Monday, March 31, 2008

Free Motion Stitching

About 20 years ago Ellen Anne Eddy came out to our little sewing machine store in town and gave a workshop on using hand dyed fabrics and free motion stitching to create a little art piece. I bought some of her hand dyed fabric. She lived in Chicago at the time and later moved to Indiana. She wrote a book about her fabulous free motion quilts.

About 7 years ago she was in the area again to do a workshop for a guild. I was invited to spend the day there with her and some of my friends. We took Decor Bond and drew our design on it. My butterfly came from a coloring book. We ironed the Decor Bond onto the wrong side of our fabric and filled our bobbins with a glitzy heavyweight serger thread (an extra bobbin case purchased just for that purpose was used). From the drawing side I free motion stitched the outline of the butterfly with a dark thread. Then I came back in and started filling areas with stitching in other colors. I never did finish this project but now I think it needs to be done. The sparkly thread is almost impossible to capture in a picture to show you the real look.

It is gloomy and will be rainy soon. The only good thing is it is going to be warm today and the heavy rain should hold off until after my mother's Dr. appointment today. It's a good day to turn on my daylight bulbs and not look out the windows.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Every city or town or village has their perks that they offer the citizens. One of the perks in my little town is free brush pick up. I have at least 5 redbud trees in my back yard and they are notorious for losing branches over the winter and in summer storms. We have once a month pickup for about 7 months and all we have to do is pile the branches near the curb. Our April pickup in Ward 1 is tomorrow, Mar. 31st. It is a good thing I read the paper this week or I would have had mine out on the first Monday of April as usual. I could take a picture of the pile on the end of the driveway but you will just have to imagine it.

I am still making the centers surrounded by one border. I trimmed a bunch more of them last night and just put them up on the wall with the smallest in the center working out to larger ones. I will play again with all of the light ones grouped working out to dark. I will probably continue making these for a couple months before I decide what to do with them.
I went to a wedding reception yesterday afternoon. I am not a social person and usually I have very little in common with most of the people. Well this party was different. The mother of the bride was a quilter so I was invited to sit at the table with the bride and groom (my nephew) and my sister in law (mother of the groom) and the mother of the bride and we talked quilting. I actually had a good time. The sun was shining and temps in the 40's so we didn't have to worry about the driving either. A very good day!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Nothing much

I have sent my things off to the gallery in southern IL and can't seem to get started on a project yet. I was going through a bunch of pictures and found these 3 from about 8 years ago. I was working with the yarn dyed woven fabrics in both brushed and plain on these. They have pieced backgrounds and raw edge applique. I gave a workshop on it and then sold all of my samples. If anyone is interested in the screen prints I showed last week, they are up on my blog-shop. Also I will be removing some of the wallhangings for sale next Saturday so if there is anything you are interested in, look now.

The sun is shining and it is supposed to be all the way up in the 40's today. There was frost on the ground this morning. The weathermen are promising spring next week. Do we dare believe them?

Friday, March 28, 2008

2 cameras, 2 different pictures

I have 2 cameras. The tiny camera (Olympus) is great for carrying with me to any event where I would take pictures. It doesn't do well in low light so it has its drawbacks. The other (Kodak) is a big clunky one but it does have better color a lot of the time. On the photos above the top one of each pair is the Olympus, the bottom the Kodak. The second photo in both cases is the more true color. This fabric is deep and moody and the Oympus would like it to be light and cheerful. This is why so many quilts look different in person than in photos.
I wouldn't want you to think most of my quilts are really dull and that the camera is brightening them though. My quilts usually are bright and colorful. Occasionally I feel the need to work with the subdued and moody colors and I am really disappointed when the camera won't capture it.
Several people told me yesterday that I need to be patient and that my wood floor will be OK. Of course in my mind I am asking "What is patient, how long?". I will not do anything to it and hope for the best. My new water cooler is going to be just outside the kitchen door in the heated garage. It won't be much of an inconvenience and actually will be nice when I'm out gardening and need a drink. Thanks everyone for your soothing and encouraging words.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Problems on the home front

I just put a new 3 gallon bottle of water on my cooler on Tuesday morning. I noticed last night that it was down to half. I knew it was really empty when I put the new bottle on, and I had been drinking water, so I didn't get too alarmed. I thought maybe that bottle wasn't as full when I got it and I hadn't noticed it. When I got up this morning it was even lower so I felt the floor next to it. Yes, it was wet. I emptied all of the remaining water into containers and put into the fridge. I drank one glass of water and it was warm.

