Category Archives: Art Quilts

Christmas Tree Quilt


Christmas tree quilt 1My 20-year-old son was hosting a Christmas party yesterday. That meant two things — my house was clean AND I had to stay out of his way! While the day began with good intentions for me to clean my office and get caught up on my accounting, by dinner time I was done. I needed to sew!

I pulled out some greens from my stash and my Tri Recs ruler set. I used the maximum size (6.5″) to make the trees. For the next step, I will add 1″ by 1″ trunks.

I’m not sure where this project will go next. I’m thinking it will be a wall hanging for above our bed, which means I’ll probably use 8 trees for the width and 4 trees for the height. This will be a fun project for over the holidays and shouldn’t take me too long to finish.

Christmas tree quilt 2

Indepedence Day Wall Hanging


Veronica QuiltMy son’s girlfriend loves history. I wanted to make her something that was history-related and could be used to decorate her classroom when she becomes a teacher.

I had a collection of Americana fabric, including a panel which duplicated the Declaration of Independence.

I know that this project does not look like it took a lot of design, but it took me a week or so to figure it out.I wanted to do something fancier, such as incorporate pieces of the Declaration into blocks, but that felt a bit unpatriotic. I had a lot of Americana fabric that I wanted to use, but it made everything too busy.

It ended up that I just used the panel, made a border out of red fabric, and added the upper and lower borders from another panel. The eagle is fused.

I decided to do very simple quilting that didn’t detract from the panel. So I used my star-shaped templates and quilted it on my longarm in a neutral colored thread.

If the design was a problem, the quilting was worse. It should have been denser and the stars ended up being too messy looking.

The “highlight” was sewing a stitch through my fingertip with my longarm. My finger has a couple of puncture wounds, but I’m okay.

This is one of those project that was made with love, but didn’t turn out nearly as well as I hoped. At this point, I’m not sure if I’ll even give it to her.



The dreaded phonecall


TKE2Those of you who have kids in college will remember the dreaded phone call. You know the one: “Mom, I want to join a fraternity.”

In our house, the call came a few months ago.

I admit that I didn’t know a whole lot about fraternities, especially since I grew up in Canada and they weren’t that popular. I had, however, watched many movies such as “Animal House” and knew that “fraternity” was synonymous with “excessive drinking.”

I was also very aware of the hazing process. My son took that in stride. “Don’t worry, mom,” he told me. “We had a kid die during the hazing process a few years ago, so my school is very strict about hazing.” That did NOT make me feel better, especially after I did some research and found out how that poor child suffered.

It’s now six months later and, although I can’t say that I love the Greek system, I admit that they provide a lot of great leadership opportunities and do some mighty fine charity work. My son is extremely happy with his new “brothers” and busy volunteering at community events. (I’m sure there’s some partying that’s going on too.)  The organization does seem to be well-run and I’ve gotten over my fears.

All this is a lead-up to my latest quilt project — a fraternity banner. I designed it, but it’s based on the fraternity flag for “Tau Kappa Epsilon.” I actually think that it looks very cool and my son is excited to hang it on the wall in his dorm.

Horrible Halloween Quilt — Part 2


When we left off yesterday, I had made a pretty ugly convergence quilt. To try and fix my problems — and just for fun — I decided to add an image to the front of the quilt.

I did this by downloading a skeleton cartoon (similar to the one on the left) from Google Images. I made a few modifications, then had the image blown up to 36″ x 42″ at the copy shop. Next, I traced the image — using a sharpie — onto Golden Threads  paper. I then pinned the images to the quilt top on my longarm.

I love using Golden Threads paper. I use it frequently to transfer designs onto quilts. In the past, however, I’d only transferred a simple, single line design. This time I decided I would thread paint over top of the paper.

As you can see, the thread painting basically just munched up the paper and made it get caught in the threads. The more I tried going over an area with thread, the more embedded the paper became. It soon became clear that the variegated thread was lost in the bits of paper, and that there was no way of removing the paper from the thread.

Once I had completed the project, I decided that perhaps running the quilt through the washing machine would remove the bits of paper. Not a chance. However I did learn why we bind quilts before we put them in the washing machine — I had strings of batting all over the place.

You can see the “completed” quilt below. The paper is still embedded in the design, so the thread painting was pretty ineffective. Overall the quilt doesn’t work. I decided that it was not even worth binding.

