Sunday, November 3, 2013


A while ago, I started collecting all the scraps from my quilts in a laundry basket instead of throwing the remainder away when a qui I have a friend in Texas who makes the most beautiful scrappy quilts from leftover scraps that people give to her.  I am not quite patient enough to sew together all the tiny little pieces like she does, but it seems a shame to get rid of the extra prices when they can be turned in to a perfectly good quilt.  So today I was not very interested in doing anything too difficult, so I started sorting through the basket and sewing the leftover strips in a quilt as you go method. I got a fairly respectable pile of blocks done-

But I think that the basket of scraps looks like it has more in it than when I started!  How many quilts do you think I can get out of this anyway?

Thursday, October 31, 2013


I've been hiding from the goblins in the back of the house.  It took a couple of weeks to work myself up into doing the more difficult part, but finally got started. So tonight I have been sewing body parts together like Dr. Frankenstein....

Now all she needs is a back wing, tail and talons!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hip deep in feathers

The bad news is that I spent my weekend still sewing feathers. The good news is that this is the last wing section of the red-tailed hawk. The only other pieces are the back wing (which doesn't show much), the tail feathers and the feet. Then I get to figure out how to sew all these parts together.

Then comes the really fun job of figuring out what the background is going to look like...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Getting things done

I had this great idea that I was going to get three of my almost finished quilts bound and labelled before I went on vacation. The last couple of weeks have just flown by and I only managed to get the first one completed. (Of course, the second one is 120" square and has about 4 miles of edge to bind.)   This is ok, though, as the Blazing Star was the most important to get finished and mailed off to someone in need of a little comfort. She should have received it yesterday, so I can go ahead and post the final pictures. The quilting turned out beautifully-

Sunday, August 11, 2013

And more feathers....

Took the eye-blinding star off to a local long arm quilter- we will see how they do with it. Picked out a couple of templates and some orange thread and am leaving the rest of it up to them.

So back to the appliqué of these interminable feathers. Could I pick a slower hobby, or what?

Spent about 12 hours this weekend putting together another section of wing-

See the bottom five feathers on the right? That is my big accomplishment!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Shining Bright

Managed to get the background of the lap quilt put together this weekend and last night I finished sewing the star on the background.  Spent quite a bit of time sewing all those little squares together in the border edge, but I really like the way it turned out.

Now to find a long arm quilter in Jacksonville!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Shining Bright

So today I worked on a technical puzzle- this is the result.

Mom just sent me a Cheri's cool tool mini iron, which I thought was hysterical as I just blistered myself on my Clover iron a couple of weeks ago. As usual, she is right though- the little tip that comes with it did a great job on those seams, I can't wait to try it out on the appliqué.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Change of Pace

I haven't been out here to post in a while... All I have really worked on is sewing more feathers.... And more feathers... And more feathers....  And since I am sick of them I figure that you all don't need to see every time I get a little section done.

My deadline for getting quilts completed to enter into shows has typically been by the end of the year (for the last number of years in Dallas) but the deadline for the quilt show here in Jacksonville has suddenly snuck up on me. I only have a couple of weeks left to register.  So after rummaging through my finished and unfinished stuff, I discovered a couple of projects that I might get done in time to submit.

I "found" a quilt that only needs a binding, sleeve and label. So this week I have been binding it. This is "The Long Road Home" pattern by Bonnie Blue Quilts. I have another 4 (!) of their patterns on my UFO list. I guess I must like them as I seem to acquire more of their patterns every time a quilt show comes through....

This was quilted by my friend Karen before I left Dallas (yes, I am way behind on the UFO list). As usual, she has selected a fantastic quilting pattern to show off the piecing.

So now I am off to start a label....

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Portrait Phase

One of the things I was really impressed with at the SEPS reception was the beautiful portraits that were included in the show.  The best of show was stunning.  So when I came home I had an itch to try a pastel portrait.

I am over it now.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Highest Priority UFO's...

Mom has been cleaning and organizing her sewing rooms (yes, multiple spaces!) so I have been inspired to update my UFO list.  This is not actually the WHOLE list- last I checked there were almost 40 projects on there- but these qualify as the ones most likely to get worked on in the next year or so.