OK, I am not fooling around with that one anymore. It was second hand to start out with and I have had it for almost 5 years. I called my son and he will order one for me through his business from the company that delivers the water. Meanwhile I am very sad that my new refinished wood floor is all warped in the area where it sat. I hope as it dries out it will settle down some.

OK, breathe!!

I started a project a few years ago with some hand dyed fabric from Laura Wasilowski and 2 of the blocks have my raw edge, free motion applique/embroidery on them. I snapped a quick picture of this one but the color is off. I will try with my other camera and see if it captures it any better.
Today, no appointments, just computer club tonight.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Experimental block

This is an experiment I did several years ago and I just found the bag with the pieces and parts in it. You strip piece a bright with 2 whites and a bright with 2 blacks. For the ring with the squares in the background (red block), you layer 2 alike and cut squares and then half square triangles. For triangles in the background (blue block) you need to layer one white and one black, cut squares and then in half for triangles. For the squares in the background with the reverse checkerboard in the center (green block) you need to sew one black and one white strip to each bright strip, then cut as in the others. I like the way the square ring floats above the background. I did these with 1.5" strips but I think it would be a lot easier with 2" strips.

The sun is shining!! Yesterday was in the 50's but with 30 mph winds. Way too windy for walking. This is our last warm day before the cold front brings us freezing rain and possible snow. At least at this time of year we know the freezing stuff won't last long.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Playing some more

I trimmed some of the blocks I made last week into any inch measurement plus 1/2" for seams. The top row is 2.5" x 3.5", the next row 3.5" x 3.5", the next row 3.5" x 4.5" and so on.

Last night in wind down mode I made a few more which I haven't pressed or trimmed yet.
I have just gotten back from my mother's 2 dr. appointments this morning. Her legs are still wrapped, so the home health nurse can legally come for one more week. Her legs are better but her regular dr. wasn't there today so she saw the other one. Now she has other problems, none of them emergency things.

Screen prints

I just spent more than a half hour listing all of the screen prints for sale on my blog-shop. I will add another post to this blog later today.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Charity work

One of the things my church sewing circle does is make layettes for the tiny preemies at a local hospital. I think these are the size large. We make these in 4 sizes with knitted blankets and a receiving blanket measuring just 10" or 12" square. The little kimonos will have a ribbon run through the neckband so the nurses can gather it up closer to the body. They are a simple serger project. Here is another of the screen print panels. I have 3 of these and one more like it but hollow letters (not filled in). I will have them all up on my blog-shop tomorrow morning.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

With Easter falling so early (first Sunday after the full moon that follows the first day of spring) it is really cold, 29 degrees F here. I can remember as a child having something new and springy to wear to church on Easter and then at the last minute my mother would decide it was too cold and we wore our winter clothes.

Do you remember these panels by The Toy Works that were popular in the late 70's and in the 80's? There were cats and rabbit, and then there was this Gingerbread House. The animals were stuffed and used as doorstops. This one is meant to be stuffed too.
All of the directions are printed on the fabric right along with the pieces to cut out.
I'm still searching for all of my screen printed things. Hopefully I will be able to announce tomorrow when they will be on my blog-shop.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Going through stuff

Back in the 1980's when I had a quilt shop, screen prints were very popular. As I am cleaning through stuff in the basement I am finding several packages of them. I know I will never use them so I may put them up on my blog-shop next week after I have had time to take pictures. This is one unopened package and one open package. I also have birdhouses and angels.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Jacket and purse

In July 2006 I made this sample for a local quilt shop. It is one where you cut a sweatshirt along the seams and use the pieces as the base for the jacket. The fabric is wet and then twisted and left to dry creating a crinkly fabric that has iron on interfacing added when it is dry. Pieces are cut to the shape of the sweatshirt parts. Stitching is then done through all of the layers with many different kinds of threads, some of them couched on last. The sample was displayed by the store for a year and then returned to me. It fit a friend of mine much better than it fit me so she now owns it. I made a purse to go with it for her.
She said people followed her around to get near the jacket at an event she wore it to.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

More "to be finished"

I think I am at the bottom of the box of unfinished pieces. This is little and wouldn't take much time to finish. I think it needs a lot of stitching on it so I'll hang it on the wall in my studio and start thinking about it. It was made by sewing together my clean up cut pieces that vary in width from one end to the other. Then it was sliced into segments and every other one was flipped end for end and sewn back together. Another "playtime" piece. A close up of a few of the fabrics.
The sun is shining and some of the weathermen are saying we will have 3-6" of snow in the next 24 hours. Others aren't sure if we will have snow or rain. I guess we will just have to wait and see. The huge pile of snow that was on the edge of my driveway is only about 12" tall now after many days of above freezing temperatures.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Blocks in a box

I will see a quilt in a magazine, like it and decide I should make it. I start out really enthusiastic, and then something about the quilt just isn't right and other things need to be done, and the blocks go in a box.

