Tuesday, May 31, 2011


The Fiber Junkies May show and tell was as inspiring as always. Wish you all could see these works of art in person......

Carol Sloan is a fabulous mixed media artist. She thinks of combining techniques and materials in such clever ways. Here the background has been made by incorporating some paper napkins featuring printed words....then she added painting, stamping, & stitching.


Here's another example of her charming work: painted canvas enhanced by machine stitching.

I LOVED this piece.....Carol modestly describes it as doodling.....no....it's art to me! She's painted this folk art scene on wood.....


Val doesn't have a blog yet....but we are going to change that. Stay tuned, I'll post her blog address shortly. Her talents encompass so many mediums. She makes the most beautiful handmade papers which have become the stars of her new designs.


Aren't these just great??? I'm so lucky to have such talented pals who generously share their talents.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Of course by now we are all familiar with the HATS!! Creative and......well okay, some are pretty awful....

Yet there is one outstanding one.....view below.....

This one caught my eye. Training camp will begin in August.....I'm not sure we can top last season....I'm still grinning!! But let me be the first to say....


Sunday, May 29, 2011


After growing up and living in the Midwest for 60 years......we are often so surprised & amazed by life in the mountains.

Yesterday morning was a beautiful sunny, no cloud in the sky beginning. Then we were reminded of why this area is named.....the Smoky Mountains....

A huge cloud bank that had been sitting in the valley....suddenly rose and this is what it looked like from the front deck of our house.

At exactly that time, this is what it looked like from the back deck of our house.

AND...this is the view of the fog from the side of our house as it rolled up the mountain. Within 15 mins. it was back to being bright and sunny...though cooler. The mountains play tricks on the weather.......when we think it looks like rain it won't, and when we are sure there won't be rain, yup....it will pour.

Hope you are having 'picnic' weather, wherever you are this holiday weekend.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


These blocks got started during our March PTA retreat. Now all 50 are made and assembly can begin.

They've been pieced on a muslin foundation so I may use only a very light batting, flannel, or perhaps even eliminate that layer. I'll use traditional cotton for my backing and do some simple straight line quilting in the ditch to hold the layers together for this lap size quilt. I've noticed the trend of using fleece for the backing, often as a substitute for both the batting & cotton backing. Since I'm not a fan of fleece....I'll follow the more traditional path.

Now that summer is almost upon us, the temperatures are heating up. However, up here in the mountains, our evenings cool off nicely, and rarely is a/c even required....certainly not at night. This quilt is intended for use in our great room.....during movie watching time during any part of the year I like to cuddle under a quilt.

This was such a good way to utilize fabrics from my stash....most of them are 15-20 years old. Mindless sewing of strips has been good therapy for me these days.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


YEAH......it's about time for some more good news.....well....good news for me anyway.

It's so rewarding to realize that one of your designs is coveted and appreciated by someone else......

Fallen Leaf 15" x 13" SOLD
Bead embellished on Woolfelt (R), machine stitching & hand embroidery


I'm thrilled that this piece has a new home.....it gives me a reason to keep creating!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Daily routine won't return to our household for another couple of months as we muddle through 'the husband's' recovery. So, I've been acting as nursemaid, chauffeur, secretary, CEO, cook, housekeeper, gardener, go-fer....get the picture?? Not complaining.....things could be so much worse.

This means my creative time has been limited but I should have new subjects to discuss soon. In the meantime, I wanted to revisit our discussion about hand vs. machine quilting.

Though I love hand quilting and find it a very appropriate and often a necessary means of quilting my embellished pieces....there are times when I machine quilt. I've never put in the practice hours required to be accomplished at this task and because I'm such a perfectionist, I limit myself to stitching with the feed dogs up...using a walking foot to achieve even stitches. Really....I don't drop my dogs for anyone!!

Moonlit Meadow 23" x 17"

This photo is poor, sorry. I've tried and tried.....shooting quality photos of my work is difficult w/o a lighting system because the camera doesn't know where to look...it's distracted by the shiny beads and can't seem to focus on the whole piece. But...you get the idea....some of you have probably seen it in person. It's always a favorite when I teach and one of these days I'll offer it for sale.

