Forgotten Quilt; Halloween Postcards

25 10 2013

While looking through my old photo files for pictures of the Christmas stockings I had previously made, I came across a picture of a quilt that I had forgotten about.  The picture is one taken for the EBHQ historian at the Voices in Cloth 2008 quilt show.  I did not keep this quilt long enough for it to be professionally photographed.  It was donated to a women’s clinic in Africa, when EBHQ still had a means of getting these items there.

Triad II, 2008

Triad II, 2008

I also remember that this quilt was problematic in many ways.   It started in an EBHQ workshop on color in quilts taught by Christine E. Barnes.  She uses “mock blocks” to teach color and other artistic concepts to quilters.  (see her book Color: The Quilter’s Guide for all the details)  Below is the mock block I made in class, and I loved it.


Time to make a full quilt.  I changed the center square to a red-purple (magenta), creating a triad color scheme.

Finding the turquoise, yellow-orange, and magenta fabrics for the quilt was difficult, especially when I needed them in different values.  There was not much dark turquoise in the local fabric stores.

Then, finding an appropriate fabric for sashing between the blocks was even harder, since I had boxed myself into this specific color scheme.  I love the puzzle aspect of this art form, but this one was not so much fun.  The sashing fabric turned out to be in my own stash;  it was a fabric manufactured by the children’s clothing company Mousefeathers in Berkeley, and a wild print it was.

Anyway, after struggling with finding fabrics, putting them together, working out the math, and developing a quilting pattern, I was happy to see this one finished, ready for display at the quilt show,  and I loved it.  But NO ONE else did.  Too bright, unusual colors, whatever.  So off it went to keep someone continents away safely bundled.


Just for fun with the upcoming holiday—-some more postcards.  I loved making these from some old Alexander Henry fabrics I found heavily discounted after Halloween one year.  Some of these images were incomplete, but they still worked in this small format.  I even had to give the torn Frankie a few extra sutures on his neck;  seemed to do the trick.



Feed Sack Log Cabin

18 10 2013

Made from another of the vintage tops I had collected, this quilt is made almost entirely of feed sack fabrics.  The red centers of the blocks give a big punch to this quilt.

Unfortunately I have no record of when I got this top;  it may be another from Eli Leon.  Regardless, I know I waited a long time before I had it quilted, and when it was finished by Nina Farrell, I saw how wonderful it really was.

Also quite wonky, this quilt’s appeal for me is not in the precision of the sewing, but in the fabric.  I know I’m nuts, but I love these old prints.

Feed Sack Log Cabin, date unknown

Feed Sack Log Cabin, date unknown

Here is a detail of the machine quilting done by Nina Farrell, who got one of these lovely flowers in each red center.

Feed Sack Log Cabin, detail 1

Feed Sack Log Cabin, detail 1

For the back of the quilt, I used feed sacks and feed sack scraps from my collection.  I tried to use the wildest prints I could find, so they could be showcased on this big back.  Click on the photos to enlarge, and also see the detail below of some of the prints–crazy, crazy stuff.

Feed Sack Log Cabin, back

Feed Sack Log Cabin, back

Feed Sack Log Cabin, detail 2

Feed Sack Log Cabin, detail 2

All photography by Sibila Savage unless otherwise noted.

My learning process

14 06 2013

I am immensely proud of almost all of the quilts included in these posts and galleries, and then along comes my most recent, about which I have mixed feelings.  Not everything is successful.

Firstly, this quilt is finished, and that is always a good thing.  But only now do I notice so many changes I could have made.  Sometimes the learning experiences arrive at the very tail end of a project, too late to make adjustments.  Such is the case here.

However, since I do not support anyone drawing attention to all the things they might consider mistakes in their works, I leave it to your judgment.

This piece was made in Roberta Horton’s African-American Quilts workshop at PIQF.   It was very fun to make since it uses a template-free construction method;  just cut and sew.

IMG_0986_2Gee’s Bend Churn Dash, 2013            34″ x 37.5″

And I did find one part of this quilt that is my very favorite, and it is what I learned in the process of quilting.

Since there were so many different patterned fabrics in this top, deciding on a quilting pattern that would enhance the quilt or even be visible was a challenge.

The solution was hand quilting with Perle cotton.  LOVE IT.  Using a Chenille needle made the process very easy, since the eye of that needle is large enough to accommodate the No.8 thread, and yet the needle is sharp enough to go through all three layers of the quilt.

IMG_0935Gee’s Bend Churn Dash, detail

This quilting reminded me of when I started quilting back in the early 70’s, all by hand, including piecing by hand.   I think a project I’m currently working on may call for hand quilting too, so returning to my roots may be a comfortable place.

