Monday, December 13, 2010

Rice bags (second edition)

When you make a project more than once, you find out new ways of doing it.  I just finished making seven rice bags, some for me, some for guests, some for gifts, and this is the way I did it this time:

  • 1/3 yd fleece OR 1/3 yard muslin plus the same amount decorative fabric of your choice with which to make a removable, washable "pillow case" for your muslin rice bag.  You should be able to make three or four bags with 1/3 yard of 45" or 60" fabric.
  • 5-6 cups short or medium grain white rice, or your grain of choice.  See discussion of different grains, #8  below.
  • Large-mouth funnel (makes pouring in rice SO much easier).  A narrow funnel won't work because the rice gets too crowded to flow through.
  1. Measure and cut a rectangle of fabric 12 x 15 inches.  This does not have to be exact, but it should be exactly rectangular.
  2. Fold in half - you choose which way you want to fold it.  Short is good for feet; long is good for warming your neck.
  3. Using a tight and narrow zigzag stitch and 3/8" seam, sew right sides together, leaving an opening on one narrow end just wide enough for your funnel.
  4. Trim corners.
  5. Turn right side out.
  6. Stitch again 1/4 from seams and folded edge, remembering to leave the opening open.  This second stitching is VERY IMPORTANT.  Prevents rice leakage.
  7. Pour in 5-6 cups of rice.  When you fill the bag, you want it floppy, but not so thin that it loses heat quickly. 
  8. Short or medium grain rice works well; it is scent free, and the rounded grains move well and are less poky than long grain rice. Flax seed has a wonderful feel, but smells like linseed oil when heated. Potpourri is an interesting addition for foot warmers, but I wouldn't want that perfume next to my face. I have a buckwheat neck bag that works very well, but it smells like pancakes when warmed. Millet or barley are other options.
  9. Sew opening closed with a tight top stitch, making sure all rice grains are at the other end of the bag! Repeat 1/8" close to the first stitching.
To use:  
  1. Microwave for 2-3 minutes.  
  2. Tuck bag into the foot area of your bed 10-30 minutes before you go to bed.  
  3. Your tootsies will be warm and toasty.  It's amazing how long these bags keep their heat!
I have received warnings and recommendations from several people that the rice can dry out over time and should not be over heated for fear of causing the rice to smolder and start a fire.  The recommendation given by a couple of friends is to microwave for no more than 90 seconds.  I have microwaved my bag for 2.5 - 3 minutes almost every night for three winters, and it comes out of the microwave moist.  I put the bag on the chair by the bed during the day, so it has plenty of access to room air during the day - probably the source of the humidity, which sounds like it's a good thing.  I suspect my rice bags are larger and can therefore take a longer time in the microwave.  Take heed, however.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Little pink bags

Charitable stitchers often receive, as donations, unfinished quilt projects.  The ladies at church, when they saw these blocks come in the donations pile, immediately passed them off to me, figuring I could do something with them.  I made a baby quilt with most of them, well, finished piecing the top, anyway.  Still have to find border fabric.  And with the remainder of the blocks I made these little bags.  They are about 7x8 inches with a zipper opening.  I find this type of bag handy for taking on a cruise - you can carry your card and camera without having to deal with your big bulky tote.  They are also good for transporting a few CDs, postcards of your travels, and your cell phone.  The biggest interest I've had so far, however, is from little girls and from people who want to buy for little girls.

I am selling these bags to buy supplies for making more charity quilts for children in hospital or protective custody.  Ten dollars plus shipping is the price, but I can't ship until my vacation is over!  If you have questions, you can reach me at califgold at, what else, geemail in the meantime.  In a few weeks I will advertise them elsewhere as well.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Eleven dyed sheets

A lovely warm day spent dyeing white and whitish sheets in the shade of my sycamore tree produced this rainbow of fabrics -- to be used for the Vacation Bible School costumes for the kiddies, run by my church next week.

One of the frustrations I have had as a newbie dyer is the plethora of dyeing instructions available in books and online, most of which do not give a person a step-by-step method to follow, instead getting sidelined into, "if you want to do this..."  "or if you want to do that..." -- leaving me a bit confused.  I had a great time last summer making all the fun low-immersion dye projects in Anne Johnston's Color by Accident (a book I always remember as being titled Dyeing by Accident, so to all to whom I've recommended this book, I apologize) -- but it didn't help me with measuring proportions when it came to dyeing sheets in sizes from twin to King.

