Saturday, May 6, 2017

Asilomar 2017

Last week I was at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, for another Empty Spools quilting class.  This year I took a class from Pearl Pereira.  Pearl teaches hand appliqué.  She's a very good teacher and I learned a lot from her.  She has worked a long time to perfect her skills, and to find ways to complete her very intricate appliqué designs.  For those of you familiar with hand appliqué, she uses a double freezer paper template and starch to prepare her pieces.

The quilt below is the one we were starting to work on.  More specifically, the basket in the middle.  (And quite frankly, if I get that middle part finished I will be over-the-moon happy!)

There are 50 different flowers in the quilt, one for each state, and each flower appears twice in the quilt.

Here is my basket completed.  (I had to take a picture and send home to MisterStitches, so he could see that I really was working hard!)

Here is one of the times that we were all gathered around Pearl's table, as she showed us a technique.  She is demonstrating how to add a tiny sepal to a flower bud with a small Clover iron.

One of the nice things about this class was that we didn't have to bring our sewing machines, which simplified things a little bit.  And it's a good thing, too, as I wouldn't have had room on my table for a sewing machine!  I had to sort through lots of different fabrics that I'd brought to find just the right piece for my flowers.

My work table.  What a mess!

Not everyone in the class was working on the same thing.  Some were doing an underwater scene.  Tiny, intricate little crab legs!

And look at the detail of the boot and bootlace!

Another underwater scene.

Here I am at lunch with my two table mates:  Rita and Chellie.

And here are the flowers I got completed.    First is the forget-me-not of Alaska.  I've always loved forget-me-nots, and used to have a lot of them growing in my back yard.

These flowers have been formed around the freezer paper templates, then the templates removed, and the various pieces of the "puzzle" are lightly glued together to hold them in place.  Here I have them ironed to some freezer paper to keep them intact.

The California poppy is one of the flowers that I like to feature in quilts.  I just love seeing them in the spring.  It's like seeing the first robin!

BTW, those little flags on the ends of the leaves are supposed to be there.  They will get tucked under when I sew them to the base fabric.

Alabama's flower is the camelia.  These leaves don't have flags because they have rounded ends, not pointed ones.

The Pua Aloalo of Hawaii was a little tricky to do because of that long skinny stamen!  All of these flowers look a little "bare" because they will have enhancing hand embroidery added later.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Hawaiian Applique

First, a little story.  

My family went to Hawaii for vacation several times, when DaughterStitches and SonStitches were quite young.  At the place we stayed, they offered a lot of arts and crafts.  That was right up my alley, so to speak, so I really enjoyed these sessions.  I learned some Luahala weaving, some palm leaf crafts (including origami Christmas ornaments!), lei making, crafts using shells from the beach, and Hawaiian appliqué.  The woman who taught almost all of these was known as Auntie Eleanor.  Auntie was a dear lady, kind and patient and knowledgeable, and reminded me a lot of my own grandmother, who quilted, knitted,  and did a lot of other crafts, too.   As the years went on, Auntie Eleanor retired, but I always remembered her fondly. 

Now forward to a couple weeks ago, as I was looking through a cabinet of UFOs (unfinished objects).  I found this little blue and cream Hawaiian appliqué block.  It had about one eighth of the appliqué completed.

Below you can see the part where the appliqué had been started.  If you look close, you can tell that the stitching has been done by more than one person.  That was how Auntie's sewing sessions worked.  Someone would come to the table and want to learn how to do this.  So Auntie would show them, and they would start sewing.  Often, that person became bored, or frustrated, and left the project.  So there could be quite a few people working on one appliqué block!

I found it very interesting to see where Auntie Eleanor had probably started, then someone else added stitches, then maybe a third person sewed a little bit.  

This is where I finished up the block, using a lighter-colored and lighter-weight thread.

Close-up of appliqué.

The next step is to sandwich it so I can start the echo stitching.  This will probably be a pillow.

Saturday, April 22, 2017


I want to tell you about my embroidery teacher.  Her name is Jenny and she lives, literally, half-way around the world.  Yes, in Australia.  Jenny of Elefantz is her blog name, and she creates beautiful embroidery and appliqué designs, many of which she shares for free, while some are for sale in her shop.  You should go there to check out some of her wonderful work.

I've never met Jenny (although I'd sure like to some day!), but she has taught me about embroidery by sharing some of her secrets and methods with me and all her readers.  I've zoomed way in on Jenny's photos, and have learned that she gets such beautiful stitching results by taking very small, short stitches.  

Now I'll show you some of my stitchery.

Disclaimer:  the pen marks will disappear after I iron the pieces!

Another essential bit of information is that each back stitch gets taken in the same stitch hole as the previous stitch.  That sounds rather obvious, but sometimes it's harder than it seems!

Right now I'm working on some of Jenny's patterns, and I'll show you a few photos.  Not every piece is my best work, but I'm getting better.  One thing that I especially admire about Jenny's work is how  smooth, even, and regular are her embroidery curves.  Graceful, even!

