Sunday, August 31, 2014

What Fiber Artists Do

  The daylight hours are waning, and it is noticeable in the canyon. We welcome autumn with cool nights and sunny afternoons. The golden hours of morning and evening are an artist's dream.
   Hummingbirds have started to migrate south. I leave the feeders up for travelers who need one for the road. We will continue to see straglers for another month. Contrary to what some say, they will not hang around for feeders, and still need nectar for energy as they travel. It seems early to see the migration in August, and there have been other signs of an early autumn and perhaps a colder winter...
   I have been as busy. In the garden I have been harvesting tomatoes, basil for pesto, squash, carrots, beets, and herbs. I have a couple of part time jobs in town to earn pocket money. When I am not tending my house and yard, I sneak away to my loft and sew. Heavenly!!
   I made a costume for a customer of my etsy shop, Thimblepie's Quilt Supplies. It is a Steampunk Bustle. Super fun to make, and cute and sassy.

The bustle is buckled to my stair post.
I completed 3 scale model quilted cocoons for a grant proposal. I am collaborating with my artist friend, Betsy Hinze, who wants to do a large interactive fiber art show in January. The cocoons are 3-dimensional with boning hoops and organza draping. Challenging in tiny scale models but I think the full human size models will be easy. When it felt difficult and stressful, I had to remind myself that my dream has been to be a fiber artist, and this is what they do.

I completed the second A quilt and thought it actually looked like a twin to the original. The recipient was delighted, and my little Addison loves the original, which she will get for her birthday in December. Here are the 2 A quilts:

Ashlyn's  NO GREEN.

Addison's. Same size but photographed at an angle.
 And, my just completed quilt top, my August goal for ALYOF. Thanks to Ainsley and my pal Cheryl Little, entered in the Boise Basin Quilt Show Sept. 27 & 28. Yay!!!

"Squaresville." 52" x 73"
What have you been up to this busy month?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Cool Summer Rain

Last evening we had a big storm. Seems to be one big one each summer, complete with thunder, lightening, rain, wind, and hail. The temperature dropped 28° in an hour, from 99° to 72°. Phew! It was such a big relief after the prestorm energy build up. When the first rain drops fell, Mr. Thimblepie and I stepped out onto the back porch to smell the ozone and watch the storm clouds. Then, Ka-BOOM!! just as Abby the Brave stepped outside. She turned tail and ran inside to hide. Teeth chattering, she was scared for several hours. No damage from the hail, and everything got a good soaking. So pleasant to have windows open with cool breezes coming in the windows all night. Sadly, the storm also ignited lots of wildfires all over the western forests, near and far.

Abby the Brave in front of Owyhee Sunset

My August goal for ALYOF is to finish my modern Karla Alexander quilt, which I showed in my June 30th blog . I hope to enter it in the Boise Basin Quilt Show the end of September, as a member of the Boise Modern Quilt Guild. Happily, the berries are finished in the garden and now tomato season starts. I made calendula ointment (calendula blooms from my garden marinated in mild olive oil for a month, then strained) and can report first hand that it makes an excellent antibacterial wound treatment. Picking huckleberries in the forest last week in shorts was not wise. When will I ever learn?

Here is my garlic harvest, from last month. Lots of braids!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Two Choices

In a fit of pique` Mr. Thimblepie said "you'd rather quilt than do housework!" What better way to stop a disagreement, than to make a statement such as that?

