Thursday, December 31, 2020

Custom Quilts made in 2020

Well 2020 sure was an unusual year. And even with extra down time I still wasn't able to complete all of the items on my "To Do" list. But instead of focusing on what I didn't do, let me share some of the things I did do this year. 

Yes, I did make a few masks, but I also made quite a few custom quilts. Most of them I've already shared but there are two t-shirt quilts that were gifts, so they haven't been shared yet. You can click on the photos to see larger views and except for the two t-shirt quilts, all the other images have links below them to the original posts in case you want to read more or see more photos.

Sandy Springs T-shirt Quilt

Bulldogs T-shirt Quilt

Quilts made from vintage quilt tops: 3 throws, 1 table runner, 4 pillows, 1 wall hanging, and a queen sized bed quilt.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Project Quilting Season 12


It's time for Project Quilting's twelfth season! It's a three month on-line event that challenges participants to create a quilt in one week, with a week off in between. You can participate in as few or as many as you like. Participants are entered into random prize drawings and at the end of the season there are grand prizes awarded. The more challenges you enter, the better your chances.

I've participated in every year in some form or another (and I was the overall grand prize winner of Season 2). Some of my favorite quilts that I've made were Project Quilting challenges.

The schedule for when the challenges start is:
- Challenge 1: January 3
- Challenge 2: January 17
- Challenge 3: January 31
- Challenge 4: February 14
- Challenge 5: February 28
- Challenge 6: March 14

Each challenge is posted at noon CDT and due exactly one week later at noon CDT.

Here's a post with some tips about how to participate.

The challenge will be posted on the "Persimon Dreams" Project Quilting blog and you can also find links about past seasons there.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Custom "50 Years" Art Quilt

"50 Years," 17" x 35", made by Pam Geisel, October 2020

I enjoy making custom quilts for people, especially ones made to celebrate milestones. I was recently contacted by someone who had purchased the quilt "Summer Storm" (at left) from me several years ago and they wanted me to make something similar to give to his wife for their 50th Anniversary.

Fortunately, I still had some of the fabric that I used in the original quilt although I did have to add a few additional fabrics. 

Since this was to celebrate their 50th Anniversary, he suggested having 50 squares, each with an "L" shape, since "L" in the Roman Numeral for 50. To make it visually interesting, the "L"s are randomly rotated and also don't have an perfect 90 degree angles.

Like on the original, I machine quilted it with wavy lines and did some hand stitching with embroider thread.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Why the Cow Jumped Over the Moon Baby Quilt (an experiment with fabric printing with Spoonflower)


"Why the Cow Jumped Over the Moon" baby quilt, 24" x 37.5", made by Pam Geisel, October 2020

If this piece looks familiar, it's because it's based on the art quilt I made called "Quilt Encounters of the Thread Kind." When I made the first quilt my husband said there should be a cow being pulled up by the UFO's tractor beam.

Recently one of our friends, who knew about my husband's suggestion of the cow, had a need for a baby quilt and he wanted the UFO quilt with a cow added. The original, which had already been sold, was a fused raw-edge applique, which is great for art quilt but not so much for a baby quilt which will likely get frequent washings.

Knowing that I have my art quilts on Pixels, which prints images onto t-shirts and other items, he suggested I have the image printed onto fabric and make the baby quilt with that.

So I digitally added the cow and had the whole thing printed at Since I hadn't had any fabric printed before, I was curious as to how it would come out.

Overall I'm happy with the results. I basted the printed fabric, batting, and backing fabric then quilted on top of the printed quilting lines. 

The printed fabric wasn't quite as soft as regular fabric but it did soften some when I prewashed the fabric. 

Because the original used hand dyed fabrics and details lost when the image was enlarged aren't that noticeable. Also if commercial fabrics had been used there might be some copyright issues.

Since I added the cow and it's a baby quilt, I changed the title to "Why the Cow Jumped Over the Moon." And I uploaded an image with the cow added to Pixels so I can have it printed on a t-shirt for my husband.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Be a Spark

"Be a Spark," 30" x 40", handmade by Pam Geisel, Sept. 2020

The Initial Spark

There are some ideas floating around in my head that have been there a long time. About a dozen years ago I was gifted some of those little, colored organza drawstring bags, the kind you sometimes get when you buy jewelry, and at that time I envisioned putting little treasures inside them and sewing them to a quilt. Not only did I still have the organza bags, I'd acquired more.

A few months back while I was doing yoga (I find some of my best ideas come to me while I'm doing yoga) I realized that words can be treasures and maybe I'd make a quilt that had little treasures and also letters. But what would I want to say with these letters?

There have been many notable phrases over that past few months and years, and one of them was "Do Something." But what could I do? I make art quilts.

There is a history of artists creating socio-political art to help the public understand particular social or political issues, and quilters have also participated in creating Protest Art. 

Long before I was a quilter I remember being moved by the creation of the AIDS quilts that were displayed on the National Mall in Washington, DC. One flame by itself can only be so bright. But if that flame sparks someone else, who sparks yet more people, the cumulative effect can be brilliant.

