December 30, 2017: “Twinkle” border update; Dresden Plate EPP tutorial; “Generations” of needleworkers

Greetings!  We are in the deep freeze here in southern New Hampshire – temps below zero with wind chills making it feel even worse.  Great weather to stay inside and read and work on quilts!  It was a busy week with family and friends visiting over Christmas and the grandkids staying for a few extra days over their holiday break from school.

We enjoyed playing music with friends and family:

Now things are back to quiet for a while!  I’ve been embroidering stars on the borders of the silk quilt.  Because this will take a while, I took this quilt off the design wall and put “Twinkle” back up to make some final decisions about the borders.  I’d only seen the corner bird block with the quilt laid out on the floor.  When I saw it on the wall, I didn’t really like the darker color of the maroon background or the birds in the upper corners.

I’ve successfully used circular designs in corner blocks several times in the past and, after thinking about this for a while and looking at options, decided I wanted to try a Dresden Plate (DP) design in the corners and I decided to lighten the background color.  I’d never made a DP before and had to figure out how to draft it.  I decided to try making it with the English Paper Piecing technique.

I started by drawing a circle the size of the DP – it turned out to be just over 4 1/4 inches – on freezer paper.  I wanted 12  sections so had to divide the circle into 12 parts.  Since there are 360 degrees in a circle, each part is 30 degrees.   First divide the circle into fourths, then use the 30 degree angle on a ruler to divide those parts each 3 times:

After the 12 sections were marked, I decided how deep/pointy I wanted the points to be – not very.  I made a mark the same distance inside each of the 12 lines:

Then I made a circle in the center somewhat smaller than I want the final center circle to be:

And I numbered the sections (just in case the sections are a little unequal, if you piece as numbered they should fit together perfectly):

I cut out the circle, then started cutting apart the sections and creating the points:

To create the points I folded the tops so the marks matched and then drew a line from the marks to the outer corner – after the first couple, I was comfortable with cutting just by “eyeballing” the line.  Also snip off the tip at the drawn line:

Then use the EPP technique and iron the freezer paper onto the back of the selected fabric, cut out with seam allowance, iron over the edges and sew together.  And voila!!! (Click on pic to enlarge):

In the above picture, I haven ‘t sewn down the center circle yet.  This was easy and I now know how to create a DP pattern in any size I want!  I find the EPP technique very easy for this type of circle.  The background fabric is a somewhat dark red, but lighter than the maroon I used for the bird blocks.

After I made 2 of these DP blocks (not sewn down or with centers sewn on yet), I put them up on the design wall in the upper corners and the bird blocks in the lower corners.

I think I like this arrangement and am not inclined to made 2 more DP blocks for the lower corners.  I also have to make a final decision about whether to re-do the bird blocks on the lighter red background rather than leaving them on maroon.  I welcome any feedback on this!!!!

While my daughter was here over Christmas, she reminded me that, at my prompting, she started making a quilt 15 years ago during a rough patch in her life while living at home for a few months after graduating from college.  She had completed the top and was going to try hand quilting it, but never got beyond the piecing because of changes in her life; the project has been in a closet here ever since.  We got it out to look at it:

She’d been free to choose from any of my stash back in 2003 and it’s interesting that she gravitated to the few reproduction fabrics I had at the time!  As we looked at the quilt, she realized that one block really stood out:

After going back and forth on whether to leave it or not she decided NOT and we went through my stash to pick out a substitute.  She chose a much duskier shade of purple:

Now it’s my job to take out the offending block and replace it!!  My daughter, while working full time and being a single mom, is also taking courses to become a nurse practitioner so she is not going to hand quilt this!  We decided I’d have it machine quilted for her.  At the same time, I’m going to have the quilt my granddaughter and I made together last year machine quilted as it is clear it’s not something I prefer to spend time hand quilting:

This makes me think of the “generations” of needleworkers in my family.  I have a crewel embroidery picture that my maternal grandmother, Elsie Cole Arnold, made in 1956 (I know she also made utilitarian quilts and one of my cousins has one.):

My mother, Beatrice, knit, made needlepoint pillows, and painted:

I have several of her needlepoint pillows but forgot to take pictures!

