Friday, February 8, 2019

Clearing out my Qi

"In the midst of winter, I found there was within me, an invincible summer." (Albert Camus) I love zinnias. They represent the vibrancy of summer. I have a zinnia poster that I bought and had framed 33 years ago. It has sadly faded. I decided to recolor it with paints and markers, and after years of putting it off, finally got 'er done. Here is the finish:
Here is a before, with just the leaves greened up:
Much brighter. My studio looks much more cheerful, full of joy. The latest trend is decluttering your home and work space, sparked by Marie Kondo and her Konmari method. It is supposed to create joy as well as space. I scoffed and ignored the idea for a while, because, really? Is it possible to declutter a sewing studio? Every time I come in this space a bomb goes off and stuff flies. I have worked to keep it somewhat tidy but it has been a losing proposition. I read a couple of encouraging blog posts and decided to give it a try. Who doesn't want a nice, joyful, spacious sewing room? First I put away the knick knacks, the thimble collection, wiped the shelves and got a few big baskets to hold stuff. I have been going through my bins of fabric, sorted by colors, and if it doesn't give me joy, into the thrift store bag it goes. I have already tossed half a dozen arm loads of stuff.
Notice anything in the basket? I am not going to try to explain the whole concept, or give pointers on how to find your joy. I can, however, state that I feel much better, and so does Rootin' Tootin'. I am working on a top secret project. One part of it is invisible machine applique with monofilament thread. The fabrics, glorious Kaffe Fassett prints, are being fused to the background. The whole idea is to make a wonderful yet affordable piece of art. I can attest to the speedy delivery this approach has, and the results are very satisfying. Here is a little teaser of the results:
I think it is a success. Have you tried any new techniques that gave you joy?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Here Fishy Fishy Fishy

I have several projects in progress and a serious to do list, but I couldn't resist starting and finishing a new project: a life sized salmon fiber sculpture/pillow.  I used batiks and some lovely new Gradient print from Moda. I used a copy of this pattern which was well written and illustrated by JanLee Irving, who is an Alaska resident. She knows her fish. This one has all of the fins that a wild Salmon has. Hatchery fish have their dorsal fin clipped for identification. They may be kept, while the wild ones can only be gently caught and released.

36" from nose to tail. My name tag is on the belly. 

Pattern for sale in my etsy shop. Written by JanLee Irving.
"


You can see the embellishment details here: ribbons and rick rack. 

The fins are made from interfaced ironing board fabric, the metalic shiny gold stuff. 

One detail I'd edit: the original placement of the eye (see stitching lines?) looked odd. I used my seam ripper and moved the eyes forward. The mouth stitching also had to go.   
The gills are dimensional. The head is velvet remnant from a Sue Spargo tote that I made and wrote about in May of 2013. The center of the eye is black pleather, also from a remnant, from a Cat-woman Halloween costume I made for Caroline over a dozen years ago. See? It is important to save those cool remnants. They are still good. There is even a fancy word for that: mottainai, a Japanese word that means too good to waste. It is a beautiful term from Buddhism that is central to the mindful upbringing of most Japanese, (notably the elder, traditional people) that honors the preciousness of things.

Synchronicity. As I wrote this blog post , my sister, Pam, who is touring Japan, saw this at the Amuse Museum. 


This pillow looks great in our living room area, which has a Steelhead Quilt on the wall and a cotton fish blanket draped over the couch. For those of you who are not Idaho natives, Steelhead and Salmon are two types of fish that are anadromous. They hatch here on our Salmon River, migrate to the Pacific Ocean, and return to spawn. They have to navigate 4 dams and a serious assault by sea lions. It is no wonder their numbers are dwindling.

I have been working on several other projects, one a special commission. Someone in quilt club asked me a few weeks ago if I sew every day. Yes, I do. I am a lucky woman.   

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Jump on the Bandwagon

My newest project is a medallion quilt. I don't know how big it wants to be. Medallion quilts are some of the oldest styles of quilts, popular in the late 1700's. Like every other trend, it has re-surged in popularity. I decided to jump on the bandwagon in my quest to try every style of quilting.

 I received some vintage quilt blocks, including this charming maple leaf block. It is hand pieced and the fabrics look to be from the 1920's. I gently washed it in Synthrapol to clean it and remove some red dye that had "bled" onto the adjoining fabric. I love how well it works, and the block looks much more colorful. I guess it got dirty from being handled, it wasn't faded from light.

I got the impetus to make a medallion quilt from my local guild, who is having an ongoing project adding borders. I like this braided border and used strips from my scrap bag to get started. I added some Moda prints to fill in the volume of the braids, alternating light with darker greys.

I love the soft timeless look. I have added in a teensy bit of pink and blue to draw attention back to the maple leaves. It isn't evident in the picture, but there is an outer border of muslin. I haven't decided the next row yet, maybe some applique. 


