Tag Archives: Finish

You Can Do That?

A friend of mine, Joanna the Snarky Quilter, said something recently that resonated with me. Because I won’t be able to find a quote, I’ll tell you what I remember: just because a quilt is “done” doesn’t mean you can’t still change it.

Long ago, a woman Jim taught with told the story of rearranging her home’s living room. Her young daughter came home and saw the changes. Very confused, the girl asked what happened. The mom said she’d moved the furniture, to which the girl replied, “You can do that?”

I had the same feeling when I read Joanna’s claim. You can do that? Of course! Why not?


Last spring I took a workshop with a quilt artist named Cathy Geier. She showed us very simple techniques to transform printed fabric to create a landscape quilt, using glue, markers and crayons, scissors, a little fusible web, and quilting.

Here was my result. This was my first “collage” quilt and I’m pretty happy with it, and with what I learned. One thing that’s odd is it feels kind of sterile. I considered naming it “Where Are the Birds?” because there is no sign of animated life anywhere. Another part that makes me less happy (and I know this wouldn’t bother many people) is that it doesn’t feel like my quilt, because I didn’t design it. Maybe that’s just weird of me to feel this way… But maybe because of that, I like the back that shows the quilting as much as the front.

The gallery below shows a squared-off photo. Click either image to see bigger and with right proportions.


Last year I found a line drawing of a deer’s head that I modified and drew on tracing paper. I considered a variety of ways to use it as an appliqué pattern. I could just use a solid cut-out on a solid background to maximize the impact. That’s still an option, but last week I tried using more of a fabric collage technique. Again, remember I’m still figuring out appliqué as a technique and as a way of using space.

I started by fusing fabric onto the paper.

This was not a good plan. Honestly I FORGOT it was tracing paper, because it looks almost exactly like parchment paper. Fusible web releases from parchment paper; it does NOT release from tracing paper.

It was okay. I actually laughed. I didn’t love what I’d already done, so didn’t mind doing it over.

Once I rebuilt the deer’s head, I needed to choose a background. Here it is on a piece of fabric, printed with a forest design.

Still didn’t love it, but it’s better and at least let me imagine a direction for it. Anything very busy will obscure the deer, but anything very plain will show off the deer more than it deserves. 🙂

Then I saw Joanna’s wise words and thought, what if I put it on the trees landscape?

It is all stitched down now, using a lightning-style zigzaggy stitch from my machine that looks more natural than a plain zigzag. Here’s the truth: I still don’t love it, but I like both the deer and the landscape better now that they’re together. And I learned a lot. Win!

P.S. If you are looking for an interesting blog to follow, check out Joanna the Snarky Quilter. While she has her background in traditional quilting, as long as I’ve known her she’s moved more and more deeply into art quilting. She often shares techniques she’s using for surface design, and she shares process as she moved through projects. She’s very articulate, too, which makes for great reading.

Last Finish of 2015

The disappearing 9-patch is done and ready (except label!) to deliver to its recipient. It’s 64″ x 88″. I quilted with free-motion quilting using dark pink thread in a floral design.

Disappearing 9-Patch. 64″ x 88″. Finished December 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

It is what I hoped for: joyful and casual, not sophisticated and serious.

Medallion Sew-Along — First Three Finishes

If you’ve been here before, you probably know my focus (these days!) is on medallion quilts. In fact, I’m so focused, I developed a Medallion Sew-Along. My hope is these posts show you the beauty of this quilt form, and teach you strategies for designing your own medallions.

The Sew-Along includes two tracks of design. Track 1 provides a size format, allowing you to choose the center block and any borders. With sizing, one design element is in place.

With this format, the center block finishes at 15″ and is square. You choose a straight setting or to turn the block on point.
The first border set, whether you set your block on point or straight, takes your center to 24″.
The second border set adds a 4″ border, taking the border to a total size of 32″ finished.
The third border set adds a 2″ border, followed by a 6″ border. This takes the finished size to 48″.
For some of you, the 6″ border might be the last. Others may choose to add more borders.

Here are my first three finishes. Note that ALL THREE use this Track 1 size format.

Medallion Sew-Along finish #1. About 52″. The last border is 2″.

Medallion Sew-Along finish #2, the Big Blue and Brown. About 85″. After the 6″ border, I turned the whole thing on point.

Medallion Sew-Along #3. About 60″. The 6″ border is of friendship stars and spacer blocks. The checkerboard and edge of blue add another 6″ border.

I think it’s pretty amazing and a lot of fun that the same set of instructions can yield such vastly different quilts. To me, it’s like making soup. The ingredients and proportions will be different for each pot, but the basic structure is the same.

You can find more about my design process here and here.