Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2015 Calendar

Last year, I received a coupon to get a free calendar from Shutterfly.  I gathered a bunch of photos of my quilts and threw them together into a calendar and got it printed.

This year, I received another coupon to get a free calendar from Shutterfly.  I still haven't gotten things planned enough to make a decent planned calendar, but I thought that last year's strategy worked well, so I copied it.  I grabbed some images of quilts I have made - both finished and unfinished.

I didn't want to use the same template I used last year, because I didn't want it to look the same.  Last year's template had quotes on it, and I really liked that idea. Since the template I chose this year didn't have any quotes, I needed to find my own quotes to add to the calendar.  I chose story quote as the word to search. I was planning on finding different topics for inspirational quotes, but I liked so many that I kept with the same theme for the whole year.

Some of these story quotes are about living life, and some of them are about telling a story. I felt that both kinds are applicable to me.

I didn't include names of quilts this time. I probably should have recorded them, but I don't remember the names of all of them, and since many are unfinished, I wanted the flexibility to come up with new names.

I initially thought I had more images of finished quilts than unfinished quilts this year, but it is pretty much half and half.

I added the pictures to the month that it seemed to fit best in.  When I went to the actual page, I was pleased to see that the background color of the template worked well with all of the selected quilt images.

I especially like this purple one with this quilt, although I'm not sure why, since there is very little purple in the quilt.

If you haven't done this before, I highly recommend it.  Seeing the images of these quilts professionally printed makes me feel like a real quilter!

Most of these quilts have not been shown in last year's calendar. In fact, I think there is only one repeat. It is purely accidental; if I had remembered it was on last year's, I would have used a different image.

I had to take the pictures at an angle this year, so you can't see the calendar at its best.  Trust me that it is a high quality calendar and it makes my quilts look very good.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


People who have been reading my blog for a while will probably remember the word of the year that appears on the bar in the right side.  My word of the year has been Commitment for a while, at least for the last two years.  Although the goal has changed, it was there to remind me to create goals and to simply go after them, and to continue to go after them.

For 2015, I have decided that the focus word will be



I have several ideas for this year, and I think that this word describes them all. When I started this blog post, it seemed like I was saying that I don't already do these things or am not good at them.  But this really isn't about choosing my worst traits and trying to improve on them.  It is choosing three things that seem to fit the momentum I am already following.  I am choosing the path I am already walking on, and committing to staying on it.


I would like to incorporate clarity into my communication. .  My goal is to communicate more clearly, both in my written and in my verbal communications. This means I will make sure I keep people informed, enunciate, and choose my words properly. 

It should be easy for the other person to understand what I am saying.

House Management

I want to incorporate clarity in my management of my household.  To do this, I am working on reducing the number of things that are in my house on a bigger scale than I have done in the past.

Instead of a muddle of belongings, I will use clarity to identify the items that do belong in my home, and have an ideal place to put them.  I will have clear spaces that make the home more inviting, and the clear spaces will give me opportunity to make quilts without guilt.


Low Maintenance

Since last year, I've been looking for ways to make my home and my life more low maintenance.  Part of this has to do with the decluttering I mentioned in House Management; the fewer belongings I have, the fewer things I will have to clean.

But beyond that, I would like to find other ways to reduce the maintenance in the house.  If I plant shrubs, then I won't have to replant every year. If I plant annual flowers, I won't have to harvest vegetables. This is a fairly new goal so I haven't thought through yet how to have a low maintenance lifestyle.

What does low maintenance have to do with clarity?  If I am not bogged down with maintenance tasks, I will have more time to choose to do the things that really matter.  My to-do list will be small enough that I will be able to look beyond it and see that it is possible to complete all the tasks on that list.

I haven't found a good quote for the sidebar yet. This one will suffice until then.
Sometimes you need to take a few steps back to see things clearly. Never let your life become so filled with work, your mind become so crammed with worry, or your heart become so jammed with old hurts or anger, that there's no room left in them for fun, for awe, or for joy. Melchor Lim

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014 End of the Year Show and Tell

I finished two quilts this year. At first, I was ashamed at that lowly number, but now I am proud of it. I quilt for fun, not for a job, so I don't need to be productive. I simply need to make the quilts that provide enjoyment for me. And I certainly did that.

