Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Dot Almighty

I've been meaning to post some progress shots of the first two quilts on my bucket list for 2018 since the end of January-- but instead of blogging about them, I've actually been working on them which is a good thing! So today I'm sneak peeking "Dot Almighty," and later this week I will show you my flower basket piece.

I spend a lot of my sewing time deciding on names for my quilts, and when you see where they take you, the name can frequently change! So "Dot Zero" has been rechristened "Dot Almighty" when I realized what a coffee worship piece this was turning into.

"Dot Almighty" is going to be shown at MQX East--along with "A New England Album," so don't miss the show! I have been putting an hour or two in at night to get Dot Almighty quilted, but I better step up the effort-- time is getting short.

The first thing I did was add just the batting, and I stitched in the ditch around all of my snowballs. There is that funny saying we have that mistakes will "quilt out," but I was so proud of my piecing in the dots that I definitely wanted to "quilt them in." I have not been an avid stitch-in-the-ditcher, but now that I see how it preserved my piecing, I'm hooked. When you consider this piece is going to be hooped and then heavily embroidered, the piecing really needs the extra help. At the same time, I don't want the ditching on the back so I added the backing after that was done.

The first hooping was the coffee cup shadow-- this started as a mug rug and I thought the shadow very cleverly showed the side view of the mug. It hooped and stitched beautifully, and the shadow met the side of the cup perfectly. Forgive me a moment of pride, but you won't see any more perfect 1/8" matchstick quilting than machine embroidery! The mug rug was 1/16."

I made a decision early on that the quilting would be the kookiest, craziest that I have ever done. So it wouldn't be distracting on the front, I used light thread colors... so most of these photos are on the back. I think it's cool that from across the room it will look to be one thing, but the closer you get, you can find more and more. So if I see a bunch of noses pinned up against it at the show, I will consider it a success!

First, I started with the coffee plants, and then showed them releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. You go up to the clouds, and, of course, the sun is rising above them...

With every sunrise, it's time for coffee and for roosters to crow... and if you have a rooster, of course, there is a farm, and then a quilt hanging on a line. 

In the sky, there a various polka dot shape objects (they are perfectly centered on the polka dots on the front) a balloon, baseball, bee-- alliteration not intended.

With a rooster, there are feathers, and this one also makes the steam rising above the coffee. That was planned, but there have been a few happy accidents along the way-- it does look like the oxygen bubbles are spilling out of the shadow!

I discovered a new quilting pattern along the way... I'm calling it "Bacon." Because everything is better with bacon, isn't that right!

If you are interested in the process, I actually put the quilt on a copier, print out a portion of it, and then sketch the illustrations. Then, the drawing is scanned and digitized in my embroidery software, hooped, stitched, finished, and then scanned for the next section. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. RepeatAnd repeat.

So that is my stream of consciousness approach for this quilt. I'm about 2/3rds of the way around, and am moving next from the sun into the moon and stars, satellites, and there is going to be an alien spaceship-- they come not to conquer us, but just to stopover for a cuppa joe. Welcome to my world!

I realized when I got the MQX letter in, I better step-up the hour at night schedule, and start putting in whole days. So if anyone out there thinks that machine embroidery is easy, just pushing a button, I wish they could see me dealing with massive threads to be hidden, hooping a large, unwilling object, difficult alignments, etc. etc. My moment of pride is long gone, and now, I just feel like I want to take a match to this thing!!

I'm sure all creative types can relate.

So that's "Dot Almighty." I realize it's not the convention to detail your show quilt before the show, but why be conventional? I seriously doubt anyone will copy my approach heehee... Nonetheless-- that's the last peek-- next you have to come to MQX East! Touching is not allowed, but I haven't heard anything against pinning your nose up to it... enjoy!


Saturday, February 3, 2018


To start off another amazing year, 
I am so honored to be featured in Quiltfolk’s latest magazine, #5, 
on Eastern Massachusetts!

I first discovered Quiltfolk on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. I have a subscription to just about every quilting magazine out there— I mean, when you take a break from sewing, you just want to read about it, right? So just to make sure I have them all, I scour the racks at B&N from time to time— and I was not disappointed... I saw the Quiltfolk masthead rising above the others.

The first thing I noticed besides that it looks more like a book, was that the cover has a really weird texture, kind of like velvet. While discovering this, I realized one of the bookstore employees was watching me “feeling” the cover, which is creepy. Since I was hooked already, I just made for the checkouts with a red face.  I’d enjoy my velvet cover in the privacy of my own home.

If you are looking for the latest jelly roll pattern or another tutorial on free motion quilting, Quiltfolk is not for you. Its a very high minded publication with lots of writing, beautiful pictures, and it is more about people, places, and ideas. For each issue, they pick a region, and delve into the history, people, shops, and every other part of that place’s quilting community. It is armchair travel, art appreciation, and insight into the artist’s process all wrapped up in one. 

A couple of weeks later, I got a call from the president of our local quilt guild. Quiltfolk was coming to Cape Cod for the next issue. Did you ever notice in life, how once your attention is drawn to something, you start seeing it everywhere? It was quite the coincidence, but artists tend to live in really nice places, and Cape Cod is just beautiful— we have a large per capita of amazing fiber artists, so really it wasn’t that unusual that Quiltfolk would be interested in the area.

I was invited with about eight others from my guild to meet and talk with them. One of our guild members opened up her eye-popping 1700's historic house, which was treat enough, but then sitting and sharing our stories and looking over all of our best quilts was heaven.  

Having produced newsletters back in the day, I am pretty familiar with the slicing and dicing that must occur when you have hundreds of photographs, and lots of interviews, but only a few pages to pack it into. So I didn’t think about it too much, until about a month later, when I got an e-mail from Quiltfolk saying they would like to talk to me further. So I knew something was up... my quilts and story hadn’t hit the cutting room floor!

When my copy came in the mail just after Christmas, I flipped through like a kid... almost at the back, there I was on a two-page spread. My family was all home because of the New Year’s holiday, and my daughter grabbed the magazine out of my hands and started reading my story out loud. Tears streamed down my cheeks like the sap that I am... 

I know I’m making a bigger deal of this than it is, but as quilters, we never expect to be up on a stage or on the nightly news. What we do is vastly in the privacy of our homes, and when we do show our quilts, we’re not up there standing with them. And when you think of the the work that goes into a single quilt that’s one thing, but the sacrifice that everyone has made while you are sewing is another...

My dad died when I was sixteen, and though my mom was sure I would starve with my art degree, took a job housecleaning so I could go to the most expensive art school in NY. 

 We all recognize how a pastime like quilting can rob from our families... once, when I had determined to take the time to make cookies with my pre-teen daughter, she very innocently asked if I knew how to use the oven. 

(Yes, I did, for the record.)

So here I am, feeling grateful for everyone who helped me on the way. In the past year, I definitely had my 15 minutes of fame and now a couple of pages too! It’s beyond what I ever though, and I am wondering what next? My best work may be behind me, or still ahead, but I’m happy to still be working away in my sewing room either way.

Quiltfolk. Go out and buy a copy. Yes, it’s a bit expensive, but there’s no advertising, and just think of how much you would pay for a quilting book. If you’re lucky, they will have an issue near your home. And I have to say, owning a book crammed with the faces of friends and familiar quilt stores and places... It’s a rare treat.