How It Was Constructed

I decided pretty quickly that I wanted "Black Lives Matter" inside the flame. And with 16 letters that was easy to arrange in 4 rows and 4 columns. I spent a lot of time deciding what other phrases (or in this case, hashtags) I wanted to use for the background of the quilt. And in what order. I knew some would end up splitting from one row to another so I spent time rearranging so the ones that were split were done in a way that wasn't too awkward. Like "Act-ivism" and "Human-ity."

Then I spent a lot of time tracing the 168 letters and hashtags onto fusible, and then cutting them all out. Then putting fray check on the edges. 

Sheer fabric, most from organza bags. The lavender with the silver sparkles was from a Halloween costume I made before I started quilting.

I also cut out 192 squares that were 2.25", 192 squares that were 1.625", and 192 squares of sheer fabric (from those organza bags) that were 1.5".

Some random letters on a variety of black, gray, purple, blue, and green backgrounds.

Then I fused the letters to the smaller of the fabric squares and paired them with a larger square. I made my quilt sandwich with a black background, batting, and backing fabric and quilted a 5" grid to help with placement. At this time, because I'd already done some quilting, I went ahead and did the binding. I did a knife-edge facing so the binding isn't visible. Now the fun part.

The first quilting pass.

I arranged all of the letters on the background then picked them up in reverse order of how they would go down. Instead of quilting them by row or column I decided to quilt an "X" through each of the squares. I also wrote little letters with a white colored pencil to make sure the correct letter ended up in each spot. You can see the hand written letters in you look closely at the photo.

The second quilting pass.

I randomly added the sheers as I quilted the squares down. Halfway done with quilting the pieces down!

Side view so you can see that part of the fabrics are left loose.

When I was researching what match flames looked like there were several that showed blue and even purple smoke going up the side of the flame. I'd made the letters that would be where the smoke was a blue gray color and added some gray satin as more smoke.

Very close detail

#BlackLivesMatter #KnowJusticeKnowPeace #SayTheirNames #ICantBreathe #Revolution #Equality #Activism #Humanity #Hope #EndRacism #Freedom #Protest #Resist #Art #Peace #Love #BLM #BeASpark

More about Be a Spark

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Letting Go (brown colorway)


"Letting Go," (brown) 20" x 28", handmade by Pam Geisel, October 2020

Last year I made a piece very similar to this one only the fabric has less brown in it. They are both from the same fabric: Robert Kaufman's Effervescence in the Gradation Gray colorway.

The piece last year was made from the left side of the fabric and this one was made from the right side which has more brown in it.

The fabric on both pieces feature lots of circles and are both on a black background that has tiny circles that are a tan/gray color.

Both have oval petal shapes that are arrange so the petals get darker as they move away from the center.

Both have nine full or partial petal outlines in the negative space on the left side.

Both have nine plastic brown buttons hand sewn in various parts of the quilt.

And both have a larger wood button in the center of the petals. The button on this piece is made using black locust wood (and the bark is still on the outside of the button.

More about Letting Go

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Dancing Geese and Nine Ball in Momentum exhibit at Front Street

My pieces "Dancing Geese" and "Nine Ball" are included in the "Momentum" exhibit at The Orphanage Gallery, 73 N. Dutoit St in Dayton (part of Front Street on the first floor of Building 200, enter at Door 4E). The event will take place this Friday, Sept. 4 from 5-9 pm, on Sat, Sept 5 from 11 am-4 pm and again on Sun, Sept 20 from 11 am-4 pm. Please wear a mask and observe social distancing.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Witch One


Witch One, 6" x 6" x .5", handmade by Pam Geisel, August 2020

One of the members at Village Artisans challenged us to make art with or using a witch's hat to celebrate Halloween this year. I'd recently been working on a piece that uses sheer fabrics so I found these three fabrics to use to make this piece.

The background is a shiny plum purple fabric that changes color depending on how the light hits it. The hat is made with a sheer fabric with silver stars printed on it. And the band is made with a shiny melon colored fabric. I also added a metal button on the band.

It is wrapped around a canvas frame and is ready to hang or prop on a shelf.

More about Witch One

Friday, August 28, 2020

Effervescent Zebra and Rainbow Zebra


"Effervescent Zebra" and "Rainbow Zebra," both 6" x 6" x.5", handmade by Pam Geisel, August 2020

I am still in love with the Robert Kaufman Effervescence fabric. For Effervescent Zebra I used the "Mardi Gras" colorway which I also used this for Cat Love, Cat Love Profile, Tweet, Sing, and Rainbow Heart. For Rainbow Zebra I used the "Graduation - Rainbow" colorway which I also used for the two Breathe art quilts.

For the mane on Effervescent Zebra I used some black yarn. I also used a bead for the eye.

For Rainbow Zebra I used loops of embroidery floss in purple and two different blues to match the stripes.

Both pieces are wrapped around a small canvas and can hang on a nail or be propped on a shelf.

