Mill Wheels work in progress: piecing the easy way

Nothing like a deadline to help you get the job done!!! At least that is how it works for me. Last month I had to finish several quilts for….

To Dye For

at theScreen Shot 2016-04-23 at 6.09.46 PM
July 16 – October 2, 2016
Opening Reception: July 16, 5-7pm

2825 Dewey Road, Suite 100
San Diego, CA 92106

(Picture me now doing the happy dance around and around in circles!!!! I’m in a museum!)

I haven’t pieced a quilt for ages but I knew exactly what I wanted to do and thought I’d share a bit of the creation process for a couple of these quilts with you. I’m working on a series exploring the imagery of Mill Wheels. I love them. Attachment-1

For this piece I first am required to make a big fat mess. Oh, wait. No. First I have to clean up a BIG fat mess so I can even come close to seeing the top of my work table. It’s a huge old Oak drafting table that I rescued from the college art department’s junk heap and restored. It has a smooth drawing surface that is covered by a giant cutting mat that is usually covered by a print cloth and is always covered by a BIG fat mess. Kinard_piecing_mill_wheels_01

Step one – dig through and find the fabric I want, dye some more, do some simple strip piecing. I could cut each pattern piece and sew things together the normal way, but that sounded very much like work. Anything where I have to be precise takes too much brain power for me. I like easy.Kinard_piecing_mill_wheels_02Step two – draft my circle on freezer paper. Layer it and cut out a billion wedges. I sketch in just enough of the lines on each piece so that I can get the direction of line mostly right. Iron the shiny plastic coated side of the freezer paper to the strips, matching the direction of line. Then I cut out each wedge – stick a pin in the corners of each piece so the freezer paper matches exactly, and sew. Kinard_piecing_mill_wheels_03This way I don’t have to be careful about seam allowances or do anything other than follow the edge of the paper. On some of the wheels I ironed there freezer paper to the top and some of the wheels to the back of each piece. It didn’t really matter so long as I was consistent with each wheel.Kinard_piecing_mill_wheels_05Step three – once my whole wheel was complete I ironed the inside and outside edges over the edge of the freezer paper and had a nice clean edge.

Step 4 – I realized my piecing wasn’t super great, even with the freezer paper templates. My circle was just a bit wonky. That wouldn’t happen to someone who paid close attention to details but that someone isn’t me.

Step 5 – I went back and used the ruler to mark from the center to the inner and outer diameter of the circle and trimmed my wheel back into shape. There you have it. a lovely interpretation of a mill wheel. 

Now isn’t that a pretty thing!?!? Keep your eyes open for a peek into the rest of the design process on this piece. I love how it turned out. Hope you love it too!


The Quilt Show – prep time and the art of slogging in Charleston, SC

TQS3Last month I was incredibly honored to be a guest, filming for The Quilt Show with Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson. If you scroll down to the previous several posts you can see a little of my tour of Charleston, SC where the crew was on location for the week. Believe me, you are going to love the shows that they put together and the wonderful places and guests that they filmed. It takes time to produce these things and edit them so they won’t be up until later in the year.

TQS15I spent the better part of a month getting ready… only because I didn’t have any other major deadlines or teaching gigs coming up. It was nice to have more than a few days to scramble and get everything together. Still, some of you fabulous people came to my rescue and helped me get prepared in a major way. One little request and look what happened. This is only a small part of the stack!

Compared to most quilters, my stash if fairly minimal. I gave away almost all of my commercial fabric several years ago and only keep a small stack (less than 50 yards) of hand dyed fabric on hand at any one time. I would have more if I didn’t keep using it up for fabulous kits for my students. (You can take a look at some of them here on my Etsy shop. Don’t you want to join me for my upcoming studio class, Playing With Paint!?)


I filmed a segment on the elements of art based on my book. I got the wild idea that instead of showing my usual little art quilt samples, I’d use nine-patches to illustrate that these basic building blocks apply to even the most traditional patterns. My thinking was that The Quilt Shows’ audience has a LOT more traditional quilters than dedicated art quilters and they might tune out if I didn’t relate specifically to more traditional quilts in that particular segment.


But I didn’t have time to shop… so of course I turned to Facebook. I wanted a variety of blues to work with and WOW did I get them! You all are the BEST!

I spent a few days sorting and cutting and sorting some more. Until I ended up with this. Isn’t it pretttttttty?!!!!!!


Then I started piecing – something I haven’t really done for a very long time. Hmmm. There is a reason for that. I remembered that even though I can do it well when I pay attention – I get bored after the first three blocks. It’s painful for me to have to be precise. And in this case, I decided I needed to be precise. Ah the things we do for the love of art.


I suppose it’s a good thing to KNOW what you like and what you don’t. Sometimes there are parts of the process that you just need to slog through. But sometimes your work evolves so that you can eliminate parts of the slogging. That’s why most of my current work is whole cloth and surface designed…. or small and collaged and hand stitched.

Stay tuned – I’ll show you some of the blocks in the next post.
What part of your art process do you love,
what part do you hate,
and what part are you willing to slog through to achieve your final product?

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