Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mrs. Potato Head Goes Shopping for Accessories

I made my sister a wonky house quilt for Christmas this year. It was so fun to create, and maybe even more fun listening to her open it, over the phone. I was inspired by lots of previous wonky house quilts, and wonky log cabin quilts. At retreat last spring I found 6 squares with iron on backing, shop windows featuring shoes, purses, nail polish, gowns. I framed them in wild large floral prints and finished with black and white newsprint that had quilter crossword puzzles. My pal Sharon gave me some wonderful Potato Head novelty fabric that became the blue sky for each house, and the inspiration for the name.  Framing each house was at first a challenge. I thought large print florals would work, but it made the individual houses blur together like a giant gumbo. I recently read an article by Pam Rocco, who talked about framing blocks so that the eye goes in toward the block, or out  away from the block. She really made me think about setting blocks in a new way. I looked at each block and chose a main color in that block. Then I found fabric in my stash that was similar but of a slightly greyer or yellower tone, or just a different tone. Voila!! The houses each stood in relief and I fell in love. Same thing for the borders. Here are the photos, including the lovely flannel backing. This is my lovely year end finish.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Some of My Best Friends are Flakes

Snow flakes, that is... On a frigid, single digit morning, Mr. Thimblepie and I drove up the road that hugs the Salmon River. Ice bridges span the "River of No Return." Animals must be hunkered down, because we see only a few footprints, and not even raptors overhead. We drove the 26 mile road to the very end, at Vinegar Creek, on an errand to retrieve Heinz and Barbara's rig. I brought my handwork, clipping the fringe on my first ever flannel rag quilt. It is appropriately cammo colors, fitting for our hunting community. It is a raffle quilt for the Salmon River High School, and my December goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes. Though this post is only for goal setting, I already finished it, and it turned out great!! It is a nap size quilt, 40" x 72." Tickets for the quilt will be on sale at the High School Basketball games, and proceeds go to the students for activities.  Here is the process, which I learned from this tutorial.

6 1/2 " flannel blocks for the front and back, with 5" batting inside, quilted with an X.

Sewn in strips and then all together, and the seams clipped .

Displayed against the backdrop of the Icy Wilderness.
 The flannel was part of a huge gift of fabric samples from my aunt, Sonja Mann Holbrook who is a fabric rep for Moda Fabrics. The back is scrappy blue and green flannels. The batting was a gift from my generous sister, Pam Cope.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Advent Calendars are so Yummy!

The middle of the month held a wonderful Veteran's Day Ceremony. I am very anti-military, but part of my paying forward  and healing the wounded soldier's heart is making and giving some Quilts of Valor. My latest creation went to the husband of a friend. He is a Vietnam Vet., affected by Agent Orange, and living a quiet life here in Riggins.

David and Leowa Jenkes

 I am making advent calendars for each of my 3 daughters. I started with 3 Moda Christmas panels from my aunt Sonja Mann, the Moda fabric rep. I made enlarged bound button holes for each of the numbered squares. Then I backed each number with a fabric square for a pocket. Lastly, I layered and machine quilted the panel. Each pocket is big enough for a few pieces of candy.. Countdown till Christmas!
back view of bound holes

front view, with machine blanket stitching

top folded so you can see the fabric back of each pocket and on #20 the fabric peeking thru

Finished panel with machine quilting and metalic thread stitching on the tree. See the pockets?
 I was commissioned to make a small quilt for a pal, Candy Hatch, for her grandson. Thomas the Tank Engine is the feature fabric. Moda's "Comma" is the black and white fabric. It is my favorite setting, 9 patch and snowball.
I like the effect of the polka dot fabric, looks like dominoes.

Quilting seen on the back, which is wonderful cobalt blue Robert Kaufman flannel.
 And, lastly, my new (temporary) work table in the sewing loft. It is 4' x 8', snugged up against my machine and works great! Later it will be modified with permanent legs, and a well cut for my sewing machine.  Mr. Thimblepie made it for me. No more design floor kneeling. For that I am thankful.
The first project after Thanksgiving is to build the stairs and take that ladder outside!! Then, the tongue and groove knotty pine ceiling will go in, and sheetrock on the walls. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

November in all it's Glory

Autumn is lovely here in central Idaho, in the Rocky Mountains. We lucky few who live here feel close to nature and close to our Great Spirit. We see wildlife that most people have to view on National Geographic, and our playground is so remote, even explorers such as Lewis and Clark avoided it. 
The Polly Bemis Ranch on the main Salmon River
 Veteran's Day is celebrated here with an award ceremony. Each vet is given a Quilt of Valor along with a hug and a thank you for service to our country. Here is my latest QOV, made in medallion style ala Gwen Marston. It is ready to pin baste. The center panel is the 50 state flags and their date of entry. My November goal, which I'll achieve by November 11, is to have it quilted and bound.
Quilt of Valor, ready to pin baste

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Deadline !

 Here is a timeline of the Creative Process:  Work begins. Screw Off for 75%. Panic but don't actually accomplish anything for 20%. All the work while crying for the last 5%.

