Monday, September 29, 2014

Quilting with my Grandma

This photo is from 1994 when we went to celebrate my Grandma and Grandpa's 50th Anniversary!
L-R: Grandma Bea, my mom Ellen, Me, my babies; Devin on my hip and Lauren in front.
Ten years after her passing, I finally took the time to quilt with my Grandma.  I didn't learn to quilt from my Grandma and by the time I learned, she was already very sick.  Before she passed though, she had set aside a couple of UFOs and other pieces for me.

First up is this puff quilt made in 1976 to celebrate the Bicentennial.  Over the years it had become faded because she kept it out all the time to enjoy it.  So, at some point she decided to start taking it apart to redo some of the puffs in fabric she had saved.  When I received it, it was in sections with many little scraps of paper pinned to puffs notifying the order in the quilt: 2nd row, 3rd down, etc. 
Gram had done A LOT of easing in on those seams during assembly (must be genetic:)) and trying to sew through all the layers upon layers of seams was a pain in my big backside!! It did NOT take long for me to decide, no way Jose! Plus a sweet friend reminded me that Gram was gone and she wouldn't know:) 
What I ended up doing was salvaging the largest chunk for myself which is a good lap size. The reassembly in just that was a bit much but doable. The remainder of decent puffs were put into a good size pillow cover for my mom and the remaining fabric was donated to an appraiser friend who also does restoration work.
There is still some fabric left and I have an EPP design that I am working on to use it.  I will have enough to make a small table topper for myself and my mom!

What I learned:  I NEVER need to make a puff quilt:))

Next up was a box of horribly ugly 70s fabric that she was using to make a scrappy strip quilt.  When I opened the box, there were 8 finished, 12" blocks with all the green/red centers cut for approximately 32 blocks according to a sketch done in pen. YIKES!  Again, I pretty much knew that wasn't happening!  So now what to do with what was done.  These blocks had been done in the foundation method with a muslin??? that was more like cheesecloth.  I found a price tag on one of the fabric pieces that stated it cost $1.49/yd. and was purchased at the Fabric Bonanza.  I never heard of that store.....
I decided to give Foundation piecing a try and made 8 more quadrants, added some large green areas to try to quiet all the other colors, and some hippy-like floral applique.

I had a friend quilt it on her long arm machine with an all over floral design before I added the applique flowers--SO much easier!  Here is the new quilt with Grandma's finished 8 making up the 2 large blocks and my 8 quadrants in the borders and in the green areas for some movement.  It ended up being about 60" square and a perfect lap quilt for me!

What I learned:  Foundation piecing is SO much easier than paper piecing and I don't know why I didn't try it before!
I also was reminded of how much Grandma LOVED her moth balls.  With every press of the iron I was reminded over and over:)
For an added fun memory, I found some fabrics in the strips that seemed very familiar to me.  I went digging through some things and found this little doll quilt that Grandma had made me to match the Holly Hobbie puff quilt she had also made me.  I no longer have the puff quilt but do have the doll quilt.
If you look very closely, you will see the match to the pink swirl and the green floral fabrics.  Thank you Grandma for the lovely memories!!

Monday, April 28, 2014

I am all around the Blog world lately....

So I have this internet/FB/Quilt Designer friend who is a laugh riot!!  Every time I read her blog or FB posts, I either giggle or completely understand her point of view.  I highly recommend checking in on Beth Helfter of EvaPaige Designs! (And, I am not overusing my exclamation points!!)

This month I was her Quilting Hottie in the Hotseat where I answered burning questions like, " what is the nerdiest thing about you?"  I guess you will have to hop over there to find out:)

Have you heard of Quilt Dots?  If not, you are going to be so happy, especially if you are a sucker for office supplies the way I am!
These adorable little 1" magnets, pins, or Giant paper clips (bookmarks) are made from quilt patterns of designers.  This means that you get like groupings of quilt styles.
Of course, my favorite are the Giant Paper Clips!  If you are a paper piecer, they are a great way to organize your templates.  They are also great for clipping together coupons, guild info, fabric swatches, potato chip bags:), etc.  I think maybe I am hungry....
Make sure you click on this link to read the interview AND enter to win fun Dots and a pattern.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

HAPPY 2014 and ....

Happy Valentine's Day, Happy President's Day, Happy St. Patrick's Day, Happy Easter, and Beyond!

Well 2013 sure was a very busy year for me and I know you have been wondering where I have been:) After not writing for so long, I wonder myself.....
To get us back on track, this post will mostly be a photo wrap up of what I have been doing.  I know it will pain you to look at photos vs. read big long paragraphs of tedious details, but please try to suffer through!
Here are the Highlights:)
1. Three new designs found here:
'Just Hangin' Out' is an adorable monkey quilt
'Semper Paratus' is for the patriot in us all and has all the letters to adapt to any service.
'Blooms of Hope' allows us to send healing flowers to anyone with the change of a color.
2. These 3 photos show my Festival Booth in Houston last October where I debuted my new designs along with 2 photos of what the floor and aisles look like.  It is so hard to wrap your head around how large it all is.
3. The top photo is TREEO by Linda Evans bought from the SAQA Auction. Just Adorable!
The bottom quilt is my Star House donated to the House Quilt Project run by Jamie Fingal.
4. This little cutie was given to me by my guild for my service as Leader for the last 2 years.  I volunteered for another and was told not to expect another quilt:)  WHAT? :))
5. My husband bought me show tickets to We Will Rock You, the Queen musical for my birthday and it was only playing in Miami.  So we went to South Beach for an overnight trip and whilst walking the strip, I found a window full of Rhinestone covered shoes!!  I could never wear them but so shiny and pretty!!
6. Merry Christmas 2013 with my smart and gorgeous and talented and funny daughters!!
7. I found this fantastic wrought iron door stop whilst antiquing with my girls.  Parts of my life have been a bit like a fairy tale and IT is Orange!!  How could I pass it up!
8.  We rang in 2014 in Key West where they drop a Drag Queen named Sushi in a giant red pump.
9. My juried entry into the 2014 Mancuso Mid Atlantic quilt show Hampton, Va.
10.  A huge splurge for me as I bid on and won this mini quilt at my guild's annual charity auction.
11. This is our new baby, Biscuit.  He is a rescue Wheaten and what a sweetheart.
12. Finished my mom's Hawaiian quilt.  Last year she mentioned how she had always wanted one and I opened my mouth before realizing what I was undertaking.  It is 40+ x 60+ and all needle turn applique and hand quilted in the traditional echo style.  Turned out beautifully and I don't ever need to make another:)
13. GO BOLTS!  The Tampa Bay Lightning made it to the Stanley Cup playoffs.  They aren't doing so well but still an accomplishment.  The game we went to was Great: lots of action!
The St. Louis Blues are in too and doing well I hear:)  GO BLUES!
14. Here is my little Pooka Duck.  She is our other little Wheaten. She and new big brother are doing well even though she really gets on his last nerve sometimes:)
So there are my last 8 months in review with many of the other usual things in between!
There are more fun things to come in between my youngest daughter's college graduation and a dear friend coming to visit in June.  Stay Tuned and keep quilting!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

25 Years of Wedded Bliss.....

Yesterday's post showed our new Anniversary Quilt and today's post is about our fabulous Anniversary trip to Puerto Rico.
Since Jim is in the Coast Guard, we were stationed here from '98-2000 and had a wonderful time once we acclimated to the culture.
This time we decided to fly in and stay in Old San Juan without a car because they drive soooo crazy there....Good choice:)
So Jim noted when he made the reservation that it was our 25th Anniversary and booked a romance pkg.  He chose the El Convento knowing that CG Admirals and other dignitaries used this hotel when on island.
We arrived too early to check in so they checked our baggage for us and off we went...

This is a gorgeous old tapestry in the hallway leading to the restaurant located in a lovely courtyard.  The first time I had ever seen courtyards like this was when we lived here and I was hooked!  If I could ever find a way to live like this, I would!
So we started with a couple of rum drinks and an assortment of delicious fried treats that we remembered: Bacalaitos, Alcapurrias, sorullitos, and Tostones (cod fritters, sweet plantains stuffed with beef, sweet corn fritters, smashed and fried plantain slices).  SOO Good!!
Then we went to check into our room....In honor of us celebrating 25 years, they upgraded us to the Vanderbilt Suite (where heads of state stay).  To say we were stunned is an absolute understatement and prompted much reflection on where we started in this marriage to where we are now. The photo was taken using my panoramic mode and that is the dining/sitting rooms....bigger than my own kitchen/living room.  There was also a bar area, master suite including a huge bathroom, and a second bathroom...crazy:)
Here is the photo of Gloria herself posing in that exact room circa 1970 something??
The views from our room were the Oldest Cathedral in San Juan, La Fortaleza (Governor's mansion), and the bay leading into the port.  From this window, I could actually see the town where we used to live.

Here is another cute little courtyard in the middle of a home that is now an art gallery.  A street view leading down to the bay.
When we lived here I was also completely charmed by the doorways and the beautiful wrought iron designs that adorned  doors and windows.

