Friday, December 25, 2009

quilt for no. 1

A School For My Mermaid, 2009, 45" x 69"

For Christmas, Liz received an oversized lap quilt from me. The fish fabric is vintage, probably from Scandanavia. The modern polka dots are from Maurine Noble. Connecting the two is a wavy strip of hand-dyed fabric, made with three 70" pattern pieces—one for the red stripe and ones for either sides.

Hand stitching encircles each fish while the side border is machine stiched-in-the-ditch. Cozy navy flannel backs the quilt.

quilt for no. 2

Woodstock, 2009, 44" x 46"

All tie-dyed, the blue fabric is from Goodwill while the pieces on the back are from Maurine Noble. The fabulous French fabric used for the 1" binding is also from Maurine.

Wildly erratic, the quilting is free-motion machine stitching. The Bernina was set at 1/2 speed and then I floored the speed pedal for attaining the most control. Good thing I am a beginner, so I can forgive myself for the lack of perfection.

(Yardage in thrift stores is beside the
tablecloths and draperies. Sometimes batting can be found with mattress covers, near blankets.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

master of mitered corners

For a woman who won’t make precision quilts, I have outdone myself making twenty napkins with mitered corners. That might not sound impressive but it means 160 roll-pressed edges, 80 mitered corners, and 80 stitched edges. I am thrilled to complete a project I started 12 months ago.

These napkins will ship to New Jersey to join up with a table topper I gave to Grace Lynch during a visit last August (see entry: April 23).

Saturday, November 21, 2009

mother/daughter quilt: day one

In Victoria last weekend, Mom and I began work on a lap quilt together—making it “my way.” We chose some fabrics and made our first “building blocks” although there was no plan for the overall design.

Nothing was measured. The fabric was sliced up randomly with a rotary cutter. I cut. Mom sewed. I ironed.

After a few hours in the sewing room, Mom begged me to stop. “You have exhausted me, Young Lady, with your counter-intuitive approach. Let’s tidy up and go out to lunch.” That sounded good to me.

I’ll be back to Victoria a few more times this winter to continue on our quilt.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

new designer fabric store

Sarah Stine with sample dress made with designer cottons.

Low-rise Magnolia Village, surrounded by residences in all directions, almost feels like a resort town. This weekend I stopped by the neighborhood to check out Sarah Stine’s dream project — a pristine store filled with sewing delights. Her bright and airy shop abounds with boldly patterned fabrics, well-chosen books, modern patterns and my fav, Mettler threads in every color of the rainbow.

Sarah, a member of Plymouth Piece Makers, loves gorgeous fabrics. Her passion shows with her selection of goods and the name of her enterprise — Fabric Crush.

Located at 2313 Viewmont Way West, the shop is open Tuesday through Friday 10 to 5, Saturday 11 to 5 and Sunday 1 to 5. Closed on Mondays. 206.465.6193

Friday, October 23, 2009

creating a goddess

Fertility Goddess, 2009, 12" long

“Goddess” is this month’s Art Chix assignment. Stuffed with brown mustard seeds, this little rag doll will sprout if moistened—a real source of life. The body fabric is hand dyed and cut with a custom pattern.

Body details include free motion stitching for the face and metal snaps painted with nail polish for the nipples.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

fiber art extraordinaire

Elin Noble at show opening, Penn Cove Pottery, Coupeville WA

When I saw Elin Noble’s whole cloth quilts today, a chill ran up my back. I was astonished by the simplicity, power and beauty of her work.

The show opening in Coupeville included quilts by Elin and quilts made by other women using her dyed cloth. The setting, a charming pottery gallery on Penn Cove, complimented the fiber art perfectly.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

a rose is a rose is a rose

Tokyo Rose, 2009, in progress

Here is something new for me—very precise piecing with curves. It’s possible by following the step-by-step instructions in Ruth McDowell’s book entitled Piecing Workshop.

Done with a freezer paper pattern for each piece, success is all about the prep. Once the pieces are ready, it’s really exciting to see them go together. I can see many possibilities with this technique!

Monday, October 5, 2009

colorful goldendale

Last weekend I stayed with Pat Brim-Williams at her Goldendale home. The location was sublime—smack dab in the middle of a ponderosa pine forest.

On Friday we drove to our destination—a trip that took us down the south side of the spectacular Columbia River Gorge. Late that afternoon we cut and prepped fabric for dyeing.

Saturday started rainy but by noon was perfectly sunny. With our dye concentrates and soda ash solution ready, we headed outside to begin low-immersion dyeing. It was tremendous fun as we dipped, squirted and dabbed dyes on our PFD Kona cotton.

After rinsing and setting the dyes, it was time to iron the fabric. As I had dyed 15 yards, it took over three hours to press all the pieces. Thank heavens for movies on DVD!

We drove home on Sunday on the north side of the river—another memorable drive. The three-day trip was a non-stop pleasure. Just thinking about it makes me smile.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

tea party & quilt show

What a delightful tea party on a beautiful September Sunday.

