Art Quilt Thoughts

My website and blog both have Art Quilt terms in the title. I think about designs that are not block related and have made several quilts that do not use the block format. One of my favorites is What Comes Next, a quilt I made after I had a bit of time to think about September 11.

I have a couple of art quilt designs on the drawing board, but they have not yet reached their turn in line (noch nicht an der Reihe, as we say in German). Due to the busyness of life, I have been making block quilts and focusing on color for the past few years. This does not prevent me reveling in what other Art Quiltmakers are working on or developing my own designs for the future.

As part of this process, I read Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors magazines as well as other inspirational magazines, as I am sure many of you do. One of the things I noticed recently was how messy many art quilts are. I have a bias against messy, I will say up front. Collaging the box in September was exciting, but messy and I am sure I would have had some sort of medical emergency had I not swathed everything, including myself, in newspaper.

I don’t call myself an artist, because, like Wayne Thiebaud, I want to let history judge my work, but I do make art quilts.


I make quilts that do not use a classic quiltmaking design (block pattern, e.g.). These are my art quilts.

I consider the above quilt to be an art quilt, but it is also not messy. It does not have threads hanging off of it or blobs of stuff piled on the quilt. I can appreciate the design choice that includes dangling threads or dots of paint placed carefully on a quilt. I think the key is that these have to be design choices to further the ‘story’ of the quilt and not have been placed there to make the quilt ‘arty.’

Cinda Cawley (who kindly gave me permission to post her unedited words here) wrote in a post to the AQSG list, which says a lot to make me think right now:

“I went to the Quilts=Art=Quilts exhibit at the Schweinfurth Center in
Auburn, NY. Call me a Philistine if you must (I’ll readily admit I don’t do
Art Quilts myself) but I was very disappointed. I try to get to Q=A=Q every
year and I always find several things that blow me away (confirmed
traditionalist that I am). Not this year! Do you ever go to a guild quilt
show and feel like all the exhibitors took the same workshops? That’s how I
felt (with a few exceptions) about these quilts. It seems as if all the
artists were told “Take tulle, or some other transparent material, paint or
dye it, cut it into squares or rectangles, arrange randomly on a
background.” I love to see the work produced by the members of the Art Bee
in my guild because even when they start from the same place they end up
going in very different directions.”

I have been wondering if making art quilts is a default for people? Do some people just start in on art quilts? If so, do they know anything about design? I think design matters in art quilts, but what do other people think? Does anyone care about design anymore?

I think the underlying principle for any type of quilt is design topped off by technique. If it is a bad design, then no amount of dangling threads or dots of paint will fix it.

Pineapple Work Continues

I am studiously ignoring the Pineapple problem and trying to soldier on. These are the nine blocks that now have corners on them and fit fairly well together. I am tempted to sew them together, because I think it would give me a boost. One thing I did, without thinking, when I started cutting corner triangles was make too many of one color. Now I am just making two of each. I am hesitating sewing these together because I don’t want too many of the same corners to be near each other. These look fine, but…. I guess I am not feeling confident in general about this project.

Stars and Desire

Today I was thinking about stars and thought it would be a good time to show you my Flickr set of stars. I thought I had such a great collection, but when I went to look at it again, it seems paltry. I don’t think it really is; I think my vision is skewed from looking a Judy Martin’s Star blocks recently. She has a ton!!! I am eyeing those Feathered Stars as I think about more dot projects. Then again a project like this in all dots would be quite appealing. Have fun looking at the Stars!

Nina brought this interesting thread to my attention. It is called Desire Memory Thread from DMC. It looks like wire, but says that it is soft. Hhhmmm. It looks promising, but until I feel it, I am not sure how it could be used. I have an idea that I could use my glass beads with it. I would really like to make a bracelet or something with those beads and this might be the piece of the puzzle that pulls the project together.

Nina saw it in Stitch magazine from the UK. I haven’t ever seen that magazine, but may have to seek it out. I used to be able to find such magazines at Marquardt’s in the City, but the last time I went by they had closed. It was one of those great old fashioned newsstands on a corner near Union Square. The huge wonderful neon sign had been left up, which was nice.

Favorite Quilts of 2007

As is usual, I should have started this post after I took the first photo of the first quilt of 2007. As per usual, I didn’t, so I am faced with looking through hundreds of photos and trying to determine which ones I liked and why. As a result, this is a paltry list and probably not as accurate as it would have been if I had followed through with my plan. I’ll try for 2008, but don’t hold your breath. I may review and/or revise this list, so bookmark it and check back. πŸ˜‰This basket quilt was probably my all time favorite of the year. I loved the many different basket designs and fabrics. It was amazing to look at.
This classic Judy Martin pattern is wonderful in many ways. I like the “pushed neutral” background technique as well as the different sizes and designs of the stars. Someday I want to make a quilt like this.

