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

Memory Board Game, A How-To-Make Tutorial

Since many of you have requested instructions on making the Memory Board Game I made in a previous post, I’ve decided to write a short tutorial giving the simple instructions. It’s a fun and easy project to make, using vinyl chalkboard fabric on the cover. It is a perfect “quiet” game doubling as both a drawing board and matching game board. Start collecting your favorite fun fabrics and  kid-type prints and get ready to create!  In case you missed the original post on this project, it was included here, with the review of Lisa Fulmer’s new book “Craft Your Stash”.

Screen shot 2014-10-26 at 7.56.34 PM

The finished size of the game board is 10-1/2″ x 15-1/2″. It folds in half like a book and is secured on the side with a ribbon tie. You can certainly make your game board any size, in fact you may want to adjust it to accommodate the size of the picture squares, or rectangles. Just have fun with this one! Will make an adorable game for a special little one in your life.

 

Supplies

 

Here’s what you will need:

10-1/2″ x 15-1/2″ piece of vinyl chalkboard/blackboard fabric

Two 10-1/2″ x 15-1/2″ pieces of felt

Two 2-1/2″ x 10″ pieces of Timtex or Peltex (heavyweight stabilizer)

Twenty- four kid-prints or fun fabrics; dots, numbers and letters work well too.  May be more or less, depending on size of prints.

1/2 yard of fusible web

20″ piece of 1″ ribbon, cut in half

Thread & glue

Rotary cutter – I used a scalloped edge blade for added interest

A walking foot will be helpful for stitching through the layers.

Box of colored chalk

Fabric to make small pouch to store chalk and matching squares.

 

Instructions:

1. Press the fusible web onto the wrong side of all the kid prints.

2. Cut the fabrics into squares, using the rotary cutter. Need two squares of each image. Remove the paper backing from the fusible web.

3. Arrange one-half of the squares onto one piece of felt, leaving a larger space in the center to allow for folding in half.

Board1

 

4. Arrange the other (matching) set of picture squares onto the other piece of felt.

5. Press to secure the picture squares and then stitch both horizontally and vertically approximately 1/4″ from the edges of the squares.

6. With the right side of the chalkboard fabric facing out, layer with the pieces of stabilizer and then one piece of felt.

7. Insert one piece of ribbon on each side of the board, between the layers. Use a little glue to hold in place.

8. Stitch through all layers around the entire edge of the board.

Board3

9. Use the rotary cutter to cut around the picture squares which were stitched to the second piece of felt. These are used to match/cover the picture squares stitched to the board.
Here’s the final game, front and back.
Game board with matching pieces.
Game board with matching pieces.
The chalkboard cover makes a nice writing surface.
The chalkboard cover makes a nice writing surface.
10. Consider making a small fabric pouch for storing the matching squares along with a box of colored chalk.
Hope you found this helpful. Until next time everyone, take care everyone.

Laura Signature

 

 

Zombies & Posies–A Peek at Kim Buteau’s Year-Round Halloween Etsy Shop

Happy Friday everyone! The project I shared in  Tuesday’s post was so much fun to make, I think there are a few more ideas brewing in my head. I love making Halloween-themed projects year-round. It’s never the wrong time to work on something for Halloween–at least in my opinion.

boo witch
Many of my closest friends are also obsessed with Halloween and I’ve partnered with one of them, Pam, to start our Etsy Store, Zombies and PosiesI drew a mascot logo and we named her Zweena –it means beautiful woman, which is perfect for a zombie don’t you think???

IMG_0342

 

Zweena items are still in development; so be sure to add  Zombies and Posies to your “favorite” list on Etsy,  to follow her as she grows.

IMG_0570

Pam and I are both interested in paper arts and have quite a paper stash!  We love to make tags, cards, books, collages . . . the list goes on and on and what better way to share our creations and support our paper habit than to sell our stuff on Etsy, right?  So far we are just starting out and getting our store stocked with items.  Here is a peek of what we have in the shop.

bat kitty

crow tag     ds tags

halloween girls    mix tag group 

witch collage

Be sure to check often–there are new items listed every week. We appreciate you visiting our shop! Thank You! –Kim Buteau

One Quilter’s Summer Break: Making Colorful Food + An Announcement

Beautiful summer roses, just for fun. Sadly, not from garden but from a friend's.
Beautiful summer roses, just for fun. Sadly, not from garden but from a friend’s.

Other than no rain, which is a real problem here in California, we’re experiencing a beautiful summer:  clear blue skies, mild temperatures, and soft breezes. Sometimes it’s just too pretty outside and I have to stow my tools and ignore my stash (although I’m making serious progress on two simultaneous projects!). Why not? Color play can be found in other venues and I’m open to adventure.

