Monday, September 28, 2015

I Felt Like A Liliputian

I felt like a Liliputian in the land of giant lily pads. 
I was at Longwood Gardens for their Nightscapes special exhibit. I wish I could share photos of this amazing exhibit. It started at 8:00PM and it was dark. I felt I wanted to be in the moment rather than looking through my iPhone taking photos that probably wouldn't work. All I can say, if you get the chance to go, do it. There were 2 outdoor exhibits in particular that were teamed with music and were absolutely amazing. The entire exhibit went from ethereal to eerie to other worldly. 

I went early to visit the orchid room and see the giant lily pads. The lily pads are seasonal, so I look forward to seeing them. Boy was I surprised when I looked up and saw a fellow quilt guild member in a green Longwood guest. Holly is a docent and she shared a bunch of Longwood tidbits with me. 

I'll save my orchid photos for another time. I have a project in mind for them. But here are some from the lily pad courtyard. Just as a frame of reference, those pads must be around 4 ft across. Wouldn't you love to float on one?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

I've Always Wanted to Make One

I am fascinated by quilts that are completely pieced with squares, rectangles and triangles, yet have what appears to be curves. My favorite of this is called Storm At Sea. I have always wanted to make one and I thought it would look stunning in silk, and it does!
The quilt is made completely with silk dupioni. The construction of the quilt is very simple. It's made from 3 basic blocks: a small square in a square, a larger square in a square and an elongated diamond. 

I used paper piecing for all of the blocks, because precision isn't my forte and precise points are important for this pattern. I found downloadable patterns here:

I made the quilt top almost one year ago while I was in Key West last winter. I hemmed and hawed about how to quilt it. I looked all over the Internet for some ideas. Frankly, although I conside myself a decent machine quilter, I was intimidated by all of the open white space. So when in doubt, contact a professional long arm machine quilter. Barb Persing has quilted another silk quilt for me and she did a wonderful job, and she did a great job on this one too. 
I debated whether to finish the edges with a traditional binding or to face it, which is used for more artsy type quilters. I decided to use the traditional binding because of all the white. I thought that with a facing it would just run off the edge, especially when hung on a light colored wall. 
I liked Barbs comment. She told me that she loves quilting the silk because the stitches sink into the fabric, but she wouldn't want to piece it. 

I wish I were a better photographer so that you could see the iridescence of the silk. Here's a close up. 

Minimal quilting in the colored sections really lets the dupioni sing. I back all my silk for piecing with fusible tricot. It's important to stabilize it. 
I can't wait to share this quilt on its maiden voyage. I'm giving my "Sensational Silk" talk on Monday at the Quiltmakers of Boyertown. Maybe I'll see you there. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Measure twice, cut once. That's a tried and true saying, but what if you don't measure at all? It would have helped me if I had measured the Torahs for the high holiday total covers that I wrote about previously. 
But who would have thought to measure? Aren't they all the same? I've made a bunch so far, all the same length. 
I was surprised when I received a call from our synagogue 2 weeks ago. One of the Torah covers is too short. Really?? How could that be? I am used to screwing up, but I couldn't figure out what I had done wrong. A friend of mine suggested I sew some jumbo Rick rack along the bottom. Not a look that I would like. So, I headed over to check out my shortcomings - oops, the cover's shortcomings. It wasn't an inch or so too short, that could be remedied with Rick rack. Ha!  It wasn't 2 " too short. IT WAS 4 INCHES TOO SHORT! I wish I had taken a photo, but I thought it would be inappropriate, especially in front of the Rabbi.  It was like high water pants, but on the Torah. I wanted to laugh, but at the same time I was appalled by my mistake. Measure twice .....even if I had measured once, I would not be in this predicament. 

For those who may not have read my initial post, this is one of the covers that I delivered at the end of October. I have a unique way to create the cover that involves wrapping the cover onto a wooden top and attaching it with Velcro. It makes the cover easy to remove, store and clean. It's like a wrap around skirt. 

