Roses on Blue

Monday, October 20, 2014

Around the World Blog Tour

Welcome!  If this is your first time visiting my blog, thank you for taking the time to stop by.  Last week I was contacted by Jill at Happy2Sew blog and asked if I would like to be tagged in the Around the World Blog Tour.  I happily accepted.  Jill was kind enough to write about a few things I've posted.  Please check out her blog, she does it all, sews, quilts, makes purses, knits, and she is in the process of making an adorable Halloween costume for a lucky little girl!

Ok, pull up a chair, this is a long post!  Let's move on to my answers to the four blog tour questions:

What am I currently working on?

I am actually in limbo between major quilts.  I just bought a new Bernina 710 a few weeks ago and am in the process of getting acquainted with it.  I made this vintage style apron recently so I could try out my new machine.

And this week I've been playing around making quilt blocks.  I realized I have hardly any quilts that coordinate with fall d├ęcor, so I got inspired to pull lots of soft fall colors in a variety of florals from my stash.

These large florals (above) were my fall "inspiration" but I won't be using them in a quilt.  They are for color reference and help guide me to establish a "feel" for what I am trying to achieve in the overall look.

My hands are rarely idle in front of the television in the evenings.  Right now I am embroidering vintage Halloween postcard images that will eventually wind up in a quilt.  There will be 16 embroidered blocks when I am finished.  These images are from two different patterns, Sandi Bard Designs and Yesterday's Charm, and I am combining the ones I like the best.

Earlier this summer I also started cross-stitching again.  This is A Love Song sampler by FourOaks Designs.  I used to be an avid cross-stitcher years ago but had grown tired of it, plus framing is so expensive and I only have so much wall space!  But seeing some of the beautiful samplers on Pinterest inspired me to pick it up again, so I started working on this sampler over the summer.  That being said, I haven't stitched on it in a few months. 


How does my work differ from others?

Color My World
I use a lot of different fabrics in a quilt, anywhere from 100 to several hundred.  I love scrap quilts and lots of piecing, usually the more pieces, the better.  I am constantly inspired by antique scrap quilts as well as fabric. 

Last Summer's Leftovers
The last several years I've been infatuated with candy colored pastels, vintage-inspired prints and quilts from the 1930s.  Most of my quilts are scrappy, but they are very controlled and deliberate.  I'm always coordinating color and value placement, visual texture (the type of fabric print), color intensity, etc.  Very little of my quilt making is random or accidental. 

Summer at the Lake
I like to be challenged, whether it's the type of piecing, how a quilt is constructed, or with use of color and/or the number of fabrics.  I get bored very easily so I need things that will hold my attention for a longer period of time if I want to finish them.  I love busyness, lots of prints, movement, and visual interest.  The busier, the better!  I am definitely a "more is more" person.

Why do I create?

I create because I have to, it is as vital to me as breathing, eating, or sleeping.  Creating is part of who I am.  Some of my earliest memories are of drawing and making things.  I don't think I have ever NOT created.  If I go more than a few days without doing something creative, whether it's quilting, needlework, creating art, or making something, I become irritable and depressed, I am no fun to be around!  Creating is something I absolutely have to do.  I wish I could spend every waking minute creating.  It seems like there is never enough time to create as much as I'd like.  Setting priorities and being disciplined are things I've learned to work very hard at in order to make time to do what I love.
I have a degree in art and my background is in illustrating designs for screenprinting on t-shirts.  We've owned a screen printing and embroidery business for over 30 years.  However, when creating artwork made the transition from being done by hand to being done on the computer, I lost interest in designing for screen printing.  Call me old-fashioned, but I need to have a pencil, rapidiograph or paintbrush in my hand to illustrate.

I'm not sure why I started making quilts but I think it's because I am obsessed with fabric!  I've been hoarding collecting fabric since the 70s when I was in high school and sewed clothes.  I love fabric and I LOVE floral fabrics.  I have enough fabric to last 20 lifetimes.  I was never exposed to quilts in my family, no one I knew made quilts. 

But right after high school I worked at Joann Fabrics and stumbled on a McCall's Quilting booklet and became intrigued with these colorful pieced bed coverings.  For the next several years I read up on quilts and began buying antique ones, but it wasn't until 1984 when I finally got the courage to try making a quilt on my own. 

How do I work?

