Queen of Diamonds :: The Reveal

I’m thrilled to show this one to you!  It’s that commission quilt I’ve been working on since late last year.  All in all I’m pretty pleased with the outcome.  The lighting in my current studio does not give it justice… the colors are a little brighter than what I’ve captured here. 

The quilting turned out very nicely.  Thankfully I did not have problems with this step of the process and I’m glad the pattern turned out so well.  I used a cotton / poly blend  batting so this should scrunch up nicely when washed.

Queen of Diamond’s :: The Quilting

The quilt is mounted and ready to go!  My first inclination was to piece the back with more of her old dresses, but given the pieced nature of the top… I mean OCD type of piecing… I felt it necessary to calm the quilt down with a subtle monotone chrysanthemum fabric.  I’ll admit, working in the garage is less than ideal, and thus far, I’m making due.  Yesterday, I spied a gecko dodging into my sewing machine which is a hazard of quilting in a garage in Hawaii.  Today, I’m more fortunate because at least I have the beautiful Hawaiian weather to thank for being able to lift the garage door to do my work.  It all evens out. I chose a Linda Taylor pattern which I’ve not used before.  It had the level of interest and sophistication I was looking for.  I was surprised to learn the name of the pattern is “Palace” because this is, after all, a “Queen of Diamond’s” quilt!

Building in Hana

Building in Hana is not for the faint of heart.  Hana is an outpost… it takes two hours to get there, sometimes less if you know the roads well and you don’t encounter traffic.  So when packing for Hana, you do what you need to do to lug stuff out there.

Our builder posted pictures on FB today.  He calls or emails us pretty much on a weekly basis to give us an update.  This arrangement works just fine for us; we have no idea with regards to the nitty-gritty of building a house and we don’t have time to drive out there to check on the progress.  The footings are all in place and they look great!On top of those square blocks will sit these concrete blocks made in Bali.  The sand used to form them is actually black sand harvested from the mountains, not the beach.  Columns are formed until the mixture firms up and then are cut into blocks which are further shaped.  Metal ties are inserted and later these will be the straps which will hold the posts of the structure.I had a chance to see the process of carving concrete while I visited Bali.  One cannot help but be fascinated by the sheer artistry displayed here.  This “business” if you will, is handed down from generation to generation and in Ubud there are districts of people who only do concrete carving, batiking, painting… and so on.  This way of life is so foreign to the way we live here in America.  Children are born here and are expected to carry on the family craft.  This guy seemed perfectly happy doing this.  I stood there mesmerized; his precision and skill were awe inspiring.  Of course his cigarette and newspaper were not far away.  In Bali, this sense of relaxed toiling away was pretty much status quo.

Meanwhile back at home, we have our own way of working hard while taking it easy.  In Hana surf shorts and slippers are perfectly acceptable work attire.  In the background you can see a makeshift porch they made with tarp stretched between two containers. You never know when a rainstorm will roll through here… or when you might need a little time to chill. I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Indeed, this all seems fitting for a place we are intending to be a relaxing get away.

PaigeFebruary 4, 2016 - 8:02 am

So glad ya’ll are making progress on the house! Thank you for sharing the concrete carving history.


When starting an Improv Baby Quilt, I first go to my sketch book and draw out a few compositions to see what catches my eye.  Here are just a few that I drew during the making of these quilts.  I find that I often come to the studio with somewhat of an idea I’d like to portray.  Perhaps the baby comes from a family that lives on a hill, or likes to sail, or lives in a town.  Including something interesting in all the areas of the quilt is important and I often sketch to preview layouts and see how shapes can be repeated and contrasted.  To take my class you must come with some sort of sketch or sketches of the quilt you want to create.  I will help you expand and develop that sketch and translate it into a quilt.  Along the way you will learn how to piece random units together utilizing hand-cut lines and curved piecing.  I really like this way of working because at every step the quilt maker has to make choices and stay focused.  It’s an extremely authentic and personal way of working.  My class will teach you how to listen to your inner voice. 

For more information on my upcoming class, please visit the Maui Quilt Guild!  Cheers!

a simple pause…

I took a walk in the woods with a dear friend and my little dog Bleu.  Like hitting the refresh button, it’s exactly what I needed. Here deep in the woods, surrounded by the most beautiful array of green leaved trees and sprouting ferns, we were all alone. With no cell phones, text messages or people begging for our attention, our quiet walk was a chance to catch up and reconnect. There was no need to finish the whole hike, or beat our best time; instead we strolled at our own pace chatting away about nothing in particular.  I cannot remember much about what we talked about but what I do remember was the sound of the leaves as they crackled under our shoes, the excited look on my little dogs face and the ease and comfort I felt as I traveled with this friend. It’s the perfect way to end a week, the perfect way to start a weekend.

