Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fall Classes

I have taught more classes this fall than ever! Free Motion Quilting is a very popular class--the third session is coming up Saturday. We unravel the mystery of "quilt as desired" and leave with the skills and confidence to finish quilts on your home sewing machine.

Yellow Brick Road is a classic pattern. I generally have not used a pattern for my classes, probably because I rarely use patterns for my own quilts. Every class is a learning experience for me. I had wanted to see tops completed, but we ran out of time before borders could be stitched. Everyone left with a plan and fabric to finish, so that part is good, but I'll have to build in more time to shop! I enjoy teaching and hope to continue with a regular schedule--although we are heading into a tough time to fill classes--holidays followed by snow days. Wouldn't it be nice to spend a snow day sewing a cuddly new quilt?

 Quilt Gallery

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Artist's Reception

I was late getting to the Yarmouth Art Festival this evening for the reception, so I was surprised to see cars still parked along the road side and quite a few people still hanging around, enjoying the artwork, wine and snacks. The mild fall evening probably helped, as the doors to the charming space were thrown wide open and laughter drifted out into the parking lot. Inside guests were welcomed by an airy, wood and light filled space with burlap covered display walls. My pieces were grouped together near a window. I took a quick shot, then spent time enjoying the other work on display--only two other fabric artists, whose work is quite different from mine, then plenty of oils, watercolors, pastels and photography. If you missed the reception, the show continues from 10:00 to 7:00 tomorrow and 10:00 to 4:00 on Saturday, at St. Bart's Church on the way to Cousin's Island. Or you can take an armchair tour through the online Show Catalog!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Yarmouth Art Festival

Venezia-Rana O'Connor-2012
The Yarmouth Art Festival begins Wednesday, October 16 and runs through the Saturday, October19, at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, 396 Gilman Road in Yarmouth. Out of 350 entries, the jurors selected 163 pieces, and I am fortunate to have had 3 of my pieces juried into this show. This is my second year exhibiting at this festival. It is a wonderful space, bright and airy. I am looking forward to attending the artists' reception on Thursday evening, from 5:30 to 8:00.  Admission to the show is free, so it is definitely worth a drive, on a beautiful fall day, to see the work of 75 Maine artists and who knows--maybe even find a piece you must purchase! Proceeds support community service programs such as the food pantry, so it is win-win for everyone. Hope to see you there!

Quilt photos at: Picasa

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fall Class Announcement!

Yellow Brick Road
O'Connor 2013
My partner in crime Linda M and I will be teaching classes at Sew Portland again this fall! Over the course of several classes we'll be piecing two quilt tops using shortcuts, pre-cuts and easy-peasy piecing, then spending time learning how to finish those quilts with the infamous "quilt as desired." The classes are geared towards beginners, but any level quilter will have fun with strip piecing; playing with the stack, slash and shuffle technique or free motion quilting. Does this all sound like Greek to you? Come to class--you'll be talking "quilt" in no time!
Yellow Brick Road detail
O'Connor 2013

First up is "Yellow Brick Road" an older but very popular pattern by Atkinson Designs. Fat quarter and scrappy friendly. Class meets on Friday, September 13 and Saturday, September 14, from 10:00 to 3:00 each day.

Crazy patch blocks
O'Connor 2013
Next is "Crazy Patch". This technique produces blocks that resemble crazy quilt blocks--you will be surprised at how easy it is, yet no two blocks end up the same! Sew Portland will have class kits of pre-cut batiks for a head start on this one. This class meets Friday and Saturday, September 20 and 21, also 10:00 to 3:00 each day.

Need help to finish your quilt? Spend Saturday, October 4 from 9:30 to 2:30 learning how to plan and execute the quilting that finishes your beautiful work! We will practice free motion quilting although we will discuss other ways to get that quilt finished as well.

For more information, to sign up and for class lists, contact Sew Portland at 207-797-6700. Hope to see you there!

More Quilts Here

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Win a Free Online Class!

An opportunity came my way from Eric Woolf, online media coordinator from Fons and Porter to review an online class at:
Daily Craft TV
 Click the link to check out their many classes for yourself! This site has lots of great classes, with new ones being added all the time. They are not liminted to quilting, either--classes on Knitting, Crochet, and Papercraft, or Sewing and Scrapbooking are also available at a click of the mouse.

