Friday, March 30, 2012

Sassy String-Pieced Blocks...

The March project at Craftsy's free block-of-the-month class are these 12" string-pieced blocks. Very easy, very scrappy, and lots of fun to sew. Instructor Amy Gibson presents the block constuction and step-by-steps on a video each month. She's an enthusiastic instructor and does a great job of demonstrating each step. April blocks will be English paper piecing, so participants get a new technique each month. It's most enjoyable. You might want to check it out... Craftsy adds new classes often. One that I purchased recently is Ann Petersen's "Beyond Basic Machine Quilting." I'm moving along slowly in that class, but it's full of excellent information. I really like the flexibility of online classes, and the ones I've experienced seem to be priced fairly. I WILL get better at machine quilting... my goal for this year.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Way Out West...

That's where we've been since early last week. My husband Jakc and I took a trip to Arizona which included a loop from Phoenix to Sedona, Jerome, Prescott, Wickenburg, and Cave Creek. The weather was lovely, and the trip most enjoyable. I even got to visit three quilt shops along the way... Quilter's Store in Sedona, M's Quilts and Inspirations in Wickenburg, and Olde World Quilt Shop in Cave Creek. The quilt shown above is one that began as a print panel I bought in the Sedona shop several years back on another visit. Our guild had a "Too Pretty to Cut" challenge, and that's when I decided to incorporate the panel at the center of this wallhanging. It seemed an appropriate choice to show with this post. It hangs on the wall in my sewing room to remind me of the beauty and fond memories of Arizona.

Here are a few photos of the things we saw on our trip. Of course the red rocks of Sedona are just magnificent. This photo was taken near the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a chapel built right into the side of one of these red rock mountains. It has gorgeous views.

The rocks range from the deeper reds to tans, depending on the iron concentration. Every view, in every direction is uplifting. Before coming to Florida, we had considered retiring to Wickenburg, another good place for horse lovers. So we still enjoy returning to visit the area from time to time.

We also stopped in Talapaque Village, a collection of shops, galleries, and restaurants in Sedona.

Beautiful displays of art and sculpture can be enjoyed in all of the many courtyards throughout the village.

You can see the woven rugs on the second floor balcony above the bronze sculptures. There is even a small chapel on the grounds. The bell tower can be seen in this photo, and there's another shot of the chapel below.

This is a bronze titled "The Kiss" and it's by Kim Kori. It's fun to walk through the courtyards and be surprised by art pieces like this one tucked into corners. Flagstaff, AZ, had received nearly two feet of snow the weekend before we arrived. But the temps warmed up and we saw only a dusting of snow on the higher elevations. It was just enough to look pretty but not to cause problems.

What a blessing it was to visit this beautiful area and enjoy the sights!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

When Old Quilts Get Together...

It was a perfect Spring day to air vintage quilts, and a perfect opportunity to share them with all who enjoy legacy quilts like these. Three of us Ocala-area quilters pooled our collections of antique quilts and put on a show to benefit Horse Protection Association of Florida and Humane Society of Marion County.

The venue was Harvest Village in McIntosh, Florida. It's an old citrus packing house and depot that now houses shops, small museum, a restaurant, and an ice cream store. The owner made space available to us, and we got into the show in a big way.

Some among our collections are just quilt tops, and these were perfect for hanging outside under protection of the porch roof. You can get a glimpse of the Dresden Plate and Spider Web behind and beside this lively Glorified Nine Patch (also called Improved Nine Patch).

I'm not sure of the name of this quilt pattern, but it's certainly vibrant despite it's age. I just call it "Big Red" until I locate the real name. How do you like the "ghost" block at the lower left?

This is the oldest quilt in our display, dating from circa late 1800s. It's in wonderful shape and makes use of the popular double-pink fabric of the era sawtooth border, and the LeMoyne Star block pattern.

And this is the treasure among all of the old quilts. It's a Marie Webster Basket design and was made around 1936. The hand applique is admirable, but the hand quilting is truly exquisite in this piece. Jill, one of our collectors, was fortunate to find this quilt at an estate sale. And Debra, the third collector, found its companion "Daisy Wreath" (shown below) at the same estate sale. The Daisy Wreath shows the same fine quilting and needle skills.

Lots of Stars were out today also. This scrappy Touching Stars was right next to the colorful Lone Star quilt. What a great pleasure to talk quilts all day with people who came from near and far to see and appreciate these old beauties! So many of the visitors enjoyed the show asked if we would have another, but we shared all the quilts we have in this one big event. Maybe we need to get out there and scout up some more? Hope you enjoy this bit of quilt heritage on National Quilting Day.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Fish Story, Part 2...

Well it turns out that making these collage fish really is like eating just one potato chip... can't be done. Here's my latest fish (the first one can be seen here). Quilting friend Joanne (who got me started with fish) and I decided to both use the blue print fabric you see on the side of the fish above. It looks kind of like scales to me. Anyhow, this was a challenge of a sort just to see how each of us would place the fabric in a fish. Once done, we would each reveal our projects. Joanne's is on her new blog here... stop by and see it, and see her other sewing and quilting projects there as well. And this is the reveal of my swimmer. They are such fun to make.