And now my daughter, Ingrid, and granddaughter, Svetlana, are both soon to have completed quilts they’ve made.  I love it!

By the way, still lots more pictures from Houston to come, but not today!

Wishing everyone a “harmonious” New Year filled with love and the time to do the things you are passionate about.

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,   Gladi




December 22, 2017: Silk quilt border progress; Yoko Saito’s quilts at Houston Festival; Merry Christmas!

Greetings!  I’ve been focused on the embroidery for the silk quilt border over the past week.  The second border is almost complete and I cut and interfaced the other 2 borders to get them ready.  For the first time I can really get a sense of what this is going to look like and I like it!  (Click on pics to enlarge!)

I also pieced a backing for the first baby quilt and now it is all set for layering and quilting – no rush.  I started piecing the second, lighter colored, donation baby quilt:

It really feels great to be using up some my stash!!!!

One of the special exhibits at the Houston show that I LOVED was the quilts of Yoko Saito.  They were amazing!!!  Some folks don’t like the generally “neutral” color palette – “taupes” – she tends to use, but they have a quiet, subtle beauty and the appliqué and piecing work in her quilts display those qualities at their best.  The details are just wonderful.  Today I’m sharing 4 of her quilts with lots of pictures of the great details.  Click on and enlarge the pictures to enjoy those details!


We had our annual holiday party, filled with wonderful food and music.  I’m really blessed to have such a wonderful circle of friends!


Merry Christmas!!  Enjoy the holiday!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi


December 16, 2017: Houston Festival pics, Part 8; “Magical moment” #4; etc.!

Greetings!  Since last posting, I sewed the sleeve onto “Stardust” and hung it to make sure it hangs straight with no major ripples on any of the sides.  I don’t “block” my quilts so this is an important step for me.  If there are any problems, I have to take the binding off and make adjustments – a major pain!  Luckily, I am careful enough with my measuring as I go along with a project that such drastic adjustments are rarely needed.  Nevertheless, the initial hanging of a new quilt is a somewhat tense moment for me and when the new quilt hangs straight and true it is another “magical moment” ( magical moment #4!) in the finishing process.  I’m happy to report that “Stardust” hangs straight and true!!!!!  Next step is making the label – soon!

I finished the first donation baby quilt top (40″ x 40″):

Next step – I am planning to use up more of these fabrics by piecing a back.  For the second baby quilt, I will play more with the layout of the half square triangles to make a different pattern.

I am making another star ornament for good friends.  Here are the 2 sides not yet joined (click on pics to enlarge):

And I have worked on the embroidery for the borders for the silk quilt.  I finished one side and started another.  The second one is for a side border and required me to figure out how to space the stars differently so they look right with the top border since the stars are taller than they are wide.

I’m leaving enough fabric so I can miter the border corners and then will fill in the embroidery stars after the top is together.

Here are more wonderful quilts from the Houston show!  I loved this one of Mesa Verde!  I was there several years ago and this art quilt really captures the magic and the mystery of the place.

This one is just beautiful and really transmits the “tranquility” the title mentions:

Lots to see in this next one:

This unique art quilt of pinecones was gorgeous!

And there were some wonderful portraits:

Denise Havlan’s portraits are always spectacular!

Forgot to get  closeups for the next one:

This “mosaic” portrait was fabulous!

Another excellent facial closeup – love how she used circles!:

Al and I traveled to see our grandson Dmitri play saxophone in his school’s holiday band concert.   He even had a solo in one of the jazz band pieces!


I tried to capture an unusual scene of the ice in the treetops lit up by the morning sun this past week after a storm.   Not sure I did a good job with the camera, but here are 3 pictures.  The sparkling against the blue sky was enchanting:

I’m still writing haikus regularly.  Here’s one for the season:

Ornaments from years

Past conjure memories of

Childhood holidays


Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi


December 10, 2017: Quilting thoughts and projects; Houston Festival pictures, Part 7

Greetings!  First snow was yesterday and it looks beautiful in the sunlight today.  I love the seasons!

