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Starting a New Project

The word prompt for our next art group meeting is “SHOES….Historical”.

It has become a bit of a challenge to come up with an idea to illustrate the word that is just not the usual kind of image. So far there is a jester’s shoe and a mockup of the shoe Marie Antoinette wore on her way to the guillotine.

I took this photo of discarded auto parts several years ago–brake shoes. A bit more research and perusal of a repair manual, line drawings and I had a basic plan in mind.


Then on to selecting fabrics. I knew what colors I wanted to use—and these parts were laying on the ground with some leaf litter. The background of oak leaves on a dark background was perfect–then on to the brake shoes and the spring. I found two pieces of rusted muslin–perfect for those rusty parts—the spring had to be a different color–not true to life bu contrasting.


And yes that is a Tide box. I store my fabric in Tide boxes…it always smells nice and no problems with mildew in this humid climate.

I use freezer paper templates and free=hand cut some pieces. They are appliqued by hand using a fine thread onto the background—it is now ready for the machine work. It will be covered with a lot of thread to show both detail and form.


Notes and Such

Some years ago, I won a covered Marble notebook at an event; I immediately began to use it as a journal. Since then I have covered many Marble notebooks and currently have a stack about three feet high of completed journals. I have also covered 3 ring binders, and my sketchbooks. I use pieces that are an experiment–something I wanted to try on a small scale but decided against a large piece, leftover bits from other projects–that are too many and too big to make into postcards (another fun project).

And then sometimes I make them, just because I want to play around with fabric and thread and paint and have fun without any grand expectations of a formal art work.

Having been gifted the contents of my mother-in-law’s linen closet–some lovely vintage doilies among other things, I decided to make two book covers for her two daughters–my sister-in-laws. One of them is an artist and so I covered a sketchbook, the other is more bookish and so she got a Marble notebook for her to keep records of whatever she liked. The covers are removable—and I could do that with mine—but I enjoy have new ones to look at.

The doilies were linen with fine tatting around the edges–made by their grandmother who had an advanced degree in Home Economics or perhaps it was Domestic Science at the time.  I hand-sewed them onto some wild sand-dyed fabric I had made…so vintage over modern Bohemian.


The one on the far left is the sketchbook cover, the next one to the right is the Marble notebook. The two on the far right are two workshops I took, and definitely did not want to make either project the fulls size—-of course, that one with the purple and greet triangles might have been more successful if I had not used a stretch denim as a base.

And yes, they both said they loved their notebook covers.

Feathered Kisses

img_1412-mTwo or three times a year, I like to buy a new pantograph or two. I’ve bought them from the Gammill dealer in Texas and from Urban Elements, an on-line store. I was surprised to learn I really like doing these edge to edge designs; after the first two or three rows, they become very meditative.

This panto is called Feathered Kisses; somehow the ability to do decent feathers has escaped me despite several attempts. This particular one undulates across the quilt, leaving little sections unfilled. Instead of doing random loops and twists to fill in the space, I employed the use of a Venetian blind header (they were really cheap and the header which covers up the mechanism for drawing the blinds up/down broke and fell off. I had been using it as a straight edge to cut sections off the batting roll.

However, I was able to place it so I could follow the lines of the design and fill in all those little sections with pattern.

Unfortunately, I discovered I mistakenly used the top of the undulation as the TOP of the pattern when actually it is low point of the undulation that is the top—–really technical hear….but I ended up with a gap of about 3 inches to fill in somehow and make it look like I intended to do this.

So one point for figuring out how to do the blank sections and minus one point for not figuring out where the top of the pattern was…….Now there is a dot at the appropriate spot and no more 3 inch gaps in the pattern.

That quilt has just three more rows to do—and then there will be another to add to the needing binding stack.

Rock Walls, building Stones, and Wall Finish

building20stones20against20an20old20wall-mI have decided to call this piece finished.

What does remain is the backing, sleeve for hanging, and label—but the art part is complete.

Some of the additions were challenging as I worked from the back; the thread I used was a ribbon type thread, too thick to go through a needle and had to be wound onto the bobbin and the tension loosened. The piece is getting quite thick with the many layers of fabric and thread and my machine was not happy about punching through it.

The next parts will be fairly easy—I just need to finish the quilt loaded on Vivian before I can load up this one and do a bit of minimal quilting. Then the formal portrait with detail shots. Fortunately it is fairly small—24 by 28 and so will fit just great into my photo studio—and I won’t have to get out the pole and drape and ladder for the outside of the shed photo studio.

Since I’ve been working on finishing up some more traditional projects, the next art piece will take a bit of thinking before commencing. I have two ideas, but will mull them over and do a bit of design work first before deciding.

Circular SunBursts

img_1290-mAs I noted yesterday, I have not been idle.

This is another piece that was on the UFO list—but somehow I ended up signing up for the same UFO challenge but with another group and was shamed into not using the same projects for both—although no-one would really be checking. I do want to clear out these projects–I’ve made fairly good progress—the trick is to not start new ones while working on the old ones.

This was a workshop project several years ago. We used stamps to mark the size and seam allowance of the pieces. It was a hand-piecing project–which was a relaxing change from ones in which we hauled in sewing machines and yards of fabric and  rulers and rotary cutters and thread and so forth.  For this one, we needed a gallon bag of fabric, scissors, needle, thread, and pins–easily carried in with room on our arm for a sack lunch and maybe even a cup of coffee.

