Quilting Calm

I think most of us who “make” would admit that half of the motivation to do so is in the therapy it provides.  Have you ever made something because you needed the excitement or the calm the object channeled?  I’m not often conscious of these motivations until I’m done with a piece.


Lately I’ve needed a little calm and this quilt top filled the bill.  At the end of December, I took advantage of a sale Leslie Keating was having and bought some beautiful Maze and Vale fabric along with one of her quilts.  If you don’t already know, I have a huge soft spot for hand printed and dyed fabric.  Leslie’s work is amazing. (Maze & Vale.)

IMG_1432I actually drew out a design but then quickly abandoned it and started piecing half circles and circles.  I hated the idea of cutting this gorgeous fabric up so tried to make big blocks to keep it intact as much as possible.  I threw in a Japanese Indigo dyed linen and some mustard linen as well.  Can you see my inspiration in the printed mustard circle of Leslie’s baby blanket?






There is a hidden square on the piece on the top middle.  It was a completely delightful “accident”.  I LOVE this quilt top and the calm I get gazing at it.  This one will go on my wall once finished.  I’m auditioning names for this guy and somehow the cheesy 80s songs which have been my naming inspiration of late don’t seem right.  If you have any suggestions, I am all ears.



Paper Piecing in Rubber and Chihuly Improv

Creativity comes rushing in at least for me in frantic bursts. And ideas are served up best with some great materials to create with. This last week I gathered together a suede coat donated by a friend, some scrap upholstery leather and left over coat leather and a motor cycle inner tube.


An encounter with a paper piecing pattern I have wanted to try and a desire to use nonstandard materials for this very traditional quilting method collided and a bag front in paper pieced suede and rubber materialized.  Of note I did have to rely on my industrial machine to piece these together and ended up quilting them down to a heavy interfacing to help it all lie flat.  It turns out rubber doesn’t iron very well.



Encouraged by some instagram friends to make this a girl bag instead of a boy bag and the fact that it was rocking a Joan Jett/The Runaways vibe (thanks Kirsty) set the stage for a “Cherry Bomb” back with reverse appliqué in leather and rubber.


I used some leftover coat leather for the sides, bottom and handle. If you look closely, you can see a 007 insignia barely visible on the bottom, a remnant of the coat with that marking that was donated for my creative cause.



It’s already been claimed by an interested friend (to be honest with most projects, I can’t wait to give them away fast enough so as to clear my space and brain). Although not shown, the bag has an inserted zipper pocket inside and a magnetic clasp at the top. The bag design from top to bottom is my own.


I completed the first blocks for our first Bee Sewcial month this last week as well.  This month’s inspiration was the Chihuly exhibit in the Denver Botanical Gardens. What an interesting exercise this was. I feel a bit like I am in art school watching myself and everyone else make their self portraits.  I find myself surprised how different all our blocks look from each other’s (heck, my three blocks don’t share much similarity).  I wish Stephanie the best in putting them all together into a cohesive creation (no small feat).


I experimented with curved piecing (which was a tad tricky when trying to make the vertical “glass” overlap) on the first block above.

On the second block influenced by some of the “hard lines” of other pieces in our group, I improv pieced triangles together.  I  inserted some pieced blue orb scraps that were cut from a failed too literal attempt at stacked blue glass balls.


The last block is probably the most “me” and was inspired by some of Sarah Nishiura’s work. I needed a break from all the red I have been working with so concentrated more on the blue and yellow colors in Chihuly’s work trying to mirror the vertical bursts of blue and yellow glass seen in the garden.


I have made some more wonderful connections this week, there is more collaborative work coming and I am anxious to start hand quilting my 5/325 quilt.

Happy Monday all,



Happy New Year

Looking forward, looking back.  In 2015 I hope for more family, more friends, more travel, more creating with purpose and definitely more collaborative work.  And this collaborative piece is a hearty one as it is setting down roots and blooming in this cold of winter.


Stephanie (Spontaneous Threads.) and Leanne (she can quilt.) have collected quite a group of quilters (Latifah-Latifah Saafir Studios | One Stitch. One Seam. One Quilt.., Diane-random thoughts…do or “di”., Felicity-Felicity Quilts., Kari-Craft Happy., Melissa-We Shall Sew., Marci-Marci Girl Designs – Home., and Debbie-A Quilter’s Table.) and they are leading us on a fun journey. Check out Stephanie’s plans for our first month on her website and our progress together on instagram (#beesewcial) and in flickr (Beesewcial group).


Looking forward also to finishing up a project I started last year with many of my sewing friend’s help. I have asked several special people to join me in making a Carolyn Friedlander shirt in their own skin color so we can collectively send a message that “Nude is Not a Dress Color”. Email and plans coming soon to those who offered to help.


Continuing with the collaboration theme, Christine Perrigo (Contemporary Custom Quilting.) has graciously agreed to custom quilt my Queuing Theory Quilt.  It is coming together beautifully!


