Friday, January 25, 2013

Building Robots

To get things started in 2013 I decided to do some pieced quilts.  Our family has welcomed several new babies, with another on the way this year.  I have missed piecing quilts, so as soon as the holidays passed I began thinking about what to make.  I have 4 different quilt tops going right now, which is insane, I realize, but sometimes the creative juices start flowing and I wanted to take advantage.

We have a new set of twin boys, born late last year.  Their father is an engineer, as are many of the men in our family.  Somehow, robots seemed like a fun idea.  I found some great fabric and decided to make 2 quilts with very similar features.  First, I strip-pieced a large, square panel and cut it in two sections.
Here is a portion of one quilt as I am deciding how to do the borders.
I used my Go! fabric cutter to die-cut the strips, all fat-quarters.  I took each set of strips and picked one from each pattern, stacking them one set after the other, and then pieced them.  I did do the jellyroll trick of piecing them end-to-end, then sewed them, one long strip to the other, cut the end, brought it to the other and sewed.....until I got a panel that was the size I wanted.  

Even though the border fabric with the pencils and sharpeners isn't 
in the same fabric line, I like how it works

Here is the sketch of my robot's head
....and my sophisticated tracing tool!
(all the fabrics I am using to create my robots  have been 
previously fused with Mistyfuse.  It is easier to fuse, then cut out,
my various shapes

The pieces are assembled over a teflon sheet

Using my awesome Havel's 7" scissors for cutting.
I love how well they hold the edge while cutting intricate shapes.

Robot head and neck
I referred to one of the robots in the fabric print for my design inspiration

Using a Pentel Gel Roller Fabric pen, I drew in a few details on the gauges...

Mr. Roboto #1 is finished and ready to fuse to the quilt top!

Here is Mr. Roboto #2

I decided to use the negative space from the hexi die-cut fabrics.  My friend Jamie
suggested putting the colors behind the openings, which does make it more visible on the quilt surface.

I love the gray hexis, but they show up better after fusing them to bright solids and cutting around the edges.

Here is one of the two quilt backs...

and here is one of the two finished quilt tops.
Sorry for the odd angle on the photo.

Making these quilts was such fun!  Using Mistyfuse and free-cutting the robot shapes was a blast!
Try it!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative News

Although I have not personally contributed to this amazing organization, I feel that this information is worth passing along.  I received this email from Ami.  I hope you will take a few minutes to read it and consider supporting her organization!

The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative will most likely reach the $1,000,000 mark in money raised for Alzheimer’s research some time in 2013!
The work of your hands and the compassion in your hearts has brought us to this milestone. I will be forever grateful to each and every one of you for your support and dedication.
Ami and her mother, Beebe, in 2006 shortly after the AAQI began.
What began as one person’s response to sorrow and frustration has grown into a national charity embraced by a large portion of the quilting community. More than 13,000 quilts have been donated, turning sweat equity into over$883,000 for research so far. For many donors these quilts were healing works of art which helped them grieve as they stitched for the greater good. Hundreds of thousands of people have seen the AAQI’s two traveling quilt exhibits about Alzheimer’s. Through this artistry came the realization for many that they were not alone on this journey of heartbreak; others understood, perhaps for the first time, what a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s really means. Together quilters have funded 11 research studies at six universities and a medical school. Three more studies will be funded this month and hopefully more throughout 2013. Because of the AAQI, scientists know a little bit more about Alzheimer’s than they did before. Hopefully this understanding will bring us all closer to a cure.
When I created the AAQI back in 2006, I never expected it to become so successful! I also never imaged how much work it would take to keep it going. As the AAQI blossomed, board members and core volunteers have had to increase our hours and pace to keep up. While I find enormous satisfaction in nurturing the AAQI, I much prefer sewing to administrating. I miss just being a full-time quilter.
For this reason, 2013 will be the last year of fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative. I hope you will help the AAQI reach our goal of One Million Dollars for research and then at the end of 2013 celebrate with everyone who made this tremendous achievement possible. Please review the important dates below:
February 15, 2013All bookings for the traveling exhibit “Alzheimer’s Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope” must be finalized.
March 1, 2013 First online auction of quilts from “Alzheimer’s Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope” traveling exhibit. Twenty-six Name Quilts will be auctioned during the first 10 days of March, April, May, June, July, August, and September. Payment will be required at the conclusion of each auction with shipping in October 2013 after the exhibit retires. The 54 Priority: Alzheimer’s Quilts from the traveling exhibit will be auctioned during the first 10 days of October and December.
July 2013: Last month to participate in the Quilt-A-Month Club.
August 1, 2013: Last day to register Priority: Alzheimer’s Quilts. Quilts delivered to scanners after August 20 will be refused.
October 29 – November 3, 2013: International Quilt Festival. We hope to be invited back one last time to sell quilts in Houston, TX.
November 1-10, 2013: Celebrity Invitational Quilt Online Auction
December 30, 2013: Last day Priority: Alzheimer’s Quilts can be purchased online.
December 31, 2013: Quilts For Sale and Donation pages will be removed from the AAQI website and all solicitations will cease.
2014-2015: The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative will monitor research grants awarded in 2013. The AQQI web page will be left intact for at least six months. Any funds not needed to sustain the AAQI’s final expenses will be donated to research. Remaining assets will be disposed of according to IRS regulations after which time the corporation will be dissolved.
There is still much work to this year as we sprint to the finish line. I hope everyone who reads this will join in, either as a seasoned veteran or a first time quilt donor or quilt buyer. We will continue to make a difference until the very last quilt is sold. Let’s make 2013 the best year ever!
Thank you for your support,
Ami Simms
Founder & Executive Director
Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Art Cloth Network Is Looking For New Members

