Thursday, December 29, 2011

Atara's Art: a colorful life

     At a meeting of the Studio Art Quilt Association ( SAQA) at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Ma., I was intriqued and moved by Atara Halpern's work, so much so that I phoned her in a neighboring town to see when I could look at it again.
Click to enlarge all photos!

    In no time at all, this generous soul who did not know me had provided a delightful lunch and invited me into her quilting bee where I met other clever people from a neighboring guild.

      Surprise is important for fun and Atara delivers when we meet. Mid-December she laid out her hand-stitched colorful place mats which have metallic free machine stitching for the quilting. She embellished them with the colorful lunch for the bee. Hand stitching, as in these place mats, is fun to have to work on when traveling.

      Atara showed us the first quilt she made, combined in parts, for her bedroom seven years ago. She made more quilts.  The Secret Garden below is one of many shared in a quilt show. She is now working on another Secret Garden.  Since I have been doing some sashiko, I was interested in this other quilt she "saved" from a too loose fabric by close straight hand stitching.

        Apologies for only a few snapshots of all the many interesting, moving works Atara has created. I had to twist her arm to get these. I will be so glad when she has a website so others can see her portfolio of fine hand work...such as the Gardens of Cambridge and other quilts with links to literature. Of course, you really need to see them in person...the buildup of grass and trees, rock and bark, for surface excitement and feel the hours of thought that have gone into the densely hand-stitched creations.

The Secret Garden

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sneak Preview with Shorts

      Ann encouraged me to join a Round Robin quilt group. (This posting is a secret since the work is not to be seen before reveal day. However, everyone is busy. My RR group does not know about my blog,  and I want a blog/record.) I am a novice quilter and have never made a big quilt. I met with the group, presented my medallion to be set on point, and took home Evelyn's. She had paper pieced a detailed compass and provided fabrics. For the first round, we were given intricate (to me) mathematical formulas to use to set the corner triangles. Not wanting to ruin quilting for myself by following formulas, I set out as I do with journal quilts:  I cut and paste to see what develops.

     I got out my trusty Shape Cut Plus and rotary cutter to slice up some strips of fabric. This ruler helps to cut strips fast and straight. The problem comes trying to size and to fit the finished triangle. I did not do a perfect job at all, but I tried.

      We are supposed to have fun and take chances. I will pass my work on to Rosemary and receive a medallion with corners from Evelyn for the next round. On Rotation two, we are to add a pieced border 2 inches to 6 inches wide. We may use squares or rectangles. We are to border all four sides and add a framing piece around the outer edge of our completed work. Egads. I may need instruction.

        After each stage we take photos, but somehow the owner (who will keep the quilt begun with her medallion) won't see any work on her quilt until all rounds are complete on Reveal Day.

      I am eager to get back to Sashiko which I so enjoyed Thanksgiving evenings. It is meditative and fun for grandchildren. The straight stitches are something young children can do to also have a product (pillow, coasters). It can prepare me for hand quilting and moderation :*) I have put some projects in stockings. Although I have posted on Sashiko before, you must visit Ellen Katz's blog "File Under Fiber" for a solid introduction.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Building Boxwood Trees: a tradition

Read first "Comment" below the blog.  This is a repeat offering. :*)

Click to see Chrissy's tree shape
   Each year Nancy has the Beadsprouts to her home to make boxwood trees for the season. I didn't realize I would blog on this so I don't have a full set of pictures, but I have enough information for you to "take off!"

Note Debbie's joy and Nancy's gold container, oasis, tape and position of boxwood twigs
Nita is making a smaller one for her mother's table, and Linda B. a fuller one

  To build a boxwood tree, soak an oasis in the sink until the green "brick" is filled with water. Place the oasis in a container that can hold water, where the tree can be carved and all secured like wrapping a present w string only with floral tape. The edges of the block are sliced to shape somewhat like a bloated tree, easily done with a carving knife. After taping the oasis securely to the base, the collected boxwood limbs are cut with pruning shears to various lengths and are inserted in the oasis. The lower branches angle down, the midway branches go more horizontally and the upper branches shape up to a point at the top of the tree.

