Purple Tiles

I’m still quilting this one, but what happens is that I quilt more to a deadline, and then I finish and it sails away with no documentation. This quilt I made from leftovers of another quilt that I realize I didn’t document. My husband loves these quilts; he says they remind him of the wonderful carpets we spent years buying in Damascus, Riyadh, Kuwait and Qatar.

The red tiles quilt is actually finished, and in use 🙂 I discovered I had enough fabric left over for another set of tiles, slightly smaller, but this is an easy quilt, sort of stack and whack, but what wonderful tiles they make if you find a richly patterned fabric. I am a sucker for richly patterned fabrics, especially if they have a little bit of gold in them.

What surprises me is what a difference the background fabric makes. The burgundy gives it one look, the purple a totally different (in my humble opinion) look.

I have to say, some quilts you love working on. These were quilts I love working on.

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Friendship Star

When we lived in Doha the first time, Desert Storm started, and a lot of Americans left, I didn’t know anyone, and I had a lot of quilting time. I decided I would make a lot of half-square triangles so I would always be able to whip up a baby quilt in a very short time, and I spent days cutting the fabrics, stitching the half-square triangles, ironing, sorting . . .

I made a couple baby blankets, but I still have a lot of half square triangles left. We moved to Kuwait, and I put a quilt together that I could hand quilt at our Tuesday Stitch Group, where I always liked to have hand work to do when I didn’t have a binding that needed stitching on or something.

For all those weeks . . . I didn’t get a lot done. Finally, I machine quilted in the white squares, and then I did some practicing for some new techniques in the star centers. It doesn’t make a lot of sense thematically, but the quilt is done, I’m giving it away and I don’t have to think about it any more.

Finished! Out! Out!

“It’s Just a Quilt”

“It’s just a quilt!” I told myself. It’s a quilt I’ve been working on for about six years, and it isn’t even that big. I was going to hand quilt it all, then I machine quilted part of it, but couldn’t think of what to do in the large star centers.

Today, I knew just what to do. There is a wonderful article by Lea Day in the new Quilter’s Newsletter which I have to admit is my favorite quilting mag of all) on machine quilting.

I know how to machine quilt. I also know that there is a lot I don’t know, and that I can do better if I practice. Lea Day gives us challenges, she shows us exactly hot to do it and then tells us to just get started. The first ones won’t be so hot, she tells us, but by the end of your practicing, you’ll definitely see signs of improvement and increased confidence.

No, no, those aren’t all from Leah Day, but Lea Day’s article got me started. There are some ideas I’ve been playing around with and this rainy day and her article gave me the idea to play around. Play is learning for a quilter, so my results aren’t perfect but this is “just a quilt,” and it’s a great place to play with some new quilting techniques and work on some ideas for the important quilts I am making for a couple young women having babies. 🙂

Pensacola Quilt Show 2012

Today we did the intake for the Pensacola Quilt Show, and after that, I had lunch with my husband and took a long nap, the first one I can remember taking in months. Every afternoon I have had to make the best use of time during prime-time light!

I’ve hated leaving you for this long period, but I was working industriously to have entries worthy of the show!

Here are my entries.

The End of Innocence

I loved working on this quilt. It took a lot of hand work, appliqueing that snake and making sure the gauzy snakey net had bends at the right places, but it was so much fun! I also, for the first time, tried an art quilting technique on the arms and hands, and learned a whole lot about how to do it better – next time 🙂

Originally, the focus of this quilt was intended to be the pomegranate, and the tree of life. It was supposed to be a serious quilt, serious like the Dutch masters, but little Eve kept popping in, fresh, innocent, full of questions, and then that snake kept winding his way in and out, from his own depths into our own reality . . . and finding great snake-y fabrics provided a whole world of new learning experiences, LOL.

I actually hand quilted even more after I shot the photos, espeially in the center where the Tree of Life panel was. The fabric was so soft, and quilting it by hand was pure joy.

The quilt took forever, and I didn’t mind. I tried a lot of new things. I know where I need to improve. Meanwhile, it was fun taking an idea, letting it macerate and percolate, and then challenging myself to use some slithery fabrics for the execution. No regrets. 🙂

Tick Tack Tails

I love doing baby quilts, and I love the way little babies are mesmerized by black and white patterns. Our little grandbaby would stop crying to gaze at black and white zebra patterns and try to fathom their meaning.

