Tuesday, December 31, 2013

influences: Josef Albers

We're traveling around a bit and I'm in the middle of a lengthy embroidery project, so new fresh tiny quilts are in short supply.

Instead, I'll talk about influences. Color is a pretty big deal for me. I love the saturation of color in fabric. I've tried paints and, while fun, they just doesn't work for me. Colored paper is lots of fun, but I'm not fond of glue and mess. Fabric just feels so good in my hands. 

In college, we had to shell out for the Pantone swatch set. It was a cool toy, but a tease. I wanted yards of colors, not a little piece. I wanted to be surrounded and enveloped by color. (Hey, I should make quilts, right?)

We also studied the seminal tome by Josef Albers, The Interaction of Color. Since 2013 is the 50th anniversary of its publishing, Yale has republished the work as both a paperback book and an iPad app. OMG! The app is amazing! For a mere $10, you can actually do the exercises that used to be performed with colored papers now with just your fingertips and eyeballs (well, and an expensive electronic toy). It's a hoot!!

Get the app here: Interaction of Color

Friday, December 27, 2013


A friend recently sent me a picture of the doll quilt I made for her daughter ages ago, back when our lives were full of toddlers and their dollies. I must have made a dozen little doll quilts with appliquéd hearts in rows for all the little girls in my life then. I indulged my imagination for a visit back to those days.

This one is a little less regular and less boring than the doll quilts of yore. Back then all the hearts were aligned the same direction, there were no dots and the fabrics were more randomly chosen to make it look like a scrap quilt. It's much more fun to make up the patterns as I go along now, instead of defaulting to a traditional arrangement.

I really can't get enough of dots.

"Dolly Hearton"
2013, 12" x 8.5", hand appliquéd and hand quilted

Check out this tiny art quilt on Etsy!

the joy of tiny things

Tiny things fascinate me. Who knows why. Tiny living spaces, especially. I love to look at trailers, boats and tiny houses. I always have a box or jar of tiny treasures. I once built a fantastic dollhouse.

I envision these quilts livening up a tiny niche or small wall space in a tiny living environment.

Now, also, I have a tiny sewing machine. It weighs only 5 pounds and lives behind the couch, ready at a moment's notice.

"Spotted sunshine in my eyes"
2013, 16" x 16", hand appliquéd and hand quilted

Check out this tiny art quilt on Etsy!


There's something way too enticing about repetition. I almost can't help myself, but hey, Andy Warhol did it.

Variations on a theme, over and over. Blocks. The essence of traditional quilts. I'm just giving in this time.

"TV eyes"
2013, 20.25" x 10.25", hand appliquéd and hand quilted

Check out this tiny art quilt on Etsy!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Our last read-aloud book (The Mistborn Trilogy) features metals as a source of power. The characters get to read from tablets made from metal to understand their history and their gods. Here is another imagined piece of their text. The background fabric has little fake metallic flakes imprinted on it.

"Unknown script copper"
2013, 8.5" x 8.5", hand appliquéd and hand quilted

Friday, December 20, 2013

letters and stories

My wonderful husband reads stories out loud to me while I prep dinner and wash up. I love being able to listen and fill my head with imagined visuals for the story (why I like books better than movies). The last book used quotes from fictional historical texts at the beginning of each chapter to give context to the unfolding story. As I was thinking about what these old texts looked like and what I've seen of illuminated manuscripts in museums, I built this quilt.

"Unknown script green"
2013, 8.5" x 8.5", hand appliquéd and hand quilted

Monday, December 9, 2013

waste not

 A few weeks ago, I posted a failed experiment with four block that wound up looking like eggs. I removed the block that wasn't quite the right color, made a replacement and embraced the eggs that were struggling to be seen. I wasn't about to throw the blocks in the waste bin, that wouldn't be any fun.