A big thank you, Jenny!

Friday, March 3, 2017

On A Shoestring. . .

Hi!  I decided to dress up my tennis shoes a little bit the other day.  I had saved two pins on Pinterest from


It's really quite simple.  I took out my shoelaces, and measured a fabric strip of that length.  The blue ones were narrower  (about 1 1/2") than the green ones (about 2").  I had to piece the lengths of fabric, which I did with a diagonal seam, as in quilt binding.

I ironed them length-wise, then folded the raw ends in and sewed close to the edge.  One site said to fold the ends together tightly and zig-zag over it to finish off the end.  

I was a little worried about how I would get these "chunky" laces through the holes in my shoes.  But between a tweezer pulling, and a skewer pushing, it wasn't too hard.  So for one pair I simply used a pinking shears to cut a diagonal end.  

Tying a little know near the end of the lace might be cute, too.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Quilt Retreat 2017

 Our annual quilt retreat started on Monday.  This year we are 21 women who all love fabric and quilting and eating.  Here's a photo of a portion of our workroom.

We have seasonally appropriate centerpieces on our eating tables.

Also, appropriate cocktail napkins.

Part of our snack table, before happy hour begins!

I placed this sign on our outside door.

The coffee bar.

Now for a little bit of our work.  (You'll see more in a later post.)

What do you see in this quilt?  Dark cats?  White cats?  No cats?

Here's a close-up to help you see.  I think this quilt is amazing.

This year we are again making squares for a Quilt of Valor.  (See post from last year's retreat.)  Each person used two 10" squares of contrasting fabric to make two half-square triangles.  I love that there are so many ways to arrange HSTs.  

I used light green flannel for my design wall, so please disregard that odd color!

Another arrangement.

I've been working on quilting last year's Quilt of Valor.  (I know--how can it have possibly taken me a whole year to get it put together??!!??  I have no good answer.)  I'll show more later, but I'm doing some straight line quilting, using a decorative stitch, and those curves inside the square parts.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Are They Paintings or Are They Quilts?

While I was in San Francisco over Christmas, we went to the deYoung Art Museum.  They had an exhibit of art by Frank Stella.  Actually, it was MomStitches's idea to go see this exhibit.  I admit I didn't know anything about Frank Stella's art.  And I was a little surprised when I saw his art, because to me, the paintings looked a lot like quilts!

This first one, above, looks similar to a quilt I made many years ago.  Except I started with a rectangle in the center, and added border after border after border to it.

And this one I like because the center is a little off-kilter. (is that even a real word??)
That makes it even more interesting.

This one looks a little less quilt-like, but I can still see doing it as a quilt.

This one was really, really long.  I've taken the photo at an angle to the wall, and still had to crop some off of it.

Now this one I can really see doing as a quilt.  I think it would be a nice challenge.  It might be difficult to find a way to hang it, though.  

This one has beautiful curved piecing; kind of reminds me of a Drunkard's Path.

And then there were a few three dimensional pieces of art, which really threw me for a loop!  I have no idea whatsoever about this piece of art.

The Challenge Show for my quilt guild this year is themed "Inspired By. . ."  We simply have to render in fabric something that we are inspired by.  Now to me that is a really easy challenge.  Everywhere I look I see something that I want to make into a quilt:  a building design, a flower bed, just some pretty colors combined in an interesting way, even highway interchanges!  If I weren't already working on a piece for our challenge, I would seriously try to make one of these designs into a quilt.  Maybe if I get my current quilt finished in time, I can make two. . .

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

52 Happy Weeks

Disclaimer:  This is not necessarily quilt-related.

Near the end of 2015 I read somewhere--I don't remember where--about an idea where you write down something wonderful that happened during the week and put the paper in a container to save for all year.  I thought that sounded intriguing, so I started doing it.  I wasn't sure at all if I would continue for a whole year, because well, sometimes things happen and I don't follow through on something.

But I continued, and did it for the whole 52 weeks.  At the end of the year, I had this little jelly jar full of strips of paper.  Then I dumped them out on a table, and read through them all.

Here are just a couple of things I'd written down.  It was so interesting to read them, and it gave me lots of smiles.  

Even though it's the last week in January as I write this, I think I'll continue the practice.  Some times last year, I found that I'd gotten behind for a week or two or three.  I would simply look at my calendar to see what I'd been doing during those weeks, and then I could remember something to write down.

I had a good system for remembering to do this.  I have a very messy desk, so setting a small jelly jar on it was no problem at all!  I cut sheets of paper into strips one inch wide.  Then I'd write down:  "1st week in July," and underline that.  After I'd written down my wonderful memory of that week, I cut it off of the longer strip, fold it, and put it in the jar.  Then I immediately wrote "2nd week in July" on the strip, so I would know where I'd left off.  I stuck the long strip of paper right inside the jelly jar with the weekly memories, so it was real handy for me.  I didn't have to look for a piece of paper, and I knew right where I'd left off.

A really good way to count your blessings.

"Thank you for all the good memories throughout the year."