Seaside Cottage

When I was still living in Kuwait, I was cutting out this quilt – or one just like it – when my sister called. As we talked, I described the quilt I was making and she loved it and asked me to make her one like it. Instead, I quickly cut out another, but finished the one I was making and sent it to her.

It took me five years to get around to finishing my own. I finished it the year we moved to Pensacola, but my husband kept going back. I quilted it during a bathroom renovation; it kept me sane. I appliqued it during the long evenings when I wished my husband was here in Pensacola. It is similar to my sister’s, but different. The central panels are made with the same fabrics, but I did different quilting and appliques for the seashells, etc.

The last entry is one you’ve seen before.

Jewel Box Life of Transitions

I was able to work on intake today, and was delighted to find that my quilts sink into the ‘filler’ category; there are some amazing quilts entered, and if you are any where near Pensacola, I urge you to make it a point to see this show.

Friday, March 16
Saturday, March 17
Pensacola Fairgrounds

Tension

2010 will be another interesting year for us, a year full of changes on the Richter scale of 10, like a 10. We have a retirement, a move, a survey of all the household we have had in storage for 12 years, and a move from there. We have to buy a new house, and get it ready for our habitation. We have a grandson, and we will be living near family – that hasn’t happened for a long time.

We will no longer be living overseas. I cannot imagine.

So I am trying to finish up projects, eyeing shelves that need to be packed. NO. I am not leaving behind a lot of fabric. I will part with some, but I just did this, this packing out and moving in spring of last year and so no, I am not going to part with so much this time. Well, actually, I am.

I am looking at a quilt I started two years ago, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. I know who it is for. The quilting went bad and as I fixed it, I just wasn’t happy, so I let it go for a while. Now it doesn’t look so bad, but when I look at the back of the quilt, I can see my tension on my machine was erratic. There is another major flaw that my sharp eyed quilting friends will spot, but this is a quilt meant for use on a boat, so even a major flaw won’t matter:

It always shows. When you do handwork, it always shows. If you cross stitch, the stitches are too tight, and it sort of buckles. If you knit, the scale is off, and it feels too tight when you finish, relaxed knitters knit some air into their works. When you quilt, it shows on the backside, even if it doesn’t show on the front. If you hand quilt, the stitches are too tiny, too tight, too perfect and you come out with a hard piece rather than one of those lovely soft hand quilted pieces. It shows. Your handwork shows your state of mind.

My problem is that often under pressure, I turn to my handwork! So I can look at pieces and know what I was going through. What makes me laugh is the pieces I work the hardest on, nobody cares. Nobody but me. Things that I design and toss off in a heartbeat – people love! Go figure.

Today I am putting the binding on the two little baby girl quilts. They don’t look so bad now that they are quilted, thanks be to God. I keep telling myself “this is a hobby! This is supposed to be fun!”

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

I started with the Elephant tracks:
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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:

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

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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)

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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:

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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:

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

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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.
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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
Reciprocals
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.

africanpathwaysgrid

Happy Anniversary, lovebirds. 🙂

Map Quilt Class

Map Quilts

28 January 2008

 

These are all the map quilts in one place, with class instructions on how to make them: 

 

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I left my Heart in Africa 

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 Moroccan Dreams

 

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Turkish Delight 

 

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African Kaleidescops 

 

Lawrence of Kuwait

Lawrence of Kuwait

1.  Start with a graph

Find the country you want to map, or state, or entire continent, and draw it onto your graph paper. It may change several times – that’s OK. You have time. Figure out what colors you want to use, and why. Identify any motifs you may want to use, appliqué, pieced or quilted.  Figure out what you are going to do with the area that is NOT part of your focus country!

 

2.  Gathering the Fabric

This actually takes the most time. You need many many different blues, for example, if you will have sea, shading from the very lightest to deeper purple, if it goes deep. You may want desert tones, or greens. You may want fabric from the country you are making, or you may want to appliqué something onto a square, and to identify where you will want it to go.

