Red Triangles-a vintage quilt

29 03 2013

Purchased in 1991, this vintage quilt top was a favorite of mine for a long time, and was one of the first few I sent away to Quilting Plus for hand-quilting, since I thought it deserved such care and respect.  It was such a favorite mainly because staring at and studying it helped to inform the work that I do today.


Red Triangles, date unknown            76″ x 83″       Photography by Sibila Savage

The center of the quilt is a beehive of pinwheels, with the red the only repeated patch.  Since the red is not always in the same position within the pinwheel block, it is hard for the eye to tell where one pinwheel ends and another begins.  Also, the sprinkling of the dark navy triangles near and in the borders seems to frame the brighter center.


Red Triangles, detail 1

These two final borders (one, turquoise rectangles and broken dishes blocks and the other, squares on point)  visually hold all this activity in place.  The construction of  borders is exactly what Freddy Moran mentioned in her Parts Department class:  the quilter made the borders, applied them to all the sides, and, when the border was in place, simply chopped off any remaining fabric, regardless of any block pattern disruptions.


Red Triangles, detail 2

Nothing too fussy or fancy here, just simple shapes and tons of fabric scraps combined in many wonderful ways.

I know this much chaos in one work is not for everyone, but I love it.

Fun with Fabric

22 03 2013

Many authors have written about the wonderful fabrics now available to quilters and how these fabrics can, by  themselves, be the inspiration for our quilts.

Here are just a few of my quilts which seem to fall into this category.

Two tissue box quilts

Originally developed to utilize fabric samples donated to the Children’s Quilt Project by fabric company sales reps, this pattern is made entirely of 2.5″ strips.  Finished blocks are 10.5″ x 6″.


This next quilt was made from a bundle of half-yard, vegetable-related fabrics that were too fun and too busy to use in any way other than something simple.  The charming fabric prints and the dark/light contrasts do all the heavy lifting in this quilt.  This bundle of fabric sat around for at least 5 years before the idea for using it in this pattern appeared.

05_SDague_2010_smlEat Your Vegetables, 2010        53.5″ x 63″         Photography by Sibila Savage

And, lastly, this quilt that was made only because both my daughter and I fell in love with this quirky chair fabric.  Quilts don’t get much simpler than this, but I still love it, perhaps because of the fabric alone.


Chairs with Stripes, 2010          47″ x 50″                     Photography by Sibila Savage

This quilt is also a fun way to use up fabric scraps leftover from previous projects, and, if using the black and white borders, almost any color combination would be effective.

I have learned not to question why I fall in love with particular fabrics—I just do.  (Has anyone other than me spent far too long  just LOOKING at the fabric stash????)  And finding a way to showcase these beauties seems to honor this passion.

Fabric Postcard Tutorial

11 03 2013


For EBHQ members making fabric postcards for the Voices in Cloth 2016, with a special thanks to Sue Mary Fox, whose great experience in making these postcards is documented here. 

I hope you have as much fun making these as we did when we all got together to learn the techniques.

Please make 5 for the guild, if you feel as though you’d like to help out. 

Note: EBHQ will provide the fast-2-fuse and the printed “Postcard” backings at monthly meetings and Drop-Ins.  E-mail me if you would like me to send you a pdf to make your own postcard backs.

Some tips before you start:

–We expect these postcards to be mailable as is.  This means that the edgings should be only those indicated here in the tutorial.  Anything else, like bias binding or other edge embellishment will not work, since ithose cards would need an envelope to go through the mail.

–Also to ensure mailability, please do not add beads, buttons, rick rack, bows, charms, or other three-dimensional items to the surface.  Save these for the ones you make for yourself to hand-deliver to friends or family.

–Take time with your first postcard to get used to the process.  The ones you make after that first one will be much easier and much more fun.

Materials for 4″ x 6″ postcards:

–fast-2-fuse interfacing—Double-sided fusible stiff interfacing, medium or heavy weight

–Wonder Under—Paper-backed fusible web

–parchment paper, release paper, or Teflon coated mat for use with the fusibles

–fabrics for backgrounds

–fabrics for embellishing—conversation prints, words on fabric, flowers, etc.

–other optional items—ribbons, trims, rickrack, rubber stamps, leftover patchwork blocks or scraps

–machine sewing threads

–card stock or paper backing designated with “Postcard” and “First Class Letter Postage”.  We have printed these so that purchasers will be aware that a regular postcard stamp will not be enough for mailing.  First class letter rate postage should be used.


Step 1–Create Background


Fuse fabric or a good combination of fabrics to one side of the 4″ x 6″ piece of fast-2-fuse.

NOTE:  place a release paper under the card so it doesn’t fuse to your ironing surface.

