Thursday, December 24, 2015

And to All a Good Night...

This rather dark photo (sorry, poor lighting) is of the "Rodeo Dream Quilt" which has now been completed and presented to our pastor and his wife. He is also a rodeo announcer, so giving it a bunkhouse look and finding the pictorial elements to go with it made the project really fun. Not sure how well you can see, but there are boots, horses, horseshoes, a hat, a cowboy with a rope, and the triple crosses which are a symbol of the Cowboy Church we attend. I just finished it in time to give it for their Christmas gift, or I'd have taken a better photo! It didn't even make it to the guild show-and-tell. You can see it's start in this post.

I also rounded up this crew for a photo before taking them to their Christmas destinations. The women in the crafting program at the women's prison where I volunteer completed all these dolls and toys in time for a delivery to the local Domestic Violence Shelter and Salvation Army shelter.

There's even a lovely mermaid among them!

Frogs, kitties, robots and more- the ladies express creativity in their work, and make such good use of their donated materials. And they so enjoy the feeling of "giving back" to the community in productive ways. They also finished more than a dozen teddy bears which were presented to residents in a memory care facility. So there has been lots of running around leading up to the holidays, but all in the best way possible. To all who celebrate, Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

It's a FAB Thing...

Isn’t this cat quite the party girl? She is one of the prayer flags I received in a swap at our holiday meeting of the Fiber Art Bee (FAB). We each made several flags, and then traded at our event. I just love the saucy personality and snappy outfit she’s wearing.

It’s fascinating how every quilter came up with such different ideas. This “Grow” flag is made with gold lame (and I can’t put in the accent mark) and gold cord for the roots.

This one has delicate coloring and dimensional flowers with tiny beaded centers. The detail is so pretty, and the message is right on target.

The peach color and song bird make this flag a cheerful one! Somehow I neglected to take photos of the flags I made, and now they are gone to new homes. Oh, well. Not only did we have the prayer flag swap, but we also displayed our “selfie” journal quilts. This is me, with some creative license thrown in.  And a bunch of techniques thrown in as well. Looking rather peachy, too.

I used three large flowers I’d hand drawn on painted fabric, along with an embroidered and fusible appliqued face. The background is stamped, and the whole thing is machine quilted and edged with my favorite fabric twine edging. It was both fun, and a challenge to complete.

Always intrigued by something new, I saw some examples of photos turned watercolor images on Cheryl Lynch’s blog. She noted the phone app which is Waterlogue. I got it and then spent a fun hour or so giving some pics a new look. Doesn’t Lily look lovely in a portrait? And my desk looks positively artisitic instead of just messy- which of course it was.

And below is downtown Ocala, FL, lit up for Christmas. This is a fun app that costs a few dollars, but will provide lots of entertainment and some lovely notecards or other prints eventually.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

I Could Write a Book…


Or maybe I’ll just make one. This fun journal is the result of taking Carolyn Dube’s free online class titled “Permission to Play.” It’s full of mixed media techniques and layers of paint, stamps, stencils and more.


The journal begins with ripping up and sizing pieces from a cardboard box that would otherwise go in the trash. So with material that is free and expendable, it’s easy to just experiment with art supplies and media in a no-holds barred approach. A peek through the layers in the pages above reveal some collage, stamping, stenciling, and paint applications with things like a hotel card key or the eraser end of the pencil. Very freeing.




Carolyn provided a series of lessons, unlocked one at a time, in which she demonstrated working with the various layers. She also offered several free printable “Sparks of Artspiration” which are color images of her own collage and mixed media work. We students were free to use them throughout our journals as well. You can see some of them in the pages above in the colorful stripes and shapes.

She encourages students to just keep going, even if the results are unexpected or unintended. Additions and corrections can be just a creative idea away. One thing I really enjoyed was the concept that the journal did not have to be “finished” before binding. More can be done to the pages as we fill the journals. The round white moon shape in the photo at right is a case in point. I love the vintage car image, and the little orange circles. And have no idea what’s to go in the moon shape. No problem. The book got bound anyway, and the solution will reveal itself in time.

