Scrap Wool Felt + a Button = Super Quick Xmas Gift

As I mentioned in my last post, this holiday season has me on the run. I don’t have much time to take on big projects with my gift giving. I love a good sewn project as much as anyone, but my quick go-to is always jewelry making. Bead stores have the best stuff for impromptu inspiration. And, if I still feel the need to add a stitch, well, I opt to make a jewelry pouch to hold my handmade gift. You’ve heard my schtick before and you’ve seen samples of my passion for pouches here and here.

This year I’ve been a bit obsessed with natural stone jewelry that I can dangle from a “universal” earring base.

Projects-J:  Earrings for 2014 gifts

The top row sports the universal base. All I need to do is slip off the dangling jewel and slip on another one. Very cool!

In honor of Christmas, I decided to make red wool felt jewelry pouches for my handiwork. I repurposed the wool from a tree skirt that I made a couple of years ago. The sad tale was that my pretty red skirt with  glued on felt snowflakes was taken out by a flood when the Christmas tree toppled and spewed water from the reservoir across the floor. That was also the celebration when my some of my votive candleholders shattered on the hearth. After all that I think the felt scraps should be directed to projects with inherently better karma, like gift giving.

Project-J:  Jewelry pouches for gifts

These pouches are 4 x 9 inches folded to 3.5 inches and machine blanket stitched along the edges. Super simple to make and very nice for stowing in suitcases for travel. The fun part is adding sparkle with a jeweled button or beads.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

Jennifer Signature

 

It’s a “Hazy Shade of Winter” at SHWS, but I Will Conquer Xmas!

Despite not having to tackle my traditional major family party on the 24th, I have a feeling that Christmas is running away from me this year. We’re already in double digits on the December calendar?!? Where did the time go between that last bite of pumpkin pie and today? [soundtrack:  primal, panicked scream!] Keep it together, woman!

Okay, enough with the hysteria, here’s one of my accomplishments from this week:  a completed quilt. You might recall my posts on a quilt of crosses called Purple Haze (here’s the first post). I was on the fence about the finished quilt top. The good news is that I am a fan now! That attitude switch comes courtesy of Kathy August, the long arm quilter who took my quilt from slightly odd to FAB-U-LOUS!

Quilt-J:  Detail of reverse side of Jennifer's Purple Haze
Long-arm quilter Kathy August outlined each bird and then quilted the top in unevenly spaced horizontal lines.
Quilt-J:  Detail of Jennifer's Purple Haze
Front side of Purple Haze–can you see the bird outlines?

Kathy actually finished the quilting in October, along with my son’s birthday quilt, but I pretty much ignored the purple monster until last Thursday night when I picked up the folded quilt from the corner of the floor of my husband’s empty office-in-the-making, where it had languished for many weeks.

Quilt-J:  Auditioning binding for Jennifer's Purple Haze
Auditioning the Kaffe Fasset stripe from Westminster Fabric.

A striped fabric was my top choice for binding, although my stash was a bit thin on color/quantity candidates. I found about a half-yard of a Kaffe Fassett Westminister stripe with a sizable bias-sliced chunk removed. No way sufficient for a queen-size quilt. Ah well. I gathered the candidates and, the next day, took them to my friend Cyndy Rymer’s for an impromptu lunch with my quilt/dining group. Turns out they were in unanimous support of the stripe, which put an annoying internet fabric search for more yardage on my agenda. Until, that is, Cynderella went stash diving in her collection and found a complete set of 3-inch strips of that very fabric in her Kaffe box. (She’s got some wonders locked away in that fabric treasure trove!) Christmas lesson:  Seek and ye shall find.

Quilt-J:  Detail view of binding, Jennifer's Purple Haze
Detail view of finished binding

It’s truly amazing how well-planned and executed quilting (Kathy August’s amazing spin on my original minimal idea) plus a perfect binding candidate can win over a doubting quilt maker. I am enchanted by the result. I love it! That’s very good because I’ve got bedrooms to furnish for the return of my fellas for the holidays . . . they’ll have to flip a coin for the bed with the fancy new quilt.

Quilt-J:  Jennifer's Purple Haze
I had the B Team holding the quilt today, my A Team has grown up and launched. Looks like I’ve got to train the new guys on quilt holding techniques cuz, among other things, I just realized the quilt needs a flip to the right.

See ya Friday here at SHWS . . . perhaps I’ll reach holiday zen by then, but I’m not optimistic. In the meantime, though, take a gander at my stress-relieving effort for the Christmas season–month-long Ballet Conditioning classes led by Katarina Wester, a former soloist at the Royal Opera Ballet in Stockholm, Sweden and an incomparable teacher. (Jennifer was not harmed as a result of Katarina squishing her straddle split because she weighs nothing, but J. may be very sore tomorrow!)

