Tag Archives: Colors

Creating My Own Free Form Quilt: Using the Rayna Gillman Method!


Creating My Own Free Form Quilt: Using the Rayna Gillman Method!

Here’s a photo of my quilt from Friday morning. It is a loose interpretation of Lincoln Park (an awesome park here in Chicago).

I like what is happening in the top 2/3rds of the quilt, but the bottom is feeling too intense — not enough change in value. Plus, I didn’t have many colors for the water. Happily I just received a gift card, so I was able to stock up on watery light & bright blues and calming greens.  (It’s so nice to have a guilt-free shopping expedition–and to support my local quilt shop, Quiltology!)

My computer is having major issues, so I’m sneaking a few minutes on my husband’s computer. (I’m not really sneaking, but it sounds more fun to say I am!!)

I’ll be in touch! Enjoy spring!


Book Review: Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts by Rayna Gillman


Cover of the book, "Create Your Own Free-Form Quilt" by Rayna Gillman

I picked up Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts by Rayna Gillman from the library. (I love that they will text me when a book I have placed on hold arrives at my local branch!) Unfortunately, I couldn’t read it until late that night. Although I was yawning and my eyes were tearing up, I couldn’t put the book down. Finally, I went to bed, but I was too excited to sleep!

Such is the thrilling life of a quilter!

I see the light!

Cathy holding up fabric for a Kafe Fasset quilt

Getting on my hands and knees for fabric...I find it easiest to use my mat and rotary cutter on the floor.

I’ve dabbled with a couple of versions of free-form quilting, but nothing like this! To me, Rayna Gillman’s methods are a revelation. Rayna makes quilting sound like a mixture of cooking, math and mixed martial arts. In Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts, she explains how she slices, dices, multiplies, divides, rotates and flips!

Once you know her techniques you can find what works for you. As she says, there are no mistakes in free-form quilting.

One step at a time

Rayna gives step-by-step examples of her techniques, each with its own color photo. She auditions many possibilities. Later in the book you see how some of her examples fit into new quilts.

She’s flexible about her methods. If you want to fuse bits and pieces, go for it! (Although she generally sews.) Her rallying cry is, “What if?”

Rayna’s Method: Part A

Rayna encourages you to dive in and sew strips together. She calls this therapy sewing. It helps you see unexpected combinations and gets you moving. If you are really stuck, she says, “Don’t look, just sew.” As you sew you’ll see things you like, then follow your instincts.

Rayna’s Method: Part B

Once you have “strip sets” and modules you like, it’s time to move to the design wall. This begins the “slow design” phase. It is the time to rearrange and reflect. If it works, great! If not, go back to the first phase and more play!

Rayna to the rescue

Rayna Gillman shows how to rescue “the dogs.” By “dogs” she means quilt blocks and tops that you’ve abandoned. You probably are tempted to toss them. Instead, give them therapy! This is my favorite section of the book. She takes some really horrible blocks she made in the 1970s and 1980s and turns them into something current and interesting. Some of her blog readers also accepted the challenge to transform the dogs. I love to see how different people solve the “problem” blocks in different ways.

Quilting color

Rayna includes a terrific chapter about fearless color. She learned from her grandmother, “Nanny,” who embroidered unexpected colors. Her Nanny told her, “Darling, there’s no such thing ‘as doesn’t go’. You can use any colors together as long as you repeat them somewhere.”

Like all the C&T Publishing books I’ve read, the quality is top-notch. (When I write a book, they are one of the publishers I will contact.)

Initial blocks that I created following, "Create Your Own Free Form Quilts".

Blocks on the Quilting Room Floor: Here are first modules that I created following, "Create Your Own Free Form Quilts".

What’s my vote?

I love this book. I’ve already started sewing and slicing a new quilt based on it. Beginning quilters might find this book too free-form. Don’t expect any projects in this book. All the same, you’ve got to check it out. Or, buy it!

You learn more about Rayna and see lots of her work at her website:  www.studio78.net


P.S. In an up-coming post, I ‘ll show you step-by-step, how I followed Rayna’s methods to create my own free-form quilt!

This IS my Grandmother’s sewing–Part 2

An antique paper measuring tape from Sears.

