Entries categorized "Quilting" Feed

Something's Coming . . .

Driving to work this week, I've played the soundtrack to West Side Story.  I've got a short commute but even small bits of this masterpiece is enough to lift your spirits.  It was a sad week for sure.

We've had small bits of summer this week too - sunny skies and warmer temps, the garden is bursting, the water is so blue (but not warm).  I guess this is where this new work came from.  Still working on it, just like summer is still working to be born, bit by bit. 


Take care,




A finish, machine pieced, hand quilted, already well-loved.

Hug 1
Hug 1

Measuring at 64" square, after a wash with Soak. It was the first time I used it, and I approve.   I also used their other product, Flatter for pressing.  It has a really nice feel but the cost makes me use it sparingly!

The pattern is based on #2287 - Aunt Jen's Scrap Quilt (Mrs. Danner, 1958) and #2288 - Steps To The Altar (Mrs. Danner, 1970) from Brackman's Encyclopedia.

I am going to work on a small piece now, but I've got some larger quilt tops that need piecing.  I'm really looking forward to early morning quilting before it gets too hot.  A great way to start the day!

Have a safe Memorial Day weekend!

Take care -


Hand Quilting Love

I am several hours into new project.  




I've gone back to small stitch quilting.  Big stitch has taken its toll on my hand as I find it hard to do the rocking stitch with a larger needle.  


I'm using a size 9 needle and plain old quilting thread.  


It's good to be back. Like riding a bicycle, once you master a hand-quilting stitch, it never leaves you, and that's a very good thing.  

Take care,


To All The Shirts We Loved Before

With apologies to Willie Nelson, "To All The Shirts We've Loved Before"  is from shirts we've worn for a number of years, some 20 years old.  It is an improv piece, not a process I typically do, but sometimes when the mood strikes, you have to go with it.





























It was tremendously satisfying to work this small quilt, (19" x 20"), and I finished it in less than a week. I also wanted to see if I still had my small stitch skills.  Without a doubt, working with a finer cotton (almost too fine as the fabric was a little slippery) and a smaller needle is much easier on my hands.  I think I was trying to hard too make my rocking stitch work with a larger needle, but there is just no comparison to doing the rocking stitch with a size 9.  

There is a lot to be said for muscle memory - glad I still have it.  Sit ups are next . . .


Take care,




What's Next?

I am starting to think about next year - my goals and plans for living a creative life.

What I'm working on now . . .

I had a good year:  I created a business, I made a lot of quilts that I loved, I sold quite a few prints, I accepted commissions for relief printing and was part of an exhibit of 'underexposed' photographers.  I submitted a quilt to one exhibit but was rejected, but I also submitted samples to lecturers and teachers to include in their presentations.  I continued my arts mentorship program with Jane Davila in the company of several talented artists.  I put myself out on Instagram (@jumpcutarts) and participated in an IG quilt group where I saw work that blew my mind, made me think, and fall in love with the potential of artistic expression all over again.

It's been good.

I work full time too, some times 6 days a week, so there is no way I could have done all of this had I not made one small yet
significant change to my life.  I've always been a morning person who can't resist a beautiful sunrise, singing birds and hot cup of coffee.  Yet on many a morning I'd grab a quilt, some good reading and head for the nearest comfy chair.  Not a bad way to start the day.  I knew I needed to make one significant change if I was going to lead the actively creative life I wanted:  I got to work.  Washing, pressing, cutting, measuring, pinning, piecing, sketching, carving, inking, printing, photographing, editing, framing - for about 90 minutes every morning for the last 2 years.

And that has made all the difference.  So has a supportive husband and family.

Nights are reserved for two other activities, those which would help me transition from a full and busy day to a good night's sleep.  There is nothing like a solid hour of hand quilting to center me.  The rhythm of the rocking stitch is a great way to unwind and process the day.  The other is poring over books: art and quilt history, design and photography, technique and process, life of an artist and how she made it work, or didn't.

I usually sleep pretty well.  

Don't be fooled - the stuff of life, blah, blah, blah. It's always there. I deal. You deal. We all do.

So, what is next?  I'm not sure I want to change much.  A specialty coffee would be nice, a different tea.  I still have not found the right footwear for these cold New England mornings.  

The work?  I wouldn't change it for the world. I know I have a lot to learn, but I am actively honing my skills.

I can't wait for 2018.