"Dreams on night watch"
2013, 12.5" x 12.5", hand appliquéd and hand quilted

The title is a nod to the night the captain noted on his way to bed after his midnight to 4 watch that all he could think about was a full diner style breakfast with eggs, grits and the works. Great. Now it's 4 AM and I have four hours to contemplate the same thing. He could have stayed quiet, but no.

Check out this tiny art quilt on Etsy!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I confess I'm infatuated with red right now. I wearing it, I'm painting with it and I finally ordered a huge hunk of red fabric. (Which red to buy is another long story. Do you know how many reds there are in the Kona Solids collection?)

Valentines, poppies, winter sweaters, apples, chilies, Christmas lights, shoes, cherries, Japanese maple leaves, the walls in my aunt's sitting room, lacquer bowls, lava, sealing wax, lobsters, my new short corduroy skirt, some baseball team, Lego bricks, roses, Chinese lanterns, nail polish, Coke cans.

I want to glow red.

"Out of the ashes, light"
2013, 8.5" x 8.5", hand appliquéd and hand quilted.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Not so good...

Sometimes a vision just doesn't work out.  I have a big bag of hand-dyed oranges, pinks and yellows left over from this quilt https://plus.google.com/photos/101418904686202842633/albums/5351802861176916385/5357734975944919074?banner=pwa&pid=5357734975944919074&oid=101418904686202842633

It's beautiful fabric, there's lots of it and I would love to use it to make another big quilt. I started playing with some blocks of simple layered shapes. My gut tells me to align the shapes to the squares, but I thought to push the edge and set them on an angle.

Not looking good. Back to the drawing board and trusting my gut. Not everything has to be edgy ( or perhaps eggy).

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


What is it about colorways that fascinates? My mother used to get wallpaper sample books for me when I was a kid and I loved cutting out the flowers from the different colorway pages. The same design rendered in greens, blues, yellows and pinks never lost their interest for me. I still love looking at the same designs in multiple colors, only now it is mostly fabric, not wallpaper.

Here is the Goldilocks pattern from a few weeks ago, done in some colors that remind me of my Grandmother's set of doll dishes. I played with the dishes when I visited her apartment in NYC and when she and Pappy moved into their travel trailer, she gave them to me and my sister.

If I sound like an old woman with all this reminiscing, perhaps that's the case, but color has always had a visceral effect on me and thinking about colors is like curling up in a sunny spot. Revisiting those sunny spots from childhood gives me joy. Color is joy in my heart.

2013, hand appliquéd, hand quilted, 8.5" x 8.5"

Monday, October 28, 2013

Etsy Launch

The port side aft locker is getting full of tiny quilts. Time to move some out and make room for more.

Making tiny quilts is great fun, but once I've finished one, it doesn't hold much interest anymore. My heart has already moved on. The sketch pad bulges.

Etsy seems like a perfect solution. Thanks HG for being my first customer!

Here's the store link (also on the right under Lookies) Etsy didn't allow the long name, but oh well...


This will be the future FLTQ business card background. Picture some lettering on the right side, blah, blah, blah.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Just right

It's threes again. Given three fabrics, make three square tiny quilts. This is the best fun! Still experimenting with extending shapes outside the edge and trying so hard to push myself away from wanting to balance the weight of the shapes (epic fail). And then there are those dots... They just want to fill in the negative space, and I let them walk all over me.

Goldilocks series: (from right to left) "pale...", "just right", and "bright!"

2013, hand appliquéd and hand quilted, each 8.5" x 8.5"

Here they are in their home, enjoying the love.

Monday, October 14, 2013


At a recent quilt guild meeting, an artist brought her trunk show, her life's work. Her early quilts were exquisite fabric renderings of paintings. Someone finally told her to stop doing other people's work, so she started designing. She gave herself permission to stop copying and start creating. Her original quilts showed the growth, the risk-taking and the experimentation; they were stunning. 

Not only did the quilts change, but the artist changed as she spoke. When she introduced the newer quilts, her body language showed a confidence, a completeness, an ownership of the piece. She was comfortable in her self-expression.