I had pieced the sunbursts and appliqued them onto background—alas, as I found when I began to quilt it—each circle was not exactly in the center of each square. I managed to do the feathered circle around each sunburst but the grid was a lot more challenging.

Still it is finished and moved to the done pile!

Back to the UFO list!



It is done!

Some years ago–and I’m not telling how many, my dear friend and I hit upon the idea of working through EQ (a quilt designing program) to come up with a sampler quilt. Each of us would make two rows, we set the finished size of the quilt and therefore the rows and chose a group of blocks–primitive style—we would select from. We each contributed background fabric. Our rules were that we could use other fabrics of our choice to finish each block but that we would each have the same background for the blocks.

We prepped the backgrounds and slipped the pattern into a packet with each background.

I worked away at mine for a few weeks; but then got interested in other projects and set it aside.

American Patchwork has a challenge each year—to complete UFO’s; you select twelve, number them and they draw a number each month–and you work on the corresponding project. I did this last year and got 8 projects completed; this year I am a bit behind–only 4 so far but most of them this year were barely started. This was one of them.

I learned a lot from this project.

Some blocks are not meant to be huge.

Some blocks are not meant to be tiny.

I am better at embroidery than applique.

It is much easier to make the label for the back when you are working on the top–I use leftover blocks and fabrics, print out the pertinent information, trace it (my handwriting is not neat) and then it is ready.

But this huge monster is now completed and bound.



I’ve been busy

moms20irish20chain-mIt has been awhile since I have written a bit but I have not been idle.

It is prime honey bee season and the bees need attention this time of year. We now have 7 hives. Husband has been doing the majority of work with them as he is still in town; having a few medical issues to deal with before he heads to the great Northern expanse and much cooler weather.

However, I have been working on quilting up a few things while letting my eyes rest from my latest art project.

This is a small quilt my mother pieced many years ago. It has fussy cut animals in some of the squares; all of them oriented in the same position. (I would not have been so careful).irish20chain20detail-m

It has now been bound and after a viewing at the local quilt guild will be shipped off to one of my mother’s great-grandchildren–numbering 7 at this time. There are still a few more pieces of hers to work through destined for those great-grandchildren and I still have three grandchildren quilt tops to go—there were 17 of those!


I should have looked back–I did show these photos in April; however, it is now bound and labeled and ready to ship….

Grandma’s Nine Patch

My grandmother was a practical woman and I adored her. I remember her as always laughing despite a life that was full of hard work, scrimping, and managing on next to nothing. She never balked at doing work; work that might have been done by someone else or in her time, a male.

Grandma raised cucumbers for the pickle factory and she was in charge of the cucumber sorting. The bins were on the side wall of an empty bay in the fire engine’s garage. That bay still housed the canning equipment from World War II on the back wall; Grandma had run that in those times. She also repaired sewing machines and had the contract to cut grass and otherwise maintain two local cemeteries.

Although her older sister made quilts for a living at a $1 a spool, Grandma made quilts for beds to keep warm. My first quilt was one she made for me–strips sewn together for a central panel, and then circled round with strips, bound in purple, with an old wool blanket as batting, and tied with red yarn.

When my mother died, I was left with all of the quilt tops and parts and pieces and fabrics and the carefully rolled up leftovers from dresses, skirts, and blouses. This top was made from many of those rolled up scraps as I recognize some of the fabrics but many others I do not—and the combinations are so colorful, I know they are the ones my Grandmother made on her old Singer treadle–bought by my Grandfather when she was expecting her first baby–my aunt—-in those days, according to my grandfather, even the women did not talk about babies and he took a lot of grief from his parents for being so extravagant as to buy a sewing machine.


Rock Wall, Building Stones, and Boards VI


After some thought, I decided that I needed more contrast in the stones to make them appear rougher. I wound Designer 7 (YLI) black—onto several bobbins and began working some darker areas into the individual stones. This is challenging as I am working from the back; the bobbin thread is all the same color from the previous work and it is challenging to see where one stone ends and another begins.

This still wasn’t quite right and so I tried placing a thick cotton thread around the facets of several stones, thinking I would couch it down.

This didn’t seem quite right either.

After more thought, I got out some jeans thread–white—and started working in some lighter areas on the face of each stone. This is heavy work as the piece is getting quite heavy now with all the thread and layers. The bobbin trace got so hot, it burned the bobbin thread and so after two hours work I had to stop and let the machine cool—and my shoulders and elbows and wrists rest as well.


I think this is going to work. I have several more hours of threadwork ahead of me–limited by the heat of the bobbin trace–but a clear path lies ahead.


Rocks, Building Stones and Boards V


That print I chose for the wall behind the rocks seemed too bold; I toned it down with some strips of a sheer blue with black polka dots. No, you can’t really see them but they do add to the textural quality. I’ve also added a sheer with black swirly lines over the stones and begun to stitch it all down.

That base fabric is not heavy enough to hold the many layers of thread I use and now you can see on the very edges the addition of a fine wale corduroy. This is one of my favorite fabrics to use as an under layer. It is heavy enough to withstand the stitching, yet flexible.

At this point there is a lot of thread and I am wondering if I have lost the feeling of individual stones.

Time for another rest of the eyes.