The books are sturdy, stand up on their own, and are just fun to look at and admire. And students can admire each other's journals in a private Facebook page. I’m sure I’ll make another. After all, the next journal is just a pile of scrap cardboard away from happening!


I also want to share this wonderful collection of hand-printed fabric squares. They were the prize in Deborah Boschert’s drawing a few months ago at The Printed Fabric Bee, and I was the lucky winner. Created around the theme of architecture, the following textile artists each provided one of their designs, in addition to Deborah: Jane Davila, Susan Purney Mark, Lisa Chin, Julie B Booth, Gerrie Congdon, Lynda Heines, Carol Eaton, and Jacqueline Lams. Inspiring to be sure. I’m not yet sure where they’ll be used, but there’s a home in one of my projects for them. One is already in a prayer flag. Between fabric, quilts, and paper, I never run out of fun things to do!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Somebody Stop Me…

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Because I’m just getting started! Making these small zip bags is so easy and so much fun that I can’t stop. Plus I was housebound for about a week as my husband and I both caught whatever cold is going around, and it really slowed me down. I saw the pouches first on Robbie’s Paw Prints and Creatology blogs. Both offered the link for the Shabby Fabrics how-to video. They make a perfect little gift for pretty much anyone as they can store sewing notions, pens and markers, art supplies, make up- you name it. And you can personalize them by using theme fabrics. I’ve got my eye on several more prints that I might want to use. One quilting friend and her husband raise Thoroughbred race horses, so the scenic fabric of horses coming down the stretch suits her. The other two are just lively colorful prints I thought would look good.

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I found a source for zippers that I really like- the price is right, and the color choices are wide ranging. Zipit is an Etsy shop and along with my order of ten 14” zippers, they sent this cute little attachable zipper pull as a freebie. I might need more of these.  As you can see in the photo below, I’ve still got plenty of zippers to choose from. The hard part was selecting colors. I like how the top-stitch foot for the Bernina helps with a neat edge along the zipper tape. But I do have some things to learn still about boxing corners in these little bags. A couple were not as straight as they should have been. I’ll have more opportunities to practice though! 

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Curiouser and Curiouser…


You might be wondering just what this might be. It’s a Curious Bundle, a fabric journal of sorts taught by Susie Lafond in her online class. As it turns out, I’ll sew just about anything I can get my hands on. So when I discovered Susie’s class, I had to sign up!


Making the bundle involves so many things I love- journal making, fabric scraps and selvages, sewing, and gathering bits and pieces together. Many of Susie’s projects make use of recycled jeans. I didn’t have any to part with so I purchased denim fabric instead. I also used many of the fabric scraps I got from Julie Sefton at Me and My Quilts. And a big bag of selvages also provided fodder. The rest of Julie's generous assortment is going into a string-rag quilt. I’ve always wanted to make one of those. How come other people’s scraps are always more interesting than my own? But I digress.


The bundle is long, so it’s hard to get a photo of it unrolled and open. But it unfolds along stitched spine lines to reveal “pages”, each with a sewn on pocket.  Part of the fun was to distress the denim to add interesting texture. You can slice, rip, tear, shred, and abrade your way through this step.  And once distressed, the denim is washed to get a delightful frayed look. The strings that came through with the wash were truly a tangle, but the results are worth it.


This one has a window cut out. Susie does a lot of “loose page journaling” so the pockets make good storage for those. I tend to make a lot of elements for journals, like doodled flowers, mandalas, and folded paper pieces. That’s what I’ll plan to keep in my Curious Bundle. Those elements are not easy to store and often get lost in the shuffle, so having them in one place will make handy when the time is right.


