Sunday, April 29, 2012


   I got the prettiest package in the mail yesterday.   Almost too pretty to open... but you know I did.  
 I won this wonderful jelly roll of 
Moda fabrics from   Sharon at vroomansquilts  during the Table Topper blog hop.
    The package is just an added bonus----great pattern to use for thread painted flowers.  Thank you, Sharon.  Check out her blog for wonderful ideas.  I thought she had the greatest variety of table toppers.  She has inspired me to put one of the table topper stands on my wish list.   Now to think about how I want to use the jelly roll fabrics!

  I sat outside yesterday and began reading one of the books I got at the quilt show.  Guess what it begins with?  A section on color, value and selecting fabrics.....I thought I was reading my earlier posts on color!  So I am giving  this book a giant/big/huge thumbs up. This  Piece O' Cake Designs book  offers  a good lesson on piecing backgrounds and using the negative space for visual interest.   The designs are simple and fun and not meant to be exact, but rather free and stylized....almost folk art.  I am not sure I am brave enough to cut without the ruler as they do--especially for the squaring up--otherwise it is a keeper.
  What caught my eye was the swirled stem and vine on the front cover.  It is just what I was thinking on using as an applique for the foot of the  bed runner I want to make using the fmq challenge techniques.   And the quilt of offset  leaves  has great possibilities for a future project.
OK, you can tell I am feeling better today and doing better with the pain.  
Fresh air + good night's sleep + chocolate + prayers + hugs == less pain!!!  And maybe the  meds too.
I am late in accepting a double dose of the Liebster Award from  Ashlea and Kim.  Think they figure I have lots of time now to share some blog love.  ;)  Thank you both for the recognition.  I will follow up with a post for some blogs I really enjoy.  I have done enough finger exercise today....just following doctor's orders.  Happy stitching.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Learning to receive

Beautiful double peony from the garden..........As quilters we make and give quilts to family, to friends, for holidays gifts, for baby gifts.  We send our creations to charities, to hospitals, and in times of disaster to unknown parts of the world even.  We give away fabric, and books, and an assortment of items on our blogs.  We give  our ideas, and teach freely through our blogs.  Quilters as a whole are givers.  I am a quilter and a  giver.  Now it is time for me to learn to receive.  How hard can that be?  
  Not hard, just very humbling.  It  is a learning lesson about the kind of impact my actions of  giving must have on others.  I have had emails, and phone calls, and cards--by snail mail--  from many who follow my blog and present plight and  from the very special Mrs. Clauses around the world.  Who would have thought they would be reaching out to me?   Such a small thing to say hi, and send well wishes,  yet such a very huge presence to my day.  Encouraging words are priceless.
  And meals....from the gals of my Bible study group.  Sir Old Man does not cook and is considered  to be very dangerous with a whisk.  He makes coffee.  He cleans up my mess in the kitchen.  But cooking  is not his best talent.  Enter meals from WOW and all is well. Very well fed.   Becky even sent me chocolate covered cherries to keep me smiling when in pain.  Thank you all.
  As for the arm/shoulder....just a little anatomy lesson.  The humerus is the long upper arm bone.  It is very important to our balance and movement.  Try doing anything --brushing your teeth, getting dressed, cutting your meat at dinner--without using the upper arm. Then realize it must stay flat against your body with no movement.  Very difficult.  
  Anyway,  I have a fracture straight across---which is good-- and will heal with time with nothing more than a sling support.  I also have 2 fractures above the straight line---this is the bad part.  The pieces have shifted out of place and need to be reduced and put back, thus the surgery.  Also no nerve damage, which is the most excellent news.  That is why there is no urgent rush to do the surgery, which will happen sometime next week.  For now, the treatment is pain medicine and ice and use the sling support. 
  Unfortunately, the arm in sling makes it difficult to dress very fashionably.  This is   my selection of attire.  The huge stack of t-shirts that Justin and Dan left with me for t-shirt quilts came in so handy.  Left sleeve is completely removed and the shoulder is slit armhole to neck.  Any one of my huge selection of safety pins provides closure.

I can support Clemson or promote Harleys for at least a few weeks.  Ha!  They were going to be cut up anyway for a quilt,  let the quilter enjoy them a bit first. 
And my brother is more concerned about how big the scar will be.....who cares? 
It is not like I will be entering a beauty pageant anytime soon.