 

One really fun part is to ask your friends. You don’t need even a fat quarter, just scraps big enough for a couple squares. The greater the variety you acquire, the greater your flexibility in placement. As an example, I probably use 50 different “sea colors” ranging from the lightest blues to the deepest purples. My friends gave me Egypt fabrics, and Sudanese fabrics. 

 

These first two steps can take months, or even years. You will come up with all kinds of amazing ideas. Keep your plans for your map quilt in one place, and write down your ideas when you think of them, so you don’t forget them.

 

3.  Distributing the colors

I usually figure out where I want different colors – all the golds to almost white in the desert, for example, maybe this quadrant will be red. In the Africa quilt, I used pure black for some places where terrible things were happening. It helps the balance of the quilt to have colors grouped together, and that takes some planning. Also, now is the time to make any specialty blocks you may want to include.

 

Take a look at your fabrics, and at your graph. Figure out how big you want the quilt to be. In the first Africa quilt, for example, the smallest I could cut the giraffe fabric and still have it be effective was 3.5”. That one fabric, and my desire to use it, drove the entire quilt to its current huge size.

 

Even if you have been cutting fabrics all along, when you finally get to the point where you are ready to start – you will have to start with cutting. To have enough of every color, you just cut a lot. Even so, there are times when you will have to get up from sewing to cut some more.

 

I don’t go to a lot of effort to be accurate about terrain, but if you want to include a lake, or mountains, or something particular to that region, you can either use fabrics which show what you wish to emphasize, or you can create your own lake, or desert, or fields of flowers – it’s your quilt, you get to be the boss! 

 

Mountains: You can make a large mountain by making it four squares big, white mountain with blue sky , for example, or black mountain with blue or white sky. As long as you have planned ahead, anything is doable. Smaller mountains can be exactly the same size as the other blocks. It’s just nice to have a little variety. 

 

 

4.  Execution:

Break your quilt into doable sections. You might use quadrants, and each quadrant usually has a dominant color. Cookie trays can keep the squares in some kind of graduated order. Always have the graph on the wall, so you can check it frequently, and use a project wall, where you can hang the completed sections and check them as you go along. 

 

You might do two rows, sew them together, and then sew them directly to the section where they belong. It might seem fiddly, but it helps you keep track of where you are on the graph, and it helps you see where you might want to add more deep / light colors, etc. It is also just a lot of fun to watch it grow.

 

As you go along, check off each row as you complete it. Again, it may seem fiddly, but it is easy to get lost and confused, especially when you are working on a section of coastline, and you need to get the half-square triangles going the right ways! 

 

5.  Quilting and Embellishing

It has been so much fun, just watching all those colors come together and blend into a fabric collage of a country. Now is time when you can make it even more special.

 

Make the sandwich. 

 

Do a quarter inch outline of the continent/country you are working on, very first thing. It helps keep everything stable, and it gives your focus some definition.

 

If there are particular quilting motifs you want to use – a mariner’s compass in the sea, for example, or camels crossing the desert, or a hand of Fatima, or a teapot – you’ve been gathering them all together, and now you get to have the fun of putting them in.

 

You might want to do waves, and spirals, and fish in the sea. You might have your own ideas to make this quilt uniquely your own creation, and now is the time to explore them. These map quilts are not serious quilts, they are supposed to be fun. 🙂

 

6.  Surprise.

In every map quilt I do (and in many of the others) I put a surprise. In the Morocco Dreams quilt, I put a camel in the desert, so big you couldn’t see him unless you stood about ten feet away. He was in slightly lighter colors than the rest of the desert. I also outlined him in hand quilting. 

 

You might want to machine quilt in the name of the person for whom you are making the quilt, the date and the place. You  might want to machine embroider your own name in the quilt, in an inconspicuous spot, where some quilt-heritage researcher may someday find it and rejoice! Most of all, this is where you can have fun with embellishing the map so that it tells something about why you chose this country, something about how you feel about this subject. Here is where you can use charms and beads and crystals to highlight special and unique qualities.

 

Photos and more instructions at :  worldquilter.wordpress.com.  Click on map quilts under categories, over on the right hand side.