Category Archives: Tutorial

Children’s Art in Quilting

IMG_9124Here is my quick version of how to make a quilt using children’s art. I really only have about three tips, but I’ll go start to finish. This one was auctioned at a fundraiser for the pre-school that my boys attended many years ago.

Order inkjet prepared cloth. This is one of my big tips. At retail and on many websites, sheets can cost up to $3.00 each. I almost never pay more than $1.00 — you just need to hunt around a little online. Many fibers and weaves are available. For a quilt like this, I recommend a cotton with some drape (i.e. not pima or canvas). For memory quilts featuring a single image (say, a vintage photograph), I have used silk.

You can prepare your own cloth for inkjet printing, of course, but it is a giant pain in the ass. Even if you shortcut like mad (as I am wont to do — in this case, meaning skipping the Bubble Jet set soak and subsequent pressing and skipping the stabilization of the perfectly measured and cut piece of fabric with a perfectly cut piece of freezer paper) — it is a lot of work. And if you DON’T shortcut and do all those time-consuming steps and the paper/cloth jams, it is heartbreaking.

Gather the artwork. This is the easiest part. Children make incredible, unselfconscious art. For this project, I used self portraits drawn by three year olds.

Photograph and Tweak. Take pictures and crop or adjust color a little, if necessary, but do not shrink the file size. This is different from the resizing one typically does to shrink an image for posting online. You want the data. Remember seam margins.

IMG_8975_edited-1 IMG_8972_edited-1 IMG_8962You might want to dye fabric for the sashes. We tried and it was a lot of fun, but the non-toxic green mixture was too dilute or weak or something. I decided the failure served the project, though, because a dramatic, striated ARASHI border would have competed with their art work.

IMG_9102Print the artwork onto the inkjet-prepared sheets of fabric. If there is not a TON of color in the artwork, go ahead and set your print to BEST. However, if there is a lot of color, you might actually achieve a better image at the REGULAR print setting (less toner being key).IMG_9094 IMG_9093Fix the image. First, let the printed sheets dry without stacking so as to avoid any possible smearing. Then, carefully peel the paper off of the back and press to fix the color. Some instructions recommend rinsing with water, but I don’t find it’s necessary.

Make the quilt. This is standard stuff. My only tip here is if you were concerned about keeping your hours somewhat contained, skip the batting and make a pillow-case style attachment of the quilt top to the back, and run a machine top stitch around the edge to close the opening. Then the two layers will stay together with just a little hand or machine quilting and no binding will be needed.IMG_9097 IMG_9095One of my objectives in selecting fabrics was to make sure they didn’t compete with the drawings.
IMG_9104 IMG_9121 IMG_9128By pressing the quarter inch turn-under at the opening, the top stitching is very easy. I do this when hand-stitching the closure shut as well.

That’s it! Easy, really.

[On another note – The fakey links are back with nearly irrepressible pops ups and this rogue insertion of six gibberish characters “ ” or something like that, is freaking me out. WordPress has been so glitchy on top of that, with weird new arbitrary photo placements, etcs.  Between all of this and the loss of regular readers, I have to wonder why I am doing this!]

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teach what you want to learn


simplest components from African mask (see last picture, below)

We’ve all heard that right?  We teach what we most want to learn.

On the eve of teaching another class at The Boston Center for the Arts, I ought to be asking, then, “What is it that I want to learn right now?”

Hmmmmm. How to take a motif, maybe, and ‘go deeper’ with it (whatever that means). But I know what that means.


making faces

Or here’s a corollary: we give the advice we need to follow. This is extremely useful for me personally, because two of the people I routinely give advice to are Oppositional, with a capital “O”. Sometimes all I can do, is turn it around.

What advice have you given recently? Don’t fudge it by scanning memory for advice you WANT to hear. I recommend just thinking of the last three things, the most recent things, you have said to someone… in an effort to be helpful.

I’m always telling certain people to be more organized, or more responsible (and yes, yes, that applies here) but here’s the most recent thing offered:  yesterday, I suggested to someone that she partner written memoir passages that are painful with those that are joyful, so that the juxtaposition told a story, on top of those told in the passages and, possibly, to make it bearable to write the really tough stuff.  My idea for her was that a one-two step like that had the potential to turn into a dance, given sufficient air and trust.  So? Trust. Give work air? Partner the ‘uck’ with the ‘yahoo’? That’s probably pretty good advice for me right now.


building from the bottom up

Little changes make big differences

Little changes make big differences

eye lid adjustment

eye lid adjustment

looking askance

looking askance

add patterns!

add patterns!

Tomorrow’s adult class will be ‘more sophisticated’.

two sections (top and bottom) that may or may not belong together

two sections (top and bottom) that may or may not belong together

But, I’m wondering, maybe the more you break a thing down, the more complex it becomes. This I have seen time and time again in the manner of Jude Hill‘s designs and thoughts and cloths… the simpler she makes it, the more avenues spin off in every direction.

