Friday, May 15, 2020

Making a MIni-Scape

Four more mini-scapes have materialized since my last post. (Speaking of material, did anyone besides me grow up calling fabric "material"? Just curious.)

Here's the only mini-scape I remembered to photograph in progress. As you can see, these are just little scraps arranged and glued on a small rectangle of batting (roughly 9" x 12" before trimming).

Click on any photo to zoom.

Here are the other 3 mini-scapes, finished.

(This one is sold.)

I'm getting the itch to try something new. Over the years, I've collected ideas in a notebook. So we'll see. Summer always brings a different energy into the process, too.

Also, next time there'll be some news regarding a previously featured landscape quilt. (Hint: I will be sooooo excited and grateful to see my little turtle hatchlings on a magazine cover!)

Have a good weekend and stay (or get) well.


Saturday, April 25, 2020

More Mini-Scapes (& Messes)

It only took a week or so of utter mess in the studio to produce 4 more mini-scapes (miniature landscape quilts), which again were loads of fun and a great distraction from the news. More about the mess in a minute, but here are the quilts.

The scraps I'd been using were fewer and smaller, so I did pull quite a few fat quarters off the shelf...

...which gave me some new palettes to work with.

Still have a lot of those eagles left. I never get tired of using them.

That last one is a little different, due to the fantasy-like horse print from Timeless Treasures. I once did a much larger winter scene with some horses and the moon from that same fabric. Remember this one?

Nordic Night (click photo to zoom)
Anyway, blocking the mini-scapes is a breeze. I line them up (before binding) on the ironing board and hit them with loads of steam (hovering only). The next day I square and trim them.

The bindings on these mini-scapes (unlike those on my larger quilts) are completely machine sewn---first the raw edges to the front, then the folded edge turned to the back and stitched again from the front, this time using SID (stitch in the ditch). The SID simultaneously attaches the little triangle pockets on the back, which are for hanging (dowel rod tucked in the pockets). My preference, as seen above, is to perch them on an easel (with a piece of cardboard behind them for support).

On these little quilts, unlike the big ones, I backstitch and lockstitch---no knots to bury. Nor do I trim the little threads the machine leaves with the automatic thread cutter. However I do put a drop or two of Fray Check on each knot and at the ends of any satin stitching.

Anyway, back to the mess. When it gets to the point there's no room to cut or press anything, or find tools or even fabrics, since they're all in a pile, it's obviously time to clean up. BUT---I've learned that during the design/piecing process, it's important NOT to stop and throw trimmings in the trash can or re-fold the fat quarter I've just cut my applique from. Instead, the remnant goes flying into a pile on the chair to be dealt with later, and the trimmings get swiped off the table right on to the floor. Why? 

Because stopping to take care of the trimmings and remnants after every cut totally interferes with the design/inspiration flow. It might not seem like it would, but try tossing it all aside and you might notice a big difference in how well you work. There's a reason Eleanor Burns throws her scraps over her shoulder!

Everyone have a wonderful weekend, or as wonderful as can be during these trying times. Chin up, it won't last forever. Stay well (or get well fast) and be safe.


Tuesday, April 7, 2020


Why, I wondered the other day, was I so inspired, early this March, to begin a whole new line of landscape quilts for my Etsy shop...when the market was, unbeknownst to any of us, about to take a downturn?

The answer occurred almost immediately---the joy that came from making these new "Mini-Scapes" had bolstered my immune system like nothing else could have, going into this pandemic. And what a welcome distraction from the news.

(I think I will add some sea foam to the bottom of the cliff.)

UPDATE: added the seafoam. Didn't realize how much that non-foamy cliff bottom was bothering me.

These are all roughly 10 to 11 inches wide by 7 inches high. Most of the fabrics came from 10 years of leftover landscape scraps---which explains the "pyramid" type mountains in many of them---all triangles trimmed from making binding strips!

Most of them began with the sky piece, and went from there. None of them were based on photos, sketched, or even planned. It was all done on the fly. That's partly what made it so much fun.

The pieces were glued to a larger rectangle of fusible fleece, then tacked down with mono-poly thread.

The fusible fleece, with its tacked-down quilt top, was then fused to a backing fabric.

Then the real fun began, choosing thread colors and using free motion stitching (except for the occasional decorative machine stitch).

Binding was made the same as I make it for my large landscapes. (04/26/20 UPDATE:  Not quite the same! Same width, yes, but for my larger landscapes, I hand-sew the folded edge of binding to the back of the quilt, in case the quilt gets entered into competition, because the judges care about that. However, for these mini-scapes, I machine sew the raw edges to the front as usual, and then turn the folded edge to the back and machine-stitch-in-the-ditch from the front. Much faster.)

(This last one is similar to the first one, but not the same.)

It just occurred to me, these Mini-Scapes were "mini-EScapes," too. As in escaping reality.

I've listed them in my shop but am resigned to the possibility that it will be a good while, if ever, before they sell. In the meantime, they won't take up much storage space! Always a silver lining.  :)

Hope you are finding projects that make you happy (boost your immune system) and use up stash. Being a quilter, I'm finding "sheltering in place" less weird and disruptive than it probably is to most people. Then again, I'm missing my 5-year old granddaughter terribly.

Don't even get me started on that. I keep saying to myself, "this too shall pass." And it will.

Keep on quilting!!


Sunday, March 29, 2020

Feeling Sheepish

Last month produced a new landscape quilt, which started with a fat quarter (18" x 20-22") of sky fabric. It's a weird sky fabric though, a cloud-filled gray and pale-pink piece.

It naturally followed (for my brain, at least) that the mountains would be in the pink family. Sheep were eventually pulled from the stash and cut from their background; then pasture grass (a completely different fabric). A drystone wall followed (more on that below), and below it some rough field grass, as well as some flowers that would pull some of that pink down into the foreground. Anybody know what they are? Please comment below. [UPDATE: possibly Larkspur.]

But the sky needed something to break up all those monotonous clouds. Enter the hot air balloons.

Imminent Surprise (working title, They Have No Clue) is 20" x 35".

Below are a few closeups (click on them to enlarge).

Sheep number 3 appears to be chewing on a loose piece of fiber. I'll have to remove that.

As mentioned, above, a little more about the drystone wall: None of my other stone prints were appropriate for the top of the wall, so I just went with this one-dimensional depiction of the wall, thinking it would look okay in the end. But I'm not happy with it. I realize now that what I should have done was shade the lower majority of the wall with black tulle before quilting it (I know because I thought to audition a piece of it AFTER the quilt was finished. The improvement was immediate, but there is no way to add the tulle to the quilt at this point, with those blades of grass overlapping the bottom of the wall). Feeling a bit sheepish about it but, lesson learned.

[Also feeling a bit sheepish about my original homonym mix-up...this quilt almost went out of here with the title Eminent Surprise instead of Imminent Surprise.]

Next time, a new venture, using these leftover scraps from 10 years of landscape quilting. Skies, water, flowers, grasses, trees, rocks, mountains, animals, boats,'s all here.

Be well, and be safe. All the best to anyone dealing with a difficult or scary situation.

And keep quilting if you can. We all know how therapeutic it can be for our minds, and that's half the battle.