Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Very Old and Very Rare

Last week Mr. Thimblepie took me to St. Gertrudes Monastery to visit their museum and historic chapel. It was a beautiful site, on the list of Historic Landmarks. The chapel was built almost 100 years ago from blue porphyry stones quarried nearby.

 The museum is small but well stocked with interesting and choice items. Several of the displayed garments were unusual and rare. The bamboo jacket was especially fascinating. It was made from tiny pieces of bamboo, about 4 mm, like bugle beads, sewn into diamond patterns with linen thread. The garment was worn under fancy silk brocade robes. It allowed for air movement and absorbed perspiration.




Wearing layers of clothing seems unimaginable in present times. Styles and mores of the past were so restrictive. Reasons for wearing lots of clothing varied from modesty to status. Protection from the elements, biting insects and hazardous work conditions made sense. On the other hand, some cultures believed that uncovering the skin could be hazardous to ones' health.

Here is a close-up of hand made button holes on a brocaded wedding dress from the late 1800s. The dress was small, made for a woman of about 5 ft. height. It was before the era of Queen Victoria, when she started a fashion trend by wearing a white wedding gown.

I thought of the Beatrix Potter's story, "The Tailor of Gloucester." The Tailor was ill, so the mice finished his work on a wedding jacket for the Mayor of Gloucester. "The stitches of those button-holes were so small--so small--they looked as if they had been made by little mice."

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hen and Chicks




Said the first little chicken,
With a strange little squirm,
"I wish I could find
A fat little worm."

Said the next little chicken,
With an odd little shrug:
"I wish I could find
A fat little bug."

Said a third little chicken,
With a small sigh of grief,
"I wish I could find
A green little leaf!"

Said the fourth little chicken,
With a faint little moan,
"I wish I could find
A wee gravel stone."

"Now, see here!" said the mother,
From the green garden patch,
"If you want any breakfast,
Just come here and scratch!" 

My daughter Diane has a most exciting WIP; she is expecting a baby girl in October. Upon hearing the news, I wanted to plan and make the best and most adorable baby quilt. After considering Diane's favorite color (red) and a favorite pet (chickens) I decided on a pattern featuring hens and chicks, found here at  Sew Fresh Quilts. Lorna, the pattern designer, shows several color ideas that are modern and cheerful. I opted for more realistic colors and used some super fun Moda samples I have. I like the technique that Lorna uses, pieced shapes and triangles sewn on the diagonal and trimmed. Easy and precise.

The first two sets of hens and chicks, life size.
I decided on a soft grey background for a modern look and to soften the colors. I had fun looking at different hens and chicks, and choosing fabrics that gave variety and fanciness seen in a flock of chickens.  Here are the blocks, awaiting a few chick heads and rooster legs.

Fancy wings and a big rooster in the center.

The hen on the bottom left has eggs instead of chicks, and the fabric is sparkly. Diane and I talked about a 3-dimensional rooster tail for textural interest. I played around and came up with prairie points. Durable, and fun.

I set my reading glasses under the points to show the 3-D effect.

Yes, a green rooster. His comb and wattle are black. The tail and wattle were my designs.

I set a goal to finish this quilt in time for the Council Quilt Show which has the theme this year, "Feathered Friends." It was good to have a goal, the quilt is finished way ahead of the baby's birth. I used other ideas from Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts, wavy line quilting, and a flanged binding. The binding is attached exclusively by machine. Here is the quilt at the quilt show:

Ready to welcome baby.
The back of the quilt is a fabric line named, "Babes in Farmland" by Timeless Treasures. I bought 5 yards. 5 yards. Keep in mind, the baby quilt is 40" x 50." That is how I buy fabric.

cute details.


 I also made a challenge block with the same theme, "Feathered Friends," and blue green fabric as the challenge focus fabric. My block is entitled, "Gertrude McFuzz," after the Dr. Seuss book about the little bird with a plain tail, who wanted a fancy tail and ate pill berries until her tail grew too big for her to fly. I used a paper pieced pattern called Teeny Tiny Feather and a bird block from Sophie Junction. The bird pattern is found on her blog. And, the pill berry bush is my improv from a Gwen Marston class.

A bird after my own heart, eating pill berries to make herself feel better. 
How is your summer shaping up?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Word for the Day

I have been committed (yes, it's true but this time I mean MY intention, not other peoples') to daily writing ala  The Artist's Way. But my faithful and patient blog, named after yours truly has been sorely neglected for a very long time. I have been waiting for just the right inspiration when I know it happens in the writing, not so that I will be inspired to write. I have been writing longhand every morning and coming up with ideas. The discipline is in the doing. Procrastination comes from perfectionism, waiting for everything to be JUST RIGHT. I still struggle with artistic anorexia, avoiding the creating while wanting to have created. Sometimes I get epic shit done despite my best avoidance.

