Category Archives: Quilt Designer

Make a color palette from a photo

I recently received a marketing email from Brewers, a wholesale sewing supply company.  They included in their email a link to a blog post on the subject of color palettes that I found very interesting.  After reading the blog post, I experimented with creating color palettes from a few of my photographs using color palette software available from Sherwin Williams.  They of course intend you to use it to select paint colors the next time you decorate.  And that is a great thing to do with it.  But for us quilters, it is a wonderful resource for designing a color palette.  (link to the original Brewer’s post is at the end of this one)

So here is the process.  Go to the Sherwin Williams site: .

Upload a favorite photo and follow the instructions.  You will have to create an account to save your color chip, but it just requires a user name, email address, and password – so no big deal.  Once you have looked at the color chip card – be sure to click on the “edit colors” button because you will find there are some more colors hidden behind the first five, and you want to see them.  I only discovered this because the first photo I am showing you below came up with NO pink in the first five colors! So I went looking and found them.  Be sure to drag and drop the colors around so that the first five or so are the colors you would really use in a quilt.  Then save the changes.  Click on the “edit colors” button again to make the secondary colors show, if you want them.  Then right click your mouse on the picture and choose “Save As”, giving your new chipcard a name that you will be able to remember.  You should be able to find it again using the search feature in Windows Explorer or whatever software you use to find files on your computer.  On my computer, these files ended up under the “Pictures” folder.

So here are my first results.  I think these chip cards would be a great help to fabric shopping!

A Rhododendron bush in Port Gamble:

Sherwin Williams Color Chip Card derived from my Port Gamble Rhody photo

Sherwin Williams Color Chip Card derived from my Port Gamble Rhody photo

A Rhody Bud in a neighbor’s yard:

Sherwin Williams chip card from a Rhody bud

Sherwin Williams chip card from a Rhody bud

I thought the brown, mustard yellow, and dark red were interesting.  I wouldn’t have pulled those out of the original photo, and yet I think they are interesting additions to the color palette.  In limited quantity, one of them  would make a good accent color or “zinger”.

And a sunrise photo:

Sherwin Williams chip card from my Sunrise photo

Sherwin Williams chip card from my Sunrise photo

Interesting, aren’t they?  I especially like the sunrise photo results because I would have had trouble coming up with those colors.  I would have been inclined to select more vivid yellow/orange/pink shades.

Here is the link to the very interesting blog post that started me on this little journey:

Book Review: “The Creative Habit: Learn it and use it for life” by Twyla Tharp.

This book was recommended by Elizabeth Barton in the class I took from her this spring through the Academy of Quilting. I have been slowly reading it ever since. I am still not finished, but I have read enough to highly recommend it.

This book is written in a very conversational, down-to-earth style.  All the concepts are illustrated with real-life examples, and numerous exercises are included to help the reader understand their own creative motivations and how to get started and keep going through the creative process.  The author, who is a dance choreographer, talks about what it is like to face a looming deadline for a performance, knowing that somehow the creative ideas will come and that she will be able to create a dance. She has given a lot of thought to the creative process, and developed many practical tools and habits that facilitate creative development. I particularly like the discussion about “scratching for ideas”.

What I have learned from this book is that understanding the creative process and having the “tools” to use it can make the difference between a craftperson who copies the work of others and an artist who creates genuinely original work. And it helps to understand that all artists, no matter the medium, go through the same intimidating process of coming up with ideas and turning them into finished work.  Importantly, there is plenty of emphasis on the hard work and investment of both time and emotional energy that it takes to get from that vague beginning of an idea to a finished piec of art.

If you have the goal of becoming a creator of truly original art quilts – and it is perfectly OK if you don’t – this book is an excellent resource.

You definitely won’t find this book at your local quilt shop, so here is a link where the book can be purchased at Amazon: The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

Squares Upon Squares – Playing with Paintstiks

Last month I got out my Paintstiks and rubbing plates and did some playing around.   If you don’t know about Paintstiks, you can Google them and get lots of info.  You can buy them in various sets or individually on Amazon; here is a link to one set: Jack Richeson Shiva Oil Paintstik, Iridescent Colors, Set of 12 .  The rubbing plates – and a book explaining how to use the Paintstiks – came from Cedar Canyon.  Here is a link to the book: Cedar Canyon Textiles Paintstiks On Fabric
and a link to the leaf rubbing plates I used: Artist’s Paintstiks Rubbing Plates 6/Pkg.-Leaves

Here is a photo showing my layout of the six rubbing plates I own – all are leaf designs – taped to my cutting table so they wouldn’t move around:

Rubbing plates taped down in a grid

Rubbing plates taped down in a grid

Then I laid black fabric down on top and taped it off, both to hold it in place and to keep from accidentally getting paint where I didn’t want it.  The photo below shows the results after I rubbed  stencil brushes on the Paintstiks and then transferred the paint to the black fabric, rubbing the brush in one direction diagonally across the plates:

Rubbed leaves colored with gold, bronze, and copper Paintstiks.

