Monday, December 28, 2009

Santa Went Overboard!

Or should I say my wonderful family did??? Chris is a very good shopper--he helped Al Gore create the Internet, now he gives it and Mastercard a workout! We all know I could have survived for months (years?) without buying fabric, but he and my sister found wonderful treasures anyway. The scan is a piece from Tanzania she found on etsy--each square is about 2" x 2".

I'm about halfway done with a tubular peyote bangle and will post a photo when I get a sec. It feels so good to have a little time to mess around with projects that aren't class samples! Beading is more portable for me than quilt projects so I worked on the bracelet while we were down in CA. I must be getting old--I sure needed my Ott-Lite to work in the room at the B&B! Size 15 beads are eensy-beensy...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Accident Quilts

This is the sample for my "Happy Accident" class. I will draw "prompts" out of a hat, and the students will have to incorporate them into their quilts. I used that process to make this little quilt. My prompts were:
  • add words (dragonfly stamp--the text spells "dragonfly")
  • add embroidery (free-form hand cross stitches)
  • add dots or doodles (the squares at the bottom)
  • add texture (the quilting)
Normally I would add at least one more for the challenge, but today is the deadline for submitting the class info so it is as done as it is going to get for a while!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fun with Filters

Yet another sample for the Spring schedule at The Stitchin' Post--this is for another Photoshop Elements for Quilters class about using filters. I started with a stunning photo from an Agile Rabbit collection (top photo), then used the stained glass, colored pencil and ocean ripple filters. Printed on EQ Printables with my new Epson Stylus R1900 printer--excellent color and pigment ink, but don't ask how long it took to get the fabric sheets to feed correctly!!!

I do enjoy messing around with Elements, but it is a good way to eat up a day. I have another photo of begonia flowers that I "hit" with the liquify filter--I call it "Begonias in a Blender"!!! I haven't decided what to do with it yet, but it will have to wait since I'm on to the next class sample.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Red and Black, Take Two

Back in 2006, I started a quilt to use up some of my reproduction shirting prints. I added black and red reproduction "Garibaldi" prints and made a period-accurate (late 1800's) pattern called "Lost Ships." The tessellation was cool but the quilt was a bit too somber for my taste. Off it went to the Bend Ronald McDonald house.

What to do with the large stack of leftovers? If you guessed "buy more fabric," you would be today's winner! I learned my lesson, though, and stocked up on black and red batiks and Asian prints instead of ditsy calicoes. I like the result better already! I have lots of left-over half-square triangles so will have to add a sawtooth border to use some of 'em up...

(Picket Fence Star, a scrap design for my "Simply Charming" class next spring)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Work in Progress

This is a work in progress--a sample for a Photoshop Elements for Quilters class. Don't know whether you can make out any of the detail, but the background is a digital collage made with oodles of brushes and overlays. The critter is a nudibranch (a shell-less mollusk that brings back memories of graduate school days at San Francisco State) from Dover clipart that I tweaked with the pointillize filter. I originally got the idea from a Somerset challenge to create along the lines of the Impressionists. The physical layering and embroidery are in the manner of Judith Baker Montano's underwater scenes.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Treasure from My Stash

I came across this scrumptious fabric while rummaging through my bin of green "fancies" (silks, satins, ties, etc.). I found it at a quilt show and obviously couldn't resist. The tag says it was part of a vintage kimono and was either hand-dyed or painted. I assume it is a jacquard weave or something similar since the leaf motifs are raised and flecked with metallic thread.

It is quite wonderful and I have no idea what to do with it! The piece is approximately 40" x 13" and has prominent selvages--probably 11" usable once seamed. The fabric is stiffer than cotton, with very little drape, and rough due to the metallic threads so I don't think it would be pleasant to wear as a scarf. I'm leaning toward a table runner with some kind of patchwork border to add width, but the metallic makes me nervous--what temperature iron to use, what kind of interfacing to stabilize it, etc.? The label says it is machine washable and dryable in a cool, gentle setting.

