Sunday, May 31, 2009

Button, button....

Did you see CBS Sunday Morning on TV this morning?

They did a feature on a wonderful button shop called "Tender Buttons."

I remember my first time in that delightful little shop. It was definitely sensory overload. 

There are two shops, one in Chicago, and the other in New York City. They are both tiny shops, and you feel like you are walking back in time when you enter.

Years ago, when I made wearables, mostly vests and tunics, I could justify buying special buttons  for special projects.  The temptations were so great, and at that time when I had "disposable income", I didn't resist the irresistable. 

Also, on my first trip to Asheville, NC, about 10 years ago, I also discovered another treasure trove of beautiful buttons, Waechter's Silk Shop, on a street parallel to the main highway. They had great fabric, but I was most impressed with their collection of very unusual ( and expensive) buttons. I have been back several times. Last time I bought four beautiful orange and black buttons, and a set of blue and yellow buttons. I designed two little quilts around those color combinations, and they are happy reminders of that trip.

We're going to a wedding near Asheville in July, and I can't wait to return to Waechter's. 

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Perfect Storm

I've mentioned before how much I enjoy doing foundation piecing. And I've also said that I don't often do traditional quilt blocks.

So, having gotten "CourtHouse Steps" out of my system (one with the same fabric group that you see here,) I'm moving on to another block I have wanted to try for a long time - "Storm at Sea."  I am definitely using foundation piecing for this one, for the accuracy I want with the points.

I'm doing this for a birthday present for an August birthday, for someone who loves the celestial images, the sun and the moon and the stars. And I love the focus fabric, shown in the centers of the blocks here. I know she will, too, because I made a bed quilt for her several years ago with the same theme.

Rather than doing an entire block, I started with the center blocks, fussy-cutting the images in the centers. I did it like an assembly line, so only Phase I is shown here.

I'm ready now to do the rectangular pieces, and there are 24 of them; I also fussy-cut their centers from the focus fabric, and I am ready to add the yellow, gold and orange corners to them.

These are not great photos, but you can see the happy combination of the blues and golds.

I am intrigued by the way the straight lines in the piecing can give the illusion of curves in the finished piece. It will be a while before I can see it on this quilt. 

It will be a small wall-hanging.

Friday, May 29, 2009

I Miss Baer's !

Just a short piece today about the loss of good service in some local shops.

Yesterday, my quilting friend, Anita, ( was talking about a couple of local shops that have made it difficult for her to get the parts and service she needs for her quilting machines.

I had a similar experience with Austin's which recently got new owners. 

Normally, I really like to shop at locally owned stores. I love Carmichael's Bookstore, I prefer locally owned coffee shops like Highland, and my list goes on.

Earlier in the year, I had a bad experience with Austin's, who had supposedly ordered me the 2 mm. ribbon I needed for a project. I was not able to find it anywhere else in town, now that Baer's is gone. After months and months of waiting, I finally changed to a different color, and completed my project.

Well, over a month ago, I ordered a roll of black grosgrain ribbon. That seems pretty simple. Not magenta or some other exotic color. I needed almost 10 yards, so I ordered a whole roll. Austin's said it would be in in a few days. Well, several weeks went by, and no ribbon. Then they said it was on "back order". After a couple more weeks, I got some story about Bernina buying the company, blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada.

When I went in to the shop yesterday, the owner was in the work area, and didn't even turn around to say "May I help you?".  She was working on her own project, but somehow I think it would have been good to greet a customer, something you don't see in that store very often! They have opened a second store, although their first store has inadequate, indifferent service. 

I'll keep my long story short. 

I finally ended up buying the ribbon on line. Here's the best part: Austin's was going to charge me $20 for a 10-yard roll. On line, I got a 50-yard roll for only $9.99 + shipping. For the exact same ribbon!

Enough said!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Finished and in the mail

Here's the finished product!

I got the feathers sewed on the bottom, and we packed it and sent it via  UPS to Portland, Oregon. The baby is due any day now, so I hope they can get it up on the wall before the blessed event!

