in every quilt.

You can see some octopus tentacles if you look closely, but it is hard to see the entire quilted octopus:
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My pre-digital camera photos of this quilt were taken on a clothesline in a small farming village in Germany. Gone! Gone forever!

My First Quilt

I had a dear friend at church who kept insisting I was a quilter.

“No!” I would disagree, thinking quilters were old women who wore glasses and didn’t have a life outside of quilting. And I was busy, taking classes in teaching English as a Foreign Language, and who had the time?

She talked me into taking one class . . .an introduction to hand piecing and hand quilting, six lessons at the local quilt shop.

I was a goner.

I have always loved fabrics, and putting fabrics together. Now, when I teach and people say “but how do you choose your colors?” I tell them the same thing the teacher told me:

“find a piece of fabric – it can be anything, even upholstery fabric – that thrills your soul. Look for photos whose colors you love, look at ads. That which you are drawn to are the colors you will want to use, because you love those colors.”

And that is just what I do. From time to time I make a quilt for someone, and they tell me what I need to use, and I might hate the colors, but I consider it an opportunity to grow a little.

The fabric I loved became the main fabric. I have never again worked with turquoise, pink and yellow, I have never made another pastel quilt, but I still love this quilt, and treasure the hours I spent working – and re-working – the blocks, hand quilting, putting on the binding – which, because I didn’t know anything, is just the back brought forward and folded over the front.

I tried to put it together in Saudi Arabia and discovered that the blocks bled right into the posts and sashes, so I had to run out to find cotton fabric and then had to make a small amount of fabric go a long way, so made this garden path setting . . .somehow, to me, it all worked.

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I started this quilt in 1997. I didn’t finish it until 1999m but there were two moves involved, one to Saudi Arabia and another to Germany, and getting a house ready to rent out and getting a son settled in law school . . . The others came more quickly.

That friend who had told me I was meant to be a quilter was right. She gave me two quilting books, no longer published, which were in the boxes of quilting books that got lost somewhere between Doha and Kuwait. Thousands of dollars worth of books, irreplacable – and my quilt journal, with records of all my projects. Thus, this online record.

My second quilt was a graduation quilt for my son, and his school colors were garnet and gold. I don’t really love working with either red or yellow, but when I put them with another color I never in a milliion years thought I would ever use – black – WOW. The quilt totally worked. I ended up loving it.

Christmas Tablecloth

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My dad didn’t have much time left, and our hearts were breaking. I borrowed my Mom’s sewing machine, and picked up some Christmas fabric on sale and spent my evenings in the hotel room putting together a lively tablecloth for my Mom.

Dad died just before Christmas. It’s not my best effort, but I was glad there was some gaiety to be had. I didn’t put any batting in this, just backed it, so it is light and easily washed and dried.