Throw Back Thursday….my first “Art” quilt

Amber, our Daughter-In-Law came into our life back in 2006 and in July of 2010 she married our son Brian.

Amber trained as an art teacher and was in the classroom over 10 years, recently leaving the classroom to become an instructional coach. Back in the early days of her teaching I wanted to make something that could be used to decorate her classroom and, of course, it had to be a quilt!!

I had so much fun making this quilt with just a basic idea in mind……

At this stage of my quilting career, I was making quilts that were fairly traditional in nature, never having even thought about making an “art quilt”!! So, I laughingly call this my “First Art Quilt”!!

Fortunately it hasn’t been my last!!!

A finished UFO!!!


To start this post, I have to go back to September of 2013!!!  I first posted about this piece HERE, working thru the process that I used to discharge the fabric vase.

Then I started working on the applique of the vase and Sunflowers, enjoying the process greatly…..Sunflower

But, as with most UFO’s, other things cropped up and the project got stuck on top of the fabric shelves.   Amazingly, before I threw it up there, I had finished all of the applique except for ONE flower petal!!!

When I unexpectedly had a few hours in my studio, I really wanted to accomplish something so I pulled out the top, quickly finished the applique and set it up for quilting.

It didn’t take long to have a fun, FINISHED project….


Now if all of my other UFO’s are as easy to finish, I will be one happy camper!!!!

Two quilts in one day!!!

This post has to start with the way that I decorate my house.   I have lots of stuff that I like to put out, but too much to have out all at once.  So, over the years, I have sorted all of my bits and bobs into seasons and have enjoyed changing things up as the year goes on.

Now, with the new house, I have needed to add some bits and pieces to fill in the spots, and thus begins this post….

Last year I didn’t have time to really decorate for Spring, so the Winter blues had to hang around until May, but this year I had time and energy to redecorate at the start of April.   However, I simply couldn’t figure out what to put on one of the mantles!!

I knew that I wanted spring flowers and first decided to use one of the photos taken in China at the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden…._6294724

I remembered reading in one of my blogs that you could get photos printed onto a wrapped canvas, so I enlarged the center section and sent it off to be printed.   I was thrilled with the result….


The next addition to the mantle was a funky metal bird that I had found (cheap) at a local store….


I added a brass pitcher of yellow flowers and the mantle looked like this….


It was ok, BUT I felt like it needed something….maybe some more birds or something yellow???

Then this afternoon, I had time to do something creative, so I decided to make a yellow bird quilt, modeled after this one  that I found on the internet…..


In about 45 minutes I had this “quilt” finished…..


….but after placing it on the mantle, it was still lacking, so I went back upstairs and made another one…..


And, now my mantle decorations are complete…..


AND….more importantly…..I made TWO, count them, TWO quilts in one afternoon…..AND during tax season!!


I can see my busy season coming to an end and am now excitedly thinking about upcoming creative projects, including a quilt based on a photo from inside the Blue Mosque in Istanbul!!   CANT WAIT!!!

Back in the studio…..


On Saturday, I felt good enough to spend some time upstairs in my studio.  There were two projects that were ready for me to work on, but instead I did what any good quilter would do…..I started something new!!

This new project stemmed from a conversation with my 90 year old Mother where she was bemoaning the fact that she didn’t have any handwork to be doing, so I decided to start another one of our collaborative projects.

I picked a pattern that I had on hand… by Piece O’Cake Designs…..

I first found this fabric and think that I will work my colors around it…..


But, I wanted to change things around a bit, so decided to use dark backgrounds and pastel flowers……


I will probably need to buy a few more dark blues and purples before I am thru, but have enough to get started.

I had a lot of fun plowing thru my fabrics and coming up with pastels that would work…..


A few years back I realized that much of my stash was made of darks and medium fabrics, especially bright ones, so I have been trying to make a conscious effort to add some lighter colors.   From the looks of this table full of fabric, I think that I have accomplished my goal!!!