Another basket quilt with great fabrics. It had a lot of dots. What is not to like about dots? Very cheerful.
This pattern from Piece O’Cake is still a favorite, even though I have seen it a number of times at different shows during different years. This rendition is enhanced by that Sashiko type quilting in the borders.

The above quilt, Thoughts on Dots, was displayed at the San Mateo County Fair. I have to admit, in case you didn’t know, that it is mine! I love this quilt. It is on my bed and it makes me happy each time I see it.

Good. Clean. Fun.

MeinkeToy has a clean new look on her website. The books literally burst off the page with fabulous color and, of course, inspiration within. I was specifically pointed to this Lustr’ed Cloth by Alyson Mydgelow Marsden, about which Nina says “now I am not wanting to experiment with metals but sheers, metallic fabrics, shiny patent leathers, or angelina fabrics could be substituted.
It would also enable me to use some of those threads that Cherie dyes so well and that make haunting pleas in my direction..” Take a look at the new site, Deb has done a great job.

clipped from


(and books)

for fiber artists & the fiber

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Visual Journaling

I have been thinking and talking about visual journaling for several months. I have finally put my money where my mouth is and done it. I don’t know why this view, but something about the 24th Street sign and the fact that I had time called to me. Some things I will consider for next time:

  1. Practice looking. I don’t think I am really looking.
  2. Choose a smaller bit of the view.
  3. Eliminate detail. Just work with the essentials.

I think I am past the hump and hope that I will do more.

Quilt Block Indexes

I know that quilt blocks are not in vogue at the moment, but I love quilt blocks and the possibilities that they provide for creativity. I am particularly enamored of older blocks that have oddly shaped pieces and provide interesting opportunities for coloration and settings.

To that end, Rose Lea Alboum has created a variety of indexes to older quilt blocks. She now has created a website, which means that you can see her offerings at: The website shows the cover of each book and along with a few pages. They are organized by designer or publication and have a small picture of each block along with some basic information such as name and number. Not only do these books provide an organized method of accessing old blocks, but they also provide a look at how quiltmaking fits in with history. The names of the blocks provide ties to history, which show how women connected their art to current events. A great addition would be to add dates to the blocks.

I bought the Index to Laura Wheeler Quilt Blocks, which I mentioned in a post last year. It is a slim, self published volume with a spiral binding. I bought this one because I was interested, at the time, in a block called Snowball Wreath, which I discussed in a post in June of this year.

There is a brief introduction to the book. The blocks are listed in alphabetical order. Each block has a hand drawn picture along with the name and number. The pictures of the blocks are approximately 3×3″. There are no templates. This is a reference tool and not a pattern book (though it is possible to redraft the patterns). The work also contains an index of names and a list by number (e.g. Laura Wheeler Number Sequence).

Now to get the Electric Quilt Company interested enough in these materials to create the blocks they have not already created! Although quite comprehensive, not all of the information that Ms. Alboum has is in EQ6 or Blockbase, but it is easy enough to add. This series is a great addition to anyone’s library who enjoys quilt blocks.

Snowball and Fabric

I wonder if blogging can get to be like drinking – too much of a good thing? Well, I hope not, though I do feel a bit hungover at all the posts I have contributed lately and am hoping I am not starting to repeat myself. I haven’t even started to post some of the photos I have taken with my phone. Deirdre should be happy about that as she was looking forward to these “on the go” photos and I have not lived up o the possibilities of mobile blogging. Immerhin!

Though I added one measly block, the Flowering Snowball (Cross blocks) piece looks much bigger than it did last time.

I got a FQ pack of the new P&B Pop Parade from Quilting Adventures. Joyce, kindly, allowed me to not buy some of the fabrics from the line that were not cheerful. I want to make something out of just these fabrics, but I am no sure what. I also neglected to decide on the borders and background and buy extra for those. Oh well, I have a bit of time to decide before they discontinue this fabric, forcing me to go on a web/shop hunt for specific fabrics.

2007 UFO Report

Once again, in 2007, I have been sewing and making progress. I thought I would, again, inventory my UFOs and see if I made any progress since my previous roundup post of December 27, 2006. But first, I want to tout my accomplishments. πŸ˜‰

Completed Pieces in 2007

  • Nosegay: binding still needs to be hand stitched on, but I consider this to be complete
  • Serendipity Puzzle: binding and sleeve still need to be hand stitched on, but I consider this to be complete. I look forward to giving it to the baby for whom it was made.
  • Sharon’s quilt: done and delivered.
  • Thoughts on Dots: done and on the bed. Had a brief outing at the San Mateo County Fair.
  • 5 Teacher Pillows

I thought there were more, but 4 is a respectable number of quilts to complete while working two jobs, blogging, being a parent and taking care of elderly rellies, etc.


As mentioned last year, this list in no way implies that I will discontinue starting new projects or finish any of these.

