Not Quite President’s Challenge Winner!

I’ve been planning the quilt for The Not Quite President’s Challenge for a couple of months. This challenge quilt for the Toronto Modern Quilt Guild had me stumped. I discarded my original design idea: a Greek key design.

One of the sketches I drew had a diagonal line from the left side of the page creating a sort of perspective. I liked the idea of creating depth in the piece by using colours. If I divided the colours I had selected into light and dark I could maybe create this illusion. These ideas brought to mind a couple of quilts I saw at QuiltCon this past February.

Challenge sketch
Challenge sketch

Chawne Timber of Completely Cauchy  has created a series of log cabin style quilts based on her family history. In Anniston is a beautiful quilt that really captured my imagination when I saw it in person. Chawne used hand dyed indigo for the dark logs and various shades of cream for the light logs as well as some reds and green logs as accents. The placement of the light and dark logs emphasize the dark side of the log cabin. It really seemed to be in shadow.

TMQG challenge revised sketch
TMQG challenge revised sketch

Chawne’s pieces were very tiny, creating a lot of depth and movement. So, I thought that using the log cabin block would let me create the idea of depth and perspective. I did a rough sketch of the design above.

TMQG challenge top
TMQG challenge top

I wanted to vary the width of the logs and used both half inch and one inch finished logs. This quilt is not pieced in the traditionally method, rather I pieced sections of strips together and then attached these as a unit. I cut the navy solid and print in one inch finished strips to emphasize the idea of steps leading in towards the centre.

TMQG challenge detail
TMQG challenge detail

There is a tiny bit of green and coral the inspiration photograph. I used Jean Well’s technique of narrow insert piecing to add these bits of colour. I love the way they pop out of the dark blues.

Thread selections

Log cabin quilts symbolize hearth and home, security and stability. The centre is usually red to reflect the fireplace that was the centre of the home and the light logs represented the side of the home facing the sunshine, while the dark faced the shadow. My inspiration photo was a couple embracing in their bedroom with the closet in the background. Truly an intimate and safe place.

TMQG challenge quilt
TMQG challenge quilt

I decided to hand quilt this piece and auditioned a few different threads including a rayon perle and a variegated sulky.

TMQG quilt detail
TMQG quilt detail

In the end I hand quilted with the dark blue and white rayon perle thread. I really like the strong linear quality the stitches gives to the piece.

TMQG Not Quite President's Challenge Rosette
TMQG Not Quite President’s Challenge Rosette

I am happy to announce that this quilt was chosen as the winner of the Not Quite President’s Challenge. As well as the fabulous ribbon made by Becky, I received a one year membership to the Textile Museum of Canada!


Indigo Dyeing Workshop: Part Two

On the second day of the workshop we were back early with stitched pieces of fabric ready to dye! Preparing the fabric was time consuming but the results were fantastic! The beige fabric is a linen/cotton blend that will become a pillow. It is basted from the center out with upholstery thread and running stitches. The other beige piece has the fabric pulled through metal washers. The white cotton on the lower left has small plastic bead wrapped inside and tied with thread.

Fabrics prepared to indigo dye
Fabrics prepared to indigo dye
Linen/cotton fabric prepared for Indigo dyeing
Linen/cotton fabric prepared for Indigo dyeing and rayon velvet

There are four basic techniques for shibori dyeing that we worked with:

  1. Arashi Shibori – pole-wrapping
  2. Itajime Shibori – folding and clamping
  3. Kumo Shibori – bound resists
  4. Nui shibori – stitching and gathering
Indigo fabrics drying
Indigo fabrics drying

Shibori designs are created when the fabric resists the indigo dye. This is achieved by creating portions of the cloth where the dye can’t penetrate. So, the tighter that fabric is gathered, clamped or stitched, the more it retains its original colour in these areas.

Indigo shibori pieces drying
Indigo shibori pieces drying

Above, on the left is a PFD cotton that was folded in half lengthwise and then pole wrapped. The cotton gauze on the right was folded into squares and clamped in-between two pieces of wood.

Indigo fabrics drying on line
Indigo fabrics drying on line

Each time I unwrapped a piece, more design possibilities were suggested. I would like to experiment with different weights and textures of fabric as well as silk and pure linen. I think that the differing weaves of the fabric will also contribute to the uniqueness of the finished designs.

Indigo fabrics drying on line
Indigo fabrics drying on line

There are more pieces waiting to be washed and ironed. I enjoyed creating the varied styles using the shibori technique and will try them out using Procion fabric dyes during the summer.

Indigo Shibori - Itajime
Indigo Shibori – Itajime

The fabric on the right looks like daisies!

Indigo Dyeing Workshop: Part One

A few weeks ago, a friend and I spent 2 full days dyeing fabric using Indigo. It was great fun and I made some beautiful pieces of fabric.