I had my pick of the classes, so I chose
with several well known instructors. The class was an hour long, formatted much like a TV show, with several 10-minute segments. The focus was on enhancing quilts (primarily art quilts) by the use of image transfers, colored pencil applique, understanding color temperature and more. I really enjoyed the technique segments--Heather Thomas' image transfer techniques really got me thinking about adding photography to quilts again. I had not loved using the prepared fabric and she shows several ways to use your own fabric for fabulous results. I also love that you can move through this class at your own pace, stopping, rewinding, or returning to the information at a later date.

Because this was a series of short segments, I was aware that not all the segments would appeal to me--such as joining binding edges--but I could skip over that easily enough. Also, being short segments, I found myself wanting more--more information, maybe taking a project from start to finish. But, there are classes on the site with a single instructor and those would cover a topic in depth. Maybe Heather Thomas will do a full hour on image transfers soon!

While these classes are quite affordable--ranging from under $4.99 to $9.99--the quality is excellent, with plenty of close ups to be sure you can see what the instructor is working on.

And here's the best news--one lucky reader will win a Free Class at
 Daily Craft TV  

Just leave a comment on this blog saying "I want to win!" and I will contact the winner with instructions on how to access their free class.

More quilt photos! Click here

Monday, August 5, 2013

Thread Paint Sample

Next step for Honu is to layer with batting--I considered trapunto but I want to try out wool batting which I believe will give me enough dimension without adding trapunto. It's a gamble, I know! The local stores don't carry wool batting. I could order it online, but since I plan to attend a quilt show next weekend I am hoping to shop there. So, Honu is on hold for a bit. Meanwhile, I did a quick thread-paint example to test my plan for the workshop I will be teaching at our guild this fall. I found great fabric with decent-sized bugs and butterflies printed on it at the guild 'closet clean-out'. I thought the bugs would make great bases to learn thread painting. I usually thread paint after fusing an applique or image to the background. Here I added a tear-away stabilizer, then started stitching in the style of Christine Fries-Ureel, who taught an excellent workshop on the topic. Great way to use up lots of thread! Can you see the little bit of bling on his body?

More quilts at: Slideshow Album

Friday, July 19, 2013

In the Water

Honu (Hawaiian for sea turtle) has made it into the water. He has definitely moved at a "turtle's pace" since the image was drawn onto the background fabric at last year's Friendship retreat. I'll be back in Friendship this August and hope to bring Honu with me! Next steps to consider are thread paint (or not) trapunto (or not) and quilt--no choice on that, it has to be quilted or it will be too fragile to travel. I wonder how adding thread is going to change this piece? wonder how this temporary spray adhesive technique I came up with will hold up to the maneuvering needed for stitching?
For now, though, I am savoring the moment of finally pinning Honu in place on the background and enjoying seeing him swim.
Honu 46 x 36 Rana O'Connor

More quilt photos

Monday, June 24, 2013


My morning walk took me through the woods today. After a rainy night, the air was saturated with water, misty and damp. Morning sun through the canopy of leaves produced this stunning image. It stopped me in my tracks as it was virtually the same effect, on land, as rays of sunshine seen underwater, and I have been obsessed with capturing the essence of being underwater lately. To walk slowly through the rays, observing how the shafts broke apart, spread out, pooled and puddled on the ground, for those few minutes when the elements came together perfectly, was pure magic.
Slideshow of Quilts at Rana's Quilts

Monday, June 10, 2013

Center for Maine Craft Exhibit

Art Quilts Maine was offered the opportunity to exhibit at the Center for Maine Craft located in the service center off of the Maine Turnpike in West Gardiner. Eight artists contributed a total of 30 pieces. I promised to take photos when I went up to Augusta for the Art Quilts meeting, and here they are. The show looks super--such a lovely space. Amy's fabric bowls and vase are awesome additions, set on pedestals. If you are nearby anytime this month, be sure to stop by to stretch and check out the art!

AQM at the Center for Maine Craft
Quilt gallery and quilts for sale at: Rana's Quilts

Friday, June 7, 2013

Yes! Water!

