January 17, 2017: Working with silk

Greetings!  I mentioned a couple weeks ago that one of my goals this year is to “finally” make a silk quilt and in the last post I showed you the beginning of that new quilt.   The reality is that I already made a silk quilt, but it’s a small wall quilt made for a guild challenge a few years ago. What I meant for this year was to make something larger and more substantial.  Here are some pictures of my previous silk quilt (about 24 inches square):



I lined all the pieces of silk with a very soft and flexible interfacing – I don’t remember what brand it was; I purchased it from a vendor at a quilt show.  It worked very well to stop all the fraying at the edges of the cut silk fabrics, but it was a real chore to take the time to fuse it to all the individual fabrics.  I remember that it was pretty easy to hand quilt even with the added interfacing.

For my new silk quilt, I decided I didn’t want to take the time to interface all the fabrics.  I went to my go-to book  to review advice on whether to interface or not:


This is a great book if you want to work with silk – published in 2000, I think.  It has lots of wonderful information about silk,including history and how it’s made and was used in the past.


There is a great chapter featuring lots of silk quilts from around the world and most of the quilters weigh in on whether they interface their fabrics or not.  I’d say it’s about 50-50 – no actual consensus.  To me that means anyone working with silk should potentially try both ways and see what one prefers.

I paper pieced my blocks without pre-interfacing the fabrics.  Each block has 4 paper pieced sections.  Here is what 4 blocks look like pinned together on my design wall (click to enlarge):


Each “block” is 8 inches so the above section will finish 16 inches square.  I’m envisioning a quilt with at least nine section as above, set 3X3 so that would be about 48 inches square with a border yet to be determined.  I’m thinking of “Galaxy Gazing” as a possible name.

Here’s the back of one block with the paper on (you can see I tried to limit the fraying by cutting with a pinking blade on my rotary cutter:


Here it is after I took off the paper – still quite a bit of fraying!:


The reason I took off the paper before sewing all the blocks together is that I want to “play” with the blocks and I can’t do that with paper attached!  Here is what the stars look like with circles in the centers (not yet appliquéd):


I like the circles!  And I want to add some type of embroidery embellishment as well.  It suddenly occurred to me that there is no reason I can’t fuse a lightweight interfacing to the finished block to stabilize it!!  So that’s what I did – the blocks are 8 1/2 inches and I fused an 8 1/2 inch piece of interfacing to the back.  This will take care of the fraying and allow me to appliqué and embroider whatever I want on the blocks.  This is much easier than fusing interfacing to all the pieces of fabric ahead of time.  A neat solution to the fraying problem!  The silk is so thin, as is the interfacing, so I don’t think hand quilting will be a problem.

I leave this Saturday evening for Thailand!  I doubt I’ll be posting again before then and I will be taking a blogging break while I’m away.  I’ll be back the night of 2/6 and will try to post soon thereafter!

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


January 10, 2017: 1. More “looking ahead into 2017” 2. New Project! 3. “Spice Route” pictures from NEQM exhibit

Greetings!  I’m still thinking about the coming year and how best to spend my time.  As my time on the planet gets shorter, this seems like a good thing to do!  I repeatedly revisit my “guiding principles” to see if they still make sense – ” Enjoy, Create, Serve, and Preserve” – and I think they still do.  My daily mantra – “be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day” also stays relevant.  If you are new to my blog, “enjoy” means literally to enjoy life, but also very much means to try to maintain a sense of awe and wonder about life and the universe and all that entails.  “Serve” means to do for others and not maintain focus solely on myself.  “Preserve” means to help preserve the best of our planet/the environment as well as the best of what we humans have achieved, culturally, intellectually, socially, etc.   Promoting justice is part of serving and preserving.  I also want to preserve my body so I’d like to swim even more this coming year.

Of course, “create” means to make quilts and to make music with my accordion!   I can see the improvement in my accordion playing and hope that continues. This year I also intend to get back to my drawing course.

I always used my career in medicine as my major way of “serving.”  I need to find something with which to replace this and will explore volunteer opportunities this year.  I’m not rushing into anything yet, but this is important to me.   I also am contemplating what I can do to help counter the toxic political environment in the US.  I’m very worried about the fact that we are soon to be governed by many people with an incredibly different world view than mine.  I try to be open minded, but when blatant lies are held out as the truth, ego is all important, childish (and worse!) behavior reigns,  ethics are ignored, and lack of compassion is clearly evident, it is impossible to be sympathetic!  So I will be thinking of what I might do….