Art Cloth Network is open for new members! If you'd like information about
the group, see our website at>

Members of the Art Cloth Network find that the opportunities for community,
conversation, sharing of techniques, inspiration and resources benefit our
art and creativity. We have recently increased our membership limits to 30
members in good standing, including those on formal leave. When the number
falls below 30, we accept new member applications. We currently have
openings for up to eight new members.

The current deadline for membership applications is March 15, 2013, and you
can send in your application materials at any time prior to the deadline.
You will be notified by April 15, 2013 whether your application has been

Send a request to
in order to receive detailed information and application instructions. (form

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

FFAC Fundraiser: A Year Of Art

Eleven artworks by Pamela Allen, Pokey Bolton, Linda Colsh, Jane Davila, 
Vivika DeNegre, Jane Dunnewold, Jamie Fingal, Karen Stiehl Osborn, 
Yvonne Porcella, Virginia A. Spiegel, and Laura Wasilowski will be arranged
 in a calendar grid and be up for bid.
The twelfth month will be “Inspiration Month.” Everyone who makes a donation 
to the ACS during “A Year of Art” or has a bid for artwork accepted (even if they 
are eventually outbid) will be entered in a drawing for a prize package currently
 worth more than $1550. There will be ONE winner for the entire prize package.  
That is where I come in.  I'm adding a selection of  hand-dyed & printed cloth, a
workshop dvd, and more to the prize package!
All donations are made directly to the American Cancer Society through 
Fiberart For A Cause with an immediate receipt from the ACS.
Our goal is to raise $8000 in just eight hours. Fiberart For A Cause has donated 
over $220,000 to the American Cancer Society.
This is a chance to own art by a selection of artists who are leaders in the field, 
and do some good for a good cause.  That makes it a win/win in my book.  
For more information about how this all works, please visit: A year of Art at this link.

Please consider being a part of this amazing project that has spanned over several 
years.  Every dollar you contribute is donated to the American Cancer Society.
It would be difficult to find a better example of "art doing good"!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Juggling Life & Carving Creative Time From A Busy Schedule

"Spring Summer Fall Winter" (detail)*

Happy New Year!  A few hours ago I attended the January meeting of the San Antonio Modern Quilt Guild.  I can't tell you how much I enjoy the members of this group (we call ourselves the Hot Tamales, or the Tamales).  There is a great energy amongst the members and we embrace each others' work, no matter what we are focused on.
Tonight we were treated to a wonderful program by member Jen Eskridge.  She graciously shared a wealth of info about her work, writing, and more.  I hope you will stop by her website and check out her books, patterns and visit her blog.
After the meeting several of us lingered to chat.  One of the members, a young mother, told me she enjoyed seeing my post about the "year in pics".  One thing led to another and soon we were talking about the challenge of finding creative time.  Like any parent with young children at home, this young woman prioritizes family over all else but wishes she could find time to produce art work.
I found myself flashing back to my own experience of working outside the home, parenting young children, and trying to fulfill a longing to create with limited amount of time.  Needless to say, I didn't produce much work during those years, and when I did find time I worked on large quilts.  There is certainly nothing wrong with that, but Oh!, how I wish I had considered the idea of working in a smaller format!


It was not until the introduction of the "Journal Project" in 2002 that I made anything small.  For someone who, until that point, had worked large, I initially found it daunting to scale things down.  It did not take me long to realize that creating small pieces had many benefits!  Because I was working on a smaller piece, I was much more likely to experiment and take chances.  Not every piece was successful, but I learned a great deal.  I gained knowledge and inspiration that enabled me to create several larger pieces.  When time permitted, I moved on to several series that were inspired by some of the ideas I played with in the journal quilts.  The Journal Project inspired a wonderful book, Creative Quilting:  The Journal Quilt Project, edited by Karey Patterson Bresenhan.  I'm honored that many of my journal pieces are included.

The Journal Project required that participating artists create one quilt per month, from January to September.  The format was 8.5 inches by 11 inches.

I simply cannot underscore the importance of creating all these small journal pieces.  The project came at the perfect time for me:  my children were a bit more independent (two still at home) but I had other family responsibilities required a great deal of time away.  The first year of the Journal Project followed a time of great personal loss for me, and I poured a lot of emotion into many of those early pieces.  Despite my limited time to do artwork I was able to create meaningful work.
"The Road to Kansas Is Paved With Emotion"

I'm writing on and on, but my main point is this:  each of us will have months or years in which the responsibilities of family or career may prevent us from being artistically prolific.  It is often very frustrating to look around and feel that everyone else is producing but YOU.  I wish I had thought to dial it down and worked smaller, sooner!

"Under The Eiffel"

*"Spring Summer Fall Winter" was made to honor my late sister, Priscilla.  The dimensions changed in the final 2 years of the project to 17" by 22".