Rubbed leaves colored with gold, bronze, and copper Paintstiks.

I used three different color iridescent paintstiks to rub the plates – gold, copper, and bronze.  The stencil brushes keep you from getting globs of paint on your fabric.  And here is the completed fabric:

Completed Paintstik leaf blocks

Completed Paintstik leaf blocks

My photo isn’t great- the actual blocks look very good!  Nice and shiny and the different colors add complexity.

Then, of course, I had to think up something to do with my painted blocks.  So I made up a pattern, bought some coordinating fabrics, and here is the result:

Squares Upon Squares quilt, about 54 by 67 inches

Squares Upon Squares quilt, about 54 by 67 inches

I am pleased with this quilt and, since I wrote up the directions for it before making the quilt, I will probably make it available as a pattern sometime soon.   Here is a closeup that shows the Paintstik blocks better:

Squares Upon Squares closeup

Squares Upon Squares closeup

Free Quilt Patterns and Designer at

I recently received a newsletter from featuring their free quilt designer.  It has some nice features and is a great way to get a free pattern and shop for fabric at the same time.  You can go see it at the following link:

There is also a short video showing how to use it.  Be sure to watch the video, it is short and a good explanation of how the software works. This is not truly quilt design software like Electric Quilt (which is great but costs money), but it is essentially a library of quilt designs that allow you to access the design, see what fabrics were used for the original design, change the fabrics to others available at Equilter, see how much fabric is needed and how much the fabric will cost, download complete instructions, or email your version of the quilt with instructions to yourself or a friend.

There are over 400 patterns available with more being added frequently.  Most of these patterns are ones created by the fabric manufacturers to feature their new fabric lines.  The software that Equilter has developed allows you to take that pattern and see how it will look with other fabric choices.

This is a great added feature to the Equilter website, and a very efficient way to access all those free patterns made available by the manufacturers.

Based on the email newsletter I received, Equilter will be sending out newsletters  announcing new patterns as they are added.  If you aren’t already drowning in emails from quilting websites, you might want to get on their mailing list.

Free Motion Quilting Patterns for Modern Quilts

Often students in my quilting classes ask about how to decide what quilting patterns to use for a particular quilt.  I have been thinking about how I decide to use particular patterns and how I can better answer the question.  I don’t have any great answers yet, but I’m still working on it!

Recently I visited Pacific Fabrics in East Bremerton.  It happened that my visit coincided with their (free) monthly craft presentation presented by Chris Groce.  I have seen a couple of her presentations before – they are always fast paced and packed with ideas using the latest products and patterns Pacific Fabrics has in their stores.  I decided to stay and listen.  A number of the products and patterns she featured were related to “Modern Quilting”.  The presentation made me think of the need for free motion quilting patterns that fit well with modern quilts.  I quickly sketched a few ideas on one of the handouts.  I can’t remember if these ideas came from actual quilting on some of the projects she showed, or if they came from the prints on the fabrics.  I just remember wanting to draw the basic forms so I wouldn’t forget.  Here are my initial sketches:

Jotting down ideas so i wouldn't forget!

Jotting down ideas so i wouldn’t forget!

I sketched bigger versions of these in my sketchbook and then stitched some of them out this morning.  I think I will be able to make these even better with more practice, but they aren’t bad for first tries.

Here is a double loop pattern, as sketched out and then stitched out.

Double Loops

Double Loops

Double loops stitched out

Double loops stitched out

And now the rounded squares.

rounded squares

rounded squares

Rounded squares stitched out

Rounded squares stitched out

And finally, triangles.  I sketched several versions of these before I finally stitched out the large double triangles.

Single triangles

Single triangles

Open double triangles

Open double triangles

Larger double triangles - fills the space better

Larger double triangles – fills the space better

Larger double triangles stitched out

Larger double triangles stitched out


These patterns were pretty quick to stitch and add nicely to my “library” of free motion patterns.  Do try them out!

Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry

We local quilters up here on the Olympic Peninsula are very pleased that Caryl Bryer Fallert (now Gentry) is joining us at least part time due to having married a local man.  She treated us to a reception and exhibition of some of her quilts last week at the Port Townsend Yacht Club.  She has a special exhibit in Houston next month, celebrating 30 years of quilting, and these quilts will be part of that exhibit.  She used her line of Benertex fabrics for the quilts, and the use of ombre or gradated fabrics is great and I plan to purchase some of them and see what I can do with them.  Of course her use of color was, as always, outstanding.  And the only word for her free motion quilting, all done with a home sewing machine,  is exquisite.  She really sets the standard for quality and gives the rest of us motivation to improve our own skills.  You can find out more about her art at her website, .