Personally, I think we grow as quilters by trying new things. Some are successful; some are not. This was clearly in the “not” category, but I did learn quite a bit and I doubt I’ll make the same design decisions again!


Horrible Halloween Quilt: Part 1


I love Halloween fabric! This summer I bought some great orange and black novelty fabric. At the same time, I was also taking a course from quilting guru Ricky Tims, who is a master of convergence quilts. I was determined to make a Halloween-themed convergence quilt. In my mind, it was going to be awesome. Unfortunately, what starts out as a great idea doesn’t always translate itself to a great quilt.

I began by cutting strips from both the orange novelty fabric and the black fabric. Each fabric had seven strips — 1″, 1.5″, 2″, 2.5″, 3″, 3.5″, and 4″. Strips are sewn together so that the blacks strips get larger towards the right side, and the orange strips get smaller toward the right side. So far I was a bit disappointed, mainly because the quilt had so much black and I couldn’t see the novelty fabric very well.

You can see examples of Ricky Tims convergence quilts for an idea of how they’re supposed to look!

When a quilt isn’t complying with the vision in your head, you have a number of choices. You can finish it as planned and possibly give it away, or you can shove it in your UFO drawer and tell yourself you’ll finish it in the future. I think the best bet is to accept that this quilt will be for learning. It is already a write-off, so you might as well try a new technique and see how it goes. After going through this thought process, I decided that I would add orange horizontal strips to the quilts.

Both the quilt (shown above) and the orange solid fabric were cut into 7 strips, in the dimensions shown above. You can see the result below. In my mind,  it was boring and ugly.

Above, you can see that I decided to add a Halloween scene to my quilt. I had a coloring book photo blown up at the copy store, and traced it onto golden threads paper.

Let’s just say the thread painting didn’t turn out exactly as planned. Tune in tomorrow for the final results of this Horrible Halloween quilt.

Feathered Christmas Tree Wall Hanging


Feathered Christmas Tree pattern

The holiday season is fast approaching. I saw this pattern in our local quilt shop and loved it! It is contemporary and fun. I made it over the weekend as a break from updating my business website. It was fairly quick to do and a welcome change from sitting in front of the computer.

The pattern calls for two different red fabrics. I simplified it by using just one fabric — and I love the effect.

I have one piece of advice. Make sure that you sew the inner border with perfect 1/4″ seams. If your seams are a little on the large side — and mine clearly were — you end up with borders that don’t fit well.  Have a look at the photo below and you’ll see that my quilt top does not lie flat. That’s because my generous 1/4″ seams made the checkered inner border too small. I’m confident that I can handle fix this with some high-loft batting and careful longarming, but it was caused by sloppy piecing on my part. However, as I said earlier, the purpose of this quilting was to give myself a fun break — so I was more concerned with enjoying the process than measuring.

This pattern is available at:

(If you can’t see the photo, please visit my blog at

Feathered Christmas Tree (in green)

Color Theory for Quilters: Black and White and Grey All Over


On Tuesday, I mentioned that I was taking a color theory course. Our first assignment was to create a 12″ quilt using black, white and grey fabrics. The quilt had to contain at least eight different fabrics, as well as a pop of color. The teacher challenged us to experiment and use techniques that were new to us.

I had created a large black and white quilt last year, so I had a substantial number of scraps left over. Being a natural overachiever, I took advantage of these leftovers, cut the scraps into 64 two-inch squares, and arranged them from dark to light. My goal was to create a darker frame with a lighter center. I used two birds as focal points. I did a bunch of free motion stitching that was supposed to look like a tree (left side) with leaves, and then as water and clouds. I was somewhat successful. For the required pop of color, I added red stitching around the binding.

It is very easy to sew tiny squares into a quilt. I used fusible interfacing and marked 2″ squares using my ruler. I then arranged the squares on the fusible interfacing and ironed them on. This blog shows a great step-by-step demo of the process:

(If you can’t see the photo, please check out my blog at

Final project

Gerber Daisy Wall Hanging


One of the quilters I admire most is my friend Vicki. She probably makes a half-dozen or so small quilts each year, but she challenges herself to learn something on each quilt. This summer she endeavored to make a quilt using the techniques in Jan Krentz’s book, “Diamond Quilts and Beyond.”

This quilt was for her friend Karen, as a thank you for some special help that Karen had provided. Vicki didn’t know a whole lot about Karen, but she did know that Karen loved to garden and that her garden contained Gerber daisies. That became the focus of the quilt, as Vicki matched fabric for five gorgeous Gerber daisies.