Dharma instructions were good, but left me with questions, and Paula Burch's site answered tons of questions, but still did not have the sequential how-to information I needed.  I guess what I was looking for was a "Dyeing for Dummies" instruction manual.

I finally happened upon PRO Chemical's instructions for immersion dyeing (not low-water).  Ahhh, exactly what I needed.  I decided to pretend each of my donated sheets weighed one pound dry, soaked the sheets in water, laid them all in my hammock to drip while I measured out the various dye concentrates (mask firmly in place), figured out each of my ten new IKEA wastebaskets held about 3.5 gallons, barely enough to manage 2.5 gallons of dye liquid, but went ahead.  I dyed and stirred, and then stacked the wastebaskets in three tall leaning towers to batch in the sun.  The fit in the wastebaskets made stirring a little bit of a challenge, but since I didn't require an absolutely even result in the color, it worked out fine for me.  And...  surprise, surprise, surprise -- everything turned out exactly how I wanted!

I will watch the leaves on the sycamore tree, to see if they turn the same colors as my sheets, since all the washout from the sheets saturated the ground under one side of the tree...  (j/k)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Trusted rusted busted pants

Part 2

Well, hmmm... rusting my trusted pants didn't turn out anything like I expected.  I don't know exactly what I expected, but I didn't want them to look like I'd been sliding around in the barnyard.  Ah well, they have now reached the "nothing can hurt these pants" category, and nothing can stop me now!

Photo 1:  The first wrapping didn't produce much rust, probably because I had twisted the fabric too tightly before wrapping the rust pole.  The main spot of dark rust that resulted was right in the crotch, not a spot where anyone wants a big brown splotch!

Photo 2:  The back of the pants after a vertical roll around the pole on two separate marinate-in-rust occasions.

Photo 3:  The front of the pants showing the bleed through of the rust from the back.

I am going to do to the fronts exactly what I did to the backs, and then some around the hems, and  wash-wash-wash, and then figure out how else I can bust these rusted trusted pants.  Progress (or regress) to be reported here.  I'm thinking paint, buttons, fringe, "interesting pockets."  Someday, maybe very soon, someone will come across these in a bin of tossed clothing and wonder...

Fusing experiment

It's been awhile since I worked on my Mosaic Quilt, now dubbed "Z's Under the Trees," due to travels, my garden, midday heat in the studio, and other distractions.  The main distraction was that I wanted to outline the details in black thread, but not being sure how it would look, I didn't want to ruin it without doing a test of the technique first.

To test it, of course I had to make another mosaic quilt.  This one is from a photo of flowers I took on the island of St. Thomas a couple years ago.  They were against a blue wall, but I took out the blue in Photoshop, because I didn't want to use up all my blue ink when printing.

After printing the photo (11x14), I taped a firm but translucent interfacing on top of the paper, leaving the details of the photo perfectly visible for fusing on my bits of randomly trimmed, hand-dyed fabrics.  I chose to trim curves on the pieces representing the petals and leaves.

Next step:  Stitching.  I took off the paper before doing any sewing.  I wanted the stitching lines to be loose, not exact.  Easy peasy, I can do that!  I used very thick thread I had on an old spool, and my Janome 6600 handled it just fine.  The interfacing was firm enough to work as a great stabilizer, and the tiny bit of puckering was easily pressed out.  I fused on thin batting and did echo quilting with monofilament, and zigzagged the edges - OK for an experiment, but definitely not great, as far as I am concerned.

Here is the finished test sample. I think I will dabble with adding a bit paint here and there.

As far as adding black stitching lines to the much larger Z's Under the Trees, I am going to go ahead with it, but with trepidation, especially on the face details.  Maybe will use a color other than black in those areas.

QuiltArt at 15

Curved Stairs

This is my submission for the Quincea├▒ero.

Techniques/Materials/Methods:  My own hand-dyed cottons, paper pieced, fused, beads, paint, angelina, free-motion quilting.  From an original photo by Allen Hrenyk, used by permission.

"Curved Stairs" includes fifteen levels on which I've FMQ'd the numbers from one to fifteen, in addition to the words I put on the banisters. It includes some of the techniques I've been inspired to use through reading the many helpful messages from the Quiltart list. Without Quiltart, I probably never would have tried dyeing or painting fabric, and now I know it's tons of fun! I have only been a member of Quiltart for about four years, but I benefit from all fifteen years, since I can search the archives for answers to my questions on just about any quilt-related topic. Feliz cumplea├▒os,!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rusting the trusted pants


Some dark spots appeared on the rear of my favorite comfy pants, making it appear I had l sat one haunch upon some tiny spots of fresh tar. Not so good, couldn't even wear them to work in the garden.  Several attempts at spot removal were unsuccessful, so the next direction for a problem like this is the If You Can't Beat 'em, Join 'em philosophy.  I enjoyed so much my first rust experiment that now I am expanding into clothing (remembering that perhaps there will be a discomfort factor due to the rust, but that remains to be seen).  This is all experimental.  I don't know how it will turn out!

Since my first experiment went so well, I am using the same rusty iron rod and the same vinegar I used last time.  First I took my dampened pants out of the washing machine, where yet again the black spots had not come out, and painted both sides of the pants with vinegar.

I twisted the pant legs.  The smudges on the pants are due to my having handled the rusty rod, and loose bits of rust sticking to my hands and transferring to the fabric.  Oh!  Idea!  I could probably scrape this rod and make myself some rust paint.  Hmmm...

I coiled the twisted pant legs around the rod.

I covered everything with a couple of white plastic bags and recycled some previously used painter's tape in order to keep the fabric in close contact with the rusted rod.  Now I will let it stew in its juices until I have a chance to get back to it, early next week.

I haven't tried twisting or coiling before, so am curious as to how the rust pattern will look.  I anticipate at least one, possibly two, more rounds of rusting on these pants.  We'll see...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fabric postcards

Here are the faces of a couple of the fabric postcards I sent off yesterday. I kinda like the Dad's Day one!


After making my pile of fabric postcards, I had scraps of Peltex left over, too small for anything else, so I fused fabric scraps on both sides, quilted, and chopped into Inchies. Next step: satin finish all the edges.

This is a great project for finishing up dibs and dabs of threads on all my old wooden spools. For instance, I have lots of "Belding Corticelli Pure Silk size A" and lots of nylon, including an old spool of "Heminway Bartlett Made for xxPont" (Dupont?) Nylon 490 that sold for ten cents. I have no idea how old it is, but I am guessing at least 80 years. I love having - and using - old threads for Inchies! Sure, I have a few battles with breakage; uncooperative threads get moved to the bobbin.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fabric postcards

This stack of postcards represents a portion of the cards I took to the post office yesterday for mailing. I goofed when putting on the stamps, forgetting that some went to Canada, some to Australia, and some to the United Kingdom, in addition to all those going to the USA. When I got to the counter at the PO, I laid out all the cards needing extra stamps, beyond the 64 cents already stuck on them (20 cents extra due to the non machinability of the cellophane envelopes), the postmaster immediately called an additional person to work the counter so that all the people lined up behind me wouldn't be ruining their lunch hour.

He happened to notice I had forgotten to write a note on one of them -- don't know why I didn't notice the big blank spot! -- so I will mail out the 29th in the swap today. In addition, I sent out a birthday fabric postcard to my mother, and am creating a Father's Day and friendship card today.

It's been an "fun and educational," as they say, but I don't know that I will do a big swap again. I put a lot of work into mine, and there are so many other projects I want to get into! I have enough of a collection now, I think.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What color is the Golden Gate Bridge?

This color, April, 2010. It always looks a little oxidized to me, except when it's wet. Dusty orange-orange-red might be a good name for it!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Strike the band

The charity quilts we make at the church are always a challenge, because we like to use the fabrics that are donated to us.  Sometimes it is difficult to find enough matching fabrics to make an entire quilt, but the challenge is part of what makes it fun!  My November 30 blog post detailed the whys and wherefores of the words I pieced for this quilt.

I usually use a colorful print fabric for the backing, but not being able to find anything that didn't clash, this one has a muslin backing - muslin with an "N," that is.  I have seen several amusing references to quilts having a "muslim" backing - and that I like to think is due to spell checkers and not quilter-writers.

