Saturday, November 6, 2021

Vintage Fabrics


"Edged in Black" by Audrey Arno, 7" x 7"

Hello from a long-absent quilter!  It is autumn in Wisconsin, Oliver is sleeping near me, now 12 and sweeter than ever. 

I admit to being a bit surprised that this blog is still online, gosh.

Alas these past few years I have not been able to quilt due to a variety of "perfect storm" events, but this past summer I have been sorting through so many saved fabrics, books, quilts, magazines, letters, ribbons, business cards, oh my....several rooms of things to go through, air out, read, save or discard. 

I've found  many interesting items I had forgotten about, articles or photos I liked and then realized they were mine (ha!), and ended up thinking it might be a good thing to start blogging and share few of my thoughts and photos again.  They reminded me of friends, quilters, so many experiences over the years, like vintage fabrics that are re-discovered and more beautiful than ever.

I’ll begin with the little quilt, above, rolled up in a packet of small treasures I had put away for safekeeping and forgotten. 

“Edged in Black” by Audrey Arno from Tulsa, OK, was from a collection of "little" quilts made for sale to support Ami Simms' Alzheimers project, raising money for research.  They were displayed and sold at one of the big quilt shows I attended and this one spoke to me, a wonderful mélange of vintage fabrics, beautifully designed and pieced. 

When I held this quilt yesterday the idea that sprang to mind was to make small projects with some of your fabrics you have saved or put aside because they are so special.  Don’t simply store fabric, instead make something small and easily completed, and enjoy it, donate it, gift it to another quilter who would love it. 

It needn’t use vintage fabrics although some of my very first new fabric purchases are probably now old enough to be classified as antique….!  It can be from your special collections of batiks, or hand dyed, or conversational prints, blue and white fabrics, whatever.  Someone would love it and a small piece can be framed for display or added to a small area in a house.

Recently I watched a news story about the container ships backed up and no merchandise to buy for Christmas, oh no.  What happened to making something from what you already have?  Or doing something special for someone?  Or give a day helping a relative with things to do around the house?  We don’t need any more things in the house, but of course a small handmade gift would be welcomed with happy delight.

Below are photos of just that, a small quilt pieced from an old very worn tied quilt that my mother’s grandmother had made from fabrics in the early 1900’s.  My mother made a label so it is documented nicely, and I treasure this little quilt especially since my mother has been gone now for some years. 

The quilt is about 16" square, the blocks each 2 1/2" finished, and it is hand quilted.  The border fabric was new.  On the simple label below it is documented, so nice for any piece you make.  

I loved this in 1989 but it is more precious to me now.  

It has been lovely sharing some thoughts with you today; see you next time!





Sunday, February 5, 2017

"The Grid Design Workbook"

For all of us machine quilters who are looking for some new ideas for quilting designs, this is a wonderful new book by Cindy Seitz-Krug, an award winning quilter and teacher who uses her home machine for quilting, published by AQS.

What is great about this book and a bit different is how effortlessly the "workbook" idea leads you through all kinds of lovely designs, shows you how to break them down into simple do-able elements that are controlled by a marked grid.  Sometimes in the end you see the grid, others times only curvy lines and designs that make the viewer ask "how in the world was that done???"

Below, details of Cindy's quilting:

The designs are great, but all the options she shows us with size, color of thread, scale of design, where and how to use them really help when trying to figure out what design to use where in a quilt.  There are tons of illustrations, diagrams, quilted samples to help you achieve these designs.  The workbook idea insures you will be able to start at the beginning, follow along, and get a quilted design by yourself!

One of the first grid designs I tried years ago when I was looking for a simpler method for a design of overlapping circles was one I called "Diane-shiko" (below) as it was a new way to mark and quilt an old Sashiko design.  When the marked lines are removed the circles emerge so it looks as if you quilted circles.  This is the basic idea Cindy uses to create all sorts of designs with the grid to guide you.

Above you can see the 1/2" marked grid, and the stitching around the lines to form this timeless design.  Below, the design used in one of my quilts, "Shadows of Umbria," which Cindy also has featured in her new book.

A grid design will showcase curvy designs with its formality and regularity.  These designs look difficult but many are absolutely beginner level and with some practice you'll be adding many of Cindy's designs, methods, ideas to your own quilts.  