As the quilt progressed, Vicki also incorporated ferns, wisteria and hummingbirds into the quilt. It was interesting to hear about the progress … one day Vicki would just realize that one of these items was necessary for the quilting. As often happens in quilting, the quilt was speaking to her!

Here’s the interesting part. You can see that the quilt is spectacular. It also turned out that Karen’s garden contained ferns and wisteria — and had hummingbirds as frequent visitors — so Vicki had intuitively uncovered the elements of the quilt. But Vicki took it one step further. As she researched the significance of the various Gerber daisies and other parts of the quiltt, she learned that each held a special significance in Karen’s life. Vicki ended up making a large label for the back of the quilt, detailing the importance of each element. In the end, the quilt was a significant, meaningful and beautiful gift. I’m so excited to share it with you!

You can see a detailed description of how the quilt was designed at:

You can learn more about Jan Krentz at:

(If you cannot see the photos, please check out my blog at

Completed Gerber Daisy Wall Hanging (38″ x 36″)

Details of quilted ferns

Detail of quilted hummingbirds

Flagmaking 101: Betsy Ross and Me


Here are two wall hangings  that I made to celebrate July 4th. Given the simplicity of these banners, I’m sure that many others have already come up with the design, but I made them without patterns or copying others’ works. So — like Betsy Ross — I guess I’m a true flag designer!

I love the story of Betsy Ross. She was born on January 1, 1752, the 8th of 17 children. She and her first husband (John Ross) had an upholstery business.  They also went to church with George Washington and his family.  After John was killed during the Revolutionary War, Betsy continued working in the upholstery business repairing uniforms and making supplies for the army.  In 1777, she married her second husband (from which she had 2 daughters), who died in a British jail. She married husband #3, John Claypoole, in 1783. This couple had 5 daughters. John Claypoole died in 1817, and Ross continued working in the upholstery business until 1827. She died in 1836, at the age of 84, and had been completely blind for 3 years.

There is some dispute whether Betsy Ross actually made the first flag, or was one of a group of flag-makers. Whichever is true, this amazing lady outlived 3 husbands, had 7 children, and ran a successful business for 50 years. She’s definitely a hero, in my estimation!

I was thinking about Betsy Ross while I was making these wall hangings. Not because I’m a historical figure who is doing great work for our country. I was thinking about Betsy Ross because I was having major problem with thread breakage on my longarm. And I wondered what problems she faced in hand-sewing the flag (no electricity, tight deadlines, a sore back and eventual blindness come to mind). It makes me hesitate to complain!

However, this is a quilting blog, and my 21st Century problems are important too. The truth is that longarms can be frustrating. I’d used my trusty spool of white OMNI thread to quilt a table runner for a client. No problems at all. Then I loaded my flag wall hanging and the thread was breaking every 10 inches. I changed the needle three times. I cleaned the machines. I changed the bobbin thread.  I invoked the spirits of my foremothers! Nothing worked. I finally switched to Signature thread and completed the project without any more thread breakage.

Instances like this are so frustrating. I’m blaming the thread, but I’ve yet to have thread go “bad” in 2 hours.

You can learn more about Betsy Ross, her life, and how to display flags at

(If you can’t see the photos, please check out my blog at

American Flag Wall Hanging #1

American Flag Wall Hanging #2

“Oh Canada” Wall Hanging


As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my husband and I spent the first half of our lives in Canada. When my son was born in the United States almost 18 years ago, one of my goals was to immediately apply for his Canadian citizenship. Sixteen years and one more child later, I finally aapplied for both citizenships last summer.

Last fall, I visited several Canadian quilt shops looking for Canadian fabric to honor their citizenship. Nope. None was available. However I did find a pattern for a Canadian wall hanging. I sewed and quilted it over the last week.

The pattern is by Patch-Abilities and it is very easy to follow. My only warning is that this wall hanging is small. The pattern says that it is a mini-quilt and only 6″ by 22″ — but, when you see it, you’ll be amazed at how small that looks.

You can find this pattern at:–ButtonsRibbon-Packs/Patriotic/p/MM307C–Oh-Canada-sku-MM307C.htm

Yesterday Canadians celebrated Canada Day — their version of 4th of July. Happy Birthday Canada!

(If you can’t see the photos, please visit my blog at

“Oh Canada” mini wall hanging