So maybe for the adults, I should make it EVEN SIMPLER!

Female kifwebe mask, late 19th or early 20th century. Unknown Songye artist. Democratic Republic of the Congo

Female kifwebe mask, late 19th or early 20th century. Unknown Songye artist. Democratic Republic of the Congo

“Venice, Anyone?”

“Venice, Anyone?” is the smallest & bluest of the Global Warming series, to date.  Finished it this weekend. Found some older, in-progress pictures from April of this year:

Unlike so many others, this little quilt’s basic composition remained the same from start to finish.

After a few quick seams, I decided to use a little stitch-witchery to adhere rough edges, since I didn’t know when I would have time to actually get around to assembling and quilting.

The red stripes marked where I was adhering fabric with the sticky tape, and even though there are so few, I managed to gunk up the iron by touching a piece.  Boo hoo!  I had to stop & clean the iron before calling it a day.  Because quilting through anything with glue is not great, I kept the sticky tape pieces small and away from edges.

This is possibly a piece that I would have liked the outcome a little better had I decided to go toward gesso rather than thread.  Hard to know, now, but the spontaneous feel of collage often is diminished by the finishing process.   In this case, the original design stayed put, and I wouldn’t say the quilting took away from it, but it doesn’t really enhance it either, which it should.

The fish fabric, by the way, was too bright initially, so I toned it down in a tea bath.

Quilting Moonlight with Recycled Shirts

Still working on the Full Moon in Taurus quilt.  Here’s what I did instead of the lace/tulle treatment —


This is more in line with what I want for this quilt than the lace I initially placed.



lace too bright


tracing to define house shadows


shiny tulle for moonlight


better than just lace, but --

When I saw one of my prize new thrift shop purchases —


I saw moonlight and shadows all over it.

Other things on table this week —


I love the unintentional symbol of financial demise created by the shadow’s traced edge placed over the bull.

I have made a couple of journal quilts expressing my outrage at the greedy, stupid, short-sighted, ridiculous laissez-faire-AynRand-Republican-lessgovernment/regulation-is-godly types (though Democrats played their part) that created the financial catastrophe of ’08.

I am not done expressing my outrage.

A recent Vanity Fair with photos of some of the big players (all the back-door dealings with billions flung at institutions to ‘save’ the economy also make me crazy, even IF it was the right thing to do)… will provide fodder.


Journal Quilt, March 2009

This is one of my Economy quilts — if you look at the brown and white toile of a harvest scene, you’ll see that I blotted out the peasant slaving away to earn his bread with a big black square.  (Since then, I drew the figure back with some thread)…  You’ll also see a precipitously declining zigzag representing the crash, as well as a Hawaiian deep indigo palm print cut and rearranged to create a feeling of a hurricane.  The little house in the upper right remains relatively untouched.  I suppose that could represent the fact that I am in my home, we are paying our mortgage, and the housing market where I live is relatively stable. This is a huge blessing, but does not quite counter the ten years of savings that we lost.

I want to stop feeling like that peasant.  No — I want to stop BEING that peasant.

Quilting a Full Moon in Taurus


I THOUGHT I was going to bind and be done with this.  But a few influences (later on those, perhaps) got me to wanting to add a moon and moon shadows.

To make the moon, I looked in some unlikely places, underlining my rule about COLLECTING UGLY FABRIC.


who knew I'd want this fabric?!!

Disk and batting to start —


I won't use a backing -- but there will be two top layers

I love sheers for layering to create depth and a one-of-a-kind surface —


sheer shirts and scarves layer well

This shirt has shown up in other places lately — a self portrait, for one… Its scenes of New York resonate to a child of parents who haled from Brooklyn.  THIS particular full moon was in Taurus, and so, while my initial impulse was to make a quilt about money, the difficult transitions to fall/daylight savings, and the painful nature of attachment… now it had also to do with my father (b. May 19, 1929).


I like to use dissimiliar threads top and bottom for more texture

After stippling the craters, I flipped one of the lighter edges over the top (making a third top layer) because I thought the moon was too dark, and the fabric was there.


Then, because I wanted to make progress and because I knew I didn’t want to attach the moon to the quilt with a loose satin stitch, I machine-stitched the lunar edges under.  (BTW, do you see those two men in the foreground of the grey landscape?!!  This reference to the “man (or men) in the moon” not only affirms my love of visual puns, it does direct homage to my father, who was a true Master of the Pun.


On a different day, I might have decided to tuck these edges under by hand.

Now, I wanted to make moon shadows.


rejected this treatment of moonlight

More on that tomorrow!  (This treatment was soundly rejected!)