Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Sneak Peek

I am getting ready to host my first retreat at my mountain house. It is a trial run to see if it’s a good thing, as Martha would say.   My guests are arriving tonight.  They are a group of 6 friends that I met when I visited their quilt guild in Maryland.  They know they are guinea pigs. 
We will be spending 2 ½ days dyeing fabric and creating polymer clay embellishments.  Although I have done a lot of fabric dyeing , I have never done it with a group in a workshop type setting.  So yesterday, I experimented to decide how to break it down for a group.
There will be 3 types of dyeing:  Immersion, Gradation and Direct Application. Most of them will be done in zipper top baggies. If there is time we’ll also dye some decorative thread.  After spending 5 days learning how to dye fabric using a very scientific and technical method with a gram scale and graduated cylinders, I have decided to return to my old ways and dye with teaspoons and measuring cups. It is not as easy to get reproducible results, but the surprise factor is what makes fabric dyeing so exciting for me.
This is the result of my gradation dyeing experiment using 2 colors:

The results are often a surprise, sometimes pleasant - sometimes not.   I just love these colors.  I started with Bright Yellow and Royal Blue MX fiber reactive dyes. The funny thing is that I love dyeing fabric, which may be because I was a chemist, but I don't really use them.   After the retreat I will share my method as well as tons of photos of our retreat.
 And there was another surprise when I arrived in the mountains.  A robin had made her nest in our Rhododendron right off of our sun room.  The eggs had hatched.  She is a wonderful Mama and I have been enjoying watching her come and go.  The babies are not recognizable as birds yet.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday's Wanderings #22 - Happy Freedom

I spent Memorial Day at our lake house with my favorite veteran, my husband.  I did not know him when he was drafted and served in the army.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be to live without your spouse for 2 years, more so if there are children involved. Or to send you children off to war. I  was lucky enough to meet him after he did his time and went to college.  We met when he was in graduate school. 

Memorial Day is to honor those that have died in service to our country.  At one time it was called Decoration Day.  I’m not sure when the name was changed, but it was quite a while ago.  Does anyone remember?
A fellow blogger, Sew Cal Gal, did a great post about Memorial Day.  It moved me and gave some options about we could do as both quilters and non-quilters to honor. 
I made a flag for Wednesday’s Wanderings, as both a decoration and to be all inclusive. We should honor everyone and anyone. It should be for all who have died making our country great, whether they were in the armed forces, or a policeman, fireman or a good Samaritan.

I started the block using the sew and flip technique on a backing of batting.  Stitched and quilted in one step. This is what it looks like on the back. It's a great technique to make a quick baby quilt, sewing strips that were cut selvage to selvage.

 Then I appliqued the background for the stars and attached the buttons with my sewing machine.

I just move from button to button with my feed dogs down.  I don't cut my threads.  When I have all of the buttons attached, I add a drop of Fray Chek to each button.  When that's dry, I snip the threads. I love these scissors for getting nice and close.

 Thank you to all of our service people, past present and future.  Thank you for our freedom.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

And The Winner Is...

The winner of all the goodies from Quilt Market is:

Debbie of Woolen Sails. 

Congratulations Debbie.

  I'll e-mail you.

Friday, May 25, 2012

"Stitch A Story" Workshop

The Program person from The Evening Star Quilters located  near Belividere, NJ, has been following my blog.  She contacted me about visiting her guild about a year ago.  I gave my lecture about quilts inspired by Mexican Tiles a few weeks ago.  She also had booked me to do a workshop.

She really enjoys my Wednesday's  Wanderings and wondered if I could teach them how to make a quilt from a photo or picture.  Since I have been doing this for about 15 years, I thought it would be fun to teach it to others.  Thus "Stitch A Story" was born.  And did we have lots of fun.

I told them to bring either a photo or a memory or a story to use as inspiration for their quilt.
All of the ladies brought photos to work from. They created the drawing from the photo to make a 16"x20" quilt.  Most of them started working with their fabric.
  I'd love to be at Show & Tell next month!

Here's their work in progress:

It never fails that I learn something when I teach a workshop.  This time, my hostess, Rosemary, showed me this amazing portable ironing board she made:

  She bought the little folding table from Target and covered it, and uses it both as an ironing board and a cutting table.  Wouldn't this be wonderful for workshops?

Rosemary also took me on a tour of the barn quilts of Warren County.  One of the members of the quilt guild has initiated this project and it is catching on.  You can follow a driving trail:

And I get paid for this?????

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wednesday's Wanderings #21 - Quilt Market


The highlight of my week was definitely my trip to Spring Quilt Market in Kansas City.  And the vision that is burned in my memory and still brings a smile to my face, is Michael Miller's circus themed booth.

I still wonder how those elephants made the trip.

I really enjoy making these little blocks.  I giggle to myself when I add 3-dimensional details like the elephants' collars and ears.

You can really see the stitching.  I do like using the blanket stitch to stitch down fusible appliques.  Rayon thread adds a nice sheen.  The 30 wt Sulky thread is my preference.  It's a little thicker than the traditional Sulky.  (The lower the number, the thicker the thread.)

For pieces that will not be laundered, I found a great assortment of foam letters at the crafts store.  I use them to add letters or words.  They have a sticky back which is perfect for holding them in place while being stitched down.