As you can see, the design component of the quilt is beadwork.....normally, I'd bead the quilt top (in this case it's pieced) which had been stabilized with batting. Then I'd add a backing and hand quilt it.

Machine quilting around all these beads may be possible for someone extremely skilled at free motion quilting but they run the risk of distorting the beadwork. Machine quilting draws up fabric far more than hand quilting does so when the fabric shrinks, how the beadwork lays on the surface is affected. For instance, lines of beads will become cockeyed.

In this case because I knew the design would be physically heavy, machine quilting is desired since it adds stiffness to the fabric. So after piecing the quilt top and basting batting to the wrong side, I machine quilted wavy lines...through JUST THESE TWO LAYERS. Tissue paper was used beneath the batting to help it slide along the machine's bed, it easily tears off after stitching is finished.

After that's complete.....I secure the quilted piece into a Qsnap frame as described in a previous post and bead the motifs. Next, backing is added as usual. I machine quilted in the ditch between the pieced center and border to hold the layers together. Because this piece isn't large, this minimum amount of quilting is adequate to keep the front and back together.

Of course it may not offer a sufficient amount of quilting through the three layers to satisfy a judge in competition.....but I don't compete anymore so this works just fine for me.

Here are some detail views....... I personally like how the texture of the machine quilting sets off the beadwork. Quilting the piece prior to beading also gave the fabric more body, allowing it to stand up to the heavy beading.

Students in workshops are always surprised to learn that beads can be added at various stages of the construction process. One must think through the steps ahead and determine when that's best for their project. I've made pieces where beading has been added in as many as 4 different phases.

Pine Tree At Dawn 32" x 42"

Although this piece has only a minimum amount of beading on it, it was hand quilted in the traditional manner, through all three layers. I chose that method simply because the pine boughs are 3-D and I couldn't face trying to do it by machine. This is my 2010 PTA Sunrise/Sunset Challenge quilt. Our group's entire challenge will be displaying at the AQS Knoxville, TN show in July. I hope you will get the chance to see it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Recently I mentioned my blogging about my 'artist' piece now named "Alexandra", as an homage to Alexander Calder, would be on hold until it was complete. Because I'm now hand quilting it.....I'm thinking about just what a dyeing art hand quilting seems to have become.

What a shame......as much as I love to bead, I love hand quilting too. I've taught the subject for years and firmly believe that many quilters would indeed hand quilt more "IF" they were satisfied with their stitches. Of course not all projects call for hand quilting.....but perhaps those heirloom or special gifts might.

Quilting stitches should be equal in size AND the space between the stitches should be uniform as well. For those who feel it necessary to keep track, stitches are counted from the top only...... As a quilt show judge.....I don't feel it's necessary to 'count' stitches....I can tell by looking. For instance, if one had a lot of little stitches, mixed with big ones......their count may be high but the quality would not be.

I wrote an article, Perfect Your Hand Quilting Stitch, for Threads Magazine in 2008. It was to be featured online for only a short time......somehow it's still there. It may be helpful if you are interested in learning hand quilting tips. Visit here to read it.

In this photo, I'm wearing a Roxanne International thimble.....only because my thimble of choice, a leather one didn't allow a clean view of this closeup. Roxanne's thimbles are great, unfortunately, I can't use one because I'm allergic to metal.

I truly enjoy teaching hand quilting and sadly rarely have the opportunity these days. It seems it's ALL about machine quilting! I literally spend the first 45 mins. of my class explaining all the other aspects that contribute to getting good stitches.....which is good news to students when they realize success doesn't totally depend upon hand mechanics. The fabrics, size of needle, thread, and batting all contribute. As does even such a mundane thing as weather. It will be more difficult to pass the needle through cotton batting on a hot sticky day then on a dry one!

Perhaps this will encourage you to give it a try.......or holler.....and I'll come and lead a workshop for your group!

