Category Archives: Quilts 2014

The Anatomy of a Piece: Rooflines#15 WIP

About two weeks ago, I was really feeling quite smug as I thought I had my Art Prize entry for 2014 all pieced out and ready to trim and photograph. I was going to use a workshop piece that I had created last fall.  But I pulled it out and really didn’t like it for this exhibition.

So , I gave myself 48 hours to decide: yes or no to Artprize 2014. The answer was yes but with a new piece. And I only wanted to devote one week to see if i could create something Artprize worhy. Here is the chronicle of events over the past few days in pictures. I am not going to spend  lot of time editing them for you but just lay them out as I took them.

I wanted a plan to limit my overall craziness as I obsess over new designs. So I wanted to make another piece similar to Rooflines #8, a red/blue piece. Super simple , I thought.




Start with lots of strips so I have options.  I really hate strip piecing -why did I choose this?  Too late to change and I decided to just plod ahead. Ok, just focus and take pictures. Think about values.



Black and white looks good. Keep going.  I have no more of the lighter colors but I ignored this blatant fact.




No problem as the board is filling up. Ignore design and fill up the board. Seems like a great plan.


Filling up but kind of dark. Add lavender strips. Rip it apart to do it.




Needs rooflines inserted. Good job with one set in and looks good.




Other sets of roof lines needed and placement looks good. Keep going. Wake up in the morning and realize that it looks like a set of draperies. Ugly draperies. It was a few hours of panic. One of those Ralphie moments form The Christmas Story when the dogs steal the turkey. What are you going to do now, Miss Smarty? Better cut it up. Ok, cut away.

My favorite tools for the nasty job of changing design mid -stream :



A spiffy seam ripper




and my tailors’ chalk as I can’t live without it now. Chop it up and insert pieces.



Better, I suppose. But I had no idea how to inset parts and pieces on the other side. It was way past my construction level and i was in a piecing pickle. I could have done it so much easier IF I had a well thought out design.

Learn how to inset seams and do all sorts of strange rip outs in order to make it work.




Slowly making progress.




Almost there.




Done as it will be for now. It measures about 68×65 so not a small piece.



Rooflines #15 WIP ©Colleen Kole, 2014, approx 68×65



My critique in my journal. I give it about a 5 on a 10 point scale with room for improvement need but a god seed project. Yup, I have spent 105 hours on it from april 16-April 26th as I am trying to calculate how long some of my processes take for our Master Class.



That’s all the fabric I had left at the end of the piecing frenzy. And there is the anatomy of my process and Rooflines #15.

I will give it 48 hours to deem whether or not it is Art prize worthy. I never like a piece when it’s first finished. I do love the accomplishment , though, of conquering this piecing job!

All Things Winter


Lake Michigan shoreline

The last few weeks have been a bit of a struggle. I am slogging through this historical winter we are having here in Michigan. I can’t quite remember shoveling this much snow before and I admit the dreariness is getting to me. So my husband and I planned an impromptu trip to Florida for four days to visit long time friends and I was super excited to exit MIchigan for a brief glimpse of warmth.

And the morning that we were going to leave my son woke up sick. My daughter’s car was very sick and ended up in the shop. And the refrigerator/freezer which was fully stocked went out.  All of those things are easily fixed but not in the four hours prior to leaving so we cancelled.  Yup, I missed the sunshine and warmth and  decided  instead to join the winter. My husband and I took a trip to Lake Michigan to see how frozen it is which is at unprecedented levels of freezing. It was beautiful and we walked out on the pier which was really a weird feeling this time of year.

Ignore the sign and walk on the pier:)

Ignore the sign and walk on the pier:)

Many others walking on Lake Michigan

Many others walking on Lake Michigan


This past weekend we went to Vermont for our annual President”s week ski trip. I sew, snowshoe and they ski.  The first day here it rained buckets and skiing was impossible. The next day I was so antsy, that the minute I saw the sun, I strapped on my snowshoes.  I didn’t even think of the temps in the 40’s and all the rain we had the day before.

As I trudged across the meadow to the top of our hill, I almost gave up. My snowshoes were sinking up to about my knees so it was as if I was on an elliptical machine. I laughed as it was such a touristy thing to do and I really do know better. Snowshoes sink in soft snow. But winter had made me crazy and I was going to walk on the trails no matter what.





And after lots of sweat and effort, I made it up the hill to the cross country trails which made for a little easier walking.













Nothing better than walk in the woods in February at my Vermont home.  Winter is good as long as the sky is blue every once in awhile! We don’t have that in Michigan with all the lake effect clouds from Lake Michigan.




I was very happy to take the snowshoes off and walk past my neighbors home up the hill. She is 91 and still mows her lawn and has a garden. I hope I can be like her at that age.




After my walks, I went back to work on another Rooflines piece.


Peace in the woods and peace while piecing.


Time for 2014 Planning

Paint chips for my year of color study

Paint chips for my year of color study

I spent some time over the past few weeks planning my year out. Last year in Lisa Call’s Setting Goals class, I made very specific goals which I did again this year.  I am not going to bore you with all the specific details but have decided to group them together under broad categories to share with you.