Now this is a weird thing to admit, but I’m prone to color matching my grocery shopping, especially in the produce aisles. Really? I don’t know why, but I just do. It’s an unconscious act–I swear! (I did confess to my foible at the get-go in my first SHWS blog post.)

Just this morning I had another of my moments as I sat at the kitchen table with a cup of tea, yoghurt, and the third installment of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander saga–a real fave to reread especially with the ongoing Starz series. (Love Claire and Jamie!) I glanced from my book to a fruit basket filled with sunny golden apples, ripening Bartlett pears, bright yellow bananas and lemons, and, for contrast, limes and green-black avocados. The red tomatoes were exiled to the kitchen counter because they didn’t make the color cut. Does this quirk bear further examination? Probably not, but it does segue to . . . colorful summertime kitchen adventures!

Inspiration-J:  Raspberries

As it turns out, abundant seasonal fruit has led me to a recent and rather fattening exploration of making gelato from farmers market spoils. My sister gave me a copy of The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto and I’ve been a mad scientist ever since with blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.

Inspiration-J:  Blueberry gelato
Tasting the first batch of blueberry gelato. Lesson learned: strain the fruit for a smoother finish!

At a recent company gathering, I paired my raspberry and blueberry gelatos with fresh peach sorbetto and an orange-blossom-scented olive oil cake (sounds weird, but truly sublime) made by a talented co-worker. Believe me the dessert tasted as wonderful as it looked and it delivers a fabulous color story too. Not only does this image tantalize me with its interesting palette, I’m intrigued with the proportion of the neutral tones to the dessert colors. Excellent quilt design fodder!

Inspiration-J:  Summer dessert
From left to right: fresh peach sorbetto, blueberry and strawberry gelatos.

At the other extreme of summer cooking, I’ve been making gazpacho–gotta to counter the gelato calories somehow. Talk about stupidly easy to make:  throw beautiful summer tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and peppers into a veggie-crushing blender and press start. (Full disclosure:  red wine vinegar, olive oil, good quality vegetable juice, red pepper flakes, and salt & pepper) And, if you are anything like color-mad Jennifer, you select the soup fodder by color:  I’ve made traditional red as well as a range of yellow to orange varieties.

Inspiration-J:  Gazpacho ingredients

These summer days I’m all about throwing back a shot of gazpacho when my energy takes a nosedive or taking a generous cup to work for lunch. The challenge is going to be finding  a fall/winter soup that is as colorful, tasty, and easy to make/store.

Inspiration-J: Gazpacho cocktails
Be on trend with your entertaining: shots of gazpacho!

That’s it from my colorful non-quilting adventures, but I’ve got to wonder: are there others like me out there? Does your passion for crafting crossover in weird ways to other parts of your life?

p.s.  For those of you planning to be in Northern California in late September, a fun event on the horizon, Quilting in the Garden! (Click the image for details.)

Dates & Places-J:  Quilting in the Garden 2014

J-Signature

Quilts by Okan Arts

Patricia Belyea of Okan Arts

Patricia Belyea, a self proclaimed Japanophile, imports vintage yukata cottons. Patricia is the owner of Okan Arts, a design studio and micro quilt shop, in her home in Seattle, Washington.

Hope by Patricia Belyea of Okan Arts

As I mentioned in my post earlier this week, Yukata – The Summer Kimono of Japan , I met Patrica while she was traveling in the San Francisco Bay Area for lectures and workshops. I was not only fascinated with her incredible collection of hand dyed fabrics, I was also inspired to see how she showcased these very special fabrics into the artisan quilts she creates.

Patricia took some time out of her busy travel schedule to answer a few questions that I thought would interest our readers and to share her beautiful work.

Babbling by Patricia Belyea of Okan Arts

What was it that initially attracted you to these fabrics?  I’ve always been a “treasure hunter” when it comes to fabrics. At first, my quilts were made from fabrics found in free boxes at quilting meetings. I’ve also looked for unusual and super-cheap fabrics by the tablecloth section at Goodwill stores. And I’ve bought some vintage fabric on eBay. Once I started to visit Japan regularly, I looked for quilting fabric there. 

Once I discovered vintage hand-dyed yukata cottons, I was hooked. They are so easy to love—good quality cotton that’s a perfect weight for quilting, gorgeous hand-dyed colors, and wonderful patterns. I find the colors and designs inspire my artisan quilt compositions.

How has your involvement with yukata cottons changed your outlook on the Japanese and their culture? Before I ever bought a bolt of yukata cotton, I had been to Japan twice and hosted three Japanese home-stay students. So I already had a real interest in all things Japanese. 

