Friday, February 17, 2017

What Did on Retreat, and Why I Love Love Love Jacobs Ladder Quilts

This is a project I have been very excited about for a very long time. 

Many years ago. I saw this photo in a book titled Quilts, by Ljiljana Baird.

It is an antique quilt created by an unnamed maker dated to 1870. I really love this quilt, but anyone who knows me at all know that the chances of me voluntarily limiting myself to 2 fabrics, let alone 2 solid fabrics are slim indeed. 

But, this quilt was always in the back of my mind as an idea I wanted to do something with.

A couple of years ago I wanted to make a special wedding gift for a young women who is very dear to me. I thought it would be a good opportunity to play with this block. The colors of her future bedroom were to be turquoise and brown, so I got right to work on the computer to begin playing with color placement. Long story short, I came up with an idea for Kimberly's wedding quilt, plus about 200 other drawings!

Obviously, not all of them are keepers, and some of them are so similar to each other that they aren't worth bothering with. But it made a real impression on me with regards to how versatile this block can be. I had some many ideas that I really loved! Here is a photo of Kimberly's wedding quilt.

I have really wanted to submit this as an idea for a book, but I knew it was going to take years to make 12 or 13 quilts, since these quilts, though easy to make, are pretty time consuming, and I had none of them made. I have been trying to think of another way to share that information. 

I thought it might be fun to post one drawing a week, just as a drawing, then maybe self publish them as a book sometime in the future. Before I did that, I thought it would be a good idea to make at least a couple of them to see what they look like translated into fabric. Maybe I should call this "My Jacob's Ladder Project". 

There are so many things I really love about making these quilts. I love the almost infinite number of different designs you can get, once you start playing around with color placement, and rotating the blocks. Then, you can add another set of variations by either using all the same block, or alternating with a "B" block. The difference between the A block and B block is the position of the lights and darks. The antique quilt in the book, and Kimberly's wedding quilt both have an A block alternating with a B block. I am not sure if one of these options is a true Jacob's Ladder block, and the other isn't, but I have spent a good deal of time playing around with both options. 

Since these quilts are made entirely from half square triangles, and four patches. These are simple, basic units that are easy to make, and have many "portable" steps. By portable steps, I am referring to steps you can do even if you do not have a sewing machine handy. For example, cutting units from strips, pairing, marking, pressing, and trimming. When you DO use a sewing machine to do the sewing required on the units, you can just run them through the sewing machine, quickly and easily, instead of spending time to figure out where you left off. You can make these units even when your brain is tired, or you don't have very much time to work, or when part of your brain is doing something else, like visiting with friends, watching TV, or keeping an eye on the stove. If you are a fan of Bonnie Hunter, you can use them as "leaders and enders" while you are making other quilts. 

Eventually, of course, you will have to put your thinking cap on to make the units into blocks and layout the quilt, but until then, it is just a matter of making the right number of units in the color combinations that you need. 

I have started a couple of these quilts, but set them aside because this one was really pulling on my imagination. I just couldn't wait to see what it was going to look like, and if the colors were going to work like I hoped. Another reason is because I had to do some traveling, and the way this quilt is laid out really lends itself to working on these "portable" units.

I have written some about getting the units  ready to take to retreat in this post.
Unfortunately, I didn't get all of the units done, so I was still making 4 patch units while I was laying out the sections at retreat, which really slowed me down. That said, I am so excited with the way my colors are working! Since I am dealing with 4 values, pink, coral, red, and maroon, I wanted to be sure that the pattern was showing up clearly. 

So here is a reminder of what my drawing looks like.

I have this drawing divided into 9 sections, 5 of which are centered around the 5 diamonds, and the 4 corners.

Here are 2 sections I made while I was on retreat. 

I started with the center section, and the center-right section.

That is what I worked on at retreat. 

Next week I will visit The Staying in Stitches Quilt Guild in Springfield GA, and teach a Sonja's Windows class at the Quarterdeck Quilt Shop in Springfield GA. Stop by and see my quilts in person if you are in the area!

