Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"The Quilter's Eye" runs in the family

Cassidy Horvath, a 7th grader, made her first quilt this fall. She and Grandma Terry did a great job of incorporating big pieces of Cass's feature fabric into a traditional Fence Rail pattern. Since Em did her 2nd quilt, does that mean cousin Cassidy's 2nd quilt is in the thinking stages?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Emma Scores Again!

Last summer John's great niece Emma, an 8th grader, made her first quilt - look at the Aug 8, 2008, entry. And this is her second. Why am I posting this picture since Emma and her mom Diana chose all the fabrics, and Emma did all the work at her grandmother Terry's house? This past summer neighbor Cristina, her friend Catya, sister-in-law Chris and I all made Trip Around the World quilts - see July and August, 2008. And now here's Emma's Trip Around the World. Even without borders, it's fabulous. Click on the picture to see some of the detail of Em's fabrics. I love this pattern. And Emma's fabric choices are impeccable! Nicely done.
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Sunday, December 28, 2008

MORS Bags, continued

Now that Christmas is over, I'm reexamining all my scraps as well as large pieces of fabric that I have not used in many years. These MORS bags are perfect for both. Here are bags #37 and #38, an example of each. 17" x 19" I know I'll go back to quilting but not today.
#39, 40, and 41 all involve some great leftovers from other projects and are among the nicest of the MORS bags that I've made.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Gift for a Quilter

Christmas Eve 2008 - John and the Seven Grandchildren. Top Row, l to r - Nikki, Brandon, Grandpa John, Jack, Sam. Front Row - Ben, Ryan, Natalie. Julie and Ed hosted us all. Aunt Chris, Uncle Jerry, and Molly joined us as well. The food was terrific, the kids well-behaved, and adult deportment was impeccable. One of the highlights of the evening was Uncle Mark's DVD "10 Years of Mo Christmases" which began with a picture of Grandma Sophie Moscinski - not a dry eye in the house. Entertainment was courtesy of Ryan, who played John Lennon's "So This Is Christmas". Julie, Molly, and Nikki sang along. Lovely evening. (No, I didn't give the children MORS bags for Christmas - thought I'd save that for Christmas 2009!)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ready for Christmas

The MORS bag Christmas presents for the Al Whites (Pam, law-student Candace, nanny/hairdresser Leslie, Kohl's worker-bee Ali, and hs junior Nathan) are ready to go to Oak Lawn for a pick up. The bags here are for the rest of the Whites - my parents, sister Paula and her family (Dr. Den, lawyer Chris, dancer Jen, new husband Tim), and brother Doug and his family (Kim, working Evan, student/server Laura, and granddaughters Amelia and Olive). My parents are using these bags as a way to wrap their presents. Genius! In total I've made 36 Mors bags in the past two weeks. Best of all, my stash is managable.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Perfect Present

Friends Richard and Laurel Seidelman just gave me this. I love it. I love it for the simple lines of the actual piece. I love it for the colorful moquilt which Rich cut from old license plates. I love the photos from my blog that Laurel chose because they represent a progression The first - bold geometric lines with fabric. The second - more intricate but still geometric piecing. And the third represents the direction I think my quilting is heading towards. Click on the picture to see some of the detail. 12" x 22

The thoughtfulness of this carefully-crafted piece overwhelms me. Here's what Laurel said.
Obviously there was another gift which was left at home on Friday. But after our evening together we were inspired to create something that rejoiced in YOUR art. I listened carefully to comments about your passion for geometric shapes and your Beijing inspired interest in yellows and reds. I let those comments steer me to quilts that shared a common color scheme and sense of geometry. It's interesting that they also follow a progression in your style sense. We labored over the positioning of the photos and finally felt comfortable with the final order with no idea that it was ideologically correct. We are pleased that you are pleased.
"Pleased" is an understatement. That this gift celebrates MY art? Priceless.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mors Bag update

I've now made 27. And I can't stop...

Reduce, reuse, recycle...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Presents, 2008

Long time good buddy Midge suggested we go to the Fiber Arts show at the Botanic Gardens in Glencoe. At that show I met a fellow quilter and have really enjoyed getting to know Wayne. Too many coincidences - he too is left handed, has a Husqvarna, does the same kind of quilting I do, and is passionate about travel. We've been feeding each other ideas for the past month, and one of his has lit a fire under me.