Bali House Update

Some of you have been following our tale of building a house in Hana… a rural town on the east side of Maui, which hosts Hawaii’s largest population of ethnic Hawaiians.  It’s our last glimpse of “Old Hawaii.”  We fell in love with the place many, many years ago and were fortunate enough to purchase a spit of land near the heart of the town and large enough to enjoy some degree of solitude.  That was five years ago.  Since that time, we purchased and built a house in Bali, in a factory on the outskirts of Ubud.  The structure was then deconstructed and moved here in five large shipping containers… four of which are sitting on the property as I write this.  At the same time that was being done, we jumped, through a host of hoops the county threw in our direction and obtained not only a building permit, but also the coveted “Special Management Area” permit, a.k.a. SMA permit.  This land is in a district deemed historically significant and THOUSANDS of dollars and countless hours have been spent surveying the land, identifying significant structures, proposing a monitoring plan during building, and outlining a preservation plan for years to come.  Trust me folks, this was no easy feat.  I think I might actually have a physical wound from the torture endured during this process.  Nothing worth having comes easily… right?  So it’s to our delight, we are back on track and our builder sent me this photo today!

Allow me, if you will, a little time here to explain to you what you are seeing, because this is where it gets crazy and you might find this amusing.  As you will notice, concrete has been poured into boxes made from lumber.  These “footings” are actually sitting on top of the ground and fill has been brought in and packed around the concrete to stabilize them and build the land up to grade… whatever that means.  The reason why we didn’t dig into the land is because according to the specifics of the SMA permit, any digging is to be overseen by an archaeologist and if during the digging process artifacts like bones are found, the construction comes to a screeching halt until some sort of reinterment can be figured out.  Clearly we didn’t want that to happen, so we opted to build ON TOP of the land, thus preserving those supposed artifacts below.  This is where the crazy steps in.  This land, was already built up.  Prior to the purchase in 2011, the developer trucked in fill to create a pad worthy enough for a structure.  We’re talking four feet of fill!  He was trying to avoid the very nightmare I just spelled out for you.  The septic system and adjoining leech field are all above the original grade of the land, yet below the fill line.  I have pictures and everything!  The archaeologist helping us with the SMA permit knew this but insisted anyway that during the initial phase of the build, someone had to be present to monitor the site work.  Seemed like our situation didn’t not fit his mold so he went ahead and prescribed a one-size-fits-all game plan with regards to this process.  Sheer madness, I tell ya!  The SMA process was put into place to care for land and artifacts with historical significance.  Trust me, there is nothing historically significant about rubble harvested from a rock quarry.  Rather than fight the system we paid a guy to stand over the initial site work and what ended up happening was he took a bunch of pictures, shrugged his shoulders, and left.  Meh. They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  According to my word count, I’m up to about 700 and I’m spent. Building a house in Hana, utilizing a structure shipped from Bali, and fill trucked from “Rocks Are Us,” bending over backwards to comply with regulations which clearly do not speak to our project here, is certainly not for the faint of heart.  At the very least, someday while relaxing on the front porch, watching swaying palm trees and listening to the waves crash on the shore in the distance, I will be able to giggle about what it took to get there.  A girl can dream.  A girl can dream.

I’d like to give a special shout out to Levi our contractor, Bruce our builder and Ian our engineer for their attention to detail.  Without them and all their hard work on this project we would be lost!

robinJanuary 27, 2016 - 10:20 am

OMG Patty, thank you so much! This is making sense to me now! I’ll be sure to blog about other things that perplex me when they come up… and we know they will.

pattyJanuary 27, 2016 - 6:26 am

The concrete square footers and the stone fill to bring to grade means they will be the same height and level as you perimeter concrete footers. If they were lower or too high it would be a mess to try reassemble the house on an uneven base. I am in construction so I can understand the issues you had gaining the permits you needed. I am so glad you have a great team around you to help you thru the process. I can’t wait to see the house start to go up!

PaigeJanuary 26, 2016 - 3:24 am

So glad you are making progress! So this way, you’ll have a little higher view.

