Patchwork Sketchbook ~ Shipping Pallets

shipping pallets

Actually I’m having a dispute with the shipping pallet lot across from my building because they are blocking most of the street with an overflow of pallets. Even so, the stacked pallets themselves are quite fascinating as a patchwork pattern possibility.

imagination pallets

All it takes is a little imagination to translate these stacked shipping pallets into a score, a flexible pattern, using ruler free strip piecing techniques.  It’s on my to do list!


I invite you to share your Patchwork Sketches for variable patterns with the Improv Handbook Facebook Group. What’s inspiring your quilts these days?

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Sew LeWitt at Adobe Books Backroom Gallery

Adobe Books San FranciscoI had a great time facilitating the first of a series of patchwork performance installations — Score For Floating Squares (à la Sew LeWitt) — at Adobe Books, September 6-27, 2015.

Score For Floating Squares (a la Sew Lewitt)Sew Lewitt by Sherri Lynn WoodSurprised and delighted at how much people who had never sewn before enjoyed making patchwork. Discovered how much fun it was to hang out with the good folks at Adobe Books and sew with whoever showed up. Satisfied with the outcome!  In case you are wondering I will be filling in the blank negative spaces with white fabric to make one giant quilt. Next steps… fingers crossed for the next in the series, Score For Strings (à la Sew LeWitt). Thanks to all of the folks at Adobe Books and to all the people who showed up to be a part of it!

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Quilt Local by Heather Jones

quilt local by heather jones
I like the premise behind Heather Jone’s latest book, Quilt Local.  I believe wholeheartedly in observing and abstracting patterns from your environment. Pattern abstraction is fundamental to quilt making and is rooted in the American frontier. All of the classic patchwork blocks arose from abstraction of the everyday — Log Cabin, Turkey Tracks, Rail Fence, Drunkard’s Path…

Quilt Local features fixed patterns and emphasizes Heather’s considered design process, color theory, and implementation. I love the introductions to each of her projects, where you see an image of the object and her sketch together.


Quilt Local is a lovely book for people prone to designing and planning and who are interested in modernizing or inventing new fixed patterns, but it’s premise also speaks to improvisors, who like to explore flexible patterns.

I always encourage students of improv to look at their environment for inspiration, not other people’s quilts. For this reason I think Quilt Local is a great cross over book that  speaks to both fixed and flexible pattern traditions in quilt making.

When I first started my blog I had a series of weekly posts on Inspiration Sundays, under the category of Sketchbook. Each post featured an image of an object in my environment and an abstracted pattern sketch of that object.  This sketchbook post inspired by zinias, led to developing the wedge-curve technique…

and this sketchbook post inspired by onions, led to the bias-strip piecing on the curve technique, both of which are featured in The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters by the same wonderful publisher of Heather’s book, STC Craft / Abrams.

Abstracting patterns from your environment is an extremely important practice to undertake and Heather’s book leads by example, along with practical tips on how to do it. Here are a few of the other objects and places that surround Heather and inspired the over 40 projects featured in Quilt Local. Aren’t you curious to see the quilts they inspired???


Another thing I appreciate about quilts in Quilt Local is Heather’s simple and bold use of scale. I notice that a majority of my students tend to piece medium to small. I often wonder why that is. Is it a comfort thing? Is it a gender thing? Is it something about not wanting to take up space? Is it a form of scarcity and a fear of wasting fabric? Is it a form of agoraphobia and a fear of large spaces? I’m curious about what you think…

from Quilt Local by Heather Jones

But I can tell you that Heather Jones isn’t afraid of working big and being surrounded by large spaces! Her work breathes space and simplicity. Her quilts unclutter the mind and restore the soul and so does her book! Bravo Heather!

Quilt Local has inspired me to resurrect my Sketchbook posts! Stay tuned….

And check out the rest of the Quilt Local Blog Tour:

10/6: STC Craft Blog

10/8: Robert Kaufman

10/9: Melanie Falick

10/10: Sew Mama Sew

10/11: Creative Bug

10/12: Plaid Portico

10/14: Modern Sewciety

10/16: Pellon

10/19: The Tattooed Quilter

10/21: Amy’s Creative Side

10/23: Diary of a Quilter

10/26: Film in the Fridge

10/28: Tall Grass Prairie Studio

10/29: Okan Arts

10/30: Kara Sews

11/2: Crimson Tate

11/4: Dainty Time

11/6: Nap Time Quilter

11/9: Spoonflower

11/11: Aurifil

11/13: A Gathering of Stitches

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Women In Espionage Trading Cards

I’ve previously shared the artwork of my very talented and dear friend Mary Yordy. She is an artist that inspires me, and she’s hit another home run with her Women In Espionage Trading Cards.

