Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to you all! I thought I’d share my Bargello block quilt, Easter Morning, which is featured in my book, Bargello Quilts with a Twist, in celebration of this special day, the abundance of spring colors, new growth all around us and the lengthening of our daylight hours. The Easter season lasts for 50 days, so we have plenty of time to savor these delights!


Maui Nov 2007 003

The quilt has 36 Bargello blocks, 16 with orange, 12 with light minty green and 8 on the middle of the sides with white. Notice I’ve used a variety of different sashing fabrics to integrate the sashing with the overall design.

Lecture at Quilters By the Bay

On Wednesday evening I presented my trunk show for the Quilters By the Bay in University Place near Tacoma. They are a small but active group. It was nice to be able to drive – I could take more quilts to share including several large ones that I can’t carry when I go out of state to teach. I was so excited that one of the ladies brought a beautiful Bargello block quilt to show me. Here is Delores Slingerland with her quilt, Buggy Barn with a Twist.


Delores took my Bargello Quilts with a Twist class when I taught at the Gig Harbor Quilt Festival three or four years ago. She used Buggy Barn fabric, their ice and mocha line and based the design on my quilt, Savannah Sunrise, shown below. What fun to see this quilt in such a different color way. Thanks to Delores for sharing her work.


The meeting took place in the Pierce County Environmental Services Building, a beautiful facility on the bluff overlooking the Puget Sound. Half way through the lecture, I told the ladies to turn around and look at the sunset because it was so spectacular. To get to University Place, I drove over the Tacoma Narrows toll bridge, a huge suspension bridge spanning the Puget Sound Narrows. Here’s a view of the bridge from Titlow Park, where I had a picnic before the meeting.



Colorful Inspiration for Quilts

All kinds of observations inspire me in my quilting, and I suspect this is a subject I’ll write about fairly frequently. I was in the Capital Hill area of Seattle and saw this mural and the colorful recycling bins. I love the bright graphics of these colors against the grey background and the variety of spots, checks, concentric and wavy lines.


At the Seattle Art Museum I saw this wonderful large oil on canvas with giant convolutions. This painting, titled Distraction (1999), is by a Canadian artist, Karin Davie. The colors in this piece are vibrant and there is such motion.

20130326_124035These images made me think of some of the awesome fabrics I have in my stash. It’s good to be reminded of what is there. I suspect that many quilters tend to forget what they have available for immediate use. I like to review my stash every couple of months, and when I do this, I become excited about the possibilities for my fabrics.


Quilting with Friends

I’m fortunate to belong to a small quilting group which we loosely call the Block of the Month group. After teaching a six week beginning quilting class, my students said that they would like to keep going and meet once a month – not only to learn more quilting techniques and improve their skills, but to enjoy being together and continuing the friendships they had made in the class. This was about 15 years ago, and initially I taught a different quilt block each month. Later, we worked on more complex projects and spent two or three months on them. Over the years, the group fluctuated in numbers with a hard core of four or five, and as many as 12 for a short time.

20130321_183111Now we work on our own projects and support one another in this, offering opinions and encouragement on fabric choices, layout etc. We share anything interesting that we learn and if I design a new pattern or technique, they test it for me to help me iron out any glitches. Barbara made this attractive table runner from my template-free technique for Kaleidoscope Puzzle quilts.

As our schedules have become more hectic with me traveling to teach and the others helping out with grandchildren and going on vacation, it’s difficult to find dates when we can meet. However, we usually manage between October and May, and four of us met today for an enjoyable time. Joanne shared her lovely Eleanor Burns quilt top and worked on making a pieced back for it.



If you have the opportunity to be part of a small group, I encourage you to participate. Many quilt guilds have small satellite groups and quilt shops often have drop in quilting days. It’s a wonderful way to make friends and share this quilting passion we enjoy, as well as supporting each other in whatever life throws at us, (good and bad).

