Nellie"s Needles

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

2 More Mini Prairie Flower Quilts

Featuring just a blossom or two was my initial plan for these 20 mini quilts that measure 8"x 10".
All the Violets leftover from those I made for "Prairie Performance" made it into this one . I consider it's a "bug's eye-view" perspective.
The scale of flowers that I chose for the first two mini's featured in my last post dictated big patches of Daisies and Cone Flowers in the foreground. They started out with just a few blossoms. More ... and more ... were added to each until they looked "right". My not knowing how each small quilt is going to turn out is what keeps me from getting bored ... the biggest factor that ensures all 20 will get finished.

Of course, you've spotted Elvis hiding in the backgrounds of the 2 new ones.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mini Prairie Flower Quilts

I found a project. Making mini quilts that feature prairie flowers. I figured that I might as well do this while all the supplies from making "Prairie Performance" are not yet put away and I'm in the groove of working with them. It surprises me that I'm not sick to death of this theme. I guess those flowers are not yet out of my system.

Their foundations are made from the pieces cut off the 25 panels when I squared and trimmed them to their finished size of 23"x 24". Whatever else would I do with those trimmings? At any rate, I just cannot discard them.
Here are five sets laid out. The bottom one's strips are sewn together with a zig-zag stitch.
And here's the stack of twenty foundations cut from those stripped together pieces.
The first one I made features daisies. I was disappointed this favorite flower of mine was not indigenous to the prairies of northern Illinois. Consequently, there are none in the installation piece.

foundation strips finished piece

I'm making these as thank you gifts for my friends who've contributed scraps that most likely ended up in the BIG prairie flower quilt. I think they'll appreciate having these small quilts made of scraps and leftovers from "Prairie Performance".
"Cone Flowers" 8"x 10"

As you recall, Elvis was tucked in a number of places on the big quilt. Each of the mini ones will have an Elvis cut from this chiffon scarf hiding among the flowers.
Here's one. Can you find the other in the field of daisies?

Sunday, October 25, 2009


This wall quilt, "Courage" was created in 1997 for a young friend as a graduating from college present.
This quote by Anais Nin is embroidered in a spiral in the center, " Life shrinks or expands in proportion to ones courage."
The periods of clinical depression experienced on and off for a number of years by my friend are represented by the frayed raw seams on the front surface of the quilt. The joy and positive adventures I hoped she'd find are portrayed by the sparkling jewel-like colors in the outer portions of the connected rings. For the most part, I think her adventures in life so far have been in the outer ring.

It's hand quilted. This photo makes me miss those days of sitting in pleasant, quiet places stitching for hours.
Here's a photo of the backside.
The last post as well of this one feature quilts made in my early days of quilting. This happened because I had to move the binders in which I keep the information about the quilts I've made. Pocket pages hold the drawings, templates, photos, and info that pertains to the creation and finishing of each quilt.
I scanned the drawings and photos of this quilt on my computer to get the photos here on my blog.

I had forgotten this was inspired by Doreen Speckman's "Peaky and Spike" pattern that I saw her present on "Simply Quilts". Can't recall if I bought her book or checked it out from our guild's library.

Here's a photo of my design wall that shows fabrics being auditioned.
I still work this way ... making a loose sketch that's not too detailed filled in with general hues and values and then working the details out on the design wall. This method of designing is more dynamic than planning every detail and making all the decisions on paper. The time or two when I have done ALL the planning ahead, the projects never got made ...for me, the adventure of creation was done by then.

Pulling out those binders happened at a good time. I feel as though I'm "on hold" after the completion of the prairie flower quilt ... that I need to take time for contemplation. While they are out, stay tuned for the presentation of more quilts from the early days of my adventure into quilting.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Secret Windows

This quilt, "Secret Windows", spotlighted the Smoky Mountain Quilt Guild Show at the 1998 Dogwood Arts Festival.
It was begun from a collection of scraps back in 1994 when I was a new quilter. A classmate in a one week workshop with Nancy Halpern was throwing out scraps of material that were larger than the fabric samples I had brought to work with. After I had made a fuss about finding them in the trash barrel, she consented to save those scraps if I found a bag in which to collect them. During the week after I got home, I sewed every scrap into "crazy quilt" squares. Originally, I had set them together to be a child's quilt that would be donated to the Ronald McDonald House
My husband and friends protested it being given away. So, through the next few years I'd occasionally make more crazy quilt squares from my own scraps. It grew into a full-size quilt that ended up being a Christmas present for our younger son and his wife.