My creative challenge in quilting for the year will be to deal with the “push-pull” of balancing doing what is familiar and comfortable with the challenge of pushing myself to try new things.  I don’t want to get into a rut and do the same things over and over, but there are times when the “automatic” nature of a familiar process can be very comforting.  I don’t want to deny myself that either.

Last post I outlined some plans for my 2017 quilting.  Since then I’ve read a number of blogs that talk about completing UFO’s this year, specifically “17 UFO completions for 2017.”  This is amazing to me because I don’t have ANY UFO’s!!!  I have 6 “projects in progress” and that’s it!  Barbara Brackman mentioned on her blog that she has no resolutions to finish any quilts this year and only resolves to start new projects.  I think perhaps I should have a goal of having 17 new UFO’s by the end of this year!!  Well, maybe not that many, but I’ve decided that I’m giving myself permission to start several new projects this year.  My first one is underway!

I decided to pull out my containers of Dupioni silk fabrics and start on a silk quilt that I’ve been thinking about making for some time.  Here’s a picture of the quilt from a past issue of Quiltmania and a picture of the block construction (click on pics to enlarge):


I decided to paper piece it, though that is not the construction method in the magazine.  I drew one block:


And then proceeded to draw 16 blocks to create a section of the quilt.


It’s tricky and will require strict attention to placement of the various colors and blocks.  On top of that the paper piecing blocks have to be drawn backwards to make the design come out correctly.  Lots of focus needed!  I decided not to line the silk fabrics with interfacing – that would be lots of extra work and potentially make hand quilting harder.  It does mean there will be lots of fabric shedding as that is the nature of silk.  Good thing I have 2 lint brushes in my sewing room!  I’ve chosen some colors to start with:


And I also have several pieces of silk that I purchased in Japan several years ago and from some show vendors that I’ll use.  These are still in their cellphone wrappers:


And here are the first 4 blocks (not sewn together yet), creating the first star!:


This shimmers and changes color in various lighting!  I plan to make the first section which will feature 5 stars and see how it goes.  If I like it and the process, I’ll continue to make the larger quilt.  If not, I’ll make a pillow.  I’m thinking some embroidery embellishment would be a nice addition.  It feels great to start something new and I have more new things in mind!

I plan to take one border of Twinkle on my trip to Thailand as my “take along” appliqué project for on the plane or for down time (which I don’t think there’s going to be much of!):


There are 53 leaves to appliqué and I can’t imagine I’ll need more than that to do over the 16 days; I might not even get more than a few done!

I’m continuing to hand quilt Spirit of Japan #3 nearly every day during this cold winter weather.  I love how doing small amounts frequently really add up over time and then it seems like “all of sudden” it’s done.  I’m getting close!

I’m closing this post with pictures from the “Spice Route” exhibit at the New England Quilt Museum.  These were just my favorites and the exhibit is up until mid February, I believe, so worth a trip there to see if you can!  A new exhibit of quilts by local art quilters opens tomorrow and looks very worth seeing too!  I’ll have to wait until I return from Thailand.  Check out the museum’s web page for details!





Love the handwork/embellishments in this one!:













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



January 2, 2017: 1. Beginning the year with an exciting adventure! 2. Quilting goals for 2017 3. Log cabin quilts from the NEQM

Happy new year!  My 2017 is starting with an exciting adventure – I am traveling to Thailand on January 22 for a 16 day trip!  I’m going with a girlfriend – neither one of our husbands (who both were in southeast Asia serving in the Viet Nam war back in the ’60’s) had any interest in going with us.  That’s not stopping us!!  We’re traveling with OAT – Overseas Adventure Travel, a highly regarded travel company.  There are only 14 of us in the group, we have a local guide for the entire trip, and we visit a lot of off-the-beaten- path places and interact personally with the people, having some meals with locals in their homes, meeting monks, visiting Buddhist temples, etc.    We explore Bangkok and Chaing Mai, the latter city known for its silk fabrics some of which I’m hoping to buy.  In between those cities we explore the countryside.  An elephant ride is scheduled!   Right now I’m in high gear getting everything ready for the trip and I look forward to sharing the adventure with you when I’m back.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking about the rest of the upcoming year and what I want to accomplish.  In terms of quilting,  projects can be divided into the following groups:

HAND QUILTING:  I have 4 hand quilting projects lined up.  I should be able to complete the quilting on Spirit of Japan #3 by spring and I’m pretty sure I will enter it into the Vermont Quilt Festival this year.  I should be able to relatively quickly hand quilt my granddaughter Sveta’s lap quilt.  Then I can tackle We Are Stardust and I hope to complete that in time to show it at the Cocheco Quilt Show in October.  I doubt I’ll get to the hand quilting of the Japanese circles quilt until after that.