I had a fun few hours of picking fabrics and getting them fused on and ready to send to Mom.   Here are the first two….


When I get the next two done, I will send them to Mom who will perform her magical Buttonhole Stitch around the shapes.  As always, my biggest task will be to keep up with her!!!


Oh yeah, I have had few more “mini pep talks” from my throat lozenges….

  –  Buckle down and push forth!

  –  You’ve survived tougher

  –  Don’t waist a precious minute

  –  Don’t wait to get started

  –  Fire up those engines

  –  Dust off and get up

  –  Conquer today

……….Such fun!!!

Applique the Frances way……

I have had the privilege of sitting under two different master Appliquer’s in the last month and it was eye-opening to see the techniques that each one employed.

But, it has even been more fun to figure out what my personal technique would be.   Because of the close proximity of these two classes, I have been able to adopt the parts of each technique that I like best and leave the others behind.

I am loving the way that Becky Goldsmith holds the needle and does her applique, but I am not as happy with the needle turn process.

On the other hand, I really like using freezer paper to prepare the applique’s as Linda Cantrell suggested, but I didn’t like using glue to hold the applique pieces in place.

SO…..I am preparing with freezer paper (ala Linda Cantrell), placing on the background using a Clear Vinyl pattern (ala Becky Goldsmith).

Interestingly, I spent a couple of minutes online tonight and found two more wonderful tips for applique.

The first was posted today by Leah Day and concerns attaching large pieces to a background.  She suggests placing the pieces on the background and then machine stitching around them using a wash-out thread.   That way there will be no shifting when you do the hand or machine applique work.

The second hint was on a You-tube video from Connecting Threads  (link is here).  The thing that I learned from this video is to iron the freezer paper template to the front of the fabric first and use that as the pattern to cut out the fabric.  You then peel the pattern off of the front and place it on the back of the fabric so that you can iron the edges over the shiny side of the freezer paper.

Not sure that those descriptions are all that great, but check out the links.

And, since I cant post  this without at least one photo….here is the applique piece that I am currently working on……


Applique the Linda Cantrell Way….

I so enjoyed the Linda Cantrell lecture and was really excited about attending her workshop the next day.   The workshop was called “Self Portrait Quilts” and I wasn’t all that excited about it, thinking that it was going to involve a lot of drawing.  However, she provided patterns for our applique and the workshop was really about various applique techniques.

She talked about fusing quilts and told us that she is currently trying a new technique to stop the fraying.   She is using June Taylor’s “Fray Block”, and painting it on with a small paintbrush……


….AFTER she has fused it to the background piece.  

She also suggested using a Size 60 Machine needle which makes tiny holes and helps prevent fraying.

Now, onto her hand applique lessons…..

She first cuts her pattern out of freezer paper, sometimes ironing two pieces together to make a stiffer pattern.  The pattern is not reversed when it is drawn on which makes it much easier to do.

She then puts the freezer paper pattern on the back of the fabric, placing the dull side to the fabric and the shiny side up. 

Next step is to iron the seam allowance onto the shiny side of the freezer paper.  The edges stick beautifully, making for a neat applique piece…..


On the larger pieces, she goes back and cut’s out the center of the pattern so that only the ironed edges remain…..


The final step is to put all of the pieces together using a fine bead of Elmer’s glue……


She had a great suggestion for using the glue.   First, she takes the cap off of a bottle of glue and cuts of the “Eiffel Tower” on the bottle.  She also trims off the top of the orange tip.  She then takes the tip end off of a  mechanical pencil and inserts it into the orange tip.   The smaller opening from the mechanical pencil allows for a VERY fine bead of glue to be spread……. DSC00844

Linda was AMAZING to watch as she ironed around a 1/4 inch circle…..DSC00875DSC00878

We asked how she kept from getting pointy edges along her curves and she said that she only irons the edge of the seam allowance first and then goes back and presses the rest of the seam allowance down after the fact.