It took two months to finish, and I certainly learned a lot in the process! Thanks to everyone who gave me advice and encouragement!!! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Rest of the Story

After I made the little nine-patch quilt for my quilt group challenge (the "ugly fabric" challenge), I had just a little fabric left for the second piece.

I made a little quilted  zipper bag, keeping with the bag theme of the fabric.

There is a surprise pair of shoes fused inside the flap, and the flap is finished with a sea glass bead.

I love the combination of the black and the coral in the fabric, and the coral bead complements it perfectly.

The person who contributed the fabric will get to keep the quilt, and I get to keep the little purse for my collection.

It was a fun project, a nice holiday weekend project.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Ugly Fabric Challenge

Several days ago, I mentioned the Ugly Fabric Challenge issued by my quilt group. We each drew fabric from a grab-bag, and the piece I drew is pictured here.

Actually, I don't think it's ugly at all!  The challenge is to make two quilts, one to keep, and one for the person who donated the fabric.

My first piece is here, a little 18" x 18" quilt based on the subject matter of the fabric - shoes and purses. 

It has a nine-patch, bordered on two sides by the focus fabric.

On eight of the squares, I fused cutouts of shoes, with minimal stitching on them.

There is just a little stitch-in-the-ditch quilting on the quilt.

In the center square of the nine-patch, there is a little purse, just tacked on. It is an actual little purse, with some beading on the flap. I have to give Bob credit for that idea. He is full of good ideas! Is there a word for a male Muse???

It is a fun little quilt, and I think the person who gets it will be pleased. She is a very good quilter, but new to beading, so inside the little purse I 
will put a little bag of beads. 

My mother always said that when you give a purse to someone, it should not be empty.

The second item I am making is just a little quilted zippered bag, and I will get to keep that one.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Penny Sisto Show

We went to the opening last night of Penny Sisto's new quilt show - Faces of Faith: the Search for the Divine.

It was a most amazing collection of beautiful evocative quilts, as are all of her shows.

She had a very large number of quilts, capturing the symbols and spirit of the world's major religions - Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.

The very size of the show was overwhelming; to imagine that she has created all these beautiful quilts in the last year and a half is mind-boggling. It seems such a short time ago that we were seeing her "Immigrant" series.

We are so fortunate to have an artist of her caliber in the Louisville area. If you are in the Louisville/Southern Indiana region, this is a show not to be missed. I plan to go back again several times, to study her work, and hear her gallery presentations. It is at the Carnegie Center in New Albany, Indiana, a wonderful gallery space, and home to several good quilt shows each year...

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Quilting is Finished!

I got my North American Indian quilt back from Anita, who did the quilting on the background. I really love what she did! 

She chose a geometric pattern, which really looks perfect, and elevates the quilt to the next level (This first picture is the "Before" picture).

She filled in around the images, and it really improved the overall appearance.

 Anita has a son who lives in Alaska, and her daughter-in-law is a member of a North American Indian nation, so I think that is one reason she took an interest in this quilt with the Haida art theme.

She also described a way I could have done the fusing so that I could have quilted the pieces as I constructed them; it was more of a top-down
method, rather than a bottom-up construction. 

She also gave me other good suggestions; there's nothing like experience  for effective problem solving! 

I took the quilt to my two favorite fabric stores, Happy Hearts and Forget-Me-Knot. The ladies at both shops had been helpful in my fabric choices for the background, and they had said they wanted to see it when it was finished. They were impressed with Anita's quilting.

All I have left to do now is the binding, the sleeve,  and the label.

The baby is due in about a week, so I'd like to get the quilt delivered before the baby is delivered.

I know they won't get another baby gift quite like this one!

If you want to see a little more on Anita's blog, it is

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Poetry in Motion

Bob and I had the privilege of seeing the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater last night. It was a very remarkable performance.

It is the 25th anniversary of the Kentucky Center for the Arts, and the 50th anniversary of the Alvin Ailey Dance group.

The music and performances were just amazing. Very beautiful, very modern, and very athletic. 
Much of the music was Negro Spirituals, and the songs and the dances were very moving. I really would not have missed it for anything.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ugly is only Skin Deep

The quilt group at my local fabric shop met last night. It was a really pleasant meeting. We shared our challenges from last month (not a rectangle and not traditional binding.) It was fun seeing how each person interpreted it, or hearing about what they would have done if they had done it.

