Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sew Embellished! Give-A-Way

To celebrate the publication of Sew Embellished!, we are having a blog tour.  Eleven bloggers are involved and you will have the opportunity to visit each of their blogs over the next 11 weeks to win a copy of Sew Embellished!  However, if you cannot wait, you can always go to your local quilt shop or Amazon to buy a copy now.  Or if you want a signed copy from me, head to my etsy shop.

In the book I have shared many of the techniques that I use to personalize my quilts.  I feel like I have said so much of this before, so without further ado, leave a comment and let me know if you have done any embellishing before or if this will be your maiden voyage.  REMEMBER that your comment must have an address where I can reach you.  Sometimes the address is a no reply blogger address.  You can have 2 chances to win if you are one of my Followers or if you sign on as a new follower.  I will be picking the winner next Sunday, May 6th.

Here is the list of blogs that are participating in the tour.  There are a variety of quilters and artists and I think you will enjoy the blogs if you haven't already visited.  You can enter to win a book at each stop.
June 4 That Patchwork Place
June 25 Kathy Loomis
July 16 Cheryl Sleboda

Friday, April 27, 2012

Happy Independence Day Israel!

It is the 64th anniversary of the formation of the state of Israel. To celebrate, our synagogue is having a get together of the members that traveled to Israel  in February, after Friday night services tonight. Part of the celebration includes a slide show of our trip. Another part of the celebration will include the display of my fiber book about the trip.

If you read my Wednesday's  Wanderings during my trip, you may recognize a couple of the pages.

ISRAEL  book cover

Page 1.  Inside Independence Hall.  Take note of the sheckels in the organza pouch.

Page 2.  In celebration of a Shabbat dinner at an Israeli home.

Page 3.  I fell in love with mosaics during the trip.
 This is my version based on a mosaic in Acco, at Or Torah.

Page 4.  Old City of Jerusalem

Page 5.  Planting of trees with the Jewish National Fund.

Page 6.  Map of Israel with many of the locations we visited.
Book Overview
I also decided to make a piece to thank our fearless leader and rabbi. It included our group photo at the independence Museum, a few photos printed on fabric and a couple of scheckels stitched on.

Thank you Rabbi Riegler for sharing your view of Israel with me.

Scheckels stitched to the piece.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Fun Has Begun

The fun has begun. 
 Martingale has a new blog called Stitch This! 
 I love this name and I also love their new whimsical bird logo. 

 Today's post is about Sew Embellished!, my book!!!

 Jenny did such a wonderful write-up that it makes me want to start a new project.  Take a look and enter to win a free book!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday's Wanderings #18 - Sew Embellished!

If you have been anywhere near me, my quilt guild or my blog within the last month or so, you know that this is the day that I have been waiting for.  My book has arrived!!!


In it I share the techniques I use to personalize my quilts.  It also has directions for some small projects that I call "embellished beauties". 

WW's topic has to be the arrival of my books, even though travel is my usual theme.  It needs to be in the finished quilt as one of the milestones of 2012.   I have hesitated putting a person with a face on a block.  Faces are not easy, especially when they are neckless!  But I wanted to share my jubilation.

Please let me know if you have found Sew Embellished! useful, informative and fun. I hope it is everything I wrote it to be.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


What is a 12 by 12?  It is a small quilt that measures 12" x 12".  They are meant to challenge yourself as a quilt artist, help you to grow and connect with other quilters. 

This concept was started in 2007 by Diane Perin Hock. She invited 11 other quilters from all over the world to participate in a fiber adventure.  She was familiar with their quilts from websites and blogs, but most of them she had not met. The idea was to have a monthly theme and each quilter committed to create one 12x12 each month. 

I had the great fortune of seeing a group exhibit of their work at the Houston International Quilt Festival in 2011, grouped by monthly theme and each month was hung on black fabric.   There were 288 quilts and the themes ranged from color to emotion to objects. It was amazing hoe each of the artists interpreted the themes.  It was exciting to see how they hung together.  And the size made it doable.   If you want to read about this project and see photos of their creations they have published a book and there is a website:

So our group decided it would be fun to do a 12x12 challenge.  We chose not to have a common theme.  Each of us chose our own.  This is the first time that I am sharing mine on-line.  I chose to do Studies with Silk.  I have been working with silk dupioni for a while and wanted to play with it and just experiment.  They are not all masterpieces, but I have learned something each month.