APPLIQUE:  Finish appliquéing the border on Twinkle.  Finish the appliqué blocks for Sweet Journeys – that means 2 more 12 1/2 inch blocks and a central 24 inch block.  I may also do a simple appliqué sashing between the blocks.  I hope to eventually hand quilt both of these quilts but that certainly won’t happen until 2018.

NEW PROJECTS:  I’m very tempted to join Barbara Brachman’s new quilt along – Yankee Diary (I think that’s what it’s called.)  It’s a sampler style quilt but combines piecing and appliqué and looks like something I might really enjoy.  I’ll get a late start as I’ll be in Thailand when it begins!  I also want to start a paper pieceing project – haven’t decided on a pattern yet.  I want to try trapunto – maybe will make a pillow so it’s a manageable size.  I want to make a “community” or “comfort” quilt to donate for a good cause.  Our guild has a committee who manages, collects, and distributes these each year.   I’d like to make another trio of doll quilts and for one of those, I would like to English Paper Piece the “Inner City” pattern.  And I may or may not do the guild challenge quilt this year – depends on whether the challenge, which we will get at the January meeting, excites me.  I’d love to have this year be the one I finally start making a silk quilt, perhaps including silk purchased in Thailand!  Who knows if I can accomplish all this or whether plans will change, but I’m looking forward to the journey!!

I have more thoughts on personal goals and challenges, but will share those next post.  I’m closing this post with pictures of Log Cabin quilts that were on display at the New England Quilt Museum when I went to see those fabulous appliqué quilts.  Click on the pics to enlarge and enjoy the closeup details:







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



December 29, 2016: Looking back over 2016

Greetings!  I continue to find it helpful to set some goals at the beginning of each calendar year and then in late December to look back over the year and see if I still find those goals worthy and whether I’ve accomplished them.  I’m not rigid about it and don’t feel the need to beat myself up if life events change those goals.

2016 was a transformational year for me because of my retirement; adjusting to that was a major goal as of this past summer.  I am no longer a physician – this is no longer my major “identity” and I’m in the process of “transforming” into someone else.  I have to figure out who that someone else is.  Continuing to work on this will be a goal for 2017 (and maybe beyond!) since I didn’t fully retire until August and this is still pretty new for me.  So far, I feel good about what I’m doing – more sewing, reading, and playing music and more regular exercise in addition to just enjoying the less hectic pace of life.  But I don’t know yet if these things alone will be enough for (hopefully!) all the years ahead.  I know that I very much look forward to the journey.

Meanwhile, for today’s post I am reviewing my goals for the year from this past January.  In no particular order – click on pics to enlarge!:

Finish Stella Nova – Done!   And I won a Judge’s Choice ribbon at the Vermont Quilt Festival and a blue ribbon at the Cocheco show!


Complete “We Are Stardust” top, layer, baste, and start hand quilting – almost there!  The top is complete – many hours spent appliquéing the borders – the basting by the long – arm quilter is done, and I pick up the quilt this coming Monday and can start the quilting.  Close enough to say this goal is accomplished!


Make decision whether to hand quilt Joyful Noise of have it machine quilted and do it – Done!  It’s mostly machine quilted with some hand quilting as well and it won a blue ribbon at the Cocheco show:


Make “Trio of Doll Quilts” #5 – Done!


Finish the 12 smaller blocks (but probably not the larger center medallion block) for Sweet Journeys – this project took a back seat to others that came up during the year.  I started the year with 7 of the 12 blocks done and now I have the 10th block nearly complete so I did make some progress (10th block on the right)


Finish quilting Spirit of Japan #3 – Kurumu – made great progress recently but not done!  I think this is about 3/4 complete:


Consider entering “Spring Sonata” in the Syracuse AQS show – I did!  No awards (the picture is from the Vermont festival), but happy to have it accepted and loved going to the show.


