Four on the board

 fabric scraps pinned  to board Today I’ve started the physical work of making four new quilts for my upcoming exhibition. 

I begin with the colour idea and select from my scrap pieces baskets. I love those baskets- sometimes it seems I work more from them than from my big pieces of fabric. No matter how much I take out, they always seem to fill up again. A kind of quilter’s cornucopia. I think they began life as CD storage.

6 small rectangular   baskets  stacked  drawer-fashion in a frame You can see the brown/black scraps basket on the ground in the foreground of the pinboard photo.

I’ve pinned the pieces to a big sheet of Styrofoam. One column for each quilt, graduating from light to dark so I can keep track of how much I have of each. I’ll compose each one separately, but at this stage it’s helpful to see the ingredients in relation to each other. 

Can you guess the inspiration behind my four selections of fabrics?


Back to the bundles…

I’m house sitting (you saw it on the Plan!). Working away from the studio requires a bit of thinking ahead. I pack all of the usual sewing tools- and some Projects. While I’m here I’m going to make the Baby Quilt top. Assuming that doesn’t take all my time, I also brought the Basket of Bundles so i can make something else too.  

soft cane basket of rolled bundles of fabricric

Basket of bundles. lower left: baby quilt fabrics. Upper right: 2 bundles unrolled

This basket is close to being my favourite thing. It’s full of bits of fabric, none very large, all collected at random. I group them in delicious combinations and roll them up until it’s their turn to be sewn. Any bundle can be raided for the perfect fabric for the current quilt. Any fabric can be rejected and put back in the basket to be added to a later combo. Bundles are taken apart and recombined.

This seems completely unplanned; from the perspective of each quilt sewn, it is. However, from the perspective of creating a steady stream of interesting unique quilts, this fun process is the best plan I can imagine.

Sorting the rainbow

One of my favourite ways to make a quilt is to begin with the colours.

neat stack of fabric pieces

New fabric treasures

The first step is the well-filled fabric stash. It’s full of pieces collected as I go

From time to time I sort the pieces into happy groups, trying not to have any orphan pieces left. It’s amazing what goes together!

Fabric in in tidy stacks

15 sets of fabric, ready to make into quilts

Each one will become a quilt, or the beginnings of one. I don’t think about the size of the pieces, or the total amount of fabric, or the design of the quilt. That comes later.

Then I roll them up…

rolled fabric sets

15 fabric bundles

…until the next time I want to start a new project.

If any bundles are still waiting when I have enough new fabric to sort, they might get broken up to make new groups.

This is a very relaxed and pleasing way to create colour combinations and a design challenge for later…

Life as a working artist. Part 5, Burden or bonus?

I’m putting in a solid 9 hours a day in the Soft Foundry (my sewing studio) and making more beautiful warm things than I ever have.

The more I make, the more ideas I get. Everything I sketch or arrange sparks off a new trail of inspiration.

Sometimes all these wonderful ideas and inspirations feel like a burden. How will I ever work with them all?

For now, the plan is to draw, sketch or sample as much as I possibly can. I don’t actually have to make them all. When it’s time to start something new, I just do whatever I feel like. Simple, really.

Here’s a something that might become something, someday. Or not.


It comes in many flavors

a newly-met colleague shares information, a story, a laugh, encouragement
a former workmate gets in touch just to catch up
a brother calls
a former boss continues to mentor and challenge
a whole cheer squad of crafty folks challenge and critique
a stranger offers kindly help
a business associate opens their home, shares their passion
an accidental travel companion enlivens a dull journey
an old acquaintance supports my cause
@[anyone] shares advice
a family invite me to be part of raising their children
… and many more

There’s a lot of friendship around.  Cheers, pals!

The Quilts of Abundance

Late in 2010, my friend Veronicah was the recipient of 17 – count ’em 17 – banana boxes of mixed fabrics from a deceased estate. After much sorting and appropriate donation, she made up a box each for some quilting buddies. Sharing the love!

I’m a lucky possessor of one of these Boxes of Abundance. It holds a fairly random mixture of approximately shirt-weight cottonish fabrics from (I think) the middle 1980’s. Not exactly what I would normally choose to work with.

My – self-imposed – challenge is using it to make quilts for my big patchwork group’s community quilt donation programme. This has been far more enjoyable than expected.

  1. Free fabric is much easier to cut!
  2. Funny combinations work when they have to
  3. I’m not doing it alone – all the other people who have passed this fabric along are sharing in the eventual gift

I’ll document these quilts on their own page.  What is your challenge?