I'd love some ideas (besides "give it to Pat or Wendy"!!!)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Quarterly Crunch Time

Will I ever learn? (No!) It is time to finish up my class proposals and samples for Spring 2010 at the Stitchin' Post and I always take on more than I should. New this term will be an Introduction to Photoshop Elements for Quilters class, plus a couple of more shorter classes on more advanced topics, another round of my scrap classes ("Simply Charming")--that's 4 samples right there!--and a new art quilt class called "Happy Accident Quilts". One sample is done so far...

I love messing around with Photoshop Elements and have a bunch of ideas for projects, but the reality is that working on digital collages and other images can easily consume most of a day. I learn a lot and will be a better teacher for having spent the time, but time on the computer doesn't move fabric under the needle!

Whine whine whine--at least it is warmer and puppies got their first decent walk in almost a week.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I Feel the Need...

To Bead! This is my second project made with right-angle weave, although maybe I should say third attempt since I had to make the bracelet twice--the first one was too small, even for my scrawny wrists... Funny how much quicker one gets the second time around!

Right-angle weave creates a lovely fabric that is fluid and drapes nicely. Some stitches don't wrap comfortably around small wrists (especially if one maintains a death-grip tension like I tend to do), but this bracelet is quite nice to wear.

Here's an interesting observation--I very rarely buy quilt kits (except charm packs and jelly rolls for class samples), and even then I generally toss something in from my stash to personalize the design somehow. I often succumb to the lure of jewelry kits, though. Maybe that is because it is harder to find the unique goodies some designers incorporate into their designs. Or perhaps because some kits use techniques I'm not familiar with yet, so can't visualize the results to design my own. It could just be that bracelets are my "instant gratification" projects and I get seduced by having everything ready to go in one cute little package. Whatever the reason, it is a good reminder not to judge people who want to make a quilt exactly like the one in the magazine or in the shop too harshly.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday Bling

I whipped up this bracelet last night for our quilt guild luncheon today. Well, "whipped up" makes the process sound quick and painless, but there was more than a little grumbling and cursing before I was done! This stitch (spiral rope) involves multiple thread passes through the center "core" beads, so it works best when those beads have large holes. I had to use a very fine needle to get through the Czech beads I had on hand--Japanese beads would have made it so much easier. The thread only goes through the outer beads once, so this will be a perfect design for the tiny striped seed beads I've been hording.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Done is Good!

I just love 30's reproduction prints (I like jelly beans, too!). I started this quilt in a workshop with Gwen Marston from her "Liberated String Quilts" book. It has been quilted for a while but I couldn't decide what to use for binding. I tried several different fabrics but they competed with the border. The yellow is perfect--not too busy, not too bold. I've got another version of this waiting to be quilted (the story of my life these days...)

Looks More Like Me

Just had to include my original to show how different it is from the second version. This one was much harder since I was limited to the charm pack (what ding dong made that rule?!? Oh, yeah, yours truly...). Now I have two tablerunners waiting to be quilted...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Clear as Mud...

I have always been a fan of clear colors--no grayed, muddy fabrics for this girl! I felt compelled to buy them (some book I read said no stash would be complete without them), but hated seeing them next to my favorites. A couple of years ago, I cleaned out my stash and pulled out those yucky bits I knew I'd never use. Funny thing, when they were together in a pile by themselves, I loved them together! Since then I've had a "mud" shelf where the collection lives quite happily.

I dug into my light mud yesterday to coordinate with a Moda charm square pack for a quick tablerunner sample for my Simply Charming class this weekend. The Evening Mist fabric line is muted and lovely, but I always like to toss in a few extras to extend the value range or add a different scale of print. I'm quite pleased with the result! ("Game Board" pattern by Anka's Treasures).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lake House Holiday Quilts

The quilts are up at the Lake House! Bevalee and I had fun bossing around our Caldera Springs helpers--funny that we didn't hear as much grumbling as we might have if it were strictly hubbies on the ladders!

