Travel Log Quilt’s Don’t Have to be Complicated

Often people comment that they could never make a quilt from one of their travel inspirations because they don’t have the skill to do so.

Well, I am here to tell you that these quilts don’t have to be complicated….they can be super easy and yet still serve as a reminder of the good times.

Back before I started the “Bridge of River Kew” quilt, I posted the inspiration and told the story of my fun day at Kew Gardens in London. You can check out the post and read the story here.

One of the many photos that I took that day was of this gorgeous flower….

Just after we returned from the trip I was involved in a monthly quilt-a-long and one of the prompts was to print a photo on fabric and use 1.5 inch squares of other fabrics to highlight and frame the photo. The entire quilt was only 12 inches square.

I cropped the photo to approximately 4 x 5.5 inches, added a 1/4 inch border around each side to make it 4.5 x 6 inches (finished size), and then surrounded it with fabrics that matched the colors in the photo.

This was the final result…..

It was super simple…..super fast….and yet it still brings a smile to my face as I remember a sweet day in Kew Gardens!!!

So, get out there and start quilting your memories!!!

Ten Around Penhill

At last I am returning to the Travel Quilt series. I was enjoying writing about them and then hit one that needed to be photographed before I could write about it and that just shut me down…..I couldn’t get motivated to photograph it!!! Does that ever happen to you….something so small just shuts you down???

Anyway…. the next quilt was from a fun day in 2007 in the Yorkshire Dales of England.

But, that is the end, let’s start at the beginning…..

When we lived in Australia in the early 1980’s, we became enamored with the James Herriott series, “All Creatures Great and Small” We watched the TV shows, we read the books, and we dreamed of the day that we would visit the glorious Yorkshire Dales.

That day arrived while we were on a two month trip to England where Michael was a Visiting Research Fellow at Merton College at Oxford University. He worked most days while we were there and this side trip was his reward for the hard work!!

We arrived at our Bed and Breakfast and started talking to the proprietors. When they found out that we enjoyed hiking, they suggested that we take a hike around the dales the next day, following a 10 mile trail!!

We had a marvelous day as we hiked up the hills……

crossed over the stiles……

lunched at a local pub……


passed farm after farm…..

got lost numerous times

We arrived back at the Bed and Breakfast tired but with memories of the wonderful sights of the day…..

Now let’s get to the quilt……

I wanted to make a quilt for Michael that would remind him of our wonderful day of hiking. I started by playing with two pieces of fabric that I had purchased on the trip…..

…..and then discovered that they were part of a collection …..

I picked photos that I loved from the hike and searched for quilt blocks with names that spoke to the day as well…..

Then I started playing on the design wall, using photocopies to help me determine the size and placement of the various elements……

And came up with this quilt……

It was fun to include road signs and Farm Names as part of the quilt…..

We still talk about this wonderful day in the Yorkshire Dales and long to return sometime to do a LONGER hike….one where you hike from Pub to Pub and your luggage is transported and waiting for you when you arrive. Doesn’t that sound like fun!!!!

More “Parasol” decisions

Two days ago, I posted my initial thoughts about “The Parasol Dancers of Green Lake”, ending the day with the sample looking like this…..

Today I returned to the quilting and started playing with different ideas of how to complete the background. I added trees, shrubs, and simple line groupings with the final practice piece looking like this……

I am happy with this for the most part but here are the things that I learned in making this practice piece…..

  • Make sure that there are no strings under the white layer…..
  • Draw in some basic lines to use a guide when quilting…..
  • I will need to stitch down the edges of the parasols, probably with a matching thread. In this sample, they lifted up as I quilted close to them and the green one has already started to shred at the edges. Having said that, I kind of like the shadow that the fabrics leave so maybe I just need to use fray-check on the parasol edges!! Okay, so this decision is still in limbo!!!!!
  • I like adding trees to the background, but the one on the right (with the actual branches) looks much better than the ones that are more of a fountain. Naturally, the best one takes longer to quilt!!
  • I like the idea of having areas of background quilted with various designs. I can play with this more as I go.

My biggest concern is that this has basically become a “Whole-Cloth” quilt. Now there is nothing wrong with that, but it sure puts a lot of pressure on me to NOT make a mistake….particularly when I am working with the black threads.

The plan is to make a strip of each pose with 3 to 7 women in each strip. As I go along, I will figure out what types of sashing to put between these strips….probably something fairly low volume.

I have ordered more Wool batting and it will be here in about 10 days. So, between now and then, I need to decide which figures I want to use, get them enlarged and start laying out the design…..

Wish me luck!!

