Tag Archives: Quilts

Time-Saving for Quilters, Part 5

In Part 1 of Time-Saving for Quilters, we talked about the importance of preventive maintenance for all quilting tools, machines and other equipment. In Part 2, we looked at physical space and that storage hog, the stash. Part 3 was about making sense out of the chaos. In Part 4, we talked about making the workspace more functionally efficient by keeping it tidy. In Part 5, we get down to business!


Lesson 5: Intention and Focus

To use studio time most efficiently, it is essential to know what you intend to do before you get there! Wandering into your private space/time for quilting without a clue in your mind as to what you intend to achieve is, if not a thoughtless waste of time, at least not a directed and intentionally good use of it. And probably most of us hardly ever do that!

We most likely have some idea of our direction before we enter that place of creativity. We have seen something online, at a guild meeting, or in a magazine or book that caught our eye and we hope to explore that idea further. Perhaps we have a bit of new fabric to enjoy dreaming about, or maybe we are already busy with a project that is well along its way to completion.

Dreaming and thinking time is every bit as important as planning time and doing time. Each of these activities is part of the whole creative process of making patchwork quilts, whether as fine art or as soft furnishings, and no part of the process should be shortchanged.


Think ahead

While you dream and think about your next quilt project, think ahead about the planning and doing parts of the process.

If you have only fifteen minutes in your studio, make every minute count. For example, in fifteen minutes, you might measure a piece of fabric to make certain it is enough for a project you have in mind. You might check your supply of notions to see whether you have any red ribbon to finish off a work in progress. You might spend that time sorting and arranging threads by color so it is easier in future to find what you want.

Spending fifteen minutes actively engaged in any of these or similar constructive studio activities is time well spent, not time wasted.


Time-saving for quilters


Then, it is one thing to find yourself with fifteen minutes of unexpected free time and quite something else to plan ahead to include those fifteen minutes into your schedule. Schedule if possible, of course, but be prepared to use unexpected free time wisely.

How? By thinking ahead!

Every time you leave your studio, your private creative space, think about what you intend to accomplish next time you enter that space. Carry with you, either mentally or by writing it down, an agenda of activities that need doing.

For example, as I write this article, I am working on a wall hanging quilt already titled “Heart of Africa.” I remember exactly what I did the last time I worked on the piece, and I know exactly what I need to do next. I also need to drop back to Part 2 of this series, and spend some time cleaning out and reorganizing my fabric stash.


Heart of Africa, a Redefinitions quilt by Dena Dale Crain (work in progress)


The next phase of work on the quilt needs about three hours to accomplish. I could easily spend a full day sorting out my fabric stash, but if I work on it shelf by shelf, drawer by drawer, I can accomplish much in smaller chunks of time. Whether I find or schedule time in my studio, and regardless of whether I have fifteen minutes or five hours, I already know what to do when I get there.


Plan ahead

Think about when you might next be able to spend time in your studio. If you do not keep a calendar, give it a try. Keeping a calendar and setting up reminders may prove more useful and productive than you expect!


calendar photo


If you keep a calendar, add studio time to it. Set reminders to alert you when it is time for you to be in your studio, and resist the temptation to ignore those reminders.

We all tend to rank studio time lower than many other activities, especially those that are family and household business as well as outside jobs. Your creative time is important, too, and if scheduling studio time helps accomplish creative goals, then do it.

Plan ahead for shopping, too. From one brief work session, you may learn you need some yellow fabric. Plan ahead to buy that fabric when you shop for household furnishings or groceries, or when you pop out for a haircut or other trip that takes you out of the house. Doing so means you neither delay work on a project nor have to make an unplanned shopping trip–a real time waster!

If a project calls for special materials, tools and supplies, plan ahead to source those things in advance of the time you intend to spend in your studio. There is nothing more frustrating than having to stop work while you shop for materials or have equipment repaired. We already discussed keeping machines and tools in good shape, well serviced and prepared for hard work.

Forgetting to buy materials simply because you neglected to write down a shopping list is equally inexcusable in terms of efficient use of time. Keep a written shopping list, on notepad, tablet or phone, handy at all times. Write down whatever you need to buy, and then forget about it until you shop again. Buy only what you need and get out of the shop as quickly as possible. “Free” shopping time is a luxury for another time, not a purposeful quick purchase of only what you need now, and it can prove expensive in money as well as wasted time!

