Just “Let It Go”!!

This is a story about a UFO….. one that had been around for 11 years!!

It started back in 2007 when Michael and I spent two months in Oxford, England while he was a Visiting Research Fellow at Oxford University. London was a mere 45 minutes by train so we spent as much time there as we could.

As we rode the London Underground, I became aware of how the people sitting across from me changed as the ride went on. At every stop someone would get off and someone else would take his/her place.

In October of 2009 these thoughts rose to the top of my brain and I decided to make a quilt with this idea. I spent a long time searching the internet for pictures of people to add to my train car and, using Photoshop, I was able to get an idea of what I wanted…..

Note….my proudest part of this photo is that I took another person’s legs and feet and added them to the young man on the left!!!

I started out using a machine applique technique where you prepare the piece for applique, glue it to the next piece and then zig-zag over the intersection with a mono-filament thread. After doing the first person using this technique I decided to switch to fusible applique.

Anyway….here is where it stood when I stopped working on it…..

And it has been weighing on my mind ever since!!!

Today, I pulled it out for the last time….determined to either finish it or scrap it…..and SCRAP IT won!!

These were my thoughts…..

  • My skills have progressed far beyond this first attempt
  • It is larger in format than I typically work on now.
  • There is too much difference in technique in the faces. The boy has very few shades while the woman (actually based on a photo of me) has too many shades and the little girl doesn’t work at all…..

The only part that I was REALLY happy with were the child’s hands…..

  • I would basically need to start over and I am not interested in doing that

As I thought further, I remember that I learned SO much when I started this project….first about using Photoshop and then about designing faces. I also over-dyed a bunch of the fabrics which was a first for me.

The bottom line is that it was a great project for it’s time but that time is past and it is time to….

No…. I have never seen the movie!!!!

So….all of the fabric came off of the wall and out of the project box and added back into my stash.

It was exciting to find all of the skin-tone fabrics that I had collected those many years ago…..

Many of these were hand-dyed by my friend Anita and it was fun to see all of her tags reminding her of the recipe for each of the pieces…..

Now that this project is out of my head, I need to figure out exactly what big project I want to work on next!!!!

Quilt redemption….or The Case of The Boring Bamboo!

Back in 2011, we spent several weeks in China and I found a type of Bamboo that sparked my creative juices. I came home and turned the spark into a quilt top that ended up being REALLY boring…..

To read more about the making of this top, check out the blog post from 2011…..https://francesquilts.com/2011/08/16/congratulations-mrs-arnold-its-a-boring-quilt/

So for years and years (8 to be exact), it has been on my UFO To-Do list and I have managed to ignore it!! But, since I am trying to make myself do new and different things, I figured that it was time to tackle the “boring bamboo”.

The first thing that I did was pull out my rotary cutter and CUT IT INTO STRIPS!!! Yes, it was a bit scary, but it felt good to actually be doing something with it!! I added a few colored strips ……

…..and IMMEDIATELY liked it better!!

But, I didn’t want to stop there!! When I was at the Houston quilt show, I purchased a starter set of Tsukiniko Inks….

…..and a couple of stencils, including this bamboo design…..

I was intrigued with the pouncers that I bought and found that they worked beautifully for inking the stencil…..

Next, I got one of the “Fantastix” brushes and dipped the tip in a brighter color of ink…….

and used it to add some highlights to the bamboo leaves…..

Okay….that worked fairly well……

So now I was ready to do it on the real fabric that I wanted to use. I had learned two things during the test. First, I needed to mask the edges of the stencil so that I didn’t end up with “overflow”, and secondly, I needed to tape the stencil to the fabric so that it didn’t slip around as I “pounced”. I ended up taking care of both of these issues at one time by simply taping all around the edge of the stencil……

I was pleased with the final print and ready to move on to the next step….adding the old, ugly strips. It was like working a weird jigsaw puzzle…..

. I started adding strips and ended up with a hodge-podge mess…..

So I backed up, ignored all of the outside bits and pieced the inside part that I did like…..†

…..and then continued on with the next set of borders…..

