Tag Archives: Julie Paschkis

Tree of Life Times Two


Cathie’s “Fantasy of the Squirrels” on the left. My “Garden Party” on the right. Click on the picture to open it larger in a new tab.

One of the things I love about quilting is how two quilters can interpret a pattern or an idea completely differently. The photo above shows two quilts made using the center panel designed by Julie Paschkis. My sister Cathie made the one on the left side of the picture. I made the one on the right. Frankly, I think they are both terrific.

If you click on the picture, you’ll see the details of both quilts better. With hers, I love the way the split-striped border creates movement with the light/dark bars’ contrasts. Those contrasts are offset by the soft brown on either side. The triangle points extend the center outward, giving it even more presence. The outside border is a leaf print of blues, greens, and black swirling through, continuing the “fantasy” of the center, and playing well with the green and black print that squares the center. She repeats both the reds and blacks from the center with the corner four-patches, adding to the unity of the design.

In mine the colors are more saturated, the value contrasts stronger. This is a typical difference of how she and I work.

I enjoyed seeing the finished quilts side by side.




Tree of Life — Trusting the Process

I’ve been working on my Tree of Life quilt. The other day I showed you my second start at it. The first go was … worthy of trying. But it wasn’t working out for me. I count it as a successful experiment, one from which I learned a lot.

I removed the side borders and began again. I showed you this much already:

The black strips in the picture above are attached now. That border took the finished size to 30″ x 36″. Those dimensions work well for a block border of 6″ blocks. Of course there are a lot of other ways to solve that problem, too.

I imagined the next border as an enclosure of variable stars with pale backgrounds, and centers and points of the same blues, greens, browns, and reds. With 6 blocks on each of the longer sides, 5 blocks on each of the shorter sides, and 1 in each corner, I needed 26 blocks. I wanted the backgrounds scrappy, too. Checking scraps first, I found pale golds and pale greens for backgrounds. I cut so there were an equal number of warm backgrounds as cool. I also cut points and centers with equal numbers of warm and cool. This technique works well for me when a quilt doesn’t naturally tilt to one side or the other.

After building 13 of the 26 blocks, I put them on my design wall around the center. Scary! They were so wild, so vibrant, I was afraid they would take over, overwhelming the beautiful center. I hollered at Jim to take a look.

“Looks like a celebration!” he said. We talked through my concerns, but that’s what I want — a celebration. So we agreed I should go ahead.

“Trust the process. Trust the process,” I kept muttering to myself the next day as I finished making those stars. “The process” is the process of experimentation, of taking a vision to its point of evident success or failure. I figured there was nothing lost by continuing to make blocks. If they wouldn’t work, I’d have 26 great blocks available for a different project.

And here is the work so far. Finishing at 42″ x 48″, it’s ready for another 1″ black line all the way around. After that will come its final borders, to finish at about 56″ x 62″.


I like that the star backgrounds are paler than the pale caramel in the sawtooth border. The value contrast helps keep the focus on the center, rather than mushing it all out into a sea of mediums.

I trusted the process. I continued with my stars, knowing that I might not use them. But that lack of confidence did not stop me. Don’t let it stop you, either. Trust the process. Experiment. No bad thing will happen. Trust me.

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life is an old motif, dating back thousands of years in religion and philosophy, and hundreds of years to textiles from India. This quilt from the Smithsonian collection dates to around 1840. It was appliqued in the Broderie Perse style, popular at the time.

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A couple of years ago on an outing with my quilting small group, I was lucky to find a panel printed with a Tree of Life motif. It was designed by artist/illustrator Julie Paschkis. In fall 2013 I began a quilt with it, but I got bogged down with other projects and didn’t get very far. Still it called to me to come back, try again.

With my initial start, I created and attached side borders. I also made a bottom border of a completely different nature. My intention was to applique the first border on the top. But last week as I analyzed the work, I felt increasingly uncomfortable. Asymmetrical borders don’t bother me at all. But I was intending to have 3 vastly different kinds of borders on 4 sides. They just didn’t seem cohesive, and the sizing would have been a problem, too.

Ultimately I removed the side borders and began again. This time I could visualize almost the whole quilt without struggle. Colors still confuse me some, but they will resolve as I proceed. This is what I have so far.

The picture is crooked but the panel is straight! 🙂 The original panel includes the center with black background. The first border is the narrow red strip surrounding it. (Actually, there is a very narrow black coping border at the top and bottom of the panel, both to finish framing it in black and to create a size that was easy to use.)

The second border is of half-square triangles, using pale caramel as the background color. This creates value contrast with the black-backgrounded center, but uses a color that appears in the tree and branches. While all 4 sides are the same width, I’ve maintained the non-square rectangle of the panel. I also set the triangles asymmetrically to keep the light-hearted tone of the panel.

You see black strips around that, which are not attached yet. They’ll create a narrow border, allowing an edge and repetition of the center’s black. And after that… you’ll need to wait and see!

I struggled with this project before and set it aside. Deciding to unstitch and restart was a good decision, and I’m having fun with it now.