The inside of the bundle also has pockets, so there’s ample storage. I’m guessing it will be quite chunky by the time I fill it with papers and pages. I had bits and pieces of fabrics I’d printed, painted or drawn and they seemed like a good choice for the colorful interior. I must get on to stuffing those pockets! What’s even more fun is that Susie included has three projects in her online class, and this is just the first one. So there’s more stitching happiness to come and I’ve got plenty of scraps for it!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Color-ific Tropical Punch …


Remember when printed fabric panels were pretty much confined to kid-themed nursery prints? Such is no longer the case! Our quilt guild recently held a “fabric panel challenge” in which members were to select a panel and then use it creatively in a quilt. "Tropical Punch", above, was my entry. It began as a panel with the look of hand-painted abstract flowers along with a pack of pre-cut batik strips. I had lots of panels to choose from because I’ve got a bit of a “collection” (ahem) going on in the fabric closet. But this one went so beautifully with the batiks, that it’s the one that drew my attention. And I used all but one small scrap of it in this quilt.


This is the original fabric panel before I went rotary cutter happy on it. It’s one of two images that came on the panel. Interestingly, this challenge really piqued the interest of members and we had nearly 30 entries which was one of the larger responses to this activity in the guild. We discussed “what is a panel” because there were some questions about panels versus repeating images in yardage. We relied on the expertise of Judy Hansen of The Quilt Shop of DeLand who explained that fabric panels are marketed as such by fabric companies, and while they may have companion fabric prints, they are usually a 22”-36” length of fabric that contains a single image, or a collection of smaller block-size images. Sometimes they have a central image surrounded by smaller complimentary images.


Part of the fun of the challenge was the culmination in our luncheon held at a gracious member’s home. We enjoyed a lovely meal and got to vote on our favorite quilts in several categories. You can see that we took our work very seriously and pondered each numbered, anonymous entry. That’s me in the orange tropical shirt. Our hostess had a team of workers who set up the quilts in her lanai and her guest suite as if it were a quilt show. We wandered through the display and made our selections. Completing an entry is our ticket in to the luncheon. When our hostess took a preliminary count at a meeting of how many planned to participate, her eyebrows shot up at the number! However, she and her team rose to the occasion and did an outstanding job of accommodating all the guests and setting up the quilts in an area where they were hidden from view until it was time to choose the winners.


I am a happy quilter- Tropical Punch won Best Use of Color award. I’ve entered lots of challenges, and this is the first time one of my entries has won a category. A funny story about the voting- We proceeded through the quilts in a line and the member behind me came upon my quilt, examined the photo of the panel, and said to me “That panel is so pretty- who would want to cut it up like that?” Then she turned to look at me with a laugh and added, “What am I saying… you would, of course. That’s your quilt, isn’t it?” Ha!


But my day was not finished. My quilt also tied for the Best Entry award with fellow quilter Mary Ralph. You can see Mary’s photo of her original panel attached to her quilt. That was one of the requirements so that members could see how the entry had evolved. I’m very grateful to those who voted for my quilt. The cute raffia “prize flowers” are shown below.


Do you have a collection of fabric panels, too? The companion panel to this one is making its way into a quilt as we speak. I’d say fabric panels have come a long way, wouldn’t you?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Oh, the People You Meet, Part 2…

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So many stitchers and crafters work their needles and supplies to create beautiful items “under the radar”, so to speak. There is a creative gift or spark within that drives them to make something lasting that is a labor of love. Their work is so lovely, and often it’s not seen by many others. I think it needs to be revered! I’m sharing a few more handmade items that I’ve received just to note the crafters' generosity! The delicate and lacy bookmark on the left, above, was made by Penny using her embroidery machine. The fabric tag on the right was stitched and grommeted by Celeste. She then brought one each to a fiber arts bee for us to spray, stamp, and otherwise embellish. We did so under the instruction of Sharon of Cootie Coo Creations, who also brought all of the supplies needed to complete our tags. I love how mine turned out.