Complete “Many Moons” – Done!  I participated in the Quilty 365 on line sew along initiated by Audrey at the “Quilty Folk” blog.  Participants tried to appliqué one circle a day for a full year.  Instead of making one large quilt, I made 3 smaller ones and didn’t go for a full year.  One of the quilts was one of the doll quilts you see in an earlier picture in this post.  The second was “Many Moons” – Spirit of Japan #4 made from mostly authentic Japanese fabrics, some of which are antiques, some from old kimonos, some contemporary, etc.:


The third circle quilt is the one I’m making with the more colorful authentic Japanese fabrics.  The top is done, the back is made, and I’m ready to  layer and baste it for hand quilting:


Make a lap quilt with my granddaughter Sveta – top is done, back is done and this is ready for layering, basting, and hand quilting.  This was so much fun to do with her!  It was great to see her confidence grow as the quilt was made:

82216 Sveta#3

Finally, I put on my list of goals to consider starting a new project or two if possible.  I was limited in my ability to do this because I made 4 quilts for other people as things came up during the year – 2 baby quilts, a retirement quilt, and a “memorial” quilt for my neighbor.  Nevertheless, I was able to “rescue” a UFO.  I sewed the blocks together and started making borders for what I am now calling “Twinkle”:


So I’ve had a very, very good “quilting” year, accomplishing almost all of my goals!  I’m quite satisfied with my accomplishments.   Next post I will list some goals for 2017 and probably try to include some other personal non-quilt related goals.  Here are some pictures of the grandkids from over the holiday for family and friends to enjoy:


I still have quite a few pictures from the NEQM to share in the next couple posts – I won’t forget!

Wishing everyone a healthy, satisfying 2017!  Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi


December 19, 2016: Gift projects; hand quilting; More appliqué quilts from NEQM!


The tree is up:


The Nutcrackers are on guard:


And the table was set on Saturday for our annual dinner party for close friends:


I had so much fun at the party that I forgot to take any pictures while it was happening!  We’ll now have quiet until family descends on Christmas day.

I can finally reveal the recipient of the Blue Star, “special occasion” quilt I made this fall. (See previous posts for pictures.) On Tuesday I delivered it to Pat Lang, a nurse with whom I worked for many years at UNH Health Services and who recently retired.  It’s a “retirement quilt” with signatures of all the employees at Health Services.   Pat was great and made my job easier because she was so good and so reliable.  She loved the quilt, of course!   And I finished the quilt  made of his wife’s clothes for my neighbor and delivered that yesterday (pictures also on previous posts).  He, too, loved his quilt.  It will trigger many happy memories for him.   So happy I had time to make these quilts!!  Now I’ve moved on to layering and starting to machine quilt the second of the two baby quilts I’m making this year:


When this is done in the next couple of weeks, I will finally be finished with the several quilts I made for gifts this year.  I should then have more time for my own projects, though I think a goal for next year will be to make at least one “community” quilt to donate to a worthy cause.

I’ve been concentrating on hand quilting Spirit of Japan (click on pics for enlargements):



With the cold weather we’ve been having, it’s been perfect to have this heavy quilt on my lap, warming me as I work on it!  I am guessing that about 2/3 of the hand quilting is complete.  “Stardust” is currently at the longarmer’s studio awaiting basting and I should have it back by the end of the month ready for hand quilting.  It will be interesting to see if I hold off on quilting Stardust until Spirit of Japan is complete or whether I temporarily abandon SOJ for Stardust….

Here are several more appliqué quilts from the New England Quilt Museum’s current exhibit:

I really liked this lovely small red and green quilt:


This one had a unique border and the flowers point downward which is strange…


Beautiful quilting on the “President’s Wreath” quilt:


A lovely princess feather, 4-block with some interesting quilting motifs:


Classically beautiful!:


And here are 2 dark blue and white “2 color” appliqué quilts, both outstanding:



There are many more of these quilts still to share in future posts.

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season!!  Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi




December 12, 2016: More pictures of appliqué quilts from NEQM; updates

Greetings!  I picked up my neighbor’s “memorial” quilt from the long arm quilter and have about 1/4 of the binding on.  His 5 children are giving the quilt to him for a Christmas present so the timing is perfect!  The “hearts and swirls” quilting design seems just right for this tribute to his wife and their long – 59 year! – marriage.  I think the blue and white “ticking” fabric I chose for the binding looks good.  Here are a couple of pictures – the second one is a better representation of the correct colors.  Click on to enlarge:


I completed the vine with leaves for the left side border of “Twinkle.”  I made and appliquéd the vine and the central star for the right side border and got all the leaves cut out and basted onto the background,  ready for needle-turn appliqué:



As promised, I am sharing more pictures of fabulous appliqué quilts from the NEQM exhibit in this post.  Remember to click on the pictures so you can really enjoy the marvelous details.

Here are two shots of how the museum looks when you enter -pure heaven for lovers of red and green appliqué quilts!


