Monday, October 28, 2013

The Best Thank You Ever

 This little girl was the recipient
of the quilt I wrote about in my post, "Pretty In Pink". 
These photos are from the "thank you" photo shoot! (Elyse's idea, the budding model.)

A picture (and a smile) is definitely worth a thousand words. 
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Friday, October 25, 2013

The Enchantment of Silk

I tend to go through phases with interests, with food and even with quilting.  I have been in a dupioni silk phase for a while.  It is a beautiful, elegant fabric albeit with certain challenges.  The biggest challenge is that it frays even if you just look at it cross eyed. 
Dupioni is a coarsely woven fabric that should not be displayed in the sun. Since it is woven there is no right or wrong side.   Washing it removes the sheen and the sizing.  It needs to be stabilized for piecing.   A light weight woven  fusible stabilizer is the best. 
This is my most recent silk piece.
It is not quilted yet.

This is one of my most favorite silk pieces:
It's called "Roundabout".
I have been teaching dupioni silk workshops with great success this year. 
 In one day, quilters have learned how to tame this difficult but beautiful fabric.  Part of the beauty of it is the way it changes color depending on how the light hits it 
and the slubs add a wonderful texture.
I decided to design kits to share this amazing fabric.  The kits use various techniques to learn how to manipulate it.  I've named them Silk Samplings.  They measure 12"x12" and each kit contains everything needed to finish the wallhanging except for the thread and a sewing machine. Right now there are 3 different designs and they are available in a limited amount in my etsy Shop called Sewing With Silk.
This kit includes the dupioni silk, cotton for the backing and the binding, interfacing for stabilizing the silk, paper backed fusible web, batting, the pink velvet for the center
and the pattern with directions.  It focuses on fusible applique.
This kit includes the dupioni silk, interfacing for stabilizing the silk, cotton for the backing and binding, batting, paper backed fusible web, all the embellishments and the pattern and directions.
The focus of this kit is piecing and embellishing.
The kit includes the dupioni silk, interfacing for stabilizing the silk, batting, cotton for the backing and the batting, buttons, paperbacked fusible web, the pattern and directions.  The focus is on creating fusible applique from the silk. 
They all can be finished in a day and are a great entrĂ©e into the world of silk and would make a beautiful gift.  Since this is an initial offering and there is a very limited amount, act fast. But, contact me if they are sold out before you get a chance to purchase the one of your choice. I will be making up more kits depending on demand.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Choose To Fuse

I unpacked my bags from my visit to the West Milford Heritage Quilters and found my camera.  West Milford, NJ is not far from NYC but you would never know it from the beautiful countryside.  It's in the mountains and the colors of Fall were all around.  I definitely knew I was in the mountains when I woke up in the morning to a very chilly 40 degrees. 

We had a wonderful space for our workshops thanks to the connection that the Program Chairperson has with the local church. She's the pastor there!  The workshop was about machine fusible applique - all the ways that I use it in my quilts.  I use this bird sampler I designed as our pattern:

I share 7 different techniques, including binding.  I joke that it's applique bootcamp, but it really is.  By the end of the workshop each quilter knows which settings to use on their machine and which techniques they like the best. 

For the nest block, we all shared our brown scraps.  They made beautiful bird's nests. We placed all our blocks on the floor to make a "quilt".  It looked great, and it was fun.

Plus, I had a wonderful surprise.  One of the members, Andrea, also belongs to the Warwick Quilt Guild.  She took my workshop there called "Inspiration From Mexican Tiles" in 2011, and she brought the quilt to show me. Yay!
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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday In The Saddle

After 2 days away teaching In West Milford, NJ, I decided I didn't want to spend 3 hours on the road on my bike today.  So I went to my alternate cycling place - the gym- for a spinning class with my buddies.  I used to turn up my nose at cycling indoors, but I am now addicted and find that it has made me a much stronger rider.  I love the music and have learned about singers that I had never heard of before, like Pitbull.
Terry, Sue and Joanne at Absolute Imagine Fitness.  The empty bike is waiting for me.
Our instructor, Krissy, is shy.
As soon as I unpack my bags from my trip and find my camera, I'll share photos of the wonderful quilters from West  Milford.  It will be soon because tomorrow night I am heading to the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild in the Pocono Mountains. I'm looking forward to the drive, because of the changing color of the leaves. If you're in the area, stop by to see a bunch of my quilts.
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Monday, October 14, 2013