So, all encouragement gratefully received.  Thank you.
And just a sneak peek at the watercolor banner in waiting......for the quilting.  I had it ready for the needle when this life event happened.  It will be the first item on my agenda, as I have special plans for it. 
 Happy stitching.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Thank you all for all the thoughts and prayers.  I have needed them .  The good news is that  I saw an excellent orthopedic doctor yesterday.  The bad news is the shoulder  is more than fractured......broken into 4 pieces.  So today I had a CT scan and am waiting for surgery to be scheduled.
  I asked the doctor to make me bionic---that would speed up my quilting---but, sadly, he said the most he could do is promise that I would set off alarms--like in the airport--- when he finished.  I will settle for no pain and returning to stitching the best I can.
  So my thought for today is take nothing for granted.  Each small motion and activity we do daily requires many things to function properly and in a sequence.  Motion of one part is dependent to another.  Just like "no man is an island", we need others to help and lean on.  Sir Old Man has been so much more than a knight in shining armor....I just can't think of a grander title to bestow on him.  He has been a great caregiver.
  I will check in again soon.....have a happy stitching time for me.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Favorites at the quilt heavy

Notice:   I had written this post for today on Friday night.  Saturday we went to Charlotte to help Deana do some yard work.  I managed to step into a hole ,caught my foot, and did a header.  Result is a broken nose, and a broken humerus--left arm bone--at the shoulder.  We are home now and managed to get thru the night ok.  Thankful that it was not worse, but Sir Old Man has his hands full for 6 weeks, as I can do almost nothing by myself.  
  Please understand if I am slow at getting to emails to reply.  I will be following your blogs.....likely few posts of my own for now.  One hand makes for slow going.  

I had great plans to be really good and not spend too much at the vendors at the local quilt show.  I am sure you know the feeling.  We all have our weaknesses.
   But first just a few quilts that  gave me some inspiration. When I go to a quilt show, I look for color, design, or technique elements that  evoke a feeling or just plain make me stop.   There were wonderful traditional quilts, but these are the ones that gave me inspiration.
This one was a zinger!  The colors were so bright and cheerful, and lots of small details to delight the eye.
And the quilting was full of feathers and swirls.  I loved it.
Here's the detail shot of the technique.....raw edge applique!  Layer upon layer stitched down, much like the technique used in the French Roses quilt.  
Of course this caught my eye....color and movement in this one and a story.  The flowers represent the flowers the quilter transplanted to her new garden here from Mississippi.  I really like the pieced background she used.    Since I have a love of day lilies, I looked a little closer.
The flowers are stitched by machine with a tight satin stitch that gives a raised appearance to the edge. Very nicely done. 

Striking and graphic background done in batiks in this one.  I liked the shimmering effect  of the color arrangement.    I have a stack of fabrics that I have been saving/hording/holding on to for a while waiting for an idea to find me. This one just may be it.
This small landscape was glorious.  A very beautiful sunrise over the mountains.  So how did she achieve that effect?

Lots of strips and lots of values blended together.  This detail shot shows how the reflection of the sun on the water was created with raw edge (again!) appliqued shapes.  It was also densely quilted with wavy lines.
Another landscape---but this is heavily thread painted.  I was over the top studying it!
This is just one of the detail shots I took.  I felt like I could just walk right into the woods.  Oh, boy......I may need to spend just a bit more than planned at the vendors.
This just took me by surprise.  Jean is one of my very favorite people and I was blown away with this wall hanging.  She grows  700 or so named iris, and some historical ones, too.  She did a beautiful job at color selection.  I so love the off set layout.  
So exactly how bad was I?  Pretty bad....considering I only had needles and thread on my planned list to purchase. Ha!!!  Batiks....3 yards...."But, honey, they were on show special."  And 3 books....applique and thread painting.   "But the applique book was used and has great ideas in it."
   I sense a change is coming in what I have been doing.  You can count on a whole lot more thread painting and applique.    I have been inspired.
Happy stitching.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

Life Events

  This is the star struck variation from Bonnie Hunter.  It really should be called the kitchen sink because anything in the scrap bin that was 2 1/2" wide went into it.  The color placement is by value, not color.  My posts about the pattern are here and here .
  This is the second time I have made this pattern.  I do love the effect of the dark and light stars that emerge.  Kind of like the hidden surprises of life.  And you get lots and lots of bonus triangles to make pinwheels.  And I do mean a lot of pinwheels!