Inspiration-J:  Katarina Wester's hard-core conditioning class

p.s.  Hazy Shade of Winter–Paul Simon!

 

Jennifer Signature

St. Nick Stockings

While I was visiting my home town in Iowa a few weeks ago, I was part of a 2 day “Quilt Fest” fundraiser. I shared a project with the quilters called St. Nick Stockings. I can’t take too much credit for this pattern, because it started with a freebie pattern from Moda called Secret Santa Stocking. You can get a Moda’s free downloadable pattern here: Secret Santa Stocking.

Moda Secret Santa Stocking

If you know anything about me, you know that I can’t ever leave well enough alone. I decided to enlarge it, make a few different sizes, then add a lining and a contrasting cuff. Here are my 3 sizes that I used for class samples.St. Nick's Stockings
It was so fun to watch the quilters at Quilt Fest come up with different fabric combinations. Here are a few of the stockings created that day.

 Iowa stocking 1     Iowa stocking 3

Iowa stocking 2   Iowa stocking 4

Iowa stocking 7   Iowa stocking 8

Iowa stocking 5   Iowa stocking 6

 Aren’t they fun?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Pati Fried Signature

Amish Muse

On Sunday, I attended an opening reception for the two current shows at the San Jose Quilt Museum .

exhb_ZIGZAG-9-PATCH
Zig Zag Nine Patch Variation, dated 1890-1930 Cotton Photo Credit: Darwin D. Bearley

 November 15, 2014 – March 1, 2015
Antique Ohio Amish Quilts from the Darwin D. Bearley Collection

Antique Ohio Amish Quilts from the Darwin D. Bearley Collection includes over forty bed, crib and doll quilts, illustrating the breadth of the Ohio Amish quilt making tradition between 1880 and 1940. The strong graphics and vivid color combinations of these quilts have inspired artists and quilt makers since they were first seen outside the Amish community. Each quilt in the Bearley Collection also contains a story about its maker, recipient, or the dealer/collector who found these objects, brought them out of Amish homes and into the market place. Together, these stories reveal much about the culture that made the quilts and the one that collected them.

exhb_BoydQuilt
Center Diamond, Up Close, 2014 Michelle Boyd

November 15, 2014 – January 3, 2015
Amish: The Modern Muse

Come see what Amish made Modern looks like! Three Bay Area Modern Quilt Guilds–East Bay Modern, Bay Area Modern and South Bay Area Modern–present a juried exhibition of quilts made by MQG members who were inspired by Amish quilt makers.

Juror San Francisco artist Joe Cunningham has chosen almost twenty quilts that best represent a 21st century interpretation of late 19th and early 20th century Amish quilt making traditions.

 The antique quilts were incredible.What a wonderful collection.  If you live in Northern California, be sure to visit the museum. If not, I am excited to announce that our dear friend, and a past guest blogger, Carol Van Zandt has offered to share her photos of the exhibit with us in a later post. Thank you Carol! We look forward to it!

In the mean time, I thought I would show a few shots of the artists reception for the The Modern Muse exhibit. You will recognize a few of the artists from being past guest bloggers for See How We Sew. They are also all members of the East Bay Modern Quilters.

2014-12-07 13.37.17
Modern Log Cabin Quilt by Tara Faughnan 2013.
2014-12-07 14.31.52
What I Had by Kim Andersson 2014
2014-12-07 14.33.43
Amish Lightning by Claire Sherman 2014
2014-12-07 14.30.38
X by Stacey Sharman 2014
Circus Improv by Carol van Zandt 2014
Circus Improv by Carol van Zandt 2014

I guess I missed getting of photo of Carol, since she was busy photographing everyone else!

2014-12-07 14.36.54-1
Tribute by yours truly!

And to hold you over until Carol’s photos, I thought I would share a few close up photos of my personal favorites of the antique quilts. Aren’t they amazing?

2014-12-07 15.04.12     2014-12-07 15.02.26-1

2014-12-07 15.00.33     2014-12-07 15.00.13

2014-12-07 14.59.14     2014-12-07 14.57.30

2014-12-07 15.00.05     2014-12-07 14.56.14

Have a good week and be sure to visit the museum before January 3rd.

Pati Fried Signature

Simple Wedge Tree Skirt

Friday already? Yikes! I’m still curious about where November went. I’m guessing like many of you, this is a busy time of the year. Thanksgiving always seems to sneak up on me and then I start rushing in preparation for Christmas. I’m not one to purchase gifts throughout the year, but instead I wait until I’m inspired. I guess that’s why they call me “Last-Minute Laura.” Oh well, it works for me.

I’m still organizing my sewing/quilting room and promise to share photos as soon as it is ready for viewing. It amazes me how much stuff one person can collect over a 30-year period. I am happy to report that I HAVE donated lots of it, but there is still so much left to organize . . . one box at a time.