The common theme of all this discussion is to do all dreaming, thinking, planning and shopping in advance of the time you intend to do the cutting, piecing, quilting, finishing and embellishment of a quilt. When you enter your studio to take action, the space should be fully stocked and equipped. Likewise, your mind should be clear about what you intend to do and how you intend to do it!


Stay Focused

Know, before you get to your studio, what it is you plan to do there. Have a specific project or task in mind, and go to your studio to complete, or at least move forward with, that activity.

Know how much time you have to spend in the studio for your next session there. Is it thirty minutes, or three hours? Know in advance how much time you have, and set realistic goals of accomplishment for each time period.

Goal setting need not be a complicated process. It may be as simple as saying to yourself “I want to put the binding on the current project quilt today” or “I want to spend an hour reading my new magazine and looking for a gift idea for my cousin’s wedding.”

If you do not accomplish as much as you had hoped during one session, simply pick up where you left off, with a modified perception of how much you should accomplish, in the next session. In this way, the work always moves forward.

Consider carefully, before you get to your studio, how you intend to accomplish that task. Is there more than one way to do the job? Is the method you have chosen the best choice? What difficulties might you encounter as you do the job in that manner? You can answer questions like these as you take laundry from the washer and put it in the dryer, while cooking a meal or while standing in line at a check-out counter at the local supermarket.

Once you commit to performing a particular task in a certain way, do not deviate from that decision unless it is truly necessary. Backtracking is a huge waste of time.

Your time is better spent thinking through all potential obstacles before you arrive in your studio than to begin working in one way, then decide that is not the best way, then choose another way and perhaps have that method fail as well.

Make up your mind early about what is the best way to do the job, and then do it that way! If you make a mistake, you know it and you learn from the experience.


One at a time

It is far easier to begin a new project than it is to complete an earlier one. Why is that? Because, for many of us, the dreaming, thinking and planning parts of the process are more fun than the cutting, sewing and finishing tasks. Everyone loves to dream. Books and magazines are lovely to see, and imagination is king!

There is a cure for this potential problem, though. Dream, think and plan as you will. Then, schedule the work for some time in the distant future, say, six months to a year from now. Or, simply know that when the project you work on today is completed, you can choose from amongst several new ones you already evaluated.

Postponing projects until you truly have time for them works on your behalf in several ways:

  • It gives you new projects to anticipate even as it encourages you to finish the current project so you can get to the next one. Your interest level remains high, and there is some pressure to get on with the work at hand and finish it. This is healthy discipline; use it well!
  • It helps refine your interests. Projects that look so good today might not be so appealing in six months or a year. Those that are truly wonderful are the ones to launch and complete when time permits. The others naturally fall by the wayside.
  • It gives you time to source materials and supplies. Be careful about this, though. Do not immediately rush out to shop for fabrics you may not use because you changed your mind about the project. Wait to shop until your current project is near completion and you know for certain which is the next project you intend to make.

If possible, never begin work on a second project until you finish your current work-in-progress. Instead, work on one project at a time from conception through completion. This keeps all materials and tools needed for that job close at hand, keeps you mentally focused, and reduces the number of UFOs.


Many at a time

If you are a prolific quilter, you may increase the number of works-in-progress to three, but no more! You should never work on more than three quilt projects at a time. That is plenty of work for any quilter! If you truly want to save time, reduce that number to one and stick with it.

For example, an art quilter might have three projects in the works, only because some design challenge arises that needs mental time for resolution. While dyeing for or piecing a second project, the artist’s mind is on the design problem of the first one that is at a later stage of development.


Urban Africa, a Redefinitions quilt by Dena Dale Crain (work in progress)


Leave such work in progress on a design wall, where you see it every time you walk past. The mind percolates information and perceptions change subtly with time. When the time is right to return to the work, you will know better what needs to be done next. That knowledge prompts you to re-engage quickly with the work and move forward with it.

If you follow this pattern, you may also define the projects by task. For example, you might work out the mathematics of one project by measuring, calculating and figuring fabric requirements and a cutting layout. A second project may be at the piecing stage and a third one ready for handwork, perhaps awaiting completion of a binding or attachment of a label.

