Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Foundation piecing

I absolutely LOVE doing foundation piecing!! This is a Common Loon, which I made for a friend who moved to Canada. The loon is the official bird of Ontario. (I still have to add the eye, and trim and bind it.)
I ordered some bird patterns from the Silver Linings website. Not only are they great patterns, but if you sign up, you can get one free pattern a month. I also ordered a little chick pattern, and got a whole barnyard of patterns with it, including an adorable pig that I will have to try.

I ordered several Brenda Groelz bird patterns, including a beautiful sandhill crane, which I will make as a gift for my friend who flew the coop for FLorida. I LOVE Brenda's birds, and her patterns are excellent!


Monday, March 30, 2009

A good friend who has moved to Florida to enjoy photographing sandhill cranes and white pelicans sent me an article years ago, titled "Micro Biography." It talked about writing, in 100 words or less, what your life looks like to you.
What a challenge! Would you write in terms of other people, spouse, children, grandchildren? Your JOB, past or present ? Your hobbies? Your health?
And how is what you would write today different from what you would have written 10 years ago? 20 years ago?
Although 100 words doesn't sound like a lot, you can get quite a bit of substance in that short a span.
Try it! I'm going to.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


As I dig through layers and layers of accumulated fabric and UFOs, I keep uncovering projects that I started, and would like to finish one day. This is from a class I took, dyeing silk for a landscape based on a photo.

I love reflections, and this photo is from a trip to Colorado about 4 years ago. I LOVE photos of reflections, and this one is one of my favorites. I enjoyed dyeing the silk, and will enjoy practicing more threadplay, as I finish it.

I am happy about the way the flowers turned out...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Still cleaning.....

Still working on organizing my sewing room, and making progress. Threw away several bags of "stuff" that I don't think anyone would find useful, and bought some nice containers to help with the sorting process.
I've found many nice pieces of fabric that I had forgotten I had, and also found a few "UFOs" to add to my summer assignment.

We had a pleasant trip to Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill for lunch, which was a nice diversion. But now, back to work!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Time for Spring Cleaning!

Before I can work on my wool quilt, I must stop cutting and sewing long enough to clean and organize my sewing room. My photos just show what a wonderful view I have; the wreck that the room is in will remain my secret. My first goal is to clear off my large work table, so I can get the wool quilt tied and finished. But I have fabric to sort and store, things to put away, and, maybe, things to get rid of. Each time I launch a new project, the room becomes a little more messy, until I don't have enough space on my work table to "work"

Sound familiar? So I hope by the end of the weekend, I will be able to resume what I love doing.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Portraits in Fabric

Here's a project I just finished up as a gift. It is a fused portrait, done from a photograph. Last summer, I took a class from Julianne Kravetz, of Lexington, KY. From a photograph that has good contrast, she provides a pattern with 5 to 7 layers, to create a very accurate portrait of a person (or a pet, or even a building.) Her pattern comes with fusing directions, and is very easy to use. (Her website is Photofabrique.biz.) There is a lot of tedious cutting with very sharp scissors, but the tiny details are necessary for an accurate result.

The trick is to choose fabrics that read solid with a gradual transition from light to dark. If you are PhotoShop savvy, you could probably create your own pattern, using "cutout" and "layers", but the pattern from Photofabrique is excellent, and very reasonable priced. After you have fused them, starting with the darkest layer on the bottom, you can machine quilt around the edges with a tiny blanket stitch, or you can frame it.

What was the most fun in the class was how the image became recognizable after combining just the first two or three layers. There were "oohs" and "aahs" in the class as this happened!

Warning: When you show this to people, they are going to want one!

You can see the resemblance to the original photo. When I gave the portrait to her, she immediately decided that she wants a portrait of her four-month-old son, Josiah.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring Has Sprung!!

This bush by my kitchen window is prettier this year than it has ever been. It is one of the few plants in my yard that the September hurricane and January ice storm didn't damage.
The blossoms are thicker and larger than ever, and just a joy to look at.
The bush is a flowering quince, and it has been here since we moved here over thirty years ago. I think it is also called "Japonica." I'm glad we got a picture of it at its peak.

Not a quilting book...