Enlarge all photos by clicking on them
   Then the fun continues as you see that everyone's tree already has a different personality. You will add bows and ornaments, even flowers, such as those on the my Costco purchase. I was baby sitting and would not get to make one this year. The ladies saw to it that four-year-old Erika did make a miniature tree in 30 minutes and decorate it before we had to leave to pick up Hannah at school.

     Get some friends to join you in the making and be sure to water your tree daily.  P.S. There are little floral spikes with wire that are handy for adding ornaments and bows....

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

   It is such a pleasure to enjoy the cooking of young people! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. (click to enlarge photos)

Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.  Seneca

All that we behold is full of blessings.   William Wordsworth

We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.  Albert Barnes

Happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.  Frederick Keonig

What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.  Albert Pike

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hearty Beating: a journal quilt

Click to see naughty errant heart waves.
      I belong to an international 12 x 12 quilt group, The Material Mavens. Every two months we have a new theme chosen by one of the members. It was my turn and I chose "surprise," having no idea what to do. Not one idea came to me. I do love surprises. One should have them at every gathering, dinner party or meetings up...even in blogs and journal quilts. Today was REVEAL day when all show their quilts on the theme.

     Life intervened to save the day, somewhat. I had some wild times with my heart and some good news as well, each happening, positive and negative, a complete surprise to me. I won't bore you with details, but the loud colors, the brash conflicts and softness in the quilt show the two extremes. Previously, in times of Afib thinking, I had quilted and beaded tiny rectangular heart quilts; and this assignment gave me an opportunity to display them. Across the center of the 12 x 12, I sewed some fusible thread in an EKG chart similar to an irregular reading and placed foil over the stitching to iron the iridescent waves.

     The 12 x 12 quilt content is purposefully irregular and needs some balance and resolution but the topic has none. so that is appropriate for my "Surprise" journal quilt. The backing comes over the sides of the front to make the binding or edge.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Birthday Reflections in Fiber: a Journal Quilt

     Birthdays keep happening. I wanted to make a journal quilt as an extra for a friend's celebration (perhaps for people to sign the back or to hold greetings in an envelope attached to the back). I Googled "quilt birthday cakes" Images and blogs, and found many quilts and quilted cakes. One complicated piece at Threads of Conversation tempted me. I tried to paper piece it without a pattern. I made the top backwards and sewed the pedestal on upside down twice and gave up. My proportions were so bad I had to add a frame.
      I decided to free-motion machine quilt with a multi-colored Superior thread and 90/14 needle and to bring the backing of cherries around to the front to form the edge or binding.It would help to slow down to plan!
Click to enlarge
       I stitched  some quotations* I had found for fabric fortune cookies should I decide to take those as a non-caloric addition to the party. So why were these quilting failures so much fun? Practice does not make perfect!.  Why would one want to quilt when people's eyes glaze over when you talk about it or your work is not perfect? Clueless here.
      Often I make quilts for people and then want to keep them. Aren't they fortunate! I may add "For LinLin1 on one side of the lower pedestal and "love LinLin2" on the other side. The whacky construction mirrors the whackiness of additional years. By the way, I have a real present for her.

*The older the fiddler, the sweeter the tune.(English proverb)
   Age, like distance lends a double charm. (Oliver Wendell Holmes)
    Youth is a gift of nature, but age is a work of art. (Garson Kanin)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Weaving Thanksgiving: a journal quilt

     For November, our 12" x 12" journal quilt group entertained the theme "Thanksgiving." To the last meeting we each brought small pieces of fabric to be distributed to everyone. These fabric pieces were to be incorporated into our block.
     Nothing came to me except the notion of baskets of blessings for which I am grateful. Celeste at our last meeting showed how she had taken strips of fabric and woven them into a quilt and I thought that was the only thing to do.

      I cut the strips using my new shape cutter that I picked up at the Quilters' Gathering in Nashua NH where I took Hannah who was evacuated from her home in NJ because of the latest storm. She LOVED the quilt show. Note the weaving behind Hannah!