Here are some of the projects I have been working on since my last post:

I finished two UFOs this spring and entered them in the Palouse Patchers quilt show in Moscow in April. Some of us took a road trip to see the show. This is "Strawberry Ice Cream," my wonky churn dash made from blocks I received when I was in Stash Bee, an online block exchange. I quilted it on my domestic machine with lots of straight line grids.

Wearing a glove so that I can touch the quilts: I chose a fancy satin dress up glove. 
 The silk folded log cabin quilt was hand pieced by someone's grandma in the 1940's and 50's. These were the throw away ugly blocks. I can't resist a challenge like that and laid this blocks out in a streak of lightening pattern. Some colors are both lights and darks. The silk was pieced onto flour sacks and I hated to cover them up. One sack had a harvester carrying a sheave of wheat. But, it had to get covered up to become a quilt. I hand quilted the hell out of this quilt and it glows with inner light. Kaffe artisan fabric made a perfect binding, blue grey with wild bright flowers.
Here I am with the one that almost got away.
This little charmer is a study in purple. I have always liked the Chinese Puzzle block. I made this from leftover half square triangles. I put a flanged binding on it to use a teensy strip of mustard for neutral pushing. I love the effect. Here is a simple tutorial for flanged bindings. Super quick and easy way to bind.
Another creation that doesn't want to be adopted out.

Truly Scrumptious.



I held my second Spontaneous Outdoor Quilt Show but was preempted by Mr. Thimblepie, who had to water the garden. I was crushed. Couldn't it have waited a few hours? I loved seeing how prolific I have been, my inner artist was thrilled.

I learned a new word: ootheca. It is the egg case of praying mantis. Mr. Thimblepie redeemed himself by noticing and calling me out to witness this hatching. The little guys scatter so quickly, and we won't see them again until they are at least double that size. A hummingbird came nearby to watch the hatch but I needed some photos so no snacks for him.

About 4 mm long.
What is happening in your neck of the woods?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

It's the Part That Touches You

The back of a quilt, that is. Just as important as the front, in a different way. Does that make it a reason to buy more fabric, for that special quilt backing? For certain! Someone was surprised at my most recent finish; I hadn't pieced the back. I guess that a pieced back is one of my trademarks. Also the patched binding. This binding is various browns and blacks left over from other projects. It is perfect for this quilt, making the bright colors sparkle.

I was asked to make a quilt for the Women and Children Free Restaurant Spring Tea Party Fund Raiser. This wonderful organization in Spokane provides food for women and children who are in need. Since the venue is a tea party, I decided that nothing says comfort as much as a cuppa tea.

This cheerful quilt, "Big Mug," is 64"x80." It was made with Moda batiks from a free pattern on the QNM website, designed by Pam Rocco. I added the tea tags which have sayings from Yogi tea. I was hoping to tug at heart strings, for the quilt to have crowd appeal, and to be a great gift. Here are the 20 different sayings:
















Of course I added my label, complete with thimble insignia. I quilted this on my domestic machine with wavy lines. Simple and effective.

Abby is considering a nice cuppa.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Leaning in for the First Kiss

   I wrote my annual New Year's Resolutions which included "to NOT start any new projects." Those of you who are creative types will get that one, the fun, the joy of leaning in for the first kiss of a new project. Finishing just isn't the climax we dream of. It is usually more like a sigh of exhaustion. There, the baby fell asleep after crying all frickin' afternoon and evening.
   So, completing my UFOs has been more of shushing the fussy babe, mixed in with "WTF was I thinking when I started this? " As I worked through the projects, I noticed an inner shift. Looking procrastination right in the eyes and winning a staring contest. Small quilt projects only take a day or two to sew, quilt and bind. Even when they need remedial design help they don't take too long.
   Here are some lovelies that had been collecting trolls (as they say in Norway, translation: collecting dust.)

Little Butterflies
quilting detail, batik cording inner border
Scrappy Trip Around the World
I like the curry colored inner border. It brings out the other colors.
Backing of the trip; Japan prints, Kitty-San and Butterflies of Kobe by Alexander Henry, and Kaffe chrysanthemums
Lots of straight line quilting was perfect for this modern baby quilt.
The backing flannel is just right, as is the striped bias binding from my sister Pam, and my little tag with a thimble.
"Nacho Pussy" quilt. 
   It is hard to stay out of the spitting contest on social media when it comes to politics. Such extremes are a phenomenon. The day after the Inauguration, there was a huge protest march that took place on all 7 continents. Estimates gauge the attendance at over 5 Million. The common attire was "pink pussy" hats, to protest the president's comment about his ability to grab pussies. Since I had my own personal tiff with Mr. Thimblepie about the march here at home, I decided in time honored quilter's style, to put my political opinion on a quilt.  The result is "Nacho Pussy." What flavor is my pussy? Nacho. It's Nacho Pussy.
5 yr old UFO remade into Cobblestones, with elephant flannel back. Kaffe stripes.
I took myself on an artist's date to McCall to see the snow sculptures and to buy some new fabric. It was a lovely sunny winter day.The sculptures were pristine, and huge snow berms were everywhere. I stopped at Huckleberry Patches to pick up a flannel charm pack I'd won in a drawing and to buy 5 different yards of solids for new, modern projects and to sparkle up my UFOs.
   It looks like my resolution is to lean in for more kisses rather than shush the baby.