Even so, it is easy to see how a quilter’s priorities can become muddled, work gets set aside, efficiency falls dues to confusion and the stack of UFOs grows exponentially!

In truth, you can work on only one project at a time, so why clutter your studio, your mind and your efficiency jumping from one to another project?

Pick a project, assemble everything you need to complete it, then set to the task, keeping 100% focused on that project until it is finished. When the first project is done, be ready to begin immediately on the second project. Keep clear-headed and stay focused on the work at hand!



Are you the kind of quilter who has several projects in process at once? Are there projects that stalled for one reason or another? If so, how does that make you feel? Do you have a sense of stress about finishing any of those projects, or perhaps only need to clear some storage space in your house?

If you have UFOs at the moment, choose one and move forward with it. Make a decision either to complete the project or to dispose of it. For the decision to complete the project, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the work salvageable?
  • What will it take to finish the project?
  • Do you have, or can you get, everything you need to finish the job?
  • Will you love the quilt when it’s done?

Perhaps the UFO is an old project, something you would never initiate today. If finishing this project is a matter of duty or obligation, if you are not excited about completing the quilt, or if you have no other good reason to do the work, seek and find an alternative solution.

Either give the work to your local guild or quilt shop and let them be creative about finishing the work for charitable uses, or dispose of it in some other constructive way. If the project is not a love of your heart, it does no good to force yourself to complete the quilt. You finish something you neither like nor care about, and what good is that? You will give it away in either case!

If the project is worth saving, the first step to completion is to discover what factor caused this project to stall and become a UFO. Perhaps it’s a shortage of a particular fabric, or maybe you lack the technical skill to complete the work. It may be that a design issue is unresolved, or perhaps you lack a special foot for your sewing machine.


Liquid Gold, a Redefinitions quilt by Dena Dale Crain


Figure out why you stopped work on this project, and then tackle that problem, not the project itself, head-on. Once you resolve the problem, the reason why the work stalled, you can return to the project and move forward with ease and confidence. For more about how to resolve and complete a UFO, see Quilt Chop and Liquid Gold.

Finishing UFOs is like unblocking a stalled production line in a factory. It eases the forward movement of the work stream by opening physical space in your studio and mental space in your mind. It lifts the burden of obligation that can depress your efficiency. It lightens the load, both of mental pressure and the amount of work to accomplish, so that you can move forward to embrace new activities without feeling guilty about the ones you left behind!


Working with all these ideas in mind, make more time for quilting by using the time you have more efficiently and effectively:

  • Think ahead: use free mental time to dream and think about what you want to accomplish.
  • Plan ahead: keep equipment and tools ready and do all necessary shopping before you begin a new project.
  • Stay focused: work on one to three quilt projects at any given time, but give each one your total concentration for the tasks at hand.
  • Finish those UFOs: one at a time, complete or discard every UFO in your studio to make a clear space, a clear time and a clear mind ready for work on current projects.


Time-Saving for Quilters is an 8-lesson series of blog posts, reprinted here with permission, similar to the kind of instruction students receive at QuiltEd Online in all of our online art quilt classes. Read the entire series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 and the remaining posts to follow in sequence in coming weeks. Subscribe to QuiltEd Online News to receive notifications of these and other useful quilt blog posts!

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Filed under Freebies, Quilt Tips & Tutorials, Quilt Workshops

Online Art Quilt Portfolio Video



Yesterday, I successfully uploaded a slideshow and made it into a video on YouTube. It was quite a job, taking me about five days to accomplish.

First, I had to organize a slideshow. Working on my Mac, I did that fairly easily with Keynote, but still it took time to decide which photos to show, and getting the slides’ text bits nicely presented. I did not want to add a lot of text that would make the show longer, but only enough to display nicely what I do and to whet appetites to learn more about my work.

The biggest problem I faced was an internal one: I kept making editorial errors in the copy. I would forget to mark quilts as sold, or indicate they were made from a different fabric than they were. If you think to make a slideshow of your work, take my advice and make sure the slideshow is as nearly perfect as you can make it BEFORE you even think about uploading it!

