Art Quiltlet: 29/52

Crying Flag art quiltlet at

I did not watch the RNC on TV this past week. I “watched” it via Twitter, live blogs, and news articles, and that was sickening enough. I have never lived with the delusion that America is a perfect and great country, while maintaining optimism that this democratic experiment would one day bear fruit for all. Women were left out of the Declaration of Independence; blacks were reduced to 3/5 of a person in the Constitution. I am well aware this country was created by privileged white men, for privileged white men. Gains for the rest of us have been slow coming, and incremental. This past week saw an established, long-standing party’s leadership gather behind and support a truly conservative stance in the strictest sense of the word: “a disposition in politics to preserve what is established” (Merriam-Webster). What was established was governance for and by white men; what has been imagined and hoped for and lauded through the years is liberty and justice for all.

Crying Flag art quiltlet detail at

I see those ideals fading, buried under racism, misogyny, and fear-mongering, and a candidate and a party who has allowed and encouraged those angry, hateful voices to get louder and louder.

This week’s quiltlet portrays a crying American flag. It is how I feel.

Art Quiltlet: 28/52

quilt scraps

This is just a quick catch-up post. This quiltlet was completed on time last week but never posted. It uses scraps from a quilt I’m making to donate to a Baltimore Head Start location through Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild. It’s a cheery quilt using warm and cool color groupings. I had a vague idea in this quiltlet of mountains and sunset. Can you envision it?

Art Quiltlet: 27/52

Scrap fabric art quiltlet at

Well, this was pure experimentation. I wanted to try sandwiching scraps in between dissolve-able stabilizer to make “fabric.” Once it’s sandwiched, you stitch all over (that’s the white stitching), dissolve away the stabilizer, and voilà.

Once I had that (rather flimsy, and with some holes) piece of scrappy fabric, I layered a piece of cream fabric underneath, then made my regular quilt sandwich and free motion stitched some black. The arrangement of bold colors is fun, I think, and I got to experiment with this method, which has been intriguing me for a while now. And I don’t really have anything more to say about this one!

Sewn: Worry Cat

worry cat

A couple of months ago, I saw a “Worry Eater” stuffed monster in a catalog. The idea is for kids to write down their worries and “feed” it to the monster so it can digest them while the child can get to sleep. I liked the idea, but also thought I could make one myself. I asked my son (who has anxiety) if he wanted to draw his own monster to be turned into a worry eater. He thought maybe but then didn’t, and anyway, he’s doing well with managing his anxiety, for the most part. In the meantime, the inspiration, which I’d clipped from the catalog, remained taped to the wall of my work area, and I realized I really wanted to make one for my daughter.

The past year hasn’t been the easiest on her. We moved, and her new school was so very different from her old school, with a different culture and different rules that seemed to leave her compressed and anxious and smaller than she was a year ago. She’s got more worries, and more thoughts that make her feel bad. I started sketching ideas and ultimately came up with Worry Cat. She (my daughter informs me this cat is a she) is my first attempt and a little odd in places. I used knit fabric for cuddly-ness, but it does pose a challenge, especially with inserting a zip. Worry Cat doesn’t need to be perfect, though, because nobody is perfect. My daughter has permission to get out of bed to get pencil and paper and write down any plaguing thoughts. In the morning I can take them and tuck them into a box for safekeeping, leaving Worry Cat’s pocket ready to take on more negative thoughts.

Worry Cat isn’t a substitution for professional guidance, if necessary, and isn’t meant to suggest that one stuffed animal can solve a child’s anxiety. It’s another tool in our toolbox though. And instead of being ordered from a catalog, this one was thought out and sewn by Mama, with love and hope for a happier girl through the whole process. That makes it all the more special.

Worry Cat stuffed doll at

Art Quiltlet: 26/52

This week marks the halfway point of 2016. It’s been kind of a brutal year for the world so far, hasn’t it? I’m afraid it’s going to get worse, too. This week’s quiltlet has nothing to do with current events, though. I enrolled in Stitch and Slash on Craftsy to get more ideas on manipulating fabric, and this quiltlet is a portion of the larger practice piece.

Doors art quiltlet at

I went for a secondary color scheme and threw in some satiny fabric just to make it interesting. I had to buy a new, sharper seam ripper, and that made things a bit easier, but it’s still more uneven than I’d like–I don’t mind the fraying edges, but I had very little control over my ability to keep the edge straight and more or less the same width. I’m sure it just takes practice.

The challenge, of course, is to use this technique to create something that reflects my own aesthetic, and not the instructor’s. Now that I’ve learned the technique, I plan to play with it some more to make it my own. I’m not interested in re-creating someone else’s vision; never much have been.

I forgot to take a picture of the larger fabric before I cut this bit out. So here it is, missing a piece.

stitch and slash fabric

This is the first Craftsy class I’ve purchased and taken. At $20, it was about the cost of a book, I’ve learned the technique, and I don’t have a book clogging my already overburdened shelves. I watched the parts that I wanted–I haven’t watched the bits on turning the fabric into a pillow because I don’t feel the need to make a “thing” when learning a new technique; process for process’s sake is fine with me. It worked out well for satisfying the urge to experiment with something different.

