What Lies Beneath

What Lies Beneath (40”x18”)

What Lies Beneath (40”x18”)

What Lies Beneath is another new quilt for this year. This was made for the Central Oregon SAQA challenge, “Beneath the Surface”. When I was trying to figure out what to do for the challenge I had other ideas, ones that were really quite different from this. However, when I have a challenge quilt to do I try to make something that could be used for other purposes besides the original exhibit. In this case, I wanted to do something modern and I was inspired by mid century modern design.

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I came up with this idea as an abstract way to illustrate how people, animals and nearly everything else in the universe are more complicated that they first appear. The original idea had a midline going across the width of the quilt, but at some point I decided it was better without it.

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First I did a small sketch of some shapes, then had to decide the order of putting it all together. I also had to consider shrinkage since the size was supposed to be 18x40 (either vertical or horizontal). I had to make the background extra big and then guess that shrinkage would occur mostly in the width rather than the height due to the vertical background quilting.

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I made a full size drawing and used hand applique and freezer paper templates to add the shapes. Then I layered and machine quilted the background. I started and stopped each stitching line at the shapes and since I like to bury the thread tails that took a really long time! Lastly, I added the hand quilting and hand embroidery. It was a lot of fun to to doodle on the shapes. I used a Pitt Artist pen to draw the doodles and then stitched over the lines with embroidery floss with mostly back stitch and satin stitch.

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Finally, I added my hand stitched signature to the front of the quilt. I’ve been doing that on most quilts in recent years and I like the look. It feels like signing a painting.

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I really love how this quilt came out and it was enjoyable to do (except for all the ends to bury!). The background fabric is Essex linen/cotton blend which is one of my favorite fabrics for hand stitching. I also love the backing print which is very busy, but so very cute. Those tiny houses are about 1/4”! It worked out great because I didn’t worry to much about doing the hand embroidery. Normally I would try to keep my embroidery stitches in the batting layer rather than going through to the back, but with the machine quilting lines it would have been very frustrating to do. With that backing being so busy all the errant stitches on the back don’t really show so I don’t mind them.

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70s Child

70s Child, 39" x 51"

70s Child, 39" x 51"

70s Child is a recent finish that I only started a couple of months ago.  I wanted to do a quilt based on improv curves.  These blocks were cut free hand with a rotary cutter and machine pieced.  I have done curves before, but never so many in one quilt.  It turns out I really hate doing them.  It's one reason the blocks sat for a bit before I got back to them.  I first made the small (approx 5") blocks, then made the four larger triple curve blocks in the upper right.  I set them aside to finish some other things, but every time I thought about getting them out I was turned off because I hated the process so much.  In the end I realized the design had potential and I should really just suck it up and finish it.  I made some more larger curved blocks (about 6"), then the rectangular blocks, and lastly the three largest ones at the bottom.  

I just found out that 70s Child was accepted into the Modern Quilt Guild Showcase at IQF Houston this year, so that will be it's first outing as I need to mail it off soon.  I don't know why they need them so soon when the show's not until November, but there you go.

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It took me a little while to arrange them and start to put it together.  When the top was finished I machine quilted with dense straight lines (1/4" apart) which is my go to for abstract modern quilts.  It's not terribly original, but it's my thing.  I'm done trying to come up with some fabulous free motion design.  I really don't enjoy that and in the end I feel it can be limiting.  In this case, the quilting adds lovely texture, but no (or minimal) character.  I am not really interested in having someone else quilt it for an exorbitant price unless I am dealing with something too large for me.

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I finished it with a binding pieced from scraps and I really like the result.  By the way, the color palette started with the mustard yellow.  I added the reds, pinks and gray and then needed something else and turquoise just seemed to pop.  It started to remind me of the 70s while I was working on it.  Partly it was due to the mustard yellow/harvest gold color and partly due to the shapes.  Plus, I'm a 70s Child myself as I turned 6 in 1970.  So, don't expect any more improv curves from me, except perhaps in small doses.  

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Autumn Meadow


I have been busy this spring and early summer!  Here's another challenge project for this year.  This time it's the local Central Oregon SAQA group challenge with the theme "Threads that Bind".  I really didn't have any good ideas that fit the theme exactly, but it did sound like one of those quilt challenges where anything goes, so I decided to just do whatever I wanted.  