Lastly I’m looking forward to plans with Luke Haynes (Luke | Just another WordPress site.) who has offered to make me some fabric.  I am curious to see what he has in store and my mind is already spinning with ideas for this collaboration.

I end by including some pics of my last minute Christmas creations and photos my brother took of my work at my parent’s house.

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Happy New Year everyone.




Working in an Emergency Department sometimes feels like being at ground zero of a community’s addiction issues and my medical career thus far can be classified by the locations and eras I have practiced and favored drugs of abuse: Seattle – Heroin, Cleveland – Crack Cocaine, Sacramento – Methamphetamine and now in Northern California – Prescription Narcotics.  Wanting to portray the mixed blessing of prescription narcotics and inspired by the modern painter Cecil Touchon, I dreamed up a statement quilt.  5/325 stands for the most common dose of hydrocone/acetaminophen my colleagues and I prescribe. I have long admired the hand dyed fabrics of Kim Eichler-Messmer and am a huge fan of her book.  This quilt and a few others I have planned call for these kinds of special fabrics.  With limited time to make my own, I went straight to the source with my kooky ideas.  Although Kim didn’t know I was planning to make a quilt specific to prescription narcotics, amazingly she was willing to play along and hand dyed fabric for me on commission.  (If you ever get a chance to see or purchase her quilts, fabric or book do it!)


To start this piece, I grabbed my laptop and projector, found a bold font I liked and traced 5/325 onto the white fabric.


I then hand basted the it to Kim’s beautiful blue fabric.  Channeling Touchon, I cut up the fabric randomly and then needle turn appliquéd each wonky piece.



Finally, I put together the pieces like a mixed up puzzle and machine sewed them together again.  I got to try out Y seams for the first time with some luck.  Finger pressing the seams as I wanted them to lay then sewing on the folds I had formed seemed to work.




I’m hoping to hand quilt this piece and would like to explore finishing the edges without binding.

Wish me luck.



We Have a Winner

Congratulations Sarah C!  You are the winner of my repurposed leather and Hmong textile clutch.  Please respond back to me by tomorrow (or I may need to pick a new winner).  Picture above is a new Quilt I am working on titled 5/325.




Sorry Sarah C since I haven’t heard back from you I had to spin the wheel again and pick a new winner: Janice Brewster Weiser at will get the bag!


Vivian Maier, QuiltCon and Why We Create

Has anyone seen the documentary, Finding Vivian Maier?  It is a story of one of the more accomplished American street photographers of the 20th century who took thousands of pictures during her lifetime . . . and never shared them with anyone.  Her amazing art was discovered posthumously and this woman who worked as a nanny for her whole life never claimed the title of artist she so deserved.  Why did she spend every free minute perfecting this art and never share it?

This movie came to mind as I watched the people prepare their art in the form of quilts for Quiltcon 2015 and then acknowledge their entrance or rejection from the show that so many of us are looking forward to attending in February.  It had me thinking  much about art, the judging of it, why we share, what makes it art and what makes us artists in the first place?  In some ways the phrase Art Contest seems like an oxymoron.  How do we judge art?  And for those of us who create in fabric, do we call ourselves artists?  None of my local friends sew but many paint, take amazing photography, create jewelry and are creative ceramicists.  All appropriately so would call hemselves an artist but I would never refer to my work as art.

In our modern age it would be almost unheard of for an artist like Vivian not share their work with the world via Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, blogging etc.  Why do we feel the need to share it?  When we share it, does receiving a ribbon in a contest or acceptance into a festival make it more worthy or more arty?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions for anyone else but myself.  I create because the process of creating makes me unbelievably happy.  I love exploring new ideas, using my imagination and mastering skills.  I choose to share it because I love kibitzing with and being inspired by other creative folks.  I so look forward to going to Quiltcon this February to meet some of you artists.  And someday, when I am comfortable with how far I have come with my own art I will bravely enter my work for consideration in big shows like Quiltcon.  Then again, maybe not. :)

I would be oh so happy to hear why you create and why or why not you share your work to a broader community.

(I am including a little bit of my recent work.  I made my first concentric circle experiment into a pillow and played around with improv curved piecing to make up a quilt top I am calling “Batten Down the Hatches” as we in Northern California face the “storm of a century”.  By the way, I have learned so much about curved piecing with my latest projects.  I may be done with circles for a bit . . . maybe.)





Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day – Leather and Vintage Hmong Remnant Handbag

Hi everyone! I’m excited today to give away a leather handbag I made earlier this year.  It is made out of leather repurposed from a coat donated by a friend and embellished with a vintage Hmong textile and a tribal tassel for the zipper pull.  The bag measures 12×7 inches and is lined.  I am happy to ship internationally.  To enter leave a comment describing a favorite handmade gift you have given to others.  For an extra chance to win leave a comment and follow me on Instagram (@entropyalwayswinsblog).  This contest is open until December 12th 5PM PST.



You can find more amazing giveaways at Giveaway Day: Handmade Goods | Sew Mama Sew | Outstanding sewing, quilting, and needlework tutorials since 2005..

Good luck!