Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Japanese Farmhouse

Here's the third square I've made from my new Japanese quilt square book.  

All but the main  part of the house is fabric from Japan. The "mountains" are from fabric I got at St. Theresa's in Cincinnati. I will really miss that store! I think they will be open through January, with sales on what fabric is left, but when they close it will leave a vacuum, just like the closing of Baer's did in Louisville.

The mountain fabric is an ikat-like print, and I have used it in several bargellos. It is one of my favorite fabrics of all time, and I have it in two colors. 

If I were to make a New Year's resolution, it would be to start cutting into the special fabrics that I have been hoarding.

If I were to make any reflections on the year just ending, I would say that I made some strides in  exploring new techniques. I have several projects to show for that, including my orange baby gift with the Haida Art images on it, and the Prague quilt, just finished, and on its way to Prague next week.

Happy 2010, everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It Takes a Village

Here's the second square from my new book.

In English, the name of the square is "Village," and it is a companion square to the one I posted yesterday.

All of the fabrics are from Japan. What I learned, and I have mentioned before, is that when I order fabric from Japan, if you choose to have your package come over in a container, the postage only costs about $2.00 !

They tell you it might take up to 45 days to get here, but in fact, it usually arrives in about 4 days! A package of fabric is so small, it can be
 tucked in the big containers, and gets here quicker than an order from, say, Colorado, and for about 1/3 the cost of shipping.

I love these indigo fabrics, and I like the red accent and the flowers, too.

I used a few more of my dichroic beads on the butterflies, but they don't show up very well...


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Meditation in Fabric

One of my Christmas gifts this year was a beautiful little book, Japanese Quilt Blocks.

It has wonderful illustrations and over 125 Japanese quilt blocks. Some are very simple, and some require learning new skills.

I have picked out several very appealing squares, and plan to use my collection of fabrics from Japan to complete them.

I made some Japanese quilts years ago from the East Quilts West books. But that was before I had three drawers full of fabric from Japan.

The first square, shown here, was just a practice piece, but my next two will use Japanese fabrics exclusively...

Yes, it is very difficult to cut into some of those "special"  fabrics, but I realize that they are not accomplishing anything resting in my drawer. I have collected them for years, and it is time to get them out in public.

So the next two pieces will do just that.
I have quite a collection of indigo fabrics, and will try a square using those, if I can get enough contrast with them.

I used some of my treasured dichroic beads for snow on the mountaintops here. Again, what am I saving them for?

Most of the patterns in the book finish to 9" squares. Right now, I just plan to do a number of squares, and then decide how to finish them, whether to combine them, or let each piece stand alone.

With all the fusing I have done lately, and working from photographs, it is a little surprising for me to be working from traditional patterns, but the book really caught my imagination. I think it will be a wonderful exercise in choosing and combining  fabrics, and give me the opportunity to be a little more disciplined in my work. 

I have already cut the pieces for the next square, and have gathered my indigo fabrics for the third square, so I will post photos of those soon.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Farm Animals

Things have been a little unsettled here for over a week, while I got a new kitchen floor to replace the old one that had been ruined because of a plumbing leak.

The new floor is beautiful, and I am slowly getting things moved back into the kitchen, and trying to get back to "normal."

So I haven't done much sewing until yesterday and today.

I added a cow to the "stack" of animals I did several months ago, and did this little piece.

I added some machine stitched "vines" for texture, and then added some beads. The beads are lime green, and they add some life to the piece. 

Recently, I splurged on some dichroic glass beads, and I used them for the eyes on the cow, the sheep and the hen. They have a sort of milky iridescence that I really like. I found them on line from a place in California, and when they came, I was surprised at how tiny the tube was. So I have used them sparingly so far, but I really like them.

I have two more animal pieces ready to work on, a silly dancing pig, and a cartoon-type dog. Right now, I have no "assignments", no challenges, and no deadlines, so I am just playing with fabric in my "spare" time. 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My little Chia Pets

Since I posted pictures yesterday of my new little primitive quilt, the sheep have acquired wool!

I didn't like the look of the button holes, so I found the perfect yarn in my yarn stash, and Bob, the perfectionist, applied it in time to the sheep buttons just in time for the delivery to the new owners.

The people I gave the quilt to were just getting ready to leave for their farm, and were delighted to have this to take with them. It will be added to
 the other two small primitive quilts I gave them earlier.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Finished a little Primitive piece

I finished my little primitive piece.

I really enjoyed the thread painting. My windows still need to be trimmed, but I am happy overall.  

The little sheep are ceramic buttons that I got from Busy Hands in Michigan. They had all sorts of novelty buttons and art buttons, all from South Africa...734-996-8020

After doing the Prague quilt, in which creating perspective was an important feature, I enjoyed this piece, done in the primitive style of no perspective.
The "flat" look is intentional, and was fun to do.