It was great fun to learn yet another way to applique!!!!

Discharging the day….


First of all, I need to jump ahead to a post that I haven’t written yet…..

Last week, I took a class from Linda Cantrell and I still haven’t blogged about it, but I want to jump forward to something that she showed and tell how it relates to what I did today.

She showed us two small quilts that she has made…..




She then showed us how she uses  a Clorox Bleach Pen…..


… make the shadings in her vase.  Working with a shape similar to her vase, she uses the small tipped end of the pen to draw onto the fabric.   After a few minutes, the bleach discharges the color in the fabric, leaving a wonderful design (see the brown design on the left)……


Now, let’s fast forward to this afternoon.   I have been looking for another project to try more hand applique and thought that one of these types of wallhangings would be fun to work on and doable to finish.

I started out by searching my computer and the internet for photos of sunflowers, stems and leaves, coming up with these (among others)….











My plan is to make a vase that holds a single sunflower, along with several leaves.  

Next I started looking for vase pictures…..I know that I could draw one pretty easily but always feel more comfortable with having something to look at.   I found this one…


I used my copier and played with all of the patterns until I got it the size that I wanted it.

THEN, I started thinking about Linda’s technique of using the Clorox Bleach pen so, after a quick run to the store, I was ready to give it a try. 

After looking at this design, I decided to try to replicate it by cutting it out as a stencil and using the bleach to take the color out of the fabric.

First step was to cut the template out of freezer paper and carefully iron it onto the fabric.  In this photo, the fabric looks blue, but it is really a deep purple….  DSC01019

I then squeezed out a puddle of bleach and started going over my stencil with a small paintbrush.   The results were instantaneous!!!!DSC01020

I quickly realized that the color would never discharge completely, so I took of the paper and washed the fabric.   Here is the result…..


You can see that I did a bit of bleach doodling around the edges as well!!!

It didn’t look like much until I put the vase outline over it…..



My original thought was to use colored markers to fill in the spaces, but finally decided to simply use a black Pigma pen to add some outlines.   I also added a little bit of color in the flower centers.  Finally, I realized that the contour lines at the top of the vase had spread and gotten too big, so I used another marker to make them slimmer and to add a bit of shadowing…..


The final step was to prepare it for appliqueing, this time using Linda Cantrell’s method of preparation….I will blog about that later….



I am REALLY excited about this result.  Now I guess that I need to go back and finish designing the wallhanging, but in any event, I had a GREAT afternoon!!!

Flower Pots with Mom


Several weeks ago my Mom returned the applique blocks that I had put together and sent to her to finish the raw edges……


Now I need to figure out how to set it. 

  –  Do I put sashings around the blocks, and if so, what color(s)

  –  Do I leave the blocks in a lump like this?

  –  What type of border…. pieced, appliqued flower vines  (if Mom is willing to do more flowers)


I had hoped to play with this in EQ7 but am finding it a bit “less than intuitive”!!!

I may end up printing the photos out and playing on paper.

Class Time

A few weeks ago I took a two session class at my local quilt store (Dragonfly Quilt Shop) about doing hand applique.  It was taught by my friend Cleo…..


and she proceeded to teach me several new techniques!!!!

The first thing that she taught was how to applique a stem…..

….  Cut a bias strip that is 1 inch in width.

…..  Fold in half lengthwise.

….. Pin the folded edge to the inside curve  


…..  Applique into placeDSC00519

….  Use sharp scissors and cut away 1/2 of the underside layer of the stem fabric

 DSC00520 ….  fold the wide fabric side over the smaller one

DSC00521 … in place and applique!!!

DSC00523  This method provides a smooth and thin bias strip for stems etc.

Now, my friends cant believe that I am actually planning to do some hand work, so my photo had to be taken…..

DSC00477 Now I just need to find times to actually practice the technique!!!!