This year is the first time we have quilts in the foyer and they make the entry warm and homey. We have room for a few more small quilts in that space, so I'll try to find time in the next year to finish one I've been working on for ages.

The largest quilts are in the Living Room, where they frame a glorious view of Mt. Bachelor (it was too bright to get a direct shot, though). The soaring ceilings are wonderful for displaying these bigger quilts -- the bottoms are still at least 8' above the ground! A few of the quilts in this room aren't specifically holiday quilts, but the mix of colors and styles makes for a nice display.

Most of the quilts are in the Family Room again this year. Quite a few are traditional red and green Christmas quilts, but there are a few others to jazz things up

Hooray, now I can stop sewing on hanging sleeves and get back to other projects!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Prep Work

We (my friend Bevalee, our hubbies, moi, and a couple of strong young guys with ladders) are getting ready to hang quilts in the Caldera Springs Lake House. This is a fun holiday tradition that our guild, Mountain Meadow Quilters, has participated in for the last few years. We're hanging a few more quilts this year, and I am showing some there for the first time. It will be a good show but I always put off sewing hanging sleeves on my "non-show" quilts. Ugh, I have two left to go--at least it is a good excuse to catch up on all the episodes of Grey's Anatomy I have recorded! I will post pictures on Tuesday.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

So much to give thanks for--a loving family, beloved cats and dogs, and the time and means to create. Not to mention enough fabric and beads to last a lifetime (or 6!). Today's thought--go in peace and be a maker of peace.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Snow!

Six inches so far, with periodic flurries. It is fairly light so not a lot of water content, but shoveling it is good for an aerobic workout anyway! Yoda turns into a mini-sled dog and bounds through the snow, but Wookie just looks mournful and drags me back to the door (not surprizing since he is only 9-10" at the shoulder...) A perfect day for quilting!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

If You're Happy and You Know It...

Press some fabric! (okay, I know it is strange, maybe I've spent too much time with Vincent!) I prewash all my fabric and actually enjoy trimming off all the "cootie" ends and pressing it. It becomes a "moment of zen" that I look forward to. "'Tis a gift to be simple..."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vincent Says...

"I love raw edges!" Who knows if he really would have (he was a pretty tortured soul by the time he painted "The Starry Night"), but working this way makes it easy to add a bit of color here and there, which I hope looks like streaks of paint. At least my sanity is stable enough that I can still work with sharp objects...!

The light blue blobs will be glowing yellow stars, but I want to make good progress on the blue areas first. I'm transitioning into a portion of the lighter swirling spiral nebula and hope I have enough of the mid-range and lighter value to make it work.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Little Glitz...

I needed a fiddly, detailed project to take my mind off losing Annie cat, so decided to finish this bracelet. It uses borosilicate yoyo beads, size 11 and 15 seed beads and lots of crystal bicones -- mine is the "maple" colorway. See for a kit to make your own!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Goodbye, Beloved Friend...

We lost our dear, sweet cat of 16 years today. I will miss her raspy purr, her plush fur, her dainty (almost ladylike!) snores, her thundering runs down the hall. Dearest Annie cat, naps and bedtime won't be the same without you snuggled up next to me. Go in peace, sweet Cat Face...

Friday, November 13, 2009


Deep down, I'm pretty lazy when it comes to exercise. I take the stairs and try to get my 10,000 steps a day in, but if I could avoid working out I would! Which makes today's entry so amusing -- I like the muscles I've gotten since we started seeing a personal trainer! This summer was the first time I can ever remember feeling pretty good about wearing a sleeveless top (we'll ignore the extra poundage along the mid-line...). My balance is improving and so is my posture, so life is good.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happiness is...

One of my reasons for starting a blog was to celebrate the things in life that make me happy. Leading a joyful life means not letting certain negative people get me down. It isn't easy since they work hard to spread their nastiness, but being a victim stinks, so here's to happiness!