I probably spend 25 or so hours a week in my studio.  I wish it was much, much more than that!  But owning our own business creates many demands on my time.  I  also struggled with an inner battle for a very long time about when I was quilting, I felt I should be making art and if I was making art, I wanted to be quilting.  I have only come to terms with this struggle recently and am happy creating quilts in my spare time for now.  But I do hope to get back to my art one of these days!
Daydream Believer

I am in such admiration of those of you who work on multiple quilts and projects at a time!  I am not able to do this.  I am very easily distracted by all the ideas churning in my head, so I try to stick with one quilt until the top is 100% complete.  Since a lot of my quilts are labor intensive, I may spend many weeks to a few months on it.  Once the top is completed, I am usually OVER it at this point and fold it up and put it away until I am inspired to quilt it.  Up to a year can pass until I am ready to get it back out for quilting.

Blooming in Chintz

I design most of my quilts in The Electric Quilt (EQ) software.  It is as vital a tool for making quilts as a sewing machine for me.  When I finally get a layout I think I like, I color it in grayscale values so I can see how the quilt "reads".  Then it's off to pull color inspiration, which might come from a large flowery decorator print or from one of my many pieces of vintage barkcloth.

I might have a general idea of a look or feel I am after.  I tend to switch between floral, chintzy looks and vintage 1930s styles.  Depending on the quilt design, I pull out lots of stacks of fabrics in my chosen palette from my closet and just start cutting strips in a given width or. . .

Right now I am working on blocks, so I am pulling four fabrics for each block and making a block at a time.  I rarely pre-cut a whole bunch of specific pieces for a quilt in advance.  I prefer to cut for a single block, then sew, then observe how a block looks alongside other blocks, see what the quilt is lacking, and work from there. 

Reducing Lens

I am constantly using a reducing lens to look through to see how my quilt reads from a distance.  I also frequently photograph it in black and white to see how my values are working together in the overall design. 

Looking through reducing lens
And whenever I can, I foundation-piece.  It is so addicting and it appeals to my perfectionist tendencies!  Some of you may think it is more time consuming, but for me it is quick and extremely accurate.

This is a current shot of my studio. . .

I like to have lots of choices close by and everything around me easily accessible.  My fabric stacks are organized by color and type of print--stripes, polka dots, tonal, small floral, large floral, etc.  I find it so much easier to work from stacks when they're out in the open on the countertop rather than in my closet.  I can coordinate colors and prints and mix combinations that I might not normally be inclined to put together had I pulled a specific "recipe" straight from my closet shelves.
Dresden Charm
And finally, part of the reason I enter my quilts into shows is so I will finish them.  It gives me a deadline with a goal and is also a way to share them with others.

So that is an overview of how I work and a peek into my creative process.  Hopefully, I may have inspired a couple of you.
Last but not least, I would like to introduce Greg from Grey Dogwood Studio and pass the Blog Tour baton on to him.  I have been following Greg on Instagram for quite some time and am a big fan of his work!  His quilts are fabulous, they just seem to shout "happy" to me.  I love his taste in colors and fabrics and he has a wonderful eye for vintage style.  Please be sure to check out his blog.  Greg will be posting for the Around the World Blog Tour next Monday, October 27th.  Stay tuned!

Thank you for visting!  Happy Quilting! 


  1. Whoa, Whoa, and triple Whoa!! Amazing and inspiring!!

  2. OMGoodness. Terrific post. Fabrics are beautiful. Some chintz do have an autumn feel. What fun to have a new machine despite the learning curve. Cross stitch and embroidery are great portable stitching projects. Your art education does shine through your work. A pleasure to work with white sewing furniture and natural light in your studio. THANKS for accepting my tag. I look forward to meeting Greg next week.

  3. Thank you for sharing your process. I wouldn't stress making art vs. making quilts. Your quilts are your art.

  4. Your quilts are amazing. I love how you use such small pieces and bring them all together to create something magical. You have an awesome talent:)
    Connie xxx

  5. Thank you for sharing your creative life and lives, it was truly interesting and inspiring.

  6. Hi, Rahna -- I'm a first time visitor sent by Greg of Grey Dogwood Studio. I enjoyed reading about your process and seeing what you're working on. I think your tips about working in gray scale in EQ and photographing works in progress in B&W are fantastic. I know my own tendency is to want to work with only fabric that I really like, which tend to fall in the same value range. I need to be really delilberate about value contrast now -- I learned that the hard way after making all the blocks for a bed sized Drunkard's Path quilt and then realizing that I didn't have enough value contrast for the pattern to show up when the blocks were sewn together!