When I know for months that a friend is having a baby, I still wait till the last minute to finish the quilt. Literally. I pondered and dreamed, let ideas percolate and marinate, then decided on a design and had only a few days to get 'er done. Sheesh. I used a collection of homespun plaid scraps to make little bow ties, with a taupe stripey shirting back ground to give the blocks a vintage look. Since the parents of this new baby like all things outdoorsy I picked an Ed Emberly animal print for a border. It didn't fit with the vintage look, but still made me smile.

From Mary Hickey's book, "Sweet and Simple Baby Quilts"

I got the October challenge black applique blocks sewn together with yellow sashing and a border of black and white Moda "Lazy Daisy" Mama Said Sew. I sent it off to my sister, Pam, to quilt on her long arm, and didn't get a photo. It looks darling and a lot like a bumble bee. Goal Done!

My quilt guild, Pinehurst Quilters, had a fund raising quilt and craft auction last week. It was a big production for our little club, lots of generous and creative women, and we raised over $4500 for our group and for community projects such as Quilts of Valor and Hike for Healthy Hooters. Here is a photo  of the set up.

My Christmas Wreath Quilt is on the left.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Roasted Peppers

We have not had our first frost here. It is imminent, and the garden has been on my mind. It is no longer warm enough for veggies to ripen, so I decided to pick the rest of the peppers and eggplants today. I filled a 5 gallon bucket with choricero, banana, and jalapeno peppers. A smaller tote held all of the remaining eggplants.

A  lovely group of nightshade fruit.

I roasted all of the peppers, except the jalapenos, by broiling them for 5 minutes per side on baking sheets. Then I wrapped them in waxed paper and sealed them in zip lock bags for winter cooking. A fast and easy processing method. And, the house smells delish!  Tomorrow I'll roast the eggplants for baba ganoush. The jalapenos will be strung to dry.
Hand appliqued and embroidered (not by me!)
For my October goal for the finishes group, I will turn these 8 inch blocks into a quilt top. I am using yellow tone on tone for the sashing. After I get the top and back pieced, I am sending it off to my sister Pam to be quilted. Mom won the blocks in a quilt group drawing. It is a sweet, old fashioned collection. Can't wait to see the finish!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Best Gift Ever

Sew... my Uncle Pat's companion, Sonja Mann, is a fabric rep for Moda, and she sent me a giant box of wonderfulness.

13 inch squares!!
 I spread it all out and just glowed with the possibilities!! I am full of exclamation points just now. I thought I'd share it with my sister, Pam, but now I don't want to. Luckily, Sonja and Pat said I don't have to, because they are sending Pam her own box of wonderfulness.

I have been working mostly from fabric gifted by a shopaholic hoarder friend, who favored Thimbleberries. Her gift was bought about 8-10 years ago. Lots of nice stuff, though not my first choice. I do have my own purchases, albeit on a shoestring budget and often from thrift shop finds... sew this gift rocketed me into the 4th dimension!!!

I have spent a little time browsing scrap quilt ideas on Pinterest. I allow myself 30 minutes a day to surf the mighty web. Then I need to get back to reality and create epic cuss. (My 4 letter word for s***.) When I combine these yummy fabric samples with solid contrasts, I will have a plethora of quilt loveliness. I got up excited at 4:30 this morning to finish taking the staples and cardboard off of the samples, and folding them into neat order. I already cut one set up, for a block of the month project for the quilt club. After that, on to holiday and December birthday sewing. I am SEW EXCITED that I am standing beside myself. 

When I looked up from the fabric all over the design floor, this is the view I saw out the window:
Sunset on the mountains with clothes line, viewed out the window from my loft.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

mokuroku (journal)

I love heavy cotton fabrics with rich, dense colors printed in big designs. The fabric for this project is "morukoru (journaling)" The Alexander Henry Collections 2004. I instantly thought of Diane, and her love of red, and journaling. The other fabrics are Funky Monkey by Erin Michaels for Moda, and a blue polka dot, part of a holiday line called "All Wrapped Up," by Maywood Studio from Huckleberry Patches in McCall. I included the knit print to curtsey to Diane's avocation, knitting. Here are her new pillowcases:

Close up of the fabrics.
I finished my September goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes. I used Hoffman Batiks to frame the paper pieced Christmas Trees. I machine quilted this piece. :

25" x 37"

Close up of the fabrics.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Catching Some ZZZZZ's

I made up some sets of pillowcases for gifts. What a fun and easy way to make a thoughtful gift that is sew nice. I used this tutorial and highly recommend it. If you have never sewn a french seam, you will after this. I like to make the cases long, so they will fit a king size pillow or cover a regular pillow modestly. I always include laundering instructions with my gifts. Happy Sewing!!

Wedding gift for Ruthie Hennings Traxler and Ben Traxler.

Get well gift for Uncle Pat Holbrook's companion, Sonja Mann.

Christmas cases for the Pinehurst Guild Quilt Auction.

Thank you gift for Aunt Ann Holbrook Rousselot.

