The indigo plant (indigofera tinctoria), which is native to the tropics, produces one of the best known natural dyes.  The name comes from the Greek word, indikon, or ‘India dye’.  It was well known in the ancient world–a Mesopotamian cuneiform tablet has a recipe for creating the dye.  Although the plant could not grow in Europe, other plants were grown, i.e. woad, to produce a similar, but lower quality dye.  In the United States early settlers were able to grow the indigo plant throughout the south.  In fact, Ben Franklin took 35 barrels of indigo to France to ask for their support of the American Revolutionary War in 1776.  Indigo was sometimes known as “blue gold”.

Indigo dye comes from the leaves of the plant which are fermented (to convert the glycoside indican to the indigo dye) and then mixed with lye and formed into cakes or powders.  It produces a blue/blue violet color which is beautiful in clothing, decorating and painting.  Quilts with indigo dyed fabrics continue to be among the ‘best sellers’ in the antique quilt market.  Here are some examples from online auctions:

Art with Fabric Blog Hop–Landscape with Birds

I have always loved the artist, Paul Klee, so when Alida invited me to join the Art with Fabric Blog Hop, I jumped at the chance.  Alida asked us to choose ‘a’ work of art to inspire our textile creations.  I couldn’t choose just one!!

Instead, I chose two pieces by Paul Klee:

The first is titled, “Landscape with Yellow Birds,” and the second is “Fire in the Evening Sky.”(Museum of Modern Art, New York).  Of course, one can’t have two without three so I found a poem on Jill Berry Design‘s blog which really spoke to me about hope.

Shuntaro Tanikawa (1931-    )

there are birds
so there is sky
there is sky
so there are balloons
there are balloons
so children are running
children are running
so there is laughter
there is laughter
so there is sadness
so there is prayer
and ground for kneeling
there is ground
so water is flowing
and there’s today and tomorrow
there is a yellow bird
so with all colors forms and movements
there is the world

Paul Klee’s ‘Fire in the Evening Sky’  inspired me to construct my landscape with horizontal lines.  Our beautiful sunsets over the Mississippi river this summer gave me a color scheme.  My birds are drawn from the ‘Birds in Air” block:


I inserted triangle birds into my landscape–red, for the cardinals which visit my yard, and a yellow bird to add color and hope.



I chose a quilting design which also used horizontal lines and triangles.  In addition, I drew yellow and red birds with big stitch hand quilting.  Finally, I added some random big stitch quilting lines to add spark and interest.


I used pearl cotton thread and a chenille needle to do my ‘big stitches’.  I also used a thimble–which, in my opinion, is necessary when doing any type of hand quilting.

Please visit the other bloggers up today:

Bea @ beaquilter (

Heather @ heatherquilts (

Tutorial: Creating Custom Palettes in EQ7

I really enjoy designing quilts using Design Seeds daily photographs and EQ7 design software.  I use the following method to translate the photos from ‘computer colors’ into actual fabrics, and then make them part of my EQ7 sketchbook.  First I go to the Design Seeds website, I right-click on the photo and left-click on Save image as, then save the image to my computer.  (Please be sure that you use Design Seeds’ images within her use requirements, found here).

Design Seeds

Once the image is saved, I go to Anne Sullivan’s website, Play-crafts PaletteBuilder (which is free!) and ‘translate’ the Design Seeds palette into Kona Cotton by Robert Kaufman, by clicking on the ‘Load Image’ button and selecting the file which I just saved.  (I can also load my own photos, or a scan of a piece of fabric if I want to know which Kona cottons will match the colors of the photo or fabric.)


Please notice that the palette on the bottom of the picture (Palette Builder’s palette) does not match Design Seeds palette which is to the right of the picture.  On the far right is a list of Kona Cottons which match PaletteBuilder’s palette.  If I like the PaletteBuilder’s palette then I am ready to open EQ7 and start my sketchbook.  If, however, I want to use Design Seed’s palette then I move the little white color sampling circles on the image around (left click and drag) until I find that the PaletteBuilder’s palette matches the Design Seeds palette.  Here is what the screen looked like when I finished:

pbp 2

I moved most of the color sampling circles onto Design Seed’s palette—it’s a little trick to finding the matching colors quickly.  If the colors in the two palettes match, I leave their circles alone.  Some of the Kona colors do not match the palettes exactly, I will explain how I handle that in EQ7 next.

Before I started doing Quilt design a day I downloaded a free ‘Solids by Manufacturer’ library from Feeddog on  I’m linking you to his tutorial on how to download and use the library here.  It is easy to follow and very useful so I assume that you already have his solids library.

The very first thing I do in EQ7 is to open a new project, select the sketchbook, then select the Fabrics tab.  I like to have only the fabrics in the palette in my sketchbook, so I am not distracted; I press the clear tab and delete all of the unused fabrics.  Now I am ready to add the palette fabrics to my EQ7 sketchbook.

eq7  1

I select Libraries>Fabric Library>Search>Notecard.  In the Search Fabric Notecard dialog box I check only the Search Name field, because PaletteBuilder has given me the name of the Kona Cotton.  I also change the number in the Find at most ## items from 50 (which is the default) to 400.  This prevents the search results from maxing out before it finds the fabric I want.  Notice that I have also entered the name of the Kona I am looking for, in this case—violet.  I press the Search button.

eq7 1

The following image shows the search results.  There are a lot of violet fabrics in my libraries.  To distinguish one from another in EQ7 I can rest my mouse over each swatch and it tells me the name of the fabric and the manufacturer.  I select Kona–Violet and Add to Sketchbook.

eq7 2

I search and add to Sketchbook for each fabric in the palette.

Kona continues to add new fabrics to their line so sometimes I can’t find the exact fabric in the downloaded library and I need to go to the Robert Kaufman>Kona website to import the fabric into My Library.  In addition, sometimes the color of the fabric swatch on screen does not look the same as the color in the downloaded palette, at that point artistry takes over and I select a fabric by ‘hand and eye’ which looks to me to be as close as possible to the palette color and fits into the palette as a whole.  Sometimes I even will select solids from other manufacturers in order to get a good match.  A note of precaution: before I go to purchase ‘real’ fabric I make sure that the fabrics suggested on my computer screen look as good as the fabrics in the ‘real world.’

I hope that you find this tutorial useful.  Have a quilty day!!