Turkey Tracks: My Milli is FINISHED: “Butterscotch Fall”

Turkey Tracks:  November 15, 2017

My Milli is FINISHED:  “Butterscotch Fall”

I love this quilt.

I love everything about it.

I have loved every minute spent making it.

This quilt stretched me.  It let me go off into all sorts of new quilty directions.

Here is “Butterscotch Fall.”

One year ago, in early fall, I got inspired for the milli fabric by a range of fall fabrics I saw in local quilting stores–and that inspiration set me off.  I had been trying to come up with focus fabrics for this quilt project over the summer.  As I worked on the quilt, the butterscotch color kept coming on stronger and stronger–some times lighter, sometimes as dark as honey.  When the top was finished and I was hunting for backing, I knew when I saw this 108-inch wide Carolyn Friedlander cross-hatch fabric , called Butterscotch, that I had both my quilt’s backing and its name.  (This fabric is from Friedlander’s Architextural line.)

I wanted this quilt to have an organic feel of fall:  colorful leaves, trees going bare, bees, hives, the idea of harvesting fall honey, blue water under a vibrant autumn blue sky, vivid green moss, the ghosts of Halloween, the grey and blacks of the darkening days and longer nights, and so on.

I was paralyzed about how to quilt the top when I remembered that Jo Diggs once told Coastal Quilters members that you can’t go wrong with using a Bishop’s Fan pattern to quilt.  I liked the idea of this old-fashioned pattern on this modern quilt, which in turn used ancient millefiori rosettes as its design.  And I have the Bishop’s Fan groovy boards for the long arm.  (If you don’t know Jo Diggs, take a minute and look at her web site gallery.)

You will see a Japanese text fabric used in all its color ways in this quilt.  For instance, it’s in the grey star above and in the star below in gold.  These fabrics were designed by Suzuko Koseki.






Here’s the first rosette, which began to set the tone for the quilt:


I am so proud of this quilt.

It is PERFECT!!!

Thanks you so much Katja Marek!

Turkey Tracks: Jo Diggs Visits Coastal Quilters

Turkey Tracks:  November 14, 2013

Jo Diggs Visits Coastal Quilters

Jo Diggs, of Portland, Maine, visited Coastal Quilters for our November 9th meeting.

We are so lucky to have so many nationally recognized quilters here in Maine, and Jo Diggs is a bright star among that number.   To top it off, Jo is funny, clever, gracious–a lovely, lovely lady.

Here she is (grey sweater) talking to our members after her trunk show.

CQ, Jo Diggs, Nov 2013

I took LOTS of pictures.  But my little camera just didn’t do justice to her work.  So, I’ve posted a link to her blog where you can enjoy really good pictures of her work.  So, take a minute and take yourself on a little art outing.  Jo’s work is applique, and she does large and small art pieces–though in the future, she says, she is going to concentrate on large pieces.



Turkey Tracks: Red Fish Quilt

Turkey Tracks:  March 13, 2011

Red Fish Quilt

 I finished the Red Fish quilt.  I started it the summer of 2010 in a class with Jo Diggs at the Pine Tree Quilters’ Guild show. 

 Here it is:

 Each piece was hand appliqued onto the hand-dyed background fabric.  I hand quilted around each appliqued piece to make them stand out from the fabric.   I hand quilted the green fauna in the foreground bottom and the dark hillock at the bottom.  But, the hand quilting on applique shapes didn’t show up, and there were too many layers to do it easily.  So, as I machine piece well, I used that skill to get the final effects I wanted and to make the three thread painted little blue fish.   In retrospect, leaving the small fish’s fins and tails alone might have been a better choice…  I don’t think the quilt needs more beading than it has. 

There are more hours in this little quilt than I want to think about, and I’m glad it’s finished.  I have even more respect for Jo Diggs who makes BIG quilts using this method.  Take a moment and look at her gallery, and you’ll see what I mean:  http://www.jodiggs.com/jodiggs/Gallery.html.    