I forgot to mention in my last post that – for me, at least – there are three “magical moments” when finishing up a quilt one has been working on for a long time.  Because I hand quilt there are a lot of basting stitches to remove when the quilting is done.  It took me 2 hours to get all the basting stitches out of Stardust!  There was a huge “thread nest” when I was done!  Those stitches tend to obscure the beauty of the quilt design.  The first “magical moment” is seeing the quilt for the first time in a long time without all those stitches.  While hand quilting there are strips of backing and batting hanging off all edges of the quilt.  These tend to fray and get dirty over time.  The second “magical moment” comes when I cut all those off and get my first glimpse of what the quilt is really going to look like.  The third “magical moment” comes when the last stitch is taken in the binding and the quilt is finished.  What a great feeling after all that work to see a beautiful result!  I really enjoy the finishing process.

I cut the fabric strip for the sleeve:

But decided there’s no rush to do this right away since I found out the delivery date for taking my quilts to the museum is 1/5 – plenty of time to finish sleeve and label over the next month.  I decided to take a break and make some holiday ornaments for gifts.  I fussy cut pieces for some hexagon stars out of a fabric I’ve had for a long time and decided to leave the papers in and sew 2 together to make double sided ornaments.  Here are the fronts:

And here are the backs:

Then I use #5 pearl cotton embroidery thread for the hanger:

I also was feeling a desire to do some sewing on my machine – so much hand work over the past few months!   So I started to make a baby quilt to donate for our guild’s “Community/charity” quilts projects.  I decided a few years ago that I wanted to make at least one “donation” quilt per year and have fallen short.  I now have more time since retirement so want to re-commit to this.  I pulled some lovely blue and yellow fabrics from my stash and started to make half square triangles:

I have 2 of the 12 strips sewn together:

I cut enough squares of the yellow and blue prints to make another baby quilt and will use lighter blues for the second one:

I have started to embroider more stars on the border of the silk quilt – picture next time.

Here are some of the art quilts that I loved at the Houston show.  Please click on the pics for enlargements so you can enjoy the wonderful details!! This first one was one of my favorites and I was happy to see it won a Judge’s Choice award.  It’s lovely!!!  Just love the black, white, and red colors and I love trees and birds:

I love warm colors and the colors in these next 5 quilts really “spoke” to me!

Gorgeous piece with great colors!:

Loved, loved, loved this quilt with elephants!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi



December 5, 2017: “Stardust” is quilted and bound!!; Houston festival pictures, Part 6

Greetings!  I just put the last stitches in the binding of “Stardust”!

(click on pic to enlarge)

Not the best picture, but the quilt is too big for any floor spaces I have and I still have to put on the sleeve for hanging and the label.  I’ll have better pictures when the quilt is hanging in the New England Quilt Museum next month.  I started “Stardust” in early March, 2015 when I couldn’t resist the great pictures of star blocks being posted from Barbara Brackman’s “Stars in a Time Warp” online sew along.  I finished the top center in January 2016 and then spent the next year appliquéing the border.  I started the hand quilting in March of this year.  The “Baptist fan” quilt pattern adds a lot of great texture.  “We Are Stardust” is 93 inches square – big!!!  It’s not unusual for it to take me nearly 3 years to finish a quilt that is this large!!   When it’s home from the museum in late April, it will go on our king size bed.

The exhibit of my quilts at the New England Quilt Museum starts on January 10th and goes to April 29th.  The opening reception is at 11 AM on January 20th.  If you are in the area, I hope you can join me – it should be fun!!!

After my last post, I looked through my pictures from the Houston show and found several more hand made quilts which I’m sharing today.  I had the pleasure of seeing Bobbi Korengold’s fantastic “Threads of Friendship” quilt again.  I first saw it – and met Bobbi – at the Vermont Quilt Festival this year where her quilt won best of show.  It did not get any ribbon in Houston which gives you an idea how incredible the competition was.  I still think it was deserving of a “ribbon.  Here are several pictures, better than the ones I showed after the Vermont show:

I was also happy to see Janet Atkins’ beautiful quilt again – also saw it at Vermont.  She has perhaps the best quilting stitch I have seen!