Colour Vie Studio
Colour Vie Studio

The workshop was held at the Colour Vie Studio owned by textile designer and teacher Gunnel Hag. The 2 day workshop “The World of Indigo” was taught by textile designer and indigo dyer extraordinaire Pam Woodward.

Indigo samples
Indigo samples

Pam had a wall of samples, each one more gorgeous and inspiring than the last.

Indigo Shibori sample
Indigo Shibori sample

I especially wanted to try making something similar to the one above.

Indigo Dye Bucket

Indigo is a plant based dye and the process differs slightly from Procion MX dyes which I’ve used in the past. It’s important not to add oxygen to the vat of indigo, so care needs to be taken adding and removing fabric from the dye pot. The metallic sheen on the surface means that the solution is ready to be used.

Indigo Gradient
Indigo Gradient

When the fabric is first removed from the vat, it is a green colour. The piece changes colour from green to blue as the fabric is exposed to the air and oxidization occurs. It’s like magic seeing the colour change!

Indigo gradient with 3 dips
Indigo Gradient with 3 dips

Our first piece was dyed with repeated dips in the vat, introducing less of the fabric each time to give an ombre effect.

Indigo gradient fabric
Indigo gradient fabric and pole wrapped piece

Our second piece was created by wrapping the fabric around a PVC pipe, wrapping the fabric with string and then pushing it up and twisting it around the tube tightly to create small pleats. The pipe was submerged into the dye about four times, oxidizing for 20 minutes or more between each dip.  When I unfolded the fabric, I found the dye had created a beautiful diagonal movement with leaf shapes.

Indigo Shibori - Arashi
Indigo Shibori – Arashi

This is the PVC pipe with the fabric ready to be submerged into the indigo vat. This technique is called Arashi. I dyed a few more pieces using variations of this technique and it’s one of my favourites. Every time you unwrap the tube it’s a surprise.



Indigo accident
Indigo accident

This is what happens when you have a leak in your glove!

Next week I will have more photographs of the fabrics created and the techniques learned during the indigo dyeing workshop.

Pick-up Sticks for TMQG

The Toronto Modern Quilt Guild is holding our first ever Block Lottery or quilt swap. Berene brought in a few blocks she made using the Pick-up sticks design. She used bright solids on Kona Snow. They were gorgeous.

Pick-up sticks blocks
Pick-up sticks blocks

Berene of Happy Sew Lucky created a great tutorial for us to follow. For every block a person brings to our June meeting, they will have one chance to win all the blocks. If there are many blocks, they may be divided into two piles with two very lucky winners.

Three colour pick-up sticks block
Three colour pick-up sticks block

I made two blocks. The first block has three sticks and after finishing it, I realized I should have starched the initial square before beginning. All the cuts are on the bias and therefore have a tendency to stretch. Starching would help prevent this.

pick-up sticks4
Four colour pick-up sticks block

I starched the second block and found that it did help in preventing stretch. All the seams are pressed open and this second block has four sticks inserted. Both blocks need to be trimmed to 9 1/2 “. The lucky winner will have a great start to a fun modern quilt. Looking forward to seeing all the other blocks.

Not Quite President’s Challenge

The Toronto Modern Quilt Guild does not officially have a president. Rather two of our members, Rebecca and Andrea are acting as co-presidents. They have been doing a fantastic job in organizing our growing guild. This year they decided to host the Not Quite President’s Challenge. All the members were given a magazine, told to go to page 25 (there were 25 members at that particular meeting) and use that page as inspiration to create a small quilt.

California Closets ad
California Closets ad

The ad pictured above was on page 25 of my magazine. Anything on this page could be used as inspiration: the colours, shapes, words, anything! The quilt could have a maximum perimeter of 60″ and could be made using any technique.

Greek key blocks
Greek key blocks

I was really attracted to the Greek Key design in the rug shown in the picture. I started to piece  this block using a warm rich brown and cream.  After spending a bit of time making what you see above, I decided I didn’t really like where the design was heading.

Quilt sketchs
Quilt sketchs

I sketched a few designs on a piece of paper and also wrote down some key words from the photo. The colours include: brown, navy, white, green and fuchsia. The designs include: greek key, piping, curved light (fixture), lines both horizontal in the rug and vertical in the hanging clothes and the two people. I wanted focus words to help me plan the quilt.

jean wells cover
Intuitive Color & Design: Adventures in Art Quilting by Jean Wells.

I remembered Jean Wells’ book: Intuitive Colour & Design and read it again for inspiration. The chapter: Color Through My Eyes was especially helpful in deciding on a palette of colours. One of the assignments in this chapter deals with proportion. In this assignment you: 1) choose a colour source for inspiration – the ad; 2) write down the colours from your inspiration – the sketch above; 3) give each of the colours a percentage rating so that you can see how much or little of that particular colour is represented; 4) go back to the inspiration and look again carefully, make note of any background or dull colours you may have missed the first time.

TMQG challenge fabric selection
Fabric selection

The photograph above shows the fabrics from I pulled from my stash. I don’t have them organized by proportion yet. After my initial selection I added the two light blue pieces. One of the design elements I really like from the photo is the crispness of the piping on the chair. I also like the fine narrow lines of the piping and the light fixture. I want to include these elements that Jean calls: narrow insert piecing.

White fabric selection
White fabric selection

I don’t have many solid white in my stash, but found these tone-on-tone whites. I don’t know if I will use them, I may add a few more or eliminate some fabrics as I begin to work.


President’s Challenge Quilt 2

I was inspired to create another President’s challenge quilt after reading Gwen Marston’s new book: Minimal Quiltmaking.

Minimal Quiltmaking by Gwen Marston
Minimal Quiltmaking by Gwen Marston

I love the quilts in her book, they look simple and spare, yet the designs are powerful. There is something very interesting going on in each quilt. Sometimes it is the colour combination used like in: Turquoise on page 47. There are only four colours but the composition makes the quilt glow!

Other quilts have a very strong graphic quality, like: Winter Beech on the cover above and on page 56. Gwen has distilled the idea of a tree into its simplest form.

Spring is the challenge word and bright green grass sprouting through snow was the image that came to mind. I wanted the grass to be a small rectangle floating on top of a 12″ quilted square that would act like a mat.

Improvised grass

I roughly sketched out the different grass shapes on paper so that I would get the proportions correct. The finished grass piece needed to be about a 3″ x 9″ rectangle. Hand dyed green cotton was improvisationally inserted into white linen. I started piecing from the left side, cutting and inserting and pressing as I went along.

grass detail
Grass detail

I auditioned the grass strip on a 12″ square, trimmed the top and bottom and added a 1/2″ strip along the bottom, this was the snow that still covered the ground!

grass closeup
Grass closeup

The blue/grey linen square was finished using the pillowcase technique and then machine quilted with a walking foot. I used a lovely metallic mauve thread to quilt the lines. Even though I cut the square so that it would be 12 1/4″ finished, the quilting process shrunk the top a little. Next time I think a scant 12 1/2″ square would be better (bigger if the quilting is denser).

grass blocked
Grass quilt being blocked

The grass piece was also finished using the pillowcase technique and then hand stitched on top. Blocking the quilt was necessary to make the piece square and flat. The finished size is about 11 3/4″.

I am very happy with this quilt. Creating a minimalist piece is more difficult than you might imagine. While I was working on the quilt, I would constantly ask myself whether I could eliminate anything from the design and still maintain my vision. What were the very basic elements of the design that needed to be included in order for the quilt to work? It was this constant dialogue that helped me throughout this process.

Do you talk to yourself when you quilt?  :o)

Metamorphosis Series

Chrysalis Awakening was the quilt I created as part of the Canadian Quilters’ Association “It’s Time for Colour Show“. This piece was sold and the money is going the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada. Those of you attending the Creativ Festival on April 24-25th will have the opportunity to see these beautiful one-of-a-kind quilts in person.

Chrysalis Awakening Quilt
Chrysalis Awakening

As soon as I finished this piece, I knew that I needed to create three more to complete the cycle. There are four stages in the life cycle of a butterfly: egg, larvae, chrysalis and adult. With Chrysalis Awakening, I had completed the pupa or chrysalis stage, where the larvae or caterpillar anchors itself to the underside of a leaf and transforms itself.

Metamorphosis leaves
Metamorphosis leaves

To create the other three stages, I pulled some green fabrics to create the leaves. These are improvisationally pieced and so much fun to make. The one on the right above is too big!

Metamorphosis leaf
Metamorphosis leaf being cut down

So, taking the leaf that was too wide and long, I cut a curved section out and will piece it back with smaller sections on each side. Below, I’ve stay stitched the area where I am going to insert the purple fabric to create the vein.

Metamorphosis leaf insert
Preparing leaf to insert purple fabric for vein

I’ve included just a few of the process pictures. I still need to individually back and free motion each leaf, insert the leaf into the background fabric, free motion quilt it, appliqué the flower and then quilt it, and bind each one of the quilts. Each leaf will also have a special surprise hiding underneath. The quilts will be similar but not identical, each having their own personality.

Metamorphosis leaves
Metamorphosis leaves with backing and flowers

Above, you can see that I’ve grouped the leaves with the backing fabric and flowers. I may switch them around again before they are finally pieced into the gorgeous cotton ombre fabric of the background. I will use the same piece of fabric I used in Chrysalis Awakening but each quilt will be a different colour, due to the gradation across the fabric.

