Raise the Roof

I made a pretty quilt!  I very rarely make a quilt that I would call “pretty”- typically I describe my work with terms like graphic, clean, dynamic, or vivid.  Raise the Roof is an exception to this trend.

Raise the Roof front

Inspiration for Raise the Roof came from the architecture of the Horticulture Building on the grounds of the Ohio State Fair.  The low volume background of the blocks echos the design of the rafters of the building, and the central stars are an abstract representation of the over-sized ceiling fans.

Horticulture Rafters

Horticulture Fans

The pink, violet, and orange blocks appear to spin around the focal blocks in blue and orange.

Raise the Roof Focal Blocks

Value plays a huge role in the design of the quilt blocks.  The colors in the low volume background triangles have the same placement in each block segment, but the brightly colored star tips change depending on the block placement.  Intentional placement of a dark and light version of each color on every point creates a three dimensional look.

Raise the Roof Sample Blocks

After creating a few sample blocks, I decided to submit the design to Modern Patchwork.  I was thrilled to have it accepted, and quickly finished the top.  For the quilting design, I chose an all-over organic free motion design with a botanical flavor.

Raise the Roof back

The juxtaposition of the organic quilting lines on the regimented, foundation paper pieced quilt top reminds me of the relationship between the beautiful floral displays against the architecture of the building.  To make the quilting stand out even more, I used double batting for the first time.  The top layer is a yummy Hobbs Tuscany Wool, and the bottom layer is Hobbs 80/20.

Raise the Roof detail

To top it all off, this quilt made the cover of the magazine!  This is a first for me, and I am over the moon!



You can get your very own copy of the March/April Modern patchwork here!

Quilt Stats

Title:  Raise the Roof

Size: 59″ x 59″

Techniques:  Foundation Paper Piecing, Traditional Piecing

Quilting:  Hand guided, mixed motif free motion quilting done on an A-1 Elite Longarm

Fabric:  Assorted quilt shop quality, 100% cotton fabrics, and backing of wide-back Kona Cotton

Batting:  Hobbs Tuscany Wool and Hobbs 80/20

Thread:  Pieced using light grey Gutermann Mara 100, Quilted with 50wt cotton Aurifil

Binding:  Cotton and Steel grey and silver dot bias binding, machine stitched to the front, hand finished on the back.

National Backwards Day!

Today, January 31 is National Backwards Day!  I decided to celebrate by taking a closer look at the back of some quilts and quilt tops.

The backs of quilt tops hardly ever get the glory that they deserve.  Here are some hand appliquéd circles . . .

Circle Applique back

And some machine pieced circles . . .

Stroll back

I love when the quilting transfers the design of the quilt to the back of the project.

Row by Row Back


Overlay Back

Franklin Park back


Sometimes the design isn’t completely transferred to the back of the quilt, but you can get a general idea of the quilt front.

Customer Quilt back

Pin Mini back


Occasionally I do simple, light quilting . . .

Simple Mini Quilt BackBut more often it’s heavy quilting that shows on the back of my quilts . . .  (these two mini quilts are the same design)

Star Block Back


Recently I even tried out using doubled batting, which really made the quilting design pop on the back of the quilt (as well as the front).

Secret Sewing Quilt Back

I frequently love the backs of quilts as much as the front!



The same afternoon that I made the 9 Patch Circle Quilt, I also created Scatter.  I wanted to explore the visual effect of all-over organic placement of the circles compared to the more regimented placement seen in the 9 Patch Circle Quilt.

Scatter front

This is another “sketch” quilt, so prior to quilting the circles are held in place only through the use of Wonder Under fusible web.

Scatter progress 1

The quilting plays the starring role in this mini quilt.  It is a good thing that the quilt is small- even at this side I had an hour of active stitching time!  I selected a very dark 50wt thread to define the edges of the circles.  It reminds me of dark ink on paper painted with bright dots.

Scatter progress 2

For the background quilting, I wanted to define the space with a strong organic design that would echo the primary circles without overshadowing them.  Using white thread on the white background fabric to do the same stitching technique fit this need and it catches the light nicely, not to mention it feels amazing to touch!

Scatter detail

The edges are finished with a simple facing.  I love that the back creates a neutral version of the design!

Scatter back

Quilt Stats:

Title:  Scatter

Size: 18″ x 18″

Techniques:  Fused Applique

Quilting:  Free motion quilting using an A-1 Longarm

Fabric:  Assorted solids on a Kona Snow background with Kona Snow backing

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20

Thread:  Quilted with a variety of 50wt Aurifil

Binding:  Facings to match the quilt background and backing

9 Patch Circles

I love using colorful thread.  There is a good chance that you have gathered that if you have seen much of my work.  I also have a tendency to use it the most in matchstick quilting.  In the last few weeks I had been contemplating how I could infuse a quilt with colorful thread in an abstract way without using straight lines.  Ultimately the idea of circles took over.

9 Patch Circle front

This mini quilt is mostly a sketch to explore a quilting technique, so I kept the construction process as simple as possible.  Prior to quilting the circles were all held in place with Wonder Under fusible web and the small size (15″ square) made it really easy to throw on the longarm to quilt.