Oh....by the way.....thanks to Kay, a faithful reader/friend..... "Alexandra" is SOLD..... I'm so flattered to have someone (whose work I've always admired) love my design so much that she purchased it even before it's finished and agree to wait until after an exhibit that it's been promised for. Happy Day......

Saturday, May 21, 2011


For the time being, my daily routine is not the norm while 'the husband' slowly recovers from his accident. Long stints in my studio aren't possible so I'm learning to take advantage of shorter time periods without frittering them away.

My machine and supplies are set up to stitch a few seams, as time allows, to continue making blocks for my string pieced scrap quilt that I began at our PTA retreat this spring. I actually had the long strips carefully draped by color over the chair, while the smaller ones were within reach in the basket. Naturally, all that organization didn't last long....but it's still working fine.

I'm just trying to remember......a block here and a block there.....soon I'll have them all stitched!!

Quilters stitch for many reasons.......I've always recognized the satisfaction I get from completing even the smallest task on my projects is knowing that I wouldn't have to do it all over again, (unless I choose to). That's unlike the most common household tasks such as laundry, cooking, cleaning.....those always need to be repeated, over and over again Quilting is so much more satisfying!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Yes!!! Bonnie and Vicky F. guessed correctly. I hadn't intended this to be a contest....however......I hope Bonnie and Vicky F. will accept a small gift (my Funky Rooster wall quilt pattern) as thanks for playing along!! Bonnie....please email me using the link in the right side bar with your email contact, Vicky F. I have yours.

My 'artist' inspiration for our 2011 PTA challenge is Alexander Calder. Vicky said 'she's not an art student'......well....neither and am I. In fact, as the PTA members shared the progress on their pieces at our meeting....I must admit I was not familiar with a single artist that was chosen. Sad but true!

PTA member Dort suggested I name my piece 'Alexandra'......which I think is an excellent idea!

Calder had a long and varied career......using many different mediums.....he apparently liked spirals and used them often. Many of his pieces utilized black and white, yellow, red, orange, & blue. I was drawn to his work by the simplicity which I felt could be adapted to my beadwork.

This is a wire sculpture.....and naturally I'm crazy about the theme!

This huge sculpture was installed in Chicago in the courtyard of the Federal Building in 1974. I can still recall the uproar about it......there were as many viewers who liked it as hated it.

When my piece is complete I'll post a final image as well as the fun pieces my PTA buddies are creating. Our challenge will be exhibited at Mancuso's Mid-Atlantic Quilt Show in Feb. 2012.

Monday, May 16, 2011


The beading is now complete on my 'artist' inspired PTA 2011 Challenge. Beads will enhance the utter as well.....but not till later because they'd be in the way at this time. I don't expect to be posting many more updates now that I'm entering the quilting phase. It's going to be hand quilted and that may take me awhile!

Lately, no one has ventured a guess as to which famous artist inspired my quilt..... Come on faithful readers...... Here's a hint....think spirals....this artist often incorporated that motif in HIS work. He's a multi-talented artist who worked in a variety of mediums.

Perhaps I need to post some images of his work so the guessing can start again??

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I'm a stickler for good quality construction.....for me it's not all about fast, rather...it's about great design that has been executed to the best of my ability. If precautions aren't taken, beading can cause fabrics to distort. Therefore, I ALWAYS secure my work in a Q-snap frame.
The only exception is when I'm beading the bindings/edges of my quilts.

Q-snap frames are simply PVC tubes which come in a variety of sizes. This one is 11" x 11", my choice for smaller projects. The work is attached using clips that snap over the frame. Though you could use a round embroidery hoop.....I don't because it pulls the fabric diagonally which can stretch the bias. I've found it's best to keep the fabric ON GRAIN by using a square or rectangular frame when beading.

However, as the beading design develops, requiring repositioning of the fabric, I avoid using the clips in places where they could damage the beads. Instead, if the piece is large enough as it is in this sample, I wrap the excess snugly around the frame, and secure the layers together using straight pins or by thread basting. This keeps the fabric on grain, and well stabilized to assure good thread and fabric tension.

