Category Archives: Quilts

On the Auction Block – Quilted Tea Cozy

Tea cozies frustrate me. Most require tying little strings or lifting the cozy off every time you pour so I designed a new one. No little strings, no need to pull it off,  just Velcro® once and pour.

The cozy is lined with batting and quilted to keep your tea warm with sewn-on Velcro® tabs that close snugly over a standard 6-cup tea pot. (Tea pot not included).

Start Your Bidding!

handmade quilted tea cozy with velcro closures

I am running auctions that start each Monday morning. If you’d like an email reminder when the auctions begin, sign up here.

Spring Fling

Most of the quilts I work on are complicated and intricate; I like a good challenge.  But, this past weekend I went away for my guild’s Spring Fling, 3 days of basically non-stop sewing near Lake Winnipesaukee, NH.  For that kind of event, I leave the complicated projects behind and focus on fun, easy, colorful projects.  Here’s what came out of the weekend:

Doesn’t get more colorful than this, does it?

The second project was a fusible kit by McKenna Ryan (Block 5 from “In Full Bloom).  These kits are great for retreats because it’s just tracing, cutting, and fusing with very little thought involved.

Creative Play Newsletter (Vol.1: Issue 9) – Play Time

What is Creative Play and why do I keep talking about it?  Well, I keep talking about it because after many, many years of fighting it, I have finally realized how very important it is. I stopped playing at about oh, two years of age.  That’s probably a bit of an exaggeration, but not much of one. My mom has told me that I was the most mature five year-old she had ever met (and I think she really means “serious” when she says “mature”).  My sister can vouch for what a stick-in-the-mud I was as a kid. Needless to say, I carried that into adulthood too. I love reading, but I read mostly non-fiction or classic, serious fiction.  I took up quilting as a hobby initially because it resulted in something useful and was something that I could do while watching TV and thus otherwise “wasting” time. Honestly, it’s amazing people wanted to spend time with me!

I started playing in 2008, at the ripe old age of 33. That’s when I started my “Creative Play” blog and I went into the studio each week with the sole purpose of playing. During that time, I tried out many new techniques and I learned a lot. The most important thing that I learned from that experience, however, was how play feeds creativity. That period was one of the most creative times in my life, precisely because I was leaving room for creativity. I was just playing around to see what happened and what happened was some of my best work.

Fast forward to today, when after a hiatus from playing and after having fallen back into my old pattern, I am again leaving some time for creativity. A few weeks ago, I decided on a Friday to not make a To Do list. I decided that I wouldn’t work on any of the projects on my work table (unless I really felt moved to) and that I would just see what the day brought. I had barely finished my first cup of tea when I started thinking about the BirdZeed challenge word for the month. It was the 27th of January, four days from the end of the month, and I had had no intention whatsoever of doing the challenge. The word was “line” and I had not been inspired.  But, on that day that I had left open, I decided to take up the challenge.  An idea came very quickly to me and I made a good start on the piece. After buying some supplies, I finished it up before the end of the month. I had no plan to create this work, but because I gave myself some play time, my creativity flourished and I created one of my most heartfelt pieces to date. Read more about what it means to me in my blog post.

Line in the Sand art quilt piece. Women's March protest

Line in the Sand, 2017. 8″ x 10″

Read last month’s newsletter article.

The Making of Alternative Facts

Work on my unexpected protest series continued this week with a new piece called “Alternative Facts.”  I first created the letter blocks, sewed them together, and then slashed the top and resewed it over and over again. I captured the in-process pictures and created a 33 second video of them; if you’d like to see the steps along the way, here’s the video: Making of Alternative Facts. I quilted the piece in gray threads to reflect that “alternative facts” take something that should be clear in black and white and changes it to gray. I left the quilting thread tails loose to emphasize the messiness this creates when facts become distorted and disputed.

Alternative Facts art quilt in black and white

Alternative Facts, 2017. 15″ x 24″

What this piece means to me: 

I have not been able to get over my shock over the mere idea that there could be such a thing as “alternative facts.”  I can see how deeply divided our country is and it is a division that I want us to fix and believe we need to, but if we cannot even agree on what the facts are, how can we? I accept that people can look at the same facts and reach different conclusions. I accept that there will be differences of opinion. But, if the facts themselves are under dispute and the Administration actually believes there is something called “alternative facts” where can the constructive dialogue that we need to have to heal these divisions begin? I’m afraid that it can’t and that we will be left with just loose threads.