The Vibrant Path chakra quilt

The Vibrant Path

This is the finished piece I submitted to the Sacred Threads Exhibition. It’s a chakra quilt based on the Kundalini serpent design. Kundalini is a Sanskrit word describing the life force or spiritual energy that resides in the body. I’ve been exploring the ideas of balance in our lives or more likely, imbalance in our lives! The Kundalini serpent represents the seven energy centres (chakras) awakening, rising up, activating each in turn until a whole, healthy and balanced state is achieved.

chakra art quilt the Vibrant Path by doris lovadina-lee toronto ontario canada quilter
The Vibrant Path by Doris Lovadina-Lee

This is a juried exhibition, so I won’t know until the end of April whether this quilt has been accepted. Below is a detail of the Throat Chakra, it is said to be located in the throat area and deals with communication, self-expression and the truth.detail of throat chakra in art quilt Vibrant Path detail by dorislovadinalee toronto artist

The Vibrant Path detail

All of the fabric is hand dyed, including the background. I followed the information on Robin Ferrier’s blog on flat dyeing.

wing detail of kundalini chakra quilt by doris lovadina-lee quilter toronto canada
The Vibrant Path wing detail

The top is a combination of raw edge appliqué – the wings and serpent, and satin stitched appliqué – the chakras. The quilt is machine quilted with a walking foot.

I encourage you to have a look at the Sacred Threads Exhibition website, they have a gallery of works from previous years along with the artists’ statements.


Pouch received!

The Toronto Modern Quilt Guild participated in a pouch swap with the Victoria and Maritime Modern Quilt Guilds.  It was fun creating the pouches and luggage tags, you can see the ones I made in this post. At our guild meeting this weekend we received the pouches made by the members of the VMQG.

Flower pouch
Flower pouch

Wow! They were all gorgeous – lots of time and effort went into making very individual bags. I chose a small round pouch with a beautiful flower on the front.

VMQG pouch back
back of flower pouch

Not only was the bag lovely, it was filled with loot!

VMQG loot
loot inside flower pouch

A panel printed with nostalgic sewing images tied with the tape measure ribbon, lovely smelling soap and a small bag of buttons and embellishments.

VMQG loot detail
Soap, buttons, ribbon and pin

The blue and yellow pin is from the Satin Moon Quilt Shop which I think would be the local quilt shop of the very talented quilter that made this gift. I especially like the tiny scissors and thimble.

VMQG pouch side
side view of pouch

This was the first exchange I participated in. I understand now, why they are so popular. It’s like Christmas and your birthday receiving a surprise gift. So much fun!

VMQG loot2

Have you participated in a swap?

Chakra quilt with hand dyed fabric

I dyed a piece of Hoffman PFD (prepared for dyeing) fabric for a whole cloth quilt. This is a very good quality cotton with a lovely hand. The fabric was laid flat on a large table on top of a sheet of plastic. Each of the colours was mixed, and applied individually onto the wet cloth. Another sheet of plastic was laid on top and I used a paint roller to spread the dye into the cloth.

Chakra quilt by doris lovadina-lee with hand dyed whole cloth fabric
Whole cloth dyed the colours of the chakras

I left the fabric to cure overnight, then I rinsed it out, washed it and am happy with the results. Each of the seven colours on the cloth correspond to one of the seven chakras.

Hand dyed whole cloth for vibrant path chakra quilt dorislovadinalee canadian quilter
Chakra appliqués pinned to hand dyed whole cloth

The chakra symbols are constructed from two or more shades of hand dyed cottons. They pieces are cut, fused and satin stitched to the darker piece of fabric by Carol Bryer Fallaert. This fabric by Benartex is called Glacier Park, it is a beautiful deep purple that looks almost black. The kundalini serpent below is also made with this gorgeous fabric.

kundalini serepent on Hand dyed whole cloth for chakra quilt by doris lee toronto ontario quilter
Kundalini serpent appliquéd to hand dyed whole cloth

This quilt will be the fourth in a series of quilts I’ve created based on the chakra symbols.

applique chakras on kundalini serpent quilt hand dyed by doris lovadina artist
Appliques pinned to hand dyed whole cloth

I hope to enter this piece into the Sacred Threads Exhibition this year. This exhibition occurs every two years and features quilts that are based on “Expressions of Joy, Spirituality, Inspiration, Grief, Healing and Peace/Brotherhood”.  My quilt, Radiant Light was accepted into the exhibition in 2013. You can see it as well as a selection of other beautiful and inspirational quilts in the Sacred Threads gallery, as well as the first three of my chakra quilts on my website.


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