Deciding how to add 4 inches to the cover without it looking like I had added on 4 inches was my challenge, especially since this was one of 4 companion High Holiday Torah covers. I knew adding onto the bottom was not the solution. It would always remind me of my faux pas. 

Surgery was my only design solution. I sliced it right through the gold and white silk. 
I had to unstitch the side binding before I cut it, so that's the fabric that is hanging off the side. I would have to extend that too. 
So what was I going to do to add 4" to this cover? The cover is definitely contemporary and I thought something traditional would be a good counterpoint. The curves of a vine and appliqu├ęs leaves would integrate the top half with the bottom. For some reason, and I usually don't know where my ideas come from, I felt compelled to hand stitch the vine. It was meditative. 
I found another use for Curvalicious - to draw the vine!

It was perfect. 
I drew right on the silk with a Frixion pen. 
I used gold metallic DMC floss for the stitching. 
Then I added the silk leaves. 
And voila! The finished cover. 
I'm happy with the result and this cover will definitely blend nicely with the others, even though it's 4" longer. We all know the moral of this story. 

The Frixion pen was instrumental for this reconstruction. 
The marks disappear when ironed. It's just amazing. You can purchase these ones at Staples or your local quilt shop. 
And now that Yom Kippur is upon us, I'd like to wish all my Jewish readers, L'Shana Tova and have a sweet, healthy and happy New Year. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Fun Diversion

I was approached to offer a fabric dyeing workshop where I teach during the summer. I was so excited because I love to dye fabric. I don't quilt with hand dyed fabric a lot, but I love the process of creating it. It merges my love of textiles with my background as a chemist. It brings back memories of my days spent in the lab.
I thought a great place to start teaching fabric dyeing would be with a gradation kit from Pro Chemical & Dye .  It comes with 3 fabric dyes and it results in 30 fat eighths of fabric in 30 different colors.
First I numbered each Baggie and each piece of fabric and put the appropriately numbered fabric in each The appropriate baggie and made up the dye. 
The dyes were mixed according to the directions and added to each baggie. 
After batching overnight, the washout begins. 
That's my kitchen sink. I always get excited at this point. Fabric dyeing is sometimes a bit of a mystery. 
After washing and drying the fabric, I find it hard to wait to iron, fold and stack the fabric. 

Just luscious. I couldn't help playing. 

I usually donate my hand dyed fabric to guild auctions, but I think I'll make a quilt.  Solids are hot now especially when paired with white or grey. 

Do you sew with hand dyes?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Convertible Backpack

Is it a backpack
or is it a crossbody bag?

It's both!
I think it's my favorite Curvalicious pattern.  Some of you may have seen it either at my quilt guild or at the Syracuse AQS show.  I created it for my river cruise to France last Spring.  In the country I wore it as a backpack and when we hit Paris, I switched it to a crossbody bag.  Either way my hands were free.

There is a hook on the strap and a D-ring at the bottom of the bag.  To make the change, lengthen the strap and connect the hook to the d-ring.  Abbracaddabra!

To change it from the backpack back to a crossbody bag, unclip the swivel hook and then shorten the strap.

Since I designed it for travel, there is a pocket big enough for my tablet on one side and then pockets to hold my phone, a couple of pens and ???? I made it the right size - not too big, not too small - to also carry my camera, sketchbook, wallet (of course) and my passport.

There have been so many pattern requests, that I have been working on one for about a month.  The owner of the Round Bobbin,
a great quilt shop in Ambler, PA saw it on a recent shopping trip and twisted my arm into teaching it this Fall. I wanted to make a sample for the class that used fabric from the shop.

There's a class preview party this Saturday.  I think that's when sign ups begin.  The class will be two sessions - 11/21 and 12/6. If you're interested you should call the shop for the particulars.  The number is 215-367-5596.