I added the M for Michael Miller. 
They really do make wonderful fabric.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Spring Quilt Market and Some Free Stuff

I promised to share my experience at the Spring Quilt Market. I have to apologize for the length of this post, but I hope you'll think it's worth it if you make it to the end.  The show is open only to the trade and it is overwhelming. I flew out to Kansas City to help Martingale promote my book at the Kansas City Convention Center.

My first visit to the convention center was during set-up.


Riley Blake

Wonderfil Threads

Clothworks  (Fabric)

Michael Miller Fabrics

It is amazing to see the effort and expense that the companies, especially those selling fabrics, put into their booths.

This is Michael Miller's booth after the show opened.  Can you see the circus themed backdrop?  I just love the elephants but after seeing them all  set up, I wonder how they shipped them.

It is really surreal and a pinch yourself moment, to see your name on the cover of a book.  Martingale aka That Patchwork Place has been so supportive and wonderful to work with.  Look at the end cap with my book projects!!!

And here's the banner that was hanging during my demo.It is 3 feet wide!  I got to bring it home :) 
 Where shall I hang it?  Hmmmm

 Everyone was very nice and so friendly.  I was star struck. 

Karen Combs and me in front of her new fabric, Midnight Blue.
Marcia Derse and her gorgeous fabric based on her hand dyed fabric.  I tried to get a sample.  Visit her website for a better look at that fabric: or visit your local quilt shop. 
Do I look like a shrimp or what?  Who knew Amy Butler was so tall?

I do love Susan Cleveland. She was generous in both her professional advice to me and she also gave me one of her Prairie Pointers. When I told her that I renamed this folded piece of fabric a crown in my book, she loved it. But I don't think she'll jump on the bandwagon.  I will definitely experiment with it.  If you want one of your own, visit her website:

I expected to see lots of pattern companies.  I loved this company.  Do you think it was because they had a bicycle in their booth?

A few companies gave me some freebies that I want to send to one of you, my blog readers. 

It includes a 1 yard package of Trans Web, one of my favorite fusible web products, made by HTC Handler. They were at the show.  I shared with them my consternation that I can only find their product on-line at Jo-Anns.  So they gave me some so I would go away(LOL)!

I do love this pattern from Hemma  for a carrier for a bag to hang on the handlebars of your bicycle.  I really want to make one for myself, but I promised to give it away.
 Do you think I can fit Bailey in it?

I went to a talk about life in Bali supported by the fabric company, Kaufmann.  It was fascinating plus they gave me a fat quarter of one of their artisanal batiks.

There's also a fabric tote from Andover Fabrics made from one of their latest fabric lines, some jumbo rick rack, a clear tote from Eleanor Burns, a plexi neon ruler and a few other goodies.

All of these items are going to be given to one lucky winner.  Leave a comment and become a follower if you are not already.  Make sure if you are a "no-comment blogger" that you leave me your e-mail.  I'll be picking a winner on Friday.

I don't know how many miles I walked going up and down all the aisles,
 but my feet are happy that I'm home.  And I want to send a big thank you to Susan Brubaker Knapp from who gave me lots of tips for maximizing my visit.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wednesday's Wanderings #20 - Walking Therapy

I missed last week's WW.  I knew it would happen eventually and was just hoping it would not be a slippery slope and the end of my WWs.  But my friend Hattie told me to take a Mulligan.  In golfing terms, that's a "do over".  And that's just one of the things I have learned on my daily morning walks at Ridley Creek State Park.
.  The park  was an estate at one point with a stable, several stone houses where the help lived and a mansion.  Most mornings, rain or shine, heat or snow, I meet at least one friend at this woodsy park.  We walk a paved 5 mile loop, solve all the world's problems, share recipes, stories about our families and talk about crazy TV shows.  Often, it is my therapy session.

As we enter the loop part of the walk, we cross the creek.  There is wisteria growing up a few of the trees.  It is amazingly beautiful.  Or I should say it WAS beautiful.  A few years ago, I guess they decided that the wisteria was invasive and they cut it down.  We were devastated.

This year it has finally started to return.  It will take a few more years for it to return to its former glory.  I hope that the park workers find something else to do to occupy their time and will not cut it down again.

So the return of the wisteria has become the topic of this week's WW. 

I decided to make 3-dimensional wisteria leaves.  I do enjoy making "fabric foliage" and like it when it adds to the depth of a piece.  Some of you have asked how I create them.

I started with a green batik.  Batiks are tightly woven and therefore don't fray as much as some other cottons.

I iron paper backed fusible web to half of the batik.

Remove the paper and fuse the fabric to itself.

Then I iron a piece of freezer paper to the fused double sided batik.  If I wanted all of the leaves to be identical, I would have made a template to draw the leaf shapes.  I also could have cut out the leaves free hand without the freezer paper.  This time, I didn't want the leaves to be identical, but I wanted them to be about the same size.  So I drew the shapes and then cut them out.

The freezer paper peels off easily.

 Then I use free motion quilting to attach the leaves.  I don't get too close to the edges because I want them to curl up a bit.

This is my finished block.  I used the buttons that I had and quite truthfully, it looks like grapes, not wisteria.  The leaves are not grape leaves.  It's really all about the color.  As soon as I can, I will look for some lilac colored buttons.

I am heading to the wholesale quilt show in Kansas City today.  I hope to share anything that I find that's new and interesting. I'll blog is I can.   Maybe I'll find some lilac colored buttons!