I really enjoy applique by fusing, and have plans to do some more primitive pieces...

Thursday, December 10, 2009


After finishing and delivering a big project, it is fun to "coast" a little now, and work on some smaller projects.

I am back to this little 9 x 11 scene for a friend's farmhouse kitchen. I am practicing some thread painting, and I love the simplicity and peacefulness of the design...



I have three of these trees to do, and it gives me a chance for some much-needed practice.

I also treated myself to some new acid dyes for silk from Dharma, and bought some habotai silk to play with.

A year or so ago, I took a class on dyeing silk with  a vinegar and microwave method.

The habotai silk takes the dye so beautifully, and I like so many of the colors I got.

A few are disappointing when compared to the Procion MX dyes I use with cotton, but I really loved the teal and some of the other colors when paired with black.

I have no other pressing deadlines right now, and I just look forward to organizing my workroom and playing with some new thread and new fabric...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Finished the Prague Quilt!

Well, I've been talking about it since August 1, and I have finally finished the Prague quilt. There are more details from the photograph that I could have added, but I was ready to stop.
It was a great experience for me - I have been enjoying doing quilts from photos lately, but none has been as challenging for me as this one!

I was glad to do something that involved perspective, and I think that part worked.

It gave me lots of practice in free-motion machine quilting. I was able to get to the point where I didn't become tense doing it.

I printed a Prague crest on Extravorganza; I originally thought I might put it on the front to break up that big expense of cobblestone, but I decided to just put it on the back, on the sleeve...

I put a copy of the original photo on the label on the back.

I took it to my favorite quilt shop last night for Show and Tell. Coincidentally, there was a young woman shopping there who had lived in Prague for four years, so she took a look, too.

Well, this will get delivered soon, and I'll move on to some other projects,

Monday, November 30, 2009

An Inspiring Quilt Show

Today I went to one of the best quilt shows I have seen in a long time! At the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, there is a show of  Water Quilts , and it was absolutely inspiring and beautiful!

I love shows with a theme, and it is always fascinating to see how different artists interpret and represent that theme. Water quilts are near and dear to my heart, and these were some of the BEST!

I loved seeing silk being used more than usual in quilts, and the "silkiness" really enhanced the images of water.

If I had to pick two favorites, one would be the cut-silk quilt by Tim Harding. Several years ago I saw a cut-silk work by him, similar to the one I have shown here. It was in a book from the Quilt National Show, and I really found it breathtaking. But in person, his work is even more so.

My other favorite had to be the fish quilt by Ruth McDowell. It was a very large piece, and her masterful use of fabrics, like the detail I have shown here, has long been a model for me. There is nothing more I can say about her work; it speaks for itself.

I really recommend this show. I will definitely be going back at least one more time! It is on until December 19; you can stop in the gift shop, too,  to look at the treasures there.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Nice long weekend!

The nice long weekend draws to a close, and very soon, the new month will start. 

I have enjoyed the holiday weekend, with good visits with family and friends.

I had everyone over for chili and soup; we had a good combination of family, neighbors and friends, and everyone enjoyed it.

This week my goal, in addition to sewing, is to get to several quilt shows in the area. At the downtown Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, there is a show of "Water Quilts," all from one person's collection. Water quilts are among my favorites, and I am looking forward to seeing these. 

Then at the Carnegie Center in New Albany, there is a show which includes works by several outstanding area quilters, so I want to get to that one, too. I think its theme is "Earth Works", so it should be fun to see several interpretations of that.

Now that December is almost here, I have to get serious about finishing the Christmas gifts I have started.  

I hope all of you enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday weekend!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Another scrappy project

I hope everyone had a pleasant Thanksgiving. It is important to pause and think about all the things we tend to take for granted.

As I have said before,  I love making projects from scraps. I rarely throw things away, and I almost never regret it.

While going through some scrap boxes, I found these pieces that I had used years ago, when I was making "wearables." 

I made jackets and vests and tunics, and they often had panels down the front or back. Although I enjoyed making them, it was often the case that the person who wanted a particular piece would want it bigger, or smaller, or a different color. 

So at some point, I started making wall hangings - "One Size Fits ALL."

But I still had all these pieces cut, too good to throw away. So I made this runner, and it will be a Christmas gift for a traditional friend who will probably use it for a table runner. I used it as another opportunity to practice my machine quilting.

Now, after a break, I am ready to return to my big project, and keep working toward my December 4 deadline...

Have a great weekend!  

Monday, November 23, 2009

More Machine Quilting

I finished the last five buildings yesterday, putting machine quilting on each one for texture. I did a different pattern on each building, and I am  pleased with the results.

On the gold building, I made a curved pattern, similar to the squiggly designs on the fabric.