Take care,



Take Out/Full Plate (Another Finish)

Things have come full circle.

Take Out/Full Plate is a reflection on a really, really busy time in my life.   Great opportunities came my way, invitations to fun, job offers, big changes that had me saying yes, please, and big changes that did not offer me the option of saying no, thank you.

It was 'good' busy, thankfully, and because of that, I said yes to more than I realized, and that's when I got into trouble.

There was no good reason to say no.  We all have limits and I thought I had a pretty good understanding as to what mine were.  What I didn't know was limits change over time.  It's good to acknowledge this.  Good, but not easy. 

Honestly, there was a good reason, but at the time, I couldn't or wouldn't share it with anyone, but I'll share it with you now.  I was exhausted.   Not an easy thing for anyone to admit.  I felt like a quitter and that really bothered me.  So the more I said yes, the more exhausted I became.  Not good.

Take Out/Full Plate (48" x 60")

The title refers to a watershed moment, an epiphany if you will, when I realized things had to change.  We were having dinner, discussing the events of the past week and what was coming up.  Both the past and the future looked a little busy.  I started making a food shopping list in my head when I realized we had eaten more take out in the previous weeks that I care to admit here.  Some nights we ate separately and some night we had different dinners.  I did not like this one bit.  I love cooking so I asked myself what had happened.  I realized that saying yes to all, our plates were full and we lived on take out.  It was time to say no.


I needed to think more.  Since I consider quilting a reflective and meditative process, it was only natural that I turned to needle and thread.  I started putting them together with absolutely no plan in mind.  It was therapeutic.  Each of the blocks is hand-pieced and the top was assembled by machine.  The block name is Drunkard's Path, and it's arrangement most closely resembles Polka Dots (#1451) by Aunt Martha,  according to Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.   

Sewing these curves helped me understand the power of no.  It reminded me of something I've known for along time, but had forgotten:  Saying no is the first step in stress reduction.

The fact that it took me so long to finish is not lost on me.  True, I stole a moment here and there when I could grab needle and go, but over time I had moved into a much better place, and honestly, I did not want to look back.  I put the quilt away.

This winter, I participated in the IGQuiltFest with Amy's Creative Side.  One of the prompts was to show an unfinished quilt so I took this out again, and here we are. I'm really happy that it is finished.  It is not going to be quilt relegated to the back of the closet.  Instead, it is will be our new fall quilt, a fitting reminder during a very busy time of year.  On those days when I need to regroup and think about what my next step will be, I'll take an important step.  I'll get a cup of tea and sit on my couch with this quilt around my shoulders, to think about the power of yes and the power of no.  

Take care,


Midnight Swim - A Finish

I made this quilt top a year ago and finally got around to quilting it now.  This post is edited from what I wrote back then.

Midnight Swim 38" x 60"

    August always brings back this memory.  

    It was a brutally hot night, not a breeze to be had, and not having air-conditioning was putting a strain on everyone's sense of humor.  Someone threw out the idea of a midnight swim (I think it was me).  Actually it was closer to 8 p.m., but when you are little and it's summer and it's dark out, it might as well be midnight.  It was a quick walk to the beach and we were all good swimmers but we made sure to look out for each other.  I sat at the water's edge for a good long time, not too sure that I wanted to go in, but no breeze meant plenty of mosquitos and they were getting to me.  I started splashing around, inching closer to full-fledged dunk, when the water lit up with blue-green bubbles.  I had disturbed some microscopic creatures and they let loose with their bioluminescene.  I fell into the water with a big splash and my arms were covered with sparkles.  It was like having a bunch of shooting stars in you hair.  It blew my mind.  Everyone began to dive and jump and splash and the water just lit up.  The idea of becoming a mermaid seemed a worthwhile pursuit and I'm pretty sure I dreamed about doing so that very night.  It was an amazing experience - a truly beautiful moment.

    A few years later, I saw the movie JAWS and needless to say, never again did I swim after the sun went down, let alone midnight.

      I never became a mermaid either, and we eventually got air-conditioning.  I played with becoming a coastal biologist, but I went to film school instead.  I still go to the beach on hot nights and wonder about the little creatures swimming around my feet.  I think about them when I'm sitting in my air-conditioned living room, which is where the idea for this quilt, Midnight Swim, came about.  I was messing around with some hexagons when the image of a coastline presented itself to me.  From that, it became a tribute quilt to that night on Long Island Sound, when we had turquoise sparkles in our hair and green bubbles on our shoulders, and not having air-conditioning was not such bad thing; it led us outside to a world of wonder.