Visit Cindy at her website and blog to find out more:  

Below, one more peek at her quilting:

If you were in some of my last classes I taught a design called "Ginkgo."  In Cindy's quilt above she uses it as fill around larger scale designs.  Below is one of my samples of this lovely design, and Cindy includes a much easier way to mark and quilt it called "Twisted Ginkgo" in this new book.  It's one of my favorite designs ever in the way it looks, and how much fun it is to quilt.

I experimented and tried Cindy's method to quilt this design, and it worked perfectly.  I'm thrilled she could explain it so well, and the diagrams and photos are exactly what you need so you too can add this design to your skills.

Congratulations to Cindy on a great book and for her recent award at Road to California for Excellence in Machine Quilting for her wholecloth quilt "Blush." 

Hope winter is giving you lots of time to quilt, and to play with ideas on your sewing machine.  

Keep quilting!  Your work gets better every day!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

January Cooking

January means more time at home, more cooking.  I've been re-visiting old favorites, tweaking recipes, trying to get things just right, and eating the trial runs!  Finally the blueberry muffins are perfect, tender and yummy, blueberries oozing out on my blue plate, topped with a drizzle of icing.  

I've made artisanal pizza, deconstructed beef stew (incredible!), oatmeal cookies that will fill you up all day long.  We are losing weight steadily because I truly believe made from scratch food, real food, is better for you than a diet.  Oh, and a bit of moderation, which isn't easy when things taste so good.

Real French fries!  I was moaning and complaining about how I don't even bother ordering them anymore with a meal in a restaurant as they are so generic, or so coated with batter.  What's with batter on potatoes anyway????  Mine were easy, fast, crispy and melt-in -your-mouth good.  Fresh ground sea salt dusted on them and they disappeared in minutes.

Pizza, also easy and delicious.  It has taken more experimenting than with other recipes, but now I can whip one out quickly and be fairly consistent in quality.  Below, one I made over Christmas, note the red/green cutting mats.  Fresh ricotta cheese added little pillows of deliciousness.....yum.  And fresh spinach for the touch of green!  I was out of little fresh grape tomatoes, but usually add those for their sweetness and color.

Today we'll coast with very easy stuff, some avocados that I'll use for guacamole, as it is Green Bay Packers and the playoff game.  Oliver likes football as there tends to be lots of yelling from His People as they watch.

Thanks for all the comments on Mud, and I know many of you will simply shake your heads and think wow, weird world of color that Diane lives in.  Yes, I realize many of you simply hate anything dull or drab or hinting of olive green, but as you dip into your guacamole, consider that lovely color for a quilt!  

Below, Kettle Moraine Star, my first true "mud" quilt, with khaki, the color of  men's pants, as the background...................

Keep quilting!  Your work gets better every day.....

Monday, January 9, 2017


"Through a Glass, Darkly:  An American Memory" detail

On this gloomy damp grey January day I am in need of color!  The bright reds are put away after Christmas and softer fresh light colors are around me.  Spots of intense blue and lovely yellow really brighten the house and my mood.  Color is one of those things for quilters that is very important indeed.  

Years ago in 2004 I wrote an article for Quilter's Newsletter Magazine that was part of their series on quilt artists and their take on color and how they used it.  At that time I had a lecture titled "Mud, Wonderful Mud!" as well as a class that helped others see drab, dull, muddy shades as vital to a true color balance in many quilts and other art.  

In the photo below of a quilting sample done on one of Caryl Bryer Fallert's Benartex fabrics the blue stands out, the surrounding "mud" colors are rich and warm and let the blue steal the show.  

I always spoke about these mud colors with tongue-in-cheek as I know for many color is something you don't joke about; favorite colors as well as the ugly colors are absolute.  Lines are not crossed. I know quilters who will not allow purple in the house, much less in a quilt.

However, I do believe we can always expand our horizons and perhaps a little "mud" is just what you need for 2017.  Forget Avocado Green and Harvest Gold from the 70's; we had an avalanche of those colors in every aspect of our lives, and this really created an aversion to any color resembling these two prime suspects. 

But it is a new year, warm lovely colors are perfect in our work, and you might surprise yourself by the result of their inclusion.   Below is the article, judiciously edites/updated here and there,  and some photos that will help illustrate my points for the use of mud.....