Pacific West Quilt Show August 23-25

As I previously announced, three of my quilts will be in the upcoming Pacific West Quilt Show.  The show management sent me a draft press release, which I modified slightly and sent to the local paper along with a photo of my quilt, “Fireballs”.  All three of my show quilts are shown on my gallery page, so you can see them there.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Elizabeth Spannring – 360.635.6500

Local Resident  Finalist in Regional Quilt Competition

Shirley Sandoz from Nordland, WA is a double finalist in the Pacific West Quilt Show to be presented August 23-25, 2013, at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center, Tacoma, Washington. Her two  pieces titled “Leaves In The Wind” and “Fireballs” will compete with 191 quilts entries from the 18 US states and Canadian provinces of the Pacific West region: Alaska, Alberta, Arizona, British Columbia, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, The Northwest Territories, Oregon, Saskatchewan, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and Yukon. Over $25,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded to winners in nine categories. The producing organization of this contest, the Association of Pacific West Quilters (APWQ), a non-profit organization, was founded in 1992. APWQ is dedicated to promoting the art of quiltmaking throughout the Western US and Canada.

In addition to her two entries into the juried show, Shirley Sandoz also has another quilt, “Tropical Flowers and Sashiko” that will be part of a special exhibit of floral quilts by members of APWQ.

Pacific West Quilt Show attendees will be inspired and awed by the beauty, depth, and diversity of the finest quilts being produced in the region. In addition to the competition quilts featured at this world-class quilt show there will be special quilt exhibits, workshops, special events and shopping in the fabulous Merchant Mall.

The Pacific West Quilt Show is open to the public from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm Friday and Saturday, and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Sunday. For more information about the 2013 Pacific West Quilt show, please visit

Garden Tiles Pattern now available

Garden tiles quilt in pinks and blues

My super simple but dramatic Garden Tiles quilt, made from my guild’s charity quilt fabric stash

I am pleased to announce that I have my first quilt pattern available for download at Pattern Spot. The link to get to my pattern shop there is on my Pattern Page (see buttons above the banner photo on this page).  On that page I also show another version of the quilt.

I am offering the pattern for free to  the first two quilters who volunteer to test it in the next couple of months and tell me about any problems they have with the pattern.  Also, I am not very excited about the name.  I will also give a free pattern to the person who comes up with a name I like better than Garden Tiles.  For either of these offers, just email me at .

If you read my earlier postings, you saw some earlier versions of this quilt under the title “Quilt Pattern Tune-up”.  I plan to complete the Garden Windows version of this quilt as a pattern also.

Use of “negative space” in quilts

I am taking a class right now called “Art for Quilters”, taught by Marilyn Belford ( ) at Quilt University ( ). One of the first homework assignments is in the use of “negative space” – that is, the space outside the design elements where there is no piecing or applique. Negative space is also one of the common elements of the Modern Quilting movement so popular currently. Although they don’t name it, traditional quilters often use negative space in the form of alternating plain blocks, plain setting triangles, or sashing. Negative space gives the eye a place to “rest” as it moves around the quilt. It helps emphasize the importance of the positive elements of the quilt.

I am pleased with the impact that can be achieved with simple geometric shapes and using a lot of negative space. Here are some examples from my class homework.

First, I cut a rough circle was out of a lavender fabric, cut it into irregular pieces, and then scattered them about on a purple background:

Cut up circle with negative space

Circle cut up for negative space exercise

Then, I cut a light grey square into strips and placed them on a very dark grey background:

Square cut in strips showing negative space

Square cut in strips for negative space exercise

I cut a green rectangle into smaller rectangles and other shapes and placed them on a blue print background:

Rectangle cut up for negative space exercise

Rectangle cut up for negative space exercise – I had to do some additional cutting to make the pieces fit on this one

And I cut up several black triangles and placed them on a marbled grey/mauve background:

Cut up triangles for negative space exercise

Cut up triangles for negative space exercise – this one looks sort of Native American to me

Aren’t these interesting? With some appropriate borders and free motion quilting in the negative space, I think these are going to make dramatic little quilts. I will report more progress as I continue.

I am very pleased with this teacher and the class materials so far. Marilyn Belford also teaches a class called Realistic Fabric Portraits at QU that starts June 28. She has a book available on the same topic Portraits For Fabric Lovers  (if you click on the name here it will take you to Amazon to buy the book, so don’t click unless you want to do that).

I was saddened to find out that Quilt University – where I have taken many classes and learned so much – is shutting down at the end of this calendar year. It was founded by Carol Miller who recently died after a short illness. Her husband Roger, who was always the technical guy behind the scenes, has decided to have a graceful shutdown and allow all us QU addicts to take the classes we have been putting off. I am going to be very busy for the next few months trying to do just that.

A quilt pattern tuneup – part 2



Based on some excellent comments from Charlie, I have gone back to Electric Quilt and come up with a couple of revised designs. The first just changes the widths of the sashing strips so they are all a consistent one inch finished. I think Charlie is right, it is better with the consistent width. The second, shown below, follows Charlie’s suggestion of making all the sashing strips one color. This quilt would actually be easier to make because the sashing would not have to be added to each block individually, and it takes fewer fabrics. The first version has a little more “punch” and the second is softer and emphasizes the print fabric more.  I like them both.

Garden windows quilt with purple and blue sashing

   Garden windows with all sashing the same width

Garden Windows with blue sashing only

Garden Windows with blue sashing only