  I used borders at the top and bottom.....not on the sides as it was wide enough at 60 inches.  The "extra" pinwheels made from the cut offs run along the top and bottom.  The math didn't work out just right, so instead of fighting with it, one end of the pinwheels did not get a bordered edge.  This is the top, and on the bottom I just reversed the offset end.   Works for me, and if the quilt police stop and ask---I planned it that way.   I mean this quilt is called Life Events.  Not everything goes the way you plan or envision,  and sometimes you need a plan B, and many times you just make do to get through the tough things.

   So for Barry and Amanda, this should cover your life events.  Barry, you don't have to try to steal Rachel's quilt, and you don't need to nudge me that you need a quilt.  You are covered.
Amanda, make Barry are the one with the nice promotion!   There are enough stars on this one for both of you.  I hope you enjoy it.

Insight:  Life events are blessings and joy, the good and the bad, the easy and the tough.  It is what we do with them that makes the world a better place to be.

Happy stitching.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

From ugly to covered

I was so delighted to read a  post by Dawn at Sewwequilt last week about making pot holder covers.  I have a drawer full of ugly ones that need to be trashed.  So that was one of my quick finishes this week.   From ugly.... to covered and updated!  I love the theme coffee fabric I found and just strip pieced the theme fabric and a couple of scraps onto a muslin foundation.  See her post for finishing up slip cover pillow style.    I got a little carried away and put a band on a plain cotton towel to match.  Then one more potholder of just the theme fabric stitched onto batting with a few lines of quilting.   Now I can really cover up those ugly potholders.  
There's a whole month of kitchen tutorials going on at Sew We Quilt.....a lot of talented quilters sharing ideas.

 The rain brought me some blooms.
   So before I snipped off a few to enjoy in the house, I had to take a few photos.   The color of these iris blooms is just so rich and beautiful against the green.   The rambling rose  in the background is almost in full bloom too.


Just one more to brighten your day.

The sun is back out, so I am going to way lay Sir Old Man to help take photos of the finished quilt.  Yes! It is done and ready  for delivery.  Photos tomorrow.
   Happy stitching.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A point in time

   It was a Saturday afternoon and I was watching American Bandstand while  cutting out a dress.  A new  song came on.  Scissors and pins, that is cool.  The song---"I want to hold your hand"  by the Beatles.  That point in time has stayed with me all these years....the memory is so clear.   On that afternoon, Dick Clark brought us the first sounds of the British Invasion and ushered in a new era in music.  One man doing what he loved and enjoyed.  Well done. We will miss you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

This and that

Another doll quilt arrived....this one from
 Bea at Needle in a Haystack 
in France.  She used the cutest fabric and hand quilted this one. Thank you so much.
  It has been yard work time around here....trimming and cutting back, some more weeding.  Each day I see something else pop up or bloom.
 Clematis vine is loaded with blooms.
Reminder to me:   This photo would be a good pattern for thread painting.
   This is a new shot of the Memory Garden area.  The center clump is a  small dark blue iris that is  just coming into  bloom.  There must be 50  buds in this clump.  I was looking at my printed blog book from last year and there was only about 3 of them then.  What a difference a year makes....along with a lot of rain.

  Of course with all the blooms comes pollen.....lots and lots of pollen.  You know it has been a bad pollen year when even the Deere gets a bath and wax job!

A couple of emails asked for patterns for my water color quilts this week.  Unfortunately, I don't work by pattern.  I work by value.  I would not even know where to begin to put a true pattern together for them.   So if you are here  looking for a pattern for a watercolor quilt,  I can only refer you to the page Designing a Watercolor on this blog or to the label section and click on watercolor.  Lots of details  are there  to guide you.  

 I hope to get some stitching done today...finally.  The Life Events quilt to finish quilting, a watercolor to finish stitching, and a couple of pot holder covers to make.  Maybe a couple of finishes this week.
 Happy stitching.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Free Motion Challenge for April

  For April the challenge tutorial was to learn to transfer a quilting motif with a technique taught by Don Linn.  He uses bridal tulle  for this  technique.

