5th Grade Quilt Project (2)


Earlier this year, I spent time at Chestnut Hill Academy in Bellevue working with 5th Grade students to make two quilts. This blog features one, The Rain Forest, and my blog last week featured the other, The Ocean. In their science classes they were studying different habitats and each child selected an animal for detailed study. They made line drawings of their animals on 10″ quilt blocks and then spent 2-3 weeks hand embroidering.


We were delighted with the results and the enthusiasm with which the kids embraced this project. The embroidery was challenging for some, but they all enjoyed it and persevered. When the blocks were completed, I took my sewing machine to school and worked individually with each child as they machine stitched the block frames. They were proud of their work and so were we. Here are a couple of detailed shots.

The children determined the block layout and decided to arrange it according the height of rain forest which each animal occupied, hence the canopy dwellers are at the top of the quilt and the ground dwellers at the bottom. I assembled the quilt top and Wanda Rains machine quilted it. The quilt was auctioned at a school fundraiser the proceeds of which go towards special projects and field trips to enhance the curriculum. The two quilts raised just over $5,000! For me, the educational value was enormous and the money generated at the auction was just the icing on the cake.

5th Grade Quilt Project (1)

Earlier this year, I spent time at Chestnut Hill Academy in Bellevue working with 5th Grade students to make two quilts. This blog features one, The Ocean, and my blog next week will feature the second, The Rainforest. In their science classes they were studying different habitats and each child selected an animal for detailed study. They made line drawings of their animals on 10″ quilt blocks and then spent 2-3 weeks hand embroidering.

We were delighted with the results and the enthusiasm with which the kids embraced this project. The embroidery was challenging for some, but they all enjoyed it and persevered. When the blocks were completed, I took my sewing machine to school and worked individually with each child as they machine stitched the block frames. They were proud of their work and so were we. Here are a couple of detailed shots.

The children determined the block layout and decided to arrange it according the depth of ocean which each animal occupied, hence the surface dwellers are at the top of the quilt and the deeper dwellers at the bottom. I assembled the quilt top and Wanda Rains machine quilted it. The quilt was auctioned at a school fundraiser the proceeds of which go towards special projects and field trips to enhance the curriculum. The two quilts raised just over $5,000! For me, the educational value was enormous and the money generated at the auction was just the icing on the cake.

Handy Sewing Bag

When I was teaching in Wenatchee, Eastern Washington last autumn, one of my students had a handy zipped bag with pouches for storing quilting tools and notions.

Inside there are several divisions for keeping items separate, including four zipped compartments so that rotary cutters, spools of thread, pins etc may be kept contained.

These bags are made by Pat Lannoye of Malaga, WA and are available for purchase. You may contact Pat at plannoye@msn.com.

Baby Quilts for Newborns in Mongolia

In August, Elaine Percival, Barbara Peterson and I will be traveling with Selenge Tserendash in rural Mongolia after assisting at the Third International Mongolian Quilt Show celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the Mongolian Quilting Center in Ulaanbaatar. We plan to visit rural hospitals and take baby quilts to the maternity wards to give as gifts to mothers for their new babies.

Would you like to make a baby quilt to send to Mongolia? We are hoping to make 50-60 quilts, so would love your help. The quilts should be completed by the end of May and will be sent to Mongolia in a container in early June, taking about a month to get there. Any late arrivals will be carried in our suitcases, with the final deadline of 10th July.

The recommended size is in the range: 32-38” x 36-48”, square or rectangular. The Mongolians love brightly colored prints, which of course are unobtainable in Mongolia. Please contact me if you are interested in participating in this project. If you live locally, (near Bainbridge Island, WA), and need help getting started, you may visit my studio and I’d be happy to supply the fabric and a simple pattern.

Update, 18th April, 2019

The response to this project has been amazing! Thank you to all of you who have contributed baby quilts. Our goal of 50-60 has already been exceeded! The container for Mongolia is actually leaving in early May, and not June as stated above. The completed quilts will receive a special blessing on 28th April before being packed in boxes to go into the container. They should reach Mongolia by mid-July. They will be displayed in the quilt show before we distribute them to the babies. Any baby quilts that I receive after 1st May will travel in our suitcases. Thanks again for your support.