I have always loved the Rosebud pattern and when I saw this offset version I knew I had to make it. Somehow my expectations weren't met somewhere along the line and the blocks went into a box. Every time I come back to this picture that I took while working on it though, I like it. I guess I need to get them out and start putting it together. It looks like spring.

To answer J~MT's question, what do I use as filler in the postcards and ATC's, I use a heavyweight product that is similar to Timtex, not quite as heavy and less expensive. It didn't have a brand name on the end of the bolt. What do some of the rest of you use in your postcards?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Playtime 2

Thanks for all of the great response to "Playtime" and "Pieces and Parts Piled". Many of my quilted pieced are started from playtime. I know you will all feel the same excitement that I do if you let yourself play. I think some people take it all too seriously and that every piece has to be a masterpiece and every piece has to be perfect. Do they really enjoy the making of those? I think every piece needs to be exciting to make no matter how it turns out.

Here are some play pieces from yesterday. Unfortunately my scraps bins are overwhelming and I need to do a major sorting again. I like all the small pieces in one bin, med, in another, and larger scraps really need to be cut down unless they are being saved as borders. I'm not sure how I will trim these down yet; I need to make a lot more before I make that decision.
A lot of people are making Artist Trading Cards (ATC) so I decided to start playing with that little size (2.5" x 3.5") to see if it would be fun. You can see how little they are compared to the 4" x 6" postcard size. They are the size of a playing card from a deck of cards.
I just put a batik fabric on the back and did the satin stitch edge.
I have a question for you: does a gourmet cook always make gourmet food, or do they play once in a while with ordinary food?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pieces and Parts Piled.......

Say that 3 times fast, pieces and parts piled, pieces and parts piled, pieces and parts piled. I decided that before I put them in the parts box I would just pile them up and see how they look together. I won't sew this but I have a picture just for the record.


Do you allow yourself any playtime? Do you ever just piece fabrics together just because you like the colors together?
Playtime is essential to get you into a "zone" where time flies and you are surrounded by peace and contentment.
You can make rules for what you are doing, like strips are no longer than 22" or I will only use yellow if you want to, or you can just play with the scrap bin and whatever happens, happens.
The result of all of those playtimes is a box of pieces and parts. When you start playing with them up on a design wall you get even more ideas.
Michael5000 mentioned in the comments that he wouldn't have thought of framing my crazy log cabin quilt from a couple days ago with the angled strips. That actually happened because of playtime. I added 4 different fabrics from my "clean up cuts" box and because they weren't straight cuts to start out with I had to square up the quilt. I experimented by folding back edges to see how much to trim and came up with the angled cuts.
All I can say is PLAY, PLAY, PLAY!! You may come up with the most exciting piece you have ever made.
VickiW has finished our second collaborative quilt for our wounded soldiers (QOV). Scroll down for the red/white/blue hearts and stars flannel quilt.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Finish #2

Two down and I still need to make at least one more. This one is 46" square. April first is the deadline to have them at the gallery. They have what they call a Parade of Quilts throughout the shop and they want to get them all hung before the mass of people drive down Interstate 57 to Paducah for the big show. The Illinois Artisans shop has a huge variety of art including all forms, glass, wood, fiber, and more. It is a good place to stop for a break and a feast for the eyes. The sun is shining again today but it is cool, actually frosty this morning. The robins are here and the birds are singing in the back yard in the mornings. That is a sure sign of spring, even though they have used the word SNOW in our week forecast.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Finishing by hand

It takes me almost as long to do the hand finished binding on a quilt as it does to quilt the quilt. I may be a slow hand sewer, but I am a little fussy about how the stitches look. Not a fanatic though! I finished the quilting on this one yesterday and worked on the binding last night. We have gloomy weather today, but at least we missed out on the snowstorm that they were watching a few days ago.

We have a 100 room hotel and a convention center now in the little town of Sandwich, IL. When I moved here 48 years ago we had only one traffic light. It continued that way for many years. Now we have 5 traffic lights. There weren't any hotels for miles and we have a very active fairgrounds. We have the largest county fair in Illinois in Sept. but the fairgrounds is rented out for many other functions. The most popular one is an antique show once a month for 6 or 7 months. We have needed a hotel for a long time but no one imagined we would get such a big one. There will be an indoor water park next door being built this summer. We also have several subdivisions in the planning stage on all sides of town. Like they say, one thing you can depend on is change.

