Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2 of 9

Here's the second one of nine. Quilt fever isn't happening right now with the holiday spirit, so this is going pretty slowly.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

growing a quilt

Block-based quilts are fun because I get to play the same design over and over again. I like repetition. Yeah, me and Andy Warhol, twins. I have 8 more of these to make. It's soothing to watch the needle make it's way around and around. Plus, I'm starting to listen to Serial.

Monday, December 8, 2014

time to commit

Larger quilts mean more time spent on one design. I'd better like the plan and look forward to playing with it.  I pulled all the fabric out this weekend, looked at the sketches I'd stashed from last month and began the contemplation of the next tiny quilt. I like the repetition of the nine patch, but the thought of doing the nine plain circles from one of my sketches (which I do like) began to weigh on me. It might be too boring. The doodling began...

Since the last two quilts were heavy on the warm colors, I thought it was time for some greens, blues and purples to make an appearance.

Monday, December 1, 2014

quilt fever

It really feels like a fever.  You can't concentrate on anything else. You stay up late at night to keep playing even when you know you're exhausted and you have a full day ahead in the morning. It's like not being able to put down a good novel. It consumes the brain entirely. It's an intense naval gazing that obliterates the outside world. While I feel it, I know it won't last, but I have to ride it until it lets me go.

I first remember feeling this way on the recreation room floor when I must have been three or four. My mother gave me a big paper bag of fabric scraps that were all mine. The bag was stored right in the same pine chest that she kept her good fabric. I could open the chest any time I wanted to. I could sit on the floor for hours and cut and sew fabric pieces together. Anytime I wanted to. As long as I wanted to. All of it. Mine.

The fever hits me in waves that might last a few days or months. When I don't feel it, I don't want to have anything to do with fabric. It seems silly, the importance I felt about making quilts last week. What was I thinking? There are far more important things to do in life. 

But then, it rises again, like a bout of malaria. Cooking isn't important, chores are put off, outside commitments become burdens. I retreat into my head and the moving of my fingers with the needle, the pencil, the scissors, the sewing machine. New designs fill up the sketchbook. Fabric comes out of the cupboard and gets rearranged in piles. Imagined future projects clog up the queue.

It's quilt fever. 

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes it as "flow". Not being a drug user, I really can't substantiate this claim, but for me, it's better than imagined drugs. 

It finally lets me go for a time and I can step back and say "Really? This is just a bunch of cut up fabric sewn back together again. What's the point?" But, for good or bad, the fever will be back again. 

And it feels so good when it comes back.

"spinning spikes"
2014, hand appliqued, machine pieced, hand quilted, 39" x 39"

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

influences: Kaffe Fasett

Before the internet and all the moving around I've done lately, I used to collect books on quilting and fabric and art. Many idyllic hours were spent, cup of tea in hand, browsing through colorful pages dreaming of projects to do.

One of those well-loved books was Kaffe Fassett's Glorious Needlepoint. I loved looking at needlepoint patterns, tried a few projects and ended up hating it. There is nothing so boring as color by numbers with a slow-moving needle and thread. You know exactly what the design is going to look like before you start, so why even start? But his designs certainly were beautiful to look at. I would go back to his book and just enjoy the visual dance of his colors and shapes. His designs are a bit busy for my taste, but his ability to blend colors is the big draw.

One day I was in a fabric store browsing the bolts and came upon Kaffe Fassett fabric!  I hadn't been following his career path much since that one book, so missed all the hoopla when he started designing fabric. I treated myself to a yard of pink with circles.

Some pillows made back in the machine appliqué days.

Here's an example of some of his current fabric.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

seasonal colors

I love the change of seasons. We are currently moving from a gorgeous Fall to a crisp, sunny Winter.  Sadly, I don't do much skiing anymore, but snow season is still exciting to me. My favorite holiday is coming up next week, a day devoted to gratitude and food. This year my daughter and son-in-law-to-be are about to make it incredibly special, by celebrating their wedding amidst a small gathering of family and friends. But I digress....