A paper measuring tape from Sears.

I had so much fun with the first post about my Grandmother’s sewing kit, I thought I’d share more photos.

Taking Measure

The back of the measuring tape above reads:

“It is easy to order clothing from us by mail.
The services of a tailor are not required in taking your measurements.
Any member of your family, or a friend, can take your measurements correctly
by following the simple instructions printed in our catalog.
Compare our prices with prices others ask for clothing of equally high quality.
Remember, we guarantee to send you perfect fitting clothing or return you money.
Sears, Roebuck and Co.”

 This is serious business! I can almost hear the dignified and authoritative MALE announcer reading the copy over the radio.

Contrast & Compare

Advertising was and is everywhere. These artifacts of the 1950s through the 1970’s appealed to the sewer’s rational side. Much different from the emotion-driven ads of today!

The copy was so loooong! Now it would be one phrase repeated over and over.

The biggest difference is customer service! Made to order, custom clothing by mail for the average Josephine is amazing! If you know of a store that offers this TODAY, I’d like to know about it!

More Pictures for Your Viewing Pleasure

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When Shall We Meet Again?

My next post will be a review of  The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. Look for it on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at noon.

See you soon!

This IS my Grandmother’s sewing!

Sewing Thread in teal tackle box

I still have many of my Grandmother's old threads.

Needle Pulling Thread

My first (fuzzy) memory of sewing was at age 3. My Mom must have been mending something and I wanted in on the “action”. Lucky me, my Mom gave me a real needle and thread and a wash cloth to sew. What I remember most: tangling the stitches and asking my Mom for help. I knew I could do better than that! Well, it must have made an impression because I wanted more!

My Dolly & Me

A few years later while playing at my Grandma’s house, my sister and I came across my aunt’s dolls and their complete wardrobes that had been left behind when my aunt moved into her own place. My Grandmother had sewn everything– dress after dress for each doll: an early dark-haired Barbie™, baby dolls and a little girl doll that was nearly life-size at 2 feet tall (still in her original 1960’s vinyl box with a snap closure). My sister and I played for hours and hours.

All those adorable dolls and beautiful clothes inspired us kids to sew for our own dolls. My Grandmother got us started. She gave us fabric and let us dig into the teal tackle box that she used for her sewing notions.

That Tackle Box is a Sewing Kit!

That box contained treasures. It held wooden and plastic spools of thread in a range of colors: lots of greens (pastel to teal to vibrant jungle), the same girly pink shades that my aunt would have loved, bright yellows, light blues, sherbet orange and the requisite large spools of white and black. The threads showed the changing technology: the older threads were cotton on wooden spools. The later ones on spools of plastic and Styrofoam and made of “100% Spun Polyester.”

Of course there was a thimble or two, tailor’s chalk, stitch removers, measuring tapes and needle threaders. But also, stuffed into the box were hefty brass zippers appropriate for my farmer Grandfather; a tiny tool for repairing zippers with special “zipper wax”; lots of biased tape and binding with labels that all proclaimed that they were “guaranteed color fast”. It seems to me that the box tells a lot about my Grandmother. There’s the bright and pretty items. Then there were the practical tools and the darker colors that showed she also had 3 sons and was the wife of a farmer.

Now that my Grandmother has passed on I am grateful for the inspiration and sewing help she gave me. I am thankful I am able to take care of and use the same tackle box for my sewing.

When shall we meet again?

Sunday, 1/29/12,  I will show you more pictures of the sewing kit! Talk to you then!

Patchwork Quilt. Photo credit: Katie Pedersen – sewkatiedid@gmail.com

Katie Pedersen's quilts and tutorials are so inspiring!

Serendipity struck again! I had JUST posted an invite to friends to join me for a quilting party when I saw this awesome photo tutorial about quilting! This link shows you how to  efficiently make two-color squares like the ones shown in the picture.

I love Katie Pedersen’s use of color: in this picture she uses scrappy, multi-colored fabric. What holds the quilt together is the contrast between the lights and the brights set in an off-center diamond pattern.

I will show some of MY quilts in future blogs.

See the tutorial by Katie Pedersen of Sew Katie Did!


Check it out: Sew Katie Did — a tutorial