I got a start on the chimneys , just following the lines for a little texture.

Then I need to go over the whole quilt to tidy up loose ends and raw edges. I was hoping for a sunshiny day for better light, but that's not going to happen.

After that, I'll put the backing on and bind it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Back to my Prague quilt

Now that I have returned from a wonderful and restoring Florida vacation, and have mostly recovered from foot surgery that  has kept me off my feet for about 6 weeks, I am back to sewing and enjoying it!

My first priority is my quilt of the Prague castle houses; it is a Christmas gift, and will be going to Prague after Christmas with its new owner, who is living there for three years.


I have finished all the piecing (really, fusing,) and I am getting lots of practice in free-motion quilting, as I add texture to the buildings, the cobblestones, the chimneys and the sky.  

This square pattern doesn't look great from the back, but it adds a great depth to the dark blue building.


The freehand zigzag is on the red building. That fabric was a gift from the person who will get the quilt, so I enjoyed including it...

The pale blue building got simple stripes. I am trying to give each building a distinctive texture, within my limited ability to do machine quilting patterns.  The peachy building to its left got a simple tight zigzag pattern.

I have four buildings to go, and then a lot of details to tidy up. I have set December 4 as my finish date. I have several other projects to do before Christmas, along with everything else.  I'll post more photos when it is finished.

In the meantime, I am making two big pots of chili for a Thanksgiving open house. One is a vegetarian chili with wheatberries, black beans and garnished with avocado. The other is more traditional (as traditional as chili can be on Thanksgiving) with my additions of cumin and bitter chocolate.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


When we were in Florida, I visited a quilt shop in an Amish area of Sarasota, and as there always is, there was a group of Amish women sitting around a big traditional quilt, quilting and chatting.

I asked their permission to sit with them for a few minutes, and they were very gracious and welcoming. I found sitting with them very calming, and I enjoyed talking with them for a few minutes.

Afterward, my Florida friend let me borrow this little book, Plain and Simple, by Sue Bender. It was a very pleasant book to read, and had some good lessons, for sewing and for life.

It talked about having joy in your work, rather than fretting about the outcome.  It was a good lesson for me,  to have pleasure in every step of the process of whatever you are doing, rather than having "Accomplishment" as your goal.

I really recommend it. I am going to try to get her next book,  Everyday Sacred.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Florida at its Best

We just returned from a wonderful time in Florida, on the Gulf Coast between Sarasota and Venice.

I was recovering from foot surgery, and couldn't do any bicycling this time, but the trip couldn't have been nicer. 

There were many birds around, and great Kodak moments. This is a sandhill crane, and perhaps the very same one I did my little quilt of several months back.

This is "Louie," a beautiful little egret who took up residence on our patio, and wouldn't leave until we gave him some breakfast. He wasn't the least bit afraid of us, and whenever we walked anywhere on the property, he was right behind us!

We saw hundreds of dragonflies this trip, and their iridescent wings and bodies were brilliant in the sun.

Hurricane Ida came and went while we were there. Although it didn't come ashore where we were, the remnants were very beautiful - gorgeous clouds, heavy winds, and very high surf. Sorry about the damage it did elsewhere, but the coast where we were was unaffected.

Here's a crane family, Mom and Dad and the two chicks. One of the chicks is the one I had a photo of for my quilt...

What a treat to be able to see these beautiful creatures on a daily basis!


This is Caspersen Beach, in Venice. Like many of the beaches in that area, one can find shark's teeth  from prehistoric times. It is amazing that they are still washing up after all these thousands of years...

I got dozens of wonderful photos this trip, and maybe one of them will inspire a quilt some day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Successful Auction!

The auction to benefit a downtown food pantry for the homeless was Tuesday night.

In spite of its being on a Tuesday night, and a rainy one at that, it was a wonderful success.

Being at Pyro Gallery downtown elevated the event to something special. The artists and "patrons" mingled, sipped wine, enjoyed the art, and, the important thing - bid generously on the wonderful art.

I have already posted photos of two other fabric pieces, and they were a popular contrast to the more traditional painted and otherwise embellished pieces.

This piece, "Hardware Heart," was a wonderful piece, and it looked even better in person than it does in the photo...

This was a favorite of everyone there...

It is by a young artist, and I'm eager to get back to Pyro to see more of his work.  It got one of the highest bids there. Even though it was a "Silent" auction, there were two people bidding on it, and at the end, there was an animated live auction to see who got to take it home... 

And this was another popular item - Bob's Celtic heart. 

Bob was invaluable to the auction - from making the wooden blanks for the artists at the beginning of the process, to getting them ready to hang on Tuesday

Thanks also to Pyro Gallery for sharing their wonderful venue.

It was great fun, lots of work, and very successful!