“Improv Patchwork” by Maria Shell, The Blog Tour!
Oct 21st, 2017 by Wendy

Improv Patchwork by Maria Shell







It’s Here!!!  Improv Patchwork, Dynamic Quilts Made with Line & Shape by Maria Shell.

This is the C&T Blog Tour, Day 7, with me, Wendy Hill. But first, some housekeeping:

• You may purchase the book at C&T Publishing <ctpub.com/improv-patchwork/>, or at your local quilt shop or bookstore, or Amazon.

• Post a comment at the end of my blog post, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of the book (hard copy for USA, digital for all other countries).  The winner will be selected by midnight Alaska time on October 26, with notification to follow soon after.


October 16—C&T Publishing < http://www.ctpub.com/blog/>

October 18—Yvonne Fuchs at Quilting JetGirl <https://quiltingjetgirl.com>

October 19—Amy Ellis at Amy’s Creative Side <http://amyscreativeside.com>

October 20—Deborah Boschert at Deborah’s Journal <http://deborahsjournal.blogspot.com?>

October 21—Kathy Doughty at Material Obsession < http://www.materialobsession.com.au/>

October 21 Terri Lucas at Generation Q Magazine < http://generationqmagazine.com/>

October 22— Wendy Hill at Wendy Hill’s Blog—Fun Quilts Stuff & More <http://wendyhill.net/blog>

October 23—Cindy Grisdela at Cindy Grisdela Art Quilts <https://cindygrisdela.com>

October 24—Heather Pregger at Heather <Heather’s Blog <http://heatherquilts.blogspot.com>

October 25—Maria Shell at Tales of a Stitcher <https://talesofastitcher.com>


Maria Shell describes her new book, Improv, Dynamic Quilts Made with Line & Shape, as a reference & technique book that the reader can use to create original patchwork designs, and, if we aren’t already, become fearless.

If intuitive or improv designing feels intimidating or if you’ve ever asked how does the magic happen, then this is a good book for you.

Here is my Top 5 List of things I love about Maria Shell’s book, plus One Final Thought.

1. Maria describes herself as a maker with a compulsion to make things with stitch and thread. I relate to this and I bet you do too.

2. “Start Where You Are, Creativity Is Good For You”: This chapter is a must read if you’ve ever thought about how the head, heart and hands join forces in your own or others’ creative process.

3. The Tips: Each chapter has a diagonal column of advice given in carefully edited bullet points. In addition to the specific advice in each chapter, Maria emphasizes these points: 1) we need to practice-practice-practice; 2) pay attention to detail; 3) learn from all of our experiences (successes and failures); and 4) let one quilt lead to the next.

4. “Color, Pattern and Repetition, The Quiltmaker’s Building Blocks”: This chapter is not the usual parade of color and design theories. Maria shows & tells these underlying concepts with real compositions and quilts that you can start applying immediately, as in right now!

5. Six technique chapters- stuffed with step-by-step photography and clear text- show how to make prints out of solids. Although each chapter builds on the previous ones, Maria says you can go through them in order or jump around. The final chapter, “Putting It All Together” ties the whole book together with pages and pages of layout and composition examples.

One Final Thought: I repeat, this is a reference and technique book, not a “make one like mine” project book, and for me, this is a Very Good Thing. Creating a pleasing composition with stitch and cloth is not magic, but it IS magical. Find your own magical creative process with the support and encouragement found in the images and words of Maria Shell.

Please leave a comment and get entered into a random drawing to win a copy of Improv for yourself!

Big Rad PlaidLR

Neon Zig ZagLR




Part 2: Creative Quilt Challenges at PIQF 2016
Oct 24th, 2016 by Wendy








Come early to the Pacific International Quilt Festival to be first in line or come a bit later to miss the crowds.

The twenty special exhibits have their own area in the convention hall. We had an “end aisle” on a main walkway near the women’s bathroom— how great is that?!!!

Our 30 feet of back wall, with 24 feet of side walls, didn’t go as far as we hoped. We added a half wall at the 20 foot mark. PIQF provided black curtains, rods, telescoping rods, S hooks in 3 sizes, and a work table. It took Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday until 3:55pm to get all the quilts up. Five minutes to spare!!! Woo Hoo!