Queen of Diamonds :: the process

For this phase of the quilt, I’m taking rows of diamonds, stitching them together and joining them to other stitched rows.  It’s slow work if you consider that at every step, I iron the seams flat, working gingerly to avoid stretching the fabric.  If I get myself into a rhythm, the work goes quickly.  Before long, I look up and I’ve got a quarter of the work done!
I’ve decided to beef up the edges with extra fabric.  Not knowing exactly how to finish off a diamond quilt and wanting to square it up, I’ve given myself excess to cut into so that the original motif is not compromised.  I have absolutely no idea of the overall finished dimensions, because those seams are on the diagonal.  Usually I can calculate exactly how large a quilt will be, but with these seams moving across the quilt like they do, my ability to judge is compromised.  No matter, the request that was made when I first got the commission, was to make it big enough to snuggle under while sitting on the couch watching TV.  Something tells me this is going to be just fine. 

Queen of Diamonds :: continued

I’ve reached the point in making this quilt that the composition has been resolved and I find myself starting to piece all those diamonds together.  Set on point, the fabric is cut on the bias, so extra care must be taken to not distort the pieces.  Of course there are pins and a really hot iron to help, but I’m finding what’s more difficult is maintaining focus.  This is tedious work, but not as tedious as the actual quilting which I remind myself in an attempt to calm my nerves.  To occupy my mind, I’m listening to a new podcast called Magic Lessons by Elizabeth Gilbert.  According to the description on the iTunes website, “Magic Lessons are a path to creativity.”  It’s really like eavesdropping on chats Elizabeth has regarding the creative process, and although I’ve heard much of what she talks about before, it’s always nice to hear these ideas again.  Of course there are my old favorites like The Moth, and Radio Lab… which I LOVE, but oh my, the second season of Serial is out and it does not disappoint!  It’s about the story of Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier who in 2009 was captured by the Taliban and held for almost five years.  I find it captivating and am sorry to see that instead of weekly updates, they are producing episodes every-other-week, keeping me and people all over the world anxiously awaiting the next episode.  I understand why they have slowed the process, but still… sigh.  I’d love to hear what you listen to when you find yourself plugging away!

Penny GoldJanuary 24, 2016 - 5:46 pm

I also really enjoy The Moth and Radio Lab. Other favorites are Death, Sex, and Money (great!); Radio Diaries, This American Life, Fresh Air, and 99% Invisible. Your post has me downloading Serial. Podcasts keep me from being totally bored when I’m swimming laps at the pool.

GayleJanuary 24, 2016 - 3:38 pm

Love the quilt by the way!

GayleJanuary 24, 2016 - 3:29 pm

I listen to talking books. I love to read and have favorite authors that I follow. Between work and quilting I found it hard to keep up. I started listening 6 or 7 years ago. Took some getting used to and some things I would still rather read but all in all it is helpful. Sometimes I don’t really want to work on quilting but I “need” to find out what happens next so the side effect is getting more done in the studio!

Queen of Diamonds


I’ve known this about myself… commissions frighten me.  I’ll do them, but it really brings out the worst in me as far as being an artist is concerned.  For some reason, despite the hundreds of quilts I’ve made, despite my popularity as an artist and despite my adherence to top notch standards with regards to making quilts, I still experience a sense of self doubt.  It’s not just me; it’s pretty universal according to an informal poll I’ve taken with fellow artists. “Will they like it?” “Will it approximate what they imagined?” “Do I have enough free time to devote to a commission?” … on and on the questions come.  So when I was approached to make this memory quilt, despite all my questions and worries, I surprised myself by taking the job. The person who passed was wheelchair bound for quite some time, and this quilt was for her caretaker who cared for her for the past ten years.  Her loss was sudden and unexpected, I could tell this was someone who will be missed.

When my friend handed over her garments, I was relieved to see it was mostly cotton fabric.  These muumuu’s were worn everyday by this woman. I could imagine her dressed nicely yet comfortably in them.  I was also happy to see that I had not only prints to work with but also solids and I had a variety of values to play with as well.  So without knowing what to do, I started cutting.


It took me some time to settle on a motif.  I looked for clues to what type of person she was through the pictures that were sent to me by my friend and that were featured on FB.  One of the photos I came across was of her funeral table.  On it I remember seeing a photo that hinted she might have liked to gamble. With that in mind, I blew up the Queen of Hearts card and started to recreate a giant Queen of Hearts card using her fabrics.  It was a disaster!  I hated it!  I have no business appliquéing… I’m a piecer.  What was I thinking?  My idea tanked and I was deflated.