After months of placing, pasting and rearranging, I tried a different technique for the water on my turtle quilt, Honu, and I am really liking it so far. Labor intensive but so worth the liquid feeling. Here's hoping the same technique will carry through to create rays of sunshine and the coral reef. Although I worked all afternoon--I even had help cutting fabric--I got just a narrow strip completed. I tried to get a photo, but it doesn't come through on camera yet, looks disjointed. You will just have to wait a bit. If the stars align I will get more done this weekend, and be able to get a photo that reflects what I am seeing develop. It's so exciting to be moving forward though that I wanted to give you a heads up! I generally don't advertise a particular product, but I  would not be getting through this project without 505 temporary spray adhesive. I love how I can spray the foundation, put pieces in place, move, rearrange, spray again, add more layers and when I am done, find the piece is not too sticky to manage. I worked on the dining table today, then held my breath and picked up the whole piece to transfer back to the design wall. It worked! When I have the background completely laid out, I will give it a final spray and cover with tulle. I found the glue dries quickly and cleanly so I'll be able to thread paint or quilt right over it. I have tried other glue products before and have found them either too messy or they dry and pieces can't be rearranged. On Dreams I literally tore the girl's hair out in order to rearrange a section! Swore then that I would find another technique. The only drawback I see is spraying a chemical into the studio. While 505 temporary adhesive has no offensive odor and claims to be non-toxic, I still might put a gas mask on my Christmas list

Quilt gallery and quilts for sale at: Quilt Photos

Monday, June 3, 2013

Center for Maine Craft

Sunday, Alison Olds (of Art Quilts Maine) and I met at the Center for Maine Craft, located in the service plaza at the West Gardiner exit off the turnpike to hang a fabric art show in their great space. Nire Cook, the center director, had asked about having quilts exhibited for the month of June, and we were happy to oblige. Alison and I hung about 30 pieces, contributed by eight artists. They made for a colorful alcove in the Center's bright, airy show room, with a great variety of large and small wall hangings, pieces stretched on frames and a few free standing fabric bowls. I didn't snap a photo Sunday, but I'll be back that way next weekend and will take my camera along. Meanwhile, if you are headed up the turnpike anytime this June, be sure to plan a rest stop in West Gardiner for Starbucks and Quilts! The Center for Maine Craft is open daily from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, and features fine craft by Maine artisans, ranging from baskets to jewelry and, of course, art quilts!

Quilt gallery and quilts for sale at: Rana's Quilts

Thursday, May 23, 2013

It's Not Water Yet!

I am at an impasse with my honu quilt. The turtle is great. I covered it with tulle so it can be lifted up as a separate element and put to the side, which is also good. The background, though. The water. It has stymied me for months! I've bought lots of blues/greens. Pulled out every blue in my stash and scraps. Cut strips, irregular shapes, small bits. Ever get to a place where you can't seem to make progress? My next thought is to pull the piece off the design wall and try working on it, section by section, on a table. At least that would alleviate the fatigue of having my arms up all the time, placing and rearranging fabrics. And I want to try using very small bits of fabric--it feels too jumpy with the wide strips and large shapes. I know I will resolve this--I always figure a way out of my self-made dilemmas. On the bright side, Linda M and I will be teaching a new class, starting May 31 at Sew Portland! It's our class on color and design--I totally love the variety of designs that flow from a stack of half square triangles.

Quilt gallery and quilts for sale at: Rana's Quilts

Friday, May 10, 2013


Round Robin with all its borders
You may remember I participated in a Round Robin Border Exchange at my guild chapter this year. It was fun, receiving quilts and improvising a new border for each one. We each submitted a center block. The quilts were passed four times, so each returned with four borders. The reveal was in April and they were quite stunning! Many oohs and aahs as each quilt was displayed and participants discussed their additions. Well, I am in a second guild chapter, Art Quilts Maine, and we also have a challenge. The challenge title is "By These Words." We are to be inspired by a quote, poem, idiom, etc. I had hoped when I got the Round Robin back, I could finish and submit it for "By These Words". Except for one small detail. "By These Words" has a size restriction of exactly 100" in perimeter. When I got my piece back, it had fabulous borders, contributed by Ronnie Eaton--a wood-grained frame for the forest-like center; Heather Lahti--who painted her pale green batik fabric with metallic swirls before appliqueing symbols; Lise Wilson, free form curves enhanced with thread paint; and Sandy Dione who created twisted pleats with great texture on a dark blue frame. I loved it! Then I measured it. About 150"! So, determined to use it for the Art Quilts challenge, I set about deconstructing it--taking borders off, moving them around, shrinking the piece until is measured 23" x 27", a perfect 100" in perimeter. Whew! Now to quilt and finish in time for the June reveal. For those of you who worry the Round Robin participants will be upset to see their borders altered--I shared my plan and was encouraged to experiment! Wondering what 'words' have been running around my head these many months? It's a Langston Hughes poem. All will be revealed in June, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, here is the deconstruction in progress!

