Archive for November, 2012

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In our local quilt group, we have a smaller group of quilters interested in being creative and sewing art quilts. We like to call ourselves the Out of the Box group, a name that arose when one of our members was describing our group to the guild.

This year, we are following the Art Quilt Workbook, by Jane Davila and Elin Waterston. The book has exercises and chapters that teach new techniques, designed to ignite our creativity! Each month, one of us presents a chapter to the group and we do the exercises together.

At the first meeting, we discussed Chapter 1, the basics.

art, noun. The conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects (from Latin articulus: article).

And – there is homework for each chapter. Homework! It’s been a while. Each chapter ends with a homework assignment. The whole idea is to learn to work in a series of art quilts, (9″ x 12″) in a theme, using the various techniques we learn in each chapter. The homework for Chapter 1 was to select a theme for your series.

At the time I was reading Finding Beauty in a Broken World by Terry Tempest Williams. Her opening chapter is a moving commentary on mosaics,

“A mosaic is a conversation that takes place on surfaces.

A mosaic is a conversation with light, with color, with form.

A mosaic is a conversation with time.”

Immediately, I knew I wanted my theme to be mosaics.


At our Chapter 2 meeting, we played with color.

color, n. The appearance of objects (or light sources) described in terms of a person’s perception of their hue, lightness (or brightness), and saturation (from Latin color: color).

We all brought paint chips and fabric scraps. Pulling from a random list of descriptive words, we each made a color combination inspired by that word.

IMG_0204Here’s a page from my journal – with the words tropical, traditional, trendy, and nostalgic.

The homework from Chapter 2 was to make our first 9″ x 12″ block, using something we learned in Chapter 2. We also challenged ourselves to use one of the color combinations we made during the meeting.

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And, the ocean waves quilt top is pieced!

After I dyed the fabric last weekend for the skinny blue border, I got to cutting and piecing.

I chose a skinny border, of two inches, to start the borders around the pieced ocean waves. When cutting borders, you don’t want to piece the fabric together, aesthetically, it looks best when the long skinny strip is unbroken. So even though I only needed a piece about 2in by 80in, I had to dye 3 yards of fabric.

Of course, when I went to put three yards of white fabric in the wash before dyeing, I had only two yards left on my bolt! Living where I live, there was no chance of popping over to the store to purchase more. What to do? Call Margaret! She promptly brought over bolt of fabric, and generously left it with me, asking me to simply replace what I use. How great to have such a giving quilter friend here!

Over the course of our visit together, I shared with Margaret the finished pieced top before borders, and we got to chatting about what colors to make the borders. Originally I had thought a light blue skinny border, and a dark blue outer border. As I looked at the quilt though, I had the thought that the black boxes would pop out too much. The entire quilt is dyed fabric except for the black boxes. It is hard to dye a brilliant dark black, and so I chose to go with store bought fabric so the black would shine more brilliantly. So now my black was shining, but how to tone it down so the black squares weren’t floating in space? Make the final border black to bring it all together. Processing and sharing with a friend is so helpful!

And so here it is. Today was our first truly cold day of fall, and last night all the leaves dropped from the trees, covering our yard in a yellow gold carpet. I was quite happy to hole up inside with my cup of darjeeling tea, finishing sewing and pressing the borders.

What’s next? I have the backing fabric sitting in a pot dyeing. I have the batting needing to be measured and cut and pieced together. I need to order thread for hand quilting. I’m thinking a light blue color thread, to make the design pop. I need to lay out and pin the three layers together. And then the quilting!

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As you know, the Ocean Waves quilt top is pieced.

This weekend, I’d like to dye enough fabric to sew the borders and line the back. First, I needed to calculate how much fabric I needed for the borders.

Then, once I figured out my pieces and amount of fabric needed, I chose which color to use and how much dye is needed.

I chose a light blue for a skinny two inch border, a dark blue for the wider eight inch border, and a chocolate brown for the backing fabric. The finished quilt will be around 90 x 100 inches!

I have been drawn lately to what I think looks like rolling hills or waving grass pattern. Looking through my book on Amish quilt patterns, I saw that many of the Amish quilts use this pattern in their borders. They call it a fan.

Instead of limiting myself to the borders, I’m thinking of continuing this pattern across the entire quilt. It could be the rolling grassland oak hills of California, superimposed on the wild ocean waters of the Pacific Ocean.

We’ll see! Just a glimpse into what’s brews in my mind. Will share pics at the end of the weekend of the finished pieced quilt!

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