A long standing goal of mine was to complete the Modern Quilt Guild Michael Miller Fabric Challenge. The deadline is at midnight, tonight, and I finished with hours to spare. Phew! I chose a pattern called "The Two-Hour Tulip Purse" designed by Janice D. Pope. It took me longer than two hours, but was not technically difficult.  I wanted to make a tincture bag that could hold 4 ~ 4 oz. bottles and other toiletries, so I added elasticized inner pockets. It has a magnetic closure snap, a detail I hadn't used before, but really loved. They are inexpensive and easy to put in without tools. Handle Instructions: Cut two strips 2 3/4" wide by length you desire. The challenge fabric was 20" long, so that is how long these orange cuties are. ( I prefer a few inches longer.) I used light batting as stabilizer, cut 1 1/2 " by length of strap. In a June blog I showed ironing it, using a bias tape maker, but the idea is to lay the batting on the wrong side of the strap and iron the edges of the strap over the batting, lengthwise. Then fold the strap over again lengthwise and iron, and topstitch the edges. It does make a good, firm strap.

5 handy pockets and room for lots of stuff.

The front pocket is quilted.

Sturdy handles, to fit over your shoulder, and the tote can be tucked under your arm.

The nifty bottom sits flat.

Chai gives her seal of approval. I am breathing a sigh of satisfied relief. Love to finish a project.

Monday, June 30, 2014


Recently I had to replace our worn bed sheets. I found a great set, almost new, at the Tourist Trap, our local consignment shop. The sheet set is khaki. I replaced the edges of the pillow cases with fabric left over from the quilts and curtains. The effect was satisfying.

Left pillow cases match the quilts and curtains. Red chickens and bedside tables from Joan. Right pillow case from Pam, guarantees sweet dreams.

Close up detail, next to the quilt border.
Other recent activity was a great class I took yesterday in Council, taught by Karla Alexander. I keep thinking that I have learned it all, that I take classes for the socializing and as an excuse to buy new fabric. However, Karla taught me some wonderful new techniques and design theories. I like the idea of secondary borders. The outside row of blocks in a quilt can be a shade darker or lighter, adding another frame to the quilt. More on that as I create my next epic piece. Here is a sneak peak at what I did yesterday in the class, one photo with sashing.

Eight more blocks to go on this quilt. I like the lilac sash, and the colors. This modern project is fun and different. The pattern is called "Paint Chip." I haven't named my quilt yet.  Dinner tonight is left overs and sauteed radishes. They are a little past their prime, should have been plucked from the heart of their warm little bed a week ago, but when sauteed they transform from spicy to mild. mmm

I did finish my goal set at the start of the month, the commissioned quilts. Tomorrow, July.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Good News and Bad News

The bad news first. The A quilt was rejected, although I had followed specifications. I had quilted/appliqued the large A, but otherwise it was still unfinished. So it got put in time out. The mom gave new specifications, and I agreed to start over. I hope they understand that this means additional cost of $75 for fabrics. My time and aggravation = priceless. The original A quilt can be gifted to someone I know who has a name starting with A, or I may sell it. Someone is being a diva, in my opinion.

In other news, all good, the barn quilt was finished in the nick of time, delivered to the Council Quilt Show, and looks good. The theme this year is, "Life on the Farm." Winner gets a $100 prize, chosen by viewer vote.

The sashing and the borders really brought this quilt together.
I had a flurry of procrastinator's remorse as I sewed the binding on. It was about 5" too short. I pulled out a new toy, a 2" bias tape maker, and made the remaining bias tape, and got it on in under 5 minutes. Phew! I highly recommend getting yourself at least one of these great tools. They are simple to use, work great, and can even be used for tote bag handles and items where interfacing is being applied. After making the first press, I take the tape and fold it over, thus creating a double fold bias tape. Here are two examples:

3/4" tape maker.

2" tape maker with interfacing being ironed on. I am using a 3" strip so the folds are narrower.
I entered a challenge block in the quilt show as well. The focus fabric is red and black. Winner of public vote gets 12 blocks. Second place gets the remaining 6. Here is my entry, followed by the whole lot.

Garden Gnomes are camouflaged  and out of view, although they are right in front of you.

The featured artist is Karla Alexander of Saginaw Quilts. She will be giving a trunk show at the luncheon on June 28th, and a class on June 29th. In honor of her, Pam and I each entered a quilt made from her patterns. 