I apologize for the lack of color in the photos.  The anemic looking fabric is my favorite color chartreuse.  The same thing happened with the backpack to follow. I don't think my iphone likes green. Hrmph.

In the meantime, there's a wonderful quilter and friend that is testing the pattern. She finished in record time and gave me a bunch of notes.  After I make the  changes/clarifications, I will send it to the printer.   I will post it as soon as it's available for sale.I will put it on my etsy shop and it will include the backpack hardware.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Summer Wrap Up

Everyone that I talk to agrees on one thing.  This summer has flown by.  I know it has for me.  It has been such a busy summer and I thought I needed to justify why I have not gotten on my bicycle - not even once.  (OK - I just remembered that I did go for a ride with my son, where he left me in the dust.)  My bike stares at me every time I pull into the garage.  It's silently saying "ride me, ride me".  I want to, but my studio is calling at the same time.  When I see cyclists out on the road enjoying the beautiful weather, flying along the hills, I want to be out there too.  There are just not enough hours in the day and by this point I am so out of shape that I think instead of flying up the hills, I would be walking my bike up those hills, huffing and puffing the whole way.

So here's my justification list:

  • Mosaic Pet Retreat - A great long weekend with a great bunch of students.  Loren and I finished the Cooper top. Now it's om my to do list to quilt it.
  • MAQ- I taught 3 wonderful classes at Mt St Mary's University  reconnecting with students and friends from years past and making some new friends.  It does take a lot of work to get ready to teach 3 separate workshops.
Dupioni Silk Lone Star


Curvalicious Pillows - The Perfect Finish
  • AQS quilt show in Syracuse - This was a wonderful experience with Don as my co-pilot.  I demoed my heart out for 4 days, sold a bunch of tools and made lots of new Curvalicious fans. Plus, Curvalicious found a place in 3 new quilt shops! 
     I was so motivated by this show that I am in the process of signing up for the AQS show in Daytona Beach next February.
  • Torah Covers Commission - I designed, created and delivered 2 High Holiday Torah covers to Temple Sholom in Broomall

  • Shhhhhhhh - I worked on one other project for close to a month, that I can't wait to share, but not yet.  I am bursting at the seams with excitement.  More info to come in October.

The Fall is coming and I have lots of speaking engagements coming up.  Check the tabs above for the dates.  It is also a wonderful time to be outside riding.  Hmmmmm.

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Getting Out

I spend a lot of time at home either in my studio quilting and designing or on my computer writing patterns and taking care of business.  So I don't get out much. I'm not complaining, because I love what I am doing.  Ten years ago I never imagined that my live if quilting would turn into a more than full time job. I consider myself extremely lucky. 
Last week I attended the monthly board meeting for my quilt guild. I'm the Orogram Chair. The hostess, Pat Barton, was in my Perfect Pillow class at MAQ this summer. I was in her kitchen eyeing the snacks and when I looked up to admire her screened in porch, look what I saw. 
They were just beautiful. 
Most mornings, I meet my wonderful friend Hattie at Ridkey Creek State park to walk our 5 mile loop (with Bailey too). Driving into the park this week, there's a stunning sunrise veiled with the morning fog. I drive by the stables to 
I know one day, this view will be the subject of one if my quilts. 
When I arrived at the parking lot, I was greeted with another Curvalicious creation.

It continues to amaze and excite me to see quilters using Curvalicious and to see their designs and fabric selections. ( and yes, I am still getting orders from the shout out from The Quilt Show).
Now I did have to go to Home Goods to buy some sheets. This is an awesome time of year to shop there. Tons of items for college bound kids plus lots of stuff for Halloween. I did buy Bailey an adorable costume for both Halloween and the New Year's Eve day dachshund parade in Key West. I'll save her the humiliation of modeling it for now. But I brought home a new friend. 
I think she's adorable. While I'm deciding whether to keep it inside or put it outside and whether to use it for a mum or candy, I thought my girlfriend would look cute in it. 

She doesn't look too unhappy.