9 Patch Circles process

The quilting thread matches the fabrics and then infuses color into the adjoining fabric.  The color of the outermost section of the concentric circle flows out into the background through the quilting.  I stuck with 50wt thread for this because I wanted to make a lot of lines over a small area, and didn’t want too much thread build up.  I decided to emphasize the grid configuration of the circles and juxtapose the dominant curves of the circles with some straight lines.  Some simple, white matchstick quilting between the rows and columns of dots accomplishes this goal.  The quilting on this took about an hour, but most of that was thread changes :)

9 Patch Circle detail

The quilt is finished with a simple facing that matches the backing fabric.  I love using a solid backing on a quilt with lots of thread colors to show off all of that work.

9 Patch Circles back

Quilt Stats:

Title:  9 Patch Circles

Size: 15″ x 15″

Techniques:  Fused Applique

Quilting:  Free motion quilting using an A-1 Longarm

Fabric:  Assorted solids on a Kona Snow background with Kona Snow backing

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20

Thread:  Quilted with a variety of 50wt Aurifil

Binding:  Facings to match the quilt background and backing

Complementary Composition: A Michael Miller Challenge Quilt

Complementary Composition grew out of the 2017 Michael Miller/Modern Quilt Guild Challenge.  This is the third year I have participated in the challenge, and this is the first time that my challenge quilt has been selected for participation at QuiltCon.

Complementary Composition full

The fabric for the challenge is Our Yard, and it is super cute!  This actually proved to be a greater challenge to me, because I rarely make quilts that I can describe as cute or even pretty.  I love looking at quilts that are cute, pretty, darling, charming, etc., but I don’t tend to create work that I would use these terms to describe.  Now the question became- How do I incorporate these charming prints into my personal aesthetic?

Michael Miller Challenge Fabric 2017

When I am uncertain how to proceed with a design, I tend to turn to the elements and principles of design.  While the elements and principles of design never exist purely on their own, I find that sometimes narrowing my focus in the initial stages of a design helps to refine my overall vision for the project.  In this case, I initially focused on the element of color and the principle of scale.

There are so many bright colors in the challenge prints that it allows for interpretation in selecting a dominant color palette.  Blue and Orange has always been my favorite complementary color scheme (two colors opposite each other on the color wheel), and I thought that the vibrant combination would honor the energy evoked in the fabric prints.  To add visual dimension, I selected a lighter and darker version of solid color.  I was fortunate enough to make my initial fabric purchase for the quilt while in Paducah, KY at Hancock’s of Paducah.  They carry most of the Michael Miller solids, so I was able to make my color choices with the fabrics right in front of me.  When purchasing solids for a project, I try to photograph the ends of the bolts just in case I need to order more, which did happen during this project.

Michael Miller Solids

The official challenge only required that two of the prints in the line be incorporated into the finished quilt, but as a personal challenge, I wanted to use each one included in the bundle that was sent out.  In order to make this work with my aesthetic and the color scheme of the quilt, scale was going to be an extremely important aspect of the design.  The most graphic print in the bundle is the black, grey, and white print which is the most closely aligned to my aesthetic.  This would be the dominant print.  The black and white leaf print on the mustard and aqua backgrounds is closely associated with the striped print, and I liked that the spacing of the print give the eye a place to rest in the background and allows it to work with the solid fabrics surrounding it.  I knew that this print was a prime candidate for fussy cutting to highlight the leaf image.

Complementary Composition fussy cut detail

The busiest prints were going to be the most challenging to work in, so they were going to be used in the smallest pieces.  The 1/8″ slivers of these fabrics create energetic lines and break up large expanses of the solid fabrics.

Complementary Composition Piecing Detail

This quilt is constructed using a structured improv technique.  The pieces are measured and trimmed as they are sewn, but there is no predetermined design for the piece.  I started the process by constructing blocks loosely based on Log Cabin/Courthouse Steps style blocks.  Many of the blocks are built around a fussy cut square or a simply pieced block.  As the blocks were completed, I added them to the design wall.

Complementary Composition Design Wall

Once I decided the blocks were balancing within the design, I filled in the open areas with strips of fabric.

Complementary Composition Echo Quilting

For the quilting of the piece, I wanted to emphasize the linear qualities of the piecing by using a mix of vertical, horizontal, and diagonal straight line quilting as well as echo quilting.  The echo quilting highlights a visually contained shape while the vertical lines give a sense of strength that is balanced by the calming force of the horizontal lines.  Mixing in strong diagonal lines gives a greater energy and a sense of the unexpected to the overall design.

Complementary Composition Use of Challenge Fabric

The binding is a mix of solids with just a small section of striped fabric to draw the eye back toward the center of the quilt.

Quilt Stats:

Title:  Complementary Composition

Size: 63″ x 69″

Techniques:  Machine Piecing, Structured Improvisational Piecing, Fussy Cutting

Quilting:  Linear Quilting using an A-1 Longarm equipped with digital channel locks that can be set to any angle

Fabric:  Michael Miller Our Yard Prints and Cotton Couture Solids

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20

Thread:  Pieced using Gutermann Mara 100, Quilted with 50wt Aurifil

Binding:  Bias binding in a mix of solids and striped print cut at 2″ wide, machine stitched to the front, hand finished on the back