Pam's Red Onion Polka Dot

My Cautionary Tale #2

The quilt show is in Council, ID at the elementary school, and runs daily from 10-5 until July 5. There are about 75 excellent quilts, and a sales area for books and crafts. It is worth the drive! 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

I'm a Barbie Girl

I have two commissions due very soon, and they are easy goals because I HAVE to finish them. Both are for little girls' birthdays, and I don't want them to cry because their quilts aren't finished. Here is Ashlynn's:

Chevrons with a large white A, ready to be quilted.
And here is Addison's (not my Addison, Candy's):

The border fabric has Barbie sentiments. White triangles are prairie points.
These two will be in the mail first thing Monday morning. I continue to juggle my various summer tasks; garden tending, housekeeping, pet exercising, and of course, lots of sewing. When other people say they don't have time to sew, and will do it when they retire, I say, pshaw! If you want to do it, make the time. Retirement gets busy in a different way and it is important to be creative NOW.

Another goal, not for anyone but myself, is the Modern Quilt Guild Michael Miller Challenge. As a member, I was given a pack of 6 ~ 1/8ths and a goal to make anything quilted by July 25th. Three winners get monthly fabric for a year. Here are the luscious fabrics, along with 2 pieces of Michael Miller fabric I chose to go with:

I thought I'd like the creamsicle better, but the army green seems better to me. Surprise!
And, a few lovely photos of peonies from my garden. The silly deer don't like them but they are among my favorite flowers. They have been in their current spot for three years, and are finally feeling ready to party.

Single red with yellow center.

Sarah Bernhardt spicy dramatic double bloom.
Happy summer.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Barn Raising

Completing an unfinished object (UFO) is one of my themes this year. When I started making monthly goals to finish UFOs 18 months ago, I had no idea just how many UFOs I actually had stashed away. It might be a black hole in my sewing loft. Picture an eternal vacuum pulling my partially finished projects into hiding, and my efforts to retrieve them prompt a Star Trek quote, "I..just...can' it, captain....I don't...have..the ...strength..."  HOWEVER, I did manage to pull a project out of the depths, a charming set of blocks including 3 barns. I started the block of the month project in 2010 at Cindys Quilt Shop. After scoffing at Eleanor Burns' techniques, I decided to quit the contempt prior to investigation, and make one of her quilts. Cindy's Shop led the month by month techniques, with fabric incentives for finishing each block in a timely manner. I made 8 of the blocks. Two have been rejected for not playing well with their friends. After pulling out the blocks and putting them up on the design wall, I added a new barn block, two embroidered panels from old dishtowels, and a dresden plate. The lattices will be brown chicken tracks.

Needs more brown lattices.

My mom got a set of 7 dish towels as a wedding gift in 1955, with these busy farm girls. 

Each towel had different colored gingham dresses and different chores for the 3 girls. Above them, chickens perch on a windmill.

The cow on the roof  is from 'O Brother Where Art Thou.'
As for my list from earlier this month, I did finish the OKC quilts. One was pictured in the last blog, here is the other:
A darling little girl and her daddy.
I completed 6 of the list items, and definitely met my goal for ALYOF.

CARS quilt for 4 yr old John Wayne
Oh! One more story. I purchased a yard of Disney CARS fabric two months ago to make this commissioned quilt. I bought orange flannel for the back and went to town to pre shrink it in the dryer at the laundromat (since we don't have an electric dryer.) After procrastinating for nearly two months, I searched for the CARS fabric last week, and literally turned my sewing loft inside out. It was no where to be found. Fortunately, I had been given a small piece of CARS fabric at the last quilt retreat I attended. It was less than ¼ yard. I was able to make it work in this scrappy trip around the world, with corner stones in the upper corners. There is lots of nice quilting on it, and even little pickup trucks with tiny black labs in the bed of the trucks. End result of my misadventure? I made a great quilt with scraps! Now, back to barn raising.