Creative Play Date

Happy Valentine’s Day!  It’s also Creative Play Date Day. I’m not feeling very creative today because I am still getting over the plague that my daughter brought home from school so I decided I would just play today. For me that means working on personal quilts rather than professional ones, like this one:

This is a nearly 10 year old UFO. I made the tops in 2007 (I think) as a Halloween costume for my husband and me. (With berets and drapes, we were “French Doors.” It required explaining.)  I always planned to turn them into quilts and I am finally getting around to it. C’est la vie!

Welcome Mat

The Muse seems to be stuck on political work lately. This new piece is no different. This piece is entitled “Welcome Mat” and it is roughly the size of one at 20″ x 30.” I used fusible, raw edge applique to add the Arabic letters, which say “Ahlan wa Sahlan,” meaning “Welcome.”

Welcome Mat art quilt with Arabic words Ahlan wa Sahlan

I studied Arabic for more than five years (3 1/2 years of Modern Standard Arabic as an undergrad and 2 years of Classical Arabic as a Masters student) and fell in love with the language. Arabic is extremely well-organized and the script is beautiful to write. Ahlan wa Sahlan has always been one of my favorite phrases because of its meaning but also because it’s a lovely design. There are two equally sized words ending in the same letters, connected by a rounded letter meaning “and” with an upturned H in the first word balanced by a dipping H in the second.

What this piece means to me:

The United States of America is called a country of immigrants. While this does not recognize the citizens who are native to this land, it does speak to the vast numbers of people who have come here from other places (my ancestors included).  More or less, we welcomed them. We erected an enormous statue in the harbor in New York to welcome them inscribed with:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

But today, we are turning away the “homeless, tempest-tost” refugees because many are Muslim. The President has attempted to ban people from seven Muslim-majority countries, claiming national security, but terrorists have not come from those countries, and as Timothy McVeigh brings to mind, terrorists don’t have to be Muslim. The wave of “America First” nationalism that is coursing through the country concerns me because it does not represent the welcoming “land of freedom” that I believe us to be and that I expect us to be. Ultimately, I think that open arms and an open door will do more to counter terrorism than anything else and that’s why I’ve put out the  welcome mat.

Groundhog Day Do Over

Do you remember the movie “Groundhog Day”?  Bill Murray had to keep doing his day over again and that inspired me to write this post today. If I had a quilting do over, what would I do?  It was easy to pick a quilt because I am currently doing it over.

This is my wedding quilt, made for my husband not in 2002, when we got married, but in 2004, which happens to be the cotton anniversary.  (I started it in 2002, but think that the cotton anniversary was picked for the 2nd one because it’s a great amount of time to get a wedding quilt done.)

Aside from the obvious that I would seriously reconsider making a wedding ring quilt because I really didn’t have the skills for it, even though this was my second one, the first thing that I would do differently with this quilt would be to make it bigger. It just barely covers the top of the bed. Since it’s never going to be on the bed but probably just thrown over the back of a chair, that’s not a deal-breaker.

What I am currently doing over is adding more quilting. I hand quilted this (hence the two years to complete) and I quilted love knots and ivy leaves inside the rings. I am now going back over it and outlining the rings themselves with quilting stitches. My ability to take a good quilt photo has also improved so I’ll take another shot once the quilting is done.

If you had a quilting do over, what would you do?

Design Wall Tuesday in Provence

Here’s what’s on my design wall today:

Is it a little busy? Yes. Do I care? No. Why not?

  1.  It’s for a back.
  2.  It’s for the back of a quilt that I am making for myself. It’s going to be the back of The Quilt Show 2016 BOM that I did.)
  3.  The fabrics are precious ones, purchased in Provence on a bike trip for the Tour de France in 2004.

You know the story – I’d been holding onto these fabrics for years, loving them, but afraid to cut them. I finally found the perfect place for them in big blocks on a quilt for me where I will get to enjoy them every day.  And, I’ve even come up a with a great new project for the scraps.

In Memory

Today is the fourth anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary in Connecticut. I’m just full of good cheer, right?  I hadn’t realized how devastatingly close the shooting was to Christmas and Hanukkah until the other day when I was double checking my list of names for the Victims quilt to make sure that I hadn’t missed anyone before I started quilting blocks. I had the very macabre thought that I was checking my list twice like Santa and that’s when I focused on the date of the Sandy Hook shooting.  How heart-wrenching it must have been for those parents to throw out the half-used advent calendars, pull the stockings from the mantle, and return or donate the unopened presents stashed away in closets. So today, in the midst of my own Christmas prep, I stop for a moment to hold those families in the light.

185 blocks won’t fit on my design wall.