Saturday, May 29, 2010


And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free, and I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me and I'll proudly stand next to him to defend her still today, 'cuz there ain't no doubt I love this land, god bless the USA. - Lee Greenwood

Friday, May 28, 2010


I've blogged about my participation in the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initative numerous times.... This grass roots organization thus far has raised over $407,000!!

Ami Simms (left) and Sharon Pederson have been tireless in their efforts to raise money for research and education to help stamp out this awful disease.

Sharon has spear headed the "Rose of Sharon" project which premiered at Quilt Market in Minneapolis last week. Since Ami highlighted it on her blog, I'm providing a link so you can learn more AAQI and its various projects.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Yesterday 4 of us 'Fiber Junkies' did an outing to various outlet stores.......

We began in South Carolina at a large fabric's the sort of metal warehouse building that you may not even notice if you drove by....and if you did....perhaps you might not bother to stop. Good thing Nancy, our lead in finding all sorts of great bargains is adventuresome!

There were boxes as tall as my waist filled with remnants of every fiber content you can imagine.

Bolts and flat folds fill this warehouse as well. Except for myself, my friends all dye/paint/print their own the hunt ended with many exciting new fibers to play with.

I wonder why anyone would need so much netting.....I'm guessing there were at least 10 bins full of it!

Next door to the fabric outlet there's a resale shop.......most of it is true junk that I didn't want to paw through. Instead, I amused myself looking at the clothing.... Oh my......this dress must have weighed 50 pounds.....why anyone would think a evening gown should have one sleeve is a puzzle??

This one was designed by Della Roufogali.....a company called a price of $40.00....but lots of the beads threads were broken and beads missing.

This was the best find.....size 44D.....for $4.00. I tried to get one of my pals to model it for my photo but she refused!

Next we traveled back to NC, outside of Charlotte to Long Creek Mills, and industrial sewing and embroidery thread store. It had EVERYTHING one might need for machine embroidery....from stabilizers..... rows and rows of thread..... prices appear to be very good. They do a lot of online business we were told and ship orders daily....check them out here.

We also stopped at the famous Mary Jo' photo wasn't blog worthy.......but this HUGE fabric shop certainly is worth a visit if you are ever in the Charlotte, NC area.

**I'm sorry I didn't post the name and location of the fabric outlet.....I know we got off I26 at exit 1.....but after that....of course I was lost, esp. since I was a passenger. I'm trying to get more details to share..... BUT...if you are in the area.....frankly, I'd head to Mary Jo's's the info from my friend Nancy our leader in the search for fun bargains: KRB Fabric Outlet, 4571 Hwy. 9 Boiling Springs S.C. 29316 864-578-8752. The fabric outlet is open Tues.-Sat. They are very low tech and do not have a web-site of their own, but the consignment warehouse next door has one

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Continuing the saga of my newest piece.....

Once the quilt layers were hand quilted.....I decided the design needed my trademark touch.....yup...that's right....some beads. This spider web was made using size #10 silver lined seed beads. Because this quilt will be for sale, I carefully stitched through the top two layers only to prevent an unsightly bunch of threads on the backing.

As you can see....the outside edges of the branches are a bit fuzzy.....and now that the piece is completed....I think it's the perfect look. I'm not very fond of raw edge applique....but in my mind this edge works great with the 3-D branches.

Where there is a spider web....surely a spider must be found too.

Pine Ridge At Dawn
32" x 42"

To better frame the quilt, the binding is made up of multi-colors of yellow and of course black in the mountain ridge area.

It will be exhibited at the Deer Park Inn on the Biltmore Estates in Asheville, NC in the fall. It's available for purchase now as long as the owner would make it available for this special exhibit. If that is the case.....we are talking a bit of a discount to me for details.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I had more indecision making this project than I have on any 4 together......maybe it's my age.....but here's how the drama unfolded.....

Okay, so given the fabrics I had, the background design took some figuring out. Of COURSE I could have gone out and purchased more....but like many of us quilters who have been stitchin' for years and years......I'd like to utilize what I have in my stash, even though my stash is actually not that impressive.

I also wanted the main tree motifs to be visually bold, so using a simple patchwork background was the solution for the lack of fabric and to highlight the design. Once that was made, I began to play with the placement of the trees and the mountain ridge.