21" x 21" so far. 

In other sewing studio news I mended another vintage block and made it into a pillow for a cousin who wistfully asked at the last family reunion, "What do I have to do to gt a quilt? Have a baby or get cancer?" Certainly not! 

This vintage block was cut out of an old quilt that used a wool blanket as the batting. Before the advent of nice cotton, synthetic, bamboo, or wool batting old blankets were not unusual for filler. Modern batting became available in the 1950's first as polyester, then more natural fibers in the last few decades.

 I picked out the center circle which was shredded, something that happens to old fabric either from dye or fiber breakdown. I replaced it with vintage fabric from the 30's, turned upside down to make the color look right. For those of you too young to know, the girl is playing with a hoop and stick.

Hand appliqued and then quilted to match the stitches of the block. 
The center circle balances out with the other sweet fabrics.

Cute vintage fabric from the 30's or 40's. 

The back of the pillow. I like to use a zipper so the pillow cover is snug. 
And, lastly, I scoffed at panel quilts which are quite popular around these parts. I decided to make a duvet cover with panel fabric that I received for Christmas, to cover our down comforter. We encourage our pets to get on the bed, so a nice quilt is out of the question in the winter. After I put this duvet cover together I understood the popularity of panel quilts, they go together FAST. My spouse likes this duvet cover a lot, and it fits in with the theme of living in the back country. Black bears do live near us.

Panels will camouflage the pet hair. 
In the warmer months when we don't need a down comforter, we do use quilts.... and I am working on a new one that I will reveal later. The pets don't sleep with us when it is warmer, and after all, quilts are my thing. Don't worry that I am a quilter who doesn't even use one. You can never have too many quilts.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Just Like Your Eyeballs

This quilt started a few years ago as a tea towel challenge that my notorious sister Pam invited me to join. I bought the center of this wild quilt as a vintage (50's) tea towel almost exactly 6 years ago, from an Etsy vendor that is no longer in business. The challenge was presented by Victoria Findlay Wolfe, who had just come up with the concept "15 minutes of play."

Cool as a Cucumber.

I had a new Dresden Plate template and used it to make plates with pickle and random other themes. I like the strings of hot peppers, the olives, and the other wonderful fabrics from my collection. The centers of each dresden plate were left over from another wonderful quilt that had a humongous number of Kaffe appliqued circles.

Kaffe is the perfect blender fabric!


The next addition was two mason jars of pickles. I chose a quilt style called ticker-tape, which uses little scraps and looks simple but is very time consuming in it's fussiness. The good part is, it is not really fussy in the way detailed hand sewing can be, it just takes a long time to make one jar of pickles. It was fun digging through scraps to find the right pieces. Pam was with me when this part happened, and some of my favorite memories are of petting fabric together.

Silver lame' jar rings and sheer gauze mason jars.

At this point the adorable and quirky quilt top went into time out for several years. During this time I worked hard on improving my character in regards to the defect of procrastination. I did this not by finishing my UFOs. Oh no. I did it by joining groups and starting a whole bunch of other projects. I was in Stash Bee for 2 years and made many quilt blocks to trade. From this connection I got my cowboy and purple cow blocks, and the wonky churn dash blocks. Both of those quilts have been finished and displayed on this blog and at quilt shows,

I continued to write my daily pages (ala The Artist's Way.) I picked and chose which assignments I did. I skipped days often preferring to stare at Facebook instead. The more I wrote, the more benefit I got.  It began to pay off and I became more faithful to the practice of writing first then goofing off. I am doing the assignments in order, as a 12 week practice. Like doing the AA steps, a refresher helps a lot.

In the winter I also use the time to sit in front of my Ott lite for my daily dose of full spectrum light waves. It treats my winter SAD, helps me sleep better, and just feels good. When I learned that our third eye, the pineal gland, that produces melatonin, has rods and cones just like our eyeballs I was so happy. Of course it works! Better than taking melatonin at bedtime.

I decided to add a liberated border to my wild quilt. I had triangles saved from a Christmas project with quick cut hexagons similar to this pattern, I knew they would be useful someday. The colors were what I focused on, not the images. That is my own secret to fabric choice: the color, not the print. And, with lovely synchronicity, I used up almost every one of my triangles.

Even Chinese New Year fabrics!
I appliqued some little vines and hearts in the corners to carry the cucumber vine image out to the edge. Now I am quilting this fine piece. I basted it and did some machine quilting, and it also really begs for hand quilting. I am quilting on the tea towel images by hand. I also added a few wool felt leaves and embroidered the veins. Those leaves were oak leaves from a little freebie, that got trimmed to become pointy cucumber leaves.

