Collage Quilting students are the best!

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of presenting and teaching for the Tri-County Quilt Guild in Cypress, Texas. This is a large guild with over 300 members and 80+ in attendance at the meeting. I was treated to dinner before the meeting. Not gonna lie. It made me feel like a rock star! Later in the week, I taught a dozen enthusiastic ladies at Bobbins & Threads Quilting & Crafts in Houston.

I have found the heart pattern is the best way to learn collage quilting and the ladies certainly stepped up! It is a large enough image that students gain confidence in their collaging skills to move on to a more challenging pattern. The ladies came ready to work and by the end of class we actually auditioned lots of completed hearts for background fabrics.

Each heart is so unique! This is the first time I’ve had someone try Christmas motifs and it is beautiful! The lady in the hot pink shirt had lots of new Kaffe Fassett fabric. Seriously, I was on the verge of drooling. It was all so new, I didn’t have any of it in my stash. Also, you might notice a Tula Pink vintage tuna can in one of the quilts. I allow students to pick through my secret stash when I teach. I have found quilters to be very good at sharing. It is probably why I always wind up with more great fabric than when I started teaching the class.

Gumball Machines Galore!

I just realized I’ve never posted the three versions of my gumball machine art quilt pattern. It is available for sale in my Etsy shop. The pdf quilt pattern also includes a quilt photo, supply list, detailed instructions and now you have three ways to collage it!

The first art quilt version is a traditional I-Spy quilt in the form of a super fun gumball machine! I call it “I-Spy Gumballs.” It has approximately 50 gumballs and is a great opportunity for little ones to learn language. It would be a great gift for the preschool/kindergarten teacher on your Christmas list.

The second gumball machine quilt used a fraction of my Halloween novelty fabric. Over the years, my eyeballs tended to gravitate toward Halloween fabric. I never knew exactly what to make with it. I call this art quilt “I Spy Spooky.” I love to hang seasonable quilts and was happy to add a whimsical Halloween quilt in my entryway!

Of course, the third gumball machine quilt is a shout-out to Santa Claus. I started with a Santa panel and after a little fusing and cutting placed him in the gumball section of the quilt. I used Christmas fabric that reads “white” for the rest of the gumballs. It was fun to experiment with different shades of red and white for the gumball machine base. I call this art quilt “I Spy Ho-Ho” in honor of Mimi, my special needs daughter, who passed away in 2018. She adored Santa. Due to her limited speech, she called him “Ho-Ho.”

If you are needing to source collage supplies/fabric such as Karen Kay Buckley scissors, pattern ease, Steam-A-Seam 2 Lite, applique pressing sheet, fabric glue, and pretty fabric consider purchasing from my go-to online store: My Favorite Quilt Store.

The adorable model with the completed quilts is my handsome grandson Ben! He’s five.

2021 quilt projects in the rear-view mirror

The year 2021 will go down in my quilting record book as the most prolific. I completed 9 quilts, 20 little Christmas pillows, and a Christmas table runner. Who says COVID and lockdowns have to be boring or non-productive?

Two quilts went to charity! MD Anderson’s Ovarian Quilt Project received the heart collage quilt with the yellow background. This year the auction raised over $46,000 to fight ovarian cancer. Thank you brother for purchasing the heart collage labor of love which honors our sister. Mary passed away from ovarian cancer several years ago. Today, the last day of the year, is also Mary’s birthday. She would have been 67 years old. Happy birthday in Heaven dear sister! The online auction occurs every two years. I’m already thoughtfully contemplating the next one for 2023!

The butterfly quilt designed by Laundry Basket Quilts went to The Village Learning Center’s annual gala. Mimi attended their amazing day center for many years before she passed away. It is a charity painfully near and dear to my heart. This quilt is my favorite for 2021. I love how it turned out. The quilting by Judy Mathis really made it shine. And, of course, Sally continues to amaze with her embroidery design skills on the quilt labels. I called it “A Flutter” because that is what a group of butterflies is called.

I’ve already set my quilting goals for 2022! I start the year by presenting, and teaching, collage art quilting at a couple of local quilt guilds. There are a number of UFO quilts on my list, fabric organization, a baby quilt for my fifth grandchild due in May, two charity quilts, and a quilt retreat to attend! 2022 is going to be a busy, creative quilting year!

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!

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!