Quilt Festival Houston 2021 was awesome!

The final day of the International Quilt Festival in Houston is today! My sister, Gretchen, and I had a blast! While there were only about 400 vendors, due to COVID, we still managed to fill up on interesting fabrics, patterns, pre-cuts, demonstrations, and even a couple of gadgets. We noticed the usual crowd of ladies testing sewing machines and longarms.

My sister and I made wonderful memories! Among them were the Day of the Dead Skulls sprinkled around town. Also, sharing downtown Houston during Game 2 of the World Series Astros vs. Braves. We won that one! Our favorite was dinner with my awesome brother, Pete, and nephew, Peter, at Shake Shack. Gotta love their fries!

The display of winning quilts and interesting quilt exhibits like the Tula Pink Challenge made us linger and ponder our craft. If I had been in serious “reporter mode,” I would have taken notes to share details of who made what quilt.

The Princess Diana tribute small quilts was a Cherrywood Challenge and quilters stepped up! I’m guessing maybe a hundred entries and all were lovely.

I adored the small rectangular “eyeball” exhibit message. It was called “Eye Contact: Creating a Connection” encouraging us to “Lift up your head, gaze into someone’s eyes, and make a connection.” Hopefully, with COVID in our rear-view mirror, more of that will happen. I’ll do my part, if you do yours!

My favorite quilt exhibit was the “Dear Jane” quilts. Named after Jane A. Stickle, who in 1863 created a most impressive sampler quilt, with 169 miniature blocks with an impressive pieced border. This particular exhibit is from a group of over 50 who, in 2014, decided to all make “Dear Jane” quilts. It took four years, but 52 completed their quilts, all in different colorways. I didn’t count the ones on display…maybe 10 or 15… but beyond impressive. Most of the quilts had the “signature” scalloped edges, although not all. I photographed my favorites.

My sister, Gretchen, makes mostly Hawaiian quilts so, of course, I snapped one of her standing in front of one. She is in the middle of making one as we speak. It is going to be amazing!

You might notice the dinosaur quilt with the battle shield. That one is for grandsons Jacob and Ben. Just for fun, I texted them a couple of quilts while at festival. Ben thought the dinosaur was silly holding a shield.

I can’t wait till next year!

“I Spy Gumballs” new art collage quilt pattern!

I’ve been working on this new collage art quilt pattern for a while now and it is finally ready to release! But first … the reason why I chose a gumball machine! In the past, I’ve enjoyed making “I Spy” quilts for the grandkids, and charity, from a pattern that utilizes lots of little mason jars. Each “jar” is a different novelty fabric. So adorable! But then I thought … what about an old-fashioned gumball machine with each gumball being a novelty fabric? How much fun would that be? The prototype “I Spy Gumballs” quilt is in line to be longarmed at A Needle and Thread. My friend, Sally, made the adorable quilt label! She is so talented and enjoys surprising me with a new embroidery design. Since the quilt top is complete, I am releasing the pattern.

This quilt would look amazing hanging in a child’s room, playroom, or classroom. The finished quilt size is 34 inches wide by 50 inches long. There are approximately 50 novelty “gumballs” in the quilt. Lots of opportunities for a child to learn language! Each gumball is 3-1/4″ in diameter. The PDF pattern can be purchased in my Etsy shop and, as always, a portion of the proceeds goes to charity! This quilt is so much fun to make and I can’t wait to teach it!

I’m currently making the quilt again. This time with a Halloween-theme in mind. Stay tuned!

Quilted, Bound, and Labeled … “Peace Crane” Collage Art Quilt

There is something quite satisfying about putting all the finishing touches on a quilt! This art quilt was no exception. It will always be my COVID quilt. The one I struggled with during a difficult time. The long arming is complete (thanks to the lovely Eric at A Needle and Thread), the quilt’s binding and hanger is hand sewn on, and lastly, the quilt label (Sally keeps surprising me) seals the deal. In an instant, the quilt project goes from being a UFO (quilting acronym for “Un-Finished Objects”) to a finished quilt!