Card makers impress me with their meticulous work, too. The Christmas card above is one I’ve kept for many years. It was made by Mrs. Alice Howard who was well into her ‘80s when she made it 20 years ago, using her tiny hand-tatted flowers, some glitter, and ink. Do you know anyone who does tatting? It's becoming a rare needle art. Look at her beautiful penmanship, too. Quilting friend Mary did the Thank You card in the middle, above, precisely folding scrapbook papers to form the inside of the tulip. I think the technique is called Iris folding. Bea made the birthday card using pin embroidery. She pricks tiny holes in a pattern on the cardstock, then completes the design with stitches of various colors worked in thin thread or floss. she finishes her creations off with color pencil shading and some jewel accents. Her works are a marvel. Really, all of them are- so tiny and carefully worked.


Then there are the fiber artists. Billy McCray had a vendor booth at the recent Jacksonville Quilt Fest. She uses recycled materials to craft unique ornaments and other decorative accents. I purchased this lively fish for a friend’s Christmas gift. Online artists are also among the people you “meet”. The 6” square of hand printed fabric is one of a collection I won during a blog hop from The Printed Fabric Bee, Architecture. Happy day! This one was painted, textured, and stamped with hand-carved stamps by Julie B Booth. The other fabrics are in transit, so I’ll show them when they arrive. I treasure all of these items, and am constantly surprised and delighted by the wide array of creative talents I discover in the people I meet!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Oh, the People You Meet (Part One) …

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That line is from Dr. Suess, and it captures the delight of meeting new people. It's all the more true when the people you meet are quilters and stitchers! I find that quilters are not only the nicest people, but  also impressive because of the wide-ranging talent they possess The photos I’m sharing in this post are the work of a modest stitcher named Ida. She is an embroiderer extraordinaire, but humbly unaware of how lovely her work is. The smaller the work, the more Ida likes it. Just look at the intricate swirl flowers she stitched on this fabric.

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For this section, Ida replicated a tiny tomato pincushion in floss. You can see the threaded silver needles and the glass-headed pins pushed into the pincushion. Would it surprise you to learn that Ida doesn’t watch much tv? She’s the kind of crafter who needs something at hand nearly all the time. So she spends her time beading, making tiny yo yo embellishments, and embroidering other stitchery projects.

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She’ll sit quietly at work at one of our small craft group gatherings, with conversations swirling around the table and everyone working on their own projects. Her materials are kept orderly and neatly at hand in a good-sized container that kind of hides what she’s doing. And then suddenly I’ll look and see this intensive stitching and beading in her work which just delights everyone who sees it! She's a constant surprise.

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I asked  Ida about this colorful beaded design, and she replied that she calls it “Sweetgum”. It may well be her original, "signature" design as I’ve never seen it before on any of the Crazy Quilts I’ve come across. The Sweetgum tree is found mostly in the South, and the long-stemmed, spiny fruit do resemble the image she’s stitched.

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Here’s another pretty beaded flower in a stitch-dense section of her work. It just occurred to me to suggest that Ida sign her work, because I don’t think she does and she needs to! I could sit and look at her work for a long time, and often will when she brings her Crazy Quilt blocks to work on. Such a delightful and amazing woman- I might never have met her if it wasn’t for sewing, and that would have been my loss.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Pull up a Chair…

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Sit right down in this comfy Tropical Dream Chair. It’s pretty inviting, isn’t it? And it’s not even finished yet. But I was bitten by the Dream Chair bug and had to plow through my novelty print scraps to “design” not just one, but several dream chairs. The pattern is from Alethea Ballard, and I’ve had it for quite awhile. I’d take it out of the pattern file, dream about making it, and then put it back because other projects were pending. But when I saw this palm tree print at JoAnn Fabrics on their “regional collection” shelf, I knew I needed to upholster a Dream Chair with it and got right to work. The chair still needs the right fabrics for its room setting, and borders, but I decided to show it now just because.

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And why make one Dream Chair when there were other prints in the stash from which to make the Rodeo Dream Chair? Both chairs still need some shading in the chair creases to add dimension, and they have a way to go before completion. I’m thinking there are two or three more chairs in the fabric closet. And I’m pretty sure one of them is a Christmas Dream Chair! These were great fun to work on. Both are raw-edge fusible projects.

