A Quilter’s Blank Canvas–Wanna See it?

Last Sunday was my father’s 80th birthday party.  We were sitting around a picnic table enjoying the spring breeze, when my niece asked me about my latest quilt project.” I’m making a pond quilt,” I said. Everyone got quiet, trying to figure out what I said and what that could possibly look like.

Well, here is how it starts, with a quilter’s blank canvas. For me, my best quilts often begin with the background :


I love having the fabrics cut, the backing done, the batting already in the center, the pins securing everything in place. Then I can put all the details on the top, layer after layer. My pond scene will have a duck, beaver, frog, turtle, and dragonfly quilting. Can you imagine it?

Here is the duck, coming to life:


In my next post, the quilt will be finished– come back and see it!

It’s Frustrating When a Sloth’s Face Gets Stuck to Your Elbow.

The design for Harold the Sloth was going great until…. I ran into trouble with the body fabric. Should I try to stay true to the sloth’s remotely possible coloring or do I  just do whatever I want? Because I did not have the answer to that question secure in my design vision, the result was eight sloth body rejects. Evelyn claimed one and drew all over it with marker, but I still have 7 Harold the Sloth fabric rejects. If you are interested, send me a line and I’ll sell them cheap, like real cheap:)

I know you all are waiting to hear the story of Harold’s face stuck to my shirt. This is what happened. I was creatively zooming along in my workshop making Harold. I had his tiny nose, eyes, eyeballs, and most important, a perfectly positioned crooked smile. I was ready to sew! Then there was a kitchen emergency (Evelyn needed help pouring a glass of milk). When I got back, Harold’s face was gone!I couldn’t believe it. I look all around and finally see an eye on the carpet. Then I found an eyeball in the hall and two more pieces in the kitchen. His smile was still stuck to my elbow, go figure. The nose is  MIA, but it is really, really small, so that is a reasonable loss.

Here is Harold with his reconstructed nose:


He is for sale both the quilt and the pattern in my Etsy shop:)

A Day in the Life of Harold the Sloth

Last week I made George the Elephant. This week the next in the series is Harold the Sloth. The name came courtesy of my second grader the “Queen of Naming Imaginary Creatures and Stuffed Animals”, Evelyn.  After the fiasco of googling elephant names, I just went straight to the expert this time.

I have been considering a sloth quilt for awhile now because sloths are such interesting characters. I wanted to emphasize their laziness so in this quilt Harold is sleeping, then waving hello, then sleeping again. (Add food and Netflix and that’s my kids on spring break this week:)

I have most of the quilt planned, but I will probably enlarge Harold a bit and add some detail. Here is the first draft of “A Day in the Life of Harold the Sloth”:



How Many Toes Does an Elephant Have?

I read whenever I’m not quilting. I have 6 children, most of them grown. Ergo.. I have read billions of children’s books. The kids and I have examined thousands of illustrations in the books and I have come to this conclusion. There are unspoken rules for drawing animal illustrations. So, you can have a neon pink pig with false eyelashes and a full set of clothes, but if her tail is not curly, people notice. Chickens can look like anything, but they have to have wings. I could go on and on.
Anyway, I am designing an elephant quilt so of course, I have to have the correct number of toes. Do you know there is no clear answer on the number of toes an elephant has?  I had to take the most often given answer, which is 4 toes on the front feet, 3 on the back. This quilt design is getting more and more complicated.

Here is a photo of where I am in the design process:


Turns out, the toes weren’t the hardest part. What does the water squirting from an elephant’s trunk really look like? And how do you translate that into fabric? Hopefully, I can solve these problems today and I’ll have the finished quilt to show you over the weekend.

Grandma’s Flower Garden Looks a Bit Hippie

Last post I mentioned how I was trying to remake traditional quilt patterns. I was working on a way to efficiently design Grandma’s Flower Garden quilt to be as beautiful, flowerful, and colorful as the original pattern but in a fraction of the time and without cutting the fabric into thousands of pieces and sewing them back together.

I think the design turned out well, but it seems to have a bit of a hippie flavor– maybe it’s the colors I chose or maybe it’s the curve of the flowers. Anyway, maybe it’s appropriate  because many of today’s Grandma’s came of age in the heyday of the hippies 🙂


 As you can tell in the picture, the fat quarters are used in whole pieces. The flowers are made from a reverse applique technique where you cut the first layer of fabric to reveal the layer underneath. This quilt pattern has lots less cut and piece but uses lots of fabric– there are 4 layers to the quilt but no batting. The pattern and quilt are available in my Etsy shop.


How to Grow a Quilt Flower Garden

One of my goals is to remake old traditional patterns. I want to keep the spirit of the original pattern but adapt it to modern quilting. One of my favorite old patterns is Grandma’s Flower Garden. I think I love it so much because it is a riot of colors and I love color. It also traditionally was made with a thousand (only slight exaggeration) teeny tiny pieces cut from old grain sacks and sewn painstakingly together by candlelight on long boring nights alone with the family in the log cabin.

Well… as romantic as that sounds… I want to make my version in a few hours. I also want to use some really cool fat quarters that I just got at the fabric store. Now with all the beautiful brand new prints, why would I cut them up into a thousand pieces just to sew them back together?

That seems like a waste of time, energy, and fabric. My motto is beautiful patterns, optimal efficiency.

I’m not quite done, but here is a picture of the colors and options I’m working on for my newest quilt. It will have 18 fat quarters, all of them used with minimal waste and cutting.