I keep my photos of the quilts I am working on tacked to a cork board in the sewing room.  I had tried keeping a written list, but kept forgetting what I had named the different quilts.  Some of them ended up with a couple of names.  And let's face it- a picture in my face is much more likely to get me to work on something than a list written on a piece of paper.

The quilts on the left are completed tops that have been sent off to mom for quilting.  From conversations we have had, I think I have a shot at getting her to work on the top two but it doesn't sound like she is to excited about the bottom half of the list.  Maybe I have sent her too many?  It's not like she wants to work on her own quilts or anything....  I may end up going home and quilting these myself.

The next dozen are the ones that are probably most likely to be worked on...

1.  Sierra- the red tail hawk which you have all seen.
2.  Long Road Home- a Bonnie Blue quilt stitched by Karen G which needs binding and a label.
3.  Ladies of the Sea-  a Susan Garman pattern which is more applique of pirate ships
4. Granite Family quilt- my dad's family was involved in the granite industry in the northeast.  I have designed a couple of blocks for this potential quilt.  The Babcock Smith Museum put out a book (and the newspaper ran stories) about the granite industry which I found quite interesting. 
5.  Chocolate Stars-  kit purchased at the Dallas Quilt Show.
6. Crossroads- another Bonnie Blue quilt. (Karen G, you are a BAD influence!)
7. Streak of Lightning- from an old Fons & Porter magazine.
8.  Mini quilt I started a couple of years ago when the amazing lady that was making the compass rose quilts won in Dallas.
9. The original background for that #2 quilt in mom's pile was supposed to be this red and black combo.  I changed out the colors, but didn't want to waste the already sewn together half square triangles so bought this stack of beiges to go with them. (Right, like they would go to waste!)
10. Series of 4 "The Moon and Me" tops which are 8 X 10 each.
11.  Poinsettia Quilt Basket- Karen England paper piecing pattern.
12. The Unblue Too.

I think that you should know that even if I win the lottery tomorrow there is no way I will get all of the quilts on my list done before I die.... and I am still planning on living 'til I am 100 years old.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Red Tail Hawk

My light bulb moment this week happened when I realized there was no way I was going to be able to get the quilt I am working on done by the time for the St. Augustine Members show submission.

I'm not sure what is wrong with me- these hand crafted quilts take a lot of time.  I can put together a section the size of the palm of your hand in about 7-8 hours.  Which means they take forever.  I'm not sure why I can't remember that when I am not working on one....  but I have been working on this for a couple of months now and it is nowhere near ready to quilt.

Anyway, for those of you that follow along on these bird quilts.... this is the largest one so far.  The photo was taken at the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center in Texas at one of their First Saturday events.  They have always been of great help in getting some fantastic photos of the birds and are doing a great job with the facility and park. There are some really wonderful people volunteering out there.  The Raptor Center was not very far from my old house and I miss going to see them.  Guess I will have to see if they have any raptor rehabbers around Jacksonville who will put up with me...

I had the photo blown up to 22 X 40 in black and white at a copy shop. This is my pattern.  I usually build the birds up out of a bunch of different sections, then assemble all of the sections later.  The sections are typically divided up where the natural breaks of the body occur.  I got a new little light pad that is working wonderfully- it is about 12 X 14 and half an inch thick.  I first draw on the pattern with a black pen and decide where all the pieces will be.  Sometimes this is a trick, as there are blurred sections or places where the feathers are fuzzy. When I get done, it looks like a giant puzzle.   Next I put the light box under the pattern and trace the section I am going to work on onto a piece of plain white paper.  This is the pattern that I will use to assemble the section with.  It is much smaller and easier to deal with than the gigantic photo pattern.

Using the little pattern section, I trace the section on a piece of freezer paper with the shiny side up.  The slick side is sometimes hard to draw on- I have a mechanical pencil that I like to use for this.  When I get all the section on the freezer paper, then I cut it out.  These are the pieces that I will use for my piecing.