      I wove the strips as one would make a lattice on a pie. I did this directly on the batting, took it to the machine to sew with no pins or spray glue and, surprisingly, it held together.Maybe not on the edges, so I cut them off neatly and took the border fabric and placed it on the back, big enough in size to wrap to the front to overlap strips of batting to be zigzagged to the the woven area. While weaving I thought of all the different personalities, some rough edges of grateful Thanksgiving gatherings with multiple personalities and the mixing of families. It is a cheerful journal quilt that I thought would never happen
      Click to enlarge the photos.
click on that turkey
I just added, a week later, the silhouette, in beads, of a turkey roasted.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Treats and Tricks

   Hallelujah, the exterior of my house has been cleaned. There was so much rain and we have so many trees that there was an unattractive glaze of mildew on the house. The nicest Martin went over the house and garage with Clorox, inch by inch. and I put up a wreath to celebrate.
Click to enlarge

   For the goblins, I am putting out a mad dog, giant rat and a spider will top a bush. We have been "Boo-ed" and have hung ghosts in the window to show this. Now off to "Boo" others, for I have purchased my candy and am armed!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Close the windows at Halloween: a Journal Quilt Connection 12 x 12

    A Halloween theme was chosen by my Journal Quilt Connection group for October. I had just returned from Texas and was thinking wide open spaces and big skies. I found the "Attic Window" block pattern for that. Several patterns and ways of creating it are on-line.

    I had dropped in at JoAnn's Fabric just to see what is new to find there were many exotic fabrics for Halloween. I bought small pieces of each and mailed fragments to the grandchildren. I decided my 12" x 12" attic windows were too garish alone, and placed these skulls atop the block. Perhaps I should sew them down, but I like the way the fabric floats or ripples like ghosts coming in the windows. It is Halloween, of course, but I had age and memento mori's on the mind :*)

    The following quotation appeared at Rayna's blog (click to visit where you may subscribe by e-mail) and it spells out what happened in the making:

Philip RothWhat I have in mind when I start to write could fit inside an acorn -- an acorn, moreover, that rarely if ever grows into an oak.  Write fiction and you relinquish reason.  You start with an acorn and you end up with a mackerel.  Unfortunately, my workday does not support the argument for a universe of "intelligent design."  Chance and staying power.  That's the hand that imagination's dealt. 

Click photos to enlarge.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Round Robin medallion: a rough start

    Ann said it is fun to make a round robin quilt. There might be five in a group of quilters. Each makes a center piece. Each month or so, this quilt block is passed to another person to add to the top of a future quilt, usually winding around the medallion in the center. Until the quilt is finished, the originator of the quilt, the medallion maker, will not see the quilt. The five centers and each month's new additions to the quilt, an addition in the round, will grow the quilt. After several months there will be a medium size or large quilt to be returned to the owner to have batting and backing added, and quilting finished. Each of the five quilters will have the beginnings for a larger quilt as well as some interesting interactions and discoveries.

click to enlarge
      We were told the center piece should be on-point, so a design or subject should be in a diamond format. The following are my first two efforts at my medallion. It would help to be a more experienced quilter; and next time, I hope to be more adventuresome to make a more personal image...home or flora! I may have to doctor these with some fabric paint.

       Actually, I started a trompe l'oeil image, a window box, but I have to finish it to see if it would work. But then, Fall is so busy!

       Credit: Whenever I am stumped for block pattern, I can count on finding one at Marcia Hohn's fabulous Quilters' Cache with a zillion free quilt patterns and instructions. Visit it:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Posting Pumpkins: fabric postcards for the mail

     October is beautiful outside and a time to be with friends. To touch those far away, there is the fabric postcard. Still having withdrawal from a great get-together with childhood chums in Texas, I was having trouble getting back to quilting. But I bit the bullet and sat down to make these small quilts.

click to enlarge
    If you click to enlarge the photo, you will see the only quilting is around the edges and down the center. I made these 7 quilted postcards by cutting fronts, backs, and flannel or batting to a size of 4 1/2" x 6 1/2." The proper postcard size will be 4" x 6." Next, I stamped the back fabric with an old Post Card stamp. You could write "Post Card" with a fabric marker as you will the address and notes.