Once the slide show was organized, it had to be exported as “Images.” Exporting produced a set of photos that matched the slides. Those photos were then uploaded on YouTube under Upload/Create/Slideshow.

YouTube, like all sites Google, lacks the simplicity of presentation that, as a Mac user, I really appreciate. A lot of my work-time was wasted trying to find out where I could reorganize the slides, augment those that needed to be on display for more than the 4 second option of the play time, and delete slides I did not want included in the final version.

Here’s a tip: If you’re running a 3, 4 or more second slideshow, and you want one slide to remain on the screen longer, simply add multiple photos of that slide. Switch Zoom & Pan off to stop the movement of images on the screen. The set of identical slides in the show display as a single, longer-running, image.

I could not find help for photo arranging on the YouTube support pages, so I ran a general search for it and discovered that YouTube is linked, via Google, to Picasa. Upload photos onto YouTube, and they launch a Picasa site for your photos without your knowledge or permission! OK, so if you’re out there, you’re out there!

Going to Picasa, finding my photos and editing them was a snap, so that job was easily taken care of. Satisfied with the final version of the video, I published it as Private. That bought me time to add music to it. The selection of music on YouTube is tricky to navigate, but I’m glad it saves the hassle of finding, getting permission to use and uploading music from another site.

Best bet is to search for music that fits the total length time of the video. I’m a New Age music fan, and often work with meditative music playing softly in my studio, so I picked a piece of music from the available choices that I thought would not grate too badly on anyone’s nerves. If it bothers you, switch off the sound on your computer while viewing the video.

Finally satisfied with the slideshow, the amount of time given to each image, the text write-ups and music, I republished the video as Public. It’s not been up for 24 hours and has already had more than 300 views!

OK, so there you have it! I now have an online art quilt portfolio video available on YouTube. I hope everyone will see it and want to buy my work. If there’s something there you like and want to buy, let me know. Use the Contact form in the sidebar; thanks!

Oh–and much of my work has been the basis for the classes I teach on QuiltEd Online. If you’re the kind of quilter who is tired of using other people’s patterns, and you would like to explore the world of art quilting with a gentle tutor, have a look at the class offerings and enroll for a class today. With continuous enrollment and full-time access to your teacher (me!), you can study and do the work at your leisure!

See you in class!!

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Filed under Art in Kenya, Patchwork Quilting, Quilts, Surface Design

Time-Saving for Quilters, Part 1

Experience Behind the Tips

So you want more time for quilting? You read my earlier post 10 Tips to Make More Time for Quilting and you eagerly await the next installment?

Well, here it comes, but first, a caution:

Many of you will hoot and scream over this blog post series, I know! You love all the glorious fabrics you have collected over the years. Eye candy is of paramount importance. You are inspired by the vibrant colors, the subtle detailing, the feeling of the cloth in your hand, and the smell of it in your nostrils. You eat, sleep and breathe fabric for quilts, right?

Well, I’ve had to learn some important studio management lessons the hard way, lessons that have affected the ways in which I work and the efficiency with which I can complete any quilt. Let me tell you all about it . . .


The Cats

We have six cats in my family. We have two brothers Meinie and Mo, all that are left of the original foursome – you can fill in the blank names of the dearly departed.

Then, there are two sisters, cousins to the first set of two brothers. Their names are not important, but the fact that they are both small cats, related to the first two males, is significant. These little girls cannot defend themselves from the much larger, heavier and stronger males.

Then, we have another set of brothers. These started out as Oscar and Wilde, but the Kiswahili word for “wild” is kali, so they are now Oscar and Kali. They are all lovely cats, each with his or her unique personality, affections and demands.


Time-Saving for Quilters

Oscar and Kali


The trouble started with Mo, who was lost and absent from home several years ago during a traumatizing six months. When he returned to us, Mo could not bear the company of any cat other than his brothers. With only one of those left, Mo picks a fight with any of the other cats he comes across. For the little girls, this might well prove fatal.


Time-saving for quilters: Mo

Mo, showing battle scars on his nose


We had to make arrangements to keep Mo and Meinie away from the other cats. We solved that problem with an alternating inside/outside regimen.

