My Checkerboard Quilt, All Done

Checkerboard Quilt

I finished my Checkerboard quilt on Thursday night and will be sending it off to its new home on Tuesday.

When I started making this quilt, I had something softer in mind.  But it didn’t want to be soft.  It wanted the bold colors and small patterns. I don’t listen to jazz often, but making this quilt made me want to listen to Miles Davis.

That happened once before when I was making a quilt.  That time it was Lou Reed, and I haven’t listened to his music since.

Most of the time when I’m designing a quilt I can’t listen to music. It gets in the way of knowing what the quilt wants. Like I can’t hear what it’s telling me to do next.

Much of the patterned fabric in this quilt look to me like they’re from the 1970’s.  They were so new to my stash I didn’t even get a chance to put them on my shelves before using them.   A lot of the solid colors are old scrubs.

I used a sheet for the back along with the flowered piece of fabric that had the date 1974 printed on it. I tacked the quilt with blue yarn.  But I don’t think I’ll be using that yarn again.  It was thick and hard to pull through the two layers of fabric and batting.

I’m glad I used it for this quilt though. It’s hardly visible on the front and looks just right on the green backing.

The Back of Checkerboard


Finishing Up My Checkerboard Quilt…

The cotton batting laid out over one-half of my Checkerboard quilt.

I got the backing and batting on my checkerboard quilt this morning. Now it’s hanging in my studio, waiting for me to tack it.  I won’t get to it today, I have Bellydancing tonight so I’ll work on it tomorrow.

My Checkerboard Quilt is sold.

Bud and my Checkerboard Quilt, ready for tacking.

I Finished Designing My Checkerboard Quilt


I finished designing my Checkerboard Quilt today.  Next week I’ll work on the backing and put it together.

I had no idea what would happen after I sewed together the checkerboard at the center of this quilt.  I never know what will come next when I’m working on a quilt.

I can remember looking at abstract paintings and wondering how the artist made her decisions about where to put a mark or what color to use.

And then, when I first saw the Gee’s Bend Quilts, I wondered the same thing.  Why that color, that pattern in that place?

I was inspired and influenced by the Gee’s Bend Quilts, by their beauty, but equally by the philosophy that so many of the women who made them talked about.  The idea that no one can tell the person making the quilt what it should look like.  Only the quilter knows that.

It was just what I needed, something I could do that would teach me to trust myself.

It was when I began making quilts that I started trusting my own intuition.  I had to, it was the only thing I had to guide me.

When I  make a quilt I’m not thinking of color theory or looking to traditional patterns. I’m trusting whatever it is inside of me that knows when two pieces of fabric work together or not. And it’s often only looking at a quilt after I’ve finished it, that I understand where it came from or what it’s about.

As soon as I sew the first two pieces of fabric together, if I’m listening, the quilt begins to tell me what it wants. We keep doing that till it’s done.

When I first started making quilts I laid them all out on my floor then sewed them together.  It was only when I took lessons from  Mary Ann Pettway in Gee’s Bend that she taught me to sew the pieces as I went.

This was an even greater lesson in trusting myself.  Sure I could always take two pieces of fabric apart after sewing them together. But each time I do sew another piece of fabric onto a quilt that I’m making, I’m making a commitment to my decision, no matter how it turns out.

And each time I do this, it reinforces my belief in myself.  In my ability to create something beautiful,  meaningful and useful.  And to trust my intuition and decisions, not only with my art, but in my life too.

A detail from Checkerboard
Another detail

Still Working On My Checkerboard Quilt


It’s Bellydancing day and I had my morning and afternoon all planned out.  I’d work on my Checkerboard quilt till 3pm then blog till four when I’d feed the animals and get dressed for class.

But at 11:00 I got a call from the Co-op.  I was scheduled to work tomorrow, helping to unpack the weekly order, except now the order was coming a day early.

I worked for a while more on my quilt and blogging then made my way to the Co-op.  I do get a great deal of satisfaction unpacking the pickles and yogurt, hearing the click-click of the pricing gun as I label the Red Mill Cornmeal. The empty shelves get filled and I break down the cardboard boxes piling them up till I take them to the recycling bin.

I like working with Katie and Kelly, even though we don’t have a lot of interaction.  It feels good to be around other people, knowing even if we’re each doing our own thing, it’s all for one purpose.

Of course, on my three and a quarter-hour shift each month it’s easy to forget all the potential difficulties of working with other people too.  I’m the boss and the staff in my studio.  And when I put something in the wrong place and can’t find it or forget to put an order in the mail, there’s only me to blame.

I did get a good amount done on my Checkerboard quilt before leaving. And I have the next step laid out too. That will have to wait till tomorrow.


Checkerboard Quilt

I got a late start in my studio today, and it took me a while to get focused once I was there.  But once I did, work on my Checkerboard quilt moved along steadily. It’s late now and I’m tired, so I won’t write about the process, but I did take a lot of pictures along the way, so maybe words aren’t necessary.

I laid out, but still have to sew the strip of fabric on the left.   More tomorrow.

What Creative People Do. Printed Floor Cloths At Bishop Gibbons

Some of the Floor Cloths hanging in the hallway at Bishop Gibbons

Over the summer someone donated a bunch of raw canvas to Sue’s art class at Bishop Gibbons.

When Sue showed it to me, she wasn’t sure how she would use it.

This is how it works.  When a creative person receives something they weren’t expecting, they figure out how to use it.

Sue came up with the idea of making floor cloths from the canvas.

Using a soft pad that is similar to using a linoleum block, but easier to carve, the students cut out designs and printed them on the canvas to make floor cloths. Both sides of the soft pad can be carved so the designs can be alternated to make a repeated checkerboard pattern.