We spent some time at the museums too.  We took our kids to plenty of historical sites (less boring) while we were here but not the actual museums.  There was a fiber exhibit .....Not exactly  my taste but interesting when you see how much depth he could attain with basic yarn pom poms .

We had so much fun just wandering the streets without the girls in tow this time and remembering our time together here. We tried to eat as much of the food we remembered as possible.  I found my little Helado cart with the Parcha flavor...DELICIOUS!!  All over there are these little ice cream carts but it is more a sherbet than ice cream and Parcha is the passionfruit flavor that I loved!  You could also get coco, pina, or mango.
And, of course, I am with Jim who always lucks into festivals or something similar, so one evening we came across a birthday celebration for someone...Time to dance:)
No life is completely blissful but I know that my knight found me and gave me a life full of love and happiness that I never imagined possible and I am forever grateful!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


I know I haven't posted in awhile but I have a very good reason!!  If you have been following along, I went to Market in May and the summer has just been a whirlwind of activity since then...
Dear friends from our past came to visit.  Then our sweet daughters came to visit with their boyfriends...SO much fun!  The second week in July my brother and nephew came to visit and it was great to catch up and see my brother as a father!
The week before my brother came to visit, I decided that my husband and I deserved a new quilt.  We have a sort-of comforter that I made back in 1995 before I knew how to quilt.  The applique is awful and the binding falling off, not to mention that it barely fit a queen and we now have a king.  What is that saying about the Cobbler's family.......?

So that week was spent pulling out a design of mine that is a variation of the block from Vol 7 of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks. I proceeded to get all the fabric cut for 20, 18" blocks that would be paper pieced.  I did have to buy some yardage but I had about half of it in my stash plus some of the fabric left from the original quilt from 1995.  This would be my first attempt at a scrappy quilt and you will see that it is very controlled scrappy!  Even with the preplanning, I had a hard time letting some of the fabrics fall where they may.
After my brother left, it was time to get to work chain piecing all the parts for my blocks.  It was now July 15th and I had to have this to the quilter by Aug 3rd.  How about a shout out for overestimating your abilities....
Did I mention that I was doing this as a surprise for our Anniversary and that is why the deadline! I felt I had plenty of time but between company and then my husband taking time off every time I turned around, I started to panic.  I only had weekdays to work and he was cutting into them.... 
 I even started a second quilt as a decoy quilt so that if he asked what I had been up to all day, I could say, "see!".  How crazy is that??  Now I have to finish that too but I do love a deadline for getting lots done!
Here is one of the blocks placed together to see if I like where the fabrics are falling. 
I was able to finish in time (actually a day early) and sneak the quilt off to the quilter on a workday on my way home from guild to avoid suspicion.

When it came home, I was just blown away by how perfect the design was.  When Kathy showed me the design on the computer, I just couldn't see it on the blocks.  It gives a sort of celestial map feel to the quilt. (The colors are right in the above photo and a bit too light in the detail photos if you are wondering.)

In the above photo, you may recognize the fabric with the gold stars in it that is in 3 of the corners.... That is the original fabric. 
In the below photo, you may be able to see the circular design the quilting gives.  Thank you, Kathy and John, of Cape Haze Quilting for getting this done for me.
 I was able to bind it and label it and surprise him!  There are 24 total or partial stars on this quilt.  The label makes the 25th star to commemorate our 25th Wedding Anniversary.  I love you Jim with all my heart and am very proud that we made it!!!  Now we can sleep under the stars every night!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Art Quilt Portfolio: People & Portraits

Martha Sielman's new book, Art Quilt Portfolio: People & Portraits has been calling to me from my inbox for over 2 months now.  I finally found a few hours to sit, read, admire, and reread.
Small disclaimer:  The poor photography is my error NOT the book, for it is gorgeous!
Personally, I have never felt the need or want to recreate a person in fabric which may relate back to my fear of eyes as a child.  All the photos and dolls had to be turned around at bedtime and no one caught this early warning of my neurosis:)). 
Even so, I can completely appreciate the skill it takes to achieve the depth and realism these artists are able to.  My personal favorites contain a background and/or landscape that helps to tell the story.
In the Intro, Martha speaks of her love of people watching and wanting to know and capture their stories.  I too am fascinated by people but not from an artistic point of view.  Where I am intrigued by the societal interaction (the way a mother holds, scolds, loves a child/ young lovers and old lovers), an artist wants to capture the look and feel of that moment.  This book contains some very successful moments in time.
Maria Elkins' work graces the cover and I use that word with every one of its meanings conveyed.  Words are hard to come by to describe the comfort I find in her work.  The cover quilt is phenomenally quilted and this, along with her other works, tend to contain traditional quilt images which may be why I am so drawn to them.  As you read, let her work take you to a similar moment in your life and you will understand the comfort.
Joan Sowada: Her shading is dead on and the backgrounds really pulled me in.  The few pieces in the book fascinated me enough to head over to her site where I found more lovely pieces including an adorable piece of 2 young girls with a quilt.
Again I felt that the backgrounds added so much to the story and I was very intrigued by how they were assembled to give so much movement.  Being an applique designer, I keep thinking I can accomplish this too but why try when the best are already here:)
Let's talk Nudity:  Blame my conservative upbringing, but I have never seen the point of nudity in art whether traditional paintings or other.  I am not saying I can't appreciate a good body but I just don't need to go see it out in public especially the ones made to shock.  Having said that, I really liked the beautifully creative way Sherri Culver (pg. 57) portrayed this young pregnant mother-to-be using floral fabric to symbolize the blossoming of new life. Whether that was her intent or not, that is what I, the viewer, took away. 
Yoshiko Kurihara (pg. 66) portrays people in such a festive way....There always seems to be a party happening.  She is able to bring such a joyful feeling to the viewer without facial details.
Masquerade on pg. 70 was my favorite (not just because I love the song from Phantom of the Opera either) because of all the other details she included of the room too.  It just screams FUN!