      I put the front and back face to face atop the batting and stitched all around 1/4" from the edge, leaving two inches on one end open to turn. I then snipped off corners and turned the pieces. I ironed the "cards" turned, and once again stitched all around the edges, only this time, closing off. Feeling I should quilt a bit, I took a fancy stitch on my sewing machine to make the line down the middle and it was OK on the front. I could have quilted more before sewing the pieces together. Where the light string hit the black, I used a black Sharpie....and an orange Sharpie on the pumpkin.

        Tomorrow, I will address, add a message, and take the Postcards to the Post Office for stamps and hand canceling. I do not put the postcards in an envelope, and they have always arrived at their destination. I like the soft quilt version, but you can use Timtex or other products for a stiffer version. YouTube also has videos on the subject.

         Type "postcard" into the Search space at the top left to see earlier fabric postcards I have made.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fortunes for the fabric cookie

     Yesterday I posted about the snap bags I made and the fabric fortune cookies without their "fortunes."
Click on both photos to enlarge
     Today I printed "fortunes" to printable fabric. Although you can iron fabric onto freezer paper and carefully run it through your printer, I used Printed Treasures, Sew-On Inkjet Fabric Sheets which are colorfast and washable.

      I used my Comic Life to print the short "fortunes" and after peeling the back off the fabric, rinsing off any excess ink and drying, I used a rotary cutter to cut the strips.

      After playing around with the cookies, I sewed the strip onto the cookie exactly where I had joined the fold yesterday. Look at these photos and then look at yesterday's posting by scrolling down. Now to mail them to Patsy.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fabric Fortune Cookies: a quick craft

click to enlarge

    These fortune cookies are very easy to make. I found several tutorials on-line. Lady Harvatine's appealed to me most.This site by Shannon has a video of turning the cookie out.

    Essentially, I looked at all the tutorials I could find, Googling "fabric fortune cookie." Then I looked at Images to see what sort of fabrics I preferred.  I chose the easiest and most sensuous shapes. I took a cracker can that had about a 5" diameter and traced around the base with a permanent marker. I cut out freezer paper circle and ironed them onto fabric that had been spray basted to felt. Next I cut out the felt backed circles, then sewed about 1/2 inch in from the edge. I then took pinking shears and cut about 1/4 inch from the sewn circle. All that was left to do was to fold the piece in half, inside (felt) out. I sewed about an inch in the middle, touching neither the fold nor the stitched edge. I could then put my thumbs in under the folds on each side to open up the outside of the fortune cookies to give them shape. Click on both photos to see more.

     I need to find some good fortunes about friendship or simply insert fabric or paper fortune strips suggesting BFF Best Friends Forever. Or, I could let people write up a bunch of fortunes to put in a bowl to draw out or insert in a cookie and then let the cookies be drawn.

Snap Bag marathon: assembly line construction

click to enlarge
   This coming Thursday, many best friends are gathering; and I wanted to make something for each. I don't know if I will mail or deliver. If you remember, I posted on September 16 my excitement about these handy items, useful in purses but mainly witty pieces that pull open by tabs and close with a snap, thanks to cut up metal measuring tapes. At that post there are links to tutorials.
   I learned so much working in assembly-line fashion: One can make in two days what took a day to make one originally. I learned to use smoke invisible thread but to make sure the spool is a certain shape, for a regular spool is a nightmare. A spray glue was important to make the tabs hold shape so I did this outside and kept the black "patent leather" tabs under weights. I finally figured correct settings for zig-zag satin seams and the use of permanent markers to tone down problems. Most exciting, I found I could free-motion quilt with a regular walking foot and go 10 times as fast in the quilting, zooming and looping around.
   Now to get to work on the fabric fortune cookies for the BBF (Best Friends Forever) tags!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Harmony on the Homefront: a Material Mavens quilt

    My friend, Alice, founded an international 12" x 12" art quilt group blog, Material Mavens. I had given her a book for her birthday about a similar group which lit a fire in her. She is quite the organizer.

     Our first challenge was to make a quilt about "harmony." On September 15, we all revealed our quilts and a new theme was chosen for the next two months.

Home Harmony
        My journal quilt design developed this way:  Three things happened at once. My accuquilt cutter arrived. Joe and I were babysitting the grandchildren while their parents moved their home to another state.  I needed to think "harmony."