It still looks good all these years later as you can see in a photo taken this summer.
I like to piece the backs of quilts.
The hand quilting is more easily viewed from the backside.
The crazy quilt squares set on point are quilted with satin-stitches using two strands of variegated floss. There was no way I was going to hand-quilt a running stitch across all those seams.
The portraits were cut from a shirt sewn by my mother-in-law for my husband with fabric featuring artists from the Expressionist period. It was a great shirt for the 1970's ... worn with chains at the open collar plus a wide belt with a big buckle and platform shoes. Woo Hoo! Let's do the Hustle.
This is the first quilt in which Elvis made an appearance.
I still have some of the home decorator fabric that was cut apart for the triangles around the crazy quilt squares. The printed squares are two and half inches.
Maybe I'll make another window quilt with crazy quilted blocks from the many bags of scraps collected in the ten years since this quilt was begun.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Prairie Flowers FINISHED!

The prairie flower installation piece is FINISHED! Woo Hoo!!!!
The twenty-five panels are packed up and ready to be delivered.
That's 250 pounds of artwork!!! Each panel is mounted on a piece of MDF board that weighs 10 pounds.
The above photo is the back of one panel. As you can see, finally there's an official title ... "Prairie Performance". A big thank you goes to my husband for coming up with it. This title suits the piece ... all those flowers do not blossom at the same time in nature, but they're all "performing" their glory at once in my art. This was a big performance by me as well ... most every day for six months this is what I was doing ...
to get this.
This is the most could be laid out at one time on the living room floor to see how the flowers looked across the separate panels. I've been frustrated with not actually being able to see all it together at one time. Plus, the perspective of looking at it on the floor from a standing position is akin to my laying on the floor to look at art hanging on the wall ... not a normal perspective at all.
I can hardly wait to see it installed on the wall in the lobby of the new Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Illinois at the grand opening on December, 15th.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


There's no shining sun outside my window ... out there it's cold, windy, and raining. The only sunshine to be found is in my field of prairie flowers.
This is the second to last of the twenty-five panels to get its detail layer of blossoms, leaves, etc. Just one more to go and this step is finally finished. The next part of the finishing process is to lay out the two rows down the right side to give those 10 panels the highlights and blending with the pastels, markers, and paint.

This panel was the last chance to hide Elvis's image among foliage. The last one yet to be worked is more or less a haze of flowers ... this picture would be too obvious there.
Well, back to work so we can get out of this summer cottage that is not meant to be occupied this late in the season.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Prairie Flowers - The Countdown

Remember when all the carpets were cleaned recently here at the cottage? With all the big pieces of furniture out of the living room ALL the panels were laid out on the floor.
Woo Hoo! I never thought there would be a space big enough available to do this. The scale of it still boggles my mind ... 14 feet by 10 feet. At this point there were six panels yet to get their detail layer of flowers. Now there are just the three you see in the foreground along that edge.

Since then that furniture in the living room has been shoved up against the walls so sections can be laid out for me to define and refine as well as to punch up and blend in with oil stick pastels, permanent markers, and paint. I've done this a number of times and am still touching up areas as I continue the mounting process.
Below are two photos of the same panel. The one on the left had already been worked on once. The one on the right has even more pastel work and paint added ... it sparkles!
Here are a number of panels in various stages of construction. They've just been treated with Krylon Fixative spray to set the oil stick pastel work that had just been added. This product also protects the piece against fading by light.
Note the debris from the storms littering the patio. I've been gradually picking it up to use as kindling to start daily fires in the wood burning stove. The weather has been stormy and cold. It's time to go south. Two more weeks of vigilant work and this project should be packed up and on its way to Chicago.

And we should be packed up and heading south.