Monday, April 30, 2012

Art Quilts to "quilting" for grandchildren

     The grandchildren arrived on Friday night and we went to Summer Shack. The next morn I had an early SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Association) meeting out in Natick. After a fabulous meeting viewing art quilts, I was inspired to pick up some fabrics so the three grands could feel like quilters. I had gotten an idea for this from the Peabody Historical Society quilt show in a big barn last Sunday. There was a children's table that held mini quilt squares, glue sticks and dowels with muslin hanging. The small and medium squares could be glued on in different patterns...traditional patterns. They looked terrific.



      However, at Fabric Place Basement I was seduced by bright colors and what looked like colorful fabric alphabets that could be easily cut up and placed on even more colorful backgrounds. I bought several quarter yards. Joe cut the dowels and drilled holes while I tied the fishing line on with square knots.

      After the children went to bed, I used the hot glue gun to attach their "quilts" onto the dowels (so fast) and hung them from the chandelier for them to see when they arose the next morn. Erika was down early and made another for Mommy. However, she and I added batting and backing, and machine quilted the piece. She added a gold bow embellishment and wanted to add beads as well. An art quilter on the rise. Both girls took home more letters to create a word quilt at home for 3-year-old David who was more into trucks and cars, coloring and cookies, guitars and games. I have leftovers for quilt postcards. Click on photos to enlarge!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

On the Road with Needlepoint Coasters and Beads

          Chrissy, one of the Beadsprouts, made a trip to Florida.While there, she picked up some needlework for memories. It is a reminder of the fun one has with small crafts, for she has now finished her coasters! Her belt and others' are another story.

       Speaking of beading and hitting the road, Hannah and I made a couple of bracelets just before she headed home. I showed her how fast she can make a necklace or bracelet. Using some of my leftover beads, she strung them on Softflex medium wire. We measured to see what length was perfect for her wrist and for her mother's.

       At each end we added a sterling silver crimp for strength and another bead. The wire went up through the crimp and bead through the clasp at each end, and back through the extra bead, crimp and through several beads on the wire. We then secured each end with the crimping tool after pulling on the wire for snugness. We next clipped the extra wire. You can't believe how fast this is done.

        In crafting, one nearly always stumbles. I did, losing one of Erika's beads, making hers too tight. Hannah whizzed along. Erika's green one was remade immediately!  Click to enlarge the photos!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Joe's Red Garden: my return to Journal Quilting

      Tornado parties, deep snowfalls and trampolines are favorite childhood memories of my life in Amarillo. We didn't do gardens there in the prettiest dust bowl you might imagine. There is a mini Grand Canyon after all. But we did have irises, hydrangeas and little yellow tomatoes in my yard. Croquet and football took over, mostly.  Joe's dad grew lots of roses in Little Rock, but Joe and I have never gardened except for his digging holes for bulbs in the fall, our planting around the house wherever there is a vacancy, and my one time successful herb garden.

       I am so glad Joe decided to make a garden in his retirement, however too early it may be. I will call it his little red garden for he edged this sunny slope with big red paving stones and grass for a new direction. Altho he tied strings and built trellises, he mainly wanted flowers. I wanted food. So he allowed for that as well.

      Missing my journal quilting, I made one this afternoon. I had fabrics of seeds but chose a batik background since I think that is a good contrast with strong graphics. I grabbed some narrow strips that suggested trellises left over from the Round Robin. I laid these out and secured them with a glue stick. I needed more life and created an award for Joe, just grabbing ribbons from an open drawer. I needed to bead the center of the badge but there was a sticky rhinestone left over from a grandchild's craft and I stuck that on. I would have continued if I could have found my puff paint, but you know how cluttered an craft person's work areas can get! (I finally found it! a box, carefully put away.)

     After sewing this collage, I cut it down to 12 x 12, added a batik backing  and sewed the edges of the quilt sandwich (top collage, batting, backing). I added some red bias tape for edges, reminiscent of Joe's red edges to his garden. Forgetting the quilt was finished, I went back to sew in free motion Joe's garden 2012 on the tomato and embellished the award. This showed up on the back. Duh. I colored it out with a blue-green Sharpie. I REALLY have missed journal quilting.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Craft for the Car: Sashiko coasters

     Sashiko is meditative. Sashiko is satisfying. Like quilting, it puzzles my family and friends why I do it. Maybe I wanted something I thought the granddaughters could sew easily. Perhaps friends who want to craft, but say they cannot, could enjoy this. I do hope I develop good muscle memory to one day hand-quilt,  rather than machine stitch, a quilt. I always start with the most complicated patterns because they are more interesting to have, should I quit. I will pad, back and stitch these to the proper size for coasters, but they were so easy to handle while Joe drove the car.

      Sashiko kits are available online. I got mine at the New England Quilt Museum and the City Quilter. I bought the thread and needles, and that is all one needs. The blue fabric is marked with stitching guides that wash out. I kept poking myself as I loaded many stitches onto my needle so I bought some stick-on thimbles. After wearing one, I found I never stuck myself again. I find it easy to pull the thread through, but people also use wider rubber bands or finger protectors from the drug store to pull the loaded needles through the fabric. 

