Sally’s Guest Blog on Quilting (what else?)

I have, in the recent past, made the odd reference to my new status as the orphaned husband or widower-by-quilt and this blog is the proof of that pathetic circumstance.  I didn’t lose my wife to the postman, I lost her to fabric art!  This is her blog:

There are three things I know about myself that apply to my quilting:

  1. I am one of those annoying people who believe the rules apply to everyone but me. (Editor’s note: Nothing.  JDC is NOT allowed to comment).
  2. I love quirky stuff–be it movies, décor, or individuals (now you know one of the many reasons why David and I are together).
  3. I have always loved fabric and believed that one day I would create fabric art, whatever form that might take.

I have used patterns occasionally but the quilts I have enjoyed making the most are the ones that come from who-knows-where. David told me that he thought readers would be interested in my creative process. Yikes! I didn’t realize I even had one.

I had to think about it.

I first thought about ‘Plum Crazy’. My daughter specified the colours she wanted so I purchased those. I looked at lots of quilts on-line. I had recently used metallic thread in a workshop and decided to incorporate that. The plum coloured fabric I bought reminded me of a moving blanket we had brought back from New York decades ago, in a similar colour, so I hand quilted Plum Crazy in a similar fashion.

So, the quilt was really just the result of a bunch of different ideas percolating around in my head and gelling at some random point. Is that a process?

Plumb Crazy Quilt made for my daughter and her husband -- E. specified plum black and white -- which meant stylized birch trees to me.

‘Plumb Crazy’ made for my daughter and our son-in-law.  E. specified plum, black and white for the colour scheme–which translated into my design of stylized birch trees. Hand quilting on the plum background and machine quilting (silver thread) on the trees.

What was the process for ‘Black and White and Read  All Over (pun intended)? Not so complex. I just wanted to use black and red, my son’s favourite colours, and found a quilt on-line that I liked and figured out how to make a similar one.

Black and White and Read All Over

‘Black and White and Read All Over’  made for my son and daughter-in-law because red and black are my son’s favourite colours. It doesn’t fit with their décor (or probably anyone’s) so it has an attached bag that turns it into a black pillow when not in use. Copied from a similar quilt I saw on-line.

For Sharon’s little baby, Rachel’s, quilt I picked out some pretty pink fabrics and sewed them together in a simple framed block design with a little hand quilting. Quick and easy so I could get it to Hong Kong before she goes to kindergarten.

Rachel with her mom and dad and her 'Pretty in Pink' quilt

Rachel with her mom and dad and her ‘Pretty in Pink’ quilt

The ‘Sashiko Sampler’ came about because I had recently discovered Sashiko stitching. I love the contrast of the white stitches on indigo cloth and the beautiful traditional Japanese designs. I started stitching 6″ by 6″ Sashiko squares, not having a plan in mind. When I had finished a bunch I bought some Japanese fabrics that complemented the indigo and made quilt blocks. Then I laid the fabric blocks and Sashiko squares out on a countertop. I liked the off-white colour of the counter between the squares. I consulted with Leon and Ole, two tall, male German wwoofers who were staying with us at the time, and they agreed. So the sashing became whitish. When I put the quilt top together I could see that the little bits of orange colour in some of the fabrics could be accentuated with an orange strip in the binding so I added that to brighten the quilt. Voila!

Sashiko Sampler

‘Sashiko Sampler’ – My design using  traditional Japanese stitching with white thread on indigo cloth. Details bel0w:


Back of Quilt

Signature block on back of quilt



The ‘Garden Path’ is a paper-pieced quilt design that I made in a workshop. Momentarily out of my mind, I decided I  wanted to learn paper-piecing (which is a very precise and regimented style of quilting). I will never do it again as it is just like sewing on an assembly line–and no sewing outside the lines!
I did learn something valuable while making this quilt, though. I read on an art site that if I was combining two colours I should use sixty percent of one and forty percent of the other to achieve aesthetic balance. I tried this out on this quilt and I think it worked.
I more recently learned that this is actually the Fibonacci Sequence, aka Phi (pronounced fee), the golden mean of 1.618 and an underlying explanation for what is aesthetically pleasing and having dynamic symmetry. When you use this number to divide something (anything), the ratio of the small part to the large part is the same as the ratio of the large part to the whole. This can be demonstrated in nature, architecture, the human body and more. For instance in music there are 5 black keys, and 8 white keys with 13 keys in an octave.
But, back to quilting…

‘Garden Path’ – design from a quilt workshop. Detail below shows the variegated hand stitching on black:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe quilt below is made from Kaffe Fassett fabric. Kaffe is a famous knitter and quilter, who tours the globe like a rock star, welcomed by droves of mostly middle-aged (and older) knitting and quilting groupies. Anyway, it is his books of quilt designs that inspired me to start quilting. And when I saw a bag full of his fabric for sale at one of our Quilting Guild meetings I nabbed it. This quilt is fashioned after one of his designs called Mirror Squares. I loved working OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwith this fabric–it is so bright that it is really uplifting, especially on a bleak rainy day. It always gives me a lift when I look at it, which is a good thing, as I spent over a hundred hours doing the hand quilting, in addition to the cutting and machine piecing.

Based on a Kaffe Fasset design, unnamed as yet. Shown hanging in the local Credit Union on our neighbouring island.