Meanwhile, the woman seated across from me spent the whole time intoning under her breath variations on the theme of "I'm not creative, I could never make that." What?! 
I wanted to throttle her after 5 minutes of this and ask her if she ever tried to be creative.

Creativity starts with believing in yourself, being positive and making the attempt. 

1. Observe your surroundings and your self. What interests you? Creativity is self-expression - know yourself.

2. Start small. Tweak a traditional pattern. Make it a little bit different, stretch it some. Keep stretching.

3. Practice. Sketch. Make things. Make mistakes. Keep doing.

2013, hand appliquéd and hand quilted, 10" x 10"

Some more good reading on creativity: http://zenhabits.net/pixar/

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Icons, part two

Making art is often about rendering what we see. We are used to icons, shapes that we instantly recognize. When familiar icons aren't present in a piece, the viewer is forced to think/react/respond/imagine a new story for the unfamiliar shapes. We already have a story in our minds for a "butterfly" shape. With a new shape, there is no stereotype, there is no ready story. Instead, there is a disruption of the normal recognition and classification process which forces our minds to exercise. Exercise is good. The shape image is not so familiar, not so easily dismissed. We are compelled to make new stories.

"Left Hindwing", 2013, hand appliquéd and hand quilted, 10" x 10".

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sketch every day

All those famous guys, (Malcolm Gladwell, Leo Babuata, etc.) claim that mastery of a skill is all about practice and creating habits. While I realize the scale of tiny quilts doesn't imply mastery, per se, I am treating this process of play like a skill to be mastered. I'm trying to practice. I'm trying to turn out a tiny quilt every week. 

The practice starts with observing and sketching. I have a hot pink pencil, a tiny sharpener and a 5" x 8" spiral sketch pad. I date every page and start doodling. Some days there's not much to use, some days there are a few good ideas. Some days the first sketch is great (these days are rare). Mostly, it's about consistency and volume. 

Google images is a helpful tool for ideas. This one came from ingesting images of butterfly wings.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


I like simple shapes; figure and ground compositions. Two dimensions are as far as I usually like to go. I've used many iconic shapes in past quilts: stars, hearts, daisies, butterflies, spirals.  While I still plan to work with with some of these shapes, I want them to look less like the iconic versions and more abstract.

Abstraction is fun. How does one stretch the shape, reduce the shape, simplify the shape to render it in a new way? Rendering a butterfly that looks just like a real butterfly is an exercise in technical drawing that I just don't have the patience for. Photography exists.

Here's a butterfly from a past big quilt. I'm working on some new ideas for butterfly parts, but free daylight hours have been in short supply lately.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Outside the frame

Tiny quilts don't need borders, but what about the framing itself? A tiny quilt is a certain size, and the design has to fit that size, but what does "fit" really mean? By habit, a design is often contained and constrained by the framing. The figure can be centered in the frame, or placed off-center. What if it tries to scoot out of the frame altogether?

I've been experimenting with a couple of different ways to explode the framing. Heading out over the edge...

"Crazy, all for the love"
2013, hand appliquéd, hand quilted, 10" x 10".

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Big bed quilts are happy with borders. In fact, some quilts (medallion style) seem to be all about the borders. Borders look pretty good on a bed. A bed is viewed from different angles and a well-designed border enhances the bed shape. A border can be a quick and practical way to line up the quilt to make the bed, too. Some of my favorite bed quilts featured major borders. Borders are also great to use up smaller pieces of fabric left over from the main design sections.

Tiny quilts don't need borders. They exist in a stand-alone space without the need to depend on the structure of a border to hold them together. Tiny quilts are already made of small pieces of fabric, so the smaller unit of border piecing would become ludicrously tiny.  Tiny quilts are out there, just saying "Hey, look at me!".

"Catching drips" - 2013, 10" x 10", hand appliquéd and hand quilted.