Quilting with Yellow

The sun was shining when I was out walking this morning and I saw these beautiful daffodils – a true sign that Spring is springing in time for the first official day of Spring tomorrow. The yellow was brilliant and so pretty. I began thinking about the way I use yellow in my quilts.

daffodilsA small amount of yellow goes a long way. Yellow can be a real eye-catcher or zinger, and a little bit can really add some punch to a design. In larger quantities, it may quickly become dominant and overpowering. Try to audition your fabrics to get a feel for how much yellow looks right. I like to use yellow in a triad combination with the other two primary colors, red and blue, as in the example below. This quilt, Deck of Pansies, is one of my Bargello Quilt with a Twist quilts with the 16-piece Bargello blocks arranged in the Card Trick layout. You can see how the yellow circles pop in the corners and the yellow pansies in the center help to define the overlapping Card Trick pattern. The yellow pansy fabric is repeated in the border and adds a nice frame to the piece.

Deck of Pansies

Yellow works well with purple too, it being complementary to purple on the color-wheel. I also enjoy making quilts from black and white fabrics with a dash of yellow and red. This combination can be stunning. I encourage you to give it a go!


Happy Worldwide Quilting Day!


National Quilting Day, now Worldwide, was started by the National Quilting Association to highlight the creative, inspirational and unique world of quilting. Every year on the 3rd Saturday of March, quilters around the world set aside time to celebrate their love of fabric, quilting and fellowship with other quilters.

Here are some ideas of ways that you might like to celebrate:

  1. Check out your local quilt store and support them by treating yourself to a fabric purchase. They may be holding special events this weekend.
  2. Set aside some time to quilt. If not today, then at least a couple of hours in the next few days.
  3. Put a new blade in your rotary cutter.
  4. Clean the lint out of your machine and change the needle.
  5. Organize your stash, or at least review what you have. You’ll probably get inspiration for a new project.
  6. Find something in your stash to give away – you could surprise a quilting friend, or donate something for charity quilt projects at your guild.
  7. Send a message to a quilting friend expressing your appreciation for their friendship and/or praising them for their quilts.

I’d like to express appreciation for my on-going association with the Mongolian Quilting Center in Ulaanbaatar, and my now 9 year friendship with the Director, Selenge Tserendash. This has really enriched my life in ways I never imagined possible. In celebration, here’s a photo of a quilt which was an international effort, designed by quilt teacher Lesley Coles of United Kingdom. I met Lesley in Mongolia when we collaborated in 2006 to organize the First International Quilt Show in Ulaanbaatar. The map of Mongolia is made from five panels. Panels from left to right made by: Connie Gilham (UK), me (USA), Selenge Tserendash and women at the Mongolian Quilting Center in Ulaanbaatar, Lesley Coles (UK), and Jane Grendon (UK).

Mongolia map quilt


Returning home from Texas

I’ve had an enforced break since my return home from Texas. Who knows where cough and cold germs linger – whether in Texas, on the airplane or ferry, or right here on Bainbridge Island, but apparently I was an easy target. After three days of not functioning at all well, I’m now regaining my strength and my head feels only partially wrapped up in cotton wool. It really makes me appreciate the good health I enjoy almost all the time and tend to take for granted.

On the topic of health, in particular healthy eating, I snapped some photos in Old Town Spring, Texas which amused me and which I hope you will enjoy. Eat Hot Sauce. Live Longer! Longer than what, I ask myself!20130306_142314 20130306_142746

Also Available in Sugar Free. How can this be? These almost look like quilt blocks.

20130306_143855On offer here – fried oreos, fried Reese’s peanut butter cups, funnel cakes and foot long corn dogs! They also had stuffed jalapenos and sugar-free snow cones! Old Town Spring was quite the local tourist destination and it was fun to visit. Thanks again to Carol Ayre and the Woodland Area Quilt Guild for making me so welcome.

