Lectures and Workshops

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Bee blocks

 Here's an update on bee blocks I've sent out to my Solid Seven beemates in recent months. If you're not familiar with our bee, you can follow our shenanigans on instagram at #thesolidseven. We work only in solids.

In July, we made these awesome paper pieced blocks for E.A. She sent us the fabrics she wanted and we could place them in the block however we wanted.

In August, Sarah requested these tic tac toe blocks. She provided us with her desired color palette.

I had so much fun making them, I decided to make a whole baby quilt with them for yet another great niece who arrived this month.

Laura was queen bee in September and her paper strip pieced blocks were so fun and cheerful...

And finally, Nicole requested these blocks for October (yes, they are done and ready to mail. don't hate me). They are improve curves based on Maria Derse's Palette print...

This group inspires me so much! I can't wait to see what we get to do next.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

variations on Geo Pop

 When my friend Jayne, over at Twiggy and Opal started sharing her Geo Pop pattern in different variations, I decided to see how small I could make one! I pulled out some of my solid scraps and made this citrussy version...

Each block is 1 1/2" finished so the mini finished at 9"x12". pretty small but, of course, Jayne made a smaller one hahaha, which you can check out on her instagram.

Our Improv small group is doing a placemat swap. In August I needed to make a placemat for my friend Anne who had chosen pink and green. I enjoyed making the Geo Pop so much I decided to do a variation of it for Anne...

This one measures 12"x18".  Anne brought me this placemat (my chosen colors are black and white)

I love it! It will be fun to collect different placemats from my friends over the next few months.

Of course I didn't stop there with the Geo Pop quilts. A new great niece was on the way (she has since arrived and her quilt has been delivered). I thought a pink baby sized quilt was in order.

I quilted it with a simple grid on my domestic machine. 

Can you tell I really love this pattern? Jayne really hit it out of the park with this one!

Friday, August 28, 2020

Denim shirt remix

Years ago, hubby bought me this cute denim shirt from the Biltmore in Asheville, NC. I wore it a lot at first, but for a long time it's just been hanging in my closet. I decided to revamp it into something fresh and new.
A quick trip into the local quilt store and I had some gorgeous Ruby Star Society fabric and a couple of spools of 8 weight thread in coordinating colors.
In a jiffy i had this cute tunic all done! I added a gathered "skirt" with the fabric and embroidered flowers above the front pocket and on the back .

 Now I can't wait for fall so I can wear it! We've been having lots of 100+ degree days here in Texas, not exactly conducive to long sleeved denim shirts! For now it's safely tucked back in my closet.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020



I've followed Alisa Burke for a long time. I just love her art, the whimsical style, huge flowers, vivid colors. So, when she recently offered her doodle it out class 50% off I jumped at the opportunity (it's still on sale as of today! quick, go sign up!). 
Thirty days of video tutorials and prompts went by so fast!
I worked on cardstock, doodling with Sharpie markers, no special supplies needed.
I really didn't think I could draw faces, but with Alisa's excellent instruction I pulled it off! And buildings...
I found myself really looking forward to each day's lesson. Bonus, Ally said she wanted to color them! For her birthday I made copies of some of my favorites on cardstock(just used my printer) and I mailed them to her with a new set of colored markers.
I'm so glad I did this! now I'm eyeing up some of Alisa's other classes.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

colors of the year

When the 2020 colors of the year were announced at the end of last year I stocked up on both solids knowing I would want to do something fun. What beautiful colors they are! Perhaps the best thing to come out of 2020. 

Kona Enchanted, a beautiful deep green with a hint of blue tone....
 And Pantone Classic Blue. A gorgeous true blue! Per Debbie's advice (she always does such a good job evaluating the options) I opted for Kona Regatta.

 At first my plan was to use just the Regatta and Kona White for my little quilt for our guild challenge. I had an idea for a strip pieced "snowflake" design. Once I made one, it kind of fell flat for me. No worries, onto the back of my finished quilt it went. And the extra strip set too.....
I finally settled on some improv framed triangles in both colors. The centers of my triangles are actually some Moda Grunges that I had in my stash

I quilted it with my favorite angled grid and bound it in a blue & white stripe I found sitting on my shelf. It's a perfect little table topper or mini quilt to hang!

Our guild was supposed to have a display at the library like we did last year, but alas, COVID, sigh. We shared our challenge pieces at last week's Zoom meeting and that will have to do!

Monday, August 3, 2020

house swap quilt

Well, I just realized I never wrapped up my saga of all the house blocks! House blocks were swapped, and I adored every single block I received from my friends (people, there is an advantage to being in charge of a swap! YOU GET FIRST PICK! although I will say, every single block turned in was a masterpiece so it was a win/win situation). The blocks only spent a few days on my design wall board and I was off and running. I added some low volume rectangles to stagger my blocks but there was still something missing. If you know me well, you know what that something was. WORDS! Improv letters were quickly in the works and added as two borders (because, assymetry! ha!)