Based on a Kaffe Fasset design, using his fabric, unnamed as yet. Shown hanging in the local Credit Union on our neighbouring island. (Detail above illustrates the spiral hand quilting.)

Still fascinated by Sashiko stitching, I wanted to try mending with it, which was how it was originally used. I must have planned on making a denim quilt for years as I had a huge box of old denim garments. I combined these two aspects with a third. (I had learned a new way to assemble a quilt as I sewed.) I started cutting out pieces and putting them together and ‘Workmates’ is the result. I found that the ‘real’ tears and holes on the garments were too dirty and fragmented to be effective for the look I was going for. So after I made the quilt I ripped tears and holes in it to repair. It was a lot of fun to make. I still have almost a full box of remnants so there will be more denim quilts.

'Workmates" using old denim shirts and jeans that David and I wore out while building our home. My design, natch.

‘Workmates” using old denim shirts and jeans that David and I wore out while building our home. Sashiko stitching used in the traditional manner to repair tears and holes. My design, natch. Detail below.


David loves his appliqued pencil.

David loves the appliqued pencil, just like his in real life.

‘Moonshadow’ is a combination of fabrics I found interesting and put together in a bit of a random way by cutting strips and blocks off kilter. I like the colours in this one. I made a sister quilt which is almost identical, except I used reds, oranges and beiges, which I expected would be brighter. Surprisingly (to me, anyway) it is very monochromatic and has none of the life that ‘Moonshadow’ has.


I am working on my  ‘Moonshadow’ design at the moment, adding some hand quilting.

After what I wrote above I now feel I have to show you the sister quilt, ‘Walking on Sunshine’. I don’t like it–not YET.  And it is kind of stupid to end with something horrible. So, I am still working on it.  However, if anyone has any suggestions on how to salvage it, I’m listening.


‘Walking on Sunshine’ -yuk

I just realized I am writing when I could be quilting. Bye.


13 thoughts on “Sally’s Guest Blog on Quilting (what else?)

  1. Beautiful! Sally, they are lovely. Please show some more. Your colours and patterns are very. Unusual but so attractive. Thank-you for sharing.


  2. My sister is the quilter. She has a long arm machine for stitching and teaches classes near her home in Homer, Alaska. I’ve never tried it, but my mom did some small items. One is a stuffed cat that I love because it has some of the lace stitched on top from my great grandmother’s collection that she brought from Norway back at the turn of the other century. She also made a lovely vest with some more of the old lace and embroidery stitching. I like to make things, but my efforts are a little more basic in nature. Thanks for sharing. Love the pictures. They tell the story so well. – Margy


  3. Thank you Sally for showing and talking about your quilts. My favourite is the birch tree quilt, the ‘trees’ with the purple back ground pop. Love seeing your quilts. The Sashiko stitching is new to me, love it. Would a line of a darker colour on the orange quilt work? – not on the edge but where the orange edge meets the quilt next to the narrow orange edge (does that make sense?) More please.


  4. Sally, this is FANTASTIC!! Thank you so much for telling your quilting story. You have described your creative process very well, and your quilts are beautiful. How about some Sashiko stitching in a bright contrasting colour on the plain blocks of colour in the Sunshine quilt; maybe the stitching could be in a pattern that reflects the small shapes on the patterned squares. Just a thought, Claudia


  5. Amazing work . Beautiful colors and patterns. Well done.
    You could sell these in an art gallery.
    My sister is an avid quilter but her eyes and hands are starting to give her issues. She seens to quilt in fits and starts. One quilt took her almost 30 years
    ( it was for her baby son and she finished it for his baby daughter).
    She may crank off 5 in a year or 2 ….depends on her other projects.
    Oh. and tell Dave he’s a pro “hold up guy” for holding up all those quilts for the photos……..


  6. Hi Everyone,

    Thank you all so very much for your comments. If not for lack of time (I’m off to Book Club this morning and I have to prepare a potluck dish before I go — David is a Book Club widower today) I would reply to each of you individually.

    I really appreciate the feedback from everyone and the good suggestions for the ‘Walking on Sunshine’ quilt from Joy and Claudia. Nice to know Margy and NCV have quilters in the family. And TG, no quilting book!

    I was at a bit of a quilting ‘low’ when I wrote the blog. I have finished several projects recently. As well, I was given a wonderful quilting table that prompted the removal of the student beds from our loft and the transformation of the accommodation area to a quilting studio area.

    Suddenly I was feeling pressure. I now have a great set up to work with and no inspiration. Well, I know that will come, and in the meantime I have been buoyed by your enthusiasm. I am now mulling over the various stitching ideas for ‘Walking on Sunshine’…



  7. Come on you guys. If David can get 24 comments on a Trimp rant, surely Sally can get the same for such exquisite artistry . David ,I am disappointed in your readership!


    • I am still surprised there still IS one! And none of my followers are exceptionally sophisticateded in the fabric arts. Maybe they collect ball caps….I dunno. But that is a different league of fabric art just below black velvet and paint by numbers. To see such appreciation of Sal’s stuff surprised me. I thought you people were mostly macho-types….tattoos……ya know?
      Guns, booze and boobs, right?
      We going pastel shades fr
      om now on….?


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