Birmingham Festival of Quilts 2016

This year’s Festival of Quilts was an inspiring and fun event. Irish quilters could be found all around, perhaps more there than in Ireland itself! I put three pieces in this year, and they were all related. I started with the Irish chain, which I believe technically has nothing to do with Ireland, but I pretended that it did and took it from there.

Irish Postcard

Every country submitted 16 small “postcards” which had to include a stamp of some sort to represent their country. I made a small Irish chain with buttons on it. I wanted to see if I thought the idea was good enough to make it larger…


Big Hoot

I decided I liked my Irish chain enough to enlarge it and use as a backdrop for my idea with the Big Hoot owls. I took the inspiration of the Big Hoot that was held in Birmingham City last year and used the shape to make scrappy owls. All of the fabric for the owls is from my stash, so it is a bit of a memory quilt for me. Each large owl has a set of buttons for eyes, and the small owls have crystals for eyes. My favorite comment is from a stranger, “Great use of buttons!” This is my first large piece in Birmingham, and I felt the judges were very kind to me and understood the piece. I’m very pleased with how it turned out.



Mobius Hoot

I took some of the leftover little owls and incorporated them into a mobius band. I like to put some sort of a mathematical object in every year, and this year was not sure what to do. I entered a mobius band to the Birmingham show two years ago, but have come quite a long way with my sewing since then. I love how this turned out, it looks so much better than my piece from two years ago!


I am only a little bit behind – Birmingham Festival of Quilts took place in early August. So much for keeping up with my blog! I have a good backlog now though so I am going to try to power through a few more entries in the next week…

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Classical Music

I’ve played many different instruments over the years in lots of different styles, but lately I’ve found myself back at my “roots” – classical piano. I’ve been studying for a level 8 piano exam that would allow me to officially teach piano. I am learning 3 different classical pieces (a Bach, Beethoven, and Debussy piece) plus a wide variety of scales and arpeggios. I love classical music, the discipline and clarity of it, and it’s bringing me back to the essence of music.

Music takes time and learning instruments yourself gives a much deeper appreciation. It seems that Classical music has gone out of fashion and most people think of it as an elitist form. I really don’t believe that is true, and it makes me sad that it’s not Classical that people hear walking around in their everyday lives. The closest is movie music, which is sometimes classical or more modern orchestral music.

Music education is indeed a worthy endeavor and I hope I will be able to make a contribution!

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Rainbow Quilts

I have 3 quilts currently on exhibition at the River of Dreams Quilt show. They are based on the 7 colors of the rainbow. I made a stack of half square triangles per color which I used as the building blocks for all of these quilts:


The first and biggest quilt is my original idea. Every child in my son’s class designed a square. There are 21 kids, divisible by 7 so perfect for this project! They got to pick their 4 color squares and arrange them as they pleased, drawing it on a worksheet for me to sew. They picked a random color for their border out of the 21 available. I brought back the individual squares sewn with a white space below where they signed their names. I then sewed them together to make a rainbow.

The second quilt is based on the teacher’s square. He designed a square in a square with the white space in the middle. I wanted to show the secondary pattern, 4 color squares, so I put 9 together which made it about the size of a baby quilt. I put a white strip on each side so the class could sign it when they were signing their own squares, and gave it a blue border since he has a baby boy.

The third quilt is a rainbow in diagonal stripes. I made it for the library of the school.

This was a very gratifying project, especially seeing how much the kids enjoyed the quilts. We went to see them at the quilt show on a field trip last Friday.

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My Big Hoot

I’ve entered two pieces into the Birmingham Quilt Show inspired by the Big Hoot art exhibition that took place last summer in Birmingham. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so I’m just going to tell you the back story and show some samples that I’ve used for practice.

Last year was my second time in Birmingham for the quilt show, and my first time leaving the NEC to explore the actual city. I bought a train ticket at the station and asked for a map. The man at the train station gave me this map, which I discovered is a map of where all the owls were located around the city, not just the city itself:


I ended up spending the day exploring the owls as much as the city, it was a great way to see the city. It also gave me a reason to talk to people, mostly families out for the day exploring the owls too! It was then that I decided I would make an owl quilt the next year. I used this picture from the map as my template. It is one of my favorites from the exhibition, based on the Owl and the Pussycat (in a beautiful pea-green boat) and viewed from the back of the owl, it’s the pussycat!


Here’s a 3 owl practice that I put together. The fabric is different for each owl, as it is a bit of a memory quilt for me. All owls are made from fabric from my stash. I’ve used the quilting to add the owl-like features, and iron on gemstones for the eyes:


You can see the detail in an individual owl, this owl is about 2.5 inches high:


My Big Hoot quilt will be my first large quilt I’m entering into Birmingham. I didn’t feel that I was good enough before, and I do think that this is the best quilt I’ve ever made. I can’t wait to see it there!