This hilarious misunderstanding about the word "muslin" came out awhile ago on one of those TV Judge shows.  The plaintiff was having a custom dress made for a wedding, and complained that the "Egyptian" had not been made when she expected it.  "Egyptian?"  What on earth?  It turns out she, like many spell checkers, thought the word was "muslim," and by extension her brain turned it into "Egyptian."  Maybe she was thinking Egyptian cotton. (?)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fiber mosaic pt. 2

OK, got the image uploaded.  I wonder why we have to go through an intervening step now instead of having the option of doing it in one step from a hard drive...  Will stop complaining now!  I am sure I will get used to it, and if I get over my bad attitude, I think I'll recognize the benefits that are already peeking around the corner.

The last part of the mosaic was more exacting than what I did previously, so it took a lot longer to fill up less space with the little, precisely-trimmed, fused pieces.

I am playing with my brand new Bamboo tablet deciding on thread details.  I don't think what I plan to do can be legally called thread "painting," but will see what evolves.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fiber mosaic

In between running back and forth from the house to studio beneath the thundering sky, pouring rain, and avoiding falling hail, I added a lot of little fiber pieces to my quilt mosaic.  Here you can see that the lines on the paper are clearly visible through the woven interfacing I used as backing and stabilizer.

I was almost afraid to start on this project, sure I would make a mistake, and then I remembered what I used to tell my students when I taught them how to use polymer clay -- "THERE ARE NO MISTAKES!"  So I took myself out of frozen-in-fear mode, kept reminding myself of my own advice, and plunged ahead.  Below is what I accomplished yesterday.  I will be making some changes, but I'm okay with it so far.  Actually, it's much better than I expected, and I am thrilled!  It's the first time I've tried anything like a fiber mosaic.

My goal today was to finish the background.  When I stepped back, I didn't like some of what I had applied, and was pleased to find it wasn't too difficult to pull individual pieces off the interfacing.  I do not have before and after pictures.
I still had some energy left at the end of applying the background, so I started on Mom, napping on the ground.
I'm thinking that instead of giving her dark socks, maybe I should just extend the pant legs down to the shoes.  Her shirt turned out a little stripey, but who's to know I didn't plan it that way?  I think I will also take out the bunch of grass above her arm, and make her arm color lighter.

All that's left is Dad and the chair -- and then, I think, thread painting to add detail and hold down the pieces.  I've never done thread painting either.  All this experimentation almost hurts!

A side note:  While industriously chopping little bits of fuse-backed fabric, I ran over the tip of my finger with the rotary cutter.  A gush of blood ran from my finger while I looked stupidly at the little disk of skin sitting on my cutting mat.  Have you ever tried to apply a bandaid to wound where the blood is coming so fast the bandaid won't stick?  It's a tough job, and on top of that, I was trying to stick the cut off piece back on my finger.  I needed another hand to help me, but eventually got it done, after one round when, on closely looking at the whorls on the cut-off tip, realized I needed to rotate it.

About ten years ago I cut off the tip of my finger (these types of incidents happen when you are constantly thinking of what comes NEXT instead of being focused on what you're doing NOW) -- I forget the context, but it wasn't quilting -- stuck the bit of skin back on, put on a really neat bandaid I had just purchased, and three days later when I took the bandaid off, the skin was fully attached back on my finger!  Those bandaids were so miraculous every time I used them that I went to get some more just last week.  They apparently are not sold any more.  Too bad.  They were so good - but very expensive.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Projects in the works

Architectural photos, and I consider the Waterwheel in that category, translate well into textile art.  I am currently working on another piece from a photo of a Curved Staircase.  My challenge to myself is to branch out in my color choices, since I've noticed I lean towards greens, reds, and blues, and even in my black and white projects, I always have a touch of red.  My first branching out was the waterwheel -- turquoise and orange, and the staircase is mainly monochromatic yellow-green, with a touch of the complementary red-violet.  It is pieced and fused and needs finishing touches; I don't know what yet.  Photos soon.

Another project, in paper form so far, is inspired by this door photo, one I took in the Napa Valley near Bothe Park last year. 

At first I was leaning toward making it surreal with bright colors, but when I looked at the result on my computer, there again were my favorite greens, reds, and blues.  So now I'm thinking I might steer away from saturated colors and experiment with a range of browns and tans, not exactly like the photo, but more realistic than my rainbow ideas.

