Tag Archives: Off the wall Friday


It is May and a new assignment for the masterclass–from a photograph subtract items, move items around, and add personal reaction.

zen garden

Well, that was fun to do. One thing that interests me is what I didn’t think of moving: Elizabeth suggested moving the front hedge and path. There is more moving and shading to be done, and maybe yet more.

I’d say this is the first time I’ve sketched without any thought to fabric or construction method (even though I’ve read advice to avoid such thoughts). So now that I think of blocking out a quilt, I am stumped. I have some used kimono fabric that might make a floral tree; I have a palette in mind: tans, peach, light aquas and greens. Darker green moss. Batiks.

But it looks like an applique project, and I don’t wanna.

It also looks too much toward realistic (for my taste anyway). And I missed one of the points of the assignment: find unexpected beauty and show its beauty. Nothing unexpected about beauty in a Japanese zen garden. And the emotion I’d be adding, tranquiltiy–also pretty ho-hum, common.

Perhaps it is a good thing this is a month I don’t have time to finish on schedule. I’ll let it sit a while and see what my subconscious offers me.



Filed under design

Architecture Quilt Finished and Given a New Name

Waking this post up to share on Val’s Tuesday Archives (button in sidebar) 1/12/16

I can’t believe how long this quilt has been waiting to be quilted. Victoria of 15-Minutes of Play issued the challenge May of last year!  There were three criteria: size 24 x 30; use photo of architecture as a starting point; include some “made fabric.” (My starting photos are here; progress here.) I was waiting for more confidence in my machine quilting to deal with the solid fabric where the quilting would be more visible. The guild quilt show coming up was the push I needed to pretend to feel confident.

finished quilt

24 x 30

You can see the spiral and pencil quilting above–below is a detail view for the harder to see quilting. Two quilting designs are from Leah Day’s FMQ site: on the bright orange, Cube Storm, which I still am not getting right, and on the darker orange, Modern Weave, which comes easier.

detail quilting

Saturday is the deadline for turning quilts in for the show.  All five of my entries are bound/faced and labeled, ready to deliver tomorrow, a day early!

The name has been changed to Lines and Circles #1.  That the origin of the quilt was architecture no longer seems relevant to the finished product. As a viewer, I don’t like such redundant names, barely a notch above Untitled. But such names do foreground the abstraction.

I’m linking up with Off the Wall Friday and Link a Finish Friday and TGIFF , guest posted and Leah Day’s FMQ site. Off the Wall friends may be amused that I am showing something not from the masterclass. Finishing up the class project was second to getting the quilts ready for the show.  Every year I say I’m not going to enter anything not completely finished. And every year I make another exception.

quilt "portrait"


Filed under quilting

A “Little Quilt” for Guild

Traingles #1

16 x 17

This is the color scheme I had in mind when making sketches for the masterclass (one of three sketches shown on previous post). The assignment included that we do three value possibilities. It is a good thing because I might have missed the one that reverses dark and light. But meanwhile, I needed to make a little quilt for the guild raffle by tonight. I’d been thinking ever since last year’s, but no ideas pleased me till this one. So without waiting for instructor comment, I made this one. I’ll still make another for class and block it out by the 20th (if I get all my bindings and hanging sleeves finished for the quilt show). And I’ll use the dark background.

At guild tonight the “little quilt” chair announced that we had had 42 to offer last year (where we made about $700.00). But this year she has 69.  I might not have rushed to finish if I had known how many quilts had been given already, but I’m not sorry to have finished.

I can’t wait to see them all.

The only rule for the Little Quilts is that they be less than 20 inches on any side. They can be true miniatures, patchwork, applique, traditional or modern.

It works like this: Each quilt has a number and there is a baggie with the same number. People buy tickets (Ours are $2.00 each with reductions for multiple purchases.) They put their tickets into the baggie that corresponds with the quilt they want. The drawing comes in the last hours of the quilt show–a number is drawn for each quilt.

