"Green Totem" 2012 Cindy Grisdela

“Green Totem” 2012 Cindy Grisdela

I just discovered the Blogger’s Quilt Festival  sponsored by Amy’s Creative Side and decided to add my “Green Totem” wall hanging to the “Home Machine Quilted” category.

“Green Totem” is part of an ongoing series of wall quilts exploring  improvisational piecing of

"Green Totem" detail 2012 Cindy Grisdela

“Green Totem” detail 2012 Cindy Grisdela

solid color fabrics. I want to create strong graphic compositions and then enhance them with dense free-motion stitching to give an interesting textural contrast. I use a variety of different stitches in each piece.  Hopefully,  the color composition grabs the viewer’s interest and encourages a closer look to see more of the texture created by the stitching lines.

There’s a detail image of the quilt to the right and if you right-click on the whole image, you’ll be able to see the stitching better.

I started out this piece creating the improvisational log cabin center. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was going to look like–I begin with a piece of fabric or two and sew them together. Most times it’s two colors I like together, or a small unit that appeals to me. Once the process begins, each choice of color or shape influences the next in a dialog between me and my materials. For me, this is the beauty of improvisational design–the give and take of the process where each design decision influences the next one–in color, in line and in shape. Often there are “lucky accidents” that make the design more interesting than it might have been if I had tried drawn out a plan ahead of time.

Once the central design was finished, I put it up on my design wall and added the green border and the red stripes. That part of the design was determined because this was intended as a companion piece to my “Red Totem” quilt, finished a year or so earlier. You can see that piece here.

Once the top was finished, I put the batting and backing together and decided on the texture I would add. All of my stitching is done freehand with a domestic home sewing machine. There’s no computer and I don’t mark any lines ahead of time–I’m just stitching out the patterns as through I were drawing them with a pen or pencil.

The central design is quilted with a square spiral motif using variegated thread that includes all the colors of the rainbow, since there are so many different colors in the design. It’s interesting how the stitching and the thread makes everything blend.

For the green background sections, I used a thread that is variegated in shades of green because I wanted the texture to be the focus rather than the thread. One section has an allover fan design and another has a seashell and leaf motif. The third section is quilted in interlocking spirals and the last one is vertical and horizontal lines.

It’s more interesting to quilt the different motifs, and I think it’s more interesting to look at when it’s finished.


Size: 42″ x 20″

Techniques: Improvisational piecing, freemotion quilting

Category: Home Machine Quilted

Be sure to visit the Blogger’s Quilt Festival  to see what everyone is doing and vote for your favorites!  Thanks for visiting.


  1. CitricSugar on May 23, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    This is so gorgeous! I love your improv piecing and the quilting fills me with glee. Are any of the log cabin pieces shot cottons or is it just a great by-product of the variegated thread?

    • Cindy on May 25, 2013 at 7:15 am

      Thank you! The fabrics are hand dyes by Cherrywood Fabrics.

  2. Eileen on May 24, 2013 at 2:19 am

    Love it! Always so fun to see something created like this. Thanks for sharing and have a great day

  3. SarahZ on May 29, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    This is wonderful…I love the vertical orientation! Wonderful quilt!