  The pattern is traced onto tulle in a wooden hoop using a sharpie marker.  I was surprised how well this worked, very easy to do and get a good design image.  Then the "pattern on the tulle" is placed on top of your fabric and marked with your implement of choice.....not the sharpie.  He suggests  the blue  disappearing marker for the transfer.  I threw those markers away  a few years ago after a bad experience, so my choice to use was the Sewline ceramic pencil.  It only takes a light touch to trace over the design, which you can see on a test piece...barely, but it is there and just enough for me to see.  Results good, so I found a light yellow fabric to do my sample on.  
  I stitched the design and did a single outline around it.  Lots of background to fill, so I tried 5 different fillers to see what I liked best.

  Beginning in the right top corner I tried micro-stippling, then I switched to small swirls.  At the bottom left I began with pebbling---this is not my favorite as it is difficult to get even circles.  I quickly decided to move on to meandering loops, and then finished up with some McTavishing type wavy lines.  I think I like the stippling effect best, or the meandering loops, around this design.  
  I added a sheet protector page to my quilting design book to keep the tulle pattern in since it can be used over again.  But first I better transfer it to my project runner for this challenge.  I think this technique is great and will use it again for special motifs.  Thanks to Don Linn for a great tutorial  at SewCalGal.
Happy stitching.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A few doll quilts and toys!

Time for an update on the Get Your Mrs. Claus On and those toy makers at the Greenville Woodworkers Guild.    Toys.....rows of green (of course!) tractors fill this workbench.  You can see the beginnings of their annual toy fest. 
 Al is doing some final assembly on the tractors.  He was the original founder of the Toy Project. 

Tom is the Head Elf for the Toy project now.  He is staining and sealing some the favorite Carolina Race Cars.  

  And here's the new mock up for the rocker.  Now this isn't just your usual has a special feature.  It is called a "puzzle chair".  Are you puzzled by this?   There is a special key attached to the back of the rocker that can be inserted in the seat to lock it all together.  When removed the entire chair comes apart.  Very neat design.
   Once the head elves  for that toy in the project are happy with the design, the pieces are labeled as templates. We all know that good templates give us good results. Does that sound in  making a quilt?

Quilts, did I say quilts?  Yes, just a few for you to view.  These are all from the HGTV Message Board group.

At the  Flickr group page  there are individual photos of these little cuties.

And just one more for today.  I love the hand painted details that Joanna--the artist--added to the beds.
Thank you everyone, and especially Nicki--the greatest organizer Mrs. Claus could hope to find--- for all the help and donations of time and effort for this project.   We each bring what we have in time and talent in helping others, and then watch as amazing results happen.
Happy stitching.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More negative space

    My post on negative space may have puzzled  a few of you.  It is just a design concept or principle that effects our designs whether we realize it or not.  Just realize that the negative space can enhance our quilts.  It can provide a place for the eye to rest, especially in a busy design.  This photo is part of  the upper corner  of a current small piece--fused only and not sewn.   It  shows the use of dark negative space  around the rose.  Then at the bottom you can see how the light background of the fabrics there becomes the negative space around the sprigs of flower stems.

   This photo of one of the small iris varieties that is blooming right now, and it  has a lot of dark negative space, which is full of different values---lighter and darker areas.  My eye first sees the white and yellow iris against a dark area.  Next my eye sees the next value of the lighter green.  I love how the tiny vine is winding around the bloom.  And finally the eye rests in the darker shadows.  Apply that to the next quilt you create.  What do you want to stand out and where do you want the eye to rest?  Your color and value placement in the blocks will influence the over all design and finished look.

OK, enough of that.  Chores are done and I am off to work on  this month's free motion quilting challenge.   Thanks for bearing with me.
Happy stitching.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Wildlife habitat is my inspiration

   I had a question a couple of weeks ago about the sign in the photo on my banner  that says  "Certified Wildlife Habitat."   A few years ago there was a big campaign among the gardeners around here to promote natural habitats for wildlife, and since we live within a stone's throw of the recently developed Conestee  Park Preserve, we decided to jump on the bandwagon.  All the required information is available at the National Wildlife Federation .  We just had to draw a site map showing the types of plants, trees, and such that provide a natural habitat for native wildlife.
  We have added about 15 trees, including dogwoods, several maples, 3 varieties of oaks, curly willows, and of course a magnolia.     The one shady area between the shop and garden shed began with  little more than a cobblestone walk and a few hostas.  The sunny side  is filled with herbs,daisies, lilies, and ground covers of all types and features a bird house and bird bath.  Behind the trees in the back, is  the area I call the deer run.....because we see the deer back there all the time.  They often venture up to the beds and nibble the top of the young hostas and the fleshy leaves of the Asiatic  lilies.  I now "plant" any cast off extra plants along the run just so the deer can have a bite to eat.
  We see rabbits around a lot.  I am more careful about planting annuals.....they will pull them right out of the ground....and I tend to stick with a lot of perennials that self sow even if the rabbits get into them.   I planted several varieties of coneflowers....the gold finches love them as well as the honey bees.  In the fall the gold finches will sit on top of the cone and peck out the seeds.  That's why I now have lots of volunteer plants.