My 'artist' inspired piece is now in the beading phase.... The piece is attached to an 11"x17" Q-snap frame...note I used 1 clip at the top, where it didn't interfere with the beads.

So...okay....you may still not be able to guess who the artist is that inspired my design....but I think you will recognize this motif?

I also want to mention that I'm beading through 2 layers only.....the quilt top which has been stabilized with batting. This approach will hide and protect the threads once the backing is added later.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Each PTA meeting is eagerly looked forward to.....of course for the companionship but the inspiration we all gain from each other as well.

Lynne purchased this vintage quilt from a vendor in Paducah. It was from the Nestle quilt collection....my photo is bad......but still worth seeing..... Notice how each of the nine-patch blocks has a red center?

The fibers were in remarkably good condition. This style and vintage is my personal favorite and the kind of quilts I decorate my own home with. Many are hung over the railings of my loft studio and on the many ladders I have scattered around the house. Of course I also have my own embellished quilts on display too, but not as prominently because we lack wall space.

Lynne has continued experimenting with the rusting technique Kate demonstrated for all of us at our retreat. Instead of using water to react with steel wool, she's been playing with lemon juice and vinegar to speed up the rusting process.

Cathy wowed us with this piece featuring many surface design techniques which came out of a workshop she took with local fiber artist Bernie Rowell.

Dort's artistic abilities are apparent here with her newest quilt. It's pieced using squares....and due to her careful color placement, you can enjoy several large stork like motifs.

Back to Cathy's show and tell.......she's is a very busy Mom of two who keeps us all young hearing her adventures. The family recently visited Washington DC......I loved how she's documented and now archived this trip by having a hard cover book made from her photographs.

She claims it was easy.......using Shutterfly.com. Great idea!!

Friday, May 13, 2011


Our monthly meeting was inspiring as usual......here's what some of the members have been busy doing.....

Gen spent time dying and painting used dryer sheets.......amazing! Who'd have thunk it?

These are even better in my opinion..... I think I'm correct by saying that with one exception (the orange one)......these very textured pieces were derived simply by tossing dye catchers in the wash with colored clothing. Sorry my photo didn't capture them better......the surface gave the appearance of leather.

Gen also painted a variety of fabrics such as silk, rayon, cotton. She suggests to stop using paper towels as clean up 'rags'....instead use cotton fabric......the results can be stunning!

Gen really has been busy......This little piece was inspired by a Carol Taylor DVD. Actually, Gen has already mastered her sewing machine so well......that her design was of course a winner in our opinion!


.....more PTA creativity tomorrow.....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Spring is here......the wild flowers are all blooming...... Hummmm....I'm learning a new camera so of the half dozen photos I took....this is the only one that is even mildly okay to share.....not sure what on earth I'm doing wrong.....

However, what I am doing right is stopping to smell the roses. (Well actually, I did stop to enjoy the fragrance of flowers blooming on the many berry bushes that grow wild here.)

And that reminded me of a card I received.....which said: " STOP DOING - Just for right now!!" Yup, it's good to be reminded....

Monday, May 9, 2011


It's been awhile since I've been able to work on any projects......thank you friends for so many of your continuing supportive emails. 'The husband's' recovery progress is very, very slow but we are confident that in time, he'll be fine.

I'll be hanging around the house a lot more now.....so perhaps this piece will get some attention again. As a reminder....it's my 2011 PTA challenge project that was inspired by a famous artist. You can read our rules etc. here and here.

All the applique has been completed and the major design component has now been transferred to the white on white fabric. I don't think I've used pencil to transfer a design in about 20 years.....but because this motif will be beaded......I needed to have a thin line to follow, given it can't be washed out and my usual marking tool.....soap slivers just wont' show up on this fabric.

The marked top has been hand thread basted to batting in preparation for the next step.

....which is to bead the outline of my design......

Are you getting any ideas at all who the artist is that inspired my piece??