The larger lesson for me is learning to become more comfortable trying something that I don’t usually do and failing.  Historically, some of my best work has followed mistakes.

Starshine: foundation piecing

24 05 2013

Having taken the beginner class in foundation piecing** from Jane Hall and Dixie Haywood in Houston, I jumped at the chance to study with foundation-piecer extraordinaire Karen Stone when she came to EBHQ in the late 90’s to speak and teach classes.  My Starshine quilt is the product of that class and is made from Karen’s Lady Liberty pattern.

Karen has a wonderful technique for identifying the different areas of the block and then distributing the different colors within these areas.  In addition, she taught us the intricacies of using foundations to make sewing the curved seams easier.

For this quilt, I used the same color palette as my Triad quilt (seen here), adding purple as an extra color.  And note how intense these colors seem when the quilt is photographed on a black background.

010DagueStarshine, 1999               55.5″ x 55.5″             Photography by Sibila Savage

Here is a detail of four blocks put together.

010Dague_2Starshine, detail

What surprises me about this quilt today is its lack of quilting.  I know I was having trouble at this time trying to figure out how to machine quilt these creations of mine that have soooooo many different fabrics in them.  What color thread is best for the quilting?  Will you even see the quilting on these blocks?  It seems I took the easy way out and quilted the whole thing in the ditch.  Might do it differently today.

This quilt is another example of my discounting my work merely because it was made using someone else’s pattern.  I loved making it, and I love the product, but I folded it up and put it aside, writing it off as a so-so work, and not thinking much more about.  It was not until I was showing some of my quilts to a group of non-quilters that I had a change of heart.  One of the group pulled this quilt off the storage shelf, opened it up,  and raved about it, so I looked at it again with new eyes.  It’s really kinda cool.


P.S. . . .

A couple more of the fabric postcards I’m working on, not finished yet.  Afraid I’m becoming obsessed.



**Jane and Dixie always call their work “foundation piecing” to distinguish it from English paper piecing (EPP), which is a method  done by hand.

The Laundry Girl

10 05 2013

Following the example of vintage squares as seen  in the most recent post, The Laundry Girl is also full of fabulous squares, but is a much more recent creation.

I wanted to experiment with the medallion format for quilts, which focuses on  a central motif, surrounded by different borders, usually made from varying sewing techniques.  When I started working in this form with a few fellow quilters, we found that adding these additional borders was not as simple as we had originally anticipated.

For this quilt, I cut apart an unused, vintage laundry bag found in an antique store and used  it for the center of the quilt.  The image and the writing were printed on the muslin, as was the pattern for hand embroidery.  I completed the embroidery, and chose the fabrics for the first border.  All the fabrics are from my vintage collection.

As soon as I put on the third border, the blue floral with patchworked corners, my original ideas for the remainder of the quilt no longer worked.  This medallion technique has been wonderfully challenging every step of the way, and it’s so much fun that I now have at least two new medallions in progress currently.


The Laundry Girl, 2013                57″ x 63.5″                 Photography by Sibila Savage

Here is a close-up of the charming laundress.


The Laundry Girl, detail 1

Here is a close view of some of these wonderful vintage fabrics.  I think these are great fun to look at.

LaundryGirlDetail2The Laundry Girl, detail 2

In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that there is one fabric in Detail 2 above that is not a vintage fabric.  Can you find it???   (Hint: it appears twice.)

My vintage feed sack stars

12 04 2013

I made this small quilt in hopes of its inclusion in Mary Mashuta’s book Cotton Candy Quilts, her book of quilts with a depression-era focus, and I was very pleased when she selected it for the book.

02-scan-Dague_2-2012smlEight-Pointed Star Lattice, 2000          34″ x 34″       Photography by Sharon Risedorph

For this quilt I used the same feed sack for the large squares, and the same vintage fabrics for the burgundy red stars at the posts.  However, there is a lot of  variety in the choices of the blues for the shapes in the sashing.


since I still had plenty of the blue patches left over from making the first quilt, I later made this next quilt, using for the large squares and rectangles all the wonderful feed sacks from my collection that had some blues and pinks on light backgrounds.

Quilt 6

Feedsack Stars, 2009                      43.5″ x 43.5″             Photography by Paul Hennessey

The prints are really fascinating up close (see detail below).  The burgundy stars here are all made from one feed sack.

Quilt 6a

Feedsack Stars, detail

For this second quilt, I loved designing an interesting quilting pattern for the feed sack squares.  I feel this added a little something extra to the piece.

The Latest News:     Just two days ago I got into Sibila’s studio for another photo shoot, so more, newer (and some much older) quilt stories will be coming soon.

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.