I don't know!  I don't know what I'm doing!  I'm lost and confused!  But I'm having fun pretending to be an artist, and that's what counts.

Another project in the works is from the photo of my Venerable Ancestors Napping, posted last August in my Mrs. Noodles blog.

The first step was to again use Quilt Assistant to translate the photo into lines.

 Pages printed and taped together.

Enhanced with a sharpie.

This one will be 24x24, and I'm going to try fiber mosaics.  Lots of little fabric pieces. Like the Pizza Factory, it'll be something like, I'll "toss em, they're awesome!"  Well, one can hope.  Again, this is all new stuff to me.  But since I've always told my students, you can't make a mistake in art, I will plunge ahead, and if I don't like it, I can doctor it, or laminate it and make it into something to wipe my feet on.  Oh no!  Can't do that!  That's Mom and Dad on there, after all...

I'm thinking I will attach this paper pattern under my translucent stabilizer, and the lines will show through so that I can work directly on top of the stabilizer without having to redraw lines on the stabilizer.  Those who have done this before probably wouldn't be as iffy about this as I am.

On another front, a friend wants to donate some quilt tops to the charities I work with, where we make quilts for homeless families and for children in the oncology ward at the hospital.  I am thrilled, because her quilts are so bright and cheery and are perfect for our projects.  I can't wait to show the ladies our new bonanza, as soon as they arrive.

What direction am I heading in my Altered Fabric life?  Maybe teaching, I think, once I get a little more experience and confidence.  All I need to do is advertise a project to teach, and see if anyone shows up.  Now I'm trying to figure out what project they'd like to do.  Members of the Guilty Quilty Girls Quilting Guild and Stitch & Itch Friendship Garden Club have a special "in" for participating in any upcoming classes.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


15" x 15"

You can see the threads still hanging (waiting for sore finger to heal before burying them), but I couldn't resist the urge to "show and tell."  I converted a photo (photographer: Allen Hrenyk, used by permission) to a paper-pieced pattern by using the free software, Quilt Assistant.  The aspect ratio was changed because I needed a square, but I'm sure I would like it better with the original aspect ratio.  The fabrics are my hand-dyed fabrics.  The photo was taken by a friend who gave me permission to use it as a basis for quilt design.

Quilt Assistant was difficult for me to get started with because the instructions are a bit sketchy, but now that I've used it once, I've got an urge to do another one right away!  I learned a lot, especially on seeing some of the problems in the above design that glare out at me.  One thing is that if a line looks a little off to you in the design, it'll look WAY off in the final quilt.  I thought I'd be able to easily adjust while sewing, but it turned out not to be so.

Timeline:  One afternoon designing on the computer, two days piecing (117 pieces; the program counts 'em for you), one afternoon taking out and replacing pieces I didn't like because of the colors I'd originally chosen, one evening quilting.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Silly face fabric postcard

I wanted to collect fabric postcards -- stiff little quilts that go through the mail like a postcard but require more postage - so I joined the Trading Fabric Post Cards Yahoo Group.

The first swap in the group that I signed up for is the Silly Face swap.  It's turned out to be a one-on-one swap, and this is the card I made for it.  Belatedly I remembered I should have made a duplicate for myself in order to add to my collection.  This little lady either has leafy eyes or leaves over her eyes, trying to get rid of eye wrinkles, probably.  Her hair is couched novelty yarn.  She will be going to Michigan tomorrow.  Hope she doesn't get too cold.

I'm looking forward to a larger swap, where I can send out a dozen or two and get that many back.

Painted cane

When I promised to paint flowers on Lillie's cane, I didn't know it was an aluminum cane.  That stymied me for about two months, but then I just went ahead and did it.  I scratched up the aluminum surface with steel wool, sprayed on black Krylon, painted flowers (acrylic paint mixed with a little gesso to make it more opaque) and sprayed on a couple coats of clear Krylon.  I know the paint will scratch off.  Perhaps I'll check into automotive paint next time. Suggestions welcome!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Great Grandma's block, pieced

The challenge was to use four colors in the last round, and I think I more than met the challenge!  I wanted to use little blocks the same size Great-grandma used in the center block 100 years ago.  The piecing has been done for a couple weeks, but finishing the quilt has been interrupted by a fabulous cruise to Mexico, and by unseasonable cold weather, making heating the Hideaway studio more expen$ive than I wanted to pay for at the time.