This quilt was created in a roundabout way and if I were to do it again I'd probably do something different.  In this case, I got together a bunch of green silks and cut strips that I pieced for the background.  I then layered them with batting and backing and quilted the heck out of it with dense straight line machine quilting.  This piece measures 18" x 40" (our standard size for these SAQA challenges), so it was very easy to do that quilting.  I put on an audio book and just stitched away for a few hours.


I decided that it would be an abstract meadow, so I added the silk stems with machine stitching.  When I was at QuiltCon this year I picked up some kantha quilt scraps at one of the vendors.  These scraps were so beautiful and truthfully, I was kind of horrified to see the vendor cutting up perfectly good kantha quilts for this, but in the end I was glad to get those scraps and decided to use them for something special.  I cut them again into the flower and leaf shapes and hand appliqued them to the completed top.  Did I mention that sometimes I don't fully think things through??? 

Well, that was a horrible idea.  It was really hard on my hands and wrists to try to hand sew through all that.  In the end, I did complete the hand stitching, but it took a long time.  My original plan had been to hand embroider over the flowers and stems to add some texture and color, but the experience of the hand applique cured me of that notion right away.  I knew I had to do something.

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I decided I'd machine stitch some defining lines on the leaves and flowers, but when I did that the edges started to stick up and it did NOT look good.  Horrors!  I finally decided to machine stitch around each piece I had hand appliqued.  The hand stitching was mostly obliterated, but it got the job done.

In the middle of the kerfuffle I came to hate this piece and that's one reason it sat on the design wall taunting me.  In the end it actually came together beautifully and I really like the result.  Sometimes we just have to suffer for our art, don't we?

I proudly machine stitched my name to the front, added a facing using my favorite technique  by Terry Aske.  I added a handwritten label and a sleeve and it was finally done.  Whew!

This SAQA exhibition will debut at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show this July 14.  I wasn't able to attend the quilt reveal, but the SAQA special exhibit is always one of the best, so check it out if you're there!

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New Work in the Shop

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I have finished several slow cloth pieces to add to the shop.  A couple have sold already, so if you're interested, please check it out soon.  Speaking of the shop, I've also added a bunch of new items including original paintings, hand painted greeting cards, stickers, printed greeting cards, and some hand stitched wearable art cuffs.  As a reminder, handmade blank art journals, project bags, and pillow covers can be found in my KMS Handmade shop.  I have changed all shipping options to free for domestic shipping and a small upcharge for Canada and Everywhere Else.  I hope that makes it easier for those outside the US to purchase from my shops.  If you feel so moved, I'd love it if you'd share my shop info with friends.  Thank you!

***Free Domestic Shipping in Both Shops***
Shop Kristin Shields Art
Shop KMS Handmade

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These handmade cuffs were fun to make with vintage linens and some hand embroidery.  Check them out in the shop to see all sides.  

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Night Tree detail

Night Tree detail

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Sail Away detail

Sail Away detail

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Cloth Weaving Sampler

Cloth Weaving Sampler

Pink Silk

Pink Silk



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Sunrise over Haleakala

Sunrise over Haleakala

Faces in Fabric Part 6- Frog Lady

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Frog Lady is the last of this series of faces in fabric.  She came about because my friend Erin wanted to come over and make a face with me.  I went through each step with her until we got to the hair and she had to go.  It was a fun afternoon!

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Erin is doing a self portrait for our Undercover Quilters group.  She loves bright colors and especially purple, so it was really cool that she found the perfect Australian print for her hair.

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I wanted to have some fun with the hair, so I pulled this African print from the stash and fussy cut the curls to do a wild hairdo.  I had also just finished with Maria's frog shirt and had some scraps lying around.  It seemed natural to add the little frogs to her cheeks, though I did just pin them on for a while to make sure I liked them.  

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Below you'll find a bunch of hair photos that all look a lot alike.  I spent quite a while tweaking the curls until I got them just so and could fuse them on.

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Finally it was time to quilt it.  I really have come to like the adventure of the quilting.  I no longer worry about whether I'm doing the "right thing" when it comes to the quilting lines.  I just do it and each one is a little different.  I have to say, though, I love the pink eyelashes on this one!