Week in Review 2020 – 04/03

It’s raining, it’s pouring and the result is I haven’t been witnessing many sunrises at Minot Beach recently. Rather than walking in the often heavy rain and high winds I have opted to exercise inside. It also gives me time to focus on creating art. I’m up to completing and sharing 62 daily drawings on Instagram and still finding time to work with fabric and thread in my studio.

The sky is quilted with small clouds and a sense of wind. Since I didn’t have the right value blue thread, I opted for a green instead.

Just because I can’t take in the actual sunrise doesn’t mean I can’t interpret sunrises in my art. As I’m free motion quilting Sunrise at Minot Beach. I find my self reflecting how much has changed from when I first started machine quilting, approximately 20 years ago and today.

I wanted to the capture the essence of the sun first breaking over the horizon. Hence the choice of a half sun quilted in a variegated yellow for the rays and a variegated yellow/orange for the sun itself.

When quilters were transitioning from hand quilting to machine quilting there was a tendency to mimic traditional ways of quilting, but using the machine. This lead to multiple starts and stops of the thread. To combat that problem, continuous line quilting (no need to break thread) took off. So did using monofilament thread, since a clear thread matched all fabrics. Stippling, a continuous wiggly line, was a common and relatively simple way, to free motion quilt. Large undulating lines were quick to work up and excellent for utilitarian quilts, since the quilt isn’t weighted down and made stiff by thread work. Then quilters started varying the density of their stippling lines. Areas needing to recede were tightly stippled, while areas needing to stand out were loosely stippled or barely quilted at all.

Here is Sunrise at Minot Beach as it appears today, with the sky, horizon, and navy ocean quilted.

As tools improved and more quilters were making wall art versus bed quilts, more and more quilters tried their hand at free motion quilting. I think of free motion quilting as doodling with the machine. When choices feel infinite, such as which thread to quilt with and what free motion motif would enhance this or that section of a quilt, making choices often takes time and experimentation. That is precisely where I am with Sunrise at Minot Beach. I’m analyzing each section, selecting threads, and testing multiple ideas on paper before translating them on my quilt.

Here is the photo Sunrise at Minot Beach began with.

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. I love your artwork. Most people will say that I am prejudice as I am your husband, but I have had the privilege to watch you grow and achieve what was just a dream early on. Your artwork brightens every day and reminds me of all the beauty that is before us.

    1. Very kind of you to say. Yes, as my husband you are prejudice. The reality is when I first started quilting and even when that quilting turned to making art, it never occurred to me I would be making the work I am today. I’ve always been far more process driven than goal oriented with my art.

    1. Thank you, Frédérique. I’ve always loved piecing. Machine quilting took me a long time to go from frustration to relishing it. Just as I needed to let go of perfectly matching my patchwork, I needed to let go of figuring out the best quilting motif. Funny how when you relax things come together so much more easily.

    1. When I first started free motion quilting I was convinced it would ruin my quilt. What if I used the wrong color thread? What if the machine, thread, tension, and I weren’t in synch. I’ve had my share of bird nest backsides and thread breaks every yard or so. Will I be able to execute the motif? How will I handle quilting myself into a corner? Doubt, fretting and self flagellation were the norm. Now I am far more cavalier. It’s just a quilt. Neither my first, nor likely to be my last. If I ruin it, I ruin it. Once I removed my self pressure things are so much easier. Honestly, I had no idea whether my choices would work. I’m still not sure. It’s nice to get the thumbs up. Means a lot.

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