Sunday In The Saddle

My favorite bicycle rides are when I have a destination. It gives me a purpose and it's a good feeling to be car-free. The destination this Sunday was to go to visit my grandson, Henry.  He lives in the East Falls section of Philadelphia.  The Schuykill River Trail is my choice of route.  Why? Because there are no cars and I can ride with bailey in my basket.
This is what I found when my DH went to drop us off at the Betzwood Trailhead.
It was closed!
The parking for the trailhead is part of the Valley Forge National Park. 
I just don't get it.  It's a parking lot with a couple of picnic tables.  For Pete's sake.
Thank you to all those hard "working politicians" who are acting like children 
and can't compromise to come to an agreeable solution.  I don't make it a practice of voicing my political views, and this closed parking lot is nothing compared to what some people are going through, but I say, VOTE THEM ALL OUT!!! 
Anyway, there was an office building on the other side of the road with access to the trail.  Yay!
It was a heck of a ride with an unbelievable head wind. I wish I had been riding in the other direction. (The wind at your back makes you feel like you could ride the Tour de France.)
 Even Bailey was not happy.  She sat facing me most of the ride.
I met my hubby a few miles from East Falls.  We swapped Bailey (who has not met Henry yet) for Suzy Joe's absolutely delicious donuts.
I earned one after that bike ride.
 With the box of donuts in my basket, I headed off to finish my ride.
 to my final destination
where a  wonderful reward was waiting inside.
Jersey: Just regular clothes on my hybrid
Miles:17.2 (approximate)
Avg mph:??
Time in the saddle:????
Real time: 2 Hours
Why all the ????? Because someone, I'm not saying who, was trying to remount my computer and zeroed it out! Hrmph...  That computer is sacred to me.  But I guess I will forgive him.  He did bring the donuts.

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Saturday, October 12, 2013


Yesterday I was in a bit of a punky mood.  Was it because it was raining and grey here in Eastern Pennsylvania or am I having Henry withdrawal?  To lift my mood, I re-visited the photos I took during a recent workshop.  The workshop was titled "Chic Shin".
I designed it especially for this group based on my Embellished Beauties,
 using lots of silk, beads, sequins and buttons.
Shin is a Hebrew letter that stands for  many wonderful aspects of Judaism.
This was the biennial convention of the Pomegranate Guild for Jewish Needlework and this year they met in Philadelphia, so I was very lucky to be invited to teach. The guild is named after the pomegranate because it is a significant symbol with a rich history in ancient Jewish culture.  In addition tradition says that there are 613 seeds inside of one and this corresponds to  613 good deeds, or commandments.  (I don't know of anyone who has counted!)This beautiful fruit also grows abundantly in Israel.  Many of the ladies wore beautiful pomegranate jewelry.
I had a great group of ladies in my class that came from all over the country - California, New Mexico, Long Island and of course lots from NJ and PA. Here we all are at the closing dinner:
It looks like they all had a good time.
I met a bunch of quilters that I have gotten to know on-line.
Diane, Cathy and Me
Plus I got to meet Lauree Feigenbaum.
Lauree is the owner of 1-800-Dreidel

It's an on-line site that carries lots of Judaic crafts and fabric, including my patterns.
 I have done business with her for over 10 years and we had never met.

I provided kits for the project and I have a few extra. It includes all of the materials along with directions.  If you would like one, visit my etsy shop called "Sewing With Silk".  
 Hurry, because I don't think they will last very long.
You can find my book there also that has a lot of other embellished projects. 
Rumor has it that the next meeting in 2015 will be in Arizona.
Keep tuned.
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pretty in Pink

Olivia, my DIL, has an older sister that I am very fond of.  Courtney has 2 adorable children. I attended the baby shower for her daughter more than 3 years ago.  We all made blocks for a quilt for her.  Her Mother's friend organized this project.   I can't remember which brand of markers we used, but I wouldn't recommend them. She was planning on making  them into a quilt. But we all know how life gets in the way sometimes.  I respectfully kept my distance. 
After about 1 year, there was no quilt.  I told Olivia  that I would be happy to turn the blocks into a quilt. We all waited and we all hoped the blocks would be turned over to me so this little girl could have her keepsake. No blocks.
Then, there was the fire.  The blocks were damaged from smoke.  The house had to be rebuilt. 
It was recommended that the blocks be dry cleaned.  I know that this advice was not from a textile conservator.  The bad news was the blocks turned a blotchy yellow and there was some bleeding of the ink. The good news was that there was no lingering odor and I now had the quilt blocks in my possession and it was time to make a quilt for Elyse.
There were two more issues.  This adorable block was really damaged.
 I decided the way to fix the problem was to give that big bunny a BIG carrot.
I even added the greenery.
The other issue was that there was a very odd number of clocks - 39 to be exact.  That's a very odd number of blocks to turn into a quilt.
I played and played to achieve a suitable layout. It's actually one of the most enjoyable aspects of quilting for me.  It's solving a puzzle. The best thing is when the solution to a difficult situation makes the finished product even better.
So to fill in 3 empty spaces, I added her name across the top:
I used machine fusible applique:

I framed each block with pink turning it into a scrappy keepsake for Elyse.
Who knew that I owned this much pink. (Thank you Kelly.)
I added a border and had it machine quilted by Susie R so that it can be used on a little 3 year old's bed and hopefully loved for a very long time.  It's fun to come to the rescue. 
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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Saturday In The Saddle