Getting involved with yukata cottons and quilting has changed the focus of my trips to Japan. Now I seek out textile-related experiences—visiting indigo masters, wandering around flea markets, looking for small shops with vintage fabrics, going to museums, and anything else that touches on my interest in Japanese handicrafts, especially textiles.

Tangled by Patricia Belyea of Okan Arts

What do you see for the future of Okan Arts? My petite cottage business called Okan Arts is synonymous with me! I’m a one-woman enterprise who just keeps dreaming up more things to do.

Right now I’m working on a quilting book that combines yukata cottons and commercial solids in improvisational designs.

I just wrote an article for GenerationQ magazine entitled “A Quilter’s Guide to Visiting Japan.” (Look for it in the November/December issue.) I feel a calling to encourage others to visit Japan so I’m putting together a new Japan Travel section on my website as a resource for individual travelers.

As I’m out of town a lot this summer, I set up a pop-up shop with all my inventory in my local quilting store—The Quilting Loft in Seattle. Making my yukata cottons more accessible has been a good move as shoppers can only visit my home-based shop by appointment–I may do that again as I travel so much. – Patricia Belyea.

close up of quilt by Patricia Belyea

Aren’t her quilts amazing? Patricia also enjoys hand-quilting her quilts to add to the artisan feel. Being a big fan of Big Stitch hand quilting, I was immediately drawn to her thread work.  She uses colorful pearl cotton to create interesting shapes and line work. I loved seeing her perspective on applying this technique to the large scale prints and large open spaces of the yukata designs.

close up of quilt by Patricia Belyea         close up of quilt by Patricia Belyea

close up of quilt by Patricia Belyea         close up of quilt by Patricia Belyea

Thank you, Patricia, for a sharing this unique niche in our wonderful world of quilting. It is always fun to see how personal passions can merge with one’s creative interests.

Signature Cropped

Adding Special Touches to Wedding Accessories & Giveaway

 

L: Wedding Peony

With less than five weeks to go until the big  day, we are wrapping things up here with some small projects. As much work as it’s been, I’m excited by the attention to detail that my daughter has put into this special day. Everything is so thoughtful.

 

 

When considering the design for the ring bearer’s pillow, Molly was inspired by the bow tie I made to be worn by the young man who will have the very important duty of  carrying and presenting the wedding bands to the best man. A bit of research reveals that in medieval times, the wedding ring was presented to the bride on the tip of a sword to represent the seriousness of the rite, and also to present a warning against infidelity. Yikes, no swords at this wedding! Instead, take a peek at the pillow. It is made to match  the bow tie, with the addition of a batting layer to give it some poof.

L: Ring bearer's pillow

Accompanying the ring bearer down the aisle will be an adorable flower girl. Her dress is almost finished . . . just a few more details and I can share it with you! In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek.

L: Brooklyn's dressThis  little basket  will be filled with rose petals and, we hope she’ll scattered them down the aisle. I say hopefully because in the last wedding I attended, the little girl got so excited she forgot to drop the petals. When she reached the altar, she simply turned the basket over and dumped the petals into one big pile. We all laughed . . . these are the sweetest little memories!

Just a little touch of bling for the flower girl!
Just a little touch of bling for the flower girl!

Here’s the last project I want to share with you today. It was inspired by a lovely little pouch I recently received from a friend. It is called the “Annie Pouch” by K Cotton Studio.

The adorable Annie Pouch by K Cotton Studio. Image taken from their website.
The adorable Annie Pouch by K Cotton Studio. Image taken from their website.

Molly loved the size and design of this adorable little bag and felt it would make a nice gift for her bridesmaids. I believe she plans to tuck a small gift inside each one of them. Her idea was to have initials and flowers embroidered on the front of each bag. Robyn Whitlock, a local machine embroiderer, helped to create the look Molly had envisioned for the design.

L: Bridesmaids Bags

The rest was easy. Simply construct the bag following the pattern. They are so cute, and so personal. I’m sure the girls will love them.

L: Bag2

1-Giveaway IconKeiko Clark of K Cotton Studio is generously donating one of her Annie’s Pouch patterns along with one magnetic clasp. To be entered to win, please leave a comment by end of day June 8th telling us one funny or interesting event that happened at either your wedding or one you attended.

Until next time, happy creating everyone!

 

L1-Signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Empty Spools Scrapbook in Words and Photos

Dates & Places-J:  Sunset Pacific Grove, CA
Kelp strand, Asilomar Beach, Pacific Grove, CA.

