First WIP Post of Summer 2013

WIP new button

It’s the first post of summer–the first Works In Progress post, thanks to Lee, of Freshly Pieced.

Trimming Up Ruler

I put together the sections for the Schnibbles block, trimming it up as the pattern recommended (we’re doing Dulcina this month–see Sherri’s blog for more info).

Trimmed UP1

Whoa!  Big Shrinkage.  (The trimmed up squares are on the right.)  If I make this quilt in the future, I’ll try to figure out the dimensions so that the trimmed up block doesn’t lose an inch in each direction.

Dulcinea Center

Final center section, all sewn together.  Now the borders.  Because I have so much going on in the quilt, I’m looking to build some quieter borders than are shown in the design.  But I’m putting this aside for now, to tackle my Big Project: Quilting the English Paper Pieced Quilt:

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 10.21.31 AM

Click back over to Lee’s blog to see other quilts that are in progress.  And happy summer!

Using the Other Side of Fabrics

First off, after I finally figured out how to use Mr. Random Number Generator, and making sure that comment included a trip, I’m happy to announce that the winner of the Itsy Bitsy Scissors is Mary, of Needled Mom.  Congrats!

I figured since I subjected you to a swath of vacation photos, I needed to get real and get some real quilts back up here on the blog.  I started yesterday on the newest Schnibbles for June, Dulcinea, beginning with the background fabric in a navy-blue print:

background dulcinea

A high-quality iPhone photo, uploaded, then recaptured as a screen shot.  Love technology.  Kidding, but it does come in handy.


I filled in with mostly Comma prints, but a few others (I hate doing one line of fabric), but it just wasn’t going anywhere for me, until I turned the background fabric over to the “other side,” not the “wrong” side (shown in pink circle).  Why do I not say “the wrong side”?  It comes from the era of watercolor quilts, when we tried to blend blend blend our tones across multitudes of itty-bitty squares.  We learned to consider both sides of a piece of fabric as possibilities.

Watercolor Quilt

Here’s my version: Color Study: Night Infolds the Day.  My friend Leisa got us started on this adventure–I think it was her first quilt ever.  We cut about a zillion little squares, and since that cool gridded fusible web hadn’t been invented yet, we pieced them all.

Watercolor detail 2

So the technique was to smooth the colors across the colorful sections, and sometimes no matter how many little squares you browsed through, it just wasn’t possible.

Watercolor detail1

So you flipped the piece over and used the “other side,” like the middle partial square in the upper row, and the full right-hand square in the second row.

Watercolor Back

I used an allover celestial print for the back–that was pretty daring for that time — all of 14 years ago.

Watercolor Label

The label.  I exhibited this is a local quilt show, and stitched on their label, too.  The best part of this story is that our friend Tracy adopted our six pizza boxes full of squares (we sorted them by value, from light to dark), added about a zillion white squares and made herself a wonderful quilt from our leftovers, another value of getting together in a quilt group.  This is #29 on my 100 Quilts List.

Carmel BluesAnother quilt where I used the “other” side sometimes, was on the quilt I made for my mother (mentioned in last week’s post).  We’d gone to a quilt show in Carmel, where I’d picked up a fat quarter pack of blues.  This is titled The Blues of Carmel, and is #19 on my 100 quilts list.  It’s named not only for the ocean at Carmel’s edge, and that pack of blues from the quilt show, but also because my mother has blue eyes.

Carmel Blues Back

The back of this is merely a whole cloth, allover design, which I used as a guide to hand-quilt.  Pretty much the only people who machine quilted their quilts at that time were J. C. Penny’s or Sears.  It was hand-quilt, or yarn-tie.  Quite a range of options, right?  Since this was made in my earlier days, it doesn’t have a label.  I need to remedy that.  This quilt was published in Joen Wolfrom’s book Color Play (page 64). Don’t know who Joen Wolfrom is?  Google her.  Her book, Patchwork Persuasion is ground-breaking.  And just typing “#19 of 100 Quilts” makes me realize how far I’ve come, and how far quilting has evolved, in the nearly two decades since I made this.  Of course, I’M not any older.

Dulcinea Label

This was on my melon for lunch, which reminds me I need to get back to sewing that Schnibbles quilt, another one in Sherri and Sinta’s Another Year of Schnibbles!