Quilt gallery and quilts for sale at: Rana's quilt photos.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Here's a fun piece I made for a friend who loves fairies. It was published in Quilter's Digest, a newsletter you can find, free, at your local quilt store! I'll be teaching another class with Linda Morrisette at Sew Portland May 31, June 7 and June 14. The class, "In Living Color" demonstrates a fun way to choose colors for your quilt projects, then design a small wall hanging using half-square triangles. Very easy piecing, beginner friendly. Find something with colors you love and bring it to the first class. It could be an art object, a photograph, maybe a page from a magazine. As long as you  love the colors it will work. Will schedule an optional free motion quilting class for those who want assistance finishing the wall hanging. Click here to register!

Quilt gallery and quilts for sale at:Photos

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Stephannie's Monkeys

Stephannie finished her quilt! She took the Stacked Coins class but missed part of it, so she caught up with Linda and me to complete her adorable Monkey baby quilt. It is a present for a nephew, and I think it came out great! Especially love the red and white striped binding, which she completed entirely by machine. Check out the straight rows of quilting in the solid cocoa brown, too. Nice work, Stephannie! Anyone else from the class want to send a photo to post?

I expect to teach another class later this spring. I hope to have the posting up on the Sew Portland site soon.

Quilt gallery and quilts for sale at:Photos

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Honu in process

Honu in process
Worked on Honu today, adding much of the shell. Not sure it is done yet--but getting close. Loved the technique of spraying temporary glue on the background and layering on the fabrics--the only glue option I have felt OK using so far. Once I am settled with the shell, I plan to move on to free-form ocean for the background, in shades of aqua, blue and bits of bright colors. I am wondering if I should layer tulle over the turtle before jumping into the background as a way to protect all the little bits while I work around it. I think I need to head to a fabric store with some of the fabrics in hand to audition various tulles sooner rather than later, as once the tulle is in place, I am committed to the fabric choices beneath it. Does honu look ready to swim?
Quilt gallery and quilts for sale at: Rana's quilt photos.
Honu with re-worked shell

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Stacked Coins and Class Announcement

Liz' Kidz
I start with have high hopes that all the students in my classes will leave with a totally finished product. I am finally realizing that it isn't about taking that last stitch--it's about what you learn along the way. The Stacked Coins class learned color and fabric selection, cutting techniques, tips to improve design and layout, setting up their machines to sew scant 1/4" seams, string piecing, spray basting, straight and free motion quilting, a little quilt-as-you-go, binding and labels. Most are also done or very nearly done with their quilts, so, mission accomplished! Whew!

Monkeys! by Stephannie
Ready for more? Linda and I will be teaching "In Living Color" as our next adventure. Linda is only able to join us for the first session, Friday, March 29 at 3:00. This will be a test to see how I manage without my trusty co-pilot. The class continues on April 5 and 12, with a goal of completing Just the Top! This class starts with an image or object you bring whose colors inspire you, and translates that inspiration into the the colors of your quilt. Trust me!

Grandmother's China by Rana

Quilt gallery and quilts for sale at: Photo Album

Monday, February 18, 2013

Book Review Monday

Once again I received a book to review for you! This e-book, titled Modern Quilt Patterns, couldn’t have found its way to me at a better time. Having just shoveled out of a record-breaking snowfall, seeing the cover of Modern Quilt Patterns with its light, bright, sherbet colored quilts just made me want to run out and buy some spring-colored fabrics and start sewing! I was also intrigued because a Modern Quilt Guild chapter has recently sprung up in Maine. While I haven’t made it to a meeting yet, there has been plenty of discussion about just what IS a modern quilt anyway? In the introduction to this e-book Beth Hayes, Editor-in-chief for McCall’s Quilting,  defines Modern Quilts as “notable for their minimalist aesthetic, use of bright, bold colors with large doses of white and other neutral solids, asymmetrical designs, and free-form piecing.” The book goes on to showcase three happy quilts, one of which, Lemon Squeezy, uses a strip-quilt-as-you-go technique. This is a technique I have been exploring for my class (see tutorial) so I was very interested to read how this particular quilt was constructed. Download this book. You may be sorely tempted, as I am, to pull out strips and scraps and begin quilting-as-you-go. Or perhaps the design possibilitres of half-square triangles will excite you, as in Rainbow Rhythm. Although the directions are based on fat quarters, the units begin with 5” squares, which got me thinking, what if you started with 4 or 5 charm packs? Finally, there’s Baubles and Beads, which relies on more traditional block piecing and white sashing. Pictured in spring greens, pinks and yellows, it would be perfect for a girl’s room. If it’s winter where you are, download this book and breathe in a little breath of spring!
Quilt gallery and quilts for sale at: Photos