Technical detailsl. I didn’t try slash and insert. Instead I made paper templates. Remembering the lost inches on the previous Bridge Line quilt, I added 7/8 inch to the side legs of the triangles. Some were perfect, but most were too large.  This time instead of losing inches, I gained them. The drawing for the templates was for 15 1/2 x 15 1/2. Nothing like overcompensating. In the absence of a math formula, it is trial and error. Quilting was done with a walking foot.

I don’t love the lower left–I’ll be playing more with positioning and sizing that triangle.



Filed under design, quilting

Minimalism’s Challenges

I really like minimalist abstract painting, and it seems it should readily translate into quilts. However, I’m puzzled by how to keep minimalism from being boring. And how to handle the empty space so that it looks intended and not just forgotten.

The starter for April’s Masterclass assignment seemed to suggest minimalism:one shape, another similar, another a little bit different, and some lines attaching them.

April's sketch

I liked this one best of the three I submitted, as did Elizabeth. (I’ve made enough instructor comments–not on art–to know that ‘best of three’ is not much praise for the whole set.)

After seeing everyone else’s sketches, I wondered if I had taken the instructions too literally. Almost everyone else had lines through shapes that broke them up into more shapes with shading. After I saw the first five, I almost redid mine, but didn’t really have time or another idea that didn’t feel like copying. So I left it. And I will tweak it according to most of the suggestions.  One I am not sure about: making the rectangle out of small pieces of the same value. I think that would contradict my attempt at minimalism. Or maybe this sketch already has too much to even think minimalist thoughts. I maybe shouldn’t have layered anything so as to keep it flat.

One of the recommended tweaks is to move the bottom triangle left; I can do that with no problem, but I was already concerned about the triangle’s unbalance. Maybe I’ll get an idea as I move pieces around.

I like the challenge of finding and solving design problems.


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Bridge Lines Completed

1/12/16 Reviving this post for Val’s Quilting Archives (button in sidebar)

Lines instead of shapes was the March lesson. (Previous posts here and here) And after getting this one assembled, I can definitely see the construction value of shapes and the design value of lines.

Finished piece

The construction was a royal pain. There is a world of difference between slash-and-insert for improv and for a predetermined design.  I laid out the pieces, marked placement with pins, and carefully analyzed the design for order of slashing and sewing.  I didn’t quite use templates. I put pins along the edge of the piece to be inserted then used ruler and rotary cutter to cut 1/4 inch inside the line. I thought that would maintain the proportions and line ups. No.  Soon the pins marking various pieces’ placements became more and more approximate and the edge more and more raggedy. What started as 21 x 25 to allow leeway toward a goal of 18 x 24 ended up 17 x 22. (What math am I missing to explain this loss? It doesn’t seem like it should have happened.)

Next the quilting. I had planned to do only stitch in the ditch so used a batting that allowed for unquilted spaces up to 12 inches. But as I was stitching I got the idea of ghost ladders in the bigger spaces.  (I wonder if the idea was inspired by having browsed Leah Day’s filler designs and practicing “Josh’s Ladders” on a fire truck block? Or if it came from looking at the ladders and empty spaces. I’ll never know because I can’t go back and not know the Josh’s Ladders filler.  I wonder too if this in-process shift from plain to ladders is what people mean when they say “The quilt told me what it wanted.”)

I had a couple doubts about the quilting: should I add one more ladder in the upper left corner? Should I change the quilting in the white area? However, I got my comments from Elizabeth who approved the quilting as is. I am not one for ripping out quilting needlessly, so I’l be glad to take her word on it. She also approved the limited palette for such a complex design. I wish I could say that was exactly why I used it. 🙂

Linking up with Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday. Go visit!

4/13/14 Linking with  the monthly Sew Solid Sunday–button in the sidebar


Filed under design, quilting

From Sketch to Blocked Design

Remember the sketch for the line based design in the master class with Elizabeth Barton?

After considering black and white, shades of aqua, or multicolored brights, I settled on the aqua, making adjustments along the way for variation in value.

