Grab the phone, call my dad. Shared some love, felt so glad.

These two quilts were made for adult siblings whose father had died.  The mother had saved boxes of ties and had found specific ideas of how she wanted them to be constructed.
The black background quilt was for the daughter.  She loves Asian decoration and this design reminded her mother of a kimono. 37 ties (or pieces thereof) were used in this 3′ by 5′ quilt. The black background was a meandering freehand and the ties were quilted in the ditch.
As you can see in the pictures below, some ties were pieced to each other diagonally, others horizontally.  I appliqued many of the tie labels onto the quilt as well.  The father always loved West Highland Terriers hence the significance of the dog tie and dad tie in the right picture.
For the brother’s quilt, the mother wanted a loose, woven pattern of ties on a hunter green background.  There are 24 ties used all together, 12 running horizontally and 12 running vertically. The quilt was 4 ft by 4 ft which required using almost all of the tie with just a little bit left over. This was a bit tricky as there were many more directional ties than allotted spots.  I ended up basting it very closely before quilting as the needle had to go through many more layers than a normal quilt and the silk ties slipped.


The applique and the quilting were completed at the same time. The layout was a bit tricky as there were many more directional ties than allotted spots. Because the interlining remained in the ties for them to keep their shape, it ultimately was a very heavy quilt.


How can you laugh? Because you know I’m down!

I recently participated in an art quilt challenge.  Each participant had to pick a different song from the Beatles discography and interpret it in a 24″ by 24″ wall quilt.    The results of this challenge were compiled in a book called Inspired By the Beatles.


All the quilts are presented in alphabetical order and we each had a full page for the picture and accompanying narrative.


The following questions were part of the submission package:

Why did you choose this song?

I’m Down was released by the Beatles in 1964.  Michael Jackson owned the rights to the Beatles vault in the 1980s and refused to let the Beastie Boys sample I’m Down.  This song went out as a demo to various radio stations of that era but was not allowed to be a track on the Beastie album.  I never was a MJ fan, but this made me even less of one.

What inspired this quilt?

Obviously  I’m Down needed directional arrows.  The seven arrows represent the 4 Beatles and 3 Beastie Boys.  The Beatles arrows either have beetle insects, beetle cars, or London double decker buses as motifs.  The Beastie Boys arrows represent each of the members of the group: crowns for King AdRock Adam Horowitz,  guitar-playing buddhas for converted Buddhist MCA Adam Yauch, and diamonds for Mike D Michael Diamond.  The downward pointing arrows are arranged in the shape of a capital letter I.

The sequin thumbs-down hand with the NO sign represents that bad decision of Michael Jackson’s not allowing the sample.  The HA! represents the “How can you laugh because you know I’m down?” that is on both versions of the song. The HaHa fabric is from the curtains in my oldest child’s bedroom.  The fact that I still had them 20 years later just shows what a packrat I can be.

im down inside 1

Materials used in your quilt: Cottons, Flannels, Sequins, Beads

Do you consider yourself a Beatles fan?  I am a moderate Beatles fan.  I like their original albums, really did not like their later work.

Do you have any Beatles memories or stories to tell?  I wasn’t even born after the British Invasion had already occurred but at the age of 8 when I was given a portable record player for Christmas, my parents included “Introducing the Beatles” album which I alternated with my Partridge Family album.

What effect does music have on your creative process? I do have all the Beastie Boys albums on permanent rotation in my car.  I tend to design quilts in my head during my commute.

Tell me if you have a musical background, or experience. 6 painful years of violin and orchestra, 3 of bells for marching band.

Why do you quilt?  I find it relaxing.  In my younger days as a SAHM and officer’s wife, I enjoyed taking on projects with permanent results. Meals get eaten, laundry and houses get dirty again, the lawn keeps growing.  Doing something that did not come undone made me very happy.  Although the kids are grown, I still enjoy seeing completed endeavors.

Why are you participating in this challenge? I like challenges and being forced to think outside the box and/or my comfort zone.

Do you have a typical quilting style?  Is this particular quilt typical? I tend to design picture quilts and pick my fabrics accordingly.  I am not a huge fan of making traditional quilts  (although I admire other people’s work!) and tend to go with my own designs.  In terms of this quilt being typical, I am rebelling a bit as usual by making this quilt about both groups singing the song.