I think the downside of keeping many balls aloft is trying to launch another one without creating mayhem. That’s probably why quilting classes and retreats are rare for me:  they are difficult to slide into my routine. Although when they do pop up, I like to park those pesky balls and immerse myself in the experience.

That’s just what happened about a month or so ago when I went on a road trip with my compulsive quilt retreater friend Cyndy Rymer. We steered a course southward to the Monterey Coast for the last session of the 2014 season of the Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar.

What’s not to love?  Five days of quilting with a master teacher, camaraderie, seaside hikes, and, best of all, no daily grind at the office, no cooking, and no housekeeping! Perhaps I should stow those balls more often, but I can’t manage Cynderelly’s pace–she’s done +50 classes/retreats to my three!

She Came From the North Pole . . .

Dates & Places-J:  Judy Farrow at Empty Spools 2014Cyndy and I elected to take Canadian Judy Farrow who offered a design class for our week’s immersion.  Neither of us knew much about her so it seemed like a voyage into the unknown, which indeed it was . . .

Upon meeting Judy it’s all to easy to be deceived by her quiet nature and British reserve, but that would be a mistake. She’s spirited, passionate, and very funny. Still, it was surprising to learn that, some 40 years ago, Judy and her husband left comfortable Montreal to teach high school on Baffin Island, a remote and frigid Canadian island that straddles the Arctic Circle. While there, Judy and husband Malcolm travelled extensively by dog team and hunted seals to feed them! These days, after three decades in those northerly climes, she’s ensconced in more-temperate Vancouver.

Dates & Places-J:  Judy Farrow's Moose 2014 Empty SpoolsThat arctic imprint is unmistakable, especially in  her most-renowned quilts, and has served as the starting point for her evolution as quilt artist. (Remarkably, Judy learned the craft from home study of Laura’s curriculum outlined in Quilts!Quilts!!Quilts!!!) Nowadays Judy’s quilting vernacular is very broad and inventive, although still rooted in inspiration from the environments she has encountered.

Quilt-J:  Judy Farrow's award-winning quilt, Snowy Owl Meets West Coast Totems
Snowy Owl Meets West Coast Totems by Judy Farrow

At Work and Play by the Seaside

While communing with a teacher is the major part of the Empty Spools experience, sharing a classroom with a unique set of fellow quilters is the other side of the equation. It’s at once exhilarating and humbling to experience the aesthetics and skills of other quilt makers. It’s also liberating to hitch a ride on another’s point of view and see how she might tackle the same design exercise.

Dates & Places-J:  Judy Farrow design exercise Empty Spools 2014
You’d think 25 blocks would be easy to arrange, but 10 quilters with 10 ideas? Design exercise by Judy Farrow, Empty Spools, 2014.

Another Empty Spools feature is the Artist-in-Residence program. Gail Abeloe, owner of Back Porch Fabrics in Pacific Grove, just down the road from Asilomar, wrapped up the 2014 program with an opening night talk and exhibition of her work. The rest of the week Gail repurposed orphan blocks from her past projects and created brand new quilts. I slotted in daily visits to Gail’s workstation in the main hall, just across the way from Carolie Hensley’s pop-up quilt shop, to see her progress. Wow! It certainly helps that she has the best stash ever (quilt shop owner–duh!) and a superb eye for color.

Dates & Places-J:  Gail Abeloe's posse Empty Spools 2014
Phew, Gail (right) survived her debut as Artist in Residence and shares smiles with her sister, Jill Abeloe Mead, an editor at American Patchwork & Quilting, and mother, Dorothy Abeloe.

Probably the hardest part of quilting by the sea is ignoring the call of the surf, especially when the sun is shining and the breeze carries that salty tang. On “good” days, Cyndy and I walked the shoreline morning, noon, and night, but sometimes we just couldn’t fit in a third stroll what with class work, making friends in the dining hall, and checking out the evening programs offered by Empty Spools.  Although, once we experienced one sublime Pacific sunset, we were hooked for the rest of our stay. See my sunset photo essay below. Three consecutive nights of the setting sun:  same time/same place–each distinct.

Here’s my parting thought about quilt retreats–go when you can and, if Empty Spools is on your horizon, do it!

Dates & Places-J:  Sunset Pacific Grove, CA #1

Dates & Places-J:  Sunset Pacific Grove, CA #2

Dates & Places-J:  Sunset Pacific Grove, CAJ-Signaturep.s.  Did I  forget to mention the picturesque town of Pacific Grove, just a mile or so down the road from Asilomar? Well, it’s eye candy central for many reasons, among them:  Kidwell’s Paint.

Dates & Places-J:  Window eye candy Kidwell's Pacific Grove, CA
Best paint store window ever! Kidwell’s Paint, Pacific Grove, CA.