One of the quilts from my border-building glory days.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Process of Play

I'm calling the process of growing a tiny quilt "playing". One often uses the phrase "working on" when referring to a project. Making a tiny quilt is "playing on"!

The process of play:

1. Thinking - this is the fun part - observing the surrounding landscapes, feeling the colors around me, creating shapes in my head.

2. Sketching - ok, this is really the fun part. I love having a sharp pencil and thick paper in my hands. I have sketches back many years and often review them for new twists. Recently I started using Penultimate on my iPad and am having fun with a new toy.

3. Choosing Fabric - more fun! I have fabric in bags by color family. I usually have some idea where I want to start, but I still like to get out all my bags and lay the pieces of color next to each other. Or I look at color cards I've collected from the manufacturers and start online shopping.

4. Mechanical Drawing, Cutting, and Basting - the full size pattern is drawn on paper, cut out, traced on the fabric and sewn down near the final stitching lines.

5. Sewing - this is really the best, most exciting part! The appliqué IS the play. The shape becomes fully defined for the first time.

6. Quilting - batting and backing are added with a line of outline stitches to give texture.

7. Binding - the final framing up, some straight seams and mitered corners.

8. Photographing - nothing is finished until the documentation is complete, right?

9. Blogging - introducing the tiny quilt to the world. What's its name? What's its story? Why did this design grow from sketch to fabric?

10. Then what? Probably rolled up in the sock drawer with its buddies while I play on the next one.

This is where each tiny stitch reveals the new shape of the figure against the ground.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


I live pretty much outdoors. Our boat certainly has an indoors and we sleep indoors and hide from the elements indoors, but the outdoors is right there, inches away. It's very different from the insulating feeling one gets living in a house.

Landscapes and seascapes are my visual world. I don't often make representational images in my tiny quilts, but I couldn't resist making an attempt at rendering a shoreline that we saw coming up the ICW (the Intracoastal Waterway) this Spring somewhere in NC.

                             "ICW 2013 NC", 10" x 16", hand appliquéd and quilted.

Here's the actual landscape that inspired it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What does one DO with a tiny quilt?

I certainly don't know. I just like to make them.

I suppose one could hang one on the wall, use one on table under the teapot, make a pillow, wrap a dolly, sew one to a tote bag, or display one on a tiny quilt rack on a table to gather dust.

As an avowed minimalist who doesn't currently own anything that could be considered a "decoration" (not even a single Christmas ornament), my inclination is to wad a tiny quilt up in the sock drawer. I do draw the line at using them for engine rags.

The point is, they don't have to be useful or displayed. The joy is in the making. However, if you want to use one as a potholder, be my guest!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Threes: stuck in my head

Why are collections of three objects so visually appealing?

In composition there is a rule of thirds, in which a square or rectangle is visually divided into a three by  three grid and objects placed along the grid lines for balance.  Balance is key with threes. A tripod balances more easily than an object with two legs or with four. Philosophically we have a kind of threes balance in democracy - two makes a majority decision in a group of three. Some religions use three manifestations of a deity. We love the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears because we identify with the small-medium-large, the soft-comfy-hard and the two extremes of hot and cold and the "just right" in between.

Nature abounds with groups of three in the plant kingdom, so many beautiful flower and leaf structures. Google images delights me with inspiration. Here's a quilt from the archives called the Napster.

I have a lot more ideas on groups of three for tiny quilts, but it's been way too hot to sit with fabric in my lap.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Last night I hightailed myself to the local Quilt Guild meeting! It's been many years since I belonged to a guild, and since I've picked up the quilting again, I have been missing the community. It's sometimes hard to find opportunities like this while traveling around, but I found a guild directory online that indicated a guild meeting in Deltaville VA less than a mile from the Deltaville Marina where we are living for the summer. How cool is that?!

Even for an August meeting, the church hall was packed with the Sting Ray Stitchers with their beautiful name tags and welcoming smiles. It was great to plunk myself down and hear the voices catching up on family life, talking about their projects and seeing the beautiful items for the show-n-tell session.