….and then finished it up with a new outside border…..

Even though I didn’t use ALL of the parts of the original quilt, I am pleased with this “new” bamboo quilt top….much happier than with the original. Now I just need to think about how to quilt it and then get it FINISHED and out of my UFO box!!!

UFO Finish

WOW….I have come up with a way of finishing UFO’s without even stepping foot in my studio….want to know my secret?

Last summer, I wrote about going thru my UFO’s and getting rid of some of those that I thought I would never finish.   As a result, I gave this square…..


…to the Charity Bee for my Quilt Guild.

It was made in a thread painting workshop, and while I learned a lot while making it, I knew that I would never actually use it.

So, apparently my friend, Nupur, took this block home, thought about it for while,  and turned it into this wonderful quilt…..


Now THAT is the way to finish a UFO!!!

Thanks Nupur for making me look good!!

What do I do with this one???


Help…..I can’t decide what to do with this piece……


I purchased it at an outdoor market when we were in Chiang Mai Thailand back in 2011.  It is 37 x 20 inches in size.

The applique is wonderful……


….with TINY stitches and fun embroidery touches as well.


Now the question is……what do I do with this?   I could just stretch it and frame it, but I am also thinking about layering it up and doing some quilting on it.

What do you think???

One big UFO equals TWO fun finishes

When Qingru and Luhan arrived at our house, they were SO enamored with all of my quilts.   As this excitement continued over the next few days I decided that I wanted to give both girls a lap quilt when they moved into their apartments…..in 10 days!!!!

I knew that I couldn’t make two quilts from scratch, but as I sat looking at the big quilt that I had in my UFO bin…….


I got the idea to split it into smaller quilts……DSC02820

I played around with border colors a little bit and quickly decided to use similar colors for both quilts.

I madly quilted both of them, using a lot of straight lines and adding a bit of free-motion once I was sure that I could get them finished on time.

They ended up looking great……


The girls were moving in on Saturday morning so on Friday evening I finally got the quilts washed and dried.   Just before the girls were going up to start packing, Michael and I presented their gifts.



It was such fun to see them so excited and I hope that these will keep both girls warm on many nights!!!

UFO’s Everywhere

Two weeks ago I found myself in my studio, looking at this…..


A completely empty table just doesn’t happen that often!!!

So, I decided to rummage in my closet and have a look thru my “UFO” box…..


First out of the box was a quilt top that I started during a Pat Speth workshop….


I spent a bit of time on EQ trying to figure out what borders to add to it and put it away for another day.

Next out was a top that I made MANY years ago as part of a guild workshop…..


I have never been that excited about his pattern or top and was NOT looking forward to working on it.   Then I had the brilliant idea to give it to the Guild Charity Bee so that it could become a lap quilt for one of our charities……ONE GONE!!!

Next was a thread painting that I did in a Susan Brubaker Knapp workshop…..


I took it to the Bee as well, and someone else is putting borders around it and making it into a Lap quilt also.

Next, was a series of blocks that I made during a piecing workshop a long time ago……DSC02789

I have NO idea what can be done with all of this, but one of our Charity Bee members has taken it home to play with.

Next in the pile were these blocks from a quilt that I started back in 1997…..


I did a bit of machine applique on the lion and happily handed it off to a guild member too.

Next was a piece that I started when we were in Rome in 2010…..DSC02783

OK….here is one that I am looking forward to finishing…..sometime!!!!


The rest of the box contained UFO’s that my Mother has sent to me….those can easily wait for another time!!!!


I know that I didn’t actually FINISH anything, but it feels good to pass some on and remind myself of what there is still to do!!

Christmas Lap Quilt…..only 15+ years in the making!!!!

Yesterday, I had an entire day in my studio and my goal was to finish a UFO that I started about 15 or so years ago.  I posted about this on 12/29 of LAST year, and here is a recap from that post…..