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3 Dear Jane Quilts

Paula Rafferty started an extremely ambitious project to do a set of 3 Dear Jane quilts on January 1 this year, what a way to start 2016! Paula asked for volunteers to sew the individual blocks, then sent fabric and block designs to quilters all around the world. A lot of quilters put in unbelievable amounts of time. Even though the squares are small, some are very involved. I chose not to participate because I was working on my own set of quilts to take to California.

In the end I did get to participate. The triangles around the edges of the quilt were not part of the initial push for blocks, and some were still not assigned when I returned from California. I took two triangle blocks, and needed to make 6 total as there are 3 needed per design, one for each of the quilts. I ended up doing them as rough edge applique, so it was all cutting and ironing. I felt a bit like I was cheating but was able to make them very quickly. And they ended up exactly the right size!


I just saw the 3 quilts put together last Friday for the first time and they are amazing! The designs that Paula put together are a rainbow, an Irish heart, and a skull.




These quilts are truly impressive and I am honored to be a part of this project. Thank you Paula!

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Christmas Bee Blocks

Yes it is nearly May but I’ve just now finished my Christmas Bee Blocks. It’s fine, they are for me to make into a quilt since I was “Queen Bee” in December! No apology necessary. What I decided to do for my month is send everyone the same fabric and see what they chose to make, with the only rule that you must have 4 square inches of the fabric within your 12 square inches. Everyone came up with something different using the green and gold striped fabric, I loved seeing the variety and creativity of my group. I will be making the 20 blocks into a quilt very soon, after finishing a few quilts for some upcoming exhibitions.

I decided to stick with some traditional blocks using the stripey fabric. Those of you know me will understand that I couldn’t have a quilt with no pinwheels, as they are a minor obsession of mine. Nobody else made pinwheels, so I made one block with 6 inch pinwheels. My second block is a creative use of half square triangles, yet another interest!


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Ready for Delivery

All five of my quilts are done and just about ready for delivery. I’ve learned a lot making these quilts, and I’m very pleased to have meaningful gifts to give to my family and friends. Each quilt has a matching cushion. I’ve found that it helps to have a practice piece, and it’s nice to make use of the practice piece as a bonus cushion.

This is the quilt I’m most proud of. The main quilt has 12 friendship stars, so it’s a very traditional quilt. I got help during a workshop with Tamomi on the quilt design. Here’s a closeup of the cushion, every star is quilted in the same way:


Here’s one of my fancy quilts – I made two with slightly different designs. Each has a main panel plus borders, including a braid as a more elegant border:


This is a small braid for somebody who loves the color turquoise! I also have a cushion for this but don’t have a photo of it. That cushion is literally just off the sewing machine 30 minutes ago.


I am looking forward to hand delivering these quilts!

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Quilt Tops for Trip

I have finished all 5 quilt tops for my upcoming trip – hooray! Now I have just a few short weeks to quilt and finish them. I would like to be further along in this but of course life gets in the way. Hopefully I will find the time to complete these for my friends and family.

Here’s Blue Braid, this is the only one that is already finished including binding. This is a photo mid-way through:


This is a combination of blacks and batiks, very striking. This is a zoom in, all the quilt is the same pattern:


Here is some fancy fabric that I arranged in two different ways to make similar quilts:


I’m really enjoying this set of quilts and I look forward to handing them out!

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Quilt Raffle Prize

I made this small quilt on a whim. I wasn’t planning to make it, but I found a pattern using Quarter Square Triangles and had so much fun that I just kept going! I loved how pinwheels popped up unexpectedly. Since the original pattern used all different fabrics, the pinwheels didn’t show up so obviously.

Once I put the quilt together, I felt that I had a generally appealing quilt (as quilts go) that is neither too girl-ish or boy-ish. I had nobody in mind to give this to, and decided to donate it to a school for a fundraiser that I’ve been work on. I ran it past the people running the raffle and they gave me the thumbs up so today I am sewing on the tag and I’ll be handing it over this week.

Here’s the quilt. The squares are 4 inches:


This is a closeup after I quilted it. There is stippling in the middle and a jagged edge with stars in the corners:


I hope this quilt finds a good home!

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Friendship Stars

I will be traveling in March and I challenged myself to make 5 quilts to take on the journey to give to friends and family. Needless to say it is nearly February and I have one quilt top made, and zero quilts actually finished! But I am enjoying the process and I’m doing my best to stay focused. It is unfortunate that I have so many other, arguably more important, things to do. My first quilt top was inspired by the Quilting Bee I took part in last year. My month was December and I sent everyone gold and green striped fabric to make whatever blocks they want, and I’ve had a terrific response. One lady made a friendship star, which is a quilt block I’ve never made. I used a charm pack that I won on a quilt blog to make the half square triangles and put together 12 of them. I like how the blue compliments the other colors and gives it a modern feel.

This is the complete quilt top, each square is 12 inches:

Here is a close up:

This is the square that inspired my quilt:

Wish me luck in my personal challenge!

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