From Left to Right: Here is the first 20 feet of the booth. On the right is the half wall, with the door way to the last 10 feet of the booth. The quilt names go from left to right top first, then bottom row.








Photo #1: ColorBlind, 2013, Wendy Hill

Photo #2: Color Blinded Again (reversible quilt); Bright Hopes, 2013, Pat Pease; Georgi’s Garden, 2016, Wendy Hill; Cut Up, 2013, Pat Pease; A Change of Heart, 2015, Pat Pease & Wendy Hill

Photo #3: Bright Hopes, Georgi’s Garden, Silent Reflection, 2013, Pat Pease & Wendy Hill; Cut Up, A Change of Heart; Lightening Strikes, 2016, Wendy Hill

Photo #4: Silent Reflection; Lots of Trout, 2016, Wendy Hill & Pat Pease; One Orange Dot, 2013, Pat Pease; Lightening Strikes, Echino Yet Again, 2013, Pat Pease; Stepping Out, 2015, Wendy Hill









Photo #5: Confluence, 2015, Wendy Hill; Cairn Study 3, 2013, Wendy Hill

Photo #6: Marsh Scene, 2013, Pat Pease;Evey’s Quilt, 2016, Pat Pease; Snow Strings, 2014, Pat Pease;  Jocey, 2016, Pat Pease

Photo #7: Left Side- Evey’s Quilt; Ripple Effect, 2014, Wendy Hill; Square Dance, 2013, Wendy Hill & Pat Pease; Pass It Forward, Bolt Fabric Boutique, 2016; Right Side- Shape Shifting Challenge, see below

Photo #8: See information Photo #7


We invited 10 people to participate in a group challenge on the theme “Shape Shifting”. The rules? Please interpret the theme, 20″ by 20″ maximum size, any materials or methods, mixed media okay. It’s fun to do challenges with your local friends, but with the miracle of the Internet, you can connect with people around the world!







From left to right:

Row #1: Opening by Christine Drumright, New Mexico; Genesis by Maggie Vanderweit, Ontario, Canada; Day Shift by Judith Garnett, Oregon

Row #2: Peace of Nature by Barb Frances, California; Magma Displacement by Susan Howell, Minnesota; Encryption by Pat Pease, Oregon

Row #3: Command+Option+Shift by Ann Marra and Timothy Ely, Washington; All Life Matters by Karla Rogers, California; Evolving by Tawnya Romig-Foster, Colorado

Row #4: Hot Flash by Maria Shell, Alaska; U-Turn by Wendy Hill, Oregon; Ohio Shifted by Tierney Davis Hogan, Oregon


All of the quilts deserved a bit more space, but our 30 foot booth at PIQF was already a generous piece of landscape at the show. We were ambitious! We had quilt signs, plus most quilts had technique or in-progress photo signs too.

We met a LOT of people: thank you to everyone who spent time with our quilts and us, Wendy (on left) and Pat (on right).



Creative Quilt Challenges & Pacific International Quilt Festival
Sep 16th, 2016 by Wendy

Creative Quilt ChallengesPat_Wendy#3Sushi quilt 20082008_PR_ChallengeLR







Our book (by Pat Pease and I, Wendy Hill) began with our obsession for the reality television show, Project Runway. (For all fans out there, you probably know that Season 15 started yesterday!). In 2008, we challenged ourselves to make “something” based on the Project Runway challenge theme of the week/episode.

For the Unconventional Challenge, we had to make something with materials purchased at a grocery store. Pat made a very small quilt using sushi grass, other plastics and stuff. I made a tote bag using Tyvec envelopes, mop strings, plastic bags from the produce aisle, grapefruit bag netting and more.

Okay, we couldn’t keep up after just 2 or 3 weeks!!! But that didn’t stop us from doing challenges together. In 2011, we pitched a special exhibit, “A Natural Affinity…” to the Mancuso Brothers for their annual Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara. The answer: YES, for October 2013. Oh boy- we had almost two years to work on our quilts. Famous last words, because the first year went by in a flash. But we “made it work“, just like Tim Gunn tells the Project Runway contestants.