Meanwhile, at work, my friend asked again about the quilt.  He had wanted to give it as a Christmas gift and clearly, I blew that deadline.  Of course I felt awful.  Frustrated with this process, I went back to the studio and just started strip piecing.  I sewed and sewed giant panels of reds, purples and dark blues and blacks.  I figured (and hoped) something would come to me after this new fabric was made.

Looking at these panels and wanting to do something interesting yet not too “artsy” I again thought of this woman.  Maybe “Queen of Hearts” is not an option, but “Queen of Diamonds” most certainly is!  Cutting these panels into diamonds and arranging them according to value seemed like a doable task.  The diamonds, set on point make for a visually interesting quilt; the straight lines contrast with the hand-cut ones of the panel, the strips of solids inserted into the patterned pieces help to tie everything together.  Working this motif also answers the question of how to quilt it… I’ll use an overall grid pattern, following the seams of the diamonds.I had a “moment” before I started cutting these shapes.  I had never made a diamond quilt before!  Thank goodness for pinterest… and a few quilting friends who put up with me when I asked them questions 😉  It’s really very easy!  I fashioned a template from a file folder and cut, cut, cut. As I write this, I have over 100 diamonds and I figure I’m about two-thirds there. Next will be the placement and finally the piecing.  I’d like to give a special shout out to Jessica at Urban Patchwork… thank you!  Your tutorial on making a Diamond Quilt is most helpful!

I hope to finish this quilt soon!  I have work to do on my upcoming lecture and class with The Maui Quilt Guild. I posted info about my class on this blog a few days ago and see that they have not yet posted info about my class on their website.  Not to worry… if you are attending the meeting on February 1st or March 1st, you can register there!  Otherwise, feel free to email me and I’ll get you the info you need.

Some of you have been very kind to “wish” to take a class from me, but are unable to do so due to location.  I have thought about doing a virtual class, but have not worked through the details enough to give it a go.  Teaching virtually for me makes sense!  I’ve been making quilts for over two decades, I have followers from all around the world, and like me, I suspect there are many people who find themselves unable to travel to take a class for various reasons.  With the recent popularity of “modern quilting” I feel like my own brand of quilt making will be kindly received.  In a nutshell, I need to get on it… someday, Robin… someday.

JoanJanuary 22, 2016 - 3:51 am

Your diamond quilt will be beautiful, and full of meaning too.
I would love to take a class with you, either in person or through cyberspace. As I live in Canada, an online class would be a perfect option for me. Please do consider developing one (or two or three….); I am confident they would prove to be very popular.

this moment…

Inside its a calm and peaceful day.  

Meanwhile, progress is being made on a commission quilt in the studio.  A memory quilt for a woman who wore muumuu’s made with oriental fabrics.  I’m a little lost with it, but am finding my way slowly.  I’m trying to keep my mind as present as possible;  it sways towards the past as I think of her, it darts to the future as I think of how these fabrics will carry her memory forward.  With her name as my mantra, I plod away, hoping to make sense of it.

kathy danielsJanuary 20, 2016 - 1:00 pm

It will be lovely, Robin. Because you’re doing it.

New Yorker Cover

I find it interesting that in the week I announce my class to you all, the New Yorker comes  to my house and on the cover is a winter scene that utilizes irregular sized and shaped elements to create an interesting foreground to the composition.  Clearly, there are differences between an illustration and a quilt, but the underlying truth is the same: varying the sizes and shapes of the individual elements, yet keeping them similar in some way, leads to an interesting composition!  I encourage you to check out my class and learn for yourself how to create quilts with elements of varying sizes and shapes!

Elizabeth ElliottJanuary 24, 2016 - 1:27 pm

I just found out yesterday that you will be teaching and YES yes I am so delighted to hear this.