Design blockedYep, I flipped it.

The white is there because otherwise the light aqua looked white. After I added it, I also liked the variation and contrast. I chose the green just because I wanted something darker than the darkest teal on hand.

My plan was to lose 1/4-1/2 inch on the long strips to seam allowance, though I was beginning to like the width of the teal and white strip as is and considered ripping it and cutting other strips. But Elizabeth’s comments lead me to keep all  the widths as is.

I have been wondering how to block out a design that will end up losing seam allowance, especially with narrow lines planned. I’ve been trying to just use my imagination. (But of course that violates Elizabeth’s maxim: evaluate a visual design visually.) Pressing under 1/2 inch of a 3/4 inch strip doesn’t work either. Nor can I press circles under and keep curves. I guess I’ll just have to cut exactly what I intend (and figure out some way to use the strips later–well the 1/4 inch ones will just be trashed) and then cut a new piece to actually use.

Now comes the final construction. I had slash-and-insert construction in mind, but since some of the strips are wide and others tapered, I may end up making templates. I remember having read not to limit design by familiar construction methods, but rather to design and then figure out how to create it. Sounds like a good principle, but it may be easier said than done.

I’ll be linking to Off the Wall Friday–button in the sidebar.


Filed under design

Bridge #2

Whew! I just learned that the April due date had been changed to June for the “Bridges of Portland–Now” project (link here). With that reprieve, I can work on the piece for the MasterClass on line. The primary assignment was to take an earlier quilt and redo part of it focusing on line. Well, I don’t have a big repertoire of art quilts, and the ones I have did’t inspire any line play, not did the traditional quilts. So I worked from a photo of the bridge I was using for the guild project–Elizabeth had said we could work from a sketch as a second option, so I stretched it a bit.

Hawthorne Bridge weightThere are plenty of lines to work with here between the structure and the shadows. Which to choose?

First I worked with what looks like an observation window near the top–but keeping the idea of the X, though not resembling the photo.

Line sketchI started out with it in portrait with the long lines for the wires that lift the weights going the “right ” way. Then I liked it better this way. Today I like it the first way.

Another sketch that I like better catches more of the structure and ladders.

sketch 2I started out trying to duplicate a line or two, then just stated playing with the shapes and lines.

I don’t have comments yet so I don’t know what will need changing. I’m pretty sure the second is better, though. I’m not overly pleased with the first. One kind of welcome negative comment is a comment that reinforces my judgment about something I already thought weak. How about you? Are there any negative comments that for you are positive?

It would be nice if I could do two projects with one, but there is no way I could use the required print fabrics for “Bridges of Portland—Now” in this plan, which requires solids or stripes. I have a few more ideas for it as well, but am not committed enough to any to cut fabric. I’ll probably use up my “found” time sketching and debating and still be in a rush to finish the piece.

Linking with Off the Wall Friday.


Filed under design, quilting

Bridge Time

Another one of those “plenty of time” projects rears up to say, “No longer.” Back in July the Portlan- Bridges-Now challenge was announced, and soon after, the required fabric became available. Here is the fabric I selected from Violet Craft’s Waterfront Park line. I had sunset thoughts in mind when I made the selections. One idea abandoned.


My Selections

The challenge requires me to use half a yard from the line, recent instructions indicate of one of the fabrics. There is no size restriction for the quilt, but it will have to be large enough to handle a half yard of one of these. (I had interpreted it as allowing us to select from the whole line when I was shopping and doing initial planning.) And the quilt needs to be inspired by one of Portland’s bridges and be modern.

My first step was to observe and photograph my bridge of choice, the Hawthorne Bridge. (photos here); the second was to start sketching. When I put it away, I thought I had a sketch and a plan.

Working sketch #1

I had decided that the red weights and the arches were the distinguishing features of the bridge. I had no intention of attempting photographic realism. The red domino dot would go in the upper X for the weight and the red and salmon bubble print in the lower X for the reflection. The arch would be made with the aqua and black line print and the reflection with the aqua bubbles.