Wayne sent me a Mors Bag that he made , and I tried my first one a couple of days ago. Then I decided I would make these for Christmas presents. So far I've made eight, and I want to make a total of 22. I'm finding some wonderful fabrics in my stash - click on the picture to see some of the detail. In keeping with the spirit behind "sociable guerilla bagging," I'm using up little bits of thread left on spools and finally finding a fabulous use for the tons of leftover muslin I have from quilts. hese bags are 11" by 17".

About 10 years ago John began using canvas bags for grocery shopping. He's excellent at remembering to take them with him when he shops. My goal is to keep a bag with me when I am a fabric store or Walgreen's or a book store. A visual reinforcement for not using plastic bags happened to us in southern Argentina. It's pretty much a vast scrub land. There are zillions of little scrubby bushes, which from a distance seem to sparkle. Until we got closer and realized that the "sparkles" were plastic bags caught in the bushes. John referred to this area as a huge plastic bag farm. Shortly after that trip I heard on NPR that the same sort of thing is happening in South Africa. There are also whirlpools in remote parts of the oceans where plastic bottles and bags are endlessly swirling. Our resources are finite. Reduce. Reduce. Recycle.

For Christmas this year my sister Paula suggested we make one another presents. My sister-in-law Pam has been doing this for years (can't wait for her "cracker candy"). I've enjoyed making my first 8 Mors bags and am eager to do some more. I'm trying to make some that the men in the family won't be embarrassed to carry. However, as with quilts, I want to keep each one that I'm making. I'll have to adjust that attitude in that next 10 days!
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Monday, December 8, 2008

For Jim Pretkelis

I was lucky to get to know some very special people at Kennedy High School. My last few years were the first years of music teacher Jim Pretkelis. What a terrific guy he is. His passion for music and respect and genuine fondness for students are a winning combination. Whatever I asked him to do, he did - usually something connected with media or sound. I have been mentally working on this quilt for so long that it will have to be shared by TWO children - Jim and his wife just had their second baby. That's why it's pretty big. 60" x 66"

There are only 2 blocks in this quilt. Jim told me his first daughter loved reds and yellows and is a vibrant little girl. Hope this quilt holds up to her personality. This quilt is a tangible reminder of her father's gracious dependability and how much I value him.

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Christmas Fairy Comes to LaGrange

Every year while I'm working on quilts, John decorates the house (and does the cards and the Christmas shopping and everything else). While I normally don't embellish my quilts in any way, John found some little tiny ornaments which he carefully pins to the quilted Christmas tree I made several years ago. Even I admit that the effect is very nice. His real labor of love however is his Christmas Tree. And I love that he uses my bargello abstract wall hanging as a background for his tree.
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Friday, December 5, 2008

A Christmas Present

So many things connect to Dodie, my college roommate. December 17 will be the second anniversary of her death. Dodie's older daughter Mani nannied for the Dunn family when Mani was attending Converse College in Spartanburg, SC. The little Dunn girl has since graduated from college and pharmacy school. Mom Fran came across Brie's undergrad t-shirts and memories of so many Kappa Delta events. Using Wofford College school colors for sashing and borders, this t-shirt quilt is the whimsical and charming result. Fran even arranged the layout. This is Brie's Christmas present. Click on the picture to see some of the details of the shirts as well as the dog bone fabric for the Wofford mascot used for the cornerstones and the binding. 84" x 96"

When the family went to Myrtle Beach about 7 months after Dodie's death, the Dunns offered Mani their house in Litchfield. John and I stayed there along with Dodie's brother Bill and his wife. It was a sad week to be together, but the gracious and lovely house - the Jim Dandy - of the Dunns made the week a bit easier.
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Friday, November 28, 2008

Art Quilt #4


This quilt was an exercise in the use of a couching technique, gimping cord and foot, and variegated thread. While I like the look of this quilt, it's much less substantial than its 3 companion pieces. Click on the picture to see the detail. 11" x 14"

I think I'd like to try couching something other than gimping cord and a satin stitch. Maybe I should ask my sister-in-law Chris H for some bits of her fabulous yarns and play around with some things like that.

