Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sweet Dreams: a "sausage" or "tube" pillowcase

    When I joined Quilters' Connection, I kept hearing that BUSY people make pillowcases for gifts, for children and friends. I didn't know that could be fun and FAST. A visit to the City Quilter in NYC introduced me to the sausage/tube pillowcase tutorials on-line and sold me this fabric. I liked the YouTube visuals.

    This afternoon, Susan and I printed on our Gelli plates, but when I got home, I still had enough energy to make this fast pillowcase to surprise son, who is in town to close on his house. He loved super heroes, and was a devoted collector, always improving the manufacturers' costumes to make them more realistic. I hope he enjoys the surprise.

     I first washed the fabrics and watched the tutorials at You Tube. I cut 3/4 yard (27") for the main part (assuming about a 45" width). Most suggest cutting 9" x 45" or so for the cuff. The piping is 2"x 45" or so. Iron the piping and cuff lengthwise down the middle. Open up the 9" cuff and place it face up on the bottom of this pile. Open up the main part and and place it atop, also face up. Next, do not open the 2" piece but align its raw edges with the the other two at the top. All sides should have been trimmed at some point to match. Roll the bottom of the main part toward the pinned top and once it is within the space of the cuff, gently lift the bottom of the cuff over the roll to pin all five raw edges together. Don't pin the roll but you know that if you watched the tutorials. Once pinned carefully, sew carefully. Next, reach inside to pull the tube out either end. Fold right sides together and stitch down one side and the bottom using straight stitch, zig-zag, serge or French seam. Iron to admire. I am making a toddler one tomorrow and I highly recommend. Again, watch the tutorial link in the first paragraph for clarification!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ladder Bracelets: all wrapped up

      People love the wrap ladder bracelets by Chan Luu the jewelry fashion designer. Some of the bracelets are long and wrap the wrist numerous times. Others might be a single wrap.

      There are a variety of instructions on-line at YouTube and otherwise. My friend DJ Downer taught me an easy way to make the ladder bracelets and where to buy the 1.5 mm Greek leather lace and the 6 lb size D Fireline in Crystal and Smoke. The latter is used for sewing back and forth between each bead 3 times. I got my buttons at Ben Franklin and secured all knots with a precision tip cement (I used Elmer's glue).

      You can use pearls, large seed beads, or flat stones.You can work secured to a board as one did in macrame, but Donna Jean taught me the meditative pleasure of just stitching while holding in my hand. Once around is enough, I think.

       Joe is not crazy about the leather look on me, but they are very popular, especially among young people. I could even conceive of a masculine look. Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Quilt Week Survival: UFOs galore and more

    When the family phoned they wanted to come visit (see last posting), I said it was a busy week. I had a quilting bee, Journal Quilt Connection meeting, an all day workshop on Saturday and guild meeting Monday. The family came, as you saw.

12 x 12 journal quilts
unfinished backs of quilts

     The four 12 x 12s I showed to the first two groups (bee and JQC) with their unfinished backs and fronts makes them the UFOs...unfinished objects. The curvy railroads and long panel are from the workshop. At the guild meeting, where I showed the workshop creations, I ran into two friends, Andrea and Nedra from Material Mavens, the International quilt group.

     The sunflowers are Van Gogh's and at Jim's Thanksgiving, Lloyd from the Frick encouraged me to get Van Gogh: The Life although I had already read so many bios of VG. So glad I did. This book is quite interesting with new information. The snowmen have to do with our NYC Christmas. I helped the children put some mini snowmen together and they were proud of their creations. I used a printable fabric for the back to capture other images from that Christmas visit. I need to embellish more. The Robin on the blue stands for the Round Robin quilt group I joined, a first for me, and the piece it belongs to was my first attempt.
    The curvy pieces of quilt tops (not sure what these UFOs will become) are from the all-day Saturday workshop. I showed them at QC; therefore, my MM friends Nedra and Andrea could find me at the guild meeting . Workshop leader, Dianne Hire, had a trunk show and talk that evening. I survived all the above and enjoyed seeing the family.