Besides my finished quilts, I also worked on other quilt projects that haven't made it to the finish line yet.

 The quilt on the left, Tuxedo Diamonds, was made in early January.  It was fun to make.  I showed it to you last year, but the colors were not right.  They are more true in this one.

 I was impressed by all the red and white quilt shows, and thought I should make a red and white quilt or two to have my own.  It looks good with the red and white optical illusion quilt I made last year.  I got the idea for this quilt from a quilt I saw on Pinterest.  I don't like this one as much as that one, mostly because it doesn't look like I envisioned.

I worked on this Awards Banquet quilt in April. It goes with the red and white theme, but I wanted to add black.  I have a lot of black and white fabric from a fat quarter swap and I wanted to get started using it.  Like Tuxedo Diamonds, I did not use a quilt pattern, but simply used my own ideas.

I was really having fun making and designing this quilt when I found out I needed to spend a month in Lansing for work with very little notice and after the overtime had already started.

I took all my sewing stuff out of the living room and put it in (what was then) the newly organized craft room so my daughter wouldn't have to look at a mess all month. When I came back, I left the mess in the craft room and worked on other quilts and haven't taken it out yet. I think it just needs to be quilted.


My big quilt reveal, of course, is the Improv Quilt, which I already showed you recently.  Once I got over trying to please the Sherri Lynn Wood, I had a lot of fun with the designing aspect of the quilt. I liked being able to make my own decisions about what to do next. I know I can't remember the exact dates on this one, but it was finished before I went to Lansing.  I know I was working on Awards Banquet at the same time as the Improv Quilt. This quilt needs another name, so if you can think of one, let me know. 

I took my sewing machine to Lansing with me, and didn't have a lot of time to decide what project to take with me.  I grabbed a kit that was taunting me when I was cleaning out the craft room.  This kit was waiting while I was trying to implement the "finish the WIPs first" rule, but I decided that the kit had waited long enough, and since it was a kit, it was a WIP.  I was able to work on it after work at the hotel. In Lansing, I worked long hours, but since I didn't have the chores I have at home, I was able to find time to work on it. This one required careful cutting and piecing, which was quite a change from the liberated cutting and piecing of the improv quilt.  The top as directed by the kit is done, as you can see on the table, but I have been adding another border. I put it away when we were hosting a birthday party, and didn't take it out after the party.  I see a recurring theme here.  I think I shouldn't put away any quilts until they are done!

Last, but not least, is this Christmas trees quilt. I have been seeing a lot of trees quilts on Pinterest, and wanted one of my own.  I found a directions for a liberated tree quilt on Diary of a Quilter, and got to work. It is a liberated quilt. I have a lot of Christmas fabric I've gotten on sale over the years, and thought this was a perfect opportunity to use them. I made a whole bunch of trees, and rejected a few that didn't fit the finish size I chose. I'm sure I will be able to use those elsewhere - maybe the back. I started this quilt a couple of days before Christmas, and could have tried to rush this one so I would have another finish for 2014, but I decided to take my time and enjoy the process.  I now have a really nice head start for 2015.

In 2015, I hope to clean up the new mess I made in the craft room and finish organizing it.  Then I want to finish some of the quilts that got abandoned during cleaning missions.  I really enjoyed working on the quilts and they don't deserve to be abandoned. I don't think I will have time to do a lot of quilting in 2015 either, but if I work on finishing what I have already started, I should have some finishes to show for it.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Questions about Improv Quilt

I thought I'd take the time to answer some questions about the quilt you hadn't thought to ask.

Sherri asked a question on her blog about our quilt making process.  She asked

What blocks and supports your improvisational flow?

