At Long Last…A New Post!

February 24th, 2008

Man, my life has been a crazy whirlwind of late! I have had commitments from early am to late at night everyday for the past 10 days, and I am ready to slow down! It has all been fun but there has been no time to post, so hence, the posting “drought!” I spent Fri and Saturday teaching at a lovely store called “The Sewing Bee” in Jonesborough, TN-great group of women and we had a lot of fun! I drove back here late yesterday afternoon and made 2 gallons of French onion soup and then jumped into my dyeing clothes! I have had several bottles of 5 month old mixed-up dyes in the refrigerator and they have been burning a hole in my heart as I didn’t want to waste them but couldn’t seem to find the time to dye. Well, I was taking a real chance here-working with old dyes who wouldn’t give me as vibrant of colors, and also working in a COLD garage-bottom line, the odds were against me as far as getting some great colors. I started out dyeing silks in tubs, as below. Most of the tubs were 2 different colors that were blended as they hit the silk:


I figured I’d better do something to better my chances for getting a rich color, so each tub was microwaved for 2 minutes after I finished with the color blending:


(I was just flying by the seat of my pants on that cooking time-but it seems to have worked! Also, if you do this, use a microwave that will NEVER be used for cooking food). Here’s a bunch of them batching:


…and here’s the other batch:


I was feeling pretty “juiced up” to be dyeing again, so I thought I’d try a couple of large pieces of cotton sateen dyed in my preferred method, (i.e.spread out on a dyeing platter). Here’s a shot of how this works:


I spread out my damp fabric and squirt dyes onto it, (see the bottles on the side?), and then smoosh the dyes around with my gloved hands. Sometimes I’m lucky and get a lot of these giant
blister” like things:


If you get those, LEAVE THEM because you’ll get some really cool puddles of color when it’s done! Sometimes I really work the fabric/dye to blend them, and in other places, I just let it bleed:


I had 3 of these lay out with a fan blowing; they did NOT get any heat, and turquoise is always a tough color for me to get down, so the color on these wasn’t as vibrant but I am still quite happy with the outcome and will use them. Here’s a sample:


I haven’t had much time to quilt anything worth showing, but here’s a new experimental quilt I’ve just started quilting. This is a top I bought on ebay and am just playing around with quilting designs. You may recognize this background fill design from my last post:


And here are 2 links to blogs I think you might enjoy…the first is a fascinating tutorial on fabric painting. Marjie does a great job explaining her steps and creates a beautiful painting along the way; see her blog at I found the other blog by reading the Pickle Road blog. If you want to see some of the most incredible free motion machine quilting, check out This is really mouth-watering stuff, so keep scrolling back!!

Quilting Designs, Reeses’ Cup Expose, and Blog News!

February 11th, 2008

This has been a busy week and most of the quilt-related stuff I did this week is not post-worthy, (remember when Elaine on “Seinfeld” was declaring whether the men in her life were “sponge-worthy” or not? This is the same kind of thing), but I made a small bit of progress on that quilt I last posted about. I decided mid-week that I really didn’t like this quilt, mainly because I think most of my fabric and color choices weren’t great, and I almost just trashed it, but then I figured I’d put enough time into it that I should just finish it. So, I did some hyperquilting of the base feathers:


That is the frond-embellished feather. I think I may just do it on the base feathers and not the “off-shoot feathers,” because it makes the feathers look like they are evolving, or changing as they blossom or open up. Not sure about all that, but will think about it for a couple of days. I started to get some of the background quilting done as well:


That’s not so easy to see, so I’ll show you some sample sandwiches from its design family and it will make better sense. This comes from a family of designs that is created by taking one design shape, (i.e. a plume), and rotating it around an axis. Here is the “baseline design,” which is created using a plume:


Now, if we take that design concept, but substitute a curley-cue for the plume, we get:


Now here’s the same thing except that we combine the plumes and curley cues into our “units:”


And here’s the same thing if we substitute hearts:


…and this last example is what I stitched in the background of that quilt. It is formed by using a heart with a softened central indentation:


In other news, I want to take the opportunity of the Valentine’s “Season” to illustrate a concept that Ernie and I have learned. We are both madly in love with the Reeses’ Peanut Butter Cup…hands down, it is the all time favorite candy bar of all time for each of us. Since the candy companies seized on “fun-sized” seasonal candy bars years ago, we have been totally sucked in and feel a need to sample fun size candy bars of all kinds. Well, all fun sized bars are not alike. This concept is most sadly illustrated in the various fun-sized seasonal peanut butter cups put out by the Reeses Candy Company. The bottom line is that IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEANUT BUTTER/CHOCOLATE RATIO. If that ratio is off, the peanut butter cup is ruined. Check out the picture below:


These are both fun-sized peanut butter hearts put out by Reeses for Valentines Day. The heart on the right is AWFUL and NOT fun at all, but the heart on the left is to die for……..well, not literally! Remember, it’s all about the ratio, and you heard it here first!

One more thing…since I know how to do links now, I want to introduce you to a great quilting blog that’s a group of Canadian quilt artists who take turns blogging. Check out the quilters at seven threads studio…great information and inspiration!

What’s on the Machine Bed and Blog News!

February 4th, 2008

I made a new quilt last week, (actually, I just started quilting it, but I got it fused and pieced last week). Here’s a not so great picture of the top:


I love, love, LOVE making tops like this because I am a total thread junkie and I can do lots of fun thread work on the fused pieces while it’s still just in that quilt TOP stage. Here’s a close up of the top of the flower and you can get a sense of the free motion embroidery on the top of the flower. The “body” of the flower is trapuntoed, so that section is quilted already:


Here’s the backside of that same area:


I started quilting it this afternoon. I’m using the silk batting by Hobbs and I just love this stuff-it’s like quilting buttah! Here’s a shot of the flower section on the machine bed after I’ve stitched around the perimeter of everything with invisible thread. There isn’t any background quilting around anything yet, but you can start to appreciate the protrusion caused by the trapunto:


I’m trying to keep that notion of “blooming” or unfolding going in my quilting design, so I quilted 2 feathers kind of unfolding after they emerge from the center base of the quilt. Here’s part of one:


The feathers are stitched in turquoise size 12 pearl cotton Presencia thread. You buy these in balls and just hand wind them onto an empty spool or cone:


I’ll post more as this project moves along. In other news, Brenda Gail Smith has posted another tutorial on an alternative method to finish the edges of your quilt without using a binding. I’m finding that these are very useful skills to acquire because you just never know when they might come in handy! Check them out in her blog at serendipity patchwork. (Brenda taught me how to do links last week and I’m kind of going nuts with my new-found power!) If you’re looking for some pure entertainment, I’ve got a pretty funny quilting blog for you. Check out Mark Lipinski’s blog and be sure to scroll down to his Jan 26, 2007 post-it’s a great play-by-play of his nightmarish hotel stay during the Road-2-California! I’m off to clean off the interior of my car. We flew out of town last week and I made the mistake of leaving an unopened can of diet cherry coke inside, while the outside temp varied from -1 to 40 degrees. Of course, it exploded and the inside of my car has splatter everywhere…looks like a frigging crime scene!