I was going to ramble on about seasonal colors and change. Once upon a time, we had a dining room, and in that dining room was a simple, pine sideboard, and above that simple, pine sideboard was an empty wall. We lived with that empty wall for a long time, then one day we got a framed poster of an Adirondack lake in the peak of Fall colors, to hang there. Winter came, and the poster didn't reflect the change of seasons. We got a framed poster of some Canadian geese in the snow next to a big, black, bare tree. The lake poster went in the closet. Spring came, and with it came a poster of a huge, pink water lily floating serenely on placid water. The geese joined the lake in the closet. Breaking waves on a beach graced the wall in the Summer. At each Equinox or Solstice, the appropriate poster got switched out from the closet. I miss that change of the art with the seasons.

I've been thinking of some quilting projects that repeat some aspect of design, while changing colors seasonally. I envision the photos of the quilts being set into a nice wall calendar or some such. I've also been thinking of fashion, wearing my basic black-grey-white wardrobe with a touch of red in the Winter, hot pink in the Spring, yellow in the Summer, and orange in the Fall. That means three more pair of eyeglasses. It strikes me that these thoughts are starting to get a bit silly, but hey, it's all just playing.

This is what my seasonal tiny quilts will NOT look like - way too static, iconic and boring. This is ancient history, although I do wish I had some more of that grey print.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

art? clothing? art?

The coffee shop in my neighborhood has a farmhouse theme. The baristas wear black aprons with appliqué designs on the front bib. They are bright print fabrics cut into farmhouse icons and sewn on using raw-edge appliqué, so they look worn in and homey after numerous washings. I enjoy their cheery variety. And, yes, they make me want to make aprons with tiny appliquéd designs of my own on the bibs.

I'm trying to restrain myself from going down that path. It's a slippery slope that I just don't want to start down. One apron decorated with a tiny appliqué design probably isn't going to hurt anything, but it crosses a line that I struggle with. Clothing is essentially to keep us warm and protected against the elements. An apron is worn simply to protect our regular clothes from kitchen mess. It does not need an appliqué design on the bib to do its job. 

Clothing is also our complicated way of expressing our status and culture. I'm pretty sure it wasn't long after we started tying furs around us that someone started decorating their furs with shells or bones. In many cultures, embroidery on a blouse or stripes on a sleeve, delineated one's station in life or where one lived. Decoration was an integral part of clothing's function, and still is, only now logos play the part of the embroidery. 

In the 20th century, there arose a group of artists who moved beyond clothing decoration into "art clothing", also called "wearable art". Quilters went crazy. A quilted vest was a great way to use up even more scraps, or buy more new fabric, and clothing took less time to make than a bed quilt. Let's make one for every day of the week!

Quilted clothing has been around for a long time, keeping peasants and gentry alike warm in the winter, but generally this clothing used the same fabric as summer weather clothes, just with warm padding. The quilted clothing produced in the last few decades grew from the popular resurgence in general quilt-making, both pieced and appliquéd.  And it was really ugly. (this writer's humble opinion, having made a few vests in the 80's)

This is the slippery slope that FLTQ is not going down. Clothing is not going to be decorated with appliqué designs in this studio. I'm taking a stance to keep myself from even thinking about it. No aprons. No curly borders on skirts. No backs of jackets. No looking like a clown.

At the other end of the spectrum, FL, herself, may be heading down this path. 

At first glance, I love this, but wait... who would walk around wearing it? Seriously!

Monday, November 10, 2014


One of my favorite bloggers wrote this week on keeping up her blog and how she keeps it fresh and interesting. Admittedly, she has a much wider base of support for her topic of interest, cooking, than a blog of tiny quilts will ever get, but her writing really connected with me. She writes:
"Here's how I approach this site, and have for a long time. I think of it as my practice. It's something I'm committed to, and look forward to being committed to for years to come. Contributing something new each week helps me develop in areas that I find important creatively - cooking, writing, taking photographs - and the only way I'm able to grow is through experience, experimentation, and regular practice."

Having spent my 20s studying Washin-Ryu Karate and having a long term interest in Zen Buddhism, the word "practice" woke up a realization in me that everything I do with fabric, color, and design can be described with this word that is both noun and verb. To apply the same focus towards writing about fabric, color and design is to bring the breadth and depth of the activity into the realm of communication. To try to capture the creative process, the influences, and the engagement with tactile materials and visual experience in a blog post is an expansion of the existing practice of making quilts.  

Inspiration can come at us from any direction. Who knew that reading a cooking blog can inspire a quilt maker?