The Parasol Dancers of Green Lake

A few weeks back I posted a video from Kunming China showing women doing their morning exercises using highly colored parasols. Over these past weeks, this inspiration has slowly moved from the back of my mind to the front of my mind!!! After a lot of contemplation (AND procrastination), I have made a start!!!

The first thing that I did was to pull some screen grabs off of the video…

They are not high quality images but they served their purpose. I printed them out in black and white and used a sharpie to trace around several of the ladies in each of the poses…….

The good thing about using sharpie is that the ink soaks thru and you can see it from the back…..instant pattern!!…..

I picked out a couple of the pictures and enlarged them to the size that I was planning to work with.

Now it was decision time!!! How was I going to portray these wonderful women… fabric, in paint or in thread. At some point I had the idea to thread paint or quilt the women but add color for the parasols. This is the rabbit trail that I am currently heading down!!!!

For the first sample, I added a thin fusible interfacing to the back of the background fabric, traced the design, added the fabric parasol and machine stitched it…..

Then it was critique time…..

  • First of all, I had used a white thread in the bobbin and the white stitching came thru….NOT good!!
  • Second, I felt that the ribs on the parasol were too heavy
  • Finally, I wasn’t sure exactly how I could quilt it and make the ladies stand out.

Let’s try again!!!

This time I decided to layer the quilt sandwich and actually quilt the design in. And to take it one step further, I added two layers of batting (Warm & Natural on the bottom and Wool on the top) so that it would have a Trapunto look……

I put in a few pins to hold the layers in place……

….and it was back to the machine for stitching, using the normal 50 wt thread for the bodies and a bobbin weight thread for the parasol ribs…..

I REALLY like this a lot better!! Now to fill in the background!!

I had done the initial stitching/quilting on my normal machine (Juanita) because I had better control for the details and also because I could use a smaller needle. But, for the filler quilting, I turned to Julio (sit-down long-arm) to make the process fast and effortless!!

This is where it stands now…..

As I have written this post, I started thinking about the fact that the background could also contain some shrubbery, trees or other foliage and that would give it even more interest, both in visual effects but also for the quilter!!

There is definitely more to come with this project……..I will get back to you…………….

Travel Log Quilt #4

The next quilt in my “Travel Log Quilt” series is one that was made from a trip that my daughter, Jenny, took back in 2006.   Now I know that this isn’t MY travel quilt, but I had been to the same area LONG before digital cameras were a thing, so I claim it anyway.

She was a Freshman at University of Georgia and decided to do “May-mester” (a short 2 week term) in Australia.  Since she had been born in Australia this seemed to be the most natural thing for her to do!! She had a wonderful time there, studying the flora and fauna of such an amazing continent.

Probably her favorite part of the trip was time spent on the ocean in the North-eastern state of Queensland.  She enjoyed snorkeling, sky-diving (NOT part of the course) and watching the sea turtles as they made their way from the nest to their home in the ocean.

When she returned with photos from the trip, I was enamored with this picture of a gorgeous sea turtle floating along in the ocean………

….and also these photos of other undersea creatures……

At the time I was doing a lot of work with photos in quilts and wanted to do something that mixed the photos and fabric.   I started out by setting up a “new” photo that placed the turtle slightly off-center with lots of ocean surrounding……

Each of the lines in the photo represents a small portion of the ocean that I “grabbed” from somewhere else in the photo. It looks choppy here, but the final printing looked great. I printed this photo on fabric using “Printed Treasures” fabric and then started adding”stuff to it.

The three yellow and black fish are all the same photo but just printed in different sizes. They are appliqued to the ocean…..

The reef picture was also printed but I placed it over some fabrics that had a similar look…..

Back then I didn’t have the confidence to free-hand the thread corals but drew them on a wash-out stabilizer, sewed them in place, and then washed the stabilizer away.

The other small fish were simply cut out and appliqued in place without any detail added. I really wanted to give the impression of a school of fish swimming along……

Finally, I added a fabric “coral” and then thread painted over it…..

I was SO pleased with the final quilt…..

“No Barriers”

I loved mixing the photo prints, fabrics and thread work, and I loved the way the quilt spilled out into the border!!

But mostly, I love that it is a fun reminder of Jenny’s trip to Australia……

Travel Log Quilt Update

A few days back I posted about the third in my “Travel Log” quilt series, a quilt called “Eyeful Perspectives”.

As I ended the post, I had the thought that I could fix the quilt by cutting off the part that I didn’t particularly like and I acted on that thought…..

I am thrilled with the new look!!! It still brings the same emotion but without the distraction of the incorrect body shape.

This is one reason that I love to blog….it helps me to think thru solutions to problems!!