Here’s the hiccup: When the two girls, with Oscar and Kali, are indoors, they stay in my studio. Normally placid, at night and with geckos on the walls, the two boys go nuts. They climb the curtains, walk the tops of the pelmets, push claws behind artwork on the walls, knock over lampshades, pull supplies off bookshelves and wreak general havoc.

I soon learned, to my dismay, not to leave ANYTHING out overnight in the studio and expect it to be in the same condition next morning. For the last several months I have been working extra hard at managing tools, materials and equipment to keep the studio, and more importantly, my work, cat-proofed.


Time-Saving Lessons

Out of that experience come the following lessons about time-saving for quilters. What cat-free time I have in my studio is precious, and the lessons I share with you here ensure that, whenever I find time to work, I maximize that time in the studio. These lessons about time-saving for quilters almost certainly will not be popular with everyone, but I can tell you for sure–they work!

If you are the kind of quilter who oohs and ahhs over beautiful books, fabulous fabrics, tempting threads and extravagant embellishments, you may be excused from reading forward.

However, if what you really want is more productive sewing and quilting time, please carry on and at least hear me out.

Whether your studio is a detached outbuilding or the corner of a guest room, these guidelines apply. The smaller the physical space available, the more important these tips are. Your studio, your place for creating wonderful quilts as gifts, household furnishings or works of art, exists more in your mind than it does in the 3-d space of your home or other location. Apply these lessons to your thinking, and watch them manifest in your physical surroundings!


Lesson 1: Get Ahead of Maintenance

“You’re only as good as your tools.”

Nothing slows a quilter like tools and equipment that do not work well. Tool and equipment preventive maintenance is an important time-saver for quilters. It is far better to exercise preventive maintenance of tools and equipment than to stop mid-way through a project due to an almost predictable break-down.

Depend on Murphy’s law:

If anything can go wrong, it usually does.

Inevitably, that kind of thing always happens when you are under a time deadline of one sort or another. Preventive maintenance saves lost time when you can least afford to waste time.

Let’s look at a quilter’s studio maintenance inventory, and consider what maintenance can help avoid costly repairs or replacements, as well as saving time:

Cutting tools

  • Dressmaker shears, embroidery scissors, thread snips – need sharpening by a professional. Never drop these tools, as a hard impact does much damage by bowing and nicking blades.
  • Rotary cutter – needs blade sharpening or replacement, cleaning, oiling. Ditto for dropping it!
  • Mat – needs threads removed from cutting slices in the surface; may need replacement.
  • Ruler – needs non-skid attachments added or replaced. Handle added or replaced. Rulers cleaned and replaced when necessary.

Sewing tools

  • Pins and needles – Learn not to mix up pins and needles; otherwise, sort by type, and check for bends, snags and rust. Discard in an environmentally friendly manner; thanks!
  • Rippers – clean and sharp; hook well seated in handle; test cutting ability in the curve of the ripper blade.
  • Awl – as sharp as you like and without barbs. Consider using an eco-friendly manicure orange stick instead of a metal or plastic awl.

Quilting frames, hoops

  • Check structure, tension, rust, damage, general condition


Sewing machinePhoto by deejayqueue

Machines (Sewing, serging or other)

  • Machine servicing – timing, parts replacement, engine brushes or overhaul; general lubrication, timing and tension settings checked by an authorized dealer/service repair person

Pressing tools

  • Iron: electrical wiring check, faceplate cleaned, temperature test
  • Ironing board: check sturdiness of legs, condition of iron rack, oil sliding parts, check for rust; board well padded? cover clean and without holes?
  • Pressing cloths: clean? holey? gummed up with fusible adhesives?
  • Pressing aids: non-stick sheets damaged?


Always use the right tool for the job. Tool substitution can result in damage to the work, and worse yet, injury to yourself or others.

Using the wrong tool wastes time. Even if you must delay a task until you obtain the correct tool, that time is more productively spent working on some other project in the interim than to pound away at a task with the wrong tool, risking harm to the work, damage to the equipment and injury to yourself, not to mention wasting more time.

Any equipment that needs servicing, take it out for maintenance and repairs now, certainly within the next week. While the equipment is being serviced, tackle other time-saving procedures which have to do with cleaning house and getting organized. Then, when you have everything ready to quilt again, your machines and tools will be in good nick and ready for work.