I have 2 artists I want to call out and praise for their exceptional use of commercial prints to achieve such emotion and realism.  I am not saying it is easy to paint a face because it isn't, but having that blank canvas sure helps.  Using a print of something completely unrelated to your topic to convey shades of a smile is quite a feat!
Margene Gloria May (pg. 112) and Lori Lupe Pelish (pg. 118), way to go.

Then we go a step further to exceptional use of a commercial fabric and take a look at Mary Pal (pg. 144).  Although I may not be drawn to faces, her skill at conveying emotion through cheesecloth knocks my socks off!

Because I like backgrounds so much, JennyBowker (pg. 150) grabbed my attention with how she put her people into their element.  Hassan and the Glass is fantastic in subject, skill, and color.  The work on her website contains so many exceptional, traditional backgrounds as well.  I could dream for hours here.

Pam Rubert has been on my radar for more than a few years now. Her work is so colorful and creative.  The biggest attraction for me though is her wordplay.  Anytime an artist can catch me with a pun or a play on words, I am in:) 

It is true that "art is in the eye of the beholder" because you just never know what will catch your eye and why.  I would say that I am not a lover of portraits but I found so many pieces in here that spoke to me.  Maybe it was a smile or a color or the movement in a background....

I could keep talking and pointing out the great skill and talent in the book but then there wouldn't be anything left for go get it and share your insights with us.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Do Pumpkins delight you?

I absolutely LOVE pumpkins and to date, this along with Hawaiian Halloween had been my only two patterns. Everyone who has seen this cutie has loved it so I don't know why it took me so long to design more pumpkins.
I decided that for Spring Market '13, I was going to have a completely Pumpkin booth and I almost made it....Autumn Wind isn't pumpkins but definitely completes the season for me.
When thinking of Autumn, I knew I wanted pumpkins and lots of them. My brain also kept coming back to crisp fall evenings and how bright the stars shine then. It felt natural to do night skies with star blocks with my pumpkins.

Pumpkin Star was actually one of the first to be designed because after studying Harvest Nights, I asked "what if" about switching the positions and putting the pumpkin in the star.
Lace Pumpkin has been a sketch on a napkin for years and sometimes those ideas just don't come together immediately the way you want them to.  It sat and waited until I was ready and then the ideas came quickly.

I LOVE these little red flowers in Lace Pumpkin and I have always been drawn to designs done in quadrants, wreaths, circles.  So it felt natural to take the flowers and do something different other than pumpkins.  This layout in another color way would fit into any season: Pinks for spring, change the yellow to white for red, white, and blue patriotic, etc.
As I looked at the circular design, it reminded me of ladies skirts swirling and that is how the word 'Cotillion' made it into the name.

Pumpkin Trellis is just so sweet to me!  I obviously started with the Lace Pumpkin design and thought it would look adorable in red work.  I really like Weeks Dye Works variegated flosses from my cross stitch days though, and so I found the right colors and got to work.  Since I wasn't stitching star blocks in, something had to take up that space...a Trellis.  They have always held a charm for me.  Who knows why when I can't grow anything to save my life:)
Pumpkin Trellis mini 9-1/2" x 11-1/2"
Just when the layout was done and I was ready to go, I accidently clicked a button and this beige background with black popped up on the computer screen.  Well I had to do it and in the mini format too.  It is just too cute!!
There is plenty of time to make one of these fabulous designs in time for the season and they can be found on my website!
Stay tuned for more quilting fun!