Now comes the hard part- the selecting of the colors.  I'm not sure how Sierra behaves in real life, but as a quilt she is a most difficult bird.  I had spent several weekends dyeing fabric with all kinds of stripes on it in order to have the different colors of striped feathers available.  I did all this work on several sections of her body and wing and then decided that it was completely overwhelming.  She looked like a man in a plaid suit.  So I ripped it all apart and started over again.  The only striped fabrics I have kept in so far have been the dark stripes for those striking feathers in the middle of her wing (which are coverts, I think).

When I finally pick out the fabric, I iron the shiny side of the freezer paper to the fabric.  Then I cut it out about 1/4" from the edge of the paper.  I clip any curves and paint the edges with liquid starch.  I use a Clover ironing tool to iron the edges over the piece of paper.  I then place the fabric covered pieces on the white paper pattern and secure them in the correct location with masking tape.  Then I sew them together.

This is my small pattern and some of the assembled feathers. This is the dyed fabric I kept...

The other section of the top of the wing.

Underneath the wing- you can see all of the freezer paper before I take it out.  (Note:  if you try this technique, be sure that you do not take out any of the edge pieces until it is sewn on to the background!)

These are not sewn together yet, but you can see the wing taking shape.

This was a piece of the original wing which I scrapped after I put all the stripy pieces together.  
Also my reference photo- Sierra is a spectacular bird and Erich was very helpful in getting her to pose for me.

Today I have been assembling Sierra's body- here she is with the wing sections placed in the correct locations.  Not sure I like the beige yellow striped feathers at the bottom of her wing or the couple of stripes up near the dark spine of the wing.  Those may be coming out too.  But she is a beautiful bird!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Rainbow of Colors

What a heinous job!  You'd hardly think it would take someone who loves color so much three days to get all their colors sorted out....  But I finally mashed all of them into either the studio box or the plein air box.  Time to paint!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Pastel Weekend

This past weekend was filled with pastel drawing events... the First Coast Pastel Society had a lovely little demo of Andy Kenyon showing us his pastel techniques on Saturday.  I have to tell you I am completely impressed- drawing adult people is bad enough, anyone who can draw a lifelike child (one that doesn't look like a potato) is amazing to me.  Andy does some amazing drawings which you can see here Andy Kenyon's Children Portraits.  

Sunday was our first members show- we had a great time. I think it would have been terribly funny to see this great figure painter judging all of our landscape pictures.  Everyone in the show did a fantastic job- it was really cool to see pictures that everyone had spent some time on.  Usually I only see pictures that we have been outside drawing for a couple of hours.  You can see the show on the blog for the First Coast Pastel Society along with all the results. Oh, and special thanks to all of you that did all the planning and execution, too!

All of which puts me in the mood to keep pursing my latest project.

Last week I spent a lot of time on the phone with my consultant as I built a studio box to contain all my pastels.  I have mostly Unison which I started out with in my Heilman box, but all the others brands I have been accumulating are still piled around in their original packaging.  I think the box turned out great- Dad gave me some really good tips for putting it together (and can I say I have upped my assessment of his carpentry skills!)  and I spent a couple of days last week getting it sealed up.  This is about 18 X 32 and the bays are about 4 1/2 inches wide.

There's only one problem with this beautiful little box-  I think it should have been bigger!

Maybe when I get it sorted out to get the plein air colors back in the Heilman box it will all fit?  Doesn't seem real likely at the moment....

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Moon Moves Me

So I have a bunch of things that are piling up that I keep meaning to write about.... I am going to start with B & G's quilt, as they received it this week and will no longer "accidentally" see it in a post-  This is the Moon Moves Me.

There's no place big enough to spread out a quilt in this house that has good light. I tried doing this out on the porch, but the light is not very good to be getting a good quilt picture.

A close up along the side...  nice flowing quilt pattern that mom picked out.

Here are a couple of the blocks-  I like the way the pattern of both the quilt and the stitching look like ocean waves.  My friends have (until recently) always lived near the sea, so this is really appropriate for them.