When you collect machines and tools you took out for repair and servicing, ask the repair person what steps you can take to reduce unnecessary wear and tear on the equipment. Also ask when the equipment is likely to need another service. Whatever the repair person says, make notes. Add the dates to your calendar and set reminders to have the equipment serviced, then take action when the reminders pop up.

In six months or a year, when the equipment is due for attention again, have it serviced immediately. This saves time, and often money, over having equipment break down when you need it most!


Time-Saving for Quilters is an 8-lesson series of blog posts, reprinted with permission, similar to the kind of instruction students receive in QuiltEd Online art quilt classes. This is Part 1, with the remaining posts to follow in sequence in coming weeks. Subscribe to QuiltEd Online News to receive notification of the rest of the series of posts.


Filed under Quilt Tips & Tutorials, Time Management

Sashless Quilt-As-You-Go

Heart of Africa by Dena Dale Crain

With a few productive hours in the studio, Heart of Africa is moving right along. I figured out how to resolve the black composition issues and save myself some labor in the process. I simply added a pieced section of black to a strip of sashing to join two black sections together.

However, the strip set problem required more fabric and more work! The concept behind this work is to use a quilt-as-you-go method with no obvious sashing. Yesterday’s experience showed me that a simple strip set does not do the job. It sticks out like a sore thumb.

Today’s additional care and labor produced sashing that truly does not look like sashing. As wide as 4-5″, and chopped up in the same kind of random way as the sections it connects, the sashing blends right into the composition.

I’m pleased! The progress I made reassures me that this method will work for my large Redefinitions art quilt that is already in process but lagging far behind this one.

If you’re a technique freak (I am!), this one photo shows the whole idea. Look for the patches that are not yet quilted. That’s the sashing!

Heart Detail

Click on the photos to see larger images and greater detail. Don’t mind the thread clippings all over the quilt–it is still a work in progress and I was in a hurry to get this photo out to you!

This project has also been experimental in another way. I’m working in a very tight studio, tight in both space and time. Oh, it’s the same large room I’ve used as a studio for many years, but now there’s a difference. It has gone from this:



to this:


Learn all about the change from cluttered to clean in an 8-part series of articles called “Time-Saving for Quilters” on QuiltEd Online News. Discover the five-minute set-up and five-minute take-down and the two-minute tidy-up. Learn how to make every minute in your studio count!



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Filed under Quilt Tips & Tutorials, Quilting Technology, Quilts, Time Management

Heart of Africa, New Quilt-As-You-Go

I’m working on a new Redefinitions quilt for the wall. It has had a title from the beginning, “Heart of Africa.” The title comes from the fabrics–a West African wax print and a set of South African shweshwe fat quarters.


Heart of Africa by Dena Dale Crain


This piece is experimental. It’s a prototype for a much larger work. The quilting of Redefinitions series quilts is dense, with lines of stitching often less than 1/4″ apart. There’s no way I want to wrestle with a large quilt handled as one piece.


Heart of Africa by Dena Dale Crain


For Heart of Africa, I’m working in sections, piecing and quilting small panels. The panels go together with a quilt-as-you-go method. The difference with this piece is that there is no obvious sashing. The sashing is wide and made from the same patchwork as the rest of the quilt. If successful, the method is how I will handle the larger piece, already in progress.


Heart of Africa by Dena Dale Crain


Yesterday, I really got started putting the sections together, but I’m also still grappling with the composition. The black sections have to work together with the other patchwork to define an area that captures and holds attention. It’s too early yet, really, to think much about embellishments, but I expect I will do something more to the black before the piece is finished.


Heart of Africa by Dena Dale Crain


Putting the sections together has already taught me an important lesson. Sections of quilted patchwork that appear to be randomly pieced should not be joined with anything that looks like strip piecing. Can you see the strip that taught me this most important lesson?


Heart of Africa by Dena Dale Crain


Today, I’m back in the studio working on this piece again. It’s really fun to do! The quilting has been easy as anything, so I’m optimistic that the general idea works well and will be a big help to make the other, much larger Redefinitions quilt. I’m not ready to talk much about that one yet, but stayed tuned!

The Redefinitions series of art quilts forms the basis for a new class I want to write for QuiltEd Online. Sign up for the newsletter if you’re interested, and I’ll let you know when the class opens for enrollments.