Color as I See It  
by Diane Gaudynski

The azure blue sky, the white marble courthouse with a sea of steps leading down to the sunny street.  A beautiful woman in purple running down the steps. Handsome leading man waiting for her at the bottom, arms filled with luscious red roses, dressed in his well-fitted military uniform of deep bronze khaki.  Hollywood pulled out all the stops to insure everyone would zero in on the important parts of this scene, punctuated with bright color to draw the eye.  However, as I watched, I thought to myself, "what gorgeous khaki in his uniform!"

"Sixteen Baskets of Mud" 1997  
I gave in and let myself use army green for the border and lots of mud from my extensive collection for the baskets.  Bright "pretty" colors were saved for the top triangles in the baskets.  This little quilt set the mud wheels in motion.....and another variation, below, made for a piecing class.

Color and quilting are the two items in a quilt that are immediate and nonnegotiable.   Designs may be open to interpretation, patterns come and go, but the color of a quilt is its hallmark.

We refer to our quilts by their color:  my red quilt, the blue and yellow one I made last year.  Quilting provides the three-dimensional texture that makes a design seem new and fresh, but it is color that supports the quilting, showcases it, and shouts, "Look at me!"

Above, some of my quilts in an exhibit in 2010 at the National Quilt Museum, Paducah, KY

When asked what color I am using in a quilt, I invariably describe it with a word from nature or food:  goldenrod rather than yellow/gold; cappuccino rather than tan.  Colors that might be overlooked or termed "uglies" have always provided me that delicious, necessary backdrop for the more universally acceptable hues such as red, blue, and purple.  The ugly colors that I refer to as "mud" give my quilts their particular signature.

"October Morning" 1999
A liberal use of rich and warm mud browns, which I described as "chocolate,"  as well as dark olives and russet colors for the pieced blocks are striking against a cool serene lilac background in this traditional Delectable Mountains quilt.

My natural tendency toward messiness has led me to interesting color discoveries.  Once I stepped on a piece of gold fabric after it spilled out of an overturned bin and I left a dusty footprint on it.   That gave me the idea of including it with other colors already chosen.  Another time, seeing two pieces of fabric unintentionally next to each other in a drawer, looking wonderful together, gave me an idea for a two-color quilt.

A tidy quilter may have simply re-sorted them and not had the opportunity of seeing an unusual color combination.  Be open to the unexpected.  Throw fabric around, see where it lands, and discover how strange combinations can look terrific.  Look at scraps thrown haphazardly in the wastebasket for inspiration!

I tend to pick the "off" shades of color.  Rather than a pure hue, I look for the slightly skewed version of it--dusty purple instead of clear purple, dark teal instead of turquoise, chartreuse or army green instead of grass green.  These colors give a quilt character and let the brighter colors stand out.

"Blossom's Journey"  
Dark green border and gold, brown plaid, and chartreuse set off the turquoise and bright reds in the fabrics in this 45" square wall quilt.  Detail, below.

Although my quilts reflect my love of subdued tones, I also like to include the bright zing of an indigo bunting or the brilliant red of a cardinal.  Here in the Midwest, real-life color can be a sea of murky tones interspersed with bright spots of intensity.  Brights look more important when surrounded by murk and gloom.  The cardinal can be seen from a distance in the brown and grey branches and dead grass here in winter.  

One of my first award-winning quilts caused a sensation in 1996 because the background was light khaki.  The local newspaper wrote that the "award winner" used fabric the color of men's pants, of all things, in her winning quilt.  The next year the the paper touted me in an interview as "the mud lady."
Other quilts have come and gone, but all have a bit of dull color included.  

"Red Square" Detail

I like to give the eye a resting place, provide a warm feeling natural to fiber art, and let the brighter, pure colors come forward, using these "mud" neutrals as a counterweight.  Everything from soft gold, cashew, and khaki to the deep browns and greens work for me, providing the necessary mortar of neutrality to hold a quilt design together.

So much time and effort goes into making a quilt; one of the rewards is admiring our fabric choices as we work.  It's an added pleasure having others tell you how much they love them too.   


"Shadows of Umbria" detail; machine quilting in mud is delicious!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Season's Greetings

This humble little tree is lighting our home with birds, nests, and crystal, tempting Oliver and bringing Christmas joy and peace.  It has been put away for several years, but Oliver is now mature and only gently touches the crystal ornaments and watches them move and reflect the lights, and he doesn't seem to notice the birds perched here and there or some of the fallen nests from storms brought in to save and treasure.  Perhaps if the birds actually moved he would start stalking them!