  1. 1
    the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use.
    "the principles and practice of teaching"

  2. 2
    repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.
    "it must have taken a lot of practice to become so fluent"

  1. 1
    perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one's proficiency.
    "I need to practice my French"
    synonyms:rehearse, run through, go over/through, work on/at; More

  2. 2
    carry out or perform (a particular activity, method, or custom) habitually or regularly.
    "we still practice some of these rituals today"
    synonyms:carry out, performobserve
    "we still practice these rituals today"

Monday, November 3, 2014


I love those little moments in life that happen by chance. Call them sparks or connections or serendipity, but they seem important to notice and celebrate. One of those little star alignments happened this past week. 

I made doing donuts because I wanted to use up some special fabric left over from a special big quilt, but I wasn't sure what I was going to do with her. I hadn't listed her on the Etsy store, because I just wasn't feeling like selling her. I curled up with her one cold night in our new chair and thought that maybe this one I might keep. But keeping her didn't feel quite right either.  So, she waited. Then I thought she would be the centerpiece in the show I was going to have, but that has been postponed. 

Then one of those convoluted stories that life is made of, started to weave itself around her. Someone I reached out to in the course of some volunteer work read this blog and my other blog, saw the picture of the pickles, knows the pickle-maker (who just had a baby) and wanted to buy the quilt for the pickle-maker's baby. And to complete the circle, my intention when beginning floatingleaftinyquilts was to use any profits I might earn to fund environmental organizations. So, the check goes towards my monthly donation to the very same organization the buyer and I belong to. And with my donation funded for awhile, I can buy more pickles.

I guess that was what all the waiting was about, the stars just had to get in their alignment.

Actually, this fabric has resonant karma. The story of the big quilt made several years ago with this beautiful hand-dyed fabric is another example of lives coming together at special intersections. My husband's sister and mother hosted an exchange student from Sweden in the 1980's. The lasting bond of that relationship created another, in which our daughter went to live with their family for a year after high school. The big quilt was a thank you gift I made for them in gratitude for their love and care for our daughter.

More reading on serendipity and gifting.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

influences: Wassily Kandinsky

Last post's sample baby quilt was evidence that "original" ideas are seldom that. Here's my brain, back in 1979, summer semester, at 8:30 am, 85 degrees F, in the basement of some god-forsaken art building, slumped over my notebook in the dark, watching slide after slide of art masterpieces, frantically scribbling down every word the professor intoned.

Probably there was this slide. I was already a quilter by then and already entranced by repetition and variation, color and shapes. I had never studied art before, having given it a wide berth in high school in favor of languages (French, Spanish and Russian), and the chance to really study art was like having the doors to a whole new world open wide. I drank it all in. I think I was the only one awake in that class.

So, here is my bow to Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944); may his art bounce around in my brain until some more of it shakes out.

Namaste, Wassily.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

baby quilts

While artsy-fartsy wall quilts are great fun, sometimes I feel like making more traditional block-based quilts. And since the FLTQ studio has been upsized from a sailboat cabin table to the kitchen counter of a 1-bedroom apartment, I have a bit more room to make and photograph bigger pieces.

Today I sketched up the new FLTQ baby quilt series after a bout of gazing at the competition on Etsy at the coffee shop this morning. After finishing the first baby-sized quilt a while ago, I have been wanting to make some more. No particular reason, they're just fun.

Baby quilts are a great size to make, big enough to enjoy for a few weeks and small enough to be finished before boredom sets in. While I'm stitching, I can imagine a happy baby rolling around on the floor looking at the colors, smelling the cotton fabric, and feeling the texture of the stitches.

And maybe the Etsy sales will start skyrocketing once I crank out a few. Seems like a good project for now, since Winter is coming!

sketch, sketch, sketch, there's no end...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

another food quilt

It's starting to feel a little bit like Fall in central VA. We've had a few days of sweater weather and a stocking-up trip to the farm stand for my winter supply of vegetables (a half bushel of sweet potatoes, a big bag of winter squashes and a few cabbages), and, of course, a big bag of apples.

As I was cutting into one of these delicious local apples, I was enjoying its asymmetric shape and thought it needed to be preserved in a quilt. 