Origami “Peace Crane” art quilt

Traditionally, an paper origami crane is a symbol of hope and healing during challenging times. An idea came to me during the first few months of the pandemic. I spent lots of time at my daughter’s house hanging with the grandkids. One of our activities was origami. I believe it is just as difficult to fold a crane as it is to turn it into an art quilt.

Using a play on words I call it “Peace Crane” in honor of Cat Stevens’ song Peace Train. Recorded in 1971, fifty years ago, it is one of my favorite in a long list of oldies. I remember attending a Cat Stevens’ concert when I was a high school senior in Houston’s Sam Houston Coliseum. Obviously, his song is relevant today.

I started “Peace Crane” in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. I call it my COVID quilt mostly because, like wearing a sweaty mask and the imposition of quarantine, I struggled. The concept of an origami crane appealed to me. But for some reason, it was difficult to execute. I tell myself people will either love it or hate it. I did it anyway. I worked on an area of the collage and would leave it be for a few weeks. Then I would take off all the flower motifs and start over. When the crane was finally covered in motifs after several months, I struggled with the background. I told myself this time I would piece the background instead of using a colorful solid batik. After auditioning that concept, I hated it. I’m finally happy with the black and white patterned background. I can’t wait to get it back from being quilted by the lovely Erica at A Needle and Thread. I guess that must mean things are getting back to normal in the world. I have tossed the mask aside and hugged a bunch of people recently. It feels so good. Hop on the “Peace Crane” with me.

The art quilt is 42″ W by 43″ H. The “Peace Crane” PDF pattern is available for purchase at my Etsy shop!

Saying goodbye to a charity quilt

The other day I hopped on the HOV lane toward Houston. I carefully weaved my way through downtown as I had for so many years toward the medical center. This time I was alone. For four years my husband was treated at MD Anderson Cancer Hospital (MDA) for a stage 4 cancer. Sadly, Rick passed away at home last year from a brain tumor. I am so grateful to MDA for the four extra years he was with our family. The day he died was also when Texas was shut down due to COVID-19.

The purpose of this trip was to drop off a quilt made for MDA’s Ovarian Quilt Project. Every two years their online auction raises funds for research and education. In 2021, the auction will be held October 20 through November 3. The collage art quilt is in memory of my sister, Mary, who passed away several years ago from ovarian cancer. It is called Mary’s Heart Garden. She loved gardening and had a huge heart. I hope it makes a lot of money.

I purchased lots of the fabric at myfavoritequiltstore.com, where I work part-time cutting fabric orders. Most fun job on the planet. Just saying! The art collage quilt was custom quilted by Erica at http://aneedlenthread.com. My friend, Sally, is the embroidery wizard and does all my quilt labels. Erica and Sally always make my quilts shine a little brighter!

2020 … a year in review

I feel like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland taking out his pocket watch from his vest. Yes, I’m late, I’m late for a very important date! I should have written this post two weeks ago about my “year in review.” I have written one every year for a very long time. For most of us, 2020 was painful with a capital “P.” Yep … me too. My husband of nearly 48 years passed away after four months on hospice. He died the day Houston’s Rodeo was shut down due to COVID on March 11, 2020. Rick was Texas born and bred. So it must have seemed to God to be a noteworthy day. At least the Willie Nelson concert during the rodeo happened. Since then I’ve been pretty much locked down like everyone else trying to figure how to dig myself out of the deep rabbit hole of grief. I am haulin’ myself up … a little at a time.

So is it any wonder I have been sitting at the sewing machine … a lot. I’ve finished 7 quilts (2 of which were pieced and machine quilted Christmas tree skirts), 4 pillow cases with French seams, a cute table topper for my sister, and a mini sleeping bag for a Ken doll. Not quite Twelve Days of Christmas song-worthy … but almost. This many quilts in one year is a new world’s record for me.