I needed to take a break from all the boring work and decided to do something simple and creative. I may be one of the last sewers/quilters who wraps the base of the family tree with a piece of holiday-printed fabric. Not this year, I decided it was time to actually make a proper skirt for our tree.

Our tree isn't up yet so I must use a cabinet for display.
Our tree isn’t up yet so I must use a cabinet for display.

I was recently given a 9-degree wedge ruler and thought it might be fun to cut and sew pieces together to form the needed circle. It’s pretty simple, and just 5 fat quarters are needed to make this skirt.

skirt4

skirt5

After sewing the 40 wedges together, I felt it needed some decorative trim around the edge. Prairie points! After sewing them on I preferred the look of them folded inward and so I decided to secure them through the layers with red beads. I think it makes for a nice finishing touch.

Buttons, beads or even bells could be used to secure the points.
Buttons, beads or even bells could be used to secure the points.

OK, skirt done. Now I just need to get the tree up so I can enjoy the new look, at least until the presents make their appearance. Speaking of presents, here’s a fun website I stumbled across today. If you enjoy unique gift wrappings you will enjoying watching the many tutorials. I am anxious to try the pleated one, it’s adorable. Click here to watch the beautiful Japanese gift wrapping by SHIHO Style and Design.

Enjoy!

Laura Signature

Blackbirds & Blossoms OH-LA-LA! Our Completed Quilt-Along Quilt

Quilt-Along-J:  Center blockHow did December sneak up on us so quickly? Seems like were were just introducing our first Quilt-Along quilt and, in the blink of an eye, we are revealing the finished product. With the help of our talented friend and long-arm quilter Cyndy Rymer we were able to complete it in time for this post. I attached the binding last night and, since we had a bit of sunshine today, I was able to take a few nice shots outdoors.

We are quite pleased with the quilt and hope you feel the same. If you have been following along and have any photos to share, we would love for you to send them our way. We always enjoy seeing your work.

Sooooo drumroll . . .  here are some photos showing an overview as well as details shots featuring some of the design motifs Cyndy used throughout the quilt.  I am also adding some notes that Cyndy made about her quilting design process.

QAL1

QAL5

Cyndy: “I have to admit it was a terrifying honor to be asked to quilt the fabulous quilt-along project that Laura, Jennifer, and Pati created. But hey, I love a good challenge. And the quilt suits my taste – very whimsical and fun. I’m still a young punk in the world of long-arm quilting, and I admit to hanging out on every pro quilter’s corner looking for tips. Last year, I bought a Nolting Pro 24 machine with an Intelliquilter computer system, which allows me to use other designer’s digitized designs as well as those of my own design. And, I have to admit, this was my first stab at designing. Let me tell you, it is NOT easy. I created the quilted designs in the large triangles, but the stitching path was not very elegant. I used the repeated circles in the quilt as the inspiration for most of the quilting, but did free-motion echo quilting in the areas around the center of the quilt. I thought about feathers for the outer border, but thought a vine with circles and leaves to be more appropriate. Hope you agree! What fun.

 

QAL7

 

QAL4

 

QAL6

Check out our Pinterest Board to see all the photos of the quilt, and all of the projects that were inspired by this quilt. Blackbirds and Blossoms Pinterest Board

Happy December everyone! Hope you have enjoyed the project as well as the insights of our quilter, Cyndy Rymer.

Until next time, happy holidays!

Laura Signature

 

 

Antique Textiles: What Does a Quilter Do with Legacy Fabric?

There are legacies, and there are legacies. Some fit in a pocket, while some are, well, huge like houses. The legacy I received recently is, thankfully, something to which I can relate:  antique textiles! What I’ll do with them is something I’ve not figured out yet. Your suggestions are welcome!

Inspiration-J: Vintage Chinese Textiles

Nearly 80 years ago, my husband’s father lived in Tianjin (Tientsin), China with his family. His father was in the  U.S. Army and he was posted to duty there until the onset of World War II forced the evacuation of the Americans and Europeans in the city. There are many treasures from their China days, and among them, a collection of textiles and garments. My (extra and very dear) mother-in-law Barbara has been the caretaker since her marriage to  my husband’s father and she recently passed the collection to me. Barbara is a skilled sewer and had thoughts of adapting the fabric to her use, but she never quite took up her scissors and snipped. I don’t think I can either . . .

Inspiration-J: Vintage Chinese Textiles

It’s impossible to fathom that these textiles are nearly a century old. Their colors are perfect and the workmanship of the embroidery and the garments is stellar.

Inspiration-J: Vintage Chinese Textiles

A sense of scale is always illuminating and thus the penny. The stitchery is tiny, precise, and quite, quite exquisite.

