Friday 20 November 2020


Since finally finishing and posting my piece(s) for the Sea theme, I've made another.  My missing creative mojo had a good kickstart and I'm definitely not finished with this theme yet!  

A Life on the Ocean Wave

Aside from the theme as a prompt, inspiration for this new piece came from an odd place, about which more later. It made me think about where my inspiration usually comes from and I'd really like to know where you find yours.

Sometimes something I've read sparks an image in my mind, and sometimes inspiration comes from a visual source like a lovely set of shapes - like the way edges of buildings come together, for example -

or a combination of colours in rusty paintwork. 

 This doorknob became a quilt! 

I think some textures are really beautiful - like these cracks in concrete

and squirrel away a mental picture to ponder on at night. Mobile phone photography is a wonderful thing, but it does mean that I now have more than a lifetime's worth of inspiration snaps waiting to become quilts.

For materials and techniques I get a huge amount of inspiration from the adventurousness of the Endeavourers and often see something and think 'ooh, I must try that out!' or realise that suddenly I now know a way to express something I've been thinking about.   The fish in this quilt are made by cutting up the metal from tea lights, shaping them with the end of a teaspoon handle and embossing them.  The inspiration to do this came from Fiona here - I tucked that knowledge away at the back of my head and it was just what I needed.  

Anyway, as I mentioned, the inspiration for this current piece came from a surprising source - the side of a coffee pot.  It was sitting on my blue and white seersucker tablecloth and I was transfixed by the reflection on its shiny surface because suddenly I saw a beautiful wave shape and immediately knew what I wanted to do with it - though I have been thinking about it for a year and a half!

Luckily for the sailors on the boat the colours of my tablecloth suggested fair weather, even though the sea is rolling!

The boat itself is inspired by the jolly little fishing boats in the harbour at Cockenzie down the coast from here. 

The seagulls are made from modelling clay, supported on silver wire which is inserted into the top seam of the quilt - that inspiration just came into my head - pling! It is lovely when that happens.

I am always hugely grateful to be a part of the group - it is a luxury to have the theme as inspiration to mull over, and to also be inspired by and learn such a lot from the other members.   So, I would be very interested to know - where does your inspiration come from?

Thursday 5 November 2020

New Theme Announcement

What an absolutely spectacular reveal that was!  These are difficult times for everyone, and it is so cheering to see such amazing work.

Maureen and I hope to add our Sea quilts to the gallery in due course, but meanwhile it's time to begin the happy task of thinking about our next one.

The following themes remain in the hat:

  1. Memories
  2. A quilt inspired by a newspaper headline
  3. Emotions/feelings
  4. Opposites attract
  5. Colour theory
Mr Random has chosen

so our theme for the quarter is "Memories" and our reveal date is 1 February.   Look forward to seeing what you come up with!


Sunday 1 November 2020

Lost at Sea

This was an epic fail.  It shouldn't have been, I had lots of ideas and lots of blue fabric and thought this will be fun.  I think the too many ideas thing might have been the problem.  

At first I thought I'd make a shape that would tesellate and lots of different blue fabrics would fit together, to make a background mosiac and I'd quilt it.  I made a few shapes, tested the shapes on paper, realised it would be a very big quilt so, I then put the template aside to work on something else and lost them!  They are in the house somewhere but nowhere I could lay my hands on them. 

So last weekend, plan B was to make a print of sea inspired colours using my new Gelli plate and some paint.  I prevaricated between printing on fabric or on paper and figured that as I was learning how to use the thing, I should stick to paper to print on, scan it into the computer and print on printable fabric sheets I had from Electric Quilt and I could quilt that.  

It took some attempts to get what felt to me like sea colours and this was the one I thought I could add some quilting to.  Then I got a tummy bug and was under the weather for most of the week.  By the time I went looking for my printable fabric sheets I couldn't find them either.  I am starting to think the two presses where I shove everything into are like the Tardis and are much bigger on the inside!  

So deadline approaching, and too late to order anything from the internet, I tried quilting on the paper.  That did not work at all!


Nice tension on fabric, skipped stitches on paper with wadding behind it.  I googled and got lots of freezer paper stuff but no joy on the cardstock paper.  Feels like there should be a way to do this, don't you think?

So apologies, this one did not work out as I had hoped this time. 

I hope its ok if I share with you previous water themed projects so you would have more to see than a printed sheet of paper.  

Making Waves started as an Endeavourers project and was exhibited with the Irish Patchwork Society.


The Sea: Beached

I named this quilt "Beached".
After some deliberation and a try at a large wave, I came up with this quilt.

The lump pictured here is supposed to be a rock (?) 

I used found shells, buttons, beads and an mother of pearl cabochon.

 The wave is made up of several small cuts of lace and tulle that was sewn together on water soluble stabilizer that was then washed out. The piece was again cut into pieces and arranged into the wave. I also used the tulle to make the small waves.