One of the wonderful lines from "Sunday in the Park with George" is "Work is what you do for others - Art is what you do for you." I've had fun with with art recently, but let the work resume. I have a December 5th deadline for a t-shirt quilt.  
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Art Quilt #3

Continuing with my circle theme, I tried to do 2 things with this piece. First, I tried to break the visual line removing a portion of the bigger circle and then quilt as if if was there. In retrospect, I think the negative space would have been a better visual. Second, I used some couching to create a series of rings around the inner circle. It's an interesting technique and worth continuing to play around with. 11" x 14"
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Monday, November 17, 2008

To Try

  1. Fabric Paint Sticks + various patterns for rubbing
  2. Couching Foot + cord
  3. Drunkard's Path templates - 3", 6", and 9" sizes
  4. Quilt using all plaid fabrics
  5. Vertical Strip Quilting

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quilting Tip from Lady Macbeth

I've been wanting to try a landscape quilt for the longest time. What's been stopping me? Partly a lack of technique but mostly the fear of stepping out of a safe zone. So I sometimes use advice from Lady Macbeth (yes, I know she was dead by Act V...): Be bloody, bold, and resolute. So armed with resolve, some great fabrics, the lines of Kaberi's photo, and a lot of Steam-A-Seam, here is the result. It's not bad for a first effort. I think, like with Monet and his haystacks, I will use this design again and again and see what happens. Most useful to me is seeing the photo landscape and the fabric landscape in the same photo. 11" x 14"

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Beginnings of a Landscape Quilt

This picture was taken by Kaberi Banerjee Murthy when she and her husband Vik cruised on the Yangtze River. Using an iron-on photo transfer, I printed the picture and ironed the image onto fabric. I quilted some of the basic design lines and then added borders. It's a beautiful picture, but now I want to step it up a notch and actually use fabric based on the lines of this design. Soon to come! 11" by 14" Click on the picture to see the detail.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Art Quilt #2

So if you're thinking, "This Art Quilt #2 is remarkably like Art Quilt #1," I'd like to tell you you are wrong. Here are the differences: 1 - the background quilting is different. 2 - I created some of the fabrics on #2 by using photo transfers of some autumn tree pictures. These small differences are easier to see in the side by side shots of these two quilts. This is definitely a variation on a theme. Well, a slight variation on a theme. One of the assignments for the Art Quilt class was to work with photo transfers, and in a small way I sort of fulfilled that requirement. Click on the pictures to see detail. 11" by 14"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Presidential Election, 2008

Glorious forces conspired to create a magical outcome. With this fabulous weather and autumn color of the trees, it was almost - almost - too much happiness to contain in a single moment. Walking this morning in the warmth and sunshine with the beauty of the fall colors is a moment I'd like to remember. Wordsworth defined poetry as a spontaneous outpouring of emotion, and today I understood this definition.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Interior Dialogue about Art Quilt #1

Can I call this an art quilt? Good question. The answer: this is different from much of the work I tend to do. Is there a message behind this piece? I don't know. Here's what I do know. I'm happy to try working with circles - quite a change for one who is so linear. This color palette pleases me although it doesn't go with anything in my house. Shifting the circles toward the lower left as opposed to keeping them concentric - what's that about? I don't know except that this arrangement pleased me. Why the smaller circle in the upper right? That appeals to my sense of balance. I even played around with binding color and decided that blank provided the stronger frame. This piece was driven primarily by the fabrics and this attempt to get away from straight lines. What one word comes to mind about this piece? I don't know - I kind of think it has an Asian flavor, perhaps because of the color or simplicity. What your bottom line about this piece? I like it but don't know how "artistic" it is. 11" x 14"

I missed the 2nd session of the Art Quilt class at quiltfabric.com. Does it show? I'm eager to go to the third session on November 14.

Monday, November 3, 2008


I'm stuck. Is this Quilter's Block? Is this time change? Is this avoidance? I am in the middle of a wonderful reread and reluctant to leave my characters (it's 1942 in London - you know the story...) I want to get a couple of pieces done for the Art quilt class at quiltfabric.com. I kind of know what I want to do for these wall hangings, and I have everything I need. One has to do with lots of concentric circles. The other is a photo collage - I even took my camera with me on my walk this morning. Yet, I never went into my studio today. Perhaps tomorrow.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Back from Missouri

I never even got my camera out! We had terrific weather - in fact, it was warmer in Lake Osage than I thought it should be. But we were there way too early for any significant color change. There were some lovely individual trees, like this picture from last year's fall Canadian cruise, and some lovely vistas but without color change. The drive to and from with long-time friend Midge Norris Hughes to visit Janet Norris Vanderveld was good. So was the week. It was fun to be an honorary Norris sister. After an October of travelling, I am thrilled to be home and looking forward to getting back into a sewing rhythm. In addition to working on assignments for the Art Quilt class, I just received a packed of T-shirts from Fran Dunn, one of the owners of the Jim Dandy in Litchfield, SC. See the September 16, 2007 entry for full reference.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Nature's Colors

We just returned from Hawaii where we celebrated our 59th and 69th birthdays. It is indeed a beautiful place. I love how nature mixes the brilliance of reds and purples. I also love my husband for agreeing to go ziplining with me.