Janet Saulsbury prepared four kinds of tea sandwiches, two flourless chocolate cakes, shortbread cookies and fresh fruit plates—served with hot and iced tea. Trophy cupcakes and more goodies brought by friends kept us all well fed.

Fourteen quilts, made over the previous 12 months, were displayed. All but one went home with happy owners!

It was Hannah Mae’s fourth birthday. She was the star of the party—lovely, well-behaved and fun to talk with.

Monday, September 21, 2009

baby quilt series: no. 6

Marble Mania, 2009, 32" x 42"

The cottons in this baby quilt were marbled by Elin and Maurine Noble at an all-afternoon demonstration.

The center area has a haphazard pattern of fabric strips while the border has precisely lined-up strips. The stitching parallels the piecing—both random and perpendicular.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

baby quilt series: no. 5

Dungaree Baby, 2009, 34" x 42"

This is a true scrap quilt made with Maurine Noble castaways. The composition is a response to fabric at hand. The top includes pieces of hand-dyeds, an African printed cotton and a green pseudo-camouflage fabric.

Scissor-cut. Random pieced. Machine stitched-in-the-ditch.

Monday, August 24, 2009

lap quilt series: no. 8

Rubino, 2009, 44" x 66"

Bold in color, this red and yellow quilt is made with scissor-cut designs that are then precision-cut into 11" squares. The fabrics are an assortment of handprinted, hand-dyed, global and recycled cottons.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

baby quilt series: no. 4

Goldilocks Baby, 2009, 34" x 43"


This baby quilt is made with three different hand-dyed fabrics and a vintage print of the three bears in their woodland home. Scissor-cut, the pastel marbling is stitched-in-the-ditch.

The story square is hand-stitched all over—with the handiwork completed on airplanes to and from Ohio.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

the hocking hills of ohio

Dairy Barn, Athens OH

Maurine Noble and I jetted to Ohio on Friday for a weekend of quilting adventures. We stayed in Connie Davidson’s new remodeled B& B in Millfield, filled with charming quilts.

On Saturday we toured the 2009 Quilt National show at the Dairy Barn. After reviewing half of the 87 winners in two hours, we took a cafe break, and went back to check out the rest. I bought the show book to remember all the incredible compositions.

Monday was another day of treats. At Lunn Fabrics Studio in Lancaster, I met Debra Lunn and Michael Mrowka. These hippy artisans, with long careers in fabric design, are leading the batik division of Kaufman. Maurine and I were able to buy some of their prototypes from Java by the pound.

Another stop was at Nancy Crow’s farm outside Baltimore. John Stitzlein, Nancy’s husband, took us on a tour of the teaching barn as well as a peek into the family home—with its global art collections. Great trip!

Friday, July 31, 2009

lap quilt series: no. 7

Calico Comfort, 2009, 43" x 63"

Almost all the fabrics in this lap quilt are vintage calicos. Two exceptions are the pink stripes and the botanical print—both on white. These fabrics create contrast in the expanse of small prints.

Although the geometric design looks precise, the pieces are scissor-cut and unmeasured. Extra strips of fabric have been inserted into the design to make the rows of framed squares the same length.

Monday, July 13, 2009

insect pin cushion

Insecta porcupina, 2009, 8.5" x 6"

This month’s Art Chix theme was “Insects As Weapons.” I was inspired by Shannon in my quilting group who made two pin cushions in the last month—an apple and a pear. I decided to make an insect pin cushion for the assignment.

Everything about making this mini-beast was new. I tried different leg designs and after three hours settled on little stuffed appendages. I made the antennae twice, finding the first set was too heavy.

Bamboo batting was my choice for filling. It was incredibly satisfying to stuff the fabric form. At that moment, the character sprang to life.

Art Chix enthusiastically embraced this little guy. To see the rest of our group’s projects visit:

Friday, July 10, 2009

lap quilt series: no. 4, entry 2

River of Life, 2009, 42" x 62"

After many months of hand quilting, this project is complete. There is hand stitching around the fish and throughout the broad bands of solid color. There is machine stitching-in-the-ditch around the Chinese Coins and between the fabric bands. The pieces are all scissor cut with no measuring to create a more naive look. The finishing details include an organic beige cotton for the backing and a 1" binding.

The inspiration for the quilt came from the fish fabric that Maurine Noble brought back from South Africa two decades ago. I just couldn’t cut up the gorgeous pattern, so I used it in very large pieces.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

jane’s modern quilt

Lap Quilt by Jane Belyea, 2009

When I visited my 82-year old mom in Victoria in May, we treasured hunted at local thrift stores for quilting fabrics. We used the “crease test” to check the cotton content—if we pinch pressed a fabric and it held a crisp crease, it was cotton.

For $4.00 CDN Mum picked up some boldly printed cotton with pink, teal, yellow and blue throughout. Here is the mid-sized quilt that she made with her bargain fabric. My dad likes the quilt so much that he made her agree to not give it away (which she does with all her wonderful quilts!).

