Closeup, "Kirsten"

Hundreds of Hexies

So thrilled my art quilt “Kirsten” is in ArtPrize 9, a huge international art competition in Grand Rapids, Michigan!

Kirsten Art Quilt by Carolyn Zinn


“Kirsten” (named after my daughter) is 54 inches wide and 81 inches tall. I created it by sewing together 480 fabric hexagons by hand, using the English Paper Piecing technique, which involves wrapping paper shapes in fabric and then stitching the fabric together.  Approximately 60 different commercial fabric prints were used. I quilted it using mono-filament thread on my home sewing machine.

I’m often asked how long it took me to make. I don’t really keep track, but I would guess almost 200 hours total. I probably spent about 80 hours over the course of 4 weeks creating fabric hexagons and carefully choosing the placement of each hexagon on my design wall, guided by a reference photo. I didn’t start sewing anything together until all 480 hexies were in their final location and orientation.  Then I probably spent 100 hours over the course of 2½ months hand-sewing the hexies together (being careful not to rotate or disorder anything!)  Quilting and binding took about 10 more hours.

“The amazing thing seeing this close up is that these are large quilt hexagons, in some heavily patterned colors, (and some white with writings on them), which does not look at all like any picture. Then, miraculously, as one steps back a few more feet….all of a sudden, it is a picture, and even like a painting!”
– Quilt Viewer

I hope you can see it in person, on the upper level of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum through October 8, 2017.  Please view it from a distance as well as close up – I think the difference is amazing!  If you agree, I’d love your vote! Please use code 64662! 

Brown Bag Challenge

The art quilting group I belong to held a “brown bag challenge.” No, we didn’t make quilts out of brown bags! We were each given a plain brown paper lunch bag and asked to put three items into it, with which a small 12″x12″ art quilt could be made. We exchanged bags anonymously and had two months to create something artful for the contributor.

The bag I selected contained three pieces of fabric – saturated  hand-dyes in cherry red and marine blue, and some Kaffe Fasset Shanty Town in the same colorway — and some green perle cotton floss.

The contents of my challenge bag

The contents of my challenge bag



Shanty Town Purple by Brandon Mably for Kaffe Fassett Collection Westminster

I needed to sleep on it.

I decided to do a modified “stack and whack” with that house print. Stack-and-whack usually involves cutting 8 identical triangle blocks and rotating them to form an 8-sided kaleidoscope effect.  I only had 4 repeats of the pattern available, so I cut tiny 1.5″ squares, rotated them and joined them to form 2″ finished sized blocks.

I added some of the red, because it had nice directional streaking,  and a bit of complementary Kaffe fabric from my stash. I arranged the tiny blocks in a corner-to-corner color wave from blue to purple to red, with fun pops of green from the prints.

The assembled top, 13″x 13″

But I wasn’t finished. The agreement was to use a recognizable amount of each of the contributed items. I still had green embroidery cotton to feature somehow.

I needed to sleep on it again.

So many angles in that Shanty Town print. So many squares in my piecing.  The quilt needed something soft, curvy, organic.  And I could introduce that with embroidery.

I chain-, blanket- and feather-stitched an insect-like web right over that angular grid of whacked houses. I kind of love the results.

To Have and to Hold and to Snuggle

My awesome nephew Bryan is going to marry this wonderful young lady in a few months.  Morgan’s bridal shower was yesterday, and I couldn’t have been more excited as she unwrapped this throw quilt I made for them.  I used about 16 different text fabrics, most with expressions of love, and worked in their initials to personalize it.  Best wishes, Morgan and Bryan!

Evan's Quilt

Evan’s Baby Quilt

My third grandson, Evan, arrived in August, and I just completed a play quilt for him in time for Christmas. It’s about 42″x52″ and made of commercial cottons in primary and secondary solids, and black/white prints. I machine quilted it in spiral patterns with my awesome Juki TL2010-Q.

Evan's Quilt

Evan’s Quilt

Evan on his new quilt

Evan on his new quilt

The design is original and all for Evan. I wanted the color palette to be similar to the two quilts I made earlier for his older brothers, Austin and Landon.

Landon's Quilt

Landon’s Quilt, 2012

Austin's Quilt

Austin’s Quilt, 2010

Mini Quilt Swap

I just participated in a fun mini-quilt swap sponsored by the Great Lakes Modern Quilt Guild.

Participants each received the name of another participant to make a small quilt for. We were to keep quiet about who we were creating for! To convey our preferences to our mystery partners, each of us created an online inspiration board using our guild Pinterest site. Here’s mine.

I drew my friend Stephanie’s name. I was excited because Stephanie is so energetic and joyful, I knew I could have fun with my design. Her inspiration board was full of colorful ideas. When I saw the fox and hedgehog designs on her board, I knew what I had to swap quilt for stephanie

I think she liked the result!

Jeanine drew my name. We didn’t know each other well before the swap, but she was able to pick up on my love of sunsets and bold saturated colors and made the perfect art quilt for me.  She called it “Day’s End”. I will treasure it always!

mini swap quilt from jeanine

Victoria’s Quilt

Victoria's Quilt. 40" x 50" commercial and hand-dyed cottons. "Converging Corners" block.

Victoria’s Quilt. 40″ x 50″ commercial and hand-dyed cottons. “Converging Corners” block.

I made this baby quilt for my brand new grand-niece Victoria.  The block pattern is “Converging Corners”, by Film in the Fridge . The Modern Quilt Guild I belong to introduced me to this block, and I thought it was the perfect combination of fun and modern but not too funky for a more traditional space.

The blocks are each 10″ square. The whole quilt measures about 40″ by 50″. I used mostly commercial cottons, with a few hand-dyed fabrics thrown in. The back (and self-binding) is hand-dyed for a perfect match