       I was excited to try the cutting machine and placed an inexpensive blended roll of batiks into the chopper to get numerous triangles and many squares of two sizes. In creating the quilt, I limited myself to what was available in this particular stash of batiks.

       Off and on, the children concentrated to make houses of squares and rectangles. They had "house" on the mind and organized a tabletop of multi-colored homes (small square and triangle on big square as in the center).  Harmony, however imperfect (I put the house on in the wrong direction) prevailed in several directions. This two-sided quilt is an homage to that time, the youngsters' design, and my new helper, the fabric cutting machine.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Snappy Bags inspire at my Journal Quilt Connection

   Last night the Journal Quilt Connection met to show the journal quilts we had been working on since summer. At the end of the meeting, Rita showed about 15 very graphic snappy bags she had made. I forgot to take a photo, but today I searched on-line for a pattern.  I had to make one. Her bags are better!
click to enlarge

      I found that Nancy has posted a tutorial at her Tattered Garden blog, and a school in Utah has written up the directions.

     So, taking it easy today, I whipped up a  snappy bag. They are so clever. You merely pull on the tabs on both sides to open and they snap back to close! Click on the colored links in the paragraph above for instructions to try one!

Monday, September 12, 2011

School for learning: a journal quilt

click to enlarge
   The Journal Quilt Connection meets this week. I needed to make a quilt with a school theme, one quite appropriate for September. I just couldn't get started. I thought of my upcoming trip for a reunion with friends with whom I began elementary school  in Amarillo. The grandchildren were starting new schools in their new state. I wondered about new courses for everyone, my boys in NYC and Joe and myself.
   I was blocked. But to get started, I set out a sky background over batting and cut the two to 14" x 14." That would be the big sky of Amarillo, the Southwest and memories of school, first through 12th grade.
    Blank. I brought in Kaffe Fassett fabric pencils. Buying my school supplies (pencils and paper) was so exciting back in the 40's. I wasn't interested in clothes, just drawing. Where to put the pencils? I found black board fabric and sweet memories of lettering. But how to compose?
    The 9/11 tenth anniversary memorials were on tv and my piece came together. I ironed Wonder Under to the fabrics and cut them out, ironed them on, and quilted them to the batting. The backing was put on at the end and brought around the sides and stitched as I watched the memorials on television or listened on the radio.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lettering Headers: fabric penmanship

click to enlarge
      The Material Mavens, my talented Texas 12" x 12" quilt group, was inspired by Jamie Fingal Designs' lettering at her blog. We wrote her for advice. The generous quilter she is, Jamie sent advice. Each in our group has been given a letter to fashion for our moniker at our MM blog. I drew the L.

      Listening to President Obama's wonderful Jobs Act talk to Congress, I cut and ironed away. I was assigned an L which I found on my computer software. I printed it, traced and cut it out a little bit bigger to fit onto a 4" x 5" piece of fabric. At first it looked too skinny. I traced the letter onto the back of freezer paper and cut out the letter.

      I didn't know what colors to choose among my fabrics but I thought a more solid pattern should be the letter. Something wider in design would be the background. It is good I made two choices since I now see one of mine resembles Andrea's lined fabric background.  On the piece of letter fabric I ironed Wonder Under to the back, ironed on the freezer paper L, and then cut out the letter to iron on the chosen background.

      I now see Jamie uses different colors for background and letter. I must learn to prepare more thoroughly, but I got the letters made and will send them off in the mail to Alice in Texas where she will assemble all our letters to spell out Material Mavens.  Be sure to visit Jamie's blog Twisted Sister!  

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bead Crochet patchwork bracelet