I was moved to tears when the saw the floorcloths hanging in the hallway at the school around the statue of Mother Mary.

It felt as if Sue had brought the art room up from the basement and into the light where everyone could see it.

Here’s a few of the printed floor cloths close up.

This one makes me think quilt.

A New Batch Of Potholders For Sale

My Potholders are for sale here. 

These are the potholders I made last week after finishing my Checkerboard quilt.  I used scraps from the quilt and also some of the fabric I had out that I didn’t end up using in the quilt.

Their design comes directly out of making Checkerboard. 

There’s some African fabric in a few of these potholders, just like in my Checkerboard quilt along with scrubs and vintage fabric. There are also a few animals, cranes, an elephant, a bird, and butterflies.

My Potholders are $20 each and shipping is $5 for one or more.  You can see them all up close and buy them in my Etsy Shop. Just click here.  

Mystical Lion
Quilt Square Potholder.  That little checkerboard in the middle is from a vintage quilt square.




Fate and Zinnia keeping me company while I did my shipping.

Sometimes Jon and I take the holidays off in an obvious way.  We’ll stop working early and go to a movie or take a drive and get lunch or ice cream.

Today’s holiday was just about taking it a little slower.

After I fed the animals, I went back to bed and read for a while before getting up. (I’m reading Francine Prose’s new book The VIxen which keeps me thinking has me in its grip).

Then Jon and I brought some hay bales, flowers and gourds to The Mansion and set them up outside.  We also fixed the “Heroes Work Here” sign which sags over time.

Jon and I visited with our neighbors Fanny, Lena and Sara Miller, who were cutting up pears for canning. Then I sat with Jon as he cut flowers from his Zinnia garden and made them into a bouquet for me. After that I took a walk in the woods with Fate and Zinnia.

All this happened in between doing my shipping.  I sold out all of my potholders and have my Checkerboard Quilt to put in the mail tomorrow. I did design some more potholders on Friday.  As you can see they were directly influenced by my Checkerboard quilt….

My new batch of Potholders

After dinner, I’ll have my weekly Zoom studio chat with Emily.

This week I want to work on my “Forest In My Livingroom” fabric painting, maybe even finish it.  And I got the idea to make some mushrooms on fabric when I was walking in the woods.  I’d used the photos I’ve been taking of mushrooms all summer to work from.  I can already picture a few. I’m not sure how I’ll use them yet once they’re done, but that will come.



If what won’t work, doesn’t work

new quiltYou see those little green and flowered checkerboard squares to  the right.  That’s how this quilt started.  I’ve been looking at those little squares for weeks, wanting to sew them together.  They came to me all cut up like that in a bag of scraps from Laura Israel.

Yesterday, in a frenzy, I sewed them together.  Then I just added to them, what ever felt right until I got to the point where I am now. The beginnings of a quilt, about 30×40 inches.

And now, I’m stumped.  I just don’t know what to do next.  I’ve  already tried so many things, but nothing’s working. I don’t even know how I got to this point.   So I’m beginning to think I’ll have to cut it up.  In half at least.

But I’m not ready to commit to that yet.  I’m thinking that this quilt wants to take me to a place I haven’t been before.

Maybe it’s like when I misplace something that I use everyday, like my wallet or keys.  When I’ve looked everywhere they should logically be and still can’t find them, I know it time to look in those places where they have no right being.  Like in the refrigerator or the medicine cabinet.  Because if they’re not where they usually are, then I put them somewhere while thinking of something else and they could be anywhere.

So instead of looking at the quilt and thinking what the next piece I sew on should look like, I’m going to think of what it shouldn’t look like.  What won’t work.

And if what won’t work, doesn’t work, then I’ll cut it up.


Maybe… or maybe not…or maybe

jackie's quilt 1

This is how it began, the apron in the middle (just like I did for the quilt I made for Jackie’s sister) and the idea of a checkerboard, to pick up the pattern of the apron.  Jackie asked me to use the Irish scarf that belonged to her mother-in-law, (an impressive woman who raised two sons by herself) if I could.  I laid the scarf out and placed a variety of fabrics on it from the collection of clothes Jackie sent me.  When I put the green corduroys next to it, the textures together  were so luscious I wanted to eat them.  Great I thought, but what now?  Once again I pulled out the Gee’s Bend book for inspiration.   I didn’t see any one quilt that helped, but as I leafed through, patterns started to form in my head.  I saw the red plaid pieces straight across the top and bottom, next came filling in the sides.  I stared for a long time at this configuration, thinking about what clothes I had left to use and how much of each.   Then this popped into my head:

Target by Jasper Johns
Target by Jasper Johns

The Jasper Johns painting Target.  What I needed was something akin to those little rectangles on top of the painting.  So I cut up some of the other shirts that belonged to Jackie’s husband and a pair of her mother’s shorts and came up with this:

jackie's quilt 2

But it needed something else, a touch of red at the top or bottom.  I decided on the top and had just enough from  Jackie’s Mom’s red plaid skirt for a thin strip of red.

jackie's quilt 3

That’s good, I thought, looking at it….or maybe…. So I took a break and went for a walk with the dogs.  Lenore rolled in something smelly and Red was the perfect gentleman, even without Jon there.  Frieda ( having no choice since she was on a leash) walked at my side.

Back from the walk I told myself  it’s the end of the day, leave it alone till tomorrow, but I couldn’t resist and picked up where I left off.  …..maybe… a bit of Campbell plaid on the right.

jackie's quilt 4  Those rectangles on the bottom may need to be squares…..or maybe not, or maybe…..



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