"apple crop" 
2014, 8.5" x 11.75", hand appliquéd and hand quilted

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

a dud

This design came from my sketch book from a few months ago. It was actually created on the iPad with the Adobe Ideas app, in which one can just draw with the finger and then play with colors and whatnot. Anyway, it looked much better in the application. When I was drawing it out full size on brown paper, I wasn't really paying attention to the original proportions. Just too eager to get started on a new piece, I guess.

Be more mindful next time. Sometimes failure is a good motivator.

"floating nude"
2014, 12" x 12", hand appliquéd and hand quilted. In the first drawing, the central protagonist was larger and more curvaceous. Maybe I'll just make it again in different colors to get it right.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Back in the spring, I designed a Christmas tiny quilt to use on cards. I couldn't wait any longer to order them and they arrived today.

They are available on Zazzle, and I'll be making some more designs as soon as I get the design tool working again on the Mac. Apple, meet Adobe. Adobe, meet Apple. Now, make nice.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

a sale!

I'm getting tiny quilts ready for their first show, sewing on some tabs for thumbtacks at the top and making tiny labels. My Etsy store has been sitting quietly for months. I remember to set vacation mode when I am traveling, and renew my listings when they expire, but that's pretty much the extent of it. I'm happy that I have it set up, because if someone wants to purchase a quilt from the show, the finances are already arranged.

This morning's email shows that someone just bought THREE tiny quilts from my Etsy store!!! (Thank you, Karen from California!)

That also means I have three fewer quilts to hang in the show. Time to crack the whip and make some more!

The three turned vertically will be on their way soon.

Friday, September 12, 2014

a show!

I got brave yesterday and asked the local coffee shop about their artist gallery space. The space is booked until February, BUT, they are opening a new store across town next month and would I like to be the first artist in the new space? Duh!

I'm madly sewing on hanging sleeves (that I've been meaning to do for months) and designing labels and a business card holder.

Details to follow....

Thursday, September 11, 2014

on making things

I finally finished this first lap-sized quilt, made from a bag of hand-dyed scraps, that I started in June. The second one is about 1/3 completed. As usual, now I am struck with the feeling of the uselessness of it all. Even before I started reading about minimalism (what we called “voluntary simplicity”, back in the 90’s) I struggled with the conflicting desire of making things and feeling overwhelmed with too many things. 

On the one hand, my natural inclination is to think about design and implementation most of my waking hours. On the other hand, I see the amount of built infrastructure that mankind has created, from highways and skyscrapers to single-use water bottles and cheap plastic toys and I feel guilty that we (humans) make too much junk. We’ve littered the whole earth with our making. We are makers. This is what we do.

This is one of the reasons I sew mostly by hand. It literally slows me down. It gives me intention in every stitch. It limits my making. It makes me pause before I start a project and commit the time. This design, this project is the best I can do right now. It’s worth the investment of my time for the pure enjoyment of making. If the finished product has a use, all the better.

Making things without an intended purpose makes me feel conflicted. The creative juices are very hard to rein in, but I don’t like making things that are useless. I don't want to be making litter. Even a full-size bed quilt to wrap oneself in on a cold night is hard to justify making. The world market has probably produced more fleece blankets than there are people who need them. Most people prefer a fluffy comforter. Who needs a handmade quilt?

But, here is a lap quilt. I made it. It has my creativity, my heart and my time stitched into it. I love the colors. I loved making it. I love the way it feels. I love the shapes floating across the surface. It exists because I thought it and sewed it into being. I’m already playing with the next one, guilt be damned. 

We are makers. This is what we do.

"doing donuts"
2014, hand appliqued, hand quilted, 39" x 39"

Monday, August 25, 2014

hand sewing

I'm finally set back to playing on a quilt I started months ago. Moving from boat to land took more emotional energy than I thought it would. Then I traveled around for awhile (FL, LA, OR, DE, VA), packing light without any sewing along. Finally cleared the plate enough to relax this week and bring out this quilt.