I hope all of your winter projects are going smoothly.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Retreat Was Wonderful

Retreat was wonderful. It was so much fun seeing friends that I only get to visit with once or twice a year, and seeing what they are working on. Here are just a few highlights of what was happening around the room throughout the weekend. 

 This is Tracy, who was kind enough to stand beside her brilliant string quilt. Luscious no?

A Fabulous Baltimore Album, made by Joyce.

 I just love Barbara's version of my A Maze Zing pattern. It think it's neat that she did the opposite of mine, and made the wide border the constant, and varied the narrow border. Can you believe those are dinosaur bones on that wide strip? Even though it is constant throughout the center of the quilt, it adds so much movement, and interest, I just love it. What a perfect choice. The asymmetrical ombre border is such a fun surprise!

Another fun quilt made by Barbara. Love her  fabric choices.

Donna's stunning One Block Wonder.

I am usually not a big fan of panels, but this quilt, made by Shelia, is so serene and wintry, even I can't resist it.

I love Bonnie Hunter's 2016 mystery quilt. This one was made by Lynne. Here is another started by Mary George. (We have to call her Mary George to distinguish her from 2 other Marys in the group).

They look so different when they are not in repeat. I have always loved what Bonnie Hunter does with alternating blocks.

This is Ivy's first quilt. She is making a much more color coordinated version of my Lightning Strikes quilt. I took the photo too early. It is just after half done here. She had ALL of the blocks made and up there before we left. Hopefully, I will get a photo of it all in one piece soon. (Maybe next retreat?). Not bad for a first quilt, don't you think? BTW, I will be teaching that block at Quarterdeck Quilts in Springfield GA, on February 22.

Mary Beth made this beautiful quilt for her daughter. I love the focus print that looks like a slightly different framed painting in each block.

This is Mary on the left, and Dana on the right, working together to make a couple of fringed bags. I have probably mentioned in passed retreat posts, that Mary is the one who is kind enough to bring us all together every year.  We sure appreciate it!

Here is a quilt Mary was working on:

What rich beautiful colors!

Another blogger, and friend, Sandy Gilreath came by to visit us, and wrote about it on her blog here, so if you want to see more beautiful quilts from this retreat, check her post out.

I will write about what I worked on at retreat on the next post. 

That is what I have been up to. Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mr. DeVille, I'm Ready For My Closeup

At long last I have a couple of quilts to photograph. They are not the best pictures I have ever taken. I was in such a hurry to finally get photos of these quilts, that I went ahead and took the photos even though it was a sunny day (which I prefer it to be cloudy), and worse yet, it was windy. I will get some better ones when the weather cooperates better, but here they are.

Burgeoning Springtime:

See how the right side of the center block looks washed out? That is my friend Mr. Sun at work.


I have also been hard at work writing patterns for both of these quilts. I decided to give myself a new challenge when I wrote these. Instead of just using Microsoft Word for the writing, and hand drawing the little figures, I am laying out the pattern, and doing the drawings in InDesign. I have never done this before, and I will confess, it has been a bumpy road, as using a new computer program always is. Hopefully, I will get good at it one day.

I have also been helping my friend Eleanor start up a booth at an antique store. I have been helping her gather, clean, and arrange items. So far I think her booth looks really pretty. It is booth #165 in a place called Gigi's in Griffin GA. Here are a couple of photos of what she has put together so far:

 That, and a little bit of getting ready for retreat, is what I have been up to lately. I hope you are having a pleasant January. Another month is almost here! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hitting the Ground Running for the First Weeks of 2017

They go by so fast! Here is what I have been up to since the first of the year.

I have been working on finishing the 3 quilts I got back from Regina, late last year, adding bindings, labels, and sleeves. That is pretty pleasant and relaxing when you are tired, and brain dead. Especially after you get the machine sewing part done. I should have some finished quilt pictures done before too much longer. 

I am also getting ready to go on a quilt retreat with some of my very favorite people in the world. Hooray! Hooray!