It started out as a full size Christmas quilt for my bed.  It was in the days where I hadn’t done a lot of machine quilting and had never tried quilting anything as large as this one, so I decided to hand quilt it…..GULP!!   I used a “quilt-as-you-go”  technique where you put sets of blocks together, baste and quilt them and then put all of the sets together to form the final quilt.

I had made the first two strips, each consisting of three blocks.  Life then got in the way,  and I lost interest in the project.  It was relegated to the top shelf of my bedroom closet….in my mind, it didn’t even qualify for placement in my studio.  I had even thought several times about throwing it away.

In 2009, I made a list of my UFO’s and suddenly remembered this one so I added it to the list.  This was how it looked at that time……


As I looked at it, I decided to turn it into a lap quilt of three rows of 2 blocks each.   I have thought about this project over the last few days and kept trying to come up with a grand plan for doing this, but finally decided to just START the project and let it take me where it would. 

It has taken several “finagles” to make the design work, but I am pleased with the overall results.  There is still some quilting to be done on it (by machine) and a bit of hand quilting to be taken out, but that can happen later when I am looking for a quick project to fill a few hours.

OK…fast forward for almost a year and you will see that my “few hours” never materialized.  I REALLY wanted to get some use out of it in the few days before Christmas, so I pulled it out and finished the quilting.    I even put the binding on by machine….that is how badly I wanted to get it finished today!!!!


As I said in the previous post, technically it is not a great quilt, but I LOVED being able to snuggle under while watching “Muppet Christmas Carol”.

AND….I can mark it off that I completed ONE ufo in 2010!!!!

A little bit of sewing

Yesterday, I had a few minutes in the studio and was able to finish the backing for the “Rosebrock Garden Cuttings” quilt. (see this post). 

As I originally said, I was trying to use as many of the leftovers from the previous quilt and wanted to continue that idea on the back.  I was able to use a bunch of the pieces, but finally decided that it was looking too cluttered so I took a few pieces off and just finished it!!!

Here is the back….layered, basted and ready for quilting!!!


Oh…by the way,  the train is back on the design wall so hopefully there will be more posts about this in the next few weeks!!!!

Rosebrock Garden Cuttings


Cast your mind back to September of last year and a post that I wrote about a bag of leftovers from a quilt that my Mom and I had made together……

I had started working on the alternating blocks while we were visiting in Oxford, England for 2 months.  But, when I returned and started to put the blocks together I realized that I didn’t like how they looked.   SO, I put the original blocks aside and started over again with a different design.  Then, when I got to the border, I designed and pieced one side of the quilt, but the I didn’t like it when I started to apply it to the quilt.  Once again, it was pitched aside and I started over again.

SO, as I was doing some cleaning out, I came across a bag containing the following bits and pieces……  all leftovers from the original quilt…..

_9132506 (2)After going thru all of this  and determining how many different blocks and patches I had in each type I moved to Electric Quilt and started to design a block that would use as many of these pieces as possible.  This is what I came up with….

pic 1


I then took photos of the two blocks and played with them in Photoshop until I came up with this…..


After piecing the center, I auditioned a ton of fabrics to pick the borders.  After deciding on a small pink border, I started looking at all of the small strips that I had left over and turned it into a piano key border.

The final border was a toughie……I kept putting fabrics on the design wall and taking photos of them, but couldn’t find anything that I was happy with.    Then I came across  one of the Caryl Bryer Fallert gradation fabrics and was really excited to see how it looked.  I spent a LONG time trying to figure out how to turn the corners so that the colors blended, but finally decided to just start attaching it and to adjust as I went.

ANYWAY, here is the finished top……


I am now working on the backing, and hope to  use the last few bits of the leftovers.

Oh, and about the quilt name…… when we spent our two months in Oxford, we lived in a house just across from Merton College that was built in the 1500’s and remodeled in the 1700’s.   There was a gorgeous courtyard, complete with a pond, 2 pooping Mallards and beds and pots of wonderful plants.  The garden was named “Rosebrock Garden” and the quilt is made of the leftovers (cuttings) from “Mother Daughter Flower Garden”……thus  “Rosebrock Garden Cuttings”

……more to come…….