January's "Hardweat"
"Hardwear" close-up

February's Bubbles
February Close-up
March's Kouched Kurls
April's Zinnia (with a bit of pink velvet)

Zinnia close-up

It has been a lot of fun.  I will finish out the year hopefully learning more and more about working with silk.  To be inspired, click on the link above.  Read about how different artists approach the project and maybe you'll start your own.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sick As A Dog

I have been as sick as a dog. 
 Last night my fever broke and I woke up feeling better.

Last Monday I went on a quilting getaway with my group of quilting friends.  I didn't know it at the time, but my friend Terry drove me due to our now resolved car situation.  My plan was to get half of the chuppah done.  I did stitch around one of the branches. (Use your imagination.)

After Kelly's amazing lunch of soup and Bloomin Bread, which was slit and slit and then stuffed with cheese and then baked, I remember laying down on the couch in the room where we were sewing. The next thing I knew I woke up on a different couch in a different room and it was Tuesday morning. 

What were my "friends" thinking? Didn't they think I laid down on the couch and never woke up? Did they say we should wake her for dinner? Should we wake her so she can change her clothes for bed? (not that the concept of sleeping in my clothes is foreign to me.)  Did they make sure I was breathing?  OK, I'm getting a bit melodramatic.

I felt like crap when I woke up.  My throat was so sore I could hardly talk.  I knew I had to get home.  If I had my car with me, I couldn't have driven - so that was a good thing.  So I called my hero, my DH.  Can you please come and get me, I croaked?  It's only about 2 hours away.

That was Tuesday.  My temperature was as high as 103.  I even dragged myself to the DR and she told me it was viral.  You know what that means??? No medicine!!!!

My throat hurt so much it was pretty much impossible to eat anything other than Jello and ices.  Rita's water ice was the best. So the silver lining is I lost 5 lbs.  Now if I can only keep it off.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wednesday's Wanderings #17 - My Blue Heaven

Sometimes a girl just wants to have fun.
My new ride. I call it Blue Heaven.
Top down with that cute little dog - Bailey.
I see lots of road trips in our future!

So to future Wednesday's Wanderings -

I really love fusible applique. My favorite machine stitch to use to secure it is a blanket stitch.
 It gives me the freedom of design and it certainly is a great way to add words to a quilty piece.

My favorite thread to use is rayon.  It is shiny and adds a bit of a sparkle.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Chocolate Toffee Matzah Candy Recipe

Oops! I should have included this in my original post for Wednesday's  Wanderings.  So here's the recipe that many of you have requested.  Enjoy!

4-6 sheets unsalted matzahs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
12 ox semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds

Pre-heat oven to 375

1.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, making sure that it comes up the sides.  Grease.
2.  Cover with matzah, breaking them to line the pan.
3.  In a heavy duty 3-4 Qt saucepan, melt the butter and add the brown sugar.  Heat over medium heat, stirring until the mixture starts to boil.  Boil for 3 minutes, stirring continuously.  Remove from the heat and pour over the layers of matzahs, spreading to cover all.
4.  Bake for 10-15 minutes.  As it bakes it will bubble up.  If it starts to burn, remove from the oven and turn down the temperature to 350, then replace the pan.
5.  Place on a cooling rack and sprinkle with the chocolate morsels immediately.  After 2 minutes, spread the chocolate evenly.
6.  Add the chopped almonds.

Cool for 30 minutes and then place in the freezer.  Remove after an hour or so and break into 2" squares.

Wednesday's Wanderings #16 -Passover

We celebrate the start of Passover with a sedar.  The sedar is really the retelling of the story of the exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt.  It is really a story about freedom.  It is a combination of thanksgiving and reminder. We use a book called a Haggadah to retell it every year so that future generations do not forget. 

Passover lasts 8 days.  As with most holidays that many people celebrate, it is centered around food.  We are not allowed to eat leavened products like bread, since the Jews had to rush out of Egypt and their bread did not have a chance to rise. There are some other restrictions too, including most grains. It becomes quite complicated with differing points of view.  Suffice it to say, it becomes a challenge to come up with meals that don't include American staples such as bread and pasta.  So we eat matzah.
But my childhood memories of Passover are happy ones.  My mother was very concerned with my weight.  I was a bit of a chubby kid.  I wasn't allowed to have cake or other goodies. Every once in a while, I was allowed to have 3 cookies.  Passover was an exception.  We had special kosher for Passover cakes.  They were boxed mixes.  My mom made a lot of them.  And there were certain Passover candies.  I was in heaven.

I wanted to use matzah fabric for my WW block.  Yes, believe it or not, there is matzah fabric.  It is used to make all sorts of items to celebrate this holiday, including potholders and tablecloths and aprons and ties.  The list goes on and on.  When I went to the best website to buy Judaic fabric:
1-800-Dreidel, I found they were sold out.  Sold Out????

