Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

After winning a copy of Sew Embellished by Cheryl Lynch, I adapted one of her patterns to make this holiday wall hanging. It was also my entry for our quilt guild's "Star Challenge". Cheryl includes all of the instructions for making the quilted project, including the prairie points at the top and the "jewels" at the bottom. I'll be adding even more embellishments like bells, buttons and beads for next year, but I'm calling it done for this Christmas.

Peace on earth! This rare photo of Jesse permitting Scooter in his space for a winter nap was a surprise. Young Scooter is very respectful of 14 1/2-year old Jesse, who puts him in his place as needed. This is either a moment of good will, or else Jesse slept through Scooter climbing onto "his" sofa. Jesse is hard of hearing now and he sleeps deeply. Whatever the reason, it made us chuckle. Hoping you enjoy the holidays!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Party Dolls...

Dolled up and ready to party, these four girls sat under the Christmas tree at our recent holiday luncheon at the Citra Crafty Quilters gathering. After showing group members the doll in this post that I made for the prison crafting program, several of them wanted to make a donation doll, too. So we set aside two or three work sessions and got these dolls underway. From the left are Violet (who has her own sleeping bag to match her dress), Gloria, Scarlet, and Dotty. Some of the dolls will go to the local sheriff's department for use with children during domestic calls. There are several more dolls in the works, but these were completed in time for Christmas.

One fun aspect of these dolls was using less traditional materials to craft them, including prints and bright colors for the bodies and fancy yarn for the hair. Scarlet has painted features, felt shoes, lacey socks, and a fancy bit in her hair.

And Gloria has embroidered features which I think I prefer doing when making these dolls. They're great fun to make, and their personalities emerge as we go along. And their names do, too! It's almost as if they tell us what their names are. I'm sure there are many more dolls just waiting on my fabric shelves.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Collaborative Quilt...

This completed quilt represents the work of lots of quilters and fiber artists, which makes it very special. When I shared with fellow blogger and quilt artist Robbie of Robbie's Paw Prints that I was volunteering in a women's prison crafting program, she wanted to support the women. She and her friends in the Fiber Arts Group in Michigan sent a huge box of donated supplies, among them pieces of unique hand-painted and dyed fabrics. I knew they needed to be used together in a quilt, so I cut and packaged pieces which were delivered to the prison. The women pieced the quilt top, and I then brought it out to another quilting friend, Claudia at Quiltworks of Orange Springs. She donated the longarm quilting, I added binding, and the quilt is ready to be donated to a local foster-care agency for teens. All of the women's work is done for charitable organizations, so they contribute to the community while they develop crafting and workplace skills. I could see a teenager really loving this quilt... it's one-of-a-kind, trendy, colorful.

Here's a close-up of Claudia's chosen quilting motif and some of the hand-painted fabrics. I showed the quilt to a woman who was herself incarcerated at one time. She summed up the project by saying the lesson to her in the quilt is that so many people were involved in completing it, and not one of them was looking for anything in return... just a true spirit of collaboration and generosity. Well said. With all those good vibes in it, I'm sure this quilt will be cherished by its new owner!

And look who wanted to say hello. Scooter has become healthy and is growing quickly. He doubled his weight from when he arrived in October, very young and thin and lost. You can see the changes in him in just those few weeks here. He's attending puppy school and is just a delightful pet. It's tough to get a photo of him as he's on the move so much.. I usually just capture a paw or the tip of a tail. But he sat nicely for this one.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Bahamas Breeze Quilt Completed!

Well, the Bahamas Breeze quilt is completed now, and it's one that I quilted myself on my Bernina 440 QE. This year I've been trying to become more proficient at free-motion quilting, and I've had what I would call moderate success. I can manage small projects quite well, and enjoy quilting them. But larger pieces like this one (about twin size) are another story. I'm not a fan of my workmanship standards on large pieces. I chose to free-motion quilt spirals placed around the quilt surface and filled in the remaining areas with a curvy-line, decorative feather stitch in turquoise thread. I'm only happy you can't see the quilting in the photo! It looks as if I attended the "Wobbly Fried-Egg School of Free-Motion Spirals". While intended to be symmetrical, mine are decidedly not. But I love the quilt anyway, and that's how it should be. I used almost every scrap of Bahamas Hand Print fabrics that were given to me by quilting friends on our January 2012 cruise to Nassau. So it's a meaningful quilt for me. Look... even the back of the quilt is pieced from bits of the fabric. A two-fer, lively on both sides.  

And, being a quilt gadget person, this is my dandy tool for this project. It's a marking tool called Quilt Pounce. This refillable container, about the size of a small wallet, contains a chalk-like powder. I found my kit (pouncer plus powder) at a local quilt shop.

When opened, the lambs-wool like pad is used to force the marking powder through a stencil onto the quilt top. You actually rub it rather than pounce it because pouncing produces a small cloud of dust. The powder is fairly visible on the surface, and is available in one or two other colors to ensure it can be seen on both dark and light fabrics. And it stays put. You can then stitch on the markings (ha! you can, I was only "in the ball park" so to speak) and then iron the quilt to remove the powder. Not all of the pounce products disappear with heat though, so be sure to read the package to make sure you get the iron-off kind. I believe the other type is a brush-off kind. I'm never confident it will disappear, so prefer this iron-off type. Overall, my conclusion is that important large quilt projects will continue to go to a long-arm professional, while small projects I can handle, and enjoy stitching. But I don't think I enjoy free-motion machine quilting enough to wrestle with larger quilts on my home machine, nor am I especially skilled at doing so. And I am glad to still feel good about the quilt despite the struggles, as opposed to feeling an urge to trash it and be done! It still makes me happy.