Friday, March 14, 2008

One down, several to go

Finally I have had a couple days to concentrate on getting things made for the IL Artisan's Gallery. I had made this center section a couple years ago and have another set of blocks to do something similar. Two days ago I added the borders, basted it, and started the machine quilting. Yesterday I finished the machine quilting and the binding. All I have left to do is sew down the bottom edge of the hanging sleeve. I didn't feel like free motion quilting and since this is only 31" square it was easy to twist and turn to quilt in angles with regular stitching.
I quilted the center of the quilt with metallic thread in the ditch spiraling out from the center of the block, following the logs. I love this little frog trying to escape. Another block.

VickiW has the first collaborative quilt that we are doing for QOV finished and pictured on her site. It looks spectacular and I hope it goes to someone who will love it. Thanks Vicki.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

From the archives

Here is another wallhanging made from the scraps and leftovers of another quilt. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of the original quilt. This might remind you of the quilt top below that I posted previously and that is because they are both from the same set of scraps.
I think I have that color scheme out of my system and won't have to use it again. The grayed purples aren't available as much now anyway.

The sun is beaming in on me again today, the fourth day in a row. is above freezing!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


This is the best shot of a sunrise I can get from my house. I like living in town though so I won't complain. You can see my view includes a telephone pole in front of my house. My husband almost didn't say OK to this house because of it. I have gotten used to it and the only time it bothers me is when I am trying to take a picture of the front of the house. I have to try many angles before I find one that doesn't include the pole. Across the street I have the colorful cable box and fire hydrant. It is nothing to compare with the beautiful views of sunrises that I have seen on other blogs, but it is my view. I have spent the last 2 days quilting and binding Sankaku as a store sample for the quilt shop in town. I bound it with the same wood grain purple that is in the quilt.
The sun is shining again today! After a really gloomy February this feels so good to have sun so many days in a row.

Yesterday I got my first foreign language comment. I will have to figure out what it says.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Nothing new today

Yesterday my mother had her legs rewrapped and she will be wearing the surgical shoes for a couple weeks so I am doing their grocery shopping for them today. She has said many times that maybe she is done shopping and someone else should take over. Then she changed her mind every time and decided no one else could DO IT RIGHT. She has set me up for failure but I refuse to accept that and I WILL do it right.

This is one of the pieces from the "to be finished" box. It is leftovers from 3 different Strips that Sizzle quilts. I will make it into a baby quilt to give away. Right now though I have to get busy and finish some things to send to the gallery in Southern IL by April 1.
The sun is shining again today and we will be above freezing. Tomorrow sounds even better.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Today is my parents 71st wedding anniversary. My parents don't have an internet connection so they won't see this but I'll post it anyway.

Happy Anniversary, Mother and Dad!!!!

Bento Box

Bento Box is a pattern by Tracey Brookshier. I had seen many versions of this made by friends and on other blogs and it kept calling my name. I had a lot of 3" strips of batik already cut and only had to cut a few more strips for variety once I started it. I started making the blocks a few months ago and I was able to get the top all sewn together over the weekend. Even though the pattern has you cut enough for all 4 quarters to be the same 2 fabrics, I had shorter pieces and only got one light and one dark quarter from my strips.

I'm sitting here at my computer with the sun streaming in the window and hitting the side of my face. It is only 28 degrees out so this feels so good. I wonder if we can get Vitamin D through a storm window and inside window?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

And more stamps

These Olympic stamps are from 1980, 1992, and 1993, from top to bottom. I saw one strip of these on ebay express for $11.95.

so the question remains, should I just use them or are there buyers out there?

More stamps

Here is another group I have, 1987 American Wildlife Stamps in their own folder featuring the artist.

Postage stamps

Well I found out Blogger would let me load one picture but not 3, so I'll load the other 2 in separate posts. Back in the late '70's or early '80's there was a quilt stamp available. At the time everyone is saying "Buy them now, they will be worth a lot more some day". Fast forward to a conversation with friends last month "Use them all because they aren't worth any more than face value, 13 cents". Does anyone out there know if there is a market for full sheets of unused stamps? I also have Elvis Presley, James Dean, comic strips classics, and the Geogia O'Keefe poppy sheets of stamps. Somewhere in the basement I also have the poster from the post office that was displayed when this stamp was available.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Good Sewing Day

Yesterday I was able to stay home almost the whole day. I had made a few more blocks for this quilt two nights in a row and I decided I am done with it. I sewed the top together and it is 49" x 63". That isn't too bad for a lap size. One more row would be nice, but it isn't going to happen. The reds are really more of a coral color in the medium shades. I like to call it soft red. I think I will have to do this pattern again but with less contrast between the darks and lights, or just busier prints. A lot of these read as solid colors and I think it looks a little choppy.