Punching the Creative Buttons


{NOTE: If you are looking for the teensy scissor giveaway, you can find it *here.*}


Manhattan Skyline

If you’ve never traveled to New York City, the question of whether that city is worth all the hype may cross your mind.  I can’t answer that one, but  from a quilting perspective, the stimulus provided by this “town,” as the cabbie called it one time, gives me a chance to look at things in a different way.  I’ve had the unique opportunity to travel there three times in the past year and half and have come at the city as a tourist, not as a resident, so can’t answer whether it would be lovely to be there 24/7. Is my experience so different from any travel, anywhere? Don’t know that, but here are three things that punched my creative buttons this past week (along with some quotes on creativity).

“Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.” –Ken Robinson

Five Pointz, Queens, New York–scheduled to be demolished in September of this year (2013), so hurry if you want to see it


Take the 7 train from Grand Central towards Queens, and as you round the curve, the elevated track passes an old factory, completed decorated with street art.  Yep, like you, I don’t really want this on MY house, but here in its urban setting, it was amazing.


On Memorial Day when we were there, the area was deserted and quiet, with only a few tourists like ourselves strolling around, cameras clicking away.  I put quite a few of these up on my Instagram feed and within hours, the street artists were identifying each other’s work, noting for me who created these and in some cases, which country they were from.  The taggers (but most of these weren’t really tags, but full-fledged art) have to get permission to put their art up here, and I felt like I was interacting with a community as tightly-knit as our quilting community.





Detail of above



I liked also how people interacted with the art.  This family was from France.


This young woman was there with three of her friends (can you see her in the middle?), and they did yoga poses in front of several pieces.  We talked to one set of spray paint artists (the best paint is apparently purchased from art stores–no Home Depot for them) as they worked, and they said this building could look completely different next week, as it continually being painted over.  There is one man who kind of runs the place, and to be able to paint here, new artists have to work their way up from scraping and cleaning the site, in order to adorn a wall with their creation.


As quilters, we have quilt shows, blogs, and places to show our art.  And while the street art at 5Pointz may not be your thing, I thought it was interesting how this community had evolved in this particular place and time.  I hate the blight of graffiti on my town, the tags scrawled across buildings, defacing them.  But I loved coming here. My takeaways: passion for your art, dedication to completion, ability to put it out there and let it go, colors, shapes, novelty.

“You were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid — things you liked — on the grounds that you would never get a job doing that: ‘Don’t do music, you’re not going to be a musician. Don’t do art, you won’t be an artist.’ Benign advice — now, profoundly mistaken.” –Ken Robinson

El Anatsui–exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum  (click on this link and watch the video of them putting up the pieces–reminds me of hanging a quilt show.  Sort of)


El Anatsui is a Ghanian artist working in Nigeria and is a master at using materials at hand to create his art.  These squares are all bottle tops, bent and shaped and then put together to create massive “quilts” of color and form and shape.  In a video at the exhibition, he used the word “patchwork” to describe his work of creating pieces and put them together.  There are a lot of similarities to what we quilters do, only ours are cloth, not liquor bottle tops.

ElAnatsui bottle tops






My sister had gone the week before and said it was an amazing exhibit.  Be sure to watch the video on the Brooklyn Museum’s website about how they installed these pieces.  Although they are huge, they look as light as air. Takeaway: explore all kinds of colors, materials, shapes and forms.  Don’t be afraid to reshape or move things around to get a different result.

“Human life is inherently creative. It’s why we all have different résumés. … It’s why human culture is so interesting and diverse and dynamic.” –Ken Robinson

Punk: Chaos to Culture–showing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art


Like the above street art, I am not drawn to punk naturally, but this exhibit at the Met I thought was brilliant, because it talked about the influence of punk fashion on the greater world of fashion–and it brought together some of the things I’d been seeing this week in my touristing. [All photos are from the internet.]  To get a fuller perspective on the show, watch the video, narrated by Andrew Bolton, the curator.


This gallery, titled Bricolage, was where the culmination of recycling trash to treasure was noted, and I loved what what used in the skirt and shirt below:


Bottle Tops!  Couldn’t believe it. They also had dresses that had graffiti sprayed on them, and how graffiti can be incorporated into T-shirt and dresses.  I thought of the current obsession we have with text on cloth, and wondered if we were also feeling a wave of punk influence, in a more refined way.