Can't wait until the September meeting! 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Solid color cotton fabric, oh yeah!

Like everyone who plays with fabric, color is one of the visceral connections between eye and fabric. I want a little bit of fabric in every color. Just to look at. To line up side by side in little folded piles to experience the vibrations of the colors next to each other. Or just to focus on one color and go deep inside it.

I spent way too many hours the other night on the internet looking at fabric. The big fabric companies have my number. They sell stacks of pre-chosen colors tied up with elegant ribbons or rolled up like pinwheels. They almost look too beautiful to unwrap. There are also boxes with every color they make lined up like candy. I confess I am trying to find a way to win the lottery and buy them all.

Then I started looking at quilts that used only solid colors. I broke down and joined Pinterest so I could collect the ones I liked (NOT the ones that looked like rainbows, give me a break!). After looking at the quilts I chose and analyzing the designs in my sketch book, I realized that most of the quilts I want to make only use about 4-5 different colors at a time.

So maybe, just maybe, I don't need 250 different colors.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Inside corners (complex)

Inside corners on a triangle are much easier. Using reverse appliqué gives a triangle inside corners. 

What if the triangles are a part of a larger design and there are other fabric layers involved?
Here's one in which the triangles are part of a curvy line. If the background fabric on the left is used for the complete design, then the triangles on the right would have an edge and two angles on top of it. In order to keep the triangles looking crisp, they need to be reverse appliquéd on both left and right. Hmm.

Here's the trick.

Draw out the design, clearly labeling the layers (switch green for red in my sketch).

Cut the design. Other layers can be cut separately to keep the lines complete.

Appliqué the layers in order. Find a nice quiet spot on the curvy line, cut the seam allowance right to the sewing line and switch the foreground and background fabrics. There will be a slight bump when the lines cross, but it will be difficult to see if done neatly.

This technique allows both triangle sections to be done in reverse appliqué, so the points can be sharp.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Inside corners (simple)

Appliqué has some limitations, although in general it's a very forgiving technique. One can pretty much "draw" any shape and execute it in appliqué. Outside corners have some issues. Ninety degree corners are ok, as the inevitable fabric lumps can tuck under fairly neatly. Anything less than ninety degrees and the extra corner fabric doesn't really have any place to hide. The best bet is to replace the outside corners with inside corners.

I love me the triangle. Anything with three parts is a favorite in my book. Triangles can be spikes, sails, arrows, lots of things. They are sharp and angular in contrast to the many curves I like to use. I want to use lots of triangles, but I'd like to make them fast with nice tight corners that don't bulk up. So far, the easiest way I've figured to render a tight looking triangle is to use reverse appliqué. The triangle shape will be under the background fabric, so it recedes a bit, but that small compromise is worth it to me to avoid the bulky outside corners.

So here's how it goes:

Draw out the triangle on the foreground fabric, cut it out using some seam allowance and baste the background fabric in place.

Start sewing on a straight section. When close to the corner, make a straight cut from the edge of the seam allowance to the V of the triangle corner.

Stitch the turned fabric under to the traced corner and take a few stitches at the corner itself. There really isn't much (if any) fabric in the seam allowance at this point, but the sides will keep the seam allowance in place. 

The result is a nice tight inside corner.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Prints, prints and more prints

In my dotage, I'm easily overwhelmed, especially visually. Or maybe it's all the reading I've been doing on the minimalist lifestyle. Printed fabrics are getting a bit too much for me, both in the wardrobe arena and in quilt-making. I don't mind a little accent of printed fabric here or there, but mixing printed fabrics in a quilt gets too distracting. 

Besides the visual clutter of using multiple printed fabrics in a quilt, prints are a snapshot of current fashion. This enables a fabric historian to date a particular print based on the trendy fabrics used in the quilt. It also means, like clothes, the prints "expire". They become so last year, or last decade. I like to think that solid colored fabrics, like the Amish quits, have a little more staying power, in addition to being easier on the eyes.