Today's drop in the happiness bucket: walking a sweet dog through new snow. Yoda is a 7-lb "sled dog" who loves to romp in the snow. He buries his little nose in a drift and tosses snow balls in the air, then is off on a run toward the next bit of fun.

Inner Virgo, meet Vincent....

I started my Color Block challenge yesterday, and my idea ran headlong into my "inner Virgo"!!! Blue-violet is my color, so I thought I would do a portion of Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night" in fabric. If Vincent had fabric instead of paint, he would surely have embraced raw-edge applique, so that's the path I headed down.

When I put the first strips on the design wall, I could tell it wasn't going to work. Vincent painted with abandon, so the perfect rectangles my inner Virgo adores were out! Vincent wants layer upon layer of rounded edges and blobs, so I'm putting the rulers away and cutting freehand. There is something quite liberating about telling my ever-so-slightly OCD self to be quiet and just have fun!

The photo shows one corner of the first layer. I'll stitch around the pieces and then add another layer.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Neat and Tidy!

I couldn't stand it any more and tidied up my sewing room today. There is still a pile of fabric to put away, but that's my "Happy Place" fabric so I don't mind! It is nice to see my counters again -- clutter drives a Virgo crazy after a while! I uncovered some yummy Hanah silk ribbon that I can't wait to use. Funny how simple things can be so satisfying!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Happy Place

This was my demo block for last Sunday's "Simply Charming" class. Many of the fabrics are scraps from a Kaffe Fassett design ("Gridlock") that I gave to Chris's cousin Randi. The soft yellows, pinks and greens were perfect "blond" colors for a very lovely woman. We lost Randi to colon cancer and even though I adore these pastel-bright colors (they take me to a happy place), they will always remind me of her as well.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Speaking of Technology...

I'm working on a couple of challenges that have the old gears turning... Somerset Magazine has a call out for artwork inspired by the Impressionists, and for another challenge, I'm channeling Vincent (van Gogh). For each, the big question is how to interpret dimensional paint strokes in fabric without resorting to paint. I'm convinced Vincent would love raw-edge applique, plus some hand stitching and beading. Perhaps the Pointillists would embrace fusible fabric "confetti"... Technology comes in if I pixelate a photo then use my confetti idea to color in a design. Must find a suitable subject...

The Joys of Technology...

Lucky me, I got a new super-zippy Windows 7 computer this week. Of course that means down time to reinstall EQ6, Photoshop Elements, etc. The PSE tags on all my clipart got messed up along the way, and when I reinstalled from the backup, the files got put in the wrong directories... So not much quilting go done here in the last few days! Moving everything was tedious, but it is done now and my computer goes ZOOM!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I recently did a short talk on photo transfer for Jean Wells' Intuitive Design class, which got me thinking about how to incorporate her style of piecing into a small photo quilt. I started with an 8" x 8" Photoshop collaged "background" and inserted the dark strip in the sample above. I finished it off with two prints on painted Lutradur and couched embellishment ribbon around the central image.

A week or so after I finished the little quilt, I came across an article in the Sept./Oct. 2009 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors called "Spontaneous Combustion" by Robin Olsen. She takes my thought process a step further and selects from a variety of "prompts" to direct the construction of her art quilts. A prompt might be "add rectangles," "add a strong horizontal," "add something ugly," etc.

I'm not the most spontaneous quilter in the world, so I'm going to develop my own list of prompts and give this a try.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My first "Simply Charming" Club is this Sunday. This month's project is a traditional pattern called "Broken Dishes" sized for 5" charm squares. This is definitely not your Granny's Christmas quilt! Laurel Burch brights give it a whole new twist. My teaching sample is mostly pastel batiks for a change of pace.


Working with fiber -- cloth, threads and yarns -- is what I do. I'm entranced by the possibilities and spend many joyful hours communing with my sewing machine, beads, images, paints -- you name it and I'll try to incorporate it into a quilt!