This one is crib size, because I am using up some leftover fabric, so it's a bit bigger than the tiny quilts of last year. Quilting is taking more time, because I want to make this sturdier than the wall pieces in case it needs to be laundered many times. There are four types of stitching in my tiny quilts:

1. The appliqué stitching creates the design of shape on background. I do this by hand because I enjoy it and like the finished look. The shape floats on the background fabric with tiny hand stitches done in matching colored thread. Machine done appliqué is done with a close zig-zag stitch around the shape edge. This makes a textured edge to the shape like an outline on a cartoon. I've used machine appliqué in the past to increase speed and add a design element by choosing a contrasting thread color for the zig-zag outline. Machine appliqué has it's merits, for sure. I may go back to it some day. Machine appliqué also gives the cut shapes the possibility for tighter curves, since there is no seam allowance. A complicated shape just has to lie flat on the fabric. One other consideration for machine appliqué is that the zig-zag stitch tends to pucker the edge of the fabric shape. A layer of double-sided fusible bonding material is needed to glue the edge tight to the backing fabric before sewing. This adds cost, time, and plastic to the appliqué process. 

2. The piecing stitching (if used) joins fabric colors together to make larger background or foreground pieces. I do this by machine because I like the speed and straight lines the machine produces. The seams also come out flatter than hand sewing. Once the seams are pressed the front side of the fabric looks integrated with tiny, even joins between the colors. The corners where four straight-sided colored pieces come together look perfectly aligned (careful cutting, pinning and pressing before sewing help here).

3. The quilting stitching anchors the three layers (front, batting, backing) together. I do this by hand. These stitches are both functional and decorative. Machine quilting stitches look very different than hand stitches. I like the look of hand quilting stitches, but hand quilting is a huge time sink. I do like holding the fabric, letting my mind wander and watching my hands manipulate the needle through the layers of fabric. Motions that my fingers have been doing most of my life, providing a constant source of pleasure running through my days.

4. The hemming stitching binds the finished edge. I do a combination of machine and hand sewing for the binding. I sew the first side of the binding on by machine, to get the nice straight, hard line. Then I pin the free edge under and sew this around the edge of the quilt by hand. I think it's my favorite kind of hand sewing. It's the last step of making the quilt and the clean, finished edge follows my hands around as I go along, making everything tidy and complete. 

The quilting stitch is my focus this week. The needle moves in and out. My needles have gotten dull over the years. I need a new pack of #10 sharps. The small hoop I bought last year (since I stupidly gave away my old good one) is cheap plastic and slips. The Gutermann quilting thread is a dream, though, smooth and strong. The path I chose for the stitching line winds around the circles and partially through the straight block edges. It's important to keep the line unbroken to keep from having to knot and re-thread often. I forgot to trim the insides of the appliqué shapes so the fabric layers are too thick to stitch through in places. It's an intimate process, the quilting stitch. One stitch becomes a whole. The fabric layers are bonding through my fingers. 

trip report - Delaware Art Museum

I found myself in Wilmington DE a few weeks ago with time on my hands. There was a lovely park to walk in from downtown, where we were staying, along the Brandywine Creek. This creek is steeped in history, being the starting location for the DuPont company in 1802. Both sides of the creek have pedestrian/cycling trails more than long enough for my morning constitutional. The south side of the trail winds up on some gorgeous city streets that include the Delaware Art Museum. I had to make a morning of that trip!  

The Museum grew from a collection of work by Howard Pyle (1853 – 1911), American artist, illustrator, author, and teacher. He is most known for being the father of American magazine illustration. At the time of his prominence, magazines were highly popular and contained serialized works of fiction that were lavishly illustrated. Pyle was a master at creating images that sparked the imagination and enriched the stories he illustrated. His most engaging illustrations were romanticizing pirates. Think of a default image of a swashbuckling pirate and that image is probably formed from one of Pyle's pictures. We have incorporated his drawings in our minds as what a pirate must have looked like.

Walking through the galleries was a delight in imagination. Each large print was accompanied by a synopsis of the magazine story that it had been painted for.  The facial features of the characters, the composition of the action and the colors (where used, many of the magazines printed in black and white, so some of his work was devoid of color) were magical. Included in the collection were works by other magazine and book illustrators who were Pyle's students and went on to become famous in their own right, including a number of very talented women. 

The museum also contains a gallery of modern art and a nicely- curated collection of Pre-Raphaelite art and objects. They also have an installation of Chihuly glass along a sunlit window. He is one of my most-loved artists. It was a very enjoyable morning! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

motion in a static context

Two dimensional drawings like mine tend to be very static. I get really stuck in the static images (pun intended). For a long time I was enamored of the circle in square for its simplicity, now it seems too still. Maybe life on the move gives me more permission to be wiggly. 

