29 August, 2012

A Little Bird Told Me...

Sometimes you just know what your next project wants and needs to be. I love birds, watch them daily from my window, have been an Audubon groupie for some time, and knew when I first saw a photo of this quilt that this would be my next project. I was itching, absolutely ITCHING to make something spectacular, using my newly learned technique, needle-turn appliqué.

So I bought the book, "In the Meadow", beautifully done...I might add, by Blackbird Designs . The quilt in the book is called "Birdsong".

Favorites, all stacked up
The Meadow Collection Swatch Card
Then I ordered the "Meadow" fat-quarter collection by Moda, which includes some of the fabrics that were used in the book.  I am on the lookout for other fabrics that will go along with these in just the right way.

I have loved prepping this quilt, copying the patterns for the bird blocks, cutting the freezer paper templates and organizing all of the pattern pieces into files. I get up early, really early, (just can't sleep late...,) and it's my favorite time time of the day, the perfect time to get this quilt ready to actually begin the hand appliqué. I do not believe that in all of my years of making quilts, and it's been 40+ years!, that I have ever needed to be quite as organized as this quilt requires.

I love hand appliqué, really, really love it!  My very first experience with it was when I made a quilt for our soon-to-be younger daughter.  It was 1975, eons ago... I purchased a Simplicity Hollie Hobbie rocking horse pattern and I was like the classic, "Lady in Waiting", hand stitching this quilt as my baby grew inside of me.  Such sweet times...  I changed the colors up a bit.  I used red and dark blue rather than pink and light blue. Butterfly has kept this quilt close to her, all through  her childhood and on into her adulthood.

I have done a bit more hand appliqué along the way. I made a quilt for our older daughter, J.T., also known as The Brainiac. I made her quilt when she was just about to graduate from High School, all hand appliquéd and hand quilted. She wanted a car for graduation, but got a hand-made quilt instead. She purchased her own car, which is the way that it is supposed to be, I think. That quilt took “Best of Show” at the Foothill Quilters Guild annual quilt show in Auburn, CA, in 1991... a lifetime ago.

So... I laid out my first block, the Meadowlark.  There are six different bird designs which are repeated throughout the quilt.  Other blocks are the Chipping Sparrow, the Blue Jay, the Magpie, the Lark Bunting, and the Carolina Wren.  Some blocks are reversed and some blocks have smaller leaf appliqué blocks added alongside.  The freezer paper template is ironed to the fabric on the right side, then you cut out around the template leaving a small seam allowance to turn under. You start stitching down the pieces that are in the background and move forward so that all of the pieces are properly layered. The freezer paper template provides a firm edge and guides you in where to turn the fabric under the template, then small stitches are taken as you move along the turned edge.  There is NO BASTING! which speeds things up in a huge way, but the best part is that the pieces are in the exact shape as the template.  It's kind of amazing just how exacting it is. So much better than basting, then sewing!

I stitched my first block. It went together remarkably well, I have to say.

I listened to an excellent audio book while I worked. Audio books
and hand appliqué go together like peanut butter and jelly!

And here is my second block, the Magpie.  Only 23 more to go and I'll have enough to make a quilt!

I have more fabrics to find, not such an easy task here in the 'Burg. But this quilt will be a work in progress for some time, I suspect.  Good things come to those who wait,... or to those who can't find the fabrics locally that are just right and must search for them far and wide.  For someone who loves instant gratification, and that's me!, it is such a lesson in love to take the time and to somehow find the patience to search out the perfect materials to make this quilt as spectacular as I envision it to be.  

14 August, 2012


One last photo of my much loved Chicks
I just sold a quilt, my Chubby Chicks quilt, blogged about previously.  I had entered it in the local County Fair, and won a ribbon on it.  One fair goer was especially captivated by it and went to a lot of trouble to track me down in order to ask me if I would consider selling it to her.  I have never, ever sold anything that I had made previously.

I made this quilt because I completely fell in love with the pattern, and then I found the delicious fabrics. There was no intended recipient for it.  It was made just because I loved the pattern and the fabrics.  So I named my price.... and the buyer agreed to it.

I had already won a first place ribbon for it at the local quilt show, a big deal quilt show here in Oregon.  Then... I won a 3rd place ribbon for it at the County Fair. I have lots and lots of photos of this quilt.  Could I bear to let it go?