I bought a paperback today, " The White Tiger" by Indian author, Aravind Adiga. It is a 2008 Booker Prize winner, and highly recommended by a friend who teaches literature. The first seven pages are quotes from positive reviews: " Unsettling", "Cynical", "Dark", " HIlarious", "Brilliant" "Drolly funny", so I don't really know what to expect.

It must have come out before the movie "Slum-Dog Millionaire", but I think it is a picture of the poverty in Mumbai, in the same entertaining way the movie was.

I will comment on it after I have read enough to have an opinion.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The pleasures of Spring in Louisville, KY

When the weather begins to turn warm, one of my favorite things is to sit outdoors and do hand-sewing, or, even better, BEADING. I find sewing beads on quilts very meditative and relaxing. There are very few things that can make me sit still for that long, but the quiet time, and the end product of seeing those sparkly beads liven up a quilt piece, really works for me!

I am working on a wall hanging that I started last Spring, a quilt based on a photograph of a small iris. I did a lot of machine quilting on it, and am now in the process of adding beads to it.

So I welcome the arrival of these lovely warm days; between getting hit by Hurricane Ike in September, and then a major ice storm in January, we are ready for some lovely weather.

When I finish the quilt, I will post a picture.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dyeing Fabric the Un-Scientific Way

First, a few words about the blue map of Kentucky at the heading of my Blog. It was the third in a series of Kentucky maps I made. It is all hand-dyed fabric, and I don't know about you, but it is hard for me to cut into fabric I have dyed. I don't know what I think I am saving it for, but I decided to use my favorite blues for this "BlueGrass" map. I love sewing with strips, and I love using scraps, so this was a perfect project for that. The blades of grass at the bottom are fused on at the bottom, and can wave freely at the top.
I love dyeing fabric, and love the magic of the results - I never know what am going to get, and I could never reproduce my results if I tried. Several years ago, some young friends were getting married, and I offered to make them a quilt for their wedding present. They loved the idea, and, since they had traveled to Morocco, they asked that it have a Moroccan theme. I did some research, and decided to dye fabrics in those rich Moroccan colors, and make it to resemble a rug. Dyeing fabrics for this project was a challenge, but I loved the brilliant colors I got. The "rug" turned out well, and they are very happy with it hanging on their living room wall. They are now expecting their first baby, and I am planning a "Baby Bargello" quilt for the new addition to their family.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

CourtHouse Steps

As I did the wool quilt, I really grew to like the CourtHouse Steps design. I really like the geometry of quilt squares, being a former math teacher. So I decided to do another quilt with that square. This time, though, I am choosing bright colors, and a happy Sun Face at the centers of the squares.

I am using the strips as opportunities to practice my machine quilting. I tend to do things in a hurry, so working in those little strips should help me be more patient and improve my quality control. This quilt will be a birthday present.

I just have to finish the quilting, add a border, and do the binding and add a sleeve. I love the happy colors!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nontraditional quilt with a traditional square

Here's a photo of my wool quilt. Although I rarely do traditional quilt squares, I am doing this quilt for a friend who is a federal judge, and I thought the CourtHouse Steps would be appropriate.

It is all pieced and ready to quilt. The strips are cut from men's suits, trousers and jackets. The centers are Ultrasuede (no two the same color). They are from Ultrasuede I had in my stash, and many are from scraps given to me by a quilter friend whose husband has an interior design shop.

The quilt is ready for the batting and backing. I will use Thermore for a lightweight batting, and the backing is a gorgeous rose color Dupioni silk. I hope to tie it with 2 mm. silk ribbon, if I can pull it though with a needle.

As soon as I get my worktable cleared off, I will try to get this finished.

Creating Unfinished Projects

Seems like I have been better lately at starting projects than I have been at finishing them!
Last summer I resolved to spend several months completing unfinished projects, and I was successful. Of course, at the same time I was creating projects in my mind, and even starting some.
Since then, I have done some of both. So as summer approaches, I will try that approach again. I have one big project to finish - a wool quilt that I am making for a friend. I have some little projects, and, as always, many ideas for new projects. 

As I  am trying to do all my own machine quilting, as opposed to taking them to a professional quilter, I will keep them to a practical size for quilting on my household sewing machine. I need more practice at free-motion quilting. I need more patience!