Showing intended motion is a challenge for me. I need to work through the overly stable, flat designs I keep drawing. Here are some ideas for things that move. Maybe by focusing on things that move, I can grow my designs away from the simple, boring shapes. Even if the finished piece shows that object in stillness, maybe the design can invoke the motion of the object.

Weather vanes

Lava Flows

Ovals, not circles
Leaning triangles
Focus off-center
Color changes
Perspective lines
Size changes - foreground/background

If only I could render drawings in appliqué.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


In July, I was around the FLTQ tiny studio for just nine days. The studio storage is now in a cabinet in the apartment kitchen, and I did pass through the apartment. Not much time for playing with tiny quilts. I'm still in progress on the two orange-yellow-pink crib-size pieces. They're just not getting done. I did some fabric shopping on one of my trips (Portland OR), so had a chance to touch some beautiful fabrics, at least. Will be back in sewing mode in about two weeks...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

a space

FloatingLeaf has been busy moving this week. Very little stitching has been accomplished. A few spike blocks completed, but nothing interesting to show.

There is, however, a new space to explore. There is ample wall space to display tiny quilts. I hope to hang curtain rods on some walls to allow a rotating collection of tiny quilts to share our space. 

This is the first space to play with. It faces the kitchen sink, a place I'll be spending some time. I'd much rather look at a tiny quilt than an electrical panel.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

warm colors

This is the second use-up-the-orange-pink-yellow-scraps small (not tiny) quilt. While I love curves, playing with some spikes was overdue. These squares are built with the reverse appliqué technique, so the pointy parts are easier to turn. Now I just have to make 32 more of them.

FloatingLeafTinyQuilts is moving into a new living space, so play time is a bit fragmented right now. Looking forward to getting settled and finishing these scrappy quilts. Enough is enough.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

layout options

Here is the circle quilt I'm playing with. When building a quilt with blocks, the block design can be independent from the layout design. There are traditional designs like Monkey Wrench and Storm at Sea that have specific layouts that make up the pattern, but many block-based quilts can be arranged in different layouts.

While I had sketched out this design initially with all the blocks arranged in the same orientation, I am not sure I like it that way. 

Here are the three basic options to put these blocks together:

1. Aligned in the same direction

2. Alternating blocks (checker board)

3. Alternate rows

I'll continue to ponder.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

playing all over

I made a quilt last decade for some friends that started with some gorgeous hand-dyed fabric. I love working with hand-dyed fabric because of the subtle variations in the color saturation. I don't love it enough to make any. I've tried and it's too messy an operation for me. I had a steady supplier in those days and made several quilts with her fabric, but she's moved on to other pursuits. I love her fabric so much that I want to use it all up completely, down to the 1.5 inch squares. I still have a big bag of fabric left from the last purchase.

Quilts made from scraps, while very traditional, can be ugly. One has to be careful to make an interesting pattern and use fabrics that have some relation to each other. In this case, the fabric was already chosen to mesh together, but the design had to be new. There is not much point to making (yet another) quilt with plain squares of fabric sewn together. I love circles set in squares, but even that motif can get old. I decided to cut these and use the seams to switch colors. There's another layer of small circles that will be added in the centers. I'll post some finished blocks next.

I'm playing with the last of this bag of yellows, oranges and pinks. I added some greys to wake up the monotony a bit. I cut out and basted two small (40" x 40") block-based quilts last week and am steadily doing the appliqué, a few blocks a day. One quilt is made with circles, the other has some spikes. The bag now contains 1/4 yard each of a light pink and a light yellow and a bunch of really tiny pieces of the other hues. I'm not sure what those will turn into, but I'll finish these first.

Here's FLTQ in full assembly mode with the circle quilt in progress, all over the cabin.

I wanted to play with the intersection of the seam lines. Each block is pieced randomly, so the circles are off-center.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

a tiny mural

Every once in awhile, someone actually wants a tiny quilt. Our daughter has a new house and not too many things hanging on the wall. This is sized to go on the wall space over the bed. Now she has one fewer blank wall to stare at.

