Week in Review 2021 – 01/22

Image of the front side of Out of the Ashes after the background filler quilting has been completed in light, right side of the quilt.
Full view of Out of the Ashes now that the light side of the quilt is quilted.

My periods of artist block are few, far between and rather short. I am fortunate that way. However, working out how best to quilt the background of Out of the Ashes proved to be a real head scratcher.

This is an image of the intricate detailed filler quilting on small section of Out of the Ashes. Here the thread painted purple butterfly and background quilting are both visible.
A close-up of the both the thread painting done to create colorful butterflies and the more subtle background quilting with its complimentary butterflies and filler motifs.

When I am stuck with how to quilt a quilt my go to methods are to:

  • Look at what I have done in the past;
  • Peruse the internet for ideas;
  • Doodle ideas; and
  • Switch to some distraction in hopes I will have a Eureka moment.
A detail image of the background quilting and thread painting used on Out of the Ashes.
I finished quilting the light side of Out of the Ashes and then moved on to the dark side.

Whenever an idea has merit I make sure I can doodle it as a continuous line. Next I test drive it off quilt on a sample. Let’s just say I went through many wash, rinse and repeat cycles over a period of days, not hours before I settled on this motif.

Image of the back side of Out of the Ashes after some of the background quilting has been added. The filler is groupings of horizontal and vertical lines dispersed between tiny butterflies migrating diagonally from lower left to upper right.
The back side of Out of the Ashes after some of the background quilting has been added.

Ah! Breaking through an artistic block is like sinking into a hot bubble bath. Well at least until my inner critic takes over. I’ve learned to shush her somewhat. When you are nose to needle every flaw is magnified. Step back and let time go by, a miracle occurs. The flaws become less glaring or invisible. Not that different from life’s journey where one gains perspective in hindsight.

I am linking up with Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Fridays.

By Gwyned Trefethen

I am an artist who uses fabric, thread and miscellany to create designs gifted to me by my imagination.


  1. Gwyned, I love your variegated thread against the black, white and gray fabrics SO much. It’s perfect for this piece, because the playful, colorful “doodle quilting” conveys the optimism of youth — it reminds me of novelty colored pencils with marbled “lead” that would change colors as I was doodling pictures in the back of my chemistry textbook or whatever. Now, as for your “wash, rinse repeat” — Are you testing out your quilting ideas with water soluble thread so you can reuse the test sandwiches? Brilliant!

    1. I’m pleased you liked my thread selection. I was certain I must have a rainbow variegated thread in my collection, but no apparently this particular one never made it into my stash. Thank goodness for Superior Thread and online shopping. OK and enough years of experience to understand thread weight and the difference appearance a cotton thread gives versus a polyester thread. I used a Fantisco 40 wt. It is polyester, making it glide through the needle and give just a hint of sheen under a light.

      I received one of those colored pencils as a gift when I was young. Loved it!

      The idea of using water soluble thread in order to reuse a test quilt sandwich hadn’t occurred to me. Brilliant idea.

  2. Really love the way you’ve quilted it – perfect for this quilt, neither overwhelms nor too subtle. Loving how the edges of the butterflies disappear and reappear. I hope I see this in real life soon!

    1. Oh, Jenny, I am honored to receive such praise from a master of quilting. It is good to hear that my goal of striking a balance between subtle and distracting is achieved.

    1. What’s not to like about variegated thread? So many opt for monofilament for all over quilting. I lean towards variegated. This is my first time using Fantisco. Hard to believe I hadn’t tried it before. Love how easily it goes through the needle, how fine it is and the slight using polyester brings. Glad you like the butterflies. Can’t believe I had the courage to overlay them on the top.

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