   Often regarding a craft, I say, "It is so easy to do!" Not so with bead crochet. I always say it is the most difficult craft I have ever learned.
click to enlarge
    However, it is a very portable craft. On vacations, in meetings, and waiting for appointments, it is relaxing to have something involving small motor skills. 
    For my birthday Nancy made a patchwork crocheted beaded bracelet that I had admired. I wanted to make more since I am so into quilting these days. The patchwork is a 6-around pattern. This diamond pattern is found in many crochet bead books and on-line but you can create any pattern.
    It is good to start learning by stringing 6 different colors, repeatedly, on a topstitch thread and we Beadsprouts use Gutterman's 30m thread, a size 10 or 11 crochet needle, glass seed beads, a bead blanket made of a cut-up Velux blanket, a long wide-eyed needle, and a good light with magnifier. Sitting in the sun helps to see. There are wonderful books with techniques and YouTube demos on-line. Gradually you can expand to work in silver and gold, pop-up and other beads to vary. Below I have included the patchwork pattern.
    I was excited by the craft six years ago when Anna mentioned that she and her friends each made a segment for a necklace for the birthday girl in their group. The Beadsprouts were soon to follow. In this pattern for the patchwork bracelet, B stands for the background color. Vary the colors As and Cs. Usually 42 to 44 inches is a good length. String the beads, wind them around the thread spool, put them in an eyeglass case and you are ready to roll. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Vineyard Landscapes: a future journal quilt

   If Martha's Vineyard survived the hurricane, my beading friends and I will go to the island for our annual retreat. We each take a surprise craft to busy our hands at downtime. In the past, we have beaded glasses, flatware and tops of tins, decorated candles, cards and felt flowers, put our world in a bottle of sand. But this time, I could not think of a single craft I was interested in. I went to the fabric store for inspiration and bought too much work.
click to enlarge
     In art you find good things happen from mistakes. I have decided we will fuse and stitch individual landscape quilts. When you teach, you learn. I made white cardboard frames, 10"x 10" on the outside and 8" x 8" on the inside, so each beader can design within limits. I ironed Wonder Under to 10 pieces of color for each of the six of us; and all that is needed is to iron the shapes we cut out onto the background piece.
     I also cut larger "sand" backing (the bottom piece) that can fold over the sides to bind the mini-quilts when the quilting is finished. The second sand piece up in the photo is the background to which the beaders will fashion and fuse their cut-outs with an iron:  grass, foliage, trees, rocks, sand, sea, sky, people, umbrellas...wherever inspiration leads. The background with their toppings will be spray-basted or pinned to the batting which I cut for each artist; and decorative stitching can begin for accents and interest. 
     For a design, the beaders can go abstract, look at watercolors of a Vineyard scene they have painted from the window, follow a favorite Vineyard photo, or work from their imagination. I might hint at the hurricane. I can't wait to see what they will do. In the meantime, I need to gather fabric scissors, needles and thread, pins, embroidery thread and needles, sketch paper and permanent markers. The ladies should have beads on hand to further embellish.

Note:  August 27 and Sept 4,  2011 blogs for other get-away bead crafts. Click bead in Labels and scroll down.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dyeing for fun: a play date for grownups

    Nothing like a play date for this blogger, especially with clever art quilter Susan. We had been talking about how we were not going to get into dyeing fabrics for our art quilts, but we found two simple ways to do it, neither requiring rinsing or breathing loose pigments.
    Susan ordered several bottles of Adirondak color spray ink, put drop cloths on the floor and table, set up a drying rack and a back screen. We squeezed the water from and laid presoaked white cloths, silk, cotton, and white on whites on papers in the protected area, picked up bottles in analogous colors and sprayed. Then we squished the fabrics in the palms of our rubber-gloved hands and hung them on a rack to dry.
    I had taken some Createx air brush paints that you also do not need to wring dry or rinse . We folded dry PDF cloth (prepared for dyeing) into different origami types of configurations as one does in tie-dye, then bound the pieces with rubber bands. We laid them on another piece of fabric and squirted transparent air brush paints into the folds of the fabrics. Then we put the fabric into plastic bags for an overnight rest. In the morning we will see our results, drying them further and ironing to soften. Marquetta Bell-Johnson in her Hand-Dyed Quilts book recommended using these paints.
click to enlarge
    Before going over to Susan's, I collected materials and ran across a Better Homes and Gardens magazine article to remind me I had once before dyed fabric, back in January 1978. Our family created simple crayon batik pictures and I sewed the panels together for a window treatment.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bambi, the Unexpected Gift: a journal quilt