–extend fabric pieces over the edge, to be trimmed later, so that white does not show

–choose horizontal or vertical card orientation

–if you like the fabric combinations, make 2 or 3 more

–when fusing combinations, overlap the fabrics just a tiny bit, so no white shows through

Step 2–Embellish


–add any of the following using Wonder Under or light fabric glue :  ribbons, flat lace, embroideries, images cut from other fabrics

–avoid anything that adds too much thickness


Step 3–Stitch through all layers


Note;  no special needle needed

— use an overall pattern

–try the decorative stitches on your machine

–experiment with fancy variegated, metallic, rayon, or other fun threads

Anything added in Step 2 should have some stitching as well.

Trim edges.


Step 4–Make an edging for the card/affix “Postcard” paper backing

Two different ways (choose the look you want):

Method 1–Stitch dense satin stitch around entire card, fuse paper to back of card (using a release paper so your iron doesn’t melt the printing) , and straight stitch in the ditch on the front to secure the paper.

photo-66 Front



Method 2–Fuse paper to back of card and sew with a loose zigzag stitch around entire card.


(Click on photos to enlarge.)


Any questions???  Contact

Bring finished postcards to monthly meetings or to a Drop-In.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!


HOT TIP  for making the postcard process easier:

My new favorite sewing machine foot, called an Open Embroidery Foot, which makes applying decorative stitches to the body of the cards and the zigzag stitches to the edges of the cards SOOOOOO much easier.  You can actually see exactly where you are sewing.

The foot for my machine looks like this:




ZigZag Path, Part II

8 03 2013

I’m repeating part of my very first post ever, since, over the last two and a half years,  I have learned so much more about what I want to include here, and that first post was quite sparse.

ZigZag Path


ZigZag Path, 1997            59″ x 59″                   Photography by Sibila Savage

This quilt is the end product of the Prints, Plaids, Stripes, and Solids class I took from Gerald Roy at a local fabric store in September of 1997.   Working in this class was absolutely wonderful, opening up many, many new ways of working with interesting fabrics.  I had previously taken an extensive color theory class with Jerry, and this class was the logical progression in our education.  Again, I can’t say enough good things about the great teachers with whom I have had the pleasure of studying.

As one of the exercises in this class, we were challenged to find blocks that might be enhanced by the introduction of plaids and stripes. So I set off poring through my quilting bible, Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, looking at all these blocks with new eyes, imagining how stripes might change the simple designs.  I finally  found The One–Brackman’s #2585, Quartered Square.  photo-27As I look at this now, it doesn’t even look like the same block, since the fabric, fabric placement, and the block arrangement all changed the look of the individual blocks so much, creating a lot of activity.

I started out by trying to match the stripes as they went from one block to the next, and quickly gave up on that idea.  The stripes and plaids would just have to fall wherever, because they were too hard to corral.  As this quilt took shape, I felt it needed some grounding, so I added the two vertical “columns” of solids, which gives a sense of focus.

The triple borders were used to hold all this activity in place.  And here’s the detail.


ZigZag Path, detail

This quilt was accepted by the jury into the 14th Annual American Quilter’s Society Quilt Show, Paducah, Kentucky, 1998.  Having been seen there, it caught the attention of the publishers of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine, and was featured in their September 1999 issue, number 315, pages 64-65 and later in their All About Quilting from A to Z book.

Notan: Something completely different

1 03 2013

Last week I fell into the black hole that is internet surfing, and happened upon something that reminded me of the Notan studies I was obsessed with at one time.  I learned about Notan from someone in my mini-group, who had studied with fiber artist Marilyn Felber.  She suggested that doing this exercise could strengthen one’s artistic muscles while at the same time providing a meditative resting place for a busy mind.

Enough said:  I was hooked.  Marilyn had referred her group to a tutorial of ArtCloth  artist Jane Dunnewold entitled The Expansion of the Square for the simple rules (and a good explanation of the design principles involved), and this really got me started.

Complex shapes and design are made from a simple 5″ square of black paper, and these were the images that came pouring out of the internet from Flickr, Pinterest, etc.  They were fascinating.

So I went back to the old journals (2003)  and found these creations of mine;  these might be just as fun as all those online, I thought.

Here are a few:














After looking carefully online, however, I noticed that the tags for many of the photos were “Mrs. Crawford’s Seventh Grade Art Class,” etc.  Burst my ego bubble just a bit.

Regardless, it was easy to become entranced with this exercise because, just like most of the artistic things I do, different possibilities for new works jump around in my brain while working on the current piece.

So if you feel stuck and just want to space out and try something fun, jump into the Notan pool.














Have a favorite?