This quilt was wicked fun to make because it used so many different fabrics and took longer than the tiny ones I've been making for awhile. It got me started on some other bigger projects. One difficulty working in this scale was that I kept having to roll the fabric sections so I could sew in the middle of the piece.  I can see the advantage of keeping individual sections small and then piecing finished sections together later. Oh, wait, that's the whole allure of a block-based quilt. From practicality comes tradition.   

We took some scuba vacations when our kids were teenagers. Our daughter took to the underwater like she was born there. I tried to evoke those underwater adventures with this tiny quilt. 

Sweet dreams!

"Underwater dreams" 
2014, 15" x 60", hand appliquéd and hand quilted. Clearly, I don't have enough room on the boat to get a good photo.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

trip report - Chrysler Museum, Norfolk VA

Coming home! We lived in Norfolk for three years while fitting out our boat, Red Ranger. We lived about a 6-minute walk from the famed Chrysler Museum, home of one of the nation's best glass collections. We took advantage of the proximity and became members, attending their weekly evening wine/cheese/music mixers in the summer, the monthly book club, yoga class on Friday mornings in the main court, and lots of visits to the main exhibits. I even read this history on how the collection began.

The new glass studio was built while we were living here and it has become a great focal point for locals and tourists to interact with the museum. The studio has free lunchtime demonstrations which are awesome and lots of classes on the many aspects of glass-making. And just a shout-out to the director, Charlotte Potter, who moved into our old apartment when we left. Check out her TED talk.

Just as we were leaving, the museum closed for a major renovation. Museums take a big risk when they contemplate a lengthy closure and expensive renovation. Members get whiny that they can't use their privileges, regular attendees find other things to do, the community moves on and forgets the museum. Numbers will tell, but in my opinion, the CM absolutely pulled it off.

I stopped in on a Friday morning to take a tour of the re-designed space. There was a bus load of senior citizens and a big class of high school seniors and many other small groups wandering around with me. It's still free (donation-based) to get in, which is wonderful. I'm happy to chip in.

The space and curation are top-notch. They moved collections around, so instead of a room of art nouveau furniture, the pieces are placed amidst the glass collection pieces that are contemporary. A modern sculpture of a horse is included in a gallery of older paintings and sculpture depicting subjects involving horses. The Tiffany collection was brought out of a cavernous, quiet space into the light. The pieces seem to float right with the viewer, where they used to be distant and dark. 

They also have a gallery devoted to viewer favorites on a rotating basis. It was great to see the comments on why the piece speaks to that voter next to the art that was chosen. I love the interaction between community and museum that generates the contents of that gallery. It will be interesting to see its collection change based on community input. There is a big board on the second floor with paper and colored pencils under a banner asking "What did you discover today?" The board is full of people's comments and sketches. 

I love this museum! If you haven't visited the NEW Chrysler Museum, get yourself over there. It's a pleasure to view the old favorite pieces in new spaces, some beautiful new acquisitions, and to see the interplay between community and art.

This is a big cityscape bowl. You are encouraged to take pictures of the collection, but I forgot to note the artist.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


I was a dedicated stamp collector in middle school (geek). Even in this digital age, I still feel drawn to a pretty stamp when I find one. Apparently there are other quilters who are fascinated by stamps and mailing things. 

Regard the concept of a fabric postcard. Seriously. Google it and you'll find books about them, You Tube videos, and countless images in Pinterest.

I guess it's fun because the projects are small and there's the adventure of finding out if it can effectively travel the postal system and wind up at its destination. 

I sent myself one. It arrived. Now what?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

audio companion

I've found the perfect compliment to playing with tiny quilts. Sewing takes awhile, but this is the fun part. Spending hours sewing tiny appliqué seams and quilting around the finished shapes calls for some serious sitting still. The mind wanders... It can be good creative time, thinking about the next project. It can simply be relaxing time. 

Or, it can be learning time. 

I discovered the Design Matters podcast with Debbie Millman. I enjoy having something for my hands to do while I'm listening to an interesting interview and I enjoy having something to keep my ears and brain occupied while my hands are stitching. It's a win-win.

One consequence of listening is that the sewing speed decreases. I like to stop and look things up while listening. When Debbie is interviewing a designer, I have to search for images of the person and their work. The conversation often sends me along to additional resources and interesting things to follow up on. The sewing is slower, but it seems more fun to have something to learn about while pushing the needle in and out.

Seriously, check her out.