My sweet Aunt gave this book to me for Christmas. She said she knows how much I love and appreciate color. Can you even imagine a life without crayons? I loved to spend time coloring with my kids when they were younger and still love the smell and freshness of a new box of crayons. Can you imagine a life without color or noticing color? My uncle is colorblind and he says his black and white world is not so noisy as he imagines a world of wild colors to be.

I am digressing. But it leads to my set of goals for 2014.

1. I want to study color. I have never taken a class studying color and my science brain wants to know and explore more. So I pulled together what I have and what I have purchased based on others recommendations.  I will spend time each week reading and doing some of these experiments on paper and with small fabric sketches. It will just be a small beginning but it will be a push in the right direction as I think you can know never enough about color.



My personal color study texts

2. Along the same lines of studying color, I am taking a class with Carol Soderlund at the Barn in May.  I want to understand how to dye the colors that I choose and that appeal to me. Serendipity in dyeing is so much fun and really thrills me. But about 50 percent of the time, I want specific colors and just don’t have the skill to make a particular color or set of colors.

3. My big goal : I want to make lots of art this year. My numbers goal is 15 -20 pieces finished and completed down to the hanging sleeve and label.  I need to narrow it down though with sizes this week. Then,  I want to realistically write them on the calendar like an assignment and complete the assignment pretending its homework.  And by realistically, it needs to fit into the calendar that week meaning that I need to do a better job estimating my time on my job tasks.

4. I will keep up with studio clean up after each project and do it quickly so I can move on to the next piece. I tend to procrastinate with this and love taking time sifting through the leftovers.


No more obsessive scrap sifting

No more obsessive scrap sifting

5. I will keep up adding things to my website, maintaining this journal on my blog and taking better photos.

6. But , most importantly, I really want to have confidence in my work, passion in what I am doing and always remember what a privilege it is to be an artist. If, at any time, the goals get in the way of enjoying what I am doing with my art, I am taking time to figure out why and what’s getting in the way of it being fun. Then I will be right back at those goals.

How about you? Now that it almost February, do you have your year all lined up and planned out?


Hunkered Down in The Art Making

It’s almost February and I feel as if I am finally starting the year out right! It has been bitterly cold with lots of snow so I have been enjoying working in the studio.

Some of my first goals are to finish old lingering half done pieces which are truly worthy of completing.

1. Finished up Rooflines #2 which I pieced 2 years ago in Lisa Call’s class Working in a Series. It was one of my favorite in the early series so I have no idea why I didn’t finish it earlier. But it’s done now.  It was a great class and I really recommend it for pushing forward with your work.

Rooflines #2, 35x42 © Colleen Kole, 2014

Rooflines #2, 35×42 © Colleen Kole, 2014

Terrible lighting with all the dreary winter weather with this picture.

2. Then I tried to correct a big problem. I had made this piece and it was just for me as it is my barn in Vermont done in my Rooflines series. I sat down to work on the machine quilting and look what happened…grease leaked all over with my walking foot on. I must have been careless the night before when I went to oil the machine.

Rooflines# 8 in process

Rooflines# 8 in process

I tried washing it and even treating with a degreaser but it wouldn’t come out. I washed it three times and then admitted that it wasn’t going to come out. Note the big swatch of grease on the lower right blue region. UGH.


Rooflines#8, In process © Colleen Kole 2014


So I  hand appliqued a piece over it,  machine quilted over the area and washed it again to make it all  crinkly like the rest of the piece. Geez what a mess. But I think that it’s ok for me and it will have a proud new place to hang at our home in Vermont. I now have it ready to bring with me and hang it up when we go there in February. And Rooflines #8 is completed which is even better!

Rooflines # 8 under repair

Rooflines # 8 under repair

3. I ordered some lovely supplies from Christine Mauersberger’s online store Hank and Spool . It’s a new addiction and I am currently just petting these these little lovelies until I have some small surface design pieces ready to be stitched. That’s one of my long term goals for this year.

Linen threads, pins and Merchant and Mills' great needles

Linen threads, pins and Merchant and Mills’ great needles

I love these needles for sewing on a facing. They are larger than I would usually use but boy they just slip through the fabric like butter to make the job so much easier and faster. Did I tell you how much I love them? Too much.




4. And I finalized my yearly goals. I promised you a post but I was just too busy in the making. Next up, I promise.


The Empty Drawer Mirage

Improvisational quilt scraps

Not an empty drawer…


It was truly a mirage, a delusion, an outright lie I told myself. I really, truly believed that by making this piece, I would have a new, empty drawer to fill up with 2014 scraps. It took me the entire week of my design/ piecing  time that I had allotted for the week. ( A new goal for 2014 -divide studio time into design and finishing time).

The quilt is pieced but I made little headway in my quest to use the scraps. The drawer remains really full but the top is pieced. And my irrational obsession of using up curvy strip sets has been temporarily  taken care of.

The WIld Side

The WIld Side, in process -Colleen Kole 2014

It turned out to be about 40 x 52 without the facings on it yet. I will baste it tomorrow and have it in line for machine quilting.  I think I will back it with flannel , use on it my couch. and go back to my list of what I should be working on!

More about what I have planned for 2014 in the next post.