We've had snow, mountains of it, and frigid temps, but are happy to be snug and warm inside.  I've been cleaning, decorating, and baking just a few big yummy oatmeal cookies.  I have long since stopped doing anything fancy, and keep it simple and delicious.  

Below is another look at my Delectable Mountains wall quilt, showing some of the quilting and the richness of the colors.  I like the heavy old rose sateen as a background color, but the fabric weight was a bit much for the lightweight piecing fabrics.  The large triangles are a rich mud color hand dyed sateen so there was quite a bit of weight in the piecing junctions. 

I quilted the backgrounds with gold silk thread (not metallic) and that added an overlay of rich color to offset the cool rose in the fabric.....I like it!  I did do a sample with matching rose thread and it sort of died and looked flat and lifeless.  There is nothing, repeat, nothing like quilting a sample with your choices before beginning on the actual quilt.  It has saved me from making major mistakes so many times.

Oliver is helping me with all this exciting activity, and his favorite new thing is my lovely Polar Bear snow globe, a mother and two cubs.  

I've always loved snow globes but never found one that was just right.  This one jumped into my line of sight recently while I was shopping for something entirely different (probably something way too practical to recall), and it enchanted me.  I didn't realize until I had it a few days and tipped it over to read about it that it had a key on the bottom, which I turned and now can hear Silent Night tinkling away as the bears sit in a whirlwind of snow. 

At first Oliver watched the bears, then checked out the snow when I shook it, and finally the music, and now simply sits and watches, enjoying it.  He is a gentleman of a cat.

Thank you all so very much for the incredible comments on my last post; they warm my heart and make me realize anew how special an experience I had as a quilt teacher.  

May your holidays be happy and bright, the New Year everything you wish it to be.  Peace,

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Winter's Silence

It is that time of year again, when the darkness of winter nears, the silence is all around.  Oliver waits at the windows for birds, and the festive lights of houses begin to glimmer and celebrate the holiday season.  Flocks of huge wild turkeys visit at least once a week, and the heavy feeling in the air means snow is on the way.

It has been a long time since I visited this blog; my days have been filled with things other than quilting, but recently my interest in it was nudged just a bit by several things.  In June I was asked to appear on a new Wisconsin Public Television program, "Treasured Quilts of Wisconsin."  Nancy Zieman of "Sewing with Nancy" hosted it, and she also invited me to be a guest on her program in the Nancy's Corner segment, below.

After the taping the crew gathered around me to look closely at my quilt and ask me excited questions.  It was so fabulous to see these young people so amazed with quilting, so interested in everything!  Plus, it was a joy to work once again with Nancy.  Our conversation takes place in her Sewing With Nancy program "Patchwork Patterns Inspired by Antique Quilts with Julie Hendricksen."  It has aired recently and will re-run nationally for three years.

The quilt I was holding is "Delectable Mountains," below.  Quilted with YLI Sparkle thread (silk and metallic), it still gives me shivers when I remember how difficult it was to do, how it was tossed onto the UFO pile for a long time, then I persevered and finished it, only to have the hand dyed mud color bleed in the center of the quilt, ugh.  In the interview Nancy mentioned my use of color, especially my term for dull fabrics (below in the large triangles) that I called "mud."  

It never made it to the auction, I made a different and better quilt with the challenge fabrics.  I had this poor little quilt hanging with the back showing for a long time, and finally tried it with the front to the front, and can look at it without reliving the agony of piecing and quilting it.  The monstrously thick seam joins with very heavy sateen caused some minor breakage in my presser foot assembly, springs flying or dropping every now and then, repair shop needed.'s probably good for the soul to have to suffer through a project every now and then!

It also took me awhile to brace myself and watch the television shows I was in.  I was afraid I had said "ummmm" too much, or started every sentence with the usual Wisconsin "yah".....but no, all was well, and the editing took care of my wandering thoughts.  It was not easy "talking quilts" again after several years of retirement, but I found it all came back quickly and easily.  

This led to trying some quilting and I have to say even though my sewing room was a storage room and had boxes and stuff piled everywhere, I found my machine, and can still quilt well, and it felt good and looked beautiful.  Now I have to consider what I want to make, some small project that will let me experience that lovely contentment and joy that machine quilting can give. 