Art Quiltlet: 25/52

Home? art quiltlet at

This week marks one year in Annapolis for us. But a big part of my heart is missing New England and in particular, my little patch of backyard nature and the proximity to the ocean. I have neither here. I knew I would miss it a lot but I think I still managed to underestimate how much. This week’s quiltlet incorporates paper maps and reflects my homesickness. This time of year the whip-poor-will in our backyard would be calling out every night at 9pm; barred owls would be having midnight conferences; the towhee’s song would light up my days, and the veery’s warbling downhill melody would signal dusk. Wood thrushes and warblers, salamanders and snakes, peepers at the pond. Favorite beaches only minutes away, with salt ponds full of fish, crabs, and jellies; days spent playing in saltwater and mud. I am sad. I miss it all.

I don’t hate it here, but I don’t love it either. It just is. There are certainly more opportunities here than in Rhode Island, for all of us. There were things we had to adjust to, things that needed to be changed (my daughter’s school, for one), definitely things that give me pause, but also things to be grateful for, like neighbors who can watch children in a pinch, and whom I can help as well.  When people ask if I like it here, I simply say, Some things are better, some are worse, and some things are just plain perplexing, and I’m sure that’s true of everywhere.

Design Tip: Cropping

I was asked to talk about my quiltlet process at Sunday’s Modern Quilt Guild meeting, and since I work a little larger and then crop down, I wanted to give a visual of how that can change a composition. Since my quiltlets are all 6×8″, I cut a cropping window out of a larger piece of cardboard. This way, I can isolate 6×8″ compositions and decide what I like best. I also have a smaller window template (for smaller compositions, obviously!). Sometimes I’m working with a finished composition already in mind, but using this template is really helpful when I’m working intuitively. It can help you discover compositions you didn’t even know were hiding within your design. These view finders can also be helpful when you’re inspired by a particular design out in the world and trying to isolate part of it to focus in on.

To demonstrate this process, I pieced an improv square.

improv pieced square,

Before adding more surface interest, I took some pictures using the cropping windows. These are only a portion of the photos I took, as I wanted to remember all the possible ways I might want to enlarge this into a full-size quilt. I really love these colors together.

cropping example,

This crop keeps the horizontal and verticals intact. But don’t just move the cropping window around; tilt it from side to side as well, to see possibilities on the diagonal.

cropping on the diagonal,

cropping on the diagonal,

I then added some surface interest in the form of circles and quilting, so the full piece looked like this.

circles and lines,

Again, I took many more pictures than I’m sharing here.

cropping example,

And again, some on the diagonal.

cropping example,

cropping example,

I love zooming in on one part of a design like this–the results can be so interesting. Using this tool allows you to explore different focal points. What works best? What is most interesting? What draws you in the most? Often I do quite a bit of sewing that doesn’t make it into the final piece, but that sewing was necessary to get to the final composition. It’s like research in a novel; the reader might never read that backstory but it adds to the story nonetheless.

Art Quiltlet: 23/52

Art quiltlet inspired by Mondrian,

Mondrian is one of my favorite artists. Although I do like his earlier work too–and it’s fascinating to examine the evolution of his work, and how he reduced things to lines more and more until that was where he settled and stayed–this piece is obviously inspired by his well known grid-like works using black, white, and primary colors. The first time I saw a Mondrian in person I gasped out loud. (Imagine being rich enough to stare at your own every single day?!) The orderliness of a Mondrian is something I find very calming. This week, I needed some soothing grids. Thus, this quiltlet.

I began by quilting straight lines before I even began sewing on the black and primary pieces. Since I didn’t want thread color detracting, I sewed on each piece with matching thread, which made for lots of rethreading of my sewing machine to make this little piece! But worth it. And the back looks cool too.

Art quiltlet inspired by Mondrian, back,

{Have you noticed? We are almost halfway through 2016. Wow.}


I’m trying to work on something every day, and one day last week I was at a loss, so I just started stitching fabric together. A whole bunch of blues, because I somehow have more blue fabric than any other color. Not surprisingly, it began to remind me of the ocean. I experimented with free-motion stitching on just the fabric (versus a “quilt sandwich” of fabric, batting, and backing) to see what happened. It puckers the fabric a bit more, is what, even if you’re careful. So it gets texture-y. I added some paint after carving a quick wave-like stamp. I decided it needed a girl doing a cartwheel. She was happy to be back at the beach.

She missed the ocean at

“She missed the ocean”

It might be a little bit busy… and you can see how the fabric doesn’t lay completely flat. Do I like that? Or do I mind that? I’m deciding. I’m experimenting. I stitched some words, too.

She missed the ocean, detail.

I really liked this cartwheel girl.

She missed the ocean, detail,

I wondered what she’d look like cropped all the way down so she was the main focus, so I made another, smaller, piece, this time in a meadow full of flowers.

JOY at


This one is only about 4×6″.  And while I typically like to work, then crop down, next time I’m using French knots I’ll crop first, then add the French knots, just because they get in the way a little bit on the edges. Ah, but check out her hair! All of it, really–I like it a lot. Doing creates ideas and those ideas create more ideas. There is always something new to try when I’m feeling a little stuck.