Though the photo above looks as if the quilt is in final form, I have not yet quilted it nor bound it.  Not bound, you ask?  It looks bound!  Yes, that's the magic of Photoshop.  I added a black line around the outside to see what it will look like when finished.

Now I have approximately sixty-three other ideas I want to try soon...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How not to change a light bulb

I thought I'd pop in here and write a short blurb on how not to change a sewing machine light bulb, but then I looked at the clock and realized it is past the time when my brain is at par - which was the problem when I changed the light bulb yesterday.  Never fear, everyone is alive.  Details next time maybe!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Since there are so many projects out there calling, calling, calling...  wanting me to try this, try that, I thought I'd add another to the list:  Felting.*  The above woolens came from the local thrift shop, photo taken after they came out of the drier.  I should have taken a picture before I felted them, but believe me, they are 1/2 to 1/3 their original size.  I am not mentioning the plaid blazer I thought was wool, but wasn't, and whose lint filled the washer drain and the drier lint catcher with its nasty shreddings and did not shrink or felt at all.

The two sweaters on the left were handknit and felted the best.  The remaining three woolen items were commercially made; the orange jacket (formerly salmon, don't know why the color changed) is the only woven item and felted the least.  I might run a couple of these through the process again.

Next affordable item on my wish list:  felting needles and some roving.

Plan:  Make handbags of the above.  I think the sleeves would make a number of cute little cell phone or camera bags.  The felt purse projects are now lined up in proper order behind a dozen or so others.  Strange thing, though, about my orderly plans.  Sometimes projects jump queue, and next thing you know, lovely chaos!

*To felt a wool item, wash with soap in hot water, and dry in hot drier.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Foundation for fabric postcards

A few days ago I posted the four snowmen fabric postcards I made for a swap. In looking through my cell phone gallery of photos just now, I noticed I had taken a shot of the background made of cut-up fabrics fused to Peltex.  Since this is a cell phone picture, the colors look dingier than they actually are. You can even see the shadow me holding up the camera to take the picture!

After this was all fused and quilted, I could barely bring myself to chop it up for postcards, but I ended up with enough for ten cards and a pile of inchies.

The theme for this piece was January/winter. Though winters in my part of California are the greenest time of year (grasses start turning gold in late spring), my memories of winters elsewhere are of icy blues, bare browns, and warm plaids, but always in our hearts we have the promise of spring and flowers.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Quilt - "Christmas Boxes"

Five-inch swapped squares form the centers of the blocks for "Christmas Boxes," the quilt I finished today - number three of four of my Works in Progress (WIPs).  Here is the back:

Just as I was beginning to think I was reaching the end of my WIPs, I realized there are two more in the works, and really another, if I can persuade myself to get out of the denial stage.

"Do not buy any more fabric until the WIPs are finished, do not buy any more fabric until the WIPs are finished, do not buy any more fabric until the WIPs are finished," I keep telling myself.  But it does no good; I succumbed to the alluring charms of eleven different plaids and stripes while at the Folsom Quilt Show earlier this week.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fiber postcards - Snowmen


I participated in a winter-themed postcard swap.  My cards are like real little quilts, with fused surface fabrics, a thin layer of batting, quilting, Peltex to make it stiff, fabric backing, and the card is satin-stitched around the edges.  On these I also did free-motion stitching of the word "Winter" - going over it three times to make it visible.  I was surprised, in this swap, to receive in trade three cards that didn't involve padding or quilting, but I guess "fiber postcard" isn't, by definition, a "quilted postcard."

I wonder if there is a "quilted postcard" exchange anywhere out there...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Quilt - "Softscape"

Yesterday I finished another of my scrappy Works In Progress.  I call it "Softscape," a term for the plant portion of a landscape.  I shouldn't say this quilt is completely finished, because I still need to weave in the ends of the quilting threads; for some reason I never mind doing that.  These fabrics were leftover from the Aster-go-round quickie quilt I made last June.  Naturally, I did not have quite enough scraps left over, so I had to buy more flower prints to complete this one, thereby defeating the purpose of "using up the stash."