The quilting on this one was really exceptional:


A gorgeous friendship Baltimore album:


Another of the 3 whig rose quilts in the exhibit, this one with a unique border, but more minimal quilting:


Spectacular quilting on this one:


Loved the delicate pots of flowers and the feather circle quilting on this one.  And how about the border on only 2 sides!:



A lovely 4-block quilt creating a secondary design with the flowers and enhanced by the simple appliqué border:


A lovely poinsettia quilt (all those berries!):


That’s all for today; still more quilts from this exhibit and from 2 other exhibits at the museum to share over the next few posts – stay tuned!

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


December 5, 2016: 1. Fabulous antique applique quilts at NEQM! 2. Quilt making is dangerous! 3. Updates

Greetings!  This past Friday I went to the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA (a convenient one hour drive from here) to see a FABULOUS exhibit of antique, mostly red, green, and white quilts from the Christ collection.  I was totally in quilt heaven and I strongly encourage anyone loving these traditional quilts to make a trip to see this “must see” exhibit before it closes at the end of the month.  Not only is the appliqué outstanding, but the hand quilting is amazing too.  Today I’m going to share 3 of my favorites with you and will share many more over the next several posts!

This one was probably my favorite.  I love the basket design with the berries (over 1500!!), but the quilting was astounding as well!!!  Be sure to click on the pics for enlargements/closeups:



Even though the design on this next one is simple, it captured my attention and love.  I’m seriously thinking about trying to reproduce this one as I don’t think it would be difficult and I just love the overall effect.  Love those spiky leaves in the border and the cheddar color in the pomegranates!   This exhibit certainly makes me want to start a red, green and white appliqué quilt!



I loved the overall visual effect of this “whig rose”.   I liked the size of the red centers and the use of pink in the flowers; also liked the primitive vine border.  There were 3 whig rose quilts in the exhibit and I think I liked this one the best though they were all great!



I’ll share more next time, but do go see this very special exhibit if you can!  In addition to the appliqué quilts – there are some more recent ones that are not “red, green, and white” as well – there was an exhibit of smaller, wall quilts on the “spice” theme that were interesting and there was an exhibit of antique log cabin quilts in another room.  I have pictures from all these exhibits to share eventually, but, again, nothing beats seeing them in person if possible!

Meanwhile, the “Blue Star” special occasion quilt is finished!  I picked it up last Wednesday and had the binding done by this weekend.  We are now planning when to present the quilt to its recipient.  I think my closeup gives you a chance to see the nice ginkgo leaf/clamshell design the quilter used, which suits the quilt nicely:


At the same time I picked up the “blue star” I took my neighbor’s “memory” quilt with me to the long arm quilter, Linda Bevins, to drop off for quilting.  I took my neighbor as well so he could pick out the quilting design and he loved meeting Linda and seeing her studio.  He was amazed at the size of her 2 long arm machines; I do think those that don’t know anything about quilting are very surprised at the size of the equipment for this type work.

I finally got the top for gift Baby Quilt #2 done, by adding the sashing and getting all the rows sewn together:


I had enough of the sashing fabric to make the entire backing out of it and now it is ready to be layered and machine quilted.  I’m comfortable machine quilting a baby quilt, place mats, table runners, etc. with straight lines, ,but wouldn’t want to attempt anything more complicated!  The baby is due in early January so I am right on time!

I have also been working steadily on “Twinkle.”  I spent much of yesterday making the vines for the second border and hand appliquéing them on, making and appliquéing the center star, and making the leaves.  I have 3/4 of the leaves done – hand appliquéd – on the left border:


Making quilts can be dangerous!  Over the years I’ve had numerous superficial burns from inadvertently touching my iron and I have occasionally nicked myself with the rotary cutter, but nothing that required any medical care.  I did something the other day that I have never before done in all my years of sewing – I inadvertently reached under the sewing machine needle while forgetting to take my foot off the pedal and the machine needle went right through the distal part of the nail and tip of my left second finger!  What a shock!   Luckily there was no needle stuck in the finger and I was able to stop the bleeding after after a few minutes.  It’s a little sore, but not bad and there’s no reason to think I won’t heal just fine.  On the same hand, just proximal to the thumb, I have a healing iron burn.  You can see the burn and the bandaid over the finger tip – I’m sparing you the gory details!:


As is common with accidents, this happened because I was cutting corners.  I always pin! – but not this time!  This time I was sewing a seam and thinking I didn’t need to pin and because the edge of the 2 pieces of fabric was not as together as I wanted it as I sewed down the seam, I reached in to pull them closer together and that’s when I forgot to take my foot off the pedal.  Moral of the story – be mindful, and don’t cut corners!

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