I'm teaching quilting to a great-niece, such a delight, and Oliver has had near escapes and great cat adventures, plus I'm still going through years of accumulated quilt things.  I found a fun article I wrote on color for Quilter's Newsletter Magazine a long time ago, and will share that with you soon, especially since Nancy Zieman brought up the whole MUD thing!

I think of so many of you often, the quilters, the classes and things that happened, the travel and the places quilting took me.  Going through my years of memorabilia has brought back so many lovely memories.   Stay warm, and more soon,

Keep quilting!  Your work gets better every day,

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sifting and Winnowing

Labor Day has passed, and finally there is some cool fall air, rainy days, perfect for cleaning the sewing room, sorting through mountains of "stuff," and tackling the stash.  I will do a little a day so my back doesn't give out, but it is overwhelming.  A lifetime of fabric, scraps from quilts, and I hate to admit I have a hard time saying goodbye to any fabric.

However it is time to get organized and make some decisions about all this.  Fortunately there are people who need fabric and will put it to good use.  My sister is already on her way to a beautiful star quilt that she calls a "stash buster" and more is on the way to her.  Every day I feel a sense of accomplishment as a drawer is cleaned, books are sorted and organized and designated for keeping or giving away.  Piles are formed, my life in quilting is passing in front of me.

I found books or magazines that I wondered why I had kept them, and after paging through would find an article I had written or one about me, or a photo of one of my quilts.  I had forgotten I wrote so much and said "yes" to so many publications.  

And, I've taken time to pause and read notes from you, quilters I've met in classes, or from quilters I've never met.  So many of you took the time to leave me a note at the end of class, give me a little gift, and I've kept them all and treasure them.  I love these, and it was so nice rediscovering them.

As I sort the fabrics, and I've only begun, I realize I am still drawn to the same favorites, whether by color, print, or style.  I lovingly pick each up and fold it neatly and admire it.  Some I do wonder what was I thinking, or why did I buy it, but not many at all.  And oh the scraps!  Each one brings back the memory of the quilt it comes from, the making of it, the finished result.  Most of them I no longer have, so .......should I keep the remnants?  Probably not.  I must be practical.  

Before I began there were so many stacks and bins and piles of things I couldn't walk into my sewing room, or see the floor.  Now the outer hall is clean and tidy (that took a few days) and my room beckons, with shining floor, even a rug for Oliver and a stool by the window for him.  I have a new ironing board cover (grey with ivory Diane-shiko), and only three sewing machines.  I need to pare that down to two as well.  

The cutting table is clear and has a wall quilt on it resting and getting de-creased.  I will hang it soon.  It doesn't have a sleeve as the hand sewing with my painful hands was too much so I'll put it up with a few straight pins nailed into the wall.  

I found one sewing pattern I had saved, and it has to be from the 80's when I was still sewing clothes including long riding skirts as shown in this pattern:

Yikes, the shoulder pads!!  I plead Guilty, I wore them.  I could whip out a skirt in wool gabardine or silk in about an hour and it fit me perfectly.  This pattern was never used; I went up in size and sort of gave up on sewing for myself, but it would work now, so.....I am keeping it.  You never know.

In August Oliver turned six!  We went out to eat to celebrate and raised glasses of iced tea to our lovely boy.  Despite my shock when our new vet suggested it might be good for him to have some wet food added to his diet, he has taken to it perfectly.  He is now NOT a Vegan, but a true carnivore cat, although he does not like any people food except raw veggies and corn silk.  He isn't allowed to eat corn silk but he sniffs it out with black-eyed excitement.  He is still a little bi-polar and OCD, but that is very typical for a cat.

He has mellowed a little and is very happy.  His thunder purring is amazing, and it's the little things that he loves:  both of us at home, clean sheets and the making of the bed, an empty paper bag, Mom washing things in the sink with lots of running water, us keeping to routine, the usual cat pleasures. 

His birthday included a stack of canned cat food with 6 candles atop, and a card from his godparents in AZ, below.  He was a happy boy.

My email is working well again, still haven't tackled new software and a website update, although just getting the software was an accomplishment!    

Many of you are emailing me with questions about quilting, and I try to answer as best I can.  I still maintain that with every quilt project you do, you encounter new problems and must come up with a way to work it out.  You think you know it all, but you never do.  It keeps things interesting.

So  Happy Fall and .....keep quilting!  Your work gets better every day,