My piece, Round and Round It Goes is part of the Quilt National 2013 exhibit. It was recognized with the Award of Excellence. To learn more about Quilt National and the artists who are part of that show, go to


A new SAQA book, Portfolio 20, The Art Quilt Sourcebook, is now available from the SAQA website. The portfolio of professional quilt artists includes a pic of my Round and Round It Goes quilt. A wonderful opportunity to review many beautiful works of art.


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tearing out againPundit quilt in tear out phase

Sometimes it takes an incredible amount of patience and faith to get a piece done. This one has taken me to the edge of that plain. Once again the thread is not cooperating, once again I am tearing out. The stitch length was wrong, the tension inconsistent and the patterning lost cadence. I thought that I could live with it yesterday but when I came into the studio today I reached for Mr. Tweezerman.

Hoping that the damage to the fabric and batting can be rescued on the next go around. This one is going into the washer (and maybe the dryer) upon completion. I want it to be puckered.


Earlville show debuts

Two of my quilts (Do the Doodle and Worry) are on exhibit at the Earlville Galleries in Earlville, NY. If you are near this gallery please stop by to see the show. 

EOH Galleries are located at 18 East Main Street in Earlville, NY.
The show runs from July 12 through August 30.
Gallery hours are Tues-Fri (10am-5pm), Saturday (12-3pm).
For more information, call 315-691-3550

Do the Doodle, 2011. 63" x 48", ©Paula Kovarik

Worry (detail), 2011. 30.5" x 41", ©Paula KovarikThe 12th Annual Contemporary Art Quilts exhibition will be in the East Gallery with award-winning quilts from nationally- and internationally-recognized quilters. I am joined in this show by the following artists.

Deborah Bein, Poughkeepsie, NY creates textile collages that are often political, addressing such issues as the controversy over hydrofracking, the “shabby” way our elected officials in Washington conduct themselves, and the decline of “our honorable democratic ideals – torn, tarnished and trampled by a partisan Congress.”

Kathy Weaver, Highland Park, IL airbrushes paintings on bridal satin, then embroiders and quilts the work. Trained as a painter, Weaver’s early work was also political. “Guns Are Us,” a series of three quilts portraying handgun violence in Chicago, is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City.

Betty Busby, Albuquerque, NM is a published fiber artist and teacher and maintains a busy exhibition schedule nationally and internationally.

After careers as a teacher and psychologist, the quilts of Karen Kamenetzky, Brattleboro, VT have been juried into many national shows and have hung in the American Embassy in East Timor as part of the Art in Embassies Program.

A native New Yorker, with a BFA from Pratt Institute and MA from New York University, Eileen Lanterborn, Kennett Square, PA was an art teacher and painter before she became an art quilter. Her work has been shown at the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, Stanford University, Bennington Center for the Arts, South Carolina State Museum, the Quilt National, and the International Quilt Festival.


Planning the threads

One of the most challenging parts of free motion quilting is to figure out how and where you will stitch. I use a simple technique that helps me visualize different patterns before I commit to them with thread and sore shoulders.

Using a piece of acetate to experiment with line

Using a large piece of acetate and a dry erase marker I sketch my ideas onto the acetate directly over the quilt. If I don't like the first pattern I can simply wipe it dry and start again. The lines are fairly thick because I have yet to find a dry erase marker with a fine point (note to Sharpie...please develop this for me). Drawing the lines gives my hands and brain a trial run for the real deal.

Once I have decided what I want to do I mark a boundary for the pattern on the quilt with a chalk marker. My favorite of these is the one pictured here, it has a roller at the tip that makes a thin dotted line with chalk. You can get white, blue, yellow and pink chalk. I tend to stay with the white stuff. I'll often hang the acetate near my machine so that I can see it while stitching. I'll do this stitching in the morning when I am fresher.

Outer boundary of stitch pattern marked with chalkOnce I am done with the stitching I am sometimes left with loose ends that need to be buried. I do this after dinner in front of the TV, tweezer and easy-threading needle in hand. This pic shows a different area of the piece where I decided to stop the background pattern where the black circles define a thought bubble.

Loose threads will need to by buried in the quilt sandwich later


color experiments

Since the free-motion fairy is not with me today I decided to play with some color. Based loosely on the Pundit quilt colors of lime green, black and white I experimented with other highlight colors to create a different mood. Here are the half-square triangles in pre-trim mode. A lovely prayer-flag composition... I didn't really want to cut them apart.

half-square triangles in chained piecing mode

Cutting them apart and ironing them flat yielded another viewpoint:

hal-square triangles pieced and rough trimmed

And now the experiment can begin:

half-square triangles on the design wall

I think I will add more white in the next batch. I like the hard black accents and I want to find another tint of that bright green.



thread nests

thread nests on the back of the quilt

Despite dutiful care and feeding of my trusty Bernina I have battled thread nests all week. It started after a service call to "tune up" the machine. Not so tuneful.

I have changed needles, cleaned out lint, twisted, turned and massaged the tension knob, substituted new thread, pulled both ears while twirling counterclockwise on one foot and muttering oaths of loyalty to the Bernina sewing gods -- all to no avail.

Another trip into the service center she goes. Tonight will be devoted to tear out.

Now where, oh where is Mr. Tweezerman?



what a relief

Quilt guild challenge finished.

Gabby, Pediatrics cartoon figure

Meet Gabby. Earlier this year I promised I would contribute to a guild challenge for an exhibit that will be displayed at a local children's hospital. The challenge revolved around a set of cartoon characters the hospital created for their decorative theme. I thought it would be easy. Now, over six months later, the task is done, but not without a bit of sturm und drang (otherwise known as storm and stress).

I don't do cute well. I am a little skittish about pretty too. So, I thought maybe I could do something that would push my patterning skills a bit. I worked on 10-15 different patterns for a quilt top that would house this guy. A new and different nine patch? A log cabin nest? what about a new way of looking at a mariner's compass pattern? None made my brain fizz with excitement.

Then I decided that maybe it could be a collage. I spent a good 10-12 hours fussy cutting bits of fabric that might fit together to represent and house this bird. No song in my heart  for that solution either. Falling back on skills I felt most comfortable with, I thought maybe I could just do a whole cloth version of Gabby in black and white. I spent at least a day or two mapping that one out. It's just a little sad seeing a colorful character like this guy go to the dark side....

The next time I went to guild they were selling a bunch of preprinted cartoon characters that could be appliqued onto a top. I thought.....there's my answer! I immediately bought one of the larger versions of Gabby, totally ignoring the fact that I am not good at applique and I still had to come up with a top. Maybe I could do a reverse applique version? I admit that many of my quilts answer the question " can I hide that mistake?"

Gabby lingered on the design wall for another month. It got so that every time I looked at him I felt a twinge of insecurity and dread.

When I finally had the nerve to go back to the project (since the deadline is creeping up and the last guild meeting reinforced that sense of commitment I had) I decided to read about Gabby a little more and figure out what I should do. I came across this brief summary of his character.

I decided I liked this guy.

And he needed some camouflage.

I went to my mother's copious stash and found a delightful Asian patterned fabric that complemented his beak. He looked pretty good sitting within the pattern but needed something more. I went to the fabric store and found a (dare I say pretty?) organza with pink flowers scattered over it (have I ever mentioned the fact that pink and I don't really get along very well?). It would work well as a second level of color and camouflage.

So here is my final solution. He is perched on a flower surrounded by flowers. The transparency of the pink-flowered organza allowed me to add some clouds over his head. I stuffed his goofy beak with some extra padding so that he would stand out in a crowd. And, at the end I added the yellow binding and embroidered the X pattern over the squares in yellow orange floss.

Gabby, a loud and happy guy.

Now I can go back to what I really want to do with a sense of accomplishment, and another thing to write on my hand so that I don't forget: Be careful what you promise, it's not all a bed of flowers.



steps to a final

Stages for quilting an art quilt

Preparation of the final quilt top includes a careful pressing and trimming of any bad seams.

Here is the finished pieced top for the first of the Pundit pieces. I decided to use a neutral gray green instead of bright red for the head in front.

Pundit, quilt top in progress

Preparing a back for the piece was a simple matter of assembling the scraps of fabric I had from the top. A simple geometric stacking does the trick.

Pundit, quilt back in progress

Here the piece is sandwiched with the backing and the batting and basted for stability. I do this by hand with a slightly thicker thread that is easy to tear away as I start stitching. While stitching I get to know the surface of the quilt, noticing any bumps or bulges. I also plan the stitching patterns at this stage. An example of this is in the upper right corner of the top where the hand is pointing at the corner. I should have cut the fabric so that there was excess at the corner. This will have to be fixed before I stitch that area.

Pundit, quilt top sandwiched with backing and batting and basted

The beginning stages of stitching. This is the messiest stage for me. I often lose track of what I want the piece to look like because of all the loose ends.

Pundit, stitching and planning