I do have a bag of prints left over from previous quilting ventures, so I am trying to use them up before I start collecting (stashing) some solids. I wanted to experiment with a technique for switching foreground and background in appliqué, so wanted to use up some scraps to try it out. Here is the result. I don't like it because it's too busy. I may do the design again in solids so I can actually see the shapes. The technique worked out well, though. I'll post some more details on that in the future.

"Spikes up the ying yang"
2013, 10" x10", hand appliquéd and hand quilted

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Studio space

An artist's studio can be a playground. A space to fill with inspirational pictures, good music, and tons of supplies. I've seen many a photo of floor to ceiling shelves with sorted fabrics or yarns just begging to be chosen for the next new project. Large work tables fill the center of the room, one for fabric cutting, one for the sewing machine, and space to layout full-size designs. A large empty wall stands in to hang finished pieces for photographs. Sunlight streams through windows to light the area. Any one of those features would be part of an artist's dream space.

What if there is no dedicated room? What if the work table is also where meals are eaten? What if the light is from an 18" skylight and a couple of 6" x12" ports? What if the fabric storage is less than half a cubic yard? This is when "tiny" really shines.

Organization is key in a tiny studio. Here is the inventory for my tiny quilts studio:

1. a small tool box with scissors, needles, rotary cutter and all the essentials
2. a 45-pound industrial sewing machine stored under the companionway ladder
3. fabric, thread and batting stowed in zip plastic bags under and behind the setee in front of the table
4. an iPad and sketch books for inspiration and notes
5. a headlamp. I prep work at night that needs daylight to execute.
6. a cutting mat to protect the table surface
7. a zip bag with all the supplies needed for the current project

One project in progress at a time, only one.

The tiny tool box

The space behing the couch. Yes, the fuel filters and spare plumbing parts share the bin.

I'm so glad there is room to store the essentials. I'll use every inch of my dream studio, especially the open cockpit where I can sew on a calm, sunny day.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


This tiny quilt was in response to a reader's challenge in Quilting Arts magazine with the theme "Passages". The theme was posed as "It could be journey or an attained stage of life". Serendipity strikes! Both those general definitions apply to this past year in my life. 

Having quilted most of my life, I had a bit of fabric stashed away. In the process of selling our house and downsizing to a sailboat, most of that fabric was given to other homes. I carried with me a single gallon zip bag of small pieces that I thought I might use someday if the sewing bug bit me. One piece was navy with stars, one piece was some Asian waves that I used 25 years ago to appliqué Godzilla on a denim jacket for my small son. One was a pinky, purply batik. And there is always some white aboard. Just the fabrics I needed to make a "Passages" tiny quilt!

Here it is with the description I submitted.

"Dawn Watch"
2013, 10" x 10", hand appliquéd and quilted

Last year, my husband and I quit our jobs, sold everything we couldn't take with us and moved aboard our sailboat to travel full-time. The Passages theme worked two-fold for me; not only the movement from land to water, but "passages" refers to sea journeys of one or more days. This piece is my attempt at rendering the splendor of dawn after a night at sea. I always choose the dawn watch because it's so beautiful.

It didn't get selected, but it was fun entering. I look forward to seeing the chosen tiny quilts in a later issue.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Triptych variations

Just some ideas on making tiny quilts in multiples. Circles could be used in the joined variations also. Vertical arrangements would work also.

Here's an example of variation number two.

"Green Dot Mutation"
2013, 27.5" x 11" hand appliquéd, pieced and quilted. For sale.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Floating Leaf's tiny quilt

Who is Floating Leaf anyway?

She's my alter ego. She's wise and compassionate. She's often silent. She doesn't criticize. She moves through life with acceptance and grace. Like me, she also likes to cook, take long walks and make tiny quilts.