Quilts I want to work on at retreat:

It is time for this quilt to get done, especially since it only has 16 rows left before it is there. I am really looking forward to seeing it finished, but I work on it less than others because it is less portable than the next quilts I will tell you about.  

 I have started another quilt in my Jacob's Ladder series. Or as I like to call them: "Quilts comprised entirely of HST and four patches". Now THAT is portable. During the holidays, I cut out my pieces, and paired them with a mate. I have been sewing the units together in the evenings, when I am tired. Then, when I go to visit friends, I carry a box of the units, with a small, portable ironing board, and iron, and sit and press, as we chat. I already have all of the HST done. When I get the four patch strips pressed, I will have to cut them into 2 units, then sew the center seam to make a four patch.


Here is my Drawing.
The colors of this quilt make me think of a rose garden. I want to make as many HST and four patches as possible before retreat, and start building the blocks at retreat, where I know I will have large blocks of sewing time.     

By the way, here is a curious question. Do you notice that my text is centered in this portion of the post? It is not because I think that it is artistic. I have been trying everything I can think of for the last 15 minutes to get it to justify to the left. I have pushed the text down from the quilt photo above. I have gone up to the icon and clicked the left justify button at least 50 times by now. I even justified the quilt photo to the left, hoping the text would follow along. No dice!!! If anyone knows what this is about, I would love to know! For some reason this blog post is just not a left justifying frame of mind.Go figure!

I have also been trying to sew together some strip sets for the remake of this quilt.

 Okay, so the photos will justify to the left, but the text will not, maybe later?

Keep calm and carry on.

What else have I been doing the last couple weeks? Working on my technological skills. Can't you tell? I did successfully add a tab to the top of this blog that shows my speaking and teaching schedule for the year so far. I also added the rest of my quilts, classes, and patterns to my stand alone
As with so many things lately, it took a day and a half to figure out how to do it, and then another half day to actually do it, but I did it.Yippee! That is one thing I can check off my New Year's goals list. 

I have edited my guild program. I had to move some things around since I added some new quilts. 

I have written 3 Youtube video scripts, and spent some time watching Youtube videos about how to make Youtube videos. I confess, I am a bit nervous about getting the editing right, not to mention, having to see myself on camera.  I don't even like to hear myself on tape!

I have started writing the first of several patterns that need to get written. I have sworn that I an going to learn to use InDesign, or something similar, so I can use the computer to draw the figures, instead of doing that by hand. At the rate things are going, that should be exciting.

So that is what I have been working on. I Hope the first few weeks of 2017 have been good to you, and you are accomplishing what you want to get done. Maybe by next post I will be able to justify to the left again! Check back and find out.

Thanks for stopping by!



Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone has been having a lovely holiday season!

Now that the New Year is almost here, my thoughts are drawn to what I can do to make the most of the coming year.

For a couple of years now, I have wanted improve my technological skills. Navigating the digital world has not come very naturally to me. A couple of years ago, I felt completely lost. Then I learned that you can find videos on how to do almost anything imaginable on YouTube. That helped some. I have since discovered

They have classes geared towards people who are trying to pursue some type of creative endeavor. There are always many classes about photography. I have learned many things about my digital camera that I never knew. There are also a lot of classes on using Adobe Suite programs, and different aspects of digital marketing for creative people. I have always wanted to figure out how to add computer drawn figures to my patterns, instead of the hand drawn figures I have been doing. That way it would be easier for me to sell a digital copy of my patterns if someone prefers that to a hardcopy. The classes there are quite meaty. They are not too expensive, and there are lots of sales. Also, they always have about 6 classes you can watch for free. But, to see them for free, you have to watch them when they are on, like old style broadcast TV. To watch them on YOUR time schedule, you have to pay for them.

So here are some goals I am planning to work on for 2017:

1. Synchronize imagery in my blog, FaceBook page, Website, Pintrest, and Etsy site. Notice the new banner?

2. Add rest of my quilts to my Website.

3. Learn InDesign, and use it to layout patterns, and add illustrations to those patterns.

4. Start a YouTube channel-I already have several quilting related video ideas. First I am gonna have to learn to make and edit a video. Before I do that, I probably going to have to get rid of this pesky cold. 

