August 7, 2014: Amish doll quilt top done; New Project; Wabi-Sabi


I finished putting together the Amish – Roman Stripes – doll quilt top with the Oakshott fabrics that sort of “shimmer” when viewed in the best light.  That makes it hard to get good pictures, but here’s the best I can do (click on it for nice enlargement):

8714 Amish DQ full


And here is a closer view:

8714 Amish DQ close

I love the clear, generally darker colors and how they stand out against the black.   Check my last post to see the original quilt that inspired this; I managed to keep the border the same.  I neglected to mention that the “inspiration” quilt is 68 x 80 inches (!!) whereas mine is only about 14 1/2 x 18 inches. The blocks in the original were about 6 inches and mine are 3. I have plenty of these fabrics left and plan to do some more Amish style doll quilts in the future.  Next step here is to layer and hand quilt.

What’s in the hoop right now?  My hexagon star doll quilt:

8714 In hoop#1


close-up (the beginnings of cross hatching the background):

8714 In hoop #2

With only this quilt and the Amish doll quilt left to hand quilt, I am in great shape to have these projects done for the Cocheco annual quilt show in mid October.  I now know that Spring Sonata can’t be completed on time for the show and am OK with that.  I will resume quilting it when the last 2 doll quilts are completed.  I am considering submitting it to AQS for the Paducah show in April.

I just finished my Challenge quilt the day before yesterday with 6 weeks to spare before the “reveal.”  As a reward to myself, since I finished one project, I allowed myself to begin a new one!  I have been wanting to do a large project that involves a lot of paper piecing, one of my favorite techniques.  As I have stated before, I like to have at least 3 projects going at once with different techniques so I can choose to work on what I most feel like at the time.  Those 3 techniques are hand quilting,  hand applique, and machine paper piecing.  The Amish Roman stripes was paper pieced but was a tiny project and the top is done already so I needed something else.

For inspiration and ideas, I was looking through a number of books I have that feature the paper piecing technique.  I happened to be looking at Carol Doak’s original book on this technique and saw this:

8714 NewP #1 (pattern)

This is a variation of the “palm leaf” pattern that I used for Spring Sonata, however, I noticed right away that  using the above pattern one could create that palm leaf pattern more easily without a seam down the center. I used the latter technique when I pieced Spring Sonata.  Here is the pattern I used for SS:

8714 NewP #2

What I did with the above, when making Spring Sonata, is cut it down the middle and add a seam allowance on the middle edge.  I had to make 2 pieces then sew them together.  If I redrafted the pattern like the one from Carol’s book it would much easier and quicker.  Here’s the re-drafted pattern:

8714 NewP #3


You can see the difference in the 2 pictures.  Of course, as soon as I redrafted it, I had to try it.  I have had a relatively large group of bright and colorful authentic Japanese fabric – designed by people like Naomi Itaya – that I’ve collected over time and have been wanting to use for the past couple years.  I also love red and have been wanting to make a quilt with a lot of red in it.  I tried this combination in one block, loved it, and have made 3 more so far (definitely click for a closeup!):

8714 NewP #4 (blocks)


I’m very happy with how these are looking!  They are addictive to make!   I never expected to be making another quilt with the palm leaf pattern already, but I love it so why not?  I’m not sure how I will arrange these, how many I will make, etc. but for now am happy to be just making blocks.  They are so bright and cheery that I am already thinking about calling the quilt “Joyful Noise.”

I made another discovery.  When I made Spring Sonata, I cut the pieces for the paper piecing from strips rather than using templates.  There was a ton of waste – remember, I showed a big bag full of the left over scraps in a post this past winter!  Nevertheless, I had plenty of fabric and wasn’t worried about it.  I used the same technique of just cutting strips for the first of the red blocks – they had to be 2 1/2 inches wide to fit.  When the block was done there was a lot of wasted fabric.  I have only “fat eights” of many of the Japanese prints so am much more concerned about waste this time around and decided I needed to make templates and cut sizes to match the pattern pieces.  I used freezer paper and made 2 sets which I will be able to reuse over and over.  Look at the picture below to see the wasted fabric from the original method of cutting strips (on the left) and the waste when I used templates (on the right).  Significant!!!!  And using the templates is pretty easy.

8714 NewP #5 (waste)



Because I love Japanese aesthetics and design, I am familiar with the concept of “wabi-sabi.”  I found a very good definition of this recently:

“Wabi-sabi is the quintessential Japanese aesthetic.  It is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.  It is a beauty of things modest and humble.  It is a beauty of things unconventional…  Wabi is the kind of beauty that is seemingly paradoxically caused by just the right kind of imperfection, such as an asymmetry in a ceramic bowl which reflects the handmade craftsmanship, as opposed to another bowl which is perfect but soul-less and machine made.  Sabi is the kind of beauty the comes with age such as the patina on a very old bronze statue.”

I’m interested in this concept because I don’t believe the quilts we make have to be perfect and, in fact, can sometimes be enhanced by imperfection or unconventional design.  In the quilt world, the current interest in improvisational design or “liberated” quiltmaking (i.e. liberated from the usual rules) reminds me of the wabi-sabi concept.  I think this is a good thing and I think judges, who detrimentally are often referred to as the “quilt police,” should make themselves familiar with these concepts and allow for them.  Sometimes what may appear to be a flaw in design may be a specific design choice!

A simple example of this is in my “pumpkin seed” doll quilt.  In the picture below in the upper left portion, the pink “seed” fades out – it’s “value” is lower than the other “seeds” and some might think it too light.  (If you can’t see this, sometimes squinting helps.)  I knew this when I put the pieces on my design wall and could have made a new, darker one, but decided I like the pink and like the fact that its lighter value breaks up the overall pattern you see.  Wabi-sabi!  Imperfect and OK!  I don’t want a judge to tell me this is a flaw.

72814 DQ#1


We had the grandkids for several days again recently – it’s wonderful!!  Each of them sewed together squares to make pillows and here they are with their creations:

8714 D and S with pillows

Sveta, in particular, has really taken to sewing.  I taught her how to pin properly and she is eager to learn more.  She wants to make a simple doll quilt and picked out fabrics that I cut into strips and she pinned and sewed them together.  Next visit I am going to have her try some quilting with the walking foot.  When we are in the sewing room together she regularly reminds me to close the rotary cutter!

Thank you for visiting!



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