Teaching at The Woodlands Area Quilt Guild, Houston

This week I traveled to Houston to give a lecture and teach a workshop at The Woodlands Area Quilt Guild on the north side of Houston, not far from the airport. The quilters gave me a warm welcome and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. Around 120 quilters attended the meeting and before my lecture they installed their new officers and all the members pledged allegiance to the group. I always like the Show and Tell at guild meetings and was particularly impressed by the applique quilts that were shown. The following day, I taught the Bears Come Out at Night workshop, one of my variations on the Bear’s Paw block. Emphasis is on precision piecing and the small Sawtooth Star mini-blocks within the Bear’s Paw blocks can be a little challenging. My students all did well and we had an enjoyable day.

20130307_143253During the day of the lecture, the Program Chair, Carol Ayre took me out for a pleasant walk at the Mercer Botanical Gardens, then we went to Old Town Spring for lunch. Here’s a photo of the local quilt shop, GRS Creations & Fabrics, which they refer to as “The Hidden Fabric Shop”. From the outside it looks very small, but inside, the store extends back and includes several rooms with a large inventory of fabrics. If you are in the area, it’s worth a visit.


Old Town Spring also boasts this supposedly haunted house which is over 100 years old. It has a colorful history as you’ll see from the sign – ranging from a hippy commune to a funeral home and for over 30 years, 200 insect eating bats lived in the attic! The tall screened-in section housed several cooing doves.



As you can see, we had glorious sunny weather and the 70 degree sunshine felt wonderful after the 48 degrees in Seattle. It was a good time of year to visit.

New Quilts from an Old Favorite contest

My quilt, Almost Modern Jacob’s Ladder, (78” x 78”), is a finalist in the National Quilt Museum contest, New Quilts from an Old Favorite 2013. Each year there is a quilt block theme and contestants are challenged to create an original design derived from the block. My design idea gelled when I found the perfect large scale prints. I emulated today’s “modern quilts” by enlarging the Jacob’s Ladder block and including large areas of negative space. However, this quilt is contrived, with fussy-cut fabrics and a precise border, so it isn’t entirely “modern”. Then again, it was made in 2012, so by definition, it must be modern!

quilt-_02The quilt was completed in collaboration with my good friend Wanda Rains, who did an outstanding job on the machine quilting. Here’s a detailed shot which I hope will showcase her beautiful work.


The quilt will be displayed in the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky from March to June this year. Then it will tour the United States for another 18 months, so when I sent it away in December, it was good-bye quilt for two years. It will also appear in the AQS book – Jacob’s Ladder, New Quilts from an Old Favorite, available soon. If you attend the AQS show in April, be sure to make time to visit the wonderful museum and to see all the finalists in this contest.


Favorite Quilting Rulers Part II

In my last posting, I told you about my favorite all-purpose quilting rulers. Today, I’ll share the rulers I use when making 1/2-square and 1/4-square triangle units. When constructing these units, I make them a little larger than required and then trim them to the exact size so that they are really accurate.


The Omnigrid 6″ square ruler works well and is widely available at quilt stores but the Tucker Trimmers I and II are much easier to use. When I taught at the Minnesota Quilters’ Guild conference in 2010, I discovered these rulers. Jeff and Deb Tucker had a booth at the show and as soon as I saw Jeff give the demo, I was sold. At their website, Studio 180 Design, you can see video demos and order these rulers if your local quilt store doesn’t carry them.


The Tucker Trimmer I ruler (on the right) is used for trimming to whole inch and half inch sizes. I have positioned it to trim my 1/2-square triangle unit to 3″ (whole black dot is on top right). If I turned it 180 degrees the half black dot would be at the top right and I could easily trim the unit to 2-1/2″. Trimmer Tucker II is for 1/4″ and 3/4″ sizes and works in the same way (with a 1/4 dot and a 3/4 dot to indicate the appropriate position). Like the Omnigrid 6″ square, these rulers have a diagonal line running from top right to bottom left, but they also have diagonal lines going the other way. When trimming a 1/4-square triangle units (as on the left) it is really easy to line up the center of the unit where these diagonal lines on the ruler intersect. Yes, it’s two rulers instead of one, but the ease with which you can read the measurements and use them accurately makes it well worth the investment.