Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Little things mean a lot...

One sewing group I belong to is a small one that meets each Wednesday morning in Citra at our community center. We all bring projects to work on for a couple of hours while we visit and learn from each other. I like a lot about this group of women, but especially like seeing the wide variety of crafts, needlework, and sewing projects they enjoy. Today's get together really illustrated the range of talents and interests. Most of the projects you see here were on display today, and more are underway. Take for instance, Kathy Wohler's soft-sculpture doll made from a "Mother of the Bride" pattern. The doll stood on a table, greeting everyone, and resplendent in her feathered hat and pearls. She's clutching her pink hanky and purse, and looking as if she might burst into tears of joy.

Claudia Schumacher brought this journal cover to show & tell. She purchased it from a member of a quilt guild that is selling them for fund raising. Claudia reports that the covers sold out quickly! No surprise there. Decorated with a yo-yo and sparkly button, the front flap fastens with a hook-and-loop closure. It opens to the removable wire-bound notebook and pen pocket. So handy, and pretty, too.

Gwen Hill-Hearn brought these two items made by group member and seasonal resident Pru. The paper-covered book contains a notepad and pen. The small pouch is just the right size for carrying credit cards, store cards, license, and some folding money. Pru made these for all of our group members for Christmas one year. They fit in a pocket and allow hands free shopping, and no worries about carrying a purse.

All of these small projects reminded me to also share this beaded and embellished journal cover I made some time ago. It was fun to make, and I think it's time to make another.

And just in case you were wondering, Jesse the Cairn Terrier was feeling poorly after his vet visit to have his teeth taken care of. He said to tell you he's doing much better after a nap on the couch with this quilt.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Good Show in the Panhandle

Did some quilting this weekend while visiting Marianna, FL, for a Quarter Horse show. I brought the sewing machine and lots of handwork with me. But the real event was Jack showing Freckles. He had an outstanding show, and by Sunday things really clicked so that they won their western pleasure class. A super ride. Jack was overjoyed. We were all overjoyed for him!

Jenny, the trainer, is shown here with her daughter, Taylor. They had just finished their lead line class wearing their mother/daughter show shirts.

There were many sights and sounds at the showgrounds, but none more entertaining than this guy... Rowdy. He drove up from Central Florida in his rig. You can tell that he owns it. His very expressive face went from pensive to happy to very happy. Can you note the subtle changes in his face? Gotta love this guy.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

And More Vintage Quilt Tops....

Awhile back in February, I showed you some vintage quilt tops that were given to my friend Mary. Those were just the ones in the top of the sack. There were still more quilts in that sack to ooh and aaah over.

But before looking at two more of the quilt tops, I wanted to note an interesting coincidence. After seeing the photo, several people mentioned to me that this Basket top (above, also shown in the earlier post) is like the Scrap Basket Quilt seen on the cover of the current issue American Patchwork and Quilting Magazine, a publication of Better Homes & Gardens. The baskets on the cover quilt are done in a yellow/gold print, but the layout and the Double-Flying Geese border are the same. The timing of seeing the old quilt top and the cover quilt in the same month is really something!

Well, here's the first of two more vintage tops. This scrappy quilt is made from the block pattern known as Mexican Star, according to Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. Alternate names for the block include Mexican Rose and Panama Block. The Brackman book characterizes the block as a "Nine X". This means the blocks "have a diagonal orientation within the square", and that "the blocks are divided by diagonal seams to make 8 or 9 major shapes." This may be my favorite of the tops Mary was given. But then again, I may have already identified my favorite in the previous post. Suffice it to say that I just love all old quilts.

This quilt top is lively with plaid and striped shirting prints. The light-colored sashing between the blocks and rows adds nice contrast and quiets down what could be a "busy" quilt design, giving the eye a resting place between the blocks. The quiltmaker used dark blue and burgundy prints sparingly but effectively to create strong contrast within the blocks. This is a beauty, but sadly we don't have any history on it. It's a reminder to me about remembering to label quilts (and maybe even tops?). I know it's important, and I'm always curious about the story behind a quilt. But, sorry to say, I'm not 100% faithful at labeling my own.

Scrappy quilts are my favorites (there's that word again!), and this One-Patch is really appealing. It looks random and unplanned, but upon a closer look, you can see that the quiltmaker concentrated green print and blue squares toward the edges of the quilt top. It's subtle, but appears to be part of a plan.

I once heard a speaker on vintage textiles advise us to "treat old textiles like you'd treat your favorite grandmother... not too much heat, not too much light, handle gently with great care." Now that's good advice.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Small Progress on Big Projects...

But big progress on small ones, like this. I have three quilts awaiting binding, and one to prepare for machine quilting. But since I was already in doll-making mode, I kept at it and stitched this Wacky critter. It's one variation among many in a McCall's Crafts pattern (M5826). I noticed the critters in a flyer from JoAnn's Fabrics a few weeks back. Apparently I was not the only one taken by them, because when I looked for it in the pattern drawer, the file was empty. So I had to wait to buy the pattern, not that it would be too difficult to design a similar one without a pattern. But often I tend to be a "recipe-cook" and a "pattern-stitcher", preferring to follow step-by-step directions.