More about Effervescent Zebra
More about Rainbow Zebra

Thursday, August 27, 2020

"Aye, Eye Captain" in Eye Contact Video


I made the art quilt "Aye, Eye Captain" (the middle one in the photo) a few years ago as a Project Quilting challenge and also for the Sacred Threads special exhibit "Eye Contact: Creating a Connection." The exhibit has it's own book and is travelling around the country. It has been a little challenging for the show to travel during a pandemic so here's a video of the exhibit at the Virginia Quilt Museum made. Mine is around time :50.

Monday, August 3, 2020

My Soul in a Blackberry Pie in Life in the City exhibit

My piece "My Soul in a Blackberry Pie" is included in the "Life in the City" exhibit at the Front Street Galleries, 1001 E. Second St. in downtown Dayton. The event will take place this Friday, Aug. 7 from 5-9 pm and again on Sunday, Aug. 16 from 11-4 pm. The plan is to have the exhibit outside in the courtyard unless the weather is bad, in which case it will be held indoors with social distancing. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Vintage Quilt Tops and Orphan Blocks

Bed quilt made from vintage quilt tops, 92" x 100"

A friend contacted me because she had several quilt tops and orphan blocks made by her maternal grandmother but they'd never been made into quilts and she wondered if I could finish them for her. Most of them were hand pieced and I let her know that I could finish them but I'd wouldn't be hand quilting them and she was fine with that. She only have a few requests, she wanted some of them put together to make a bed quilt and there was one that already had borders on it that she wanted as a throw quilt. She'd like a few of the others to also be throw quilts but would also like some pillows and table runners, whatever I thought was best. 

The bed quilt (above) was made with two throw-size tops and some orphan blocks. The center is "Drunkards Path" which is an interesting quilt block because it has curves in it, which is more difficult to make. I included a thin border around it on three sides using the same maroon fabric that I used for the back and binding, to provide a visual break between the different patchwork patterns and to tie it all together. I created this using a quilt-as-you-go method so I didn't have to work with the whole bulk at one time and after quilting this part I added the sides and then the bottom.

The sides are made from a "Hunter's Star (variation)" that I cut in half. (My friend was totally OK with me cutting up any of these vintage tops). I considered using it for the center but some of the triangles had bias edges which had stretched some over the years and I was concerned about things lining up. Both this piece and the "Drunkards Path" were hand pieced so I fused innerfacing to the back of them to add some strength to the vintage fabrics and also keep them from stretching when I quilted them.

Across the bottom I pieced together some "Liberated Log Cabin" blocks that had been finished but never assembled together. These were originally machine pieced on foundation blocks so I didn't feel the need to fuse any innerfacing to them.

= = =

Stars and Cubes, 58" x 74"

This vintage quilt top was the only one to have a border on it and it seemed that the outside edges of the border were all selvage edges, which was nice because there wasn't any fraying along the edges. I fused innerfacing to the back of the quilt top, added batting and a backing fabric, and quilt it with large "x" shapes through the blocks.

Checkerboard, 46" x 55"

There was actually a little more to this as I think it was supposed to be bigger. There was a row of sashing (the white rectangles with the red squares that are between the blocks) along the bottom of this piece. There were also some checkerboard blocks in with the orphan blocks but not enough to finish a row, and these orphan blocks came in handy for patching some of the other pieces. So I removed the extra sashing, fused innerfacing to the back of the quilt top, added batting and a backing fabric, and quilt it with large "x" shapes through the blocks.

Bats on a Crazy Quilt, 54" x 75"

This piece had random shapes hand pieced on top of six foundation fabrics that were then sewn together. While the foundation fabric looked like a backing, the raw seams from where the six pieces were sewn together were visible. There was also a binding hand sewn to it and several of the pieces were either ripped or worn away, which makes me think this one was used as a summer quilt. 

My friend's original thought was for me to use some of the other orphan blocks as patches, and I did do that in five spots. I know my friend likes bats so I added six fused, raw-edge bat appliques using three different fabrics so if more bats need to be added it the future, the fabric won't have to match. All of the bats were strategically arranged to cover holes or fabric that had worn away.

Grandmother's Flower Garden table topper, 29" x 26"

As someone who has never made anything with hexigons, I considered this to be one of the treasures of this collection. This was also supposed to be larger as there was another hexigon attached but I saw that if I removed it, it would make a balanced shape that could be used as a table topper. I used a pillowcase method of attaching the backing fabric and binding then did a little machine quilting around the center hexigons.

Road to the White House, 38" x 10"

This piece started as four orphan blocks. They didn't seem to match any of the other pieces so I sewed them together and made this wall hanging that could also be a table runner.

Vintage quilt block pillows, 14" x 14"

There were eight orphan blocks, four of them with the same "Carpenter's Wheel" design so I made these into pillows.

(L-R) Carpenter's Wheel, Good Cheer (variation), Rolling Star, Crazy Quilt

Working with vintage quilt tops is a little tricky as over time some fabrics can fray or disintegrate all together. For any that are just one layer of fabric, it helps to fuse innerfacing to the back and if cutting one apart to be aware that the recently cut edges on a hand-pieced top might unstitch themselves without the knot there to hold them closed. 

They are likely more fragile than a new quilt so you'll want to not tug on the fabrics and wash them as infrequently as possible, using a gentle cycle and air drying, if possible.