So what to do?  All this floral fabric, and little inclination to do another flowery quilt.  The quilt backing saved me from having to add the florals to my dwindling storage space - I made the backing of big and little patches of floral fabric; the larger pieces are older fabric that was given to me from several sources. In addition, I made the binding out of five different fabrics.  I like the effect.


The first photo was taken at night, and the second in the daylight, that one a better representation of the actual colors in the quilt (and walls).

This quilt does not yet have a destination, but I am thinking, "back bedroom."

Next goal:  Sandwich and quilt Christmas quilt.  Starting today.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Quilt: Books I Have Read

I suppose that if you turned this quilt on its side, it would be the "stacked coins" traditional pattern, but since I'm putting it the other way, it looks like books on shelves to me, and that's why I'm calling it Books I Have Read.  All the fabrics except the border were in my scrap bin, leftovers from other projects.  Once I decided it looked like books on shelves, I scrounged through six or seven quilt shops before I found what I wanted for the border fabric - printed words - in a quilt shop in Napa.  I had to have a very wide border in order to make it big enough to cover my double doors.

Next step:  Get a track system for hanging it so that it will insulate the room (Warm Window fabric serves as batting and backing) on very cold and very hot days.  When not in use, it can slide aside and serve as simple wall decoration.  Photo to come when that is done.

I am SOOOO glad I don't have to manhandle this stiff and heavy thing through my machine any more!

Monday, January 18, 2010

A wrestling match

This ambitious project of mine, the insulating quilt, "Books I Have Read," that I plan to hang on a track over the double doors in The Hideaway studio, was horrible to quilt. On the fun scale, quilting it ranked somewhere down near "root canal" and "leg cramps."

"Books I Have Read" is seven feet square (84x84), and backed with the Warm Window insulating layers, it is the heaviest and stiffest thing I have ever pushed through a sewing machine. I did only minimal quilting, long wavy horizontal lines varying from two to seven inches apart, but it still took me several days to quilt, because it was so exhausting.

I started out with the quilt rolled, but that meant I had to hoist the stiff roll up over my shoulder, while still fighting the tendency of the heavy folds to pull downward and refuse to move evenly through the sewing machine. I enlisted an extra chair to hold fabric on my side of the machine, in addition to the extra table behind the sewing machine. The roll was still difficult to manage, so when I could, I laid the fabric to the left of the machine flat, continued to fight gravity since my table was not big enough to hold it all, and was forced to stitch only a foot or so at a time before needing to stop and engage in battle with the quilt, forcing it to bend to my will. I was NOT going to let it win, and it didn't. I am the champion!

Now I need a liniment rub.

Next up (after binding): Research track systems at interior decorating and garage door supply houses. I want this thing to slide out, completely flat, to one side so that it will serve as a wall hanging during times of the year when I don't need insulation from heat or cold.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fiber portrait - a break from the routine

If no one missed me here, I missed myself, but I have a good excuse:  I was spoiled in Colorado during the holidays.  Family there all have high-speed internet and new computers. I came back home and connected at my top available speed of 28.8 kbps, and it was like trying to crawl in gooey goo after having soared through sunny blue sky.  Hey, if anyone should ask me to marry him, I think one important factor would need to be determined before I gave my answer:  Does he have high-speed internet?  Ha!

Yesterday, before meeting with the Guilty Quilty Girls Friendship Garden Stitch and Itch Club at my place in the evening, I had the urge to try something new instead of finishing any of my Works In Progress, so I threw together the fused piece below, from a picture of my daughter trying to look shocked.  I used scraps of fabric I had on hand for this test run.  Pay no attention to the background; that's just what was on my design wall at the time.  If it looks too paint-by-numberish, scoot back from your computer ten feet or so.

But if you, as I suspect, did not move back from your computer monitor far enough to get a blended view, here's another view, below. The face looks great from a distance, don't you think?  

Experiments are so much fun.

I am currently working on a quilt I have named "Books I Have Read."  It is going to be backed with Warm Window insulating fabric and hang in front of the cold-producing double doors in my Hideaway studio.  Now what would a quilt called "Books I Have Read" look like?  You will see.  I am not excited about the outcome, but it will be useful, and most of it came from my scrap box.  My plan is to give it pizazz by adding embellishments and applique to it as time goes by.