This quilt was all silk and the hand quilting and appliqué were lovely:

This next quilt was not hand made, but I loved the fact it was made with ties – definitely one of the best “tie” quilts I’ve ever seen:

I was thrilled to see this next quilt in the SAQA exhibit.  I had seen it on line and loved it and it was fantastic to see it in person.   I love the design and the Mola style reverse appliqué was amazing!!!!

2 more gorgeous hand made quilts!:

Still more to come!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi




November 27, 2017: Houston Festival Pictures, Part 5; Down the home stretch with “Stardust”

Greetings!  I am now working exclusively on “We Are Stardust” until it is finished.  I have one final border to hand quilt.  I am quilting around the vines and flowers and adding diagonal lines, 1/2 inch apart:

When I need a break from the quilting, I’m making the binding (done and ready), sleeve, and label.  I won’t show another picture until I’m finished!  I plan to include on the label the quote from a New York Times article that gave me the name for the quilt.  I’ve included it in my blog in the past, but that was a long time ago, so here it is again:

“Joni Mitchell beat Carl Sagan to the punch.  She sang “we are stardust, billion year old carbon” in her 1970 song, “Woodstock.”  That was 3 years before Mr. Sagan wrote about humans being made of “star-stuff” in his book, “The Cosmic Connection”  – a point he would later convey to a far larger audience in his 1980 T-V series, “Cosmos.”  By now, “stardust” and “star-stuff” have nearly turned to cliche.  But that does not make the reality behind those words any less profound or magical.  The iron in our blood, the calcium in our bones, and the oxygen we breathe are the physical remains – ashes if you will – of stars that lived and died long ago.  That discovery is relatively recent.  Four astrophysicists developed the idea in a landmark paper published in 1957.  They argued that almost all elements in the periodic table were cooked up over time through nuclear reactions inside stars – rather than in the first instants of the Big Bang, as previously thought.”

Now to continuing my sharing of pictures from Houston!  Today I am showing more of the hand quilted, hand appliquéd, and hand embellished quilts from the show contest – I think this may be the last of them.  They are all wonderful.  Click on the pics to enlarge and enjoy the beautiful details.

This quilt was one of my favorites and a first place winner.  Incredible details!

Beautiful appliqué and color:

Of the 13 quilts in the “hand made” category, 12 were by Japanese!  Here is the lone USA entrant in that category.  I love the calm simplicity of the color choices and the perfect construction:

Another gorgeous appliqué quilt with wonderful trapunto quilting:

I showed a full view of this quilt previously, but no details.  The details are well worth looking at!!!!:

A lovely quilt from Spain:

This one was lovely, but different!  Love the red/green/ gold colors and I especially liked the border on this one:

Two more fabulous medallion style hand made quilts from Japan:

Finally, one of my favorites from the “In Full Bloom” special exhibit.  Again, love the red and green color scheme with orange!!!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,   Gladi

November 22, 2017: My quilt is in Quiltmania magazine!!!; Pics from a special exhibit in Houston

Greetings!  I discovered yesterday (thanks, Susan for alerting me!!) that my quilt, “Spirit of Japan #3: Kuruma” is in the latest issue of Quiltmania in their piece on the Vermont Quilt Festival!!!  It is featured on a full page and their photography really does the color and the quilting justice.  I’m so pleased!!!!  What an honor!

I’ll be on cloud nine for a while!!!!

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.  I sign off every post with a message to “be grateful” and I sincerely believe that this is a daily attitude we all should cultivate.  This Thursday is the day we officially celebrate all we have to be thankful for, but we, of course, should be thankful every day.  One of the special exhibits that I really enjoyed at the Houston festival was the large quilt made by quilt makers from Bern, Switzerland and the similar quilt inspired by it that quilters from Mexico made.  These quilts are excellent examples of people being inspired by those in other places and cultures and working together to create something beautiful.  We need this in these divisive times!!!

Enjoy these pictures (click on pics for details!) and have a great holiday!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi