Amazing Abstracts with Julia Graves

I just spent two days in Julia Graves Amazing Abstracts EBHQ workshop. It’s foundation piecing on a muslin foundation. The whole quilt design is mapped out in advance with little snippets of fabric on double stick tape, on an index card or smaller. Here’s the quick sketch i started from:


Here’s my mockup with fabric stuck to it.

mock up

Now a sheet of plastic is placed over the design, and a grid marked.

mock up with grid

I stayed up past midnight on the second day of the workshop to finish the first 9 blocks. I decided it was done! Somewhere early in the process, I forgot that I wanted it to be a spiral, and not concentric circles. I also neglected the step of drawing out guidelines across all the blocks, because I hate planning out everything in advance. That’s just not how I usually work.

Amazing Abstracts

I’m happy with how this turned out, even though it’s not a spiral. I’m glad I learned a new technique!

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Basket quilts!

Today I walked past Julie Silber’s antique quilt store on Hopkins in Berkeley. There was an elaborate basket quilt in the window, which reminded me of basket quilts I’ve done in the past. Mostly I do “liberated” baskets ala Gwen Marston. This quilt was in my first post for this blog!

Baskets and Hot Lemonade 2014

Baskets and Hot Lemonade 2014

Below is a basket quilt that I assembled from blocks donated by other EBHQ members as a present for outgoing president, Orna Pascal. I chose the basket theme because Orna makes actual 3D baskets as well as quilts.



There were so many blocks donated that mine, with 2 baskets in one block, ended up on the back.


Here’s a disappearing pinwheel variation that forms a basket.

windmill basket

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Blue Windows finished!

My blue quilt, now named “Blue Windows,” is finished! The deadline for the Prism Play quilts is Thursday, so it’s not even the last minute! Here’s the quilt and a detail shot. In the detail there is a face that I inadvertently created in the quilting stitches.

Blue Windows Detail


Blue Windows


I wrote various bits about the quilt, and an artist statement for this entry form. I’ll share them below.

150 words about Blue Windows

When I was a ceramic sculptor, I used a lot of architectural imagery in my work. However, I rarely use it in my quilts. I’m inspired by the variety of buildings, bridges, and castles I’ve seen in my travels. In the Middle East, doors and window frames are frequently painted blue to repel the “evil eye,” or misfortune. In this monochromatic quilt I chose to explore how house forms can be constructed from an improvisational log cabin block with a flying goose triangle for a roof. I pieced circular rectangle blocks for both the sky and the water, conveniently both are frequently blue. Choosing a full range of blues was the key to making a dynamic monochromatic quilt. It was surprising how many blue fabrics  exist that weren’t on my color card!

Prism Blue

As a reminder, here is the color card and the pile of fabrics, before I began.

50 words about the techniques:

I pieced improvisational log cabin blocks with a flying goose triangle for a roof. There’s a little machine appliqué as well. My circular rectangle blocks form both the sky and the water. The different quilting treatments help differentiate the sky from the water.


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Last quilt of 2021 and first quilt of 2022

Hand Dyed Hamsa

This quilt, which I’m calling, Hand-dyed Hamsa was my last quilt finished in 2021. The fabrics are all hand-dyed, from Laura Wasilowsky.

Blue and White Hamsa

This is the first quilt finished in 2022. I’m calling it Blue and White Hamsa. Both quilts will be for sale at the EBHQ Voices in Cloth quilt show, March 26 & 27 at the Crainway Pavillion in Richmond. For more info on the show:

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Starting Blue!


I’ve only been working on this quilt for two days, but I’m really pleased with how it’s going! This quilt is also for the SAQA Prism Play show. This quilt will be 15″ wide by 45″ high when it’s done.

Prism BlueHere is the pile of fabric and the color card that all the fabric must match. I’ve already eliminated some of this fabric. In the fabric store I though it matched the card, but when I looked at it at home, it was a little off.

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I’ve added a paper-cut gallery to the menu bar at the top of my blog. I’ll be teaching a hamsa paper-cutting class for New Lehrhaus on 3/30/21.

Paper-cut Hamsa Workshop

A hamsa is a stylized hand for protection against the “evil eye,” frequently worn as jewelry. Made by both Jews and Muslims, hamsas are found all over the Middle East, but are older than either religion. Come learn about the folklore of hamsas, as we make them out of paper. Learn the basics of paper-cutting, a traditional Jewish folk art. We will cut out our hamsas with scissors, and/or Exacto knives for accuracy, then glue them to a background. No artistic talent is required to make stunning hamsa designs. The finished paper-cut hamsa can be framed, to hang on the wall. This workshop lasts for two hours. Materials fee of $5 in cash or check to the instructor, Claire Sherman.

Here are some of my papercuts from the gallery on the menu bar:

NC 2

paper cut 3

paper cut 2

paper cut 4

paper cut 6

paper cut 1

For more info about these paper-cuts, go to the Paper-cut Gallery, above.


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Orange is quilted!

Orange quilted not bound


Orange quilted and bound

Here is my orange quilt, quilted both before and after I sewed the binding on.

Orange quilt detail

Here are the 150 words I wrote about the inspiration for the piece & how it reflects my interpretation of the show’s concept:

Orange Meanderings

Orange is an inspiring color for me. I use a lot of orange in my quilts, but it was a surprise that orange can include brown. I created blocks I call circular rectangles. I manipulated the blocks on my design wall until I settled on an overall design. I enjoy piecing improvisational curves; however, this was the first time I’ve attempted it with only one color. Choosing a full range of oranges from dark orange brown to pale salmon was the key to making a dynamic monochromatic quilt. Texture is also important. I used both solid color and printed fabrics for more visual texture. The different quilting within each change of color adds definition to the meanderings of the curves.

50 words about the techniques in Orange:

For circular rectangle blocks, I cut four colors of fabric into same sized rectangles. I cut three curves into the stack, without marking. Then I shuffle the stacks of fabric and sew them together. This makes 4 blocks, each with all 4 of the colors.

I did all of the quilting with a walking foot.

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EBHQ has a new color challenge each month. Last month it was orange when I was coincidentally working on an all orange quilt! This month it’s violet. Here are two small quilts I made a few years ago, with violet.

Violet 2

This was a UFO swap challenge from the 12 x 12 group. Anyone who wanted to participate brought in a UFO (Unfinished Fabric Object) that they wanted to get rid of.  I didn’t bring one because I’m still attached to finishing my UFOs. One person brought in two. The group decided to give me this one, because it was in, “my colors.” I think Janet Mednick pieced the block. I cut a hole in the middle, added the white fabric, and the quote. Then I quilted it and added four white buttons. If you double click on it you can see the details.

Here’s another one with violet:

Violet 1

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A doll quilt for an owl

Liora doll quilt front quilted

Here’s the front of the doll quilt I made with owl fabric in the middle. I practiced my free motion quilting on it. After it was finished, I realized that it wasn’t a quilt for a doll, but for Liora’s plush owl. Her owl’s name is, HooHoo. Sure enough, when I gave it to her she immediately covered HooHoo with it. Here is the back of the quilt, which Liora seems to think is the front.

Liora doll quilt backI couldn’t resist putting more owl fabric on the back.

Here is the front and back of a little purse that I made with owl fabric, also for Liora.

pursePurse back

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I thought I was done!

Orange top finished

I sewed the pieces together and trimmed the uneven edges. When I measured it , it was only 46 inches long. I may loose more than an inch in the quilting and facing. This quilt needs to be 45″ in length and 15″ wide. I am adding a couple inches to the top.

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