 People shared news of fabric stores, upcoming shows, new products, etc. There was just good general conversation, too. It's a nice group, a little different each month as people come and go and come back.

One of my favorite parts is the challenge. For next month, each person brought an "ugly" fat quarter. We drew from a grab bag, and there was much hilarity as each person drew his or hers. The one I drew (pictured above) is not what I consider "ugly" at all; in fact, I almost bought a fat quarter of that same fabric before the meeting began.

I've already begun thinking about what I will do with it; we have to make two pieces, not identical, but "fraternal" twins. I get to keep one, and the other goes to the person who donated that piece of fabric.

I like having the challenge to work on between bigger projects, or when I need a break from a big project. I have some ideas about what I will do with this, and I have a whole month to get it finished.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Day in the Country

We spent yesterday afternoon at an open house at Clifton Nicholson's, a wonderful sculptor and jewelry maker. His works are always based on nature, and rival Mother Nature herself in their beauty. He has animals, shells and plants in many different sizes, from tiny to bigger than life.

We went with friends who also appreciate the beauty of his work, and we almost always run into people we know. Some friends are fortunate enough to be able to afford his work, which is sold not only here, but in New York and all over.

Bob took some wonderful photos of the grounds and of the outdoor sculptures, too many to show here. (Of course he got permission from Cliff.)

This photo is the only one he took inside the house (with permission.) It is a beautiful array of pheasant feathers. Throughout the house are artifacts from nature - birds' nests, feathers, shells, and the transition from real nature to the nature in his sculpture and jewelry is seamless.

It was a most inspiring afternoon.  

In addition to enjoying Cliff Nicholson's jewelry and sculpture indoors, we roamed the grounds and enjoyed seeing his exotic colored peacocks. He is known for breeding peacocks in every color - bronze, gray, white, teal blue, and every other color imaginable.  When you approach the farm, you can hear the screeches of the birds, announcing your arrival. He also has beautiful pheasants, and there are beautiful plantings everywhere.

There is also a koi pond, which I love, but the last two years it has been too muddy to get good photos of the fish.

Also scattered artistically around the grounds are his sculptures,  very lifelike and beautiful. Bob snapped a photo of this amazing spider and this watchful raven. There are beautiful pieces everywhere you look.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bluegrass in the Bluegrass


Yesterday, we went to the Jefferson County Memorial Forest for a Bluegrass Festival. That is one of the last unspoiled woodlands in the city limits.

It was a beautiful day, with a lovely breeze, and just a small threat of rain. There were several very good bluegrass groups, craft booths, food booths, and education booths.

What does this have to do with quilts? It was fun seeing well-loved quilts being used as ground covers, table cloths, and later, as protection against cool breezes and a sprinkle of rain.

 I saw several hand-quilted family treasures, being used and enjoyed.

The forest is south of the city, and quite hilly and beautiful. There are winding roads up to the area where the festival was held, and beautiful views from the top.

One of my favorite activities of the day was people-watching, and pet-watching. This is J.W., a Blue Tick Coon Hound, and there were lots of other dogs, all well behaved and enjoying a day in the woods.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Road Trip!

My Florida friend, Mary Jane, was going to be in Nashville this weekend for a wedding, and I decided to drive down for a visit with her on Friday. I dodged the thunderstorms, and met her near Franklin, TN, a delightful historic little town just south of Nashville.

Do you think it is a coincidence that we met in Franklin, which has one of the best fabric stores in this region, Stitcher's Garden? Maybe not.

This shop has an amazing selection of wonderful fabrics. Up until recently, they were in a little shop on Main Street that seemed to be bursting at the seams with bolts of cloth. Early this year, they moved to a shopping mall just outside of town, and it is much better arranged and has higher ceilings and better lighting than the old store.

I spotted some wonderful food fabrics - grapes, olives, and figs - that all looked good enough to eat. I have a stash of food fabrics, and have made some wonderful gifts with them.

This shop has thousands of fat quarters, and I found these great tonals and batiks; I'm always collecting blues for my water quilts. Did I mention it is my favorite color?

And these three striped fat quarters were my treasure of the day. Mary Jane found them, and finally, when she got tired of my drooling all over them, she gave them to me.

 I had used up my fabric like this for binding on one of my flamingo quilts, and have been looking for more ever since. (Thank you, Mary Jane, for your keen eye and generosity). And then of course, more water fabric.

These next two pairs of coordinated fabrics look like they would make nice little bags, maybe for gifts. 

And the other two looked like potential background fabrics for some of my little birds - just enough pattern to be interesting, but not too  much to compete with the foreground.

And this last fabric was my splurge of the day. It is a Phil Beaver fabric that will make a perfect shower curtain for my yellow bathroom. And I'll have enough left over to play with. I spotted it hidden in the back of the store, and it "had my name on it."

Although it is sometimes convenient to get fabric on line, there is no substitute for spending time in a well supplied fabric store, and having the luxury of touching  and comparing and coordinating fabrics, and getting someone's else's opinion. 

I love our fabric stores here in Louisville, but it is still fun to visit the shops in other towns. 

When I got home around 6:30, Bob and I went to a housewarming for a young friend who just got her first apartment; it was a beautiful place in an older building with lovely wood floors and stained glass windows. He gave her one of his beautiful wooden fleur de lis pieces - a nice gift for a transplant to Louisville from Memphis.

We then headed for a Lacrosse game, the state championship game played by Louisville Collegiate School where I used to teach. I still have many friends there and enjoyed seeing former students and colleagues. Unfortunately, Collegiate lost by one point to St. Xavier. 

We then headed to Za's pizza for a late supper. For some reason, I didn't feel a bit tired.
It was an altogether pleasant day! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sun, Moon and Stars

A rainy day seems like a good time to start a quilt with a happy palette. I've used these fabrics before, and love working with these colors. 

I've always wanted to use the "Storm at Sea" pattern, and it really lends itself to a two-color quilt.

The fabric with the sun, moon and stars will be the focus fabric, and will also be a border.

This will be a small wall quilt for a birthday present, for someone who loves the sun motif.

I am doing this with a foundation piecing pattern; I really enjoy using foundation piecing, because it forces me to be very accurate, something that doesn't come naturally to me.

Anyway, working with these colors should make this rainy season a little more fun. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I Never Saw a Purple Bird...


Another silly bird for my quilt group challenge:

 This one was also made from scraps, and I love the process of applying the feathers one by one.  It's all fused, and I will do a little quilting, just to keep the bird from moulting.

I love the background; it's a piece of  hand-dyed from an early batch I experimented with. The challenge was to make a piece that is not a rectangle, and that has non-traditional binding. These edges are just turned in and sewn together, and I will put lots of beads on. I will also put some beads and quilting on the big wing. 

Again, I just needed to take a break from serious stuff, and have fun  for a few days.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rosie the Riveter

While I wait to take my baby quilt to Anita to quilt on her machine, I decided to work on the challenge for my Art Quilt group, which meets next Monday.

The challenge is to do a piece, any size, that is NOT a square or rectangle, and that does not have traditional binding.

So I decided do do a couple of "silly birds." I love making things from scraps, so I made several silly birds to use in this challenge.

The first one is on a triangle background, and instead of binding, I decided to make the edging with copper rivets.

So I gathered my equipment and supplies - a hammer and punch to get the hole ready, and then the rivet gun and rivets.

I put the long side on the top, in case I want to hang it up. It was great fun; I haven't done any riveting in a while.

There is a little bit of hand sewing, and then it is ready.
I have another bird ready to finish today, and then I will be ready for the meeting.

I love the colors on this, and I love the background. I just did a little quilting, and I will do a little more quilting on the bird's feathers.

I call it "Blue-Footed Booby with Pink Bloomers" 

It is a whimsical piece, and after working so hard  for so long  to make the baby quilt just perfect, it is fun to relax and have fun for a couple of days.

I will post a picture of the other bird tomorrow.