5. Make an email newsletter so I can let people know when I have uploaded a new video, have a new pattern, or quilt. 

6. I have always wanted to write a book, but my quilt designs tend to be pretty varied, and I struggle with tying enough of the together with a cohesive concept. I might try to write an ebook. That way I can experiment, and not be restrained by a publisher's idea of what will sell.

7. I want to add projection to my trunk show. Sometimes I want to show a quilt I no longer have to make a point. It would be really nice to be able to project a photo of a quilt I no longer have on hand. 

8. Last I hope to be a better, more consistent blogger in 2017. 

So that is what I will be striving for in 2017. What will you be working on? I would love to hear what your goals are. 

Here are some quilts I finished in 2016:

Sand and Sea Glass-complete
Hoopla-pieced and quilted, still needs binding hand stitched, sleeve added, and photographed

Burgeoning Spring-likewise, piecing, quilting, and binding machine attached, but I still need to sew the hand sewn side, add the sleeve, and photograph it.  

Ablaze-pieced and quilted, partially bound, but still needs binding hand sewn, sleeve, and to be photographed. I have also added a boarder since this photo was taken.

 Dresden plate-I haven't gotten it quilted or named, but the top is done. It will probably be the first to get quilted in 2017!

Baby quilt for Dori-completed and delivered.

Baby quilt for Madelyn- shame on me, I finished this quilt, but forgot to photograph it. In a year when I have so few finishes, I am not about to exclude it anyway!

I hope you all had a good 2016, and best wishes for all of us for a 2017 filled with good times, good friends, and good quilty fun! Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Show Time

     In a couple of weeks we will have The Yellow River Jam here in our sweet little village of Porterdale. It is the second annual event. In the morning, there will be a paddling event on the Yellow River, which runs through the center of town, followed by a day of live music. Their tagline is boats, bands, and brews. This year they are adding some artist booths, so I will have a booth there displaying my quilts, and a few other small items. 

     To that end, I have been putting together some chicken pincushions, made from hand dyed, hand woven wool fabrics, and some potholders. 

     Yesterday, I was supposed to have a tennis match, but instead we all had a rainy day! I was really happy to see the rain we really needed it, and we got 1.2"! Yeah! I keep track of the rain for a newsletter I write for our town, and I hadn't had a rain entry since August 22! 

     So, anyway, I got a whole day of "found time". I spent a lot of that time weaving, then I started making some potholders. This, BTW is a great use of scraps. I especially love working with "sewn together" scraps. These are orphan blocks that can be cut up and used, or leftovers from strip sets, and the like. I use the "sewn together" scraps in conjunction with my smaller than 1 1/2" strip bin, and my   1 3/4" to 2" strip bin. Sometimes I add in from my small triangles, medium bits, small bits, or dig through my large pieces (but smaller than FQs) to find pieces to cut up and use to tie a set of potholders together visually.

     I have been working on potholders for a week, or so now, and already had pieced these, but was still working on sewing the binding down. The pair in the upper left hand corner is completely finished.

     Yesterday, I pieced these. This morning I chose what I will bind them with, and pinned them with that fabric, to the design wall.

     I had already cut a bunch of squares for pincushions, and pinned them together with their beaks, and combs. I like to use red rick rack for the combs. I had a whole stack of the put together.


      This week I added the tails. I have hand sewn on beads for eyes.

       Now, I just have to stuff them, and sew up their little tummies. 

       So that is what I have been up to this week. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Design wall Monday

     I am currently working on making potholders for a fall show, and gifts, so I haven't accomplished much on the quilts that are on my design wall and/or design floor.

     Actually, these are last years crop of potholders. I haven't gotten any photos of this years crop yet. I will photograph them when I get some more finished.

     I have been working on the units for the next row of each though. here is how they stand now. I wrote more about the idea behind the Jacob's Ladder quilt in the previous post, and to see more about the idea behind the strip pieced quilt click here.

     That is what I have been up to. Check out what other quilters are up to at

      Thanks for Stopping by!