Matthew’s Quilt – a new work in progress

I’ve begun my next large project, a quilt for my nephew. I have five nephews and nieces and am making quilts for all of them for their 21st birthday gifts. Matthew’s is the fourth, and since he’s already turned 25, I’m running behind schedule! He looked at my website to see what kind of quilt he’d like, and was really drawn to the Gateway to Mongolia pattern because it looked Celtic. Who knows where this pattern originated, but it has been around in Mongolia since before the era of Genghis Khan 800 years ago. In Mongolia, the Olzii is painted on the doors of gers (yurts) to bring long life and prosperity to the inhabitants. It also drives away wild beasts and evil spirits. It is one of the Tibetan Buddhist special symbols, a never-ending knot signifying the eternal universe and continual cycles of life and death. The pattern is indeed typical of many Celtic under-over designs and I’ve also heard it called a Gordian Knot. A few years ago, I went to an exhibit of Islamic art in London at the British Museum. There was an Abyssinian tile from the fourth century with this pattern, so it clearly has significance in many parts of the world and has been around for a long time.

I achieved the woven effect by using a color gradation of fabrics on the large on-point central Olzii block. The simple Olziiis surrounding the center field are 12″ blocks and will be trimmed slightly to fit. I will sew another orange strip around the outside and an additional pieced border yet to be determined. Watch this space in a couple of months for the finished quilt….

Rotary Cutter Maintenance

I’ve just changed the blade in my rotary cutter and oh my, what a difference! Whenever I do this, I think to myself that I should have done it weeks ago. As I tell my students, we spend hundreds of dollars on fabric, but we balk at replacing rotary cutter blades and sewing machine needles. This doesn’t make any sense. Ergonomically and for ease of use, having a sharp blade is the way to go. With a new blade, fabric cuts are like cutting through butter. They are clean and can be made without applying much downward force on the rotary cutter.

When I’m teaching, I’m surprised how often I come across rotary cutters that are incorrectly assembled. I’ve had students say to me things like, “I’ve just put in a new blade, so I don’t know why it’s not working very well”. Make sure that you put it back together in the right order with the large black circle in the center on the top and the washer and nut on the back.

Work in Progress (4), now finished!

Over the past several weeks, I’ve posted pictures of this quilt in various stages of development. Lauret’s Stars, is at last completed, after 20 months and over 200 hours of piecing.

With our quilt show being cancelled, I was unable to photograph this commissioned quilt at the quilt show. Instead, I took it to church and set up my quilt stand in the parish hall where there was plenty of space and light. This is one of the largest quilts that I’ve ever made, at 105” x 105”. My friend, Wanda Rains, did a spectacular job on the custom long-arm quilting. I’m happy to report that my client is thrilled with the quilt and has given me permission to borrow it back from her so that it may be displayed in our rescheduled quilt show in May. Here I am up close with it.

Here’s another detailed shot so that you can see some of Wanda’s exquisite quilting.

Hawaiian Fabric

Recently, I was delighted to escape from the cold snow to Hawaii with the family, (including my 4½ year old, and 15 month twin grandchildren). We stayed at the Aulani Disney Resort on Oahu, by the ocean, for a wonderful sunny week of playing outdoors.

We visited the Dole Pineapple Plantation which had gorgeous lush gardens and a nice patio to eat lunch and delicious Dole whips, (vanilla ice-cream swirled with pineapple syrup). At the back of the enormous store, I found a fabric vendor selling cuts of Hawaiian cotton prints. How could I resist?! I bought two yard chunks of each of these two fabrics, (see below), with no specific project in mind. With a large fabric stash at home, I try to be disciplined about my fabric purchases, but made an exception here since I was on vacation and needed souvenirs! There can always be some justification for fabric purchases and perhaps just liking it is enough….

Diego Rivera Portrait

I saw this amazing picture, The Muralist (Diego Rivera), by Seattle artist Alfredo Arreguin in an exhibit at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.

I was immediately drawn to this for its quilt like quality, especially in the jacket, shirt and tie. Look at all those Flying Geese and Shoe-fly blocks! The ability to create such an image using these is remarkable. A detailed look at the background and face reveals more piecing with triangles and pixels. I love the use of color too. It’s vibrant and inspiring. Here’s a closer shot.

Kitsap Quilters’ Guild show, 15th and 16th February, 2019 cancelled

Due to record breaking snowfall with 15″ of snow accumulated earlier in the week, the Kitsap Quilters’ Guild has cancelled its quilt show originally scheduled for tomorrow and Saturday, 15th and 16th February. This is the first time we’ve ever had to cancel. Despite warming temperatures and melting, many side roads and residential streets are still hazardous. Our volunteers couldn’t get to the quilt drop-off locations or to the venue to set up the show and our quilt show attendees will not want to come in these inclement conditions. We are hoping to reschedule the show for May 3rd and 4th, 2019.

I took this photo on Monday, late afternoon at dusk. This is High School Road, Bainbridge Island, close to my house.