This is the first improv quilt I have ever made.  The biggest challenge I had in making this quilt is the lack of guidance.  I am used to hand holding with quilt patterns, and then sometimes I will veer off into my own direction.  This means that I can pretty much know what the finished product will look like.  With fewer directions, I was left on my own to make my own decisions from the very beginning.  While this is freeing, it is also very scary, especially since I was making the quilt for a book.  I wanted to please the author and make a quilt she would be proud to have in her book. It felt like she had specific ideas about what she wanted but she wasn't going to tell us!

Eventually I decided to let go of the idea that it was a quilt for Sherri.  I was going to make a quilt for me, since it would stay in my house.  Once I stopped trying to please someone else, the flow worked much easier for me.

The other thing that blocks me - the reason that this is my first improv quilt - is that improv quilts aren't conventionally beautiful.  This means that when I hang it up in my living room, my guests ignore it or glance at it without making a comment. I 'm sure they were wondering, "What was she thinking?!"  I enjoyed the process of making it, and I love the quirkiness of it, but I don't particularly like the aesthetics of it.  Sherri Lynn has featured some antique quilts on her blog and has tape recorded some conversations as she studies the quilt.  I like the idea of really studying a quilt instead of just looking at it and saying "pretty".  I think improv quilts tend to lend themselves more to this kind of in-depth study than traditional quilts do.

Both of the quilts shown on this post were made without a pattern. One has straight lines made with a ruler. The other one is cut free form.  They both let me be free and play.  I used lots of colors on the rail fence quilt. Lots of leftover fabric. But I also added some color as I went along, as some days I wanted to add a different flavor based on my mood. The one on the right has a more limited palette, but the play was in the design choice.  They both held my attention long enough to get to the finish stage, which says a lot to me.  They are both complex quilts - the rail fence with the variety of scrap fabrics used and the interplay of the different fabrics, and improv quilt with the interplay of the lines coming in at different angles.

I have a feeling that the quilt that will go down the generations to represent me will be something that many people found ugly and tucked in the back of a closet or the attic.  Centuries from now, people will wonder about the person who made this ugly quilt.  Would I want one of these quilts to be my legacy? I don't think so, because they don't completely represent me. But then, neither do the ones that are more conventionally pretty.

Neither one is traditionally beautiful.  This means that most people will glance at them and walk away.  Not worth their time.  Both of the quilts require more study and analysis before the beauty becomes apparent.  I think the people who walk away at first glance are missing out.


Friday, December 26, 2014

Improv Quilt Reveal

Sherri Lynn Wood's book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously is available for pre-order on Amazon.  It officially comes out March 17, 2015.  What this means is that I can now reveal the improv quilt I made earlier this year. Forgive the photo heavy post. I've had a lot of time to take pictures of this quilt!

As I said earlier, I was one of the testers of one of the patterns in this book.  My quilt didn't make it in the book unfortunately, but I appreciated the opportunity to participate. This quilt was all about rhythm.  The score of this quilt is rhythm. I kept my palette very simple with just black and white. I wanted an accent color. I was debating between red and green, but my daughter recommended purple, and so I went with that. I think it was the best choice.

We were to make striped fabric by cutting the fabric into strips free form and then make a quilt out of it.  I deliberately kept my strips from being too straight, not that I would have been able to cut straight lines without a ruler.

I cut the strips in half so I could get variety in mixing and matching.  Then, I sewed them together into stripes of five fabrics.  I made some deliberately dark, some deliberately light, and some medium. I think I had five or six rows.
 I cut them into squares.
 Then I cut them in half to make half square triangles.
I mixed and matched the HSTs so that the would meet at an angle and look like L's.  I sewed them together and stacked them up.

I tried to keep it improv, so I didn't do too much arranging, but I did put them on the design floor to see how it looked. Also since I used the floor in a room that did not have the sewing machine, I was able to keep it improv and free form. I sewed blocks together to make rows.  Sometimes I would have to add more fabric to get the blocks to fit together since they turned out to be different sizes.