Here's one for her.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Modern Quilts

Looking around in the online space and in current quilting publications, the term "modern" quilts is in vogue.  A decade ago they might have been called "contemporary". I have to laugh at the hubris of calling the current style either modern or contemporary. Doesn't that just mean it's current now? Isn't that what fashion is? Can't we think of a better word for the current trend?
In any case, the current characteristics of a "modern" quilt are use of solid-colored fabrics, emphasis on negative space, restrained use of prints, use of asymmetry, and the aspect of minimalism.

After searching for examples, I tried my hand at a "modern" interpretation of a very tiny quilt. Well, actually, I admit it is a mug rug. Pretty useless excuse for making a tiny quilt. One step up from a tea cozy, really. But my daughter just got a promotion and an office with a window. Maybe she needs something cute to put her tea cup on?

"View out the window" 2013, 8.5" x 4.5" hand appliquéd and hand quilted.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Waste not, want not

My mother, a product of the Great Depression, always said "Make do with what you have." Piecing small bits of fabric is one of the iconic crafts exemplified by her expression. Quilts were originally made from leftover fabric.

Unlike the old days, most of us now purchase new fabric for making quilts. Indeed, many of us purchase LOTS of new fabric for making future, someday quilts. A term for fabric collecting is "stash building". I had a bit of a small fabric stash when we moved aboard our sailboat, Red Ranger. While I would like to buy some new fabric and build up my stash, I need to use up what I brought aboard first.

Here is, then, the newest "stash consuming" quilt.

"Navel Gazing", 2013, 26.5" x 26.5", hand appliquéd, machine quilted, from a Jane Sassaman print and a pack of hand-dyed oranges (source unremembered) 

For sale, inquire for details - syndianne@gmail.com

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

First tiny quilt

Tiny Quilt beginnings. This was the first tiny quilt I made, probably circa 1980. It was for my little sister's dollies. Scraps and piecing were all I knew in those days. Who didn't have scrap fabric back then? Mom taught me to sew my own clothes in elementary school. We had a big pine chest full of leftover fabric that could barely close. One didn't purchase new fabric for a quilt. I thought the definition of a quilt was small pieces of scrap fabric sewn together. The 80's are over, thank goodness.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


One of the first shapes I tried in appliqué was the handprint. It's a cool shape because it's so recognizable and unique. My son's handprint and my daughter's handprint are so different.

Handprints are also a joy to work up in appliqué. They are small and flowing, with smooth curves and inside corners. I made a ton of these for family, of family. One of these designs that keep on giving and growing. Hands are pretty important after all.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Big Quilts (old ones) (just for historical reference) (ancient history)

Big Quilts

Tiny beginnings

I've churned out some 70-odd quilts in my day, starting with the traditional patchwork patterns worked in scrap fabrics and moving on to designing my own appliqué quilts using hand-dyed fabrics.

Along the way, I've made a few tiny quilts for fun or to hang on a wall, but was more focused on bed-size quilts because they seemed somehow more useful. Screw useful. Bed-size quilts become a burden. No one wants them anymore really, because they require too much commitment. They become that heirloom piece that Mom made that doesn't really reflect current tastes in ever-changing bedroom decor but we have to keep anyway and drag out of the closet for visits. You know what I mean.

Oh, and now I live on a sailboat. Making a bed-size quilt isn't exactly easy to do anymore. No room to spread out. No where to store yards of fabric. No funds to buy yards of hand-dyed fabric.

Tiny quilts are very appealing. They don't require lots of fabric, thus solving the storage and funding issues. They don't involve much commitment. No one has to love them or treat them with undue  reverence. They don't take six months to make. Tiny quilts are simply a way to play with fabric. A tiny experiment in color or composition that can quickly evolve to a new color way or composition permutation. Kinda like a sketch.

So here goes a new blog. A place for contemplation and practice, both to write and to focus on expanding my tiny quilts. Not making them bigger, mind you, making more of them. Making them more interesting and full of stories.