Did you listen to Beatles music when you made this quilt? I initially listened to all the versions of I’m Down that I could find on youtube.    I have repeatedly listened to the Beastie Boys and Beatles versions as I was coming up with ideas.

Did anything special happen when you were making this quilt?  I just enjoyed breaking the rules a bit by including the controversy as images.


I am rebelling a bit as usual by making this quilt about both groups singing the song.

Did you listen to Beatles music when you made this quilt? I initially listened to all the versions of I’m Down that I could find on youtube.    I have repeatedly listened to the Beastie Boys and Beatles versions as I was coming up with ideas.

Did anything special happen when you were making this quilt? I just enjoyed breaking the rules a bit by including the controversy as images.

I'm Down back


Je m’appelle Darlington. M and D in the chateau and we got it going on.

This Watercress wallhanging is to celebrate the marriage of a Gorlok and her fiancé.  She is a lovely person and I wish her the best!

And like a bottle of Chateau Scott and Nat, I’m fine like wine when I start to rap

This quilt was made as a wedding gift for  a lovely couple way back when but I only just recently obtained a picture of it.  They are practically a UN contingent all by themselves.  The bride is a dual French-US citizen, the groom is Australian.  They met in college in Canada and now live in the EU.

The design was inspired by a Becky Beierle motif.   The material for the bottle is actually a metallic cotton, MUCH easier to manipulate than the typical metallic fabric which frays terribly.

The bottle was pieced as 2 green sections, the white label and the brown cork.  Once it was a unit, it was hand-appliqued onto a background. The grape, leaves, and vines were hand-tinted. and the quilt was entirely hand-quilted.

You gettin’ fancy gifts from expensive men You’re a dog on a leash, like a pig in a pen


This simple  quilt was made for a grandmother of all grandsons who is about to have her first granddaughter.

I love Ian Falconer’s  character Olivia.  Like Eloise, Angelica, Lucy,  and even Oscar the Grouch, she is no shrinking violet.
I used some of the Alexander Henry line of Olivia prints. Like the illustrations in the books, the predominant colors are black. red, and white.  Not exactly girly! I added the lollipop fabric to bring a touch of pink and used a pink floral for the backing.



She said “You call yourself a doctor?” I said “This is true.” She said “Explain to me really what doctors must do.”

This was a wallhanging-sized quilt that was commissioned by four adult sons in memory of their father.  The dad was born in Italy, came over the US at age 13 and apparently learned English quite rapidly as he went to Rutgers at 18 followed by Jefferson Medical College at 22.  Being a member of a more formal generation., the good doctor was given a tie by each of his four boys on every gift-giving occasion.

I received 3 bankers file boxes full of ties and the instructions to make a modern, vibrant quilt with this fairly sedate neckwear.  We went back and forth with different designs and it was actually both of our sons who came up with the final layout. My kiddo has a strong artistic sense and the recipient’s son is an Industrial Design major at Carnegie Mellon, go Tartans!  
I used 132 ties in this wallhanging which barely made a dent in one box. The vast majority were silk which involved a lot of prep work to get them to behave properly in a quilt.  Each 4″ right triangle was separated by 2″ sashing so that the busy patterns would not clash with each other. I incorporated plaids, stripes, Italian brocades, skinny ties, wide ties.  I used the boldest prints in the boxes staying away from browns and tans. The sashing was quilted but the ties were left unquilted so they could pop a bit.


The red, blue and yellow triangle is from a pharmaceutical company tie. Many people know that Depression-era quilters used feedsacks in their work. Many dry goods at that time came in a fabric sack that was printed decoratively. What I did not know was that pharmaceutical companies would give away ties to physicians, many times with an enlarged print of the microscopic image.

Although I am glad I accepted this challenge as it caused me to push my creativity in a new direction, I am somewhat relieved that my own father rarely wore a tie to work as he was a research scientist in a lab and did not dress up except for lectures.

I’ve got money like Charles Dickens. I’ve got the girlies in the coupe, like the Colonel’s got the chickens

Those *&^$%! Chickens!  This quilt was made as a result of a quilt bee swap. In a swap, the participants make as many blocks as participants. They keep one for themselves and trade and receive one to/from everybody else. Our quilt bee is called the Worker Bees because we are really diligent about doing projects. In any case, someone proposed chicken blocks. By the time I was done, I had 14 chicken blocks, 3 of which were facing the wrong way. I had no idea what to do with these creatures and just let the ideas germinate in my head. I elongated a Margaret Rolfe rooster pattern for the corner blocks, found chicken wire and 2 egg motif fabrics and then came my true inspiration.