Monday, June 15, 2009

lap quilt series: no. 6

Elusive Wisdom, 2009, 43" x 62"

Here is my hand-dyed fabric in action. Creating the mottled fabric, curved piecing, stenciled oil stick artwork and overly wavy edges were all new for me. There is a sense of risk in trying different techniques. No peril of course, but it is engaging and exciting.

The lap quilt debuted at this month’s Art Chix gathering. Presented for the theme, Dirty Laundry, the imperfectly dyed fabric reminds me of soiled and stained cloth.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

the send-off quilt

Crow Barn Quilt, 2009, 70" x 44"

Heading off to college evokes feelings of high hopes and adventuresome expectations. To remind Plymouth’s high school seniors of their spiritual home, our church sends them off with a comfort quilt made by the Piece Makers.

For the 15 graduating seniors, our busy quilting group produced 18 quilts this year. The three extra quilts were given to the Plymouth Healing Communities ministry.

My quilt is actually the work of three Plymouth women. Maurine Noble made the central black and white sections at a week-long Nancy Crow workshop. I designed the quilt top with scrap fabrics and did all the finishing. And Susan Jones did the bulk of the hand stitching.

The recipient, Michael Gore, is the son of a leading Plymouth family. Mike’s a bright young man with leadership abilities, public speaking ease and a witty sense of humor who loves to race bicycles.

Monday, May 11, 2009

baby quilt series: no. 3

Hello Bunnies, 2009, 34" x 40"

Made with 15" wide cotton that I bought in Tokyo at New Year’s, this baby quilt is scissor-cut and machine quilted. The top is made with big pattern blocks while the back has solo bunnies, fancy-cut, in a central sashed composition.

In retrospect, I should have made the back the top, and vice versa. The delight of the little bunnies and the bright pink with the mottled gray on the back is the more exciting side.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

lap quilt series: no. 5

African Night & Day, 2009, 42" x 60"

High contrast: black top on white back. The front is made with Dutch wax-resist fabrics from Vlisco and Woodin. The back is a silk-screened tablecloth from South Africa. The hand of all the fabrics is crisp and cool.

Although I scissor-cut the pieces, the final look is quite precise. This is because I could cut along the graphic patterns of the fabrics with the black backgrounds. The quilting includes mostly stitch-in-the-ditch with some hand stitching.

The fabrics were brought back from Africa by Maurine Noble when she taught quilting classes there.

Monday, May 4, 2009

in search of imperfection

Connie Colton is the force behind the Quilt Qua website.

This article by me was posted on today under: Articles.

In the Fall of 2007 I saw two quilts shows in Tacoma. I drove down I-5 from Seattle to view the internationally acclaimed Gee’s Bend quilts at TAM (Tacoma Art Museum). Then I walked a block to the Washington State History Museum to see a show of contemporary quilt art.

At TAM, I paid my money and went straight upstairs to the Gee’s Bend exhibit. The show spanned early quilts to ones that had been made in the last decade. The most graphic of the quilts were my favorites. I was surprised that the craftsmanship of the quilts hadn't improved much over the years. Some of the newest ones were just as slipshod as the vintage examples— with sloppy stitching and bulky seams.

Down at the History Museum, I was wowed. The contemporary quilts were exceptional in all ways. I liked the innovative use of colors, shapes and finishes. In fact, I was so inspired that I went home and immediately mimicked one of the patterns for a pillow top.

Not being impressed by the Gee’s Bend show troubled me. If everyone else was gaga about the work, I needed to give it more consideration. I decided that the exhibit had given me a gift—permission to be as messy as I wanted with my quilts.

I’ve taken this signal to heart personally. In the last year I have abandoned my rotary cutter. Instead I cut my fabric with scissors, sometimes merrily whacking away. I piece randomly. I want to sew fabric together until I know I am done—like Jackson Pollock who threw paint on his canvas.

There is real excitement in approaching a quilt project with a vision instead of a pattern. I often think for a long time about the fabric before I make my first cut. Other times I get experimental and just want to see what will happen when I start piecing willy nilly.

The acceptance of imperfection pleases me. It allows me to appreciate anything that I create. “Keep moving forward” I say to myself instead of being overly critical of my work. I am not perfect and neither are my quilts these days.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

chard, kale and mustard leaves

Vegetable Leaf Table Topper, 2009, 13" x 36"

This lap project has accompanied me on many excursions since the holidays. Last weekend I finished up the hand stitching on the Clipper, coming home from a weekend in Victoria with my parents.

All the piecing is scissor-cut. I like the organic look that comes from the non-precise shapes.

To finish this project, I need to hem 20 dinner-sized napkins that are in the turquoise- and wine-colored vegetable leaf fabrics. Then I will ship the runner and napkin set to Grace Lynch in New Jersey—the guardian angel of my daughter, Victoria, at CIA . Grace has a humongous collection of Portuguese cabbage leaf china that she uses at family gatherings.

The ceramic dachshund was made for me by my daughter Vik in a high school art class.