During the coldest months, this quilt will remind me of that wonderfully warm night.  It will remind me to turn off my phone, turn off the television, put on my coat and gloves, and go outside.

        Enjoy the rest of this beautiful summer.

Take care,



Light The Fires

I started sewing these half-square triangle blocks on a  dark and dreary March morning.  I needed to work on something summery.  Within a moment of putting  just a few blocks IMG_6473together, I knew this quilt would be for my sister who was born on the Fourth of July.  If you follow me on Instagram, you might remember when I posted this picture.  It reminded me of when we would watch Chiller Theater, a local television program which featured scary movies.  The opening of the show featured a cartoon hand coming out of the ground.  So I laughed when I took this picture - obviously it was a sign.

I continued sewing every dark morning until the square measured 45".  It wasn't done and it needed something else so I thought I'd just go ahead with a border, but that was pretty blah.  Bonfires popped into my head.  I mixed up the old adage - where there's smoke there's fire - and started a little deconstruction.  The quilt changed direction  just a bit - just like smoke from a fire - and that's when all the memories of July 4th past came flooding back and I knew what had to be done to make it complete. 

Our family lived on Long Island Sound - the body of water between New York and Connecticut - during the summer.  Our Independence Day ritual included building a bonfire from driftwood and beach chairs that did not survive winter, and lighting the fire just as the sun had set.  On a clear night we could see the fires and fireworks on the Connecticut shoreline.

IMG_7028Sometimes you couldn't.  Even the darkest July sky can can get a little pale with all that smoke from all those fires. I felt I had to add lighter blocks to the upper left corner to indicate this.  Only then did I feel the top was complete.

I took a gamble with machine quilting.  I think between that and the all-cotton fabrics and batting that I used, the quilt shrank quite a bit. 

The top measured 55.5" square, but after washing and drying, it is now 53".  Still, it is a good size to cover yourself if it is a freakishly cold July.

Like all that smoke from a the bonfires years ago, the quilt made its journey across Long Island Sound this week to my sister.  She called to thank me today and we had a nice talk about all those fires years ago.  Now, I have this vision of her sitting with her one-year old grandson, watching fireworks, and wrapping him in the quilt if the noise gets too loud or the night too cold.

So here's a funny story.  When I was due to arrive the same day but a few years later, my parents decided not to light their fire until I was born.  Apparently my mother went into labor on July 4th and our neighbors went ahead and lit the fire.  It was a false alarm.   IMG_7596 (1)I made my grand entrance a week later when my mother was having her hair done.  No fires or fireworks for my arrival, but every year on my birthday, I feel like I should get my hair cut or have a manicure.  One year I got my my drivers license renewed.

Every quilt has a story, whether we realize it or not.  The story may begin when you cut that first piece of fabric, or maybe before you were even born.  Quilts make great memories live again, and they can make new memories too.

Have a safe and happy July 4th!

Take care,


A Few Finishes

I'm so happy to show you two quilts. 



Day For Night, #1 

42" x 50", 100% cotton, machine-pieced, hand-pieced, hand-quilted

The idea behind this quilt came out of one of those nights where I just couldn't get to sleep.  I had so much stuff on my mind - not big stuff, just A LOT of stuff, random stuff - and I knew that I was going to need a nap the next day - highly unlikely in reality.  I am one of those people who needs a solid night's sleep or I just feel funky the next day.  The piecing on this was completely random . . . just like all that stuff that keep popping into my head.  It took me only 26 hours to hand quilt.  I am so happy with this quilt and really enjoyed putting it together.  I absolutely love it and want to try another.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 




Bleach Blanket Solo #1

46 x 60" machine pieced, machine quilted  

This top has been laying around for way too long and one day I just decided to go for it.  It is based on Ruth Finley's pattern, Streak O' Lightning (1929), and made with Jennifer Paganelli's gorgeous tropical cottons and Kona Chartreuse.  Working on this gave me new respect for machine quilters, particularly those of you who do it on a standard machine.  

I have a vision of laying on this quilt on a beautiful sunny day, with the perfect summer read and a cold drink by my side.  I'll wash it every time I use it and by September it will be the softest thing.  I'll probably fall asleep on it, the book unread and the drink, warm.

I guess I better bring both quilts - and the sunscreen.

Take care,