The folks at C&T Publishing visited our booth at PIQF 2013, took us out to lunch and announced “we want a book!” The rest, as they say, is history. We signed our contract in early 2014. Our manuscript package arrived at C&T about a year later, in 2015. Then boxes & boxes of our book, Creative Quilt Challenges, chugged by cargo ship from Hong Kong to  the warehouse, arriving in early February 2016.

Back in early 2015, we pitched a “full circle” follow up exhibit at the Pacific International Quilt Festival to be held in October 2016. The answer: YES! Our exhibit, “Creative Quilt Challenges“, will feature book quilts plus many new challenges by us and others. 

Come back to see sneak peeks and previews of our special exhibit. Better yet, please visit us at our booth, in the special exhibit section, of the Pacific International Quilt Festival, Santa Clara, October 13-16, at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

Sew Yourself Silly with Bias Covered Curves!
Aug 20th, 2016 by Wendy



In 1983, I  covered the curves on Grandmother’s Fan blocks- instead of piecing the curves–  for the first time. I used ribbon, not known for wanting to stretch around curves, but it worked. I made two extra long twin bed quilts, each 60″ by 100″. I apologize for the photo quality- these are my only photographs.

Untitled Twin Bed Quilts 1983

Untitled Twin Bed Quilts 1983d







I liked the way covered curves gave more opportunities to mix up fabrics while offering a short-cut to piecing the curves (and having it look professional). Anybody, no matter the skill level, can cover curves, which opens up a door to a big room of curved quilt block and free-form curved patterns. In the early 1990’s, Threads Magazine featured the work of Koos van den Akker, who (at that time) combined unlikely fabrics- such as leather with Liberty of London, with free form curves, covered with self-made bias tape. Very Cool! (Google Koos van den Akker to see his work; he died in 2015 at age 75.)

In 2001, I drew something like 60 individual free form arcs blocks, thinking I would piece the arcs together. I woke up with the idea to cover the curves instead- something I had not done in awhile. I loved the first blocks! I ended up making two quilts with the blocks – one pieced & quilted (Roads Not Taken) and one quilted block by block, assembled with satin stitching (Entanglement).

Roads Not Taken, FV.LR

Entanglement, Wendy Hill







In 2004, I pitched a book proposal to C&T about covering curves with self-made bias tape. It was accepted; I had a year to complete the manuscript package (fall of 2005). The book arrived from Hong Kong in time for fall International Quilt Market in Houston, 2006, and I got to be there with C&T to promote the book (my 4th IQM!)








Do you have something to share with the world in a book? Would you geek out at seeing the ISBN number assigned to your book? Would it make you smile to think of a copy of your book at the Library of Congress for all time? Then you should consider trying to get published.

Step 1: Get the book proposal guidelines from the publisher. I highly recommend C&T Publishing. All statements below are based on my experience with C&T- other publishers methods may vary.

Step 2: The more effort you put into your book proposal, the clearer it will be to the editors at C&T (and it gives you a head start if your proposal is accepted). The proposals  get assigned to an editor, who passes it around with a checklist to other editors on the acquisition committee. The committee meets every “x” number of weeks, so it might take several weeks to months to hear the news.

Step 3: If your proposal is accepted, you will work with the acquisition person to define your book in the contract and set up the mini and final deadlines.

Step 4: You will have “x” amount of time to complete your manuscript proposal. I’ve always had about one year, although I’ve heard of authors who agree to less time. You will receive your Author Guideline packet, at least an inch thick, detailing how to put together the manuscript, the images, the how-to samples, and so on. The better you follow these guidelines, the better the final outcome will be.

Step 5: The clearer you can write and organize your text, images, illustrations and overall message of the book, the better your team at C&T will be able to give your book your voice.

Step 6: You aren’t finished after turning in your manuscript package. Now begins the second year, with timelines for opportunities to give feedback about the cover, the styling of your book, and the editing. Again, the better you are at giving this feedback, the better your book will represent you and what you want to say.

Step 7: The book goes off for printing, in Hong Kong, and after some weeks, comes back into the United States. Woo Hoo!!!!