   Bambi was a very influential movie in my life and I wanted the children to view it. Many said it was too scary; but my grandchildren loved the movie and wanted to see it repeatedly. Every night we kept them during the move to another state, they shouted eagerly: "BAMBI, BAMBI, BAMBI," when I asked what bedtime movie they wanted to watch.
click to enlarge
      Although the children did not appear anxious over the recent move and on the drive to their new home started asking 15 minutes out of town how long it would take to get there, the icing on the packed snacks was that when Joe drove into the new driveway four hours later, David, 2, spotted the statue of a deer on the neighbor's lawn and hollered out, "BAMBI!"
      As as the day went on, Joe looked out the window to see an antlered deer in the woods across the street; and by the time he rounded up the children to view it, a doe appeared. The animals remained there until eventually a car drove by to spook them. What a gift for the children on the arrival in their new home, one that made the grandmother quite thrilled, necessitating a journal quilt for this special occasion of gratitude.
      I found a fabric that looked like the deer in the movie. I made the white ribbon by fusing Wonder Under to the back of white fabric. On the Wonder Under, I drew the bow and ribbons freehand, cut them out and ironed them, fusing to the deer fabric. I quilted by using a blanket stitch on my sewing machine around the ribbon and a free motion funny grass stitch between the deer. I cut the quilted block to an exact 12 x 12 inches but then imperfected it when adding the iron-on hem binding and zig sag stitch to secure.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Roundup Time: a Moving journal quilt

click to enlarge
    The grandchildren recently moved four hours from us. We were able to assist by keeping a 7, 5 and 2 for a week. Hannah learned to cross-stitch. They drew, painted, wove lanyards and worked on a journal quilt with me. Joe the saint, played with them in the pool almost daily. Crafts and swimming are symbolized on this background of not tears, but lots of water splashing.
     The vehicles stand for the many rides to the pool and Joe's driving the little angels and Emmit their dog to their new home. At the end and the beginning, the grands had been so well prepared for the move that the giraffe security blanket, left behind, has not been missed. Ooops, I free-motion added Hannah, Erika, David, Joe and LinLin's name to the quilt with Summer 2011...but forgot both dogs, Emmit and Farley. The names are barely visible but I wanted to record.
      Perhaps I could have added more interest to the quilt by framing or projecting the memories trompe l'oeil. Once again, I used the half-century old hem binder.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Material Girls Adventure: a journal quilt

     In late June, my friend Ann and I headed west to the Material Girls Quilt Guild show in Leominster, Central Massachusetts.  We took off the day for culinary pleasures and art. Certainly, Jessica's works at that show were a major draw. We started at a top diner, did the show in depth, and stopped for a seafood lunch and baskets of farm strawberries on the way home.  I couldn't ignore this outing when there is a strawberry challenge quilt to be made for the Journal Quilt Connection 12" x 12" group! (see last week's strawberry blog)
click to enlarge

     But sometimes things don't work out! I wanted a basket weave pattern (such as I found at the fabulous  Quilter's Cache/Marcia Hohn), alternating the yellows with the reds); but I didn't have enough basket yellow.  I thought I would have a learning experience this afternoon and gamble on two prints of no contrast. I learned my lesson :*{ I did a basket weave and I used some strawberries albeit accompanied by kiwis. I alternated the strawberries with cars and put a simplified strawberry pattern on the back and drew it around the sides for a binding. Let me tell you, the back looks better than the front. Why the cars? We drove and drove and drove! all over the place, having a good time looking for quilt stores, inspired by the fabulous show where we saw great talent and picked up inspirational books and fabrics. Such sweet memories make me fond of this troubled little journal quilt!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Strawberry Fields: a journal quilt

   The Journal Quilt Connection, a Massachusetts 12" x 12" quilt group, has members choose a theme for each month. I chose birthdays or beginnings for July and posted these earlier. Pam's theme for August is strawberries. For me, that was a tough one, since I prefer cherries.

   When I remembered John Lennon's Strawberry Fields, I began to warm to the theme. After about age 4 1/2, John Lennon (according to Wikipedia, and other sources on the Internet) lived with his aunt next door to a Salvation Army orphanage named Strawberry Fields. If I understand correctly, he loved to play in the wooded garden behind the home, especially when he heard the band starting up. I could also relate to Lennon's talk of trees as well as the elms in his memorial in NYC. 

click to enlarge
     People have studied the song's lyrics and made references to how different John felt from others. One source said he experienced visions that others didn't. There is in the second verse: "No one I think is in my tree." John said, "...therefore, I must be crazy or a genius."You can find all this and more if you Google Strawberry Fields Forever Wikipedia and check other URLs.