Here’s a very close-up view of a piece of the quilt. 

Turkey Tracks: Red Fish Quilt In Progress and Copyright Laws

Turkey Tracks:  January 9, 2011

Red Fish Quilt In Progress and Copyright Laws


Two summers ago, I took two quilting classes from Jo Diggs, at our state-wide Pine Tree Quilting Guild (PTQG) annual show.

Jo Diggs is an amazing quilter and an effective, caring teacher.  She cuts fabric free-hand and hand appliques the shapes to make her designs.  She does landscapes, floral compositions, and underwater fish and vegetation.  She relies on fabrics she can buy.  She does not artistically manipulate (paint, stamp) fabric.  You can an idea of the kind of work she does on her web site:  www.jodiggs.com.  But, there is no substitute for seeing her work in person.  And, she will be teaching at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Show in Norfolk, VA, in February.

Before I took Jo’s class on landscapes, I had been doing landscapes.  I can clearly state that I will never be able to be the kind of artist she is.  Her visions are unique and enormously satisfying.  And I did learn more about method from her.  The fish class, though, was formative.  Prior to this class, I had no idea how to go about creating a picture of fish from inside my own head and with fabric available to me.  I did not know how to “think” a fish by combining various shapes in layers.

The small quilt top I started stayed pinned to my design wall for 18 months.  I finally picked it up and started hand-sewing just before going to Charleston for Thanksgiving.  Hmmmm, I thought.  Maybe I can do this work.  Last week, I picked up the top again, in the middle of two other quilting projects and three knitting projects, and quickly became obsessed.  Here’s what it looks like so far:

 I’m getting better at the applique as I go along.  My circles have improved immeasurably already.  The fish will all get eyes via embellishment at the second stage.  The large green fish, for instance, will get a button eye.  And, already, some of the foreground has changed.  It does have more depth when you look at it straight on… 

I haven’t a clue how to quilt it, but will figure it out. 

Meanwhile, if this quilt does turn out to be good enough to think about hanging it at the annual Pine Tree show, I will have to get Jo Digg’s permission since it was developed in a class she taught.  Pine Tree recently sent out new protocols for displaying quilts.  If you developed a quilt in a class, made it from a pattern in a magazine or book, or from a pattern you purchased, you have to get the permission of the designer to display the quilt.  I don’t think you can sell such a quilt without getting the permission of the designer either.  Exceptions involve using traditional blocks.  Amy Butler, who designs patterns and fabric, clearly states that if you buy one of her patterns, you may not sell the item to anyone without her permission. 

I’m all for a designer getting credit for his/her work.  I think having to get permission for using a pattern in a published magazine or a book is a bit silly and defeats the purpose of the said magazine or book.  One must give credit, yes, but getting permission is an overload for everyone.  I think selling products made from a published pattern should be ok, too, provided one gives credit to the designer. 

The big problem I have with how to negotiate this terrain with regard to taking classes is deciding where there is a novel, copywrited product and where there is a method to be learned.  No one else can combine fabric in the way Jo Diggs does.  She is an artist and the work she does comes from inside her head.  She can teach me “fish,” but I’ll never create them or put them into a quilt in the way she does.  I could not if I tried.  What she does is unique.  So, did I learn a method from Jo Diggs.  Or am I forever bound to call her for permission whenever I make an applique quilt using anything remotely resembling her fish method?

I don’t know.

But, I can tell you that I’m not likely to take any more classes if these interpretations prevail.  I already refuse to buy Amy Butler’s patterns or fabrics  and would encourage you not to do so as well until she mitigates her legal stance in writing on her patterns.  And, if my little fish quilt turns out ok and if I can reach Jo Diggs without too much trouble and if she gives permission, I might hang it at PTQG.  But if there is any hitch, I will not.  So it will be interesting to see how many quilts PTQG hangs this year.

Clearly this whole terrain has gone over the edge of sanity.  I will be interested to see how much of an impact it has on teachers, books, and quilt shows.