Hand echo quilting around each item and along the edge.

This quilt is 46" x 52" such a nice wall hanging size. Finishing my UFOs is a recurring New Year's Resolution. This year for sure! What are your resolutions?

Friday, January 4, 2019

Snail Mail

Snail Mail sounds harmless. Going Postal less harmless but kind of general. Photos of personal stuff private to some, less so to those of us who are not modest by nature. It is hard to decide how to warn viewers of some NSFW material to follow. So, I'll start with a finish that is sweet, grandmotherly, old timey, hand quilted and hand pieced and a long time in completing.

Vintage Stars
My mouth is puckered as I state, "this quilt is a testimonial of the amount of time I have spent sitting on my butt." I quilted it with a Baptist Fan pattern to compliment the 30's and 40's fabrics. A friend gave me the quilt top, found in an antique store in California. The back and binding are bleached muslin. Now it will be part of my collection for a future trunk show.

And now for the NSFW topic. A famous quilter, molli sparkles, has a pattern that I bought on Craftsy titled "Don't Be a Dick." I have a special friend who collects erotic and other gay art. He is an admirer of my work, which means a lot to me. I don't appeal to everyone and that is fine. But he needs a Dick quilt and one is on it's way to him. It is wandering around in postal twilight zone,  being tracked but giving meaning to the term, Snail Mail.

Don't Be a Dick, 24" x 28"

Circumcised, with velvet

Uncircumcised with velvet

My label with a tiny thimble. Beach rocks on the back, some of my favorite pussy willow binding. 
Batik and velvet dicks, who doesn't like that? Quilted with metallic hologram Sulky thread. I felt very happy making this art. The gift is a 'just because' gift. If not everyone likes my work, then bonus to those who do like it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

BFD = Best Friend Dog

Phew! The Christmas, Hanukkah, and December Birthday rush is behind me. I am sew relieved. Of course I know it is coming each year, and yet I don't feel motivated to make stuff until the last month or so. Sew. I want to share two sweet projects that were completed after the rush. First, a little wall hanging quilt for Mr. Thimblepie. It is a puppy picture of our now very old labradog, Abby. Here she was at 4 months old, wet and sandy faced on the boat. (Now she is 12 ½ yrs old and quite white, lumpy and lovely.)

Abby loves riding on the jetboat.
I chose fabrics that would draw attention to her pretty brown eyes. I quilted it with metallic Sulky in waves that simulate the Salmon River. I mostly piece bindings, this project is no exception.

The other dog project was an item from my etsy shop donated to a silent auction fund raiser for a dog rescue group, handsome dan's rescue. The woman who purchased the item sent my a lovely photo of her now deceased dog, Rylie. She gave me artistic license to create a wall hanging and here it is:



The wonderful fabric for these two quilts is Moda fabric, mostly "Woof, Woof, Meow," designed by Stacy Iest Hsu.  The dog rescue group said they raised over $20,000 from donated items. I am glad I could help. I can't imagine life without a dog.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Keep it Simple

   I have connected with my youngest cousin, Hope, who had a new baby and received a baby quilt from me that I blogged about in May. When she talked about going to her mom's house for Thanksgiving last month along with 28 other close relatives, I learned that her mom has dishes like our Grandma, the lovely Franciscan Ware Dessert Rose pattern. I thought a table runner to highlight the dishes would be so sweet. The next best thing to being there is to make a quilted table runner.

    I saw a table runner pattern on social media and went down the rabbit hole. The pattern uses the mini QCR (quick curve ruler.)  The mini runner calls for 2 fat quarters and one half yard background and  is supposed to be 14" x 35". Simple. Easy. I didn't even need to go to the fabric store.

   But!! For a Thanksgiving dinner, wouldn't my aunt need a long table runner? Wouldn't a short one look dumb? So I figured 14" x 46" would be better. I love that the mini QCR uses charm squares, the 5 inch precuts. although I cut my own, it sounds so sweet and simple. So, first I matched fabric colors with the computer screen. Reminded myself that I don't do matchy-matchy and slight differences look better. Inner Critic making noises. I had some Jinny Beyer green that appealed to my wild taste and some peachy apple blossom.

   Then, choosing the backing. I thought a waffle cloth piece would add sturdiness. It had to be pieced to fit, but I had just enough. I was hurrying to finish in time and did a simple arced FMQ pattern. I feared that the green fabric was bleeding, but turned out to be not the case. A quick wash with synthropol, and toss in the dryer actually perked it up. My inner critic kept chewing at my heel, and I'd think, well, it will work to hold the turkey. 




14" x 46"

It looks like the Oregon State University O.  Whatever. Here is the lovely finish on the big day:



 BTW, My aunt Jackie was thrilled, and called me to say so.  Me: 1, Inner Critic:0.   .