Can We Talk? UFOs, WIPs, and Quilts Under Construction

We all know I like my Quilts Under Construction. I have a long list of projects to dip into at any time. I would love your feedback on on the topic, how you operate, and what your approach is to UFOs, WIPs, and Quilts Under Construction. 

Results will be reported first in my QuiltCon lecture at the end of the month, then here on the blog.

Survey is open until February 8.

Create your own user feedback survey

The Splendid Sampler - In The Sunshine

The Splendid Sampler - Applique and Improv

In The Sunshine

18.5'' x 18.5

My 15th wedding anniversary is coming up in a couple of months. One of the more entertaining moments of our wedding day (aside from the baby nearly born there) occurred as we walked down the aisle after the ceremony. After almost 6 years of dating it seems our wedding was a much anticipated affair. So our friends standing up there with us shouted out a coordinated, "Finally!!' 

After nearly a year of The Splendid Sampler I kind of feeling shouting Finally!! myself as my block debuts.

In the Sunshine was envisaged to celebrate my love of applique, a desire to not have really tiny pieces on this small block, and just a little bit of my true love, improv. And really, who doesn't love a flag waving in the sunshine?

Get the pattern here. Finally!

The Splendid Sampler

It was fun to play with my own fabric in this mini quilt. My first line, Tag, recently came out with Connecting Threads. I've made a handful of quilts already with just my fabrics, but the true measure of a fabric is how well it plays with others. So the background squares include my fabric plus a mix of stashed black and white prints. Then I dug into the scrap bin for the solid fabrics on the flags.

Now making a mini is hard for me. I get why people love them - boy is it fast from start to finish - but I prefer to Go King or Go Home! And when I am sewing for myself I default to improv piecing: curves, letters, slabs, and everything else.  That being said,  I really enjoy the switch up to designing patterns. It gets my brain working in a different way plus seeing the different results from other quilters is pretty thrilling! That's why I am so excited to see what each of you do with the block. This was a quick one to make, even with the needle turn applique. Get the pattern here. 

For those of you new here let me tell you a bit about myself. I live on intersection of the Rocky Mountains and the Prairies, in Calgary, Alberta. A pretty dreamy location. We get a proper winter - which I love - and it gets just hot enough in the summer. I'm such a Canadian! We have 3 nearly feral, outgoing, and active kids. My girls have followed me to the pool. In my youth I was a competitive swimmer then rower. After a decade working on environmental policy and sustainability issues I switched gears to staying with my kids and to become a professional quilter, writer, and a teacher. With three published books, online classes, national and international travel to teach on top of our busy lives I could say it is a fine balance, but it is more like a rocky seesaw that just can't quite make it even. But hey, I chose it and I'm making it work!

The Splendid Sampler, Applique, Improv Curves

So take a few moments to hang out here. Check out my quilt gallery for inspiration, read through the blog for a glimpse into my compulsion to create, and feel free to sign up for my biweekly newsletter. My mission here and in everything quilting is to inspire creative action in everyone, for everyone. I am what you see - bold, blunt, kind, generous, open, and a little bit weird.

PS If the curves make you nervous, check out my episode of The Quilt Show, where I break it down. 

Forgiveness - Scrap Vortex Meets Improvised Words

Forgiveness Quilt - Scrap Vortex


80'' x 77''

When two quilts become one. When emotions transfer to your making. When the morning make becomes all consuming. When making a quilt is cheaper than the therapist.

Improvised Scrap Quilt With Words

This particular quilt started a few years ago. I called it Snippets on Dates back then. Take two little bits and sew them together. Repeat a thousand times, press. Sew pairs to pairs and so on. I had a small quilt together and there was no end to the little snippets. Around the same time Amanda Jean launched her Scrap Vortex Quilt Along. It got a lot of people looking at their scraps differently. Here and there I would take my overflowing bin of snippets and sew some together. Doing it bit by bit makes it less daunting, especially when most of the pieces are 2'' or smaller! But I never really moved further than that. Everything just sat around in my Quilts Under Construction pile.

Cue last summer. For one, my Morning Make became a serious commitment. As in, I wanted/needed to do it every day for my sanity. I like my Morning Make projects to be no brainers so I pulled this one out to start. Then my heart started turning over the word, the act, the emotion of Forgiveness. I decided sewing the word would help it burn into my brain and body, like I was taking notes for a test. Initially, I didn't actually see the two projects working together, I just happened to have them both out on the cutting table. They did really want to go together.

At this point I could go on some spiel about symbolism: the chaotic nature of our emotions with the quilt as metaphor. Uh, no. It really came down to the fact that even though I was making letter blocks to spell Forgiveness, I had no clue what to do with a really long, skinny quilt with just that word. While I thought about other words I put more snippets together. It seems obvious now, but it took me a few weeks to let the two projects play together. And then they became creative partners, propping each other up, no metaphors needed.

Forgiveness - Word Quilts and Scrap Vortex

I rather like that the word is a bit tough to see. It wasn't bad Value work on my part, it was intentional. Forgiveness is an internal emotion, I don't need it, or me, to shout its presence.  Oh wait, I just got symbolic. But I did tone down the value contrast intentionally. Rather, I didn't do really darks and really whites on purpose. But it is there. Another confession, I made that V three times.

The fabrics go all the way back - some 20 years, some last year. There are bits and pieces from other quilters in there, including leftover components already pieced. I did zero editing for style of fabric so everything is in here - batiks, civil war, 30s reproductions, modern, solids, linens, you name it!

The backing was a piece of yardage I picked up in Arizona last year, something random that reminded me of a painting in my childhood home.

As usual, I used Quilters' Dream 100% cotton Select weight batting.

It was quilted with a combination of Aurifil and Wonderfil threads in yellow, grey, green, and blue. Just things I had in my stash. I did wavy lines across the quilt and outlined the letters for a bit more emphasis.

When it came to binding I wasn't sure. Scrappy seemed to make sense, instead of suddenly adding one bit of order. Conveniently, I had a bowl full of binding scraps. I sewed them end to end and made my way around the quilt. 

Forgiveness Quilt/Scrap Vortex Scrappy binding

The last stitches actually went in the binding on New Years Day. Felt great to start the year with a finish, symbolic as it is.

March On - Improvised Quilt Inspired by Gees Bend and 2016 US General Election

March On Improvised Quilt - Pantsuit Nation, MLK

March On

65'' x 50''

You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as a part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

Martin Luther King Jr. Excerpted from Letter From a Birmingham Jail

March On Improvised Quilt, Fight the Power
March On, Civil Rights Quilt
March On, MLK, Letter From a Birmingham Jail

Quilt Details:

  • March On quilt block. Inspired by a trip to Gees Bend and Birmingham, Alabama. Tutorial to make your own block
  • Quilted on a HandiQuilter with Wonderfil Silco.
  • Fabrics - Blocks are a range of corduroy, selvaged denim, linen, cotton scraps, and linen blends. Backing is the Textured Solid from Andover in Cherry. Binding is a Robert Kaufman Chambray