I did the next best thing. I made my own matzah fabric. First I took a photo of a sheet of matzah, uploaded it to my computer and then printed it on fabric!  Now I had my fabric. 

And I also included the recipe as a reminder for years to come.

So my WW block this week is based on a journey back in time. A view of Passover goodies. A tradition that I started a few years ago. It is one of the few things I don't make from a boxed mix: Chocolate Toffee Matzah Candy and my block is a tribute to this goodie:

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Chuppah Adventure

The next item on my "to do" list is a chuppah.  It is a wedding canopy that is a traditional part of a Jewish wedding ceremony.  Why is a chuppah on my "to do" list?  My youngest son is getting married at the end of June.  He and his wife really want to get married under a chuppah.

So this mother is making one.  I am creating it as a quilt so they can hang it on the wall after the ceremony.  I envision a design with a tree and leaves.  The tree of life is a very important Jewish symbol. To make the chuppah personal and meaningful to the wedding couple, I sent out leaves (backed with fusible web)  with pens for people to write their  good wishes.

A traditional chuppah measures 6 foot square.  Since my design is very symmetrical, I have decided to make it in quadrants as 36" squares.  For the most part they will be identical. 

The first step is to quilt the background.  I will do this before I add the fusible applique.  I didn't think a 36" square would be that big, until I cut it out and spray basted it to the batting.  It is pretty big.

So far I have quilted 2 of the squares, which means I am halfway there.  Since I am doing straight line quilting, it is not very challenging at this point.  This gives me lots of time to think.

  The wedding is taking place at our summer home on a tiny lake in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.  We have been spending summers there since this son was 3 years old.  He will be 27 by the time of the wedding.
I hope to set the chuppah up on our dock using a couple of quilt stands. 
 (The logistics are my husband's job.)

The vision of this couple being married by Rabbi Peter Hyman, who has become a family friend, on Whitney Lake, that is so beautiful and has been a part of our family life for 23 years, brings tears to my eyes.  Maybe I'll get all the crying out of the way now!

I can't show you the design yet.  I don't want to spoil the surprise for the bride.  I am planning on unveiling the chuppah at the rehearsal dinner, so stay tuned until the end of June.  I promise to share.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lisa Call Workshop

The 3 day workshop with Lisa Call is over.  It's nice to get back to a normal routine.   
This is the piece I created based on her teaching us how to construct ladders wihtout a ruler. 
I love the colors and of course I had to add my own touch - the circles.

I definitely plan on adding sections to this piece.  I already have done some work on another section and have ideas for other sections.  That is how I plan on building this piece - section by section.  It's like putting together a puzzle.  One of my favorite ways of creating.

I did want to share Lisa's quilting.  Here is a close-up.
The quilting really adds so much to the integrity of the design.

Aren't these hand dyed fabrics gorgeous?  She dyes all her own fabric.
I actually love these colors.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wednesday's Wanderings #15 - Just Like Lisa

I want to make a confession.  I signed up to take Lisa Call's 3 day workshop for 2 reasons.  The first was to meet and get to know this amazing fiber artist whose career I have followed for several years.  The second reason was that
Now when you take a workshop, the intended goal is to learn a technique and also to stretch and grow.  But I love Lisa's quilts so much, I just wanted to make a reasonable facsimile. 

So to celebrate my trip into Philly each day (chauffeured by my friend Terry) to learn from Lisa and admire her artistry and workmanship, I present my Wednesday's Wanderings, aka "Just Like Lisa":

I will post my quilt based on what I learned in the near future.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Workshop With Lisa Call

Lisa Call is an amazing artist.  I have been following her blog for years and am quite an admirer of both her work and her work ethic.  She currently has an exhibit of her quilts at The Bluestone Gallery in Philadelphia.   The gallery is devoted to her quilts. She is in Philadelphia and I jumped at the chance to take a workshop with her - in the gallery!

And our worktables were set up right in the center.  It was inspiring being surrounded by her work.

Lisa Call and one of her larger pieces.
 This is my mess after 1 day.  Why can't I be neat and organized?

The basis for the workshop is piecing without a ruler. 

 Our first exercise.

My friendship star block made without a ruler. It's way too busy for me.  Too many colors.
 I need to control my exuberance. LOL

Philadelphia is a very exciting place right now for fiber artists.

There are exhibitions going on for the entire month of April.  There are lots of exhibits in galleries in Center City as well as Art  Quilt Elements in the burbs. A wonderful time for anyone that loves fiber.