I made this quilt a bit bigger as my friends have animals that hog the covers, too. I always hate getting that draft up my backside.  This quilt ended up being 112". The back is pretty basic and boring, but found a place online that sells 118" backs which can be found here Backside Fabrics.  (I've been having them ship directly to mom!) If you decide to try them, note that one of the selvedges is 1 1/2 wide so you are not quite getting the whole width of the fabric.

This is my label.  I like these fancy labels, but they take about half a day or more to make.   The green frame of the label is stitched on two fabrics (white on bottom) and the top layer of green striped batik cut out when done.  Then the rest of the lettering is embroidered.  I guess if you spend all those hours making a quilt, you should put a good label on it and not resent the time it takes to make that label.
Might still have to work on that a bit....  I'd rather be quilting than making a label.

So that is two quilts done for the year!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The REALLY late gift....

Once upon a time, my best friend B got married.... at the time we were poor and broke and it was all I could do to afford to stand up in the wedding.  I had always intended to give them a quilt (and even started one a couple of different times) but something always came up and interfered in the process.  B & G have been married almost 20 years and have always lived near the sea.  They love being on the beach.  So the fabrics and colors I finally came up with seem to fit perfectly.... Got the top done a bit ago and sent it off to Mom.  She sent it back to me and I have spent the last week sewing the binding on.  I think it is about 4 miles long. Can't show you the whole quilt (somebody may be watching!) but here is a peek of the edge and the pattern Mom picked out to sew on there.  Does this remind you of the tropical sea?

Now to make the label....

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hide and Seek

Of all the states I have lived in, Florida has the largest population of reptiles.  So far, we have frogs, toads, snakes and lizards in the yard.  Caleb tries to chase down the anole lizards, but thankfully they are too fast for him.  When he goes trotting along the back fence, lizards shoot everywhere to escape.  There is a space between the screen door and the screen of the porch where they like to look for bugs- Caleb always inspects this space even though he can't get them when they are in there. 
This little guy scrabbled across the floor right in front of his nose and then found a place to hide.

Friday, April 12, 2013

An Art-i-ful Weekend

Been having a little upload difficulty with my camera which I have finally straightened out.  I have a wonderful Eye-Fi memory card in my camera.  This allows the new pictures taken on the camera (assuming you have Wi-Fi in the house and the camera and computer turned on) to automatically upload to the computer.  It also has a feature which will allow your pictures to upload to the internet if you have it set correctly.  (This has got to be one of my favorite inventions ever.)  My issue was that I had so many pictures that I had been taking that the loading of the pictures to the internet had backed up so far as to be completely clogged.

Brother Dave came to visit me last weekend- you know he has been coveting the scenery and the art scene that I have here in Jacksonville.  So Friday night we went down to the Artwalk in St. Augustine and had a wonderful time.  Saw lots of artwork- some that was great and some was what I would stick in the "crafty" category.  We finally got dinner at Harry's around 8pm and I froze sitting on the patio, but the food was great.

Saturday was plein art day with the pastel folks.  I have a great time doing this and I love talking to these people, but my pictures out in the wild do not turn out very well.  If only that darned sun would hold still.  I guess at some point I will be faster and these will turn out better.  I also think that I am looking too far away, maybe I need to change my focus to the 20 feet in front of me.  I've probably done less than a dozen of these outdoor paintings so far, and they always fall a little short for me.  Well, I will keep practicing.

This is my painting of the lake:

And this is Dave's:

His pictures are much more consistent than mine at this point (of course, he has done more) and he has a cool kind of giant stylized pointillism emerging.

Sunday we ran around to the arboretum and Hanna Park and the beach so Dave could get a bunch of photos to take home..... He has already given me instructions to get some more wave pictures "in different light".  So I guess his next series will be of the ocean waves....

