Goin' Squirrelly!

2016 Challenge Project
Our guild is making boreal forest themed art to hang in the children's area of our town library. I decided to portray the cheeky squirrel that scolded me last year when hubby and I were camping.

Cheeky boreal forest inhabitant!

I thought I'd attempt the collage technique Susan Carlson describes in her book, Serendipity Quilts. She does the exact opposite of most artists by starting with elements closest to the viewer and working toward the background.

To make my pattern, I projected my photo onto a large piece of paper and "traced" the important lines.
The idea is to freehand cut bits of fabric, filling each space with tons of scraps that blend together and look quite painterly. Fabrics are held in place with tiny dots of glue as the picture is built.

Auditioning fabrics - the challenge fabric is the folded rectangle in the center, front.

I didn't have tons of scraps to collage, so instead I filled spaces with larger pieces. With no quilt shop nearby, I do my best with what I've got.

Having said that, nothing in my stash would do for my background.


Frustrated, I asked my Mom if I could raid her stash (again).

Luckily, she has a wide range of - well - everything!!! (And she knows where to dig when I make silly requests like, "Do you have any red-violet in light-ish values?") Thanks, Mom!!!


Now to bend my brain and make a quilting plan that will give this fella's tail some fluff without requiring a ton of thread painting! (I'd like to finish it sometime this century. Ha!)

Speaking of finishing in this century . . .
. . . I have finally finished stitching around all the bits on this piece!

To be fair, it hasn't been a priority. I've really only worked on it during a couple of sewing days with my guild, but the other day I felt a need to move it forward.

Cropped into a rectangle

This was a design I came up with, years ago, in a class based on exercises from Katie Pasquini Masopust's book, Design Explorations. It is an awkward shape, so I will be cropping it (as shown above) to make it more pleasing. (Augh! I will be cutting off some of the work I just finished!)

I'd considered REALLY chopping it - into a square - but think it will be fine as a rectangle.

Possible square crop

Uh oh. Now I think I like the square better.

I don't think there is a wrong answer, really. It feels more "garden-y" as a rectangle, and more abstract as a square. Annnnd - I continue to flip and flop! Help!

What do you think? Rectangle, or square?

Fresh off the Frame
I'm behind with client show and tell these days, so let's catch up a bit!

This block of the month looks fantastic finished with large, flowing feathers!


Minky on the back makes this pretty quilt perfectly cozy!


This gorgeous desert scene required many starts and stops. Rather than cutting my thread each time I ran into an obstacle, I secured my stitches and "jumped" to the next starting point.


Before quilting the cacti, I snipped away the jump threads.


The illusion of perspective and distance guided my quilting decisions. I wanted to keep things simple since Arizona skies are often devoid of clouds, so I used slightly wavy lines spaced progressively further apart as they ascend. This supports my intent, plus wavy lines remind me of heat waves!

The cacti are quilted with vertical lines that imply ribs. The distant ground under the setting sun is straight line quilted, and the foreground is contour quilted.

Please remember to chime in about the cropping issue - and have yourself a very happy day!

Try, Learn, & Grow!


  1. rectangle! and I love the squirrel and cactus!

  2. I think that cropping it square gives at a more abstract feel and helps you feel more pulled into the subject - like a good crop in photography. It gives it a zoomed in / macro photography feel. Does that make any sense? The rectangular is more landscape view (or gardeny as you say) in feel. I think I like the square version the best. :)

  3. The squirrel is great! I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the forest :-)
    Wow ~ it really changes things taking it from rectangular to square! I think the square version is more striking myself.
    Excellent job letting the cacti quilt tell you how to quilt it (I do the jump thing too. Yay that I already do one of your tricks :-) Sadly, I think that's a first...)

  4. Rectangle is my preference, but they both are interesting perspectives. Love your cheeky squirrel Carole! I see that you have been a busy lady...

  5. Rectangle!! Definitely, the rectangle! And, loving the squirrel! Your work is amazing.

  6. I like the rectangle. It gives your subject matter some breathing space. Looking forward to the squirrel piece.

  7. The squirrel and cactus are incredible. I always love seeing how you pull a quilt together with quilting and make it even more beautiful.

  8. Incredible work , love the squirrel since we have one that regularly visits and raids our bird feeders . I prefer the rectangle , seems a shame to cut off all that lovely foliage.

  9. Incredible work , love the squirrel since we have one that regularly visits and raids our bird feeders . I prefer the rectangle , seems a shame to cut off all that lovely foliage.

  10. So many amazing things here Carole! I love how you turned that cheeky squirrel into an applique quilt! Proof that you didn't have to have a lot of scraps to be painterly! He looks just as full of sass in your quilt as he did in the photo, LOL.
    I kind of like the rectangle crop the best, but that is probably because I am a gardener.
    Beautiful quilting! I like your jumps and will have to remember that! The way you did the Arizona scene is so perfect for the quilt!

  11. I love the squirrel and the background you chose. I was just reading through the book and thought I might like to try the method.

  12. I expect I'm too late for chiming in now, but I'd have to go rectangle - largely because, I have to admit, the thought of you chopping more of your amazing work makes me sad! That squirrel is looking incredible, and a perk of catching up late is that I know I'm about to see it finished...


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