Here's a detail photo so you can see the various fabrics used in the fins, flippers, and lips. Yes, fish do have lips. The seaweed is neon-colored sewing thread another quilting friend gave me. She'd pulled it off some partially empty spools and thought it was too pretty to throw out! It's trapped underneath the light-color tulle I used to secure the raw-edge pieces of the fish.

The fish at right is another of Joanne's projects, but not the challenge one. She's a prolific fish-maker. She sent several of her quilts down here to Florida because she's coming later this year to present a talk and trunk show for a guild program. This was a start on getting a few quilts here.

I love this close-up because it really shows how creatively Joanne used fibers along the tail and fins. There are some fiber water plants along the side, too. Looks like the fish is swimming... lots of movement in the piece. There truly are a lot of fish in the sea!

Sunday, March 11, 2012


These 20 beads are handmade ones I made for another of Lenna Andrews' Creative Swaps. Lenna comes up with some great ideas, good how-tos and instruction, plus resources to share on the chosen topic. And then the swap participants go to work, this time creating embellishment beads from paper and fabrics. I even used some of the fabric paper I made way back here. Clockwise above: the green beads are sheer nylon ribbon; the next ones are shaving-foam printed fabric and wrapped with red metallic thread; the pink/orange ones are fabric paper and wrapped with neon-color sewing thread; the grayish ones are another section of the shaving foam fabric and wrapped with gold metallic; and the last ones are black printed fabric rolled in gold glitter.

Of course there's no such thing as making just one kind of bead. These are the "also-rans". They didn't make the cut for swapping, but still, they're interesting. The canape skewer gives you a sense of the size of these beads, about 1/2" to 1". Skewers were useful to hold the beads until they were dry after forming them. I put some notes below on how I cut the pieces for my beads, just in case you were wondering. Also, Lenna asked us to share notes if we could, and we'd have a chance to win some of her own handmade beads.
The materials shown at the left are just two that I used in making beads. The pink is an ad for cereal cut from a magazine. The multi-color print is the shaving-foam printed fabric. It was given to me by a quilting friend who made it, but wasn't fond of it. The fabric been waiting for just the right project.

At right you can see three of the shaving-foam printed fabric pieces once they were cut into triangles for bead making. Next is a text-printed fabric, a colorful hand-dyed piece, and the magazine photo from which I made even more beads. Beads from each of these materials are in the 2nd photo above.

These are the fabric paper triangles ready to roll around a wide chop stick or skewer (about the diameter of an orange stick). Below are some of the how-tos, if you'd like to look them over. Hope you can follow... just ask if you have a question in case the instructions aren't clear. And this is just Part One of the swap... once we get our swapped beads, the next challenge will be to make something using them. So I'll be back with a "something"!

Cutting notes:

I used the marks on the cutting mat, an acrylic ruler, and a rotary cutter to make the long, skinny triangles of fabric which could then be rolled up around a chopstick to form each bead. Lay a rectangle of fabric on the mat so that adjacent edges are lined up vertically and horizontally with marked 1” lines on the mat. Place the ruler at the corner closest to you, align the ruler at a slight angle to intersect with the mid-point between two marked lines on the mat at the other end of the fabric rectangle. Cut along the edge of the ruler with the rotary cutter. Leaving the ruler in place to anchor the fabric, remove the trimmed bit and discard it. Pick up the ruler carefully to avoid moving the fabric and place it at the next marked line, extending the ruler at a slight angle to the same halfway point as before. Again, cut along the edge of the ruler. This creates the first triangle. Carefully remove the ruler, pick up and set aside the triangle of fabric. Without moving the fabric, cut the next triangle by working from the far end of the fabric. One side of the second triangle is already cut at the proper angle from cutting the first triangle. Simply position the ruler at a point halfway between the next two marked lines and extending to the point where you started the last cut. Cut along the ruler edge. This forms the next long, skinny triangle. Continue, alternating the ends of the fabric from which you cut to form as many triangles as you can from the fabric. Discard the last trimmed bit.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Stupendous Stitchery ...

Doing your homework pays off! Here's the completed piece from the online course called Stupendous Stitching on Craftsy. I wrote about it in the previous post. In this final project, we selected a background fabric with some gradation to begin. Then we applied rows upon rows of both couched yarns and fibers along with decorative machine stitches, referring back to the stitch dictionary to choose our favorites. It really was helpful to have that reference tool and I'm glad I did my homework.  

Once the machine work was complete, our next step was to add some further interest by using hand embroidered details. Everything from French Knots to Lazy Daisy stitches made this piece a lot of fun to create.

Here's another detail shot. What a great opportunity to explore and make use of all the pretty stitches on the machine and the decorative threads and yarns in my stash! I'm envisioning some fabric postcards or notecards that include some of this Stupendous Stitching. Taking Carol's class added to my appreciation for the things my trusty Bernina is capable of. That alone was worth the price of admission. But I also believe the class has unlocked more ideas for using the stitches creatively. And that's the payoff for the future.