Monday, March 25, 2013

Red Tailed Hawk


Florida is a whole lot warmer than the rest of the country, but it sure is soggy.  I spent most of the weekend under a desk lamp sewing feathers on my new bird project.  Then I ran out of the right color of fabric for my feathers, so yesterday I dyed some more fabric.  I had forgotten what a strenuous process it is- about halfway through yesterday I was already sick of it.  Tonight I am washing all the dye out.  Here are some of the new fabrics:

The bottom two are twist-dyed.  Most of them I was trying to make striped for the primary and secondary feathers in the wings.  They were accordion folded and dyed.  There are also a couple that were shibori dyed that are still in the rinse cycle.  Here is a close up of one of the patterns:

Here is the bird in process- the parts I have put together are laying on the giant photo I blew up and am using as a pattern.  Hopefully I will have enough choices now to get another couple of layers of feathers put together.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Rainy, Rainy Weekend

So the next couple of quilt tops getting sent off to mom are finished.  Suzie's Denouement is the quilt I copied from Karen from my small group in Texas.... I seem to remember her saying something about "she just whipped this out" when she brought it for show and tell. I have since decided that was SARCASM.  I love the look of this quilt but it took forever to put the blocks together.

Karen also helped me pick out the fabrics during Suzie's going out of business sale...  wouldn't you know that I would get into the reproduction quilts about the time the best reproduction store was closing?  The background colors we chose were originally black and red.  I ended up making this 108" square and didn't have enough fabric when I got to Florida.  The little quilt shop down the street, Cinnamon's, has a beautiful selection and I got the rust and purple fabrics there.  I ordered the backing from Backside Fabrics- unfortunately the purple is back ordered so mom gets a short reprieve until it arrives!  (I have ordered a couple of backs from them- they have fabric 118" wide!) I changed the pattern of the top a little- I think Karen had the diagonals in the sixteen patches going the same way as the background stripes.  I put mine crossways to get that secondary "X" formation.

Someone please explain to me why when you put a quilt down to take a photo, any animal in the house must immediately lay down in the middle of it?  Caleb just had surgery to take out one of his giant molars which had gone bad, but is doing fine.  I'm not sure he even noticed they did anything, except that I have been feeding him all kinds of good soft food which he is enjoying.

This is my Twist & Shout quilt- it is a variation of the Australian Odyssey pattern from Deezigner Quilts.  I had got the pattern and the fabric from the Dallas Quilt show a couple of years ago.  (The quilt is much prettier than the picture on the front of the pattern, by the way!)  The dyed fabric I purchased to use with this was light on one selvage, shading to dark on the opposite selvage. I thought this would make a cool shaded pattern but when I went to sew the strips on the pattern I was just a little short!  So the last row in every color is some type of modern pattern in the same color scheme.  I also left my blocks horizontal instead of in the diamond shape.

Now to go figure out which is the next UFO to be moved to mom's list!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Starting from Scratch

It has been forever since I have been out here to blog- one of the reasons being that last year was volatile to say the least. One of the things that happened is that I got laid off from the bank again.  This seems to be a recurring theme for anyone with a banking career.  As it turns out, they sold my department off to another bank which allowed me to keep my job.  On the down side, my job relocated to Jacksonville, FL and I left all my brother and all my friends behind.

It took a while but mostly I am done feeling sorry for myself about it.  After things calmed down a bit, I noticed that I didn't really get any quilting done at all last year.  My brother did get me started on drawing with pastels, and I did manage to get some of those pictures completed.  But no quilts.

So this year I am planning on getting things done.  Hopefully I will manage to get it all out here where you can see it and I can keep track of it better. I am sort of cheating to start off with- about the time of my last blog, Mom acquired a long-arm quilting machine.  It had some issues getting started which seem to be sorted out now.  So I have sent her a pile of quilt tops to practice on.  Do you suppose it is cheating getting your UFOs done if you assign the work to someone else?

This scrap quilt is made from the 4-patch swap blocks that I made with my Binding Friends quilt group in 2008.  I guess it is taking me a little while to get some of these done.  I think the alternate pinwheels were the spare blocks that I made for the 2010 APQ online group.  Anyway, mom quilted this for me and I just recently got the binding and label on it.

I updated my Embird embroidery software to get the label done.  I hate making labels, but if you put all that work into a quilt then I think you should put a really good label on it.

So that would be the first quilt completed for the year.