Women in Espionage Trading Cards by Mary Yordy

Mary has carefully researched and brilliantly brought to light and life a topic and cast of characters who have long been under the radar in popular culture, female spies. She has compiled images from the internet to create intriguing visual montages of each of her subjects. On the back of the trading cards she smartly summarizes the facts and hearsay on each of her notorious heroines or traitors as the case may be.

The intriguing lives and undercover work of  Valerie Plame, Julia Child, Emelia Earhart, and many more across time and nationality are included in this first limited artist edition set of sixteen. Women In Espionage Trading Cards – Brown Set  are available on Etsy. These unique trading cards would make an an empowering, and curiously entertaining holiday gift for all your feminist and left or right wing conspiracy theorist friends and relatives, as well as any preteen or teenage girls in your life.  Or you may want a set of your own! I’m always telling my improv patchwork comrades to go out there and make something dangerous. The courage of these risk taking women will inspire you.

I’m not the only one recommending them. See this review – “beautiful and compelling portraits” on BoingBoing. Get your WIP Brown Set today before they are all gone. Mary’s WIP Green Set, which will include Coco Chanel will be released in 2016. Did you know that Coco Chanel was a spy? Who do you think she worked for…?

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The Pope’s Message of Mercy

When the Iraq war began in 2003 I was angry and in grief. I thought of the word REPENT, with an urgency to turn away from war and towards peace. And I began the Prayer Banner project inspired in part by the famous 1843 Kentucky Coffin Quilt or Graveyard Quilt by Elizabeth Roseberry Mitchell. With the help and community of others I began stitching the names of dead soldiers and Iraqi civilians onto coffins to spell the word REPENT.

But after the Abu Ghraib torture photos were released in 2004 I fell to my knees in shame and thought of the word MERCY, and how only God’s love and forgiveness could redeem us now.

MERCY is a powerful word, and I’m heartened to hear that Pope Francis’ message to the world is about patience, and merciful forgiveness. MERCY resonates in my heart as I own the harshness with which I judge myself and others in countless minute ways every day. May I answer this internal judgement with compassion and acceptance instead!

In the past few days I have been reading a book by a Cardinal … Cardinal Kasper said that feeling mercy, that this word changes everything. This is the best thing we can feel: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand properly this mercy of God, this merciful Father who is so patient. … Let us remember the Prophet Isaiah who says that even if our sins were scarlet, God’s love would make them white as snow. This mercy is beautiful.

— Pope Francis, Angelus on March 17, 2013

Prayer Banner: Mercy by Sherri Lynn Wood - detail

When Pope Francis links MERCY with God’s infinite patience with our many “mistakes and sins” I think of the unforgiving regiment of perfection and achievement that our culture as a whole aspires to in order to mask our vulnerability, and how I’m still caught up in it. I think of the slowness of stitching and how years of handwork have only begun instilling within me an understanding of patience and devotion, and I feel tender.

God’s patience has to call forth in us the courage to return to Him, however many mistakes and sins there may be in our life. … It is there, in the wounds of Jesus, that we are truly secure; there we encounter the boundless love of His heart. Thomas understood this. Saint Bernard goes on to ask: But what can I count on? My own merits? No, “My merit is God’s mercy. I am by no means lacking merits as long as He is rich in mercy. If the mercies of the Lord are manifold, I too will abound in merits.” This is important: the courage to trust in Jesus’ mercy, to trust in His patience, to seek refuge always in the wounds of His love.

— Pope Francis, Homily on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 7, 2013

Prayer Banner: Mercy by Sherri Lynn Wood - social practice

Lots of folks these days give Christianity and all organized religion a bad wrap and I can understand why. I agree with religions’ haters, that there is a large fraction of orthodox, fundamentalist and mainstream practitioners who have shown little MERCY, understanding, patience or acceptance to outsiders or insiders. Violent righteousness and sanctioned hypocrisy is a major problem with religion.

I’m heartened that Pope Francis is speaking out about the Christian message of MERCY known to us through the humble witness of Jesus’ life and actions, which radically envisioned a new notion of human justice. A justice that calls for MERCY and compassion, not an eye for an eye. It’s appropriate that the redemption of religious belief, begin from the inside out. And it’s long overdue.