Oh, and I’ve poured myself into writing something special. I finished a manuscript for a memoir about my sweet Mimi who left us in late 2018. The title is An Angel Lived Among Us. I started writing it in early 2019 a few months after Mimi died. Shortly after that my husband’s brain tumor popped up. Yesterday, I sent off the book proposal which was more painful to write than the book. You wouldn’t believe the stuff publishers want to read about instead of the actual book. However, this is such an interesting learning experience for me. If the memoir is not picked up by a publisher, I will self-publish. Stay tuned on the book’s publishing progress!

Until next time … stay safe out there!

Heart Stopper … some collage art quilt pointers

With no particular color scheme in mind, I went into my stash of fused fabric motifs and started pinning on the heart traced on the pattern ease base. The base is attached to a foam core board with duct tape at the corners. To work on pinning the motifs, I stand the foam core board on an easel. You can just as easily work on a flat surface if you have the space.

There are lots of Kaffe Fassett motifs and a little Tula Pink in this collage. I like to highlight the motifs by not placing the same colors next to each other. That way there is lots of contrast and the end collage result is super scrappy.

As I pin each motif to my base, they overlap ever so slightly. The only reason I stack layers of fused fabric is when I am building eyes for an animal like the panda or reindeer. Too many layers of fabric might make it difficult for the longarm person to quilt.

Also, I don’t fuse teeny tiny fabric pieces. I don’t want to have any fabric fall off. The largest motifs are fist-sized and the smallest are quarter-sized. The only exception is when I’m finished fusing and notice I’ve missed a little spot. In that case, my perfect go-to fabric is a butterfly pattern. The butterflies are very small but fill in those few little spots you missed perfectly. If they fall off, fabric glue will keep them from misbehaving!

While pinning the fused fabric motifs onto the the pattern ease base, let some of the fabrics spill over the heart pattern line. You can decide later when you finish whether you want to cut through the spilled over part or cut around it.

Next time I’ll talk about the basic tools used in collage quilting!

Heart Stopper collage art quilt

It has been a number of months since my last blog post. I’m out of practice, but for good reasons. I’m still grieving the loss of my special needs daughter, Mimi, two years ago. And then my husband of almost 48 years passed away in March, after bravely fighting a brain tumor for over a year. He died the day the Houston Rodeo was shut down due to COVID. I’ve spent lots of my COVID shut-in time also making quilts. I’ve posted new photos to my Quilt Gallery page. Not all of them are collage art quilts.

My first new collage art quilt pattern is heart-shaped. I call it “Heart Stopper” dedicated to Mimi. The girl had the hugest heart, and like the quilt, she was very colorful and joyful.

You know … I always wanted to make a heart-shaped quilt for the month of February and now I have one. It will make me think of Mimi and Valentine’s Day.

Heart Stopper is 43 inches wide by 46 inches high and for sale in my Etsy shop. It is the perfect beginner pattern offered in pdf format (print out pages of the pattern and tape together for full-size pattern, as well as supply list and detailed instructions).

My next post will include tips and tricks on how to make the heart quilt. A couple of weeks ago I was able to teach this pattern virtually for Cupcake Quilt’s Quiltapalooza. The experience was so fun!

Bluebonnet the art collage longhorn – collage lesson #4


This post is my final collage art quilt lesson on how to make Bluebonnet. This week I will talk about auditioning the background, gluing down Bluebonnet to the background, machine quilting options and binding.

Auditioning Background Fabric – After cutting the excess pattern ease from Bluebonnet (I left a portion around the horns and removed the pattern ease later), I went to my local friendly quilt shop, Cupcake Quilts, in Humble, Texas. One of the nice ladies helped pull down bolts of fabric so I could audition the background. I loved their suggestions and the process. Notice the bright pink, lighter pink bolt and the bright yellow batik bolt. They were interesting choices but not perfect. The light brown that was auditioned was also interesting but not the look I was going for. I did use the light brown for the backing. The next audition background is a light yellow. Still not right. The final choice was perfect … a bright yellow and burnt orange. It really made Bluebonnet pop!

Gluing Down Fabric to Background – After ironing the background lay it right-side up on the foam core board (the glue can bleed through a little and you don’t want glue all over your kitchen table). Place Bluebonnet exactly where you want her on the background. Using FabricFuse, a quick bonding fabric adhesive, place a thin line of glue around the entire outer back-edge of the collage. For instance, lift one of Bluebonnet’s horns … glue along the back edge … then carefully lay the horn back down on the background. Repeat until you have the entire edge of your collage glued down. Follow the pressing/drying directions for the fusible glue and you are finished with your collage art quilt top.

Quilting Options A Needle and Thread, in Old Town Spring, custom quilted Bluebonnet. Erica pulled out several variegated quilting threads and one stood out! I like how she quilted around the collaged motifs to make them puff out. Erica also outlined the entire image and then quilted a flowery quilting pattern. She is such a pleasure to work with! There are lots of other ways to quilt your collage. I have also seen collages quilted in close vertical lines and close-cross hatching.

Binding and Hanging Bluebonnet Quilt – I chose the red bandana fabric for Bluebonnet’s binding. It just seemed to make sense because of the bandana fabric in the legs and horns. Two and one-half (2-1/2) inch strips are sewn together, folded lengthwise and the raw edge sewn to the front edge of the quilt. Turn the fold edge to the back and hand sew in little stitches. Very traditional and easy. Make a fabric tube and hand sew to the back and you are ready to hang!

As I release new patterns, I will include a series of tips and how-to’s!

As always, if you would like to purchase one of my collage art quilt patterns head over to my Etsy shop for full-size pattern, supply list and detailed instructions. Domestic shipping is free.

Bluebonnet the art collage longhorn – collage lesson #3


When last we met, I demonstrated how to fill Bluebonnet with fused/cut out fabric motifs onto the pattern ease longhorn pattern. I also took you through one way of tracing a larger collaged area (longhorn’s horns and legs) onto your fused fabric. Now onto your next collage quilt lesson.

Removing the Paper Backing on Flower Motifs and Placement – Now that your collaged image is filled you might ask … what do I do with all these straight pins sticking out of my longhorn? Working in sections, you now need to take off each flower motif, score the back of the motif with the tip of the pin, discard the pin, peel off the paper backing and discard. Now place the motif back onto the pattern ease area where you originally had it pinned. Overlap or underlap the motif so no pattern ease shows through on the longhorn. The motif back is tacky and will easily stick to the pattern ease until you have every piece placed. You can also easily move these tacky-backed motifs if you don’t like their placement. Looking closely at the photograph with the sea turtle, notice the paper backing removed from the backing. You just now need to repeat this step until all motifs completely cover the longhorn image. Warning … I have noticed that just because I have pinned down my motifs, it doesn’t mean when I pull the backing off and place it, there won’t be a few areas with pattern ease showing through. These small areas need to be filled with a motif. This happened to me on the top of Bluebonnet’s head and I just added an astronaut.

Fusing the Collaged Top – Clearly this is the easiest part! All your motifs are temporarily attached to the pattern ease. You’ve checked to see that the entire longhorn is covered with no pattern ease showing through. Now you need to have all those motifs stay put. Set your iron on cotton. Place the iron for a few seconds on an area and then lift the iron and reposition until all the areas on the longhorn are permanently fused.

Cutting the Excess Pattern Ease – Now you are ready to cut away the excess pattern ease. Your Karen Kay Buckley scissors work great for this process. You will notice on the back of your longhorn the pattern lines. Use these lines as a guide to cut away the pattern ease. But also know that you can cut around flower motifs that spill over the pattern lines. I did this on the top of Bluebonnet’s head where the flowers are located and on the lower legs covered with flowers. It can make for a more interesting look!

Next week’s collage lesson – I will move onto my favorite part … auditioning the background. Also, talk about gluing down Bluebonnet to the background, quilting options, binding and hanging!

As always, if you would like to purchase one of my collage art quilt patterns head over to my Etsy shop for full-size pattern, supply list and detailed instructions. Domestic shipping is free.