After I had all the rows together, I had to try to make the rows fit.  This meant I added more fabric where there were empty spaces.  I wanted a bigger quilt, so I tried to add more than trim away to get them to become the right size.

Zeus helped make sure the quilt didn't escape while I was working on it.

After all the rows were joined, I had to add nips and tucks where the quilt was lumpy.  I did this several times, putting the quilt on the floor to make sure it was as flat as it could be.

Squaring up the quilt was the hardest part, since there wasn't a single line that was straight that I could use. But I folded the quilt and cut to the smallest space, but sometimes I added more fabric to help make the difference.  I quilted it with straight lines using a squiggly stitch my machine provided.

Shasta Matova

As you can see, most of the quilt is composed of half square triangles that were joined at an angle to form a box shape.  There is one nine patch, and two blocks that were joined straight together instead of being made into a box shape.  I did this deliberately for an added improv touch.

I like almost everything about this quilt. It isn't conventionally pretty, but I like it.  The dark spot on the bottom right (second to bottom row) where the nine patch and the maverick block run together bothers me sometimes, but they do add to the improv look of it.

1 Improv Quilt
Shasta Matova

My sister and I took a couple of my quilts to photograph on some construction equipment.  Now I can finally show these to you. Which one is your favorite quilt walk photo?

2 Improv Quilt
Shasta Matova

3 Improv Quilt
Shasta Matova
4 Improv Quilt
Shasta Matova

5 Improv Quilt
Shasta Matova

6 Improv Quilt
Shasta Matova

7 Improv Quilt
Shasta Matova

8 Improv Quilt
Shasta Matova

9 Improv Quilt
Shasta Matova

10 Improv Quilt
Shasta Matova

11 Improv Quilt
Shasta Matova

12 Improv Quilt
Shasta Matova

I hope you enjoyed seeing this quilt reveal. I have waited anxiously to show it to you.

Call to Participate

This is an old post I found in my drafts folder. I decided to publish it even though it is late, since it will give you a chance to get the history behind the quilt I will be posting.

Sherri Lynn Wood at Daintytime put out a call to participate in her new book on improv quilts, and I have signed up.  She has about 20 people who have signed up to participate for each quilt, and only one or two quilts are likely to be chosen to be in the book.  The person whose quilt is in the book will get a free book, and the others will be put in a drawing for a chance to get the book.  It is exciting to be a part of a project like this - to try out some new techniques. She gives some general guidelines, and we have to interpret them into fabric.

I am not going to be blogging about the process of making the quilt until we get the go ahead from Sheri Lynn, but I did want people to know about it and generally know that I am planning to participate.  I haven't cut fabric without a ruler. I've made a couple quilts without a pattern - just winging putting different shapes together, but I wasn't sure how to get those curved spaces in and still wind up with a flat quilt. She provided us with a great video that showed how easy it could be. I am excited about doing that part.

While that part seems freeing, it also seems restrictive.  Not because of anything she did or said, but how I feel about it.  I want a quilt that winds up looking appealing, and at least stand a chance of being good enough to be in the book.  I like those improv quilts that really show the free spirit of the quilter, but I've also read others complain about quilts that look like fabric throw up.   So I am waffling right now trying to decide what fabrics to use, and what direction I want to take this quilt.

On the other hand, it is also freeing knowing that there are so many people who are participating.  If my quilt turns out awful or if it somehow gets stalled, there are others whose quilts will be made, and will be better than mine.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Take Your Quilt on a Walk Day

In my last post, I showed you a quilt I surreptitiously photographed on some city equipment.  I had invited my sister to come serve as my bodyguard or cohort in crime, but she was busy.  The following day, she called me to see if I still wanted to take that photograph walk.  Of course I said yes!  This time I brought two quilts.  I chose these two because I thought their lines would look good with the white lines on that cargo bed, but also because these two quilts haven't gotten properly introduced.  I brought the improv quilt, because I only got a few photographs of it the previous day, and a rail fence quilt.   I can now freely show you the rail fence quilt in its full glory!  Which one do you like the best? Why?