The Sea: Sea Spray

Since I live in Minnesota, no where near the coasts, I rarely get to see the sea. My favorite "sea" here is Lake Superior, and I go there as often as I can. I enjoy watching the waves crash over the basalt rocks, making them a deep gray. Lake Superior is a moody lake, particularly in November. My Sea Spray quilt is a nod to my favorite body of water. 

The finished quilt measures 16" x 20".  I started with a background fabric of grey ombre for the sky, blue for the water, and layered the clouds and rocks, freehand. Once I was happy with the arrangement, I stitched the clouds and rocks down by straight stitching along the curves and angles. 

With the clouds and rocks done, I got to work on the waves. I had added in two strips of blue faux cork fabric, thinking that would give the feeling of the light on the breakers as they rolled in. To soften the edges of the strips, I tried adding some sea foam by using a little free motion thread painting. I had never done this before, so it was a challenge to get it to look realistic. 

After that was done, I used white embroidery thread and began to add seed stitches to create the spray. That ended up being more work than I expected, with having to continue to add stitches to create the right combination of dense and loose stitches. 

Then I added binding, and it was done. I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge. It is one of my favorite quilts that I've made for this group! 

I have more information about the construction of this quilt on my blog today, if you are interested in reading a bit more about my process. 


The Sea: 'Kelp Forest', 'Wave' and 'Shoreline'

I'm sorry to be arriving late to the party.  The last few months have been difficult for us all and, like many people I'm sure, I haven't felt much creative enthusiasm.  In the end I managed to get stuck in by giving myself permission to play for a bit, as people say in motivational books!  This subject is very close to my heart as I grew up near the sea, and still live near to it albeit in another part of the country further down the coast.   I find the colours and textures endlessly fascinating and it was these that I decided to think about to begin with, concentrating first of all on wave forms.

I started with the simplest wave quilting on calico.  It's a very peaceful and meditative exercise.

Then I pieced some waves.

I love that this piece almost looks carved in stone.

After that I progressed to colour

and then combined piecing, quilting and colour.

I realised that I loved the unfinished edges of this piece and will have to find a way to use this in future.

I made a copy so I could play with some seagulls

but this was just a diversion because I wanted to concentrate on making abstract pieces.

Finally, I wrapped three finished pieces round canvases - separate works which are also supposed to work together.  As things sometimes take on a life of their own, the pieced quilt became a kelp forest  (and by the way, if you have not seen the film My Octopus Teacher, with its stunning photography, it is worth looking up as a lovely and gentle antidote to the state of the world.)  The other two pieces reflect waves and ripples in sand.  Unifying all the quilts is a fairly heavy natural (and seeded) calico which I used for its lovely sandy colour and texture.  

Kelp Forest


Shore Line

The Sea

Although we have chosen our new theme - Memories - to work on in the coming quarter I think I will carry on working on sea-themed pieces as well.  I don't think I've finished my exploration of this subject:  getting these works finished has got me thinking again.  It's lovely to be back at the sewing machine and I'm really looking forward to trying out some more ideas.  As a subject it opens up fairly limitless possibilities!

As always, I'm very grateful to be part of such a lovely group of creative and supportive members.  



The Sea: Gulls Just Want to Have Fun

When "The Sea" theme was announced, I had so many ideas it was hard to narrow it down. I knew right away I wanted to try Karen Eckmeier's "Accidental Landscapes" technique. Her book has been on my shelf for years, but I'd never tried anything from it. Also, I thought it would give me a chance to use some of my grandmother's handmade doilies and dresser scarves in a quilt. 

So, I first settled on this original photograph, taken in Rodanthe, North Carolina, a small town in North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Using a collage technique, I rendered the seagull into fabric to create this quilt. It ended up at 20 x 24 inches.

The background was created using Karen Eckmeier's technique for layering fabrics and giving depth to a landscape. Also, I created some shimmer on the water using Angelina fibers.

As I worked, I remembered a lighthouse fabric I'd picked up during our travels. 

It included the Ocracoke lighthouse, also located in the Outer Banks. We traveled south to see the actual lighthouse.

And so I fussy cut it from the fabric...

and included it in the background of the quilt.

The foamy waves were made from my grandmother's hand-crocheted lace. This is something I've wanted to try for a long time.

Then I remembered visiting a fabric shop in Mantea, North Carolina, located in the northern portion of the Outer Banks. We live near the Pacific Coast of the United States, and most of our beaches are rather barren of seashells. The Atlantic Coast is quite different with lots of seashells for the picking. 

When we travel, I visit quilt shops and search for fabrics representative of the area. These regional fabrics are used to make memory quilts. While visiting the quilt shop in Mantea, I purchased a seashell fabric. 

From that, a grouping of shells was fussy cut to add to the lower corner.

Finally, I added in a few friends for the friendly seagull.

There were a few little details to hand-stitch, and my piece was finished.

Digging through my stash for a border and backing fabric, I found this one with waves and fish tails that seemed perfect. 

While I didn't set out for my "sea" themed quilt to represent the Outer Banks of North Carolina, that's where it ended up. It was a very fun project, and hard to walk away from it once I got started. I hope you like my quilt. I'm looking forward to seeing what others came up with for the theme.