Two words were uttered by the buyer.  She said... Baby Girl, and my heart pretty much melted. She told me that her daughter-in-law had fallen in love with my quilt and she, my buyer, wanted it for her baby grand-girl, I was so very touched...

Does this make me a quilt professional by selling my work?  Nahhh... probably not.  But I loved making this quilt, and I especially love that it is going to a baby girl who will have lifelong warm and snuggly memories of Chubby Chicks!  I kind of feel like an organ donor, 'cause my whole heart loved making this quilt.

The way that I'm looking at it, I'm just spreading the love....

11 August, 2012

Extreme Makeover - Pincushion Edition

I wrote a long, LONG missive about a pincushion that my mother had when I was a child.  I lost that pincushion, by my calculations, about 56 years ago. As I wrote out the story, and wrote and wrote..., I realized that no one really wanted to read my long sad story of how I had lost my mother's pincushion.  So I decided to abbreviate it all and just give you the down and dirty details in order to set up my Extreme Makover Story. Here is the abbreviated version.

• My Mom was given a rocking chair pincushion.
• She loved it.
• I took it to school in the First Grade for Show-and-Tell and lost it.
• MOM WAS MAD !...
• I recently found another Rocking Chair Pincushion at an Estate Sale. 
 It was totally ugly.
 I bought it for $2.00.  Probably overpaid...
• Decided to give it an EXTREME  MAKEOVER.

Here is the Pincushion in it's BEFORE state.  You can see the incredibly dated fabric 
and just how dirty the thing is. Totally not my style.

But it does have a cute little drawer under the seat that held some old buttons and a measuring tape.  AND, it has a slot at the top of the back of the chair to hold a pair of scissors.  

I removed the little cushions and pulled the fabric off.  I scrubbed it clean and spray painted the wood with my new favorite color, that vintage aqua green.  One of my friends calls it "Martha Stewart Green"...  I made new little patchwork pinwheel cushions.

My newly revamped pincushion rocker now sits on my sewing table. Each and every time I look at it, I think of my mom, who passed 15 years ago.  It's a sweet little reminder of her and of our shared love of sewing.  I guess that I did not overpay for my sad old pincushion, because these memories of mine are priceless!

07 August, 2012

Just Lucky, I Guess....

As previously mentioned, Mr. T. and I hit the streets each week-end, on our way to estate and yard sales.  Our motto is... "You Have to Kiss a Lot of Frogs..." which translates to the fact that you have to go to tons and tons of estate and yard sales to find great stuff.  We had an especially good week-end recently, scoring a few really great Fabulous Vintage Finds.

We are discriminating buyers.  I have seen those shows! "Hoarders" and "Hoarding: Buried Alive" are my very worst nightmare!  I just don't want to be consumed by stuff, purchased just because it's a good deal. Don't get me wrong.  I love a bargain, but if you don't especially want or need it, what's the point?

The sweet vintage cookie jar is Shawnee, made about 1945 and is called "Puss n' Boots".  I found it at an unadvertised yard sale just a short distance from our house and our first stop of the morning.  We took a chance and followed the yard sale sign up the road along the river.  I knew immediately what this jar was when I saw it.  I don't know a lot about Shawnee Pottery, but I knew that this little cutie was worth much more than it's single-digit price tag.  And I mean LOW down in the single digits.  OK, I'll tell ya... I paid $2.00 for this thing!!! Check it out on eBay or Etsy to see what these actually sell for.  Puss may not be living here at our house for very long.  I am probably going to flip the Puss!

I collect Chinese sewing baskets and have a number of them in all shapes and sizes.  These baskets have often taken a bit of a beating and many are in poor condition.  But this little one, and it's on the tiny side, is in very good condition but for it's fragile silk tassel.  It is also unusual to find one that has the beads and coins intact.  And I have never seen just how the string tie is strung.  That feature is also often missing. Tucked inside were the pin card, needle book and a few old wooden spools of thread.  I'm in love...

Actually, this basket was first spotted by the eagle eye of Mr. T., who is always on the lookout for sewing related items for me.  I would call him "well trained", but really, there was no training necessary.  He's just a natural!  He knows that I love old sewing items and he's quite good at spotting them for me.