How many flat tires does it take to end a bike ride?
The Seagull Century is one of those iconic bicycle rides that has been on my bucket list for quite a while.  It originates from Salisbury University in what is called low, slow Delaware.  There are three options - two are century rides (100 miles) and one is a metric century (62 miles). I chose to do the metric century,  I am not ready yet for 100 miles and don't know if I will ever be.
 It is a charity ride put on by the college and they use the entry fees to make a lot of monetary donations to many worthy causes.  Most of the "workers' that help to make it such a successful ride are volunteers. This year there was a sea of over 7,000 riders. This year was the 25th anniversary.
 It was an amazing sight to see so many riders and their bikes.
Since it was a shotgun start, I had to try and slide into the group.  That start was a little scary,  riding shoulder to shoulder so close to other cyclists. I was in a peloton!!
The weather really co-operated.  The morning was cool, but the temperature rose to 90 degrees during the day.  You don't feel the heat until you stop riding on account of your motion. Most of the time I was going 16 mph.  There are rest stops about every 20 miles with a smorgasbord of fruit and goodies, a water refill station and lots of port-a-potties.
So when did I get my first flat?
I was zipping along, stopped at the first rest stop, refueled and gave kisses to my best supporter. I thought for sure I was going to finished the ride in time for lunch. My bike started bumping along.  I looked down and noticed my front tire was flat.  I was only a few miles from the second rest stop, so I thought I would try filling it with air and maybe that would get me to the rest stop and I could deal with it there.  As soon as I put my pump away, my tire was flat again.
I knew I could change the flat.  I had the supplies I needed and the know how.  So why do I always panic? Other riders passing by often ask if everything is OK?  When I was trying to do the quick fix, I replied that I was fine.  When that didn't work, I accepted help. As nice as it was that this fellow stopped to help me, I could tell he was not well-versed in tiring changing. 
Two more guys stopped to help also.  They were more helpful, but took a backseat. The new inner tube was in place and I put the wheel back on my bike and off I rode. Not 10 seconds later, I heard a big pop and looked down to see my entire front tire wobbling and hanging loosely from the rim.  I emitted my favorite word in a situation like that $$%^%$#t! 
 I had a pinch flat.  It is very common when the new inner tube is not seated properly. It is exactly what it sounds like.  The inner tube gets pinched by the rim.  At that time, the support truck came driving by and stopped to see if I needed help.  They loaded my bike in the truck and we headed to the 2nd rest stop with the bike repair tent where a professional put a new inner tube in my front tire.
After having a few orange sections and a piece of apple pie, I gave my buddies a kiss and off I went.
Say it ain't so, as I started to feel that wobble in my front tire again.  How could it be?  I wanted to sit down and cry.  3 flats in one ride? I was out of inner tubes and out of spirit.  I called the support van to take me to the end and finish with 41 miles.
The red truck showed up with a really nice guy.  He asked me what I wanted to do and informed me that he had supplies to fix a flat.  He didn't really know how, but would be happy to help me OR put my bike in the back of the truck.  Whatever I wanted.  What the heck,  I decided. I took off my tire, got out my tools and changed the tire myself with this guys support. I was so grateful.  I got back on my bike and slowly started the last leg of my ride.  If I had another flat, so be it.
But.... I finished!
I was so happy to see the finish line and hear those college students congratulating all the riders for a great ride, and most of all to see my two buddies.
Next year I will ride it again.  My 2 choices will be to try and ride the 100 mile route or take along my favorite passenger and morale booster - Bailey! I think I have already made my decision.

Distance: 62.2
Avg mph: 15.0
Saddle Time: 4 hrs 8 minutes
Real Time: 6 1/2 hrs
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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Do You Love Blue?

The color combination of blue and white is heaven to me.  Blue has been my favorite color forever.  I love all blues.  For me, they all go together.  You can't go wrong. Combining blue with white makes a quilt, a room, an outfit,  crisp and clean.  Denim never seems to go out of fashion, but blue does tend to go in and out of style, even with quilting fabric.  So I have quite a stash.  A really, really big stash.  You have to buy it when you see it. About 25 % of my quilting fabric is blue.
My goal this past year has been to reduce my blue fabric stash. I actually have a bag of scraps that I just want to use up. It's pieces left over from other projects and outdated fabrics.
 This is Blue Scrap Quilt 1.0
 I made it using 2 1/2" strips to make the blocks. 

 Bailey just loves a new quilt.
 I even have a collection of blue and white plates.
The back was created from 9" and 18" squares. That really put a dent in the scrap bag.

I have 2 more tops that are waiting top be quilted. That will leave me with enough scraps to make one more quilt.  This has really put a crimp in my love affair with blue and white.
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