Category Archives: journal quilts

First person shooter


Little did I know when I started a quilt based on a figure from a first person shooter video game, how ugly its relevance would become.

It began as a visual expression of the need to defend my personal boundaries. And also, a bit of a sad wondering about what our children will be doing decades from now to protect their own sacred selves. Or their access to water. Or their privacy. Or or or. The first time I used this image was in a Sketchbook Project.

This is what I think every day, many times a day: If we don’t get money out of politics, things will continue to go to shit.Does anyone else think the slide to ruin has picked up its pace? The way I see it, corporate interests are contaminating democracy more and more quickly such that we are approaching a tipping point — in a parallel rhythm to the quickening pile-up of the consequences of climate change. Needless to say, overturning Citizens United would represent only a baby step in the right direction. And Trump? I can’t watch election coverage right now.

Who are we as a nation if gun reform cannot be achieved after the Pulse massacre? If we lack the political will to ignore the money, I kinda think we’re doomed — to revolution or extinction or both. No wonder I wake up nights. And that’s not even getting near the personal turmoil that keeps me wringing my hands. No wonder I’m now stitching a saccharine cliche. Something about the key to my heart.

(Those whitish lines are made by couching two rows of floss with a fair number of stitches — I can’t wait to try Jude’s wandering running stitch, but this is not that).

Things moving and growing

Even though it was cold again today, Finn and I had a good walk. We have taught him to “spin” and continue to challenge him with nose work outside, which he absolutely loves.

The comfrey is stately, vigorous. Soon it will flop down.

Later, I am planning to make a flourless chocolate cake for a friend’s birthday. Writing and conferring about writing went well today.

The heavens are about stitched down. I will need to get some more black thread.

In other words, life continues apace and while “bouncing back” would be an overstatement for the day, it’s not far off.

Just Tuesday

An early run to Salem meant traffic around the Turnpike exit. The usual. It baffles me every time how the left hand passing lane slows down while the middle and far right lanes do not, even though the stream of cars merging onto the highway are coming from the right. Does anybody understand that?

After a good effort with clutter, my sister and I ate subs from the corner shop. This shadow of a notice in reverse on the bench where I sit to wait for the order caught my eye. Had I sat on it before? Right after I got back to Nor’s, a front moved in, pounding the sidewalk with rain and regaling us with thunder. I can’t tell you how grateful I was that only the heavens let loose this morning, leaving human drama for another day. There’s been a little too much human drama of late. Seriously too much.The rain stopped by the time I headed out.

Do you see Finn’s nose?

The rain we got over the weekend helped the garden start its June show. I wish I had a pile of mulch on the driveway more than I wish I had a decent haircut. Enough said. 
I am enjoying the freedom to stitch whatever I want. Perhaps a male warrior standing on a distant planet is an odd choice. He caught my eye years ago and was incorporated into one of the two Sketchbook Projects that I participated in (you can see the entire Sketchbook here). For some reason I keep going back to these images — maybe because they addressed transitions in the boys’ lives and the boys’ lives are in transition again.

This Sketchbook page came with the question: “What borders will you defend?” The figure came from an ad promoting the video game “Lost Planet”.

I’ve been alternating between pinning scraps to the board and then pinning the scraps to a base cloth for sewing. Having used this method before and been frustrated when it came time to trim away the base, I’m happy I remembered to leave the edges unstitched.



I love the sky and the snow and even the figure, but wish the figure was “mine”.  Such is the life of a magazine collagist.

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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‘Mystery’ – reinterpreted

'Mystery' - reinterpreted by dee at clothcompany

On of the fun by-products of clearing out clutter is finding things you forgot about.  Things that you like or are intrigued by.

This color collage (top, center — above) was on a bulletin board in my studio, so wasn’t actually unearthed, but in the many, many hours spent bagging up unwanted and seriously-in-the-way-fabric this past weekend, I spied it and was inspired to make a small thread drawing.

The proportions were off (he looked like he was holding a pogo stick or jackhammer, instead of wearing a pair of pants), so I had to add pen marks and additional cloth on the sides to change the edges.

I like it (in part) because — it’s small; it was made in two sittings; it was fairly spontaneous.

GAVE AWAY three more HUGE bags of fabric on Saturday. And guess what? Even though that makes about 10 (TEN — HUGE bags!!) for the year, I still feel overwhelmed and crowded in the basement. So! My new resolve is to keep bagging up fabric and giving it away until I can breathe better down there. I don’t care how many it takes — I’ll know the relief when I get there.

Have you ever noticed that you can’t fake relief? You can’t talk yourself into it or out of it?

And, while I am on this demonic roll, I also cleaned out an upstairs closet (even painting the baseboards to make it look cleaner!). I don’t know what’s inspiring this unbidden drive to clear clutter, but I don’t plan to stand in its way.

TAG sale on for Saturday! Wahoo. Nothing like a deadline to sort by.

Simple pleasure / simple need

coffee steaming by dee at clothcompany

Today I offer a quote by Wendell Berry from his 1987 book, “Home Economics” —

“Once we grant the possibility of a proper human scale, we see that we have made a radical change of assumptions and values. We realize that we are less interested in technological ‘breakthroughs’ than in technological elegance. Of a new tool or method we will no longer ask: Is it fast? Is it powerful? … We will ask instead: Can we (and our children) afford it? Is it fitting to our real needs? Is it becoming to us?”

Even though in this post-internet age, speed and innovation seem to matter to us more than ever, these strike me as worthwhile questions.

coffee pot cloth backlit

And yes, I am still working with white, though this morning I pressed a mound of brilliant green and indigo blue squares. I nearly swooned after so much tan, beige, linen, oyster and ecru.