   About 2 years ago, we added a pondless waterfall in the back also.  It provides a good water source for a lot of the wildlife.  One hot summer days I often see the birds perched on one of the stones for a drink or bathing in the shallow area.  We have the resident frogs now....and a few garden snakes, which I try to avoid.  Even so, they are part of nature's balance.
   So, exactly how does all this relate to quilting?  I use the inspiration from our garden views in many of my  quilts.  Color combinations come from the flowers,  and textures from patterns I find in the wood and stone outside.   Check  the banner above you will see the "cobblestones"---thanks to Wanda at Exuberantcolor , the waterfalls in the bargello, and the lilies shown in applique.  I featured the garden shed in a watercolor wall hanging, and did  birds in thread painting for quilts, and Evening Serenade featured the falls and the frog.  The blooming 9 patch throw was inspired by the colors of the coneflowers and the stones around the waterfall.  I discover a  garden inspiration in almost every quilt I make.
  Our wildlife habitat fills nature's need and gives me inspiration.  I just look out the window, or walk outside.  It's an endless source to fuel my imagination.   I continually see something I want /need to capture and hold on to.  Where do you look for your inspiration source?   Look around is there.
Happy stitching.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Using negative space

    I mean we all need or want more space.  But exactly....What is negative space?   Think in-between space.  The space that fills in and around applique for instance.  The applique would be the positive space and the background would be the negative space.   We need both positive and negative space.  And as a quilter, negative space could be filled with quilting,  or it could be the sashing between the blocks.  Or it could be a  space that unifies and makes the color jump out.
  These 2 doll quilts--I told you I was inspired by them--are great examples of negative space of white.  The ticker tape quilt, from a Mrs. Claus at HGTV Message Board for South Carolina, has a lots of negative white space in the background and in the ticker tape bits of fabric she selected.  It works so wonderfully because the eye is fooled and sees the bright colors instead of  only seeing the bits of fabric sewn down.
Note:  Ticker tape quilt is done raw-edge applique style.  The background is one piece.  The top is layered with the batting and backing.  Then the selected fabrics are arranged and stitched down with a straight stitch or a zig-zag stitch through all three layers.
  And the  little bow tie quilt  What a great idea to do bow ties in pinks.  Mrs. Claus in Iowa created a precious quilt that lets the bow ties take center stage on the white background of negative space.

 So where would I find negative space in a watercolor quilt?   I mean the entire project is filled with fabric that is loaded with color and prints with lots of values.  There is no negative space........or is there?
   I was sorting through my cut squares  and realized that I had a lot of dark squares with negative space.  Why?  They tend to be harder to place in a watercolor quilt when you are trying to blend square to square.  I needed to figure out how to reduce their presence in my stash.

 This is in the beginning stage.  I decided to use the squares with all the black negative space  to create a dark--very dark--area at the base of this banner.  And since black to black is boring, I am trying to cluster like color edge to like color edge and create very large blooms here.

This close up photo shows what I mean better than the words.  Once this is sewn and finished the large flowers should pop out against the negative space of the black.

   Fabric selection is probably the hardest part of beginning a watercolor quilt.  You need fabrics with different values and different scale prints.  Here are 2 examples of fabric with negative space of black that I have used in this project.
  So what I have just said and shown about the black negative space is also true for the fabrics with the light or white negative space.   But that will have to wait until I reach that point in this project.

Report on the star struck variation:  I cleaned off a mini-bolt of fabric--yea, stash reduction--- for the sashings and binding.  The top is together and ready to be batted and quilted.   Just in time too.  I heard today that Amanda got a very nice job promotion this week.  This quilt was promised to her and Barry--OK,  to Barry really because he begged---for their next "life event".   I think the promotion qualifies and I think  the quilt  will be called "Life's Events".
Have a very special and blessed Easter weekend.  Happy stitching.  
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