Find more great ideas on Nina-Marie Sayre’s Off the Wall Friday!

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Filed under Patchwork Quilting

Quilter’s UFO Solution

Some months ago, I started making a new quilt in the series called Redefinitions. This piece, made entirely from silk fabrics and a little synthetic lamé, had a title right from the beginning: Liquid Gold!

As the work progressed, I quickly fell OUT of love with this piece. In sheer desperation, I took it to a QuArKe (Quilt Artists of Kenya) meeting and shared with my quilt artist friends in Nairobi. Most of them were, of course, tactfully supportive, telling me it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was, that maybe with a little tweak here or there I could salvage it. I received their great supportive vibes as well as I could and returned home with the quilt, never to touch it again!

That is, until today! This afternoon I went into my studio with an intention to make a small quilt top for the same series, something that would be fun and easy for me to do. The fabrics I reached for first were – guess what! – the same fabrics as those that were in Liquid Gold!

Well, I thought it rather silly to make a second quilt from the same fabrics, so I set those aside and reached for the original work. Suddenly, after months of percolating in the back of my brain, I had come up with a solution for what to do with this work in progress gone astray! I had to work through a technical solution, a method for sewing two sections of finished quilt together with a contrasting strip of fabric. That took me about 15 minutes to think it through and make sketches to illustrate the idea so I would not forget it.

Then I turned back to the quilt, by then hanging on the wall, finally understanding what was bothering me.

LIquid Gold, Redefinitions quilt by Dena Dale Crain

Original quilt gone bad


See all those lines that are not straight between the colored sections and the white silk? Curved seam lines between colored patches of fabric did not bother me because the patches blended and the curves gave a bit of added life to the piece.

What really bothered me was when a seam line between a colored section and a white patch was not straight. The high contrast showed very clearly that I had no control over the patches when I sewed them, and that read to me as generally sloppy construction, something I do not like.

My solution was simple: to cut apart the original quilt along all those curved lines where white met color, and to straighten those seams! Big difference!!

LIquid Gold, Redefinitions quilt by Dena Dale Crain

First mock-up


So, now all I have to do is to develop a final composition, knowing that each section will be bounded by an outline about 3/8″ wide, said outline to be made from a printed silk charmeuse, shades and tints of turquoise on a black ground.

LIquid Gold, Redefinitions quilt by Dena Dale Crain

Second mock-up


LIquid Gold, Redefinitions quilt by Dena Dale Crain

Third mock-up

Now all you have to do is to sign up for my newsletter or subscribe to this blog, so you get to see the finished piece when I’m done with it!!


Filed under Quilt Tips & Tutorials, Quilting Technology, Quilts

On the Subject of Solid Waste

Hemp plants

Concerned about the increase in solid waste in my community, I have a similar concern about the production, sale and use of ecologically damaging textiles. Textiles and apparel are a huge business, at one point touted to be the third largest industry in the world, beginning at the producer level and following through to the rubbish collection and disposal services that see textiles to their end, employing millions of people either directly or in related businesses.

Recent discussions in the Quilt Enthusiasts Group on LinkedIn (don’t know if that link will work, but you can find them if you want to) have focused on choices of batting (wadding) for patchwork quilts. The question that launched this discussion had to do with each member’s preferences, whether for cotton, polyester, silk, wool, bamboo or other fibers for the filler between patchwork top and the quilt backing.

Of course, several members reported a preference for bamboo fiber batts. This is a relatively new product, one which admittedly has desirable qualities, but is touted to be extremely toxic in its processing. Other fibers involve the use of child labor, heavy use of pesticides and other toxic chemicals, synthetic and dangerous dyes and masses of water. Who knows if the water gets cleaned up afterwards, but I doubt it.

There are some interesting articles and reports online about the hazards of textile production. You can take a quick look at these two, and do some more googling on your own:

What I’ve learned so far, and with only minimal effort, is that of all the options, hemp is the fiber that is the most eco-friendly to produce. It also looks pretty and wonderful to wear! See, for example:

So come on, quilters!

Let’s make the jump to hemp!!

It seems a solid waste of a good plant not to!!!


Filed under Patchwork Quilting, Plants, Quilting Technology