We were attending  a wedding in a tiny town in the Pacific Northwest and had time to kill before the ceremony.  I found a needlework shop and a quilt shop practically across the street from each other.  When I saw the crewel work pattern that said Good Morning Let the Stress Begin WITH a rooster, I knew that had to go into this quilt.  I am not a country girl so this would be my one and only chicken quilt. I am also not a morning person and back in those days it was always stressful getting the kids to school, spouse to work, me to work, etc.

The foxes came from a very old needlepoint book by Dorothy Kaestner.  Each fox face is mostly needlepoint but the ears and top and sides of the head are bargello stitches.  If you look carefully, you will see each set of eyes in a different position.  The bird blocks were all quilted with a hexagonal design that I thought resembled chicken wire. It was all hand-quilted, hand-embroidered, and mostly hand-pieced.  So despite me not knowing what to do with these *&^$%! chickens, it all came together fairly easily. 

So if you’re feeling strong, then reach for yours, My book is my shield and my mic is my sword, sword, sword…

 This quilt was made for a lovely young woman who works in the same office as the other law quilt recipient from last month.

The recipient is a Cavalier from the University of Virginia. Like other southern schools, Pearl Girls are a major fixture on campus so I used a pearl motif fabric for the background of the UVa logo as well as the ΑΧΩ greek letter block. UVa colors are orange and blue which I was able to address with the blue and orange butterfly border fabric.

While at UVa, she pledged Alpha Chi Omega.  AChiO’s colors are green and red so it was a bit challenging to find fabrics in those colors that didn’t scream Christmas. Alpha Chi Omega doesn’t have a mascot at the national level but several individual chapters use the butterfly. The lyre in the upper left corner of the quilt is their symbol, similar to the Kappa Key.

Most people know that Thomas Jefferson designed the campus from nearby Monticello.  And if you step on the Grounds unaware of that factoid, you certainly will know it by the time you leave.
How many UVA students does it take to change a light bulb? 
One – he just holds the bulb and lets the world revolve around him.

He goes by the name of the D-D-D-Disco Dave

This Watercress wallhanging was made for an attorney who practices law in the Commonwealth.


This gentleman started out at Hampden-Sydney College where he pledged Phi Gamma Delta aka FIJI or Phi Gam (depending on geography).  Unlike most fraternities and sororities, Phi Gamma Delta doesn’t allow their greek letters on anything but their crest so I didn’t make a block with letters.  I DID however, incorporate their color of purple, their white owl mascot and their black diamond with the white star symbol all in one block.  The sashing between the blocks has a palm tree motif which of course hearkens to the FIJI tropical isle theme.

I had a little bit of football themed fabric from another quilt which was perfect for the borders as this Tiger played football at Hampden-Sydney and yet still maintained a high enough GPA to get admitted to the top-tier law school at Washington and Lee University.
The logo for Washington and Lee University was made with fabric that have the W&L trident as the design. The background of the Hampden-Sydney block is a tropical batik again referencing the FIJI connection.  Because the recipient practices law, the scales of justice were appliqued onto a background of books.

Hampden-Sydney College is a unique treasure of a school located about an hour west of Richmond in a very rural area.  It is one of the last 3 all-male colleges in the country.   Yet every time we have visited on the weekends, there is no shortage of gorgeous young ladies out and about.
How many Hampden-Sydney students does it take to change a light bulb?
Five, one to actually change the light bulb, and four to figure out how this could get some Sweet Briar girls to come over.

Riddle me this, my brother, can you handle it? Your style to my style, you can’t hold a candle to it

This quilt was made for a baby who is the new little brother to 3 older sisters.  His mother loved frogs when she was a child and apparently the frog fascination hasn’t alleviated over time.  She decorated the nursery in an amphibian theme.

Not a terribly exciting back:  remaining frog print and planet motif.  But both sides are bright and cheerful to help counteract the dreariness of a Massachusetts winter. The family lives in freezing-cold Massachusetts so this was given to them just in time before the nasty weather comes.

As usual, this baby quilt was machine-pieced and machine-quilted.  Baby quilts are meant to be used by babies and need to be durable to stand up to repeated washings.