And if I sell my Victorian couches I am going to buy that small quilt!
( if it’s still available )

Much aloha,

New Class! Improv Baby Quilts! – March 12 & 13


I’m super excited to announce I’ll be teaching a class here on Maui called “Improv Baby Quilts!”  March 12 & 13.  It’s no secret, I LOVE making baby quilts.  They are fun, colorful and can be made in a relatively short amount of time.  Students will come with their own sketches, which I will help them develop.  Using fabrics from their stash, I will show them how to translate their drawings into a wonderful, whimsical baby quilt that any new parent would love to see!  Many of my improv baby quilts have been used as decoration, but they are hearty enough for everyday use.  Beginners are welcome, but you must have some basic knowledge of your own sewing machine.  Hosted by The Maui Quilt Guild, supply lists and registration information are soon to come.  I will also give a trunk show of these quilts and a talk on my work at the Guild meeting on March 1st, 6pm at the Hale Mahaolu Senior Center.  Be prepared to be inspired and make new friends as you create something that will certainly be treasured for years to come!  This class is sure to be fun, fun, fun!  See you there!

JulieAnn CovarJanuary 21, 2016 - 1:36 am

I so wish I could be there. Your baby quilts are my favorite and fun and what drew me to your blog. More baby quilts, please!

GayleJanuary 17, 2016 - 2:38 pm

I had forgotten about these! Watching you create these was so much fun.

RosemaryJanuary 16, 2016 - 6:01 pm

I love these quilts. Have you ever thought about an online class?

PaigeJanuary 15, 2016 - 6:05 am

Those are adorable! Wish I could take the class!

DianeJanuary 14, 2016 - 2:28 pm

Oh my, I love these! Too bad I live so far away. They are super cute!


Robin Ferrier is a Quilt Artist living on Maui. She is best known for her organic designs, her intense use of color, and her thoughtful attention to shape and repetition. She considers herself a colorist and has developed her own style of fabric dyeing which she calls “Flat Dyeing.”

Her work has been published in “Quilting Arts Magazine,” “Art Quilting Studio,” and Island Heritage’s “Contemporary Quilts of Hawaii” Calendar. Exhibitions include Art Maui, juried shows at the Hui No’eau, the Diamond Resort, Art Quilt Tahoe and most recently the Etui Gallery in New York.

Robin graduated with a BA from the University of Hawaii where she completed coursework in the fine arts program with an emphasis on photography. She went on to become a nurse and is currently working in the Intensive Care Unit at Maui Memorial. She teaches classes on quilt making as well.

Her current work is split between two series. Her “Elements” series investigates designs, which utilize organic shapes, plain fields of color, repetition and contrast. Her second series is collection of baby quilts she calls “Improv Baby Quilts.” These are story quilts that depict whimsical playful scenes.   Composition utilizing hand-cut edges is the focus of all of her work and her belief is that the hand-cut line is unique and personal to the quilter, it’s organic, and it helps identify a quilt as being “hand-made.”

“My work likes somewhere between geometric color studies and organic abstractions, which are inspired by my imagination and patterns from my every day life and fueled by my love for color.”

Contact: simplyrobin@hawaii.rr.com Website: simplyrobin.com

Quilt for Sale!

Elements #29 is an important quilt because it was one of those that I felt I was moving in a different direction with my work.   I simply love this little piece!  It measures 23″ x 25″ and it’s made from some of my brightest hand-dyed fabric!  I’ve decided to sell it for $200.  Please email me if you are invested!  Cheers!

robinDecember 30, 2015 - 6:49 am

It sure is! Please email me at simplyrobin@hawaii.rr.com

Mindy MarikDecember 30, 2015 - 6:18 am

I’d like to know if you still have this available.

Mindy MarikDecember 30, 2015 - 6:15 am

I’d love to hear from you about the availability of this Quilt.

december 2 :: on love and compassion

There is nothing sweeter than the poetry of Rumi, a 13th century scholar, theologian and mystic. I’m taken by one of his poems on love and compassion. I find it especially relevant today. Pictured above is a baby quilt I recently finished… something sweet in cheerful oranges and blues. Like Rumi, my quilts are made with tenderness and sensitivity, my creations are made to comfort and inspire.  I cannot help but feel there is worth in slowing down to create, and perhaps if more people did this, there would be less frenetic destruction in the world.

In generosity and helping others, be like a river.

In compassion and grace, be like the sun.

In concealing others faults, be like the night.

In anger and fury, be as if you have died.

In modesty and humility, be like the soil.

In tolerance, be like the ocean.

Either you appear as you are, or be as you appear.

TheresaDecember 3, 2015 - 8:12 pm

I couldn’t agree more. LOVE the quilt. Always love your art.

VivienDecember 2, 2015 - 6:18 pm

Lovely — both the sentiment and the quilt!