      To create my quilt, I first drew simple shapes of boys and trees. I decided to cut silhouettes out of black fabric and applique them to the abstract strawberry field. I used Wonder Under and and then a blanket stitch. I knew I needed to quilt the background so I just started sewing straight stitches from the center out. A tiny border was called for so I used a 50-year-old iron-on hem binding I found in the attic. I stitched over that. Maybe I should quilt the boy and the tree but I don't know what would work. Perhaps I should have tried the "scribbling" open zig-zag black stitch painting earlier recommended by Susan! Maybe invisible thread to break up the expanses?The backing is a larger more realistic pattern of strawberries and kiwi.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Old friends and new friends: a journal quilt

     Sometimes one can get busy and out off shape. We were so busy helping the grandchildren move, that I got off schedule in producing my one-a-week journal quilts. I don't know if I can go back to create them all, but this is a start...somewhat anemic, but a start. That is what is so good about a blog. It makes you get back to work!
click to enlarge
We need old friends to help us grow old and new friends to keep us young.   ~LC Pogrebin
      Several things come together in this 12" x 12' journal quilt.  I found some fabrics I like for bags and bookmarks, neither (like friends) of which I can have too many. I like inspiring quotations and have shared them recently in birthday thank you's. But mainly, this journal quilt is about new friends. I introduced Trilla and Alice in the Southwest recently who found that both their fathers were journalists for the AP and that the two couples have much in common. I have had fun making new quilting friends and traveling down some challenging new paths that will get me back to painting I am certain: Donna Jean, Andrea, Susan. and Ann. 
        I joined the fabrics in pillow case fashion, using a black and off-white spider web backing. It seemed witty and wise. I free-motion stitched the names and blanket stitched everything else, but so help me, I cannot figure what else to do.  I guess I could pump it up with black and white bead trim...and that could stand for dear old weekly friends. I have affection for the subject but need help on the quilt. Enjoy.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fleece blankets: a security craft

   The grandchildren are moving four hours away and staying with us a week during the move. We engaged in many crafts. While at Ben Franklin picking up gimp for lanyards, Erika spotted a special sample no-sew, easy-tie fleece blanket.
click on photos to enlarge
    Already having spent enough on crafts, we got a half yard of the duck fabric and a half yard for the backing. When we got home I cut the fleece in two and each child decided what she wanted to do with it. Erika wanted a blanket as big as she could make with her piece and Hannah wanted to split hers for a pillow and a smaller blanket.
      For Erika's we squared off the fabric, cut out 4-inch square pieces from each corner and then cut 1/2" x 4" strips to be tied into a half knots. We found that if we tied the knots right on the board just after cutting, it was less confusing.
                       For Hannah's blanket, since it would be smaller, we cut out 3" square corners, rotary cut the 1/2" x 3" strips with great care. This was a good lesson in learning how to square up fabrics, measure, plan in general. For the edges of the pillow, a pinking rotary blade added interest. A stitch was made on the outside, about one inch away from the edge, leaving an opening for polyfil. Hannah stuffed and then the sewing machine stitched up the stuffing hole, right on top.Very cheerful results.
      Here you see they have their sewing kits loaded with tools and a basket overflowing with their stash. Hopefully they have enough sewing know-how to continue their art :*) in their new home. Hopefully the duck fleece blanket will hold Erika until her security blankets, left behind here, make it back to her.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Children Cross Stitch and Bead: Moving time is here

Click to enlarge photos
     Keeping the grandchildren busy will be interesting. For the moment, they are at the pool and diving off the board. I had picked up a cross stitch sampler kit for Hannah and a purse of glass beads for Erika. Both were busy and content for hours. Last night I showed Hannah a book of samplers made by little girls and the kit says cross stitch goes back to Egyptian times. I suggested she do one letter to see if she should wait a year until she is 8. But she found it easier than I did. Erika whipped out a lot of rings and bracelets, but stepped on her needle. She wasn't crazy about needles before this and is less so now!