Quilts and Color Exhibit at Boston MFA


Boston MFA Quilts and Color

Carpenter’s Wheel Quilt, attributed to Mrs. Miller, Mennonite, Easton, Pennsylvania, about 1890

The quilts displayed at the Quilts and Color: The Pilgrim/Roy Collection now at the Boston MFA are not for those who prefer a palette muted and restrained. While my kids were wolfing Fenway franks at the ballgame this past weekend (Go Sox!), my mom and I snuck off to to take a peek. These are not your grandmother’s quilts–or are they? In room after room, we encountered vibrating, dizzying color in bold patterns that are amazingly modern considering that their mostly Mennonite and Amish makers lived in the 19th and early 20th century.

Sunburst Quilt

Sunburst Quilt, Mrs. Ephraim Scott, American, 1856

Trained as artists, Gerald Roy and Paul Pilgrim collected quilts reminiscent of modern abstract art. They noted that the quilters displayed an intrinsic color sense, experimenting with saturated hues and color effects. In each room of the exhibit are paintings by Abstract Expressionists and Op Artists, highlighting the affinity between the quilts and the twentieth-century art.

An exquisite painting by color theorist Josef Albers at the Quilts and Color Exhibit

An exquisite painting by color theorist Josef Albers at the Quilts and Color Exhibit


The exhibit runs through July 27, 2014.




DIY: Easy color block coasters – free pattern!


Just in time for ice cold drinks, these nifty linen and cotton coasters are ready to get to work catching drips (and adding some springtime color to your table.) Better yet, a set of these would make a lovely Mother’s Day gift. You can make a set of six in about an hour and your materials will cost $10 at most (or nothing if you are a hoarder of scraps like me).

Materials to make six 4″ x 4″ coasters


Approximately 1/4 yard linen (I prefer Essex yarn dyed — the color shown above is flax)

Three 5″ squares of solid quilting cotton. (I used three colors of Robert Kaufman Kona cotton: Salmon, Aqua, and Fog.)

Piece of cotton batting (approximately 10″ x 15″)

Cotton thread

Five Easy Steps

1. For the backs, cut six 4.5″ squares from the linen. For the fronts, cut three 5″ squares of linen and three 5″ squares of quilting cotton. Cut six 4.5″ squares of batting.


2. Cut each of your front squares in half on the diagonal. Pin each linen triangle to a color triangle then stitch a 1/4″ seam along the diagonal. Back stitch at the start and end of each seam. Press the seams open.

3. Trim your finished fronts so they are exactly 4.5 ” squares. (If your squares are perfect, give yourself a pat on the back and just trim away those little points.) Be sure to trim so your diagonal line stays neatly centered.


4. Make a sandwich as follows: 1) back (right side up, if your fabric has a right side), 2) front (wrong side up), 3) batting. Carefully align the squares and pin. Starting an inch away from one corner, stitch (batting side up) around the edge with a 1/4″ seam. Leave a 2″ gap on one side.


5. Trim the corners and then turn your coaster right side out. When you are turning inside out, keep the front and the batting together. Poke out the corners to a neat point with a knitting needle or a chopstick. Turn under the raw edges of the gap so they align with the seamed edges and press. Pin the gap closed and then edge stitch around each triangle (back stitch in place at the start and end of each triangle).


Repeat steps 4 and 5 for each coaster. Now you have a pretty set of coasters to gift or keep!


Fabric stacks for new projects

I have a green bookcase in my bedroom that I am really not fond of–what possessed me to buy a translucent green plastic bookcase? But I’ve decided to embrace the green and make cushions and a quilt with yellow, green and blues. Here is a stack of colors for a yellow cushion. I am thinking of a simple squares of color around a center of off-white. All these Kona cottons were purchased from Marmalade Fabrics–my favorite online source for solids.


And here is a stack of colors for a quilt. It’s practically spring here in Florida (sorry New Englanders!) so these colors are perfect for a room refresh.


WIP–My First (Endless and Ongoing) Quilt

When I refer to the abbreviation WIP, I mean Work In Perpetuity. Sure, there’s progress, but it’s so slow. Who knew sewing a quilt would involve so much sewing? Maybe I should have guessed as much after dutifully cutting 278 4″ squares of fabric. Here are the squares “chain-pieced” into piles of pairs:


For newbies like me, chain-piecing means sewing two patches right side together and then just lifting the presser foot and feeding in the next pair to make a continuous chain. You cut the pairs apart later. Two other rookie things I’ve learned: there’s no backstitching in quilting, and quilters really dig a 1/4″ seam allowance (so if a pattern doesn’t give an allowance, bank on that one).


Now I’m sewing my pairs into strips. According to Alicia Paulson’s Ollalieberry Ice Cream quilt pattern, the squares should be random. Tell that to my brain! I can’t stop myself from trying to create patterns from the chaos!  Order out of entropy! Here Captain Wonderpaws overlooks my work:




Autumn Projects


Nothing cheers me more than a VW bus parked on my block. This belongs to my neighbor’s son. It used to be completely green but has since evolved into something weirder–and more autumnal, don’t you think?

Kind of like this:




Autumn colors and old vehicles bring to mind two projects I want to tackle this fall. First, I’d like to try my VW bus pillow freezer paper print again, but this time on a throw pillow backed with groovy vintage fabric.

Second, I really, really need to return to my abandoned quilt project. The pretty picture below is actually not a pretty picture. I had to dust the fabric off in order to snap the photo–that’s how long these fabric squares have sat on my table.


I’m afraid that I may need to actually count each individual square to make sure I have the right number. So, stay tuned as I make myself some coffee and contemplate a whole lot of counting.