Close up of the fabrics.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Retro Visions

 September is a busy time of changes, whether you are going back to school or back to work after summer off, or harvesting and preserving and moving the beauty of a garden into the pantry.  Our local quilt guild takes the summer off and now is gearing up for the annual quilt auction ~ our big fund raiser for community benefits and our spring retreat. My UFO for this month is a set of batik paper pieced pine trees, made by guild members at last April's retreat. They need to be made into a table runner or wall hanging for the auction.  It will probably take a day to complete this little project, if I skip the avoiding and staring dreamily and just get 'er done.  Here are the trees:

These trees remind me of aluminum Xmas trees of the 60's, with the rainbow lighting.
One thing I have learned about paper pieced blocks: don't remove the paper until they are sewn to their lattices or adjoining blocks. They have lines that make joining super simple. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Crossing the Bosphorus

   I have finished a wall hanging that has been a UFO for 80 years. I first wrote about the blocks here.    This month I decided to make this my finish, and I got 'er done. I am selling this wall hanging to a good friend who commissioned a piece for her office. She appreciates hand piecing, and likes avant garde art. This swagged out piece is for her!
    Thanks to my brilliant daughter, Diane, (who was the National Geographic Geography Bee State Runner-Up for Montana in 1994, at age 11,) I know that the water the elephants crossed from Persia to Morocco, was the Bosphorus Strait.  In Wikipedia it explains the historical changes and importance of this waterway which connects Asia and Europe. Incidentally, the phrase  "crossing the Bosphorus" is used to indicate religious conversion to the Eastern Orthodox Church.    Here are the finishing pictures:

The little "Made in Persia" label is the center triangle.

Blue and white porcelain beads, Turkish style, with Jade beads.

Carmel lozenge beads.

Wooden beads and striped glass geometric beads. Variegated wool strands.

Tiny buttons.

Jet black beads couched over multi colored wool strands.

Silver rings.

Elephant border. See the baby elephant on the left side? Miniature red and black rick rack. Skull and cross-bone binding was the right color, and symbolizes the extinction of the north African Elephant used in ancient times.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Elephants Crossing into Morocco

Researching Marrakesh, Morocco I came upon images of elephants crossing the Zambezi River. Historically, the north African Elephant (now extinct) was used for travel to Morocco on ancient trade routes, as well as for war. Daydreaming about the images of morocco and spice markets, I imagined merchants traveling on elephants, rich and earthy tones, veils and tassels, embellishments. I pulled out a pieced top I started earlier this year, that was waiting for a border... and dug out some elephant fabric from my stash. Eureka! Now, to quilt this and embellish it with trinkets to recall Moroccan spice markets. This is the quilt story that I will illustrate this month.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Healing Prayer Banner

A Lovely Year of FinishesI finished my commissioned quilt yesterday and mailed it off. The feeling was...trepidation. Will they like it, feel good about the money spent, feel inspired to use it as a meditation tool? I thought I'd feel relief and pride. Here is the list of items they requested:   "Healing Prayer Flag Banner 48" x 36" Including but not limited to the following items: tree of life, white Great Pyrenees dog, tabby Maine coon cat, name : Baylee embroidered, red fox, polar bear, hummingbird with blue circle symbol of diabetes male deer with big rack or horned god, dragonfly, yellow butterfly, rune alphabet embroidered, ogham alphabet embroidered, Celtic knots, triple goddess symbol, pentagram or pentacle, wheel of year sabbat, phases of moon, Thor's hammer, 5 elements, chakras, tiny voodoo doll, angels, fairies, hand and machine quilted in labyrinth pattern, contentment, tarot card 3 of cups." I described the creating process in an earlier post. Here are some photos of the finish. 
Kanobi, Great White Pyrenees, and suede medicine bag with crystal, flicker, and chuckar feather.

Felted chakras, blue is also for diabetes symbol with hummingbirds

Fairy with pewter goddess button, violet and indigo chakras. Lapis stone and silver feather on indigo.

Paper pieced sun with satin rays, bone carved Buddha eyes and third eye symbol of contentment. From Indonesia.

Angels and tiny star fish. Northern lights sky.

Water quilting, rocks, dragonfly, and 3 of cups tarot.

Fire from dahlia flower fabric, red tulle, and pewter Thor's hammer.

Day of the Dead, including marigolds, and ogham alphabet.

Polar Bear with heart embroidery, water fabric and beading.

Label n the back.

Red fox on the trail of a bird, labyrinth with Baylee's name and heart of beads in the center, red, orange, and yellow chakras.

The finished Healing Prayer Banner. Grey binding from African tone on tone.

Water details, circles.

I am taking a break from commissions for at least a little while, time to recharge my creative batteries. But, I got 'er done. Have you done a commission, and how did it turn out for you? 

Well, the update is they are very disappointed and upset, and do not like it in any way. I have asked them to return it and I will make another or refund their money. I think I will just refund the money and learn to avoid this kind of long distance commission. And, I am sick of living in 105 ° heat without air conditioning.