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sea Turtle

 The sea turtle is finally taking another step forward. Here are two flippers--just the background, on the left, and with scales added, on the right. The scales are held in place temporarily with spray glue, and will be covered with a layer of gold tulle--you can see the pins through the tulle. Eventually I will stitch through the tulle, around each scale, to hold it in place and delineate the scales even more. I think the colors are going to work great!

Quilt gallery and quilts for sale at: Photos

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Here are the other two completed projects. The fairy is a present for a friend who has gifted me with fairy-themed calendars every year. Still looking for a day when I can meet up and give it to her! Sequins add a touch of sparkle to the background. The other piece, Circular Convergence, is from a pattern handed out at our guild, along with one of the 4 fabrics needed to complete the pattern. The style of quilt is called convergence quilts, created by Ricky Tims. I had thought to go all neutrals when I got the brown fabric, but somehow I ended up with the red and yellow--they just seemed to invite themselves. I quite liked quilting the big, interlocking circles and pretty feathers on the border. I would say this is my most successful feather quilting to date. No new projects on the design wall--must change that!

Quilt gallery and quilts for sale at: Photos

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bits and Pieces

Been finishing up a number of projects this month. Once I got the sample and tutorial for class done, I wanted to make up one more sample for a magazine submission. Then there was this idea for a 'very late' present for a friend, and finally one of the two guild challenges I signed on to do this year. That almost clears the decks! Still waiting is the second challenge (due in June) and a piece that I started soon after returning from Hawaii. I'd love to have that one done for June as well, but it will take whatever time it takes. I have a few pictures to post. I'll start with 'Dark Wood', a sample I created for my article submission. Don't know if the article is accepted yet, but I have the samples done! Here is a full shot and close up. Very fun technique that I hope to teach/demo/write about. Love the glittery tulle shadow!

Quilt gallery and quilts for sale at: Quilt Photos

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Stacked Coins Tutorial, Part 2

When we left off, you had 3 columns of stacked coins completed. Time to create the sashing. Cut strips from your background fabric. Cut 2 strips 5” by width of fabric (42”) and 2 strips 6 ½” by width of fabric. Lay out the quilt top: Wide sashing strip, stacked coin column, narrow sashing strip, stacked coins, narrow sashing, stacked coins, wide sashing. See completed quilt, below, for layout.

Sew strips together. Make pairs of coins and sashing, sew with coins on top. Press seams toward sashing. You will have one extra sashing strip. Sew paired strips together, then add the final sashing strip. Press seams toward sashing. Square up the top if needed. 

Trim selvages from backing fabric. Piece if desired. Leftover charms make a nice row to piece into the back. Press back flat. Layer backing, batting and quilt top, baste with spray or pins. Your quilt is ready for quilting! 

I quilted in the ditch between the sashing and stacked coins, using a walking foot. I continued adding straight lines in the sashing, marking the lines with chalk. Then I switched to a free motion foot and sewed wavy rows across the stacked coin columns. Minimally, quilt as closely as your batting package recommends.
Once the quilting is done, it’s time to bind the quilt. Cut your binding fabric into strips 2 ¼” wide by width of fabric. Piece the strips together, to make one continuous length at least 15” longer than the quilt’s perimeter. This quilt needs about 170” of binding. Fold in half lengthwise with wrong sides together, pressing as you go, to make a strip that is 1 ⅛” wide. Stitch to quilt, matching raw edges and mitering corners. Finish tails with a diagonal seam. Trim backing and batting ½” away from the seam. This will give you the ¼” seam plus about ¼” of backing/batting to fill the binding. Press binding away from quilt. Turn folded edge to quilt back and stitch by hand. Try not to let stitches show on the front.
Make a label with your name, date, location and any other information you would like. Labels can be plain or fancy, using a fabric marker, embroidered, printed on prepared fabric, painted, or stamped. Sew securely to back of quilt. Show off your new quilt!

Quilt gallery and quilts for sale at: Rana's Quilt Photos