Oh, yes, I did add in a little red car to represent my RAV4 (named James) because it's my quilt and I do what I want, so there! It was quickly quilted up with a walking foot grid on my Janome and bound with a tiny low volume polka dot. I quite love this finished quilt and need to find an empty wall to display it (not an easy feat in this house!)

Also, why have I never thought to photograph quilts on this pretty stone wall on my front porch? I wish I could leave it there but unpredictable Texas weather does not allow for that. sigh.....

my little house quilt finished up at 34" x 36".

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Collaborating with Brooks

My friend Brooks does amazing work with mixed media collage. Her pieces all tell a story, which I love. I've been finding that my quilts recently tell stories too. We have connected with each other's work for a long time. Recently, after she saw my quilt Urban Emergence, she made this collage in response...

  Look at the two pieces side by side....
We got together on zoom and chatted about collaborative work we could do. Brooks told me all about her art studio she is preparing to build on their property. She even built a 3d model to share with the architect. I was so intrigued by her plans....
 We decided to each make a piece that reflects her dreams for her studio. We talked for a long time about the plans, set a color palette and went to work. Although we had planned to work separately and not share until we were finished, we found ourselves texting and sharing photos along the way. Our pieces ended up more literal and alike than we had originally planned.
 I love the colorful circles bursting from the roof of the studio, representing all of the wonderful creative ideas happening inside. At first, my circles looked like the balloons from the movie Up, lifting the studio into the sky, hahaha! I worked at it and I think i finally got it right.
Brooks and I have another collaboration in the works. We are working off of some photographs I shared with her. This time, we really plan to keep our work to ourselves until we are finished. I hope we can stick to the plan! This is a real learning process. I can't wait to share our next project with you!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

recent weaving

I've had a couple of orders for hand woven towels lately, in beautiful colors requested by the customers. First for Sarah....
 I'd really love to see Sarah's kitchen where these will live!
Then these for Nicole.....

These were all woven in 8/2 cotton from Webs on my rigid heddle loom (double threads warped in a 10 dent heddle, double weft as well for inquiring minds).

And now my loom is empty, but not for long, I'm sure!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

more watercolor

Hello friends! We are still sheltering at home here, as Texas has seen a recent surge in Covid19 cases. This nasty virus has impacted several friends and their families, so far our family remains healthy. I hope this finds you healthy as well.

I'm still enjoying dabbling in watercolor doodling. Most recently, I've been experimenting with flowers.

trying out different kinds of doodle flowers
some more delicate flowers. A set of four that might become cards
and a coordinating page in my art journal.

Have you learned anything new lately?

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Urban Emergence

I am just now beginning to be able to tell a story with my quilts. Until recently, often my story was "I wanted to play with triangles" or "these are the colors in my bedroom". Sometimes my story would come to me after a quilt was finished (or someone else would tell a story from my quilt!) This latest finish definitely has a story to tell!

It started months ago when I decided to ask my Solid Seven beemates to make me small, improv minimalist blocks with the prompts urban and architecture. I requested that they use any medium to dark blue for the background and kona white for the details, with a tiny bit of yellow if they wished.  If you know me, you know that I love cities! Love to visit them, explore them, even make quilts about them apparently.

Just as my bee blocks began to roll in, I started seeing pictures on the news and online of major cities around the world emerging from the smog. Because of the pandemic, fewer cars were on the road and the air quality was improving. Cities like New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Rome, and many others had clear blue skies above them. An idea began to take shape in my head.

I started making gray on gray blocks that fit my theme, to represent the cities before the quarantine. A couple of friends (Debbie and Chris) chimed in and made me some gray blocks too. As I played with the blocks on my design wall, I began to see the cities emerging from the smog! Thus Urban Emergence was born.

The finished quilt top measured 40"x42". It cried out for matchstick quilting and who was I to argue! I used several shades of gray and blue thread for the quilting (and 10 or 11 bobbins.... I lost count).

Today during a zoom sew day with my McKinney Modern Quilt Guild friends I hand sewed down the faced binding. I'm so pleased with the finished quilt!
Do your quilts often tell a story?

Check out #thesolidseven on Instagram to see more of our shenanigans.

Monday, June 8, 2020

another quilt finish

I will say, sheltering in place has given me the time to finish up a bunch of UFOs! Last fall, my beemates from the McKinney Modern Quilt Guild made me pink and orange x & + blocks using this tutorial.
I added a giant version of the block. I sent my finished top over to my friend Diann so she could work her long arm magic. I even pieced the back, something I don't often do.
I love the fun modern floral Diann chose for my quilt.
Checking this one off my list!

Sunday, May 31, 2020

100 days of bojagi

It's been 100 days since Quiltcon 2020 in Austin. 100 days since we hugged new and old friends, stood in lines (close together!), ate tacos in crowded restaurants, chatted with vendors with no masks and thought nothing of it. 100 days since I sat in a classroom at the convention center with new and old friends and learned to do Korean Bojagi from Daisy Aschehoug.