After I felt like I had a good feel for the design, I decided to experiment with the stitching (applique) method, since distortion of the background was a concern. If there would have been more time, I would have hand appliqued the branches. Instead, I tried fusing, attaching with machine applique...both with a zig-zag and blanket stitch. Even using a stabilizer, I could see this would end up being a huge mess.....and in part, it's because I'm not an accomplished free-motion stitcher.

So I decided to utilize a method I created years ago.....fusing two layers of fabric together and cutting out the shape from this stabilized unit. The edges are raw but shouldn't unravel..... With this method, the branches could be attached by stitching a few lines through the centers of each motif, giving the design a 3-D appearance.

This approach worked, but due to all the handling.....some of the edges became fuzzier than I would have liked....the problem increased as I hand quilted the piece. Ultimately, I had to trim each one with a sharp embroidery scissors....difficult to do for fear of cutting the background. I blame this problem on the fabric. Though it was supposedly a good quality quilters cotton.....the weave wasn't as tight as it could have been......oh well....problem solved in the end.

That's what keeps me interested......I don't look forward to problem solving but find doing the 'happy dance' afterwards to be worth it!

Back to the process all the motifs are pinned in place......

It was too I added another mountain ridge......

Finally, the ridges were hand appliqued, the trees were attached with machine stitching, the quilt sandwich was made and the layers were hand basted. The hand quilting took some patience because the needle had to travel between the layers beneath all the branches.

So.....with the quilting completed......the binding and another touch were left to do......I'll share those tomorrow......

Monday, May 24, 2010


PTA's 2010 Challenge is the theme Sunrise or Sunset. (PTA is a small fiber group of which I'm a member.) The rules are minimal.....the finished size must be 32" x 42" (either horizontal or vertical placement) and contain some black. Our original finish date was our July meeting but because I've got a super busy teaching schedule in June, my personal goal was June 1st. I finished it yesterday!

I wanted to explore a landscape design, featuring pine trees on a mountain ridge at dawn. Since I have yet to conquer free motion machine stitching, it seemed sensible to do some experimenting. I learned this particular motif choice was terrible...... the design didn't work, plus even with stabilizing, there would be too much distortion, given how many more 'needles' I wanted to stitch on each branch.

Instead, I decided to use fabric 'branches' and some samples from sketches I made on freezer paper secured to black fabric.

Next I got out some fabrics and began playing with the background on my design wall.....

I'll save you the trouble of viewing all the different fabric placements I tried.......eventually I realized I didn't have enough gradations to visually move from color to color....

So, I tried one color family instead.....still trying to maintain a horizontal landscape background. (But you can see.....I'm beginning to play with squares instead.)

And, that's the direction I went instead by deciding to utilize a patchwork background. The decision again was mainly due to the lack of appropriate fabric for my earlier vision.

More tomorrow......

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I've been working on a project (for what seems like forever)......I'm hoping to put the final touches on it today and will then begin to share some process photos in the next few days.

In the meantime.....for the benefit of any hand quilters in the crowd, here's how I HAND baste my quilts in preparation for hand quilting.

I rip the backing to measure at least 3" larger than the finished quilt top. Though in general, I don't like ripping for other tasks, for this process I want to work with fabric that will be on grain.

The fabric is then folded in half and in half again.....marking the centers with a pin or a reference line along each edge. I also place the head of a straight pin in the center of the fabric, on the RIGHT side of the fabric.

Next, the backing is placed on my work table which is fitted with a gridded cutting mat, lining up the markings on the fabric edge with the appropriate lines on the table. This assures that the backing will be postioned straight on the work surface.....meaning ON GRAIN.

For quilts that are larger than the table top, I use bookbinder clips, available at office supply stores, to secure the backing to the table.

For quilts that are smaller than the table, the backing is secured with painters tape.

Next, the batting is placed on top of the backing....I cut the batting slightly larger than the quilt top.

Finally, the quilt top is positioned on the batting. I've marked the center of each edge and the center of the quilt and match those up with the backing's markings. Now the top and backing are both on grain.....this will help to avoid puckers and distortion during the quilting process which I ALWAYS do in a QSnap Frame.

If the quilt top's construction has patchwork, I like to use a ruler to double check that the seams are straight.
Straight pins help to temporarily hold small adjustments in place and are removed as the basting is done.