Here is my list of UFOs. You can see many of them over at Artquiltmaker.comor look at the links I have provided.

  • Baskets: based on a quilt TFQ and I saw at PIQF. We will work on this together as we get together, so I am not so uptight about this project.
  • Bullseye: Still have those directions for doing the border the way I want it (the directions I found late last year). Asked TFQ to help me. No progress in 2007
  • Flowering Snowballs/Cross Block quilt: this is one that moved from the idea stage to the UFO stage. Hooray! Progress! Recently, after a month or so of no progress, I am back at it. I currently have about 16 blocks done and the potential for many more!
  • Garden from Pamela Allen class: needs hand embroidery and embellishment
  • House and Garden from Pamela Allen class in May 2007: needs hand embroidery and embellishment
  • Laura Wasilowski Flower Garden from LW (CQFA) class in July 2007: needs hand embroidery and embellishment
  • He Tried to Make it Up to Her: needs back and to be quilted. This is probably a quilt I will want to quilt myself. TFQ has dug out a number of quilts, but I don’t know if this was one of them. No progress in 2007
  • Her Eyes were Bigger than Her Stomach: needs a back and to be quilted. Very active quilt; probably not the best design, but a mile marker in the quiltmaking journey and an excellent learning experience. No progress in 2007
  • Kissy Fish: ongoing hand beading project. Progress made, but not complete
  • Leaf Friendship quilt: Before 2007 started I said “needs something that I don’t have; candidate for abandonment; sad, though, because it is a friendship quilt.” This may be coming up, because the fabric closet is, as we say in German, an der Reihe. I have to clean that pit out as I can barely walk into it. This means that candidates for abandonment may finally be abandoned. No progress in 2007
  • Pineapple: All blocks are done. Need to put them together. Facing the reality that some blocks are much too large and trying to figure out how to move forward. I think I may be prepared to remake some of the blocks
  • Pointillist Palette 4: Night: This is the fourth (of six) in a series of Pointillist Palette fabric by Debra Lunn and Michael Mrowka that was popular a number of years ago. No progress in 2007
  • QA Challenge Quilt: need to fuse the parts and rubber stamp the words.
  • See: started in a David Walker class. Needs fusing, satin stitching around fused pieces and quilting. No progress in 2007
  • Self Portrait from Pamela Allen class: needs hand embroidery and embellishment
  • Solid Star Friendship Quilt: need more friends so they can make stars for me in solids with black. No progress in 2007
  • Spiderweb: foundation pieced project, still piecing. Need to create the templates for the border blocks. Aside from collecting more strips, no progress in 2007
  • The Tarts Come to Tea: Last year I said that I needed inspiration. TFQ and I talked about this quilt a bit and I got some ideas on how to proceed. It really always helps to discuss with someone who has a design sense. No progress in 2007
  • Women’s Work 2: last year I said that this quilt “needs focus.” Was inspired and have the design. This years words for this quilt: needs execution!

On My Mind
Here are the quilts I am thinking about. Some are on the list from last year. In some cases I have purchased fabric, but no sewing has been done, so they are not yet considered UFOs.

This pattern could be be purchased from Quiltworks Northwest, but it seems to be no longer available. Make it yourself!

  • San Mateo County Fair Dot quilt
  • Paper pieced Nativity scene: I downloaded this pattern when it was free a few years ago and have never gotten up the energy to be as organized as I need to be to make this, but I still want to make it. You can find the pattern, for purchase, at Paper
  • Interlocking triangles #4: love the techniques and have at least one, if not two, idea[s] for more
  • Dot quilt with inset circles a la Ruth McDowell: more uses for dots and a good exercise in piecing
  • Feathered Star dot quilt from Summer issue of Quilts & More: more use for dots
  • Some kind of pink quilt with all the pink fabric I have been buying
  • Colorblocks 3: I want to use this pattern from Sandy Bonsib, but have silk fabric with a luscious sheen instead of the regular cottons. Background will be cotton sateen. What’s holding me up? Backing all the silk. I have the backing and just can’t bring myself to do it.
  • I Spy quilt for DS: hexagons and many of the triangles are cut. I just have to start piecing them. TFQ continually comes to the rescue as she continues to cut pieces for me.
  • Garden Quilt: I have been collecting photos and patterns of interesting flowers for years and have always wanted to make some kind of garden or flower quilt. It will probably be something like The Tarts Come to Tea.
  • Jack’s Chain: I saw a quilt of this pattern years and years ago and have always wanted to make one. Probably at least a partial hand piecing project.
  • P&B Pop Parade quilt a la Serendipity Puzzle
  • Bathroom ‘quilt’ out of heavy clear plastic. I want to make pockets that I can put interesting things in that won’t get waterlogged. I also think the stitching would be an interesting addition to the piece.


  • I am trying to be more about the process of quiltmaking than the finished product.