Of all the techniques I’ve written about (thread texturing, reversible foundation piecing, stitched thread-web 3D constructions and bias covered curves), I’ve probably used bias covered curves the most, with thread texturing & 3D constructions coming in at a close second. Here are a few of the quilts I’ve made after Easy Bias Covered Curves arrived in stores in 2006:



 Bubble Bath Day, 2006: This is my own variation on a traditional block called “Leatha’s Fan”




falling into liquid_3159 copy

falling into liquid_clup_3159 copy


 Falling Into Liquid, 2003: This original design uses bias covered curves  to create the surface design in the blue circle and around the  circumference of the entire circle. This quilt is part of the permanent  collect of the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum (inducted 2005).






 Yellow Fever, 2009: I used zippers and bias tape to cover curves. This quilt was part of the  “Color Cascade” special exhibit, which debuted at the 2010 Pacific International Quilt Festival,  then traveled all over, including Alex Anderson’s Garden Party event in 2011, the Sisters Quilt  Show 2011, and more.






I made a reversible baby quilt for one of my son’s teachers in 2006. It’s a terrible photograph,  but a good example of adapting a traditional block with bias covered curves.







In 2007, my love of the color “taupe” collided with the fun of using bias covered curves. With  21 different quarter-circle blocks and different widths bias tape, the (auditioned) random  layout lets all sorts of things happen. Taupegraphical got included my article “Taupe, More  Than Just Brown”, Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine #394/July-Aug. 2007 (and the Electric Quilt  Co. CD-ROM with QNM) and was juried into Quilts: A World of Beauty 2007, Contemporary  Colorations: The WOW Factor (National Quilting Association) 2008, and Quilts=Art=Quilts, Auburn, NY 2009 and Fabrications- the Art of Quilting, Bend, Oregon 2012.






Out Far, In Deep” 2007. Another taupe quilt with colors, I played around with the musical idea of repetition of melody, only with visual motifs. This quilt debuted at the Sunriver Quilt Show in 2007 (Shaker Challenge), then got juried into the World Quilt Show XII in New England 2008, and the American Quilters’ Society 25th Show & Contest in Paducah, Kentucky. QuiltMania Magazine featured it as a project in #73 then included it in their collection of quilts at the 15th European Patchwork Meeting 2009. It was also included in two gallery showings, DIVA in Eugene, Oregon 2009 (Solo exhibit “Wendy Hill: Not Always Linear) and Art in the Atrium, curated by Billye Turner,  in Bend, Oregon with the Lubbesmeyer Twins, Linda Spring and Alice Van Leunen).


I’ve always pitched book and magazine proposals with the belief I have something to say that will add to the body of knowledge in the quilt-fiber art world. After Easy Bias Covered Curves, I thought I’d said it all. But then came an exhibit of challenge quilts with collaborator and friend Pat Pease at Pacific International Quilt Festival in October 2013. The folks at C&T Publishing took us out to lunch and pitched the idea of a book to us. About 2 1/2 months later, we submitted our proposal to C&T and they said YES. That led to my fifth book, with Pat Pease, in print and in the USA as of February 7, 2016.

Creative Quilt Challenges


QuiltMania Mania
Oct 19th, 2009 by Wendy

I love “QuiltMania, The Quilt Magazine”, published in France, in both English and French versions (since issue #50). This glossy, over-sized magazine is filled with photographs of quilts from exhibits and homes around the world and a half-dozen or so project articles. If you love seeing quilts, you’ll enjoy page after page after page of quilts from around the world. And the projects are really good too!

I subscribe through Storehouse Publications (http://store.stonehouse-publications.com/), but you can buy single copies online or at bookstores or at some local quilt shops (ask for it).

I’m happy to announce that I have a project article in QuiltMania, Issue #73 (available in the USA now). It’s a project article for my quilt, “Out Far, In Deep”, using my bias covered curve technique. This quilt is not in my book, but it would have been included in project chapter #4 for quarter circles (Easy Bias Covered Curves, c.2006, C&T Publishing, Concord, California, ctpub.com).

The five-page project article is really well done, but sometimes a magazine will make changes. I would like to make two points: 1) I do not use a fusible interfacing to build the blocks. I do use Sulky Soft ‘n Sheer, a nonwoven nylon flexible stabilizer found online and in shops AND 2) I use a narrow but open zigzag setting to stitch along the raw edges. This goes fast, and keeps the fabrics in place.

Check it out- QuiltMania is a great magazine.

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