Click all photos to enlarge.
Nedra and Andrea (MMs)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wild Winter Weekend: building and sewing

Dianne Hire's classroom guides
    The grandchildren dropped in on a busy weekend. I had an all day workshop with the fabulous Dianne S. Hire learning about her Curvaceous Curves (not pictured) and her Railroad Borders. All the while, Joe was watching the children as they built a snow man with limited materials. The relatives were here from out of town, visiting with old friends in segments, attending a birthday party.
click all photos to enlarge

     Today,  7 year old Hannah tried out her Janome Hello Kitty sewing machine I bought her when she was 4 years old (a little eager here). First she stitched a straight stitch maze and then a little snowman container. She made a doggy paw pillow, turning it to finish with invisible stitching. When I suggested she take out the pins before stitching over them, she asked why she couldn't pin to the side to not worry. A little child shall lead.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Under New Management

       Joe retired at the end of the year. We keep thinking it is Sunday and tomorrow he will have to go to work, or it is a holiday so he gets to stay home. The good thing is I have a fellow crafter who is now my companion, laboring all over the house.
      One day he built a shelf while I answered my e-mail (it is not easy to buy a shelf that will fit in the little real estate I have left him) . The next day he was stain-varnishing it. He went out to get another tall shelf and in no time was painting it. Then there was that bentwood chair he winced over when I retrieved it from the garbage. What to do? He found a can of brown spray paint, cut a circle of wood to fit the seat, cut dense foam to fit and covered it. I was excited to go to my stash to contribute the wild fabric I had found last year at Ben Franklin. I just LOVE that chair. He also painted my studio floor and stairs in the basement, put down a rug, gathered pop end tables from my earlier creations, and turned that area into a campy guest room for the grandchildren's parents when they visit this week. (There is a modern full bath down there.) We'll keep the grandchildren upstairs with us and the other studios :*).

      I never know what Joe will be up to next. I LOVE Joe's retirement. I do hope he will be a good influence on ME.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reveal Day at The Material Mavens: My Bird of the South

     My international 12" x 12" quilt group reveal quilts on a chosen theme every other month. Today is Reveal Day; and I just posted my Bird of the South. Each member chooses a topic for the group to tackle."South" was a tough theme. I posted the following and look forward to seeing what everyone else came up with...whether things "go South," birds flying South, snowbirds, or something else.
Click to enlarge

      Recently, before the South challenge, I worked on a round robin quilt which had a mariner’s compass as the beginning. In no time, I found myself thinking South in re to a Chinese compass and learned that astronomy in China is different than in the Western World. For a long time, South for the Chinese was placed at the top of the compass:  South, being the direction where the sun reached its highest elevation, is more important than North, and was considered the reference direction on maps. The ancient Chinese grouped the stars into Chinese constellations very different from the modern Western constellations which the International Astronomical Union based on Greco-Roman astronomy.
      The Vermillion bird of the South, or Red-bird of Summer, is one of the Four (or five) Symbols of the Chinese constellations and is a mythological spirit creature. It is not to be confused with the Phoenix of Western mythology. It is an elegant and noble bird in appearance and behavior. Its seven mansions or moon stations are Well, Ghost, Willow, Star, Extended Net, Wings and Chariot which in the future I may crochet or bead into this sky. These constellations, when strung out almost look like the appliqued Fire Bird which is shaped from many different animal parts and associated with good fortune.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Holiday break, nothing broken!

       Son Jim in NYC turned over his pristine home to Joe, me, Farley the dog, and our three grandchildren. Colin bought a big tree. He decorated and loaded the underside with presents left for us, their guests. This was entertainment for Christmas Eve, while Santa's gifts were opened the next day. We had the darlings for three days and two nights all by ourselves.

Click on photos to enlarge 
       Some of the activities I had available for back-up you can see on the table:
Snowmen from Art Girls to glue together and embellish, a tablet of Melissa and Doug drawing paper, Melissa and Doug sturdy crayons (no paint with white everything to sit on) and a gingerbread/candy train to construct. Since it is a tradition for each child to decorate his own tree back in Boston, we had to rely on Christmas tree sticker books from Dover which each child decorated in his own way.

Jolly juniors

          When I suggested a movie, Hannah said, "LinLin, this is a time we all want to be together, not running around all over town!"  I am for that, although Joe and I enjoyed seeing the store decorations and the dancing Salvation Army men before the children arrived. Joe had picked up Home Alone 1 and 2 for soporific emergency movies.
Snowmen, trees to decorate, crayons/tablets
          In the next to final photo (with Santa in front) enlarge to see the snowmen the children left behind on the mantle to which they added copious notes of gratitude for the hosts. Also, check out the dancing Salvation Army men who doubtless doubled their donations by their joy and enthusiasm.
Gingerbread train

Mantle of gratitude