Kauai Road, off the wall…

Here it is, with the fabric cut and the overlay in place. The power lines are an important part of the design that will be added nearly at the end of the stitching.


I’m going to sew all the shapes together by hand, mostly in an applique-ish sort of say. I took off all of the shapes that sit on top of the ‘background’.


Next, I took it off of my design wall and almost had a disaster. Each shape had multiple pins sticking directly into the wall. I held the bottom of the muslin base layer and slowly pulled the whole thing off the wall. I’ve done this before and the pins held everything in place. This time, some pieces fell off or shifted. It happened so fast I couldn’t even swear at it :-).

I managed to get it on my dining room table, with all of the pieces back where I think they went. That took a little while. Next time I’ll pin much more securely before I take it off the wall.


You might be wondering why I didn’t just glue the shapes in place. I don’t like glue, that’s why. I may change my mind at some point but for now, no glue for me.

Basting took a while but that’s OK. This project is not about speed, it’s more of a journey.


Hand sewing this is going to take a while. I’ll post updates as it comes along.

Kauai Road…

Having the line drawing of the palm trees and telephone poles helps a lot. All through this process, I could see how they would fill up the foreground. The sky, mountains, and bushes on the sides of the road are really background.

Once the mountains were in place, I went back to the road and began cutting fabric for the bushes and trees, but it was slow going. I then turned my attention to the sky, which is mostly cloudy. (It is, in fact, very often cloudy in this spot on Kauai.)

Kauai Road 5

Finding the right fabrics for the sky was hard!!!—so I went back to the greenery :-).

Kauai Road 6

There is a car in my photo, but it’s isn’t red. It needs to be red!


After getting a lot of the foreground trees and poles cut, I went back to the sky. It was still hard, but I stuck with it. I did have to go buy some fat quarters which was a surprise. It’s getting closer to being ready to take off the wall!


Kauai Road, continued…

Kauai Road

Working with only a rough sketch and no pattern shapes is very different for me. In my applique life, I have drawn patterns that many of you have sewn. The pieces are specific, and numbered. You trace around the templates to make a shape that fits the pattern.

I have also worked in the manner of Ruth McDowell, where I started with a photo and generated a pattern on freezer paper. In this kind of quilt, you may hunt for the right fabric for a shape, but you have a pattern for that shape.


As I work on Kauai Road, I’m thinking about so many things at once: What color do I need? What fabric do I have? What size or shape should each piece be? And on and on…A person can only make so many decisions before her brain has had enough. Even though this is fun, it’s a challenge. So why am I working this way?

I want to construct Kauai Road more in the manner of Edrica Huws. I have mentioned her work before, on this blog post. There’s not much documentation on her sewing methods, but in looking at her work I surmised that she was not strictly bound by a drawing, and that she cut shapes more or less intuitively, by hand, with scissors.


I am learning new things as I work this way, and it’s invigorating!

I’ve been reviewed!

Jo Ann Woods at littlewheelerquilts.com has written a very nice review of my book, The Quilter’s Practical Guide to Color. And she has been working on Pick-Up Sticks from that book, and has posted about it. Click here to see her progress. (I love the finished top!)

Thank you Jo Ann, for taking the time to share your experience with the book with me and with your readers. I am flattered that you chose my book!

In other news, I am at the airport waiting to fly to Williamsburg where I will be teaching at the Academy of Applique. I can’t wait! I’m planning to post from there, maybe using my phone. That will mean more photos and fewer words, which is maybe not all bad :-).

And one last thing before I sign off: I’ve been playing with the Dreamscope app on my iPhone. This is an app that applies a variety of trippy filters to a photo. Let me just say that it can turn a pretty lousy photo into something interesting. For example, this photo of Steve driving was really no good on its own.

Steve Driving, filtered with Dreamscope app

Steve Driving, filtered with Dreamscope app

I can easily see applications for quilt design using this app.

It can take the app quite a while to process a photo. In fact, I thought it was frozen and tried to quit the app. It just keeps doing its thing until it’s done so you have to wait it out. Don’t use this app if your phone is low on charge and you can’t plug it in. Other than that, have fun!

Show and tell…


Jan Hirth sent me a picture of her Fitbit in front of her quilt-in-progress, Honey Beez! I can’t wait to see the finished quilt. Love the gray behind those splashy Kaffes.

And, I must add that I’ll wear my sister’s watch on my arm, with the Fitbit, just like Jan is here. Not all the time, but often. Nice to know that that’s a thing people do :-).

Thanks for sharing, Jan!

I love a (working) vacation…

Steve and I are in Santa Cruz, which is a vacations stop on the way to King City where I will teach and lecture on Monday. Today we hiked at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. This is a huge park and we only saw some of it. For me, the most exciting part of the hike  involved a dangerous water crossing :-). Steve carried the camera and my phone in case I slipped off the log. He also found a long stick which helped me to stay balanced. (I left the stick by the water and I hope others have made use of it.)


There were lots of other hikers on the trail, and bicyclists were out in force. And motorcyclists. Actually, everyone in the Santa Cruz area was outside today.

One thing I noticed on the drive were the fun, hand-painted signs. If you’ve driven Highway 1, you’ve probably seen this:


Yes, the truck is eye-catching, but it’s that big strawberry that is the best! And the other signs around it are each wonderful in their own way. If we are jam, we would definitely have stopped for a taste.

Looking at the signs made me think about how self-conscious I sometimes am about my own handwriting. And, if I were to ever paint a roadside sign, I’m pretty sure that I would try to make it too perfect.


These signs are more eye-catching because they are so obviously made by hand.


The imbalance, the quirkiness, the imperfections, all show the hand of the maker in the design. This is exactly why I find myself drawn to improvisational quilt designs, both pieced and appliqued.