Friday, January 6, 2017

My Sweet Tooth of Cuteness

I did my annual photo album on facebook of my year of projects. I was missing a few that didn't get photographed, but the end result was amazement at how much I accomplished. I had over 21 quilted projects, 3 big quilt tops, over 30 blocks for exchanges, handfuls of zipper pouches, messenger bags, commissioned projects, mending jobs... With all of this sewing, how can it be that I still have a fabric stash that just won't quit?

I whipped up a sweet little confection, this hearts-a-flutter mini quilt, using scraps, and corduroy for the dimensional hearts:

A Walk in the Woods leftovers.

I used left over bias binding from an apron project. It is machine quilted with glossy pearl grey Glide.
Then I finished a UFO of 4 left over heart blocks from a lotto win 2 years ago. I pieced, bordered, and machine quilted this little sweetie, and now to hand sew the binding. Kaffe is perfect!

Lovely Valentine Table Topper
These little projects have no purpose but to please me, to satisfy my sweet tooth of cuteness, and to remind me that love is real.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

It's All About the Quilts

  Every year end I write up my goals, resolutions, and dreams for the coming year. As I was pondering this stint, I found a link up with rewards by Yvonne of QuiltingJetGirl. A good omen if I ever saw one! I spent a day ruminating on my goals, not the dreary "lose 10 pounds" kind, but the fun ones, because we know it's all about the quilts.

My not so secret to personal growth as a quilt artist is writing the Daily Pages, ala The Artist's Way. The link is actually to a woman who inspired me to give it a go, someone who found her success through the process. So my first goal is to continue writing the daily morning pages. It cleans the brain gears. It sweeps away the dust bunnies. It tortures the Inner Critic into a whimpering mass of jello. It opens the gates to creation.

Creation is fun.
My next goal is a yearly hope for almost every quilter and creator: to NOT start new projects.  I have whittled down my stack of UFOs, but there are still a whole bunch. One blogger said she would let herself start a new project for every 3 she finished. Maybe it is more realistic to go 1 for 1. If I get a big inspiration how can I not start a new project? It is more about progress than perfection, folks.

Another UFO, DONE!! 
This is a 14 x 24 Tlinget Button Blanket art piece. My inspiration came from the logo of a soul catcher, a symbol for physical and spiritual well being. It was originally created for the U W School of Public Health by Marvin Oliver. I adapted it in colors I love, hand appliqued, machine quilted, and embellished it with antique mother of pearl shank buttons. It is a graduation gift for my daughter, Diane Jensen Donald.  I called Lisa at Huckleberry Patches to brainstorm about the best way to hang this pushme-pullyou. We thought framing, so I called Nels Jensen at Picture This, and made a plan. I will mail this wrapped around a tube and inside a priority mailing tube to him to frame. He told me he is booked 3 weeks into January, and of course I need it today, December 17th, so I replied that my daughter Diane is used to being disappointed. 

So, since I finished this one, do I get to start a new one? 

I have had a goal to write pdf patterns and sell them in my etsy shop. I even bought the Adobe update pdf tool this year, and had a fine tutorial by Diane on using it. Well, I need a refresher course. But I have at least one design, Superhero Undies, that I want to get drawn up. I found this poster on etsy, and wrote to the artist several times with no response. If I give him credit in the pattern, maybe he won't come after me with his copywrite infringement superpower and slap my hands. I have a secret wish to try EQ7. Or maybe that is complicating things? 

Triangles and a couple of appliques. 
I have been working on my FMQ (free motion quilting.) A goal that needs to stay as loose as my shoulders is to practice my FMQ. I find it more useful to just practice on my real projects, rather than mess around with scraps and toss things in the garbage. I will post a photo after Christmas of a project waiting to be quilted this weekend. I need to restate a personal skill I have. When I FMQ, as my hands move the fabric around under the needle, my tongue sticks out and moves in unison with my hands. This is a natural talent, not something I had to learn. I will see about posting a video of this amazing feat.

Of course I will continue with my usual yearly goals, go to yoga 3 days a week, eat healthy, smile lots, connect with others more, comment on every blog I read, and keep sewing every day.