I'm leaving town again for a drive to the Ozarks. Still gathering data for a fall landscape quilt. I'm also working on a project for an art quilt class that I'm taking at quiltfabric.com in Willowbrook. It's going to involve concentric circles and have an Asian flavor. I think. What I discovered yesterday is that I need to buy a protractor. I haven't bought or used one of those in 40 years! It's good to work out of one's safe zone...

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Thompson Grandchild is Coming

And this quilt will be waiting for her at her grandparents' house in Burr Ridge. This Trip Around the World pattern in one of my favorites, and Oralee chose the fabrics. She also requested a T for Thompson in the quilt. It's fun to think of this first grandchild - and all future grandchildren - playing on this quilt. 50" x 65" (Welcome to Little Natalya Thompson, born November 12, 2008)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

One More Path to Grief

Trish Schulz lost her daughter Lisa to ALS. Lisa was a vibrant, responsible, and beautiful woman whose life was too short. Trish is keeping Lisa's memory alive in several ways. She participates in the yearly Les Turner ALS Walk for Life, she holds chat sessions at her daughter's website , and now she has had this quilt made from Lisa's clothes. Grieving doesn't ever end - we just find different ways to do it. Trish wrote something from Lisa, and these words are on the back on the quilt. Trish and her grandchildren will always remember Lisa the Daughter and Lisa the Mother. Touching this quilt will remind them all that Lisa was once a part of their physical lives just as she is now a part of their spiritual lives.

This quilt features a variety of Lisa's clothes, including sweatpants, sweaters, blouses, and t-shirts. Also included are the ALS Walk For Life t-shirts that Trish has earned. The patchwork of the clothing only hints at the complexity of Lisa's life and death.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Life and Death Quilting

While I'm glad that my quilting brings comfort to those who are grieving, this kind of quilting requires an emotional investment that is sometimes difficult for me. My current "life celebration" project is a quilt made from Lisa's clothes. Lisa is the daughter of Trish Schulz, and Lisa died last year, a victim of ALS. For the third year her family participated in the ALS Walk for Life. Both Lisa's mom (center) and Lisa's daughter (long hair on the left) participated in the walk on September 13, the rainiest day in Chicago's history. Trish said tears and rain were indistinguishable throughout the walk.

After a few hours working on Lisa's quilt, I must switch to another project. I'm glad another current one is a grandmother's quilt for Oralee as the David Thompsons welcome their first grandchild. Birth and Death - what great reasons to quilt.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Presentation Does Count!

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in creating and making quilts that I don't even think about the presentation of what I've made. Once I did get a lovely basket for a quilt I made for Julie, but usually I ask John to find some acceptable large gift bag, which he does. This wedding quilt for Jen was going to be no different - until my friend Cecilia weighed in on the issue. She argues that presentation is very important and enhances the quilt gift. She was instrumental in this lovely presentation. After folding the quilt accordion-style, she tucked tissue paper into various nooks and crannies. There's just a bit of the quilt peeping out of the right corner. Wouldn't you love to have this gift?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jen and Tim's Wedding Quilt

Jen and Tim's Reversible Wedding Quilt is completed. The photographing is over, and now it's just a matter of figuring out the presentation of the quilt (box vs. basket). I have loved every step of this quilt from when I first asked Jen what she wanted, working with her color and design choices, meeting Tim and seeing who exactly is this Jen-worthy person and reassuring him that I wasn't going to do something girly, and gathering fabrics for both sides of the quilt all the way to the actual quilting and construction.

Some quilting detail is below. The construction of the quilt allowed me to quilt each 8" square individually before the assembly. I also used a feature from my sewing machine that allows me to embroider some words. Unfortunately, where I chose to do this is more readable from the reverse side than from the front. For left handers, reading mirror images isn't a problem. Hope the newlyweds will be able to find their names, the date of the wedding, and my quilt signature! 96" x 112"