I can’t say exactly why I felt the need to share this right now and be thankful, except that the Pope’s message of MERCY seems extraordinary, refreshing, restorative and true.

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Freddy Freckles Meets The Spoonflower Handbook

Freddy Freckles meets Spoonflower

Meet Mr. Freddy Freckles. Isn’t he adorable? Don’t let his calm demeanor in this image fool you!  He’s a Dalmatian/Cattle Dog mix.

I’m his part time companion. I keep him one or two days a week. When he’s away I miss my sweet bundle of energetic joy. What’s a gal to do when she’s got the dog gone blues????


Refer to The Spoonflower Handbook of course!  It’s full of lots of fun projects – thirty of them. Here’s a sneak peak of what’s inside. The project that caught my eye was the Doppelgänger Dog Pillow. Aha! Just what I needed to keep me company when Freddy is busy causing trouble elsewhere.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 7.06.37 PM

The Spoonflower Handbook included illustrated photoshop instructions on how to prepare my image of Freddy for printing.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 7.05.10 PM

After I selected Freddy’s outline and refined the edge, I lifted him out of the background and plopped him down on the white space of a new file. I then applied a poster filter because I liked the simplified look.

Freddy Freckles meets Spoonflower
I filled in the background of the file with gray and green, and then uploaded the image onto Spoonflower’s website – easy as pie with The Spoonflower Handbook as a guide.
I was thrilled when the package from Spoonflower arrived. There was Freddy’s doppelgänger printed on linen canvas along with a fabric for the back of the pillow chosen from an abundance of designs created by Spoonflower’s talented user community.
21425917735_1be9bc0260_zI trimmed excess fabric to half an inch from the edge of Freddy’s image and placed it right side facing the backing, pinned it in place, trimmed the backing to match, sewed it together…

turned it inside out, stuffed it, and then hand stitched the opening where the stuffing went in…  and voilá!

21415020522_eb27e1de20_b Freddy Freckle’s doppelgänger was born!

21239061249_e92ed3c320_bNow I never have to be without my sweet pup again.  I actually carried Doppelgänger Freddy into the coffee shop today after stuffing him – don’t tell!


Are you as curious as Freddy Freckles about some of the other great projects in The Spoonflower Handbook?

21243033158_8bbb5e133e_zThe Spoonflower Handbook (STC Craft/Abrams) is a beautifully designed, comprehensive book for everyone who already utilizes Spoonflower’s unique services to create their own printed fabrics and paper and wants to broaden their knowledge of the possibilities, AND… For those of us who have thought about it, but haven’t taken the plunge, it takes the scary out of the techy.  Check out the blog tour celebrating it’s release:

Saturday, Sept.12th ~ Sammy K of Just Arting Around… ~ Recipe Tea Towel project

Tuesday, Sept. 15th ~ Sherri Lynn Wood of DaintyTime ~ Doppelgänger Dog Pillow

Thursday, Sept. 17th ~ Audrey Smit of This Little Street ~ Coloring Desk Wrap

Tuesday, Sept. 22nd ~ Kate B of See Kate Sew ~ Photo Panel Wall Art

Friday, Oct. 16th ~ Emma Jeffery of Hello Beautiful ~ Geometric Soiree Kitchen Chairs

Posted in Reviews, The Modern Quilt | 13 Comments

Curating Colors for Patchwork Installation

by Sara Remington

photo by Sara Remington ©2015 from The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters

An improv patchwork score begins by setting a few limits, including color limits. This is exactly what I’ve been pleasantly busy doing this past week.

I’ve been preparing for an improvisational installation and a series of FREE drop-in, ruler-free patchwork clinics at Adobe Books Backroom Gallery in San Francisco. Score For Floating Squares: Patterns, Limits, Systems opens September 6-27, 2015.

I’m so pleased to announce that Robert Kaufman Fabrics is sponsoring the project by providing over 50 yards of their luminous Kona Cotton Solids! Whoopee! So you can only imagine how deliciously difficult it was to pick 80 colors from the over 300 they have to choose from. I don’t think this was my final list but most of these made the cut.


Join me in covering the gallery walls with ruler-free patchwork! Here is a link– Score For Floating Squares: Patterns, Limits, Systems –to share with your local guild and quilting friends in the San Francisco Bay Area.

And thank you…Kaufman Fabrics

Posted in Art and Social Practice, Color Palettes, Community, Events and Workshops, Modern Improv, The Modern Quilt | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments