Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Do you ever think....so okay, I've got this all thought out...have a plan and then with scissors in hand, realize the plan isn't such a great one??

The time I've been dreading since the beginning of this project has come....the center rectangle of my 'stamp' quilt needed to be inset into the whole cloth background.

 ....which means making the background piece into a seamless border.  I began by marking the size of my completed center, plus 1/4" s/a. 

  Then in a stroke of insight, BEFORE cutting it out, I stay stitched just inside the cutting line to provide some stability to the fabric.

 Then I taped my (still basted to a muslin foundation) applique design onto my cutting table.

.....and placed the border section on top.  The edges of the borders were turned and pin basted, while checking to make sure it remained square.  I had initially thought I'd machine stitch the layers together with 'Y' type seams at the corner but the more I realized what a hassle that would be, the more I talked myself out of that direction.  Instead, I hand basted the two layers together and am now in the process of hand appliqueing them together. It's not as fast but I believe I'll have better control of the finished product!

Monday, January 30, 2012


I've always been on a first name basis with my sewing machine, but have never claimed to be best friends.  Oh...don't get me wrong....I love the beast.....however my skills need to improve in order to bond totally with it.

I find I can make bigger mistakes - faster - when stitching with the machine!  In part that's because sitting at the machine for hours is frankly, boring to me, plus due to numerous back surgeries it's just plain uncomfortable.  I believe that equation makes me rush the process and therefore generates mistakes.

To make viewing my blog, reader friendly, I've been saving lots of process photos of an ongoing project to share when it's completed.  Today, I'm jumping ahead to highlight my practice of 'test' stitching. Perhaps this simple procedure can save you time in the future as well. 

Here you see the mirror image of a motif that I'll be appliqueing onto my current project.

 When faced with a task that I haven't done recently, I always sew a sample before stitching on the actual quilt. Testing the set up of one's machine (thread, tension, needle size etc.) is a good habit to adapt.  Now is the time to make those adjustments, not after you've got a mess.

Once I confirmed the stitch length and width for the appliqueing....the stitching went rather quickly.  

This is a sneak preview of our 2012 PTA challenge.  The theme this year is postage stamps.  The center panel of my stamp (not seen here) is complete. All I need to do now is figure out a way to incorporate/inset it into this background.  I'm not looking forward to this challenge!

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Work continues on my little hand-dyed felted wool piece......

 Machine stitching with rayon thread adds texture to the large cactus....

Hand embroidery is likewise helping to transform the smaller plants.....  Once these touches are completed, beadwork is sure to follow....

Thursday, January 26, 2012


You all know by now about my long standing love affair with Holstein cows.....a favorite theme for my quilts.

So of course when I spotted this trophy I was both amused and a bit sad....but not uncomfortable enough to prevent my camera from snapping some pictures.

Almost from the moment I began making original quilts, I realized the importance of selecting a theme or subject as my starting point.  Over and over I hear worried comments from students that they could never create their own designs....they don't even know where to start.

This is my standard suggestion.....pick a theme or subject....then work from there. For instance if you chose a holiday theme....say Valentine's Day....I'll bet you are already familiar with some ready-made components to jump start the design process.  Color = reds/pinks  Shapes = hearts/arrows  Style = you decide - contemporary or traditional. If you prefer to piece then you'll be looking for a patchwork pattern, likewise, if you enjoy applique...then you can decide if you wish to do that task by hand or machine.  You see....it's just little decisions that build on each other.  

I rarely begin a project that grows from start to finish without any changes in my vision. However, I must admit my vision is generally quite fuzzy anyway!  So I allow the piece and of course my instincts to guide me.

Not all decisions have to be made right away.  Some will be obvious. If Holstein cows were my subject.....I'd probably be working with black and white for starters, then I'd begin to envision other motifs/shapes to fit into my 'story'.  Such as a horse shoe, cow boys etc.  Naturally, I'd also want to consider = will it be a bed quilt or wall hanging.  You get the idea.....

It's really all about looking around and getting inspired by one single thing.....which becomes YOUR theme.....decison #1 is made.  Then make decision # 2 and so on and so on.

In my case, I have WAY tooooo many ideas so selecting a theme or subject helps me focus and move forward.  Otherwise, I'd be weighing about 10 possibilities and never actually take scissors to fabric!

I always tell my students that there are no mistakes in quiltmaking......I think of them instead as 'design opportunities'....most often they take me where I wouldn't have gone with the piece and more often than not, the quilt is better because of it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I'm keeping the design elements minimal because this piece is quite small.  A few humble smaller cactus shapes have been added and will be hand appliqued in position.  After that??......let's see what it tells me to do!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Okay......I know you all read this blog to see quilts.....right??  So...even though this piece is only in the beginning stages....I'm really so anxious to see how it will develop.

 My inspiration comes from the recent trip I took to Phoenix where I spent time with two buddies.....Nan and Gwen.  The sunsets were glorious.....just the right subject for this piece of hand dyed felted wool.

 Next, I dug into my greens.....every speck of green wool I have.  Unlike working with hand-dyed cottons, where it's fairly easy to find graduated color packs, that's not the case when using commericial wool.  

 You may have guessed the other subject of my piece....of course it's cactus....

I'm planning to do some machine stitching to add texture to the motifs....which I'm sure will be followed with some beading.  I'm keeping my camera handy so I can share what comes next with you.

Monday, January 23, 2012


I'm struggling to find time to make advances on two current projects I'm working on so that I may share them with you.  I try to post photos/progress in order and also a timely fashion so you can see the conclusion without waiting for months and months.

Which is why so much non-quilting has been featured lately.....I'm stuck on both of my projects.....and the end is no where in sight.  I may have to post some teases of my struggles and remind you later when I finish the pieces in order to keep you all with me!

But, for now...here's a look from the porch of our mountain valley home on this very rainy Monday morning.  

Yes, it is beautiful here no matter what the weather....oops...except snow....I'm so over liking snow!

Sunday, January 22, 2012


...Yesterday we were chatting about a mid-winter quilt show.....today, I'm turning my attention to the AQS  Show in Lancaster, PA - March 14-17, 2012.

I have the honor to be one of the judges for the show, plus I'll presenting 5 workshops, the All-Star Review, and they are offering an Evening With Mary Stori (oh my doesn't that sound high and mighty?....really....it's just a lecture!)

If any of you out there are planning to attend....please be sure to introduce yourself to me so I can thank you in person for hanging with me on this blog.

AND...if you have time.....I want to draw your attention to one of my workshops that still have lots of room.  It's the only full day class I'm offering.....so there will lots and lots of time to explore the project and even get a little off track by learning a lot more about some of the techniques I use when creating my felted wool wall hangings.

The workshop is "What Goes Around" (# 46101 on the AQS list) on Thurs. - March 15th.  A complete kit with everything you need to make this scissors sheath is provided.  The focus of the class is a few clever beading techniques that take time but are in fact easy once you learn the pattern.  I a flat, even count peyote stitch to attach cabochons or flat mirrors to my work.

For instance, here are small zippered bags I made as gifts, decorated with mirrors and other decorative beads.

Detail.... again...it looks hard, but once you learn the tricks....you too will be impressing your friends!

....Here's another example of how a few simple stitches can become the highlight of a quilt.

I'd love to have you in class.......FYI = the half day classes are nearly filled so if you are interested in any of my workshops, I suggest registering now.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


January is flying by......and some of you may be looking ahead to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, Feb. 23-26, 2012, held at Hampton Roads (VA) Convention Center.

Our fiber group (PTA - The Professional Textile Artists will be exhibiting "Inspired By"....  Several of us from our group will be attending....and two, Linda Cantrell and Judy Simmons will be teaching.  Perhaps I'll run into you??

Our Asheville, NC area invitational fiber group was formed over a decade ago. In an effort to keep us motivated and our creativity growing, we issue an annual quilt challenge to our 14 members. For the 2011 Challenge each artist was to create a wall quilt inspired by a 2-dimensional, non-quilt artist. The finished piece could be hung in either a vertical or horizontal orientation and measure approximately 24” x 30”. The exhibit includes a photo of the work by the artist who inspired each quilt. Additionally, each member will have a second piece, hung next to their ‘artist’ piece which exemplifies their own personal style. 

 Linda Cantrell was inspired by the work of Picasso......as seen here......

.....and here is Linda's fabulous original design.

This challenge was a favorite of all of us.  My piece and its back story can be seen here and here.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Writing a daily blog (or almost daily) has provided me the opportunity to really pay attention to daily routines....especially the small things that might be overlooked as (like many of you) I charge headlong through life.

It's a pleasure to share and yes, even think out loud as I create project after project.  Hopefully, my mis-steps and out and out mistakes will save you time as you tackle your creations.

Finding something to chat about day after day is rarely a problem....that's probably because I'm naturally so chatty.

 I have my pal Jackie from Colorado Springs to thank for today's post.  As you know, this blog doesn't include political or social comments....there's way too much of that going on everywhere already! 

This short flick is the closest thing you'll find to that sort of subject here.  Take a look.....maybe you'll find a description that is familiar to you....and perhaps will have a good laugh as well.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


While we were at the quilt show, my friend found this weird, almost creepy item in a vendor's booth.

It's an apron of sorts

....it's satin with plastic baby dolls stitched on.....the larger ones have eyes that open and close.....  We didn't know what on earth to think about this.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Getaways are so refreshing......can't wait to do a repeat of my recent trip.

 I visited a long time friend at her winter escape home in one of the newer Sun City developments outside of Phoenix.  This is the view off her patio toward the golf course.  The weather was so pleasant, if I lived there I'd have to set up my sewing machine outside and spend the days catching the rays and the views.

We kept ourselves quiet busy and were lucky the timing offered us a chance to see "Art Quilts: Year XVI - Something To Say."  This exhibit is at the Chandler Center for the Arts until Jan. 28, 2012.  Unfortunately, and understandably, photography is not allowed....but I can assure you it was wonderful.  I expected it to be quiet small but we browsed for well over an hour.  It was great to see a steady, and I mean steady stream of viewers.  The quilts were displayed professionally, well lighted, and offered a large variety of styles.

 We  also attended a small quilt show in Wickenburg....a charming historic town.  

 It was a pleasure to see so many traditional quilts on display in one place.....
 This is one of the very few art type quilts and certainly one of the very few to feature embellishing. 

 The maker utilized buttons, machine embroidery, and paints for this original design quilt.

I thought this was very clever.....each quilt had one or more clothes pins attached for viewers to safely turn the quilt and view the backside.  Since it was a small venue that was a bit crowded.....this made so much sense.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


 I've been MIA now for nearly a week....I'm happy to be back!

My unusually mysterious absence (mysterious only because I'm normally such a blabber mouth that typically I post about everything)....was in part caused by my lack of internet access.  Yes, I can blog from my iphone but the little screen and my ignorance about how to attach photos from there...well...it was too much to learn at the moment.

I do have some photos to share over the next couple of days, but not like I should.....I was just too darn distracted.

Anyway.....the focus of today's blog is to send out a great big thank you to the thoughtful person who sent this fabric postcard. Notice I said 'person' and didn't name a name.....that's because it was unsigned and I can't even figure out where she lives because the post mark is unreadable.  So....please come forward so I can acknowledge you!! (At least I assume it was made by one of you that read my ramblings.)

I got home late last night and seeing it put such a smile on my face. It's only the 2nd fabric post card I've ever received and believe me it will never be outdated. I have to admit....we are all licking our wounds over Sunday's game.  But...they've truly given us so many thrills these last two seasons......it's really okay.....we love the Pack as does everyone in Packer nation!

Notice the postage stamp....very nice touch!

.....and I believe The PACK will thrill us again next year!!!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

So Sad

The Pack will be back!!!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


While 'the husband' holds down the home fort.....I'll be off to sunny skies and warmer weather, followed by a stop in a much colder weather spot.

I'm one of the (probably) million happy campers who found an ipad under the Xmas tree. So for this trip, I will be soloing with it and hoping I can figure out how to blog from this new device.  Of course no products come with owner's manuals anymore......but I've downloaded all 132 pages and hope to wade through it to educate myself as I pass the time in several little metal capsules.

So...just in case I'm silent for a few days....you'll know technology has yet again, passed me by......

Monday, January 9, 2012


Our two new members had recently visited Guatemala and both brought yummy textiles to show.....

 The cloth is hand woven and features hand embroidery.

 Detail (can you image the hours it took??)

 This detail of a Huipil ( a type of smock all the natives wear) is made using the bullion stitch....complete with shading....marvelous!

 Here's our Kate showing off how these textiles are worn.  The skirt is a length of fabric that is wrapped around the body and secured with a woven belt.

 Here's a purse or tote bag made by recycling a Huipil....notice how the neck becomes the opening for the bag.

 We learned that some of their cloth is woven on a 'belt' loom.......one end is attached to the belt and another to objects such as trees.  They sit for hours and hours on their knees weaving.

What an education and of course it peaked everyone's interest......maybe a BIG field trip is in order?!?

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Our show and tell this month was pretty massive......here are a few more peaks....

 Judy Simmons continues to awe us with her innovative photo transfer/computer & screen printed designs.  If you are lucky enough to be attending the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in February.....be sure to sign up for her lecture on Thurs. afternoon....and of course her workshops through out the event.

 She often utilizes her Grandmother's hand written recipes and subtle additions of faces into her quilts.
 She brought these 3 pieces that she was undecided about her path.....the goal was to turn them into a triptych.  One of the great advantages of having such a talented group is the good suggestions that are offered.  Judy now has more ideas to explore!

We have another new member this year.....Dee Dee Triplet....a well known doll maker, and accomplished at just about every other technique!  She brought volumes of binders of her published work and this darling doll for us to drool over!

Friday, January 6, 2012


Meet Kate Weston....one of our two new members of the Fiber Junkies.....

 Kate's been experimenting......and I'm sure you'll agree with me....very successfully marbling fabrics.  Take a look at these beauties....my fingers were itchin'.....what fun it would be to bead one!

 Here (above and below) are two pieces she's sandwiched and quilted......

 Kate's skills are far reaching......the piece above and below are more examples of her design and great construction abilities.....  We are so happy she agreed to join our group.

Besides the major show and tell we enjoyed today.....we set goals for 2012.....a long list of techniques to explore......Yippie....