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” –Ken Robinson

I won’t show you any more of that exhibit, as it was punk-ish, after all, better seen in context, as is all art.  But I will leave you with one more picture:


This is the grave of Elias Howe in the Green-Wood Cemetary in Brooklyn (hey–it was Memorial Day, after all), in the who we all owe a great debt, as he was the inventor of the modern sewing machine.  Apparently the biggest sticking point was where the eye of the needle should go, and this account from a family story, tells how he came to invent this (from Wikipedia):

“He almost beggared himself before he discovered where the eye of the needle of the sewing machine should be located. It is probable that there are very few persons who know how it came about. His original idea was to follow the model of the ordinary needle, and have the eye at the heel. It never occurred to him that it should be placed near the point, and he might have failed altogether if he had not dreamed he was building a sewing machine for a savage king in a strange country. Just as in his actual working experience, he was perplexed about the needle’s eye. He thought the king gave him twenty-four hours in which to complete the machine and make it sew. If not finished in that time death was to be the punishment. Howe worked and worked, and puzzled, and finally gave it up. Then he thought he was taken out to be executed. He noticed that the warriors carried spears that were pierced near the head. Instantly came the solution of the difficulty, and while the inventor was begging for time, he awoke. It was 4 o’clock in the morning. He jumped out of bed, ran to his workshop, and by 9, a needle with an eye at the point had been rudely modeled.”

Wikipedia also notes that “Howe received a patent in 1851 for an “Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure.” Perhaps because of the success of his sewing machine, he did not try to seriously market it, missing recognition he might otherwise have received.”  In other words, he invented the zipper, too.

Sorry for the long post, but sometimes it’s interesting to note where we get “refilled” when we’ve run out of ideas, or are tired, or have too many UFO’s lurking in the closet and have lost our creative mojo. (Plus, we had a great time in The Big Apple.)


Quotes are from Ken Robinson, who has given many TED talks on creativity and our educational system.

Pins and Needles, in New York City


I’ve been in New York City for a week, and while there I discovered a new quilting/fabric shop, on the upper East Side, a few blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It’s called Pins and Needles.

Map to PinsNeedles


Ring the buzzer, and they’ll let you in.  Head up the stairs to the second floor, and their door is on the left.  It’s like going up to fabric heaven from the gritty bustle of the streets.


I am standing at the window overlooking the street, and photographing toward the back.  It’s not a big shop, but it has such a variety of modern fabrics and ideas and even a little classroom area, that I felt it had a lot to offer.


The classroom and looking out the window.  There are basically three fabric stores that cater to quilters and home sewists in New York City: City Quilters (midtown), Purl Soho (Soho, or lower third of Manhattan) and now this gem of a shop.



I was immediately welcomed by two very friendly women: the owner Rachel Low (on the left) and Lauren Rucci; Rachel gave me permission to take photos. She also maintains a Facebook page for the shop, if you’re interested, as well as a blog.


Though compact, it felt spacious.  They have a wide variety of modern fabrics, well-edited, and I could see lots I wanted to take home.  But since I had practically sat on my suitcase that morning to get it closed, I was constrained by space.


While most of us diehard quilters approach fabric with a fair amount of gluttony (unless you are sitting on your suitcase to get it closed), in the shop Lauren has taken more of an arts and crafts approach, as opposed to quilting, even using the term “patchwork,” as their clientele is more geared toward sewing.  Smart move, as you can learn to do the quilting after a good knowledge of fashion sewing has been established.  One of the most successful things a shop can do is to know who their customer is.


I loved their wall displays.  Rachel has worked in the fashion industry, including a two-year stint at Prada, so the shop incorporates these themes into their decor.


I loved their wall with fashion pictures, fabric swatches–so many ideas!  I have noticed the trend towards sewing; many quilters are trending towards making dresses and clothes not only for themselves, but also for their children.  I just happened to do it the reverse, majoring first in Clothing and Textiles, then discovering quilting later. I say, no matter how you come to it, sewing something for yourself or for your home is extremely rewarding, and this shop brings all of those ideas together.


Crafting table.  They hold several classes for children’s crafts.



I loved the window overlooking the stree, with a comfortable banquette with cute pillows.


And what did make it into my suitcase? Three cuts of fabrics, some Itty-Bitty Scissors, all done up in a very cute bag.  These scissors are about 1 1/2″ inches long, have a point cover; Rachel says her customers have been successfully taking them on airplanes to do their stitching.  I bought an extra, and would love to share it with you.


Leave me a comment below and I’ll choose a winner on Tuesday morning.  In your comment, tell me where you’ve traveled recently and have needed a pair of teensy scissors, as well as which color you’d prefer: turquoise or pink.  And if you are not a winner, I’m sure that Rachel of Pins and Needles would be happy to ship you your own.  Contact her at her Etsy Shop, or by email (