I always baste using cheap white basting thread....which seems to be harder and harder to find. Serger thread is a good substitute. Here's never knows how long the quilt will sit around before all the hand quilting is complete....and we all know that the dyes of some threads are not always colorfast. Wouldn't you be bummed if the dye of that fuchsia thread you were trying to use up migrated to your fabric due to humidity? Believe me, in my judging duties, I've seen more than one quilt with tiny dots, left from basting threads.

It might seem awkward at first to use.....but try basting with a curved needle. One you get the knack of it, it's so much easier on the hands than stabbing and pulling a straight needle up and down through the layers. These needles are sold in a variety packet of different sizes. Since they are used for upholstery, you'll want to use the smallest one.

I don't baste 'pretty'.....but I do baste a lot, no less than 2" apart. Ya, I might begin basting in a grid pattern....but because my pieces are usuallyembellished, that format rarely works for the entire piece.

Once the basting is completed, I turn the excess backing to the front, meeting the edge of the backing to the edge of the quilt top. Then I fold the fabric layers in half again, and baste together. This will keep the batting secure and the outside edges from unraveling.

Note: Because I was short of fabric for the backing in the photo above, I wasn't able to rip the edge......instead I had to trust that the selvage was true.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


We've had some good rains here in the mountains, followed now by warm sunny days......the plants are popping to life!

I don't know what these are called....somewhere we have the landscapers 'map' to all our plantings.....but that means finding it! We have two is a redder version than the other....I love the delicate stamen web inside these flowers.....

Enjoy your weekend......wherever you are.....

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I admit to being a hotel snob.........the lowest accommodations on the hotel food chain that I can endure is a Hampton feet would never cross the threshold of a Motel 6. Seriously!!

I understand guilds don't have unlimited funds so I can't expect to be housed at the Four Seasons! However, no matter where I'm staying......I still have some requirements and preferences which has led me to perform a check list before I get settled in. me crazy.

Besides being in a safe area, the hotel MUST have inside entrance to the room. Of course it needs to have a presentable lobby. Hallways should be well lighted and's even better when the carpet has a great design.

MUST be non-smoking room.

Yippie......I do a happy dance when I get upgraded as I did on my Texas trip. I was thrilled with the Hampton Inn's wonderful King suite which had lots of room to spread out all my suitcases and STUFF.

A KING bed......all to myself where I'm in control of the remote....which I make sure is working before I crawl into bed. (Heck, before I unpack!)

Fool me once but not twice.....another thing on my check list is making sure the hairdryer works.

And because I prefer to use my own alarm clock......I check that the clock isn't set to a rock station which will blare at 3:00 AM!

That there's a shower curtain (yes, that happens). Also, that the toilet tank isn't running....because seriously, I'll hear it all night.....and wouldn't sleep a wink. (Sleep evades me too much the way it is.)

And that there's more than 1 towel!

AND.....that I have the internet code....

So.....the next time you check into a your own check list......other helpful items to check......does the heat/air conditioning work, is the room far enough away from the elevator and ice machines to avoid racket all night, that the light bulbs are in working order.....

Ya, I know.......maybe 'the husband' is right.....I can be a control freak at times......

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Just prior to my lecture at Bear Creek Quilters Guild in suburban Dallas, TX.....the ever popular portion of any guild meeting took place...... Yup....Show and Tell.....

The makers of these quilts have allowed me to post their beautiful pieces on my is usual, this event happens quickly so pardon my inability to provide the maker's names.

The old favorite.....rail fence is a great way to use big print fabric......

But...that was just the beginning.....the quilter used her leftovers to make this quilt....awesome!

Another traditional beauty.......the use of black really makes the colors pop.

Comforting 'muddy' colors with sparks of color makes this quilt sing......


Careful placement of color provides an unexpected design for this traditional pattern....

Here's Michelle......president of the guild.......I asked if I could take her picture because frankly, I couldn't stop looking at her beautiful head of hair........she's a walking Barbie Doll (that's a compliment folks.)

Thank you members of Bear Creek Quilters for such a warm we play with wool felt in my workshop....stay tuned.....

Tx's Rachel for your comment.....dah....anyone who knows me well, knows I'm TOTALLY directionally challenged......I thought was so safe saying I was in a suburb of Dallas....clearly I'm clueless! However, I do know my hotel is in Grapevine! Great group....tx's for inviting me!!!