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.