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Here’s another chair I worked on recently. Our daughter kept this old chair from her grandmother’s furnishings. It was pretty disreputable looking, but the wood was good and the carving very pretty. So I turned it into a pink-with-patchwork project to give it an extended life. I’m happiest when I’m working on some kind of sewing or crafting project. Big quilts take me quite some time to complete, so I like to fill in with smaller projects like these. I’ll keep you posted on that Christmas Dream Chair. I think I better get started on it soon!

In a twist of serendipity, when I'd almost finished writing this post, a box of scrap fabrics arrived in the mail. They were from Quilt Diva Julie at Me and My Quilts blog. She was divesting of some fabric scraps and yarns, and for the cost of shipping, I received a lovely collection. Including, for heaven's sake, this print of... what else... chairs and sofas! What fun. I've sorted through the scraps and also found the ones seen behind the chair print. I think they'll look good with the Rodeo Dream Chair so I've put those aside. I've been wanting to make a Ragged String quilt, and that's where most of the remaining strips will go. Why are other people's scraps so much more interesting than our own??

Friday, September 4, 2015

A Glimpse of Paris…

Well, August sure flew by in an eye-blink it seems! I felt as if I was racing to keep up with it. We traveled to Maine, and I don't think I showed you any photos of that yet. But I will. We really enjoyed a visit to the Maine Quilts annual show in Augusta. On a previous visit I bought the pattern for this quilt from the designer. A melange (since we’re using French references here) of neutral fabrics went into Glimpse of Paris. It began as the McKenzie Log Jam pattern, which is a modified Log Cabin design. But I have a hard time leaving things alone, so kept adding bits and pieces until it turned into this quirky project. It’s just a glimpse of Paris because one of the fabrics is a theme print with can-can girls, images of the Eiffel Tower, and French words. But you have to look closely to see them.

Here’s a close-up of one of the lovelies kicking up her heels. A scrappy quilter at heart, I like when assorted fabrics come together in a project like this. Only a few of these were part of a coordinated collection of fabrics. The rest were pulled from here and there. Our quilt guild keeps a large tote of 2 1/2” strips for members to use in making donation quilts. While pawing through them, I spotted strips of the light Stonehenge fabric that were just right of the inner border. And just enough of them, too. Can’t recall how I negotiated getting them for this project- I think I traded some others for them. And maybe agree to make a donation quilt. Anyhow, it was a fair bargain.

I love vintage images and think this is one pretty lady. She looks kind of dreamy. And she looks pretty close to a wardrobe malfunction, too. At some point I’m planning to make a vintage image and lace journal. I have one started, but it’s a ways from done yet. All in good time.

Kathy, a quilting friend, has a new longarm business and she came up with the way to quilt this. I like the circles and swirls, and have given her a couple more quilt tops to complete. So it’s September, and here's a new project to show for it. Many others are in the works- as always!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Hail,Hail, The Gang’s All Here…

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These cute cats, pups, and elephant are just some of the hand-crafted items made by the women inmates in a prison program where I volunteer. All of the items they make go to charitable organizations in a number of nearby communities, and are sewn using materials donated by local quilters and crafters. I'm able to photograph these because I'm on the delivery team for this group.

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In addition to stuffed critters, they also make puppets and other dolls for children’s service agencies. I love the Grampa puppet with his tufts of gray hair.

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The women make use of the smallest fabric leftovers from their quilts to come up with snappy outfits for the puppets and dolls. And they add extra touches like yarn hair and expressive painted faces.

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The program is a job assignment, so the 14 women report each day for a morning and an afternoon session, four days a week. Their quilts go to veteran’s agencies, and they make crochet hats for Salvation Army, cancer recovery programs, and children’s services. Their large fabric tote bags made from decorator weight fabrics are popular with family agencies for clients who need to carry belongings to new locations. The women like knowing that the work of their hands is going to help people in need, especially women and children in difficult circumstances. I’m always amazed to see what they come up with- they’re a very creative group! I hope you enjoy seeing what they’ve made.