The sun is trying to shine today and I hope we get above freezing. Winter still drags on.....

Friday, March 7, 2008

Switching gears

After posting yesterday and not being sure how big I wanted to make the red/coral/yellow quilt I decided to work on a store sample for a class that I am offering. The local quilt shop showed me a bunch of new patterns and wondered if I would teach one/some of them. I chose this one called "Sankaku" by Tracey Brookshier. I was fascinated with the way the 3 different size triangles worked together in the borders around the central block. A little over half of the fabrics are current finds at the store and the rest are out of my stash. I think this would be a good one to do a machine embroidery in the center square and maybe some smaller related embroideries in some of the triangles.

My mother (89) has another problem now, ongoing since last May, with her legs "weeping" and they are watching it very closely to be sure it doesn't turn into an infection or any other worse condition. She has never had diabetes or cancer, has a strong heart and has a sister 8 years older than her still living. We started the ball rolling on a visiting nurse every day through a health care agency. I am everything else for my parents, but I'm not a nurse. I almost got sick looking at her legs yesterday at the dr.'s office. I could say that makes me a weak person, but I really know that God gave me other talents for caring for my parents and that I have to let some of it go to more qualified persons.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Two at a time

When I get all of my fabrics out and press them to get ready to cut, I usually have 2 quilts in mind that I will cut at the same time. Pressing out the fold marks isn't the most fun so why do it any more often than I have to. I started cutting yesterday's post's fabrics for my "all squares" quilt and decided to cut this one called "In and Out" by Blue Underground pattern company. I used the size of the big squares in this quilt as the size for my "all squares" quilt. I have seen this pattern done many times and liked it but I think this group is too high contrast in values to work very well. That might just make this into a baby quilt and be done with it. Meanwhile it was my instant gratification, get right to the sewing machine, therapy.

My mother's "video swallow" in Radiology went well. She is getting more confident about what she can eat. Now, one more appointment this afternoon and I think we might be done for the week. Since I have rarely been sick in the past, I didn't spend much time in Dr. offices. I have been driving my parents around for almost 4 and a half years and have read many books with all of the waiting room visits. That isn't all bad having forced reading time. I would just rather be in a less germy area.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Spring colors

Unfortunately my spring colors aren't outside. We had melting snow and muddy yards on Sunday and ever since it has been near or below freezing and we have patches of grass and ice. I will have to find all of my spring treats on my fabric shelves.

A friend gave me an assortment of fat quarters, on the left, and I have been adding fabrics from my collection to them for about a year. I think I am happy with what I have in the group, so now I have to decide on a pattern.
Here's another view with the fabrics spread out.
I am thinking that I may just make a quilt of squares. The simplest patterns show off the fabric more. I am always drawn to the quilts of just squares if the fabrics are interesting. I think I need a no brainer as we go to my mother's 3rd appointment this week (2 more to go, one tonight and one tomorrow). Indecision creates procrastination. I need to make a snap decision and create, for the relaxation and calm that happens when I sew.

We are supposed to have partial sun most of the days this week so that helps, and the weathermen are promising 40's and 50's next week. Dare we believe them?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Clearing the design wall

I tend to put things up on my small design wall in my studio and they hang there for a long time before I do anything with them. They are usually just made of my scraps with no clear intention of what I will make them into. This week I decided everything needs to come down and I started with the postcards which I showed earlier this week.

The next group to come down were the 2 sets of strips shown here. This group of batik ones are about 15" long and would make a small strip quilt.
This group is all Kaffe Fassett fabrics and are about 18" long. I have been looking at both sets for almost a year now and haven't done anything with them. The wall needs to be bare for a few days.
I remember in one of Marsha McCloskey's early books that she had a box with a name like False starts and other rejects. I named a box with that name about 10 years ago and put things in it for about 5 years. I would consider most of them rejects at this point. I think I need to start a new box just called "Misc. pieces and parts" than I can dig into when I need inspiration.

I posted a quilt on my blog-shop site awhile back that was purple and peach and had 3-D pinwheels on it. Around that same time VickiW contacted me and wondered if I would like to donate some of my quilt tops to the Quilts of Valor foundation and that she would quilt them on her longarm machine and would send them off to the organization. I thought this sounded like a great idea, since a lot of my quilt tops were in the right size range. I didn't have the means to quilt them like they want them so this was a perfect opportunity for me. Vicki has finished quilting the purple and peach funky quilt and is ready to bind it. She has a partial picture on her blog now and will show the whole thing when she is done. Thanks VickiW!! I hope some soldier will love this one and the future ones I will send.