Daisy is a warm, kind, bubbly human who currently lives in Norway (yes, she flew across the ocean to teach us, another thing people could do way back in February). She's an awesome teacher. By the end of the evening, I was totally in love with this new hand sewing technique.
For the record, I used several colors of Kona cotton for my bojagi project and a spool of 12 weight, Wonderfil Spagetti thread that I bought at Quiltcon. Size 24 chenille needles worked perfectly. I also highly recommend a clover needle threader that I never knew about before quilt con and now cannot live without. It's so sturdy, and perfect for large eyed needles and thicker thread.
 This is how far I had gotten that first night. My stitches were a bit uneven and way too tiny and tight, but the more I stitched, the better they got. I casually said to Daisy "I really want to get good at this...." and she suggested I make it a 100 day project. Well, I had always wanted to do a 100 day project but had not found something I wanted to commit to for that long! This was it. I started counting that very day and stitched on my bojagi project for the next 100 days. Some days I added one small piece. Other days I put together a whole section, or joined larger sections together. You can see my progress pictures here, at #ellynlearnsbojagi.

Today, May 31, 2020, is day 100. Here is my final piece....
While it is not perfectly square, it measures approximately 28"x28", and, if I'm counting right, it has 145 pieces, varying in size. If you look closely, you can see how my stitches relaxed, got larger, and more even as I learned, which was exactly my goal.

One of the cool things about bojagi is that the back is finished (no raw edges) as is the front. kind of hand sewn flat felled seams if you will. Here is the back of mine...
My plan is to hand hem the edges (Daisy taught us how) and keep this as a sample/art piece. I'm so happy with it, and very happy that I stuck with it and did the work for 100 days! Now if we could just get back to hugging people again, I'd be even more pleased. Be well...

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Neapolitan Evolution

clearly a bit windy to shoot photos today
Today I have a quilt finish to share with you! This quilt has had many lives, and is finally to the point where I actually like it and can call it DONE! Let me start at the beginning.....

In November of 2018, some friends and I took a class from Sherri Lynn Wood, hosted by the Dallas Modern Quilt Guild. The class was color exploration, using improv strip sets. When the day was over, one of my large strip sets looked like this...
Now, these are NOT colors I am drawn to and I really didn't like it one bit. To me it screamed neapolitan ice cream (of which I'm really not a fan) Not one to waste fabric, after a few weeks of mulling it over at home, I drew up a design (planned improv if you will) and ended up with this.....
which I tried to like. Really I did. I mean, there are elements I like. the partial framing of the blocks, and the way it seems to "worm around" the quilt.... something I might explore down the road. But the colors still really bugged me. I thought "maybe this could be a baby quilt?" but honestly, if I make a baby a quilt, it's because I really care about them and I couldn't imagine dumping something I disliked on a sweet innocent baby. Know what I mean?

So, like any good quilter would do, I folded it up and shoved it to the back of a shelf, never to be looked at again. Or so I thought.

Fast forward to February of this year, when thousands of us gathered at Quiltcon in Austin, TX. We hugged old friends (and new friends), snuggled up next to each other in vendor booths, touched all the things. No one was wearing a mask and it all felt right. But I digress...

On Saturday I attended the keynote address by Victoria Findlay Wolfe. The entire lecture was inspiring, but one thing really stuck with me. She talked about how she had chopped up one of her finished quilt tops because she wasn't happy with it. Then she reassembled it into something new. She gave us permission to do the same. Before we even left the lecture hall, I had found the above photo in my instagram feed, showed it to my friend Chris, and said "this one. this baby is HISTORY!".

Honestly, I had no idea where this top even was. For a brief time, I thought maybe I had put it in the guild's charity donation box. I couldn't remember. But, with a little digging, I found it, shoved in the back of that shelf, a wrinkled mess.

A couple of months ago, I took a dresden ruler and my rotary cutter and set to work.....

This is where I landed! I already loved it. I auditioned lots of colors for the background (including my go to teal blue) and even polled my instagram followers (several suggested lime green) but in the end, I decided not to compete with the scheme by adding another color. I ordered Kona Cobblestone online and impatiently waited for it to arrive.

I really love the end result! I machine appliquéd the dresdens to the background, straight line quilted it on my domestic machine then hand appliquéd prairie points and circles before binding. Don't look too close, the quilting is horrendous (so many folds and ripples. ugh) but the end result is better than anything I could have imagined.

I'm calling it Neapolitan Evolution.
Checking this one off my UFO list.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

again with the houses...

I'm having great fun making houses! I'm up to seventeen for a swap (only swapping 15, but I can't stop making!)
These are all 6 inches finished. I got to thinking.... what if I went smaller? So I made a 3 inch house and that didn't feel tiny enough, so I did one that finishes just under 2 inches....
what exactly does one do with such tiny houses, you ask?
why, you make teeny tiny pin cushions of course! yes, I may be going a little crazy around here.

Just when I thought maybe I was nearing the end of my house making phase, I received the June prompt from Jessica for the Solid Seven..... guess what she wanted? HOUSES! woohoo, I've gotten quite good at those..... I got right on it and whipped up three houses and a tree, black/gray/white per her request, with print (GASP!) thrown in for fun. I absolutely cannot wait to see her finished quilt!
you haven't seen the last of houses from me, but I promise to bring you something else next time.