When I got the sketch out, I didn’t like its top anymore. (It was only the two Xs.)  I added the supports and the pulleys at the top and was only a little bit happier with it. The main problem was that I was slipping more toward realism than abstraction.

So I’m allowing myself a couple days to redesign, then I’ll get to cutting and stitching.

Did I mention that it is due April 1? I guess that clarifies my goal for March. Not always this easy. Set goals and check out other goal setting and accomplishing at Dezertsuz‘s blog.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday and later in the week Off the Wall Friday (button in sidebar)


Filed under design, quilting

Creating moving shapes

If ever there was doubt that I am a process person (there wasn’t), it would have been erased this month. In the MasterClass, it was time to submit a blocked out design. I’d experimented and failed and was ready to chop the piece into smaller pieces and make a scrap quilt from them after it got its comments. Even though this experiment had failed, I felt I’d learned plenty from the discussions and the trying, was ready figuratively to crumble the paper and throw it into the trash.

Motion sketchLet’s back track. First the sketch. It began to show motion, but the lines stopped it, and the lines and shapes were unrelated. It sat, glaring at me, till  duh-piphany. Make the opening bigger so the shape can fall through. Led to ‘fall through the cracks.’ Led to ‘hole in the net.’ Cheers for stream of consciousness. All this led to a new sketch and a new goal. Could I show motion straight down instead of lateral or top to bottom on the page?

Led to this sketch. Sketch 2

The dark circle was supposed to retreat beneath the light circle around it. I needed to fill space so enlarged the larger circle to an oval. Uh oh. Fried egg. Silly me thought it might be less obvious in fabric.

First fabric block out

It wasn’t.

And instead of receding, the purple bounced up. I submitted it anyway, just to be finished and ready for next month’s lesson.

But like any good instructor, Elizabeth gave some suggestions and said, “Try again.”

It morphed into this:

Second blocked out design

I did give up on the downward movement (it may be possible, but not for this piece) and went for spiral. Now on to a finished product after all.

March ETA link to FlickR photo of finish. I am not usually a fan of hanging threads, but they seeemed to fit “Hole in the Safety Net.”


Filed under design, quilting

Lines and Circles

January's project

January’s project, 9 x 14

First I read Elizabeth Barton’s Inspired to Design, which led me to follow her blog. And her blog announced a year-long, online Master Class on art quilt design. The time was right: I needed to add doing and receiving commentary to reading about design.

January’s project focused on value but started with a photograph. I started with this photograph of the land boat in the Lan Su Chinese Garden.

Land boat

See the heron?

The quilt viewer does not need to know that the quilt started with this photo; therefore the quilt is not named “Land Boat” but “Lines and Circles” (unless I think of something more creative–any suggestions?). Meanwhile, readers interested in process might want to know. We sketched major value blocks and drew shapes, then abandoned the photo and adjusted values and shapes into a design we could quilt. We could be representative or not.

Between cropping the photo, adjusting the slant, and moving the pomegranates, I thought I had gotten free of the photo. But when Elizabeth suggested bright colors, I realized I was stuck in the browns and greens of the photograph–my only planned color change had been to brighten the pomegranates to a more burnt orange than the brown of the photo.

I began to think differently and after considering a couple bright combinations, decided on primary colors–red, blue and yellow. It was a challenge to work with various values of yellow and red; blue came easily. I made the background and quilted it, and then I added the circles. That consruction allowed me to fix a problem Elizabeth noted in my submitted final. Three of the circles ended up in a horizontal line. By making two into pairs, one addition up and one down, I hope I’ve fixed that a little. I can still see the straight row, but it no longer glares.

Elizabeth’s most recent blog entry  on color and value was a fitting conclusion to the January segment of the workshop. I am eager to hear what our starter will be for February.

You can see another from the Masterclass at Off the Wall Friday plus peek at other art quilts. Then there is NewFO to browse and more buttons to the right.


Filed under design, quilting