I absolutely adore the pleating and embroidered details of this piece–it’s something like a wraparound skirt. It’s too precious to wear, even if it fit. The beauty of the garment is in the details as you will see in the subsequent images.

Inspiration-J: Vintage Chinese Textiles

Here’s a close-up of that center panel:

Inspiration-J: Vintage Chinese Textiles

How about even closer views?

Inspiration-J: Vintage Chinese Textiles

Inspiration-J: Vintage Chinese Textiles

Now this detail is one of my favorites in the garment: crystal pleating through embroidered silk. Don’t you just love that last bit of floral stitchery emerging from the pleating?

Inspiration-J: Vintage Chinese Textiles

As I recall, the true test of workmanship is to be found on the reverse of the garment. I think the embroiderer was wonderfully skilled.

Inspiration-J: Vintage Chinese Textiles

There’s a part of me that wants to bemoan the disappearance of exquisite hand stitchery and the dominance of machine-embroidered garments that we can see these days, but I think I’d rather enjoy the artistry of a bygone craftsperson who painted such a beautiful story with needle and thread. I still don’t know what I should do with my textiles, but I hope, at least, that you’ve enjoyed the peek at my little “collection.”

Jennifer Signature

 

 

My Mother’s Art: One Quilter’s Creative Roots

Hello Readers! I’m just back from a visit to my family in Florida. My mother hit an epic birthday (a woman never reveals her age or those of her nearest and dearest) and we just had to celebrate in suitable style. Among our events we held a celebratory dinner at her favorite Indian restaurant–seriously good food–and topped off the party with Sunshine Cake. Mind you, I’ll be skipping all cake for a while cuz daily doses of that deliciousness throughout my holiday was a bit much and totally against my reduced-sugar regimen.

Inspiration-J: Sunshine cake
Exemplar piece of Sunshine Cake–don’t you want a taste?

Anyway . . . aside from the frolics, visits home can be poignant, even as they are joyous occasions. My father and mother are aging and my past life in Florida is more memory than fact with its imprint scattered as ephemera throughout their home. Bits of my life show up in odd spots. A guest room drawer disgorged this mighty fine tie that I made in a high school art class for my father. Yes indeed, a batik-dyed muslin tie! Not only tough to wrestle into a Windsor knot, it’s really ugly. Bless his heart, he actually wore it to work a few times.

Inspiration-J:  My father's batik tie

Now this Pop-era minidress was stowed in the guest room closet. That’s some serious eye-ball-burning color and it’s not even neon. (Can you imagine a quilt in that color scheme? Makes me shudder and I like bright!) The dress was one of my sister Laurie’s wardrobe faves and it featured prominently in an oil painting our mother created when she was in a painting phase.

Inspiration-J:  The dress that started it all

Our mother said at the time that she never saw Laurie’s face because Laurie was always running out of the house and so she decided to paint her from the back as she exited the front door. (That big hair bow must have been a fantasy–that was definitely not Laurie’s style.)

Inspiration-J: Oil painting by my mother

I’m grateful for these artful bits because, much like Hansel and Gretel’s trail of crumbs, they carry me back to my creative roots. My family has always celebrated personal expression, albeit in fashion or the arts. Our mother was initially the alpha/omega in all matters aesthetic, but over time, as we each followed our own creative passions, we found our voices as well as the confidence to express ourselves. To my own surprise and delight this year, my two grown sons are showing their own artful identities.

Inspiration-J:  My son's table art
My son’s table art–chalkboard paint makes a clever canvas for an ever-changing artist’s medium.

Now my mother’s truest and best artful pursuit has been sculpture. In one of her first forays into the art form she made a hilarious kiln-fired clay female figure that we nicknamed “Fanny Buttocks.” I wish I could show you a photo, but I think it’s lost in the family archives. Fanny lived for many years in the backyard of the homestead underneath a row of Florida pine trees. She could have given Kim Kardashian a run for the money with her hefty hindquarters–although what tickled me more about Fanny was the prim pageboy hairstyle she sported even though she was naked! As my mother’s sculpting skill developed she decided to make busts of family members. Here’s mine as a teenager:

Resin-cast sculpture by my mother
Resin-cast sculpture by my mother

Author Thomas Wolfe once said, “You can’t go home again.” I suppose that is somewhat true, but I think our creative arts can help us remember who we were at the time.

Stay tuned on Friday when I’ll share a beautiful textile legacy I just received from my husband’s family. I don’t know what to do with it, but maybe one of our readers will have an idea . . .

Almost forgot!  We have 4 winners from last Tuesday’s post by Mom & Me Quilt Boutique.  Send us an email to seehowwesew@gmail.com and we will email you the pattern.

CONGRATS to:

Elizabeth Baker, Pat T., Frances Misquez Quigley, and Jennifer Willard

Jennifer Signature