This guy, Spotts, is made from soft fleece. I purchased a selection of half-yards in other colors because I'd like to make more. Spotts will accompany the small quilt I'll be sending my niece in Tulsa to give to her newly-adopted son when he arrives from Korea.

While I find his furry exterior huggable, and his lopsided smile engaging, what I really like about Spotts is the long arms that can be folded, like so. They give him such a playful attitude. He needs some friends. I'd better get sewing.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dolly Will Travel...

This is Charmaine, a doll I made in response to a campaign spearheaded by Sarah at Dolly Donations. Hers were the eyes seen in Sunday's post (the doll's, not Sarah's). Sarah hopes to obtain nearly 200 dolls from donors around the world. The dolls will be distributed to an orphanage in Haiti, and the project is overseen by The Abundant Ground Foundation. Both boy dolls and girl dolls are needed. Sarah designed and provded the free dolly pattern, and she has a number of tutorials for sewing the dolls, adding the faces, and making shorts for the boy dolls. Her stated mission is to provide dolls as a source of comfort to children around the world, especially orphaned children. The doll, that measures about 15" tall, was quick and easy to sew. The target date is to have the dolls in the hands of the Foundation by March 31. The latest count was nearly 150 dolls, so it's looking hopeful that Sarah's goal will be met. Charmaine leaves for NY tomorrow, and then on to Haiti with the other Dolly Donations!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Where the wild things are...

This owl is the tamest thing you'll see in this post. It's one of two fabric paper ones I made this weekend. And it's the owner of the pair of eyes seen in a previous post.

Manatee are wild things I enjoy seeing, and the cold winter weather brings them into warmer waters of the Florida springs. In fact, the cold stresses them and the springs stay at a constant temperature winter and summer. Manatee like that. So one cold Sunday we went to Manatee Springs State Park in Chiefland to see if the mammals were there. Yup... there were seven or eight of them lazing in the springs. But the water was high, and tea-colored from the tannins. Because manatee stay submerged, and come up to breathe only occasionally, they were not easily seen. It didn't stop me from trying to get a picture. Can you see anything? They're in there. The large male was outfitted with a tracking device. Since they did not show up well, I took this photo of the manatee model. It shows the characteristic gray color, snout, flippers, and paddle-tail.

Other Florida wild things are the alligators that reside in Paynes Prairie near Gainesville. Relax, this one isn't's a taxidermy model displayed by Friends of Paynes Prairie on the LaChua Trail. The Trail takes you along bodies of water where large alligators sun themselves, like these, below, seen on the banks. Now these are real! The largest must be at least 15' long. They are prehistoric-looking, scary, and fascinating all at the same time. And they are plentiful. Caution signs offer helpful tips, like don't walk between a gator and the water, else the gator feel threatened and attack. I didn't plan to get close enough to one to make a decision as to which end to walk around. But it could happen if you came upon one on the path.

Feed? Approach? Don't worry, I wasn't going to!

And, look! Another pair of eyes. Stop back in a few days to meet the owner.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Party Time-Needlewoman Turns 90!

Meet Emmy Lou, a lively 90-year old who almost always has a stitchery project in hand. Emmy Lou is a member of our small group called the Citra Crafty Quilters. We meet weekly at the community center here in FL to sit, sew, and visit. Members are involved in all kinds of needlework including (but not limited to!) knitting, crochet, embroidery, quilting, dollmaking, tatting. There's always a lot going on.

What was going on this week was a celebration in honor of Emmy Lou's 90th. We had snacks along with two cakes and ice cream. Emmy Lou is admirable for many reasons, not the least of which is her sense of humor. While taking her photo, she wanted to reverse the number candles on her cakes so they read "09". Deciding that was not credible, she revised the plan so that the numbers would read "60." Emmy Lou makes 90 look like fun!

Several members had works-in-progress with them and we had an opportunity to show and tell. Claudia, a longarm quilter of Quiltworks of Orange Springs, completed this black & white & red star quilt. She used a nice assortment of prints, and enhanced the top with her graceful feather quilting. She was also a student in the "Shape Shifting" class taught by Jane Sassaman at the Honeybee Retreat in Jacksonville. Claudia had a clear vision of the concept she wanted. Her quilt, below, incorporates aboriginal design elements and some of thecolorful fabrics she collected on a trip to Australia, where she has roots.

Ann-Marie, right, is working on this redwork Winter Wonderland by Crab Apple Hill quilt. The range of red embroidery floss colors, including a variegated one, adds interest. She's got quite a few months to complete this for Christmas. Wonder if she'll hit that deadline? I'm saying, not her. Of course, we won't talk about the similar redwork piece I'm working on and deadlines! It's a long way from done.

Prue was working on this little bunny quilt. I love the background she chose.. it's the perfect field of greens and flowers. Any bunny would be in heaven here. Notice the tiny yo-yo accents, too.

And I brought the See & Say Story quilt top made from assorted novelty prints and puppy panels. My niece and her husband are adopting a baby from Korea soon. I thought this would be fun for him to look at, and his siblings can make up stories from it.

Like so many good quilting gatherings, we ended this one with a little feast. We get to do this again in June when another of our members reaches this milestone 90th birthday! Isn't that wonderful?

And, by the way, one thing that drew me to the panel I used in the quilt was this image. It reminds me of our Cairn Terrier Jesse.... when he's had a hair cut, that is. Pretty cute.