     When I first got interested in Sashiko, I bought books and tools to print my own designs on navy fabric. Ellen showed me the beauty of the colored threads and how to start and end without knots. There are preferred paths to follow when stitching, but it is not imperative. 
      I picked up 12" x 12" pillow forms at JoAnn's half price last week. Needle-pointing coasters and knitting are great travel crafts, but Sashiko coasters are a new one for me. Click to enlarge the photos to see mistakes that happen when you hit potholes or before one learns all the rules! In all honesty, I take out my stitches a lot so it may not be so easy for children. I believe perfection doesn't happen for me, even in easy tasks.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Busy Bee Serendipity!

   Our quilting bee met at Bonnie's house today, west of Boston, where the grass is green and horses roam the fields. She showed us the inspiration she got from Rayna Gillman's new book, Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts. Oddly enough, I had taken both of Rayna's books, the other being Create Your Own Hand-Printed Cloth to show everyone! Several in my guild find Rayna's blog our favorite. Such joie de vivre!

    Atara had finished her Secret Garden quilt which is quite a treat that my camera does not do justice. Atara just put up her website! Sometimes there is a delay in opening the site, but it is worth the wait. Click to enlarge photos.

     Afterward, I joined Joe for a drive to pick up plants for his new garden. Some are already climbing the trellises. We also stopped at the fabric store where I made a commitment to finish the Round Robin, by buying my first oversized fabric for the backing and the batting to do my first big quilt machine quilting. More first, I need to work on the top using a myriad of Comments from home and abroad. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Round Robin quilt is here: work to be done

click to enlarge
   The last guild meeting, we who were working on Round Robins got to see our quilt after all these months. It was finally time to see what had happened to our center block as it traveled through each of the rotations. Mine arrived a day late because Evelyn always goes beyond the call of duty and it took longer than expected.
    Before the next May 14th meeting, I am to do any of the following: Add one final border or enhance any of the previous borders (embellishments, beading, applique). I am not to change what has been done, but enhance it. I may quilt it if ambitious. A sleeve should be attached to the back with the quilt to be brought to the May meeting for the final unveiling to the membership.

     I know the quilt seems quite bright to you, but it works in the room with the oak furniture. I really don't need sunglasses when it is in the proper setting. Maybe I will add blue touches and hide the miniature hearts that are not visible here. That fabric is also a lighter weight than the others. I had suggested the values be dark since I like limited values (no "holes"), so I will probably knock down the lights. It covers the big table. You can't tell, but I learned a lot! :*) The photo is just a casual one, taken in the basement.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Quilted Envelope for birthday cards and gifts

    While Joe worked on building his garden, I decided to make a quilted envelope for Hannah's quilted birthday card and Book Notes to keep track of all the books she loves to read, a good habit for the rest of one's life. She's ready for the calligraphy pens I got her; and a place to stash her creations seemed warranted.

    Following the book theme, I cut out the book fabric and a lining and batting all the same size. I spray basted the three pieces to save time pinning. Then I quilted the three with an invisible thread. I then cut the pieces (now one) precisely on the edges with a rotary cutter. Now how to sew an envelope?

    I sewed gold bias tape across one end which I turned up. I decided to play it safe and stitch all the edges, with the bottom folded up. Then I added gold bias tape to finish, starting at the bottom left and going up up and around to the bottom right side. Since the thread was invisible, I returned to secure beginnings, corners and ending. I am not sure if the big closing flap should have a button of some sort.

     Chrissy gave me the idea of theme related birthday presents. See my 3/14/12 posting. I wasn't sure how to relate to Hannah's rock climbing party, however. I guess I could have painted some rocks. Hmmmmn. Now Ellen gave me a rock idea that I am just now catching on to! Joe will have some leftover from preparing his garden!

click to enlarge

Friday, April 6, 2012

(Almost) The Last Rotation of the Round Robin: Phew!

      Ann has an enthusiasm for novel ways to get quilters to work together, to make new friends and learn more about quilting...."to practice creativity and learn to work with varying colors and to see how each person completes the same assignment." This year she talked many in our guild into participating in a Round Robin. She formed several groups of about five each, people who live relatively close together.

      At the end of the project, one is to come out with a quilt the owner initiated with a quilt block or medallion. This is to be added to or finished by the others in the group completing rounds of corners, squares and rectangles, triangles and finally, "anything goes." When a round is finished there is excitement, and while working on it, both great angst and some fun. I learned new techniques and solutions for which I am grateful, but like a hockey game, once is enough!

      Monday night is Reveal Night. It will be fun to embrace one's quilt which has been worked on in secret. This handsome piece will go to Rosemary. My "anything goes" round are calming enlarged squares and rectangles.The subdued red corners and brighter reds mid-side I think worked well. After each round we add a border to make it easy for the next person to get started. OH NO!  I just read that after receiving my own quilt I am to add one more round....OH!...or improve earlier borders, quilt the piece, and attach a sleeve to the back for unveiling to the membership. I can handle that. Hope Joe can :*)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Week with Art on the Go: four things

   In order not to lose my website in June, when Apple drops Mobile Me, I had the task to find a domain name for myself ( At Go Daddy where I chose this new URL, I found I could upload my present website for them to host. Task one (big deal) complete.

   Earlier, we had Easter ahead of time with the grandchildren and I especially liked the photos of Joe reading to the children. I may want to use them to develop a big painting.

   Recovery was at Summer Shack where I sketched Joe on the table cloth. He always picks up the crayons meant for children as we are led to our booth. That was the art for the week, except for the Sashiko I embroidered in the car on the way home from NYC as we listened to a CD recording of London: a History, by A.N.Wilson.

Click to enlarge photos.