Case in point.  Mr. T. found the little box that contained the 24 vintage Victorian glass buttons that I have pictured here!  The detail on each of these tiny works of art is amazing! My friend, Suzie C., who knows WAY more about buttons than I do, says that this was an excellent find and she is seriously sorry that she did not find them herself.  We often run in to her while we are out at sales.  She acutally asks sellers, first thing, "Do you have any old buttons for sale?", and she often gets great buys that way.  Me... I don't feel as if I know enough about them to even know what to pay.  So I just pick up buttons that I like here and there.  I bought this little box of buttons for $1.00.  A great deal, I think. If one sews, one is likely to appreciate buttons.

My last fun find pictured in the first photo is the little ceramic baby shoe in a lovely aqua-green color.  I am thinking that I will make it into a pincushion.  You know, you can make just about make any small vessel into a pincushion.

Mr. T. bought a nearly new, very sturdy 28 ft. extension ladder, but you don't really want to know about that, do you?  Nope... totally boring, but he was happy about it. And, now I know that when he is up high on a ladder, that it is a safer sturdier one.  Not all of our great finds are antique or vintage.  But they are usually great bargains, and that's a good thing.

01 August, 2012

"Rhapsody in Bloom"

"Rhapsody in Bloom"  90" x 100"
As I have mentioned previously, numerous times...,  I am a member of the Umpqua Valley Quilters' Guild.  I call myself so very fortunate to belong to such a talented and inspiring group of women.

Each year we make a quilt to raffle off at our annual Quilt Show, which always occurs on the third week-end in April, right here in the Burg.  I have participated in the making of our yearly raffle quilt in some manner since I joined the guild in 2008.

It goes like this.  We form a committee.  I was a member this year as well as last year. The committee decides on the quilt design.  Committee members each bring photos of quilts that they like, then we somehow manage to combine elements from many inspiration photos to come up with an original design. We choose the fabrics, then set about getting the quilt made.  Kits are put together by committee members, then the kits are checked out and completed by guild members.  The returned kits are then sewn together to make a stupendous quilt! Sounds easy, right?  But really, putting a quilt together that has been sewn by many hands (with minutely different seam allowances...) is no easy feat. Each year, I am astounded and amazed that we are able to make such a beautiful quilt with so many hands involved.

                                      Detail of Center Hand Appliqué Center Panel
The central hand appliqué panel was designed by our Committee Chair, Doris K.  Honestly, I just want to be in her presence, breathe the same air that she breathes, stand as close to her as I can in hopes of absorbing just a smidge of her knowledge, design sense and talent.  Doris does not dictate what the quilt is to be, but rather, let's it, and our committee, find it's own way.  That is not to say that she does not have a vision... but the quilt is always evolving as it comes together.  The whole process is so inspiring, and has taught me to be more fluid and flexible in my own design process.  

Detail of Beading Highlights and Quilting
Oh,... and I have learned new techniques.  I have done hand appliqué since the mid '70's and it is one of my most favorite techniques to do.  But Doris showed me how to do Needle Turn Appliqué, a technique that is much, much easier than the method that I have been using all of these years.  I am SO hooked and can't wait to do something spectacular with needle turn appliqué.   

The custom machine quilting was beautifully done by Corinne W., who tailored the quilting designs to our quilt and changed thread colors MANY times. We are still working at adding the detail beading.  We will begin selling raffle tickets at the Douglas County Fair beginning next week.  Ticket sales will continue through early April, when we will award this quilt at our annual Quilt Show to whomever purchased the winning ticket.  

I'll be buying lots and lots of tickets. Fingers crossed that I am the lucky winner!


Friday, August 10th.  - I spent the afternoon at the County Fair at our Guild Table, selling raffle tickets  for this quilt.  Fair-goers loved our quilt and asked many questions about how it came to be. It was my pleasure to tell them just how we put such a quilt together.  What I dearly love is that people want to talk to us about their family quilts.  One lovely couple, who had been to our table on Tuesday, came back and brought in their photo album of quilts made by the gentleman's mother.  All were so very beautiful.  Crazily, it turns out that they were from the very same area in NW Arkansas that my father was from. He recognized my family surnames and I recognized his.  Our family members had most certainly crossed paths! How crazy is that? 

Disney had it right.  It's a small world, after all....