Travel Log Quilt #3

For my 3rd Travel Log Quilt, we have to travel to gay Paree!! In July of 2004, Michael spent a month in Germany teaching at one of the universities. We decided that the kids (Brian age 19 and Jenny age 17) and I would meet up with him in Paris for a week of sightseeing.

The trip was a lot of fun as we viewed many of the art galleries, especially enjoying the smaller galleries like the Monet, Rodin and Picasso. Of course, the biggest pull for the trip was the magnificent Eiffel Tower.

While on top of the tower we took lots of photos of the Paris skyline, enjoying the slightly hazy views….

After we were back at ground level, I took this photo of Jenny viewing the tower…..

A couple of years later, I decided that I wanted to make a quilt that was a mixture of photographs and fabric collage. This was the resulting quilt……

Everything above the trees was done with photos printed on fabric but the trees and everything below is from fabric.

Now, I like the memory behind this quilt, but I did NOT do the portrait of Jenny correctly. Her body shape simply isn’t right.

A few years ago I tried to fix it…..

….but it still isn’t right.

The problem is that I LOVE her hair but everything below that just doesn’t work.

As I have written this post, I am wondering about cutting off the quilt at her shoulders….

What do you think????

Travel Log Quilt #1

My very first “Travel Log Quilt” is called “Take Me Back To Guana Quay”……..

Take Me Back to Guana Quay

In July of 1997, our family spent two weeks on or around the ocean. The trip started with 4 days on a sailboat in the Florida Keys, followed by 10 days on Guana Quay Island, part of the Abaco chain in the Bahamas.

It was a fun trip, as our kids (ages 12 & 10) had never been on a plane (that they remembered), never been on a sailboat, never been fishing and never snorkeled!! We spent much of our time watching for dolphins, birds and other ocean creatures…..

I actually took fabric on the trip and started making a few of the blocks by hand, but quickly decided since I would be doing a lot of paper piecing, it would be better to wait until I got home. Instead I spent the time looking for inspiration for the individual blocks in the quilt.

At that time I had made a couple of quilts using the ideas in Judy Hopkins book “One-of-a-Kind Quilts”

The idea behind this book is that you can put lots of different sizes of blocks together to form a pleasing design.

Most of the designs came from existing patterns but I designed the sailboat and the lighthouse myself….

I had SO much fun looking thru design after design until I found exactly what I wanted to use in the quilt. Some were paper pieced and some were simply cutouts that were appliqued to the background fabric…..

My favorite block was the large one in the bottom left corner….

I had never done any thread work and greatly enjoyed trying the different techniques to make the coral.

After making the blocks, I was excited to think about tying them together using the “Storm At Sea” block.

To finish the quilt off properly, I did Trapunto quilting around the bottom right corner of the quilt. Be sure to look back at the first photo and exclaim how great it looks!!!!

Yes, I learned an important lesson with this quilt…..if you go to THAT much trouble to do special quilting, be sure that the background fabric will actually SHOW that work. The only way to see the intricate shells is to add a light from the side…..


Anyway, this post has gone on far too long, but suffice it to say that this was the first of my Travel Log Quilts and it got me started on a 23 year journey (so far) of making quilts that reminded us of our travels.

So, PLEASE take me back to Guana Quay!!!…….

Working in a Series

For years I have heard quilter’s talk about “working in a series”. When I heard this phrase, I always imagined having a particular design or color scheme that I used in EVERY SINGLE QUILT that I made…….and that just seemed daunting….and maybe a bit boring.

On Saturday morning I was listening to “The Quilting Arts Podcast” while I endured enjoyed my walk thru the neighborhood. Susan Brubaker Knapp suggested that you have to be deliberate to work in a series. The co-host, Vivika Hansen DeNegre disagreed, saying that sometimes, as artists, we work in a series without realizing it…..maybe exploring portraiture or various themes.

As I listened further, I realized that I do have a series in progress…..Travel Log Quilts!!

This comes as no surprise, but Michael and I LOVE to travel!! We lived in Australia for almost 6 years, soaking in the differences in culture. Starting in 2007, we began traveling all over the world for him to teach and work in research projects. Since that time, we have made 23 trips, visiting 14 countries, for a total of 68 weeks!!!

This meme effectively describes my thoughts on this subject……

Over the years, I have turned many of our photos and memories into quilts, thus my “quilting in a series”. To date, I have made TWENTY-ONE quilts based on our travel and, honestly, many of my inspirations for future projects have started with travel photos.

These quilts have varied greatly in form but the theme has always been the same….it’s a beautiful world and we need to celebrate it!!!!!

Over the next weeks, I will show you some of my “Travel Log Quilts”, so, sit back, get comfortable….here come the vacation photos!!!