Monday, January 31, 2011

It's a Cat's Life

Wouldn't it be nice to be a cat and just lounge around all day? Some days I feel like doing just that, but if it was every day? I'd get bored pretty quickly!


Friday, January 28, 2011

How Do You Work?

Some people work on one thing at a time, focusing on that one piece until completion. Other people work on 3 or 4 things, switching between them when they get stuck on one piece. Personally I think this way can lead to many UFOs, but if it works for you...

Me? I'm a combination of both. Sometimes I focus on one piece to the exclusion of all others. The downside of this is that when I finish I need to figure out what to start next. Yes, all my creative energy is going into that one piece and it's likely to be less scattered in its content, but once complete I often find myself not really wanting to start something new. Burnout.

Another problem with this style of working is that there are days (I'll bet you have them, too) when my brain isn't functioning on all cylinders. Creativity, drafting my own designs, etc. just seems like too much work. Those are the days I'm happy to do some grunt sewing or machine quilting, something mindless where I can put on a book-on-tape and go with the flow.

The problem with working on numerous things at once is that I tend to work on the piece I like best. The other projects just get a nod and a little bit of work while the majority of my creativity goes into the favored project. This is the way I'm currently working, but unfortunately I just came off of a single project so all the pieces need designing, drafting, color and fabric selection all at the same time. Today I just want to sew! What's a girl to do?

How do you work? What are the pros and cons for you and your work ethic? Think about it!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

More Puppy Pictures

My sister sent more pictures of her adorable pug babies so I thought I'd share them with you (since I have nothing new completed). If you think taking pictures of squirming little adorable balls of playful fur is easy... well I think she did a great job.

The names are just to identify them for weighing, etc. Whoever purchases them gets to name them of course. And before you get too excited, she won't ship them and she lives in Maine!

Red (no identifying marks so she has red toenail polish)

Green (again she's all black so green toenail polish)

Starling (she has a small white bird shaped mark)

Dot (obviously she has a small white dot)

Brian (the oh-so-pampered male) He's already promised to someone.
I hope this gives you a puppy fix for the week :-)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Where do you find inspiration? Of course it's all around you if you know where to look, but I often find mine in unusual places. Naturally I go shopping to see the latest color trends. And I watch what people wear, especially when they're "dressed up" (okay southern California doesn't really dress up, but I look at what passes for it).

And I occasionally surf the web to see what's out there. I have to admit I don't do this as much because I once made a jacket which I thought was an original design, only to see it later online. It was EXACTLY the same, even the colors. Obviously I had seen it and subconsciously copied it. I don't want to do that again!

Thanks to my son I read manga and watch anime where I see many unusual designs in the costuming. Another unusual source of inspiration comes from higher end video games. I play World of Warcraft because I enjoy it, but while I'm there nothing says I can get costume, line and color ideas. And have you ever seen the designs in Glyph? Amazing!

I'd love to hear where you get your ideas, whether they're for colors, quilt blocks, applique or whatever.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January Chickie

I'm following along on an online Block of the Month at this address:

Cute? It will be a quilt for Elisia's room here at home. So far I'm keeping up!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Road Review

Last Thursday I spent the day (and the evening) at Road to California. I have to say this show gets better every year! The quilts were absolutely AMAZING! Congrats to all who had quilts accepted in the show. It also seemed to me that there were more wearable art entries this year which is always a good thing.

As far as trends go I noticed a few things. There seemed to be an increase in the number of painted quilts. Whether this was total painting or accents painted around the quilting, quite a few of the quilts that drew me in for a "how did they do that" look involved paint. Crystals are still apparent on some of the quilts. Not as many as a few years ago, but crystals are still hot. Realistic applique quilts at Road to California were of amazing caliber. Wish I could do that!

Shopping was great, as usual. Many of the vendors were in their usual spots, but I saw quite a few new ones as well. I managed to stock up on some great new stencils as well as the newest yummy colors of Shiva paintsticks at Embellishment Village. I bought quite a few regular and variegated embroidery threads on the show floor, my favorites being from that Hawaiian booth that has silk ribbon, too. I also remembered to get prizes for the Whisper Quilt competition and some Sulky basting spray for me. A good days shopping :-)

Another new thing at the show was an ice cream bar in the lobby. I had mine for lunch, and got quite a bit of grief from my tablemates about it. It was yummy! But I got the last laugh. When I went out for a break about 3:00 there was a loooong line for ice cream. I'm sure they would have sold even more if they'd had another server.

My class went really well in the evening, but I was so tired when I drove home after a long day at the show followed by teaching it took me 3 days to get my usual energy back. I'm taking next year off from teaching at Road and plan on just enjoying the show. I hope to see you there!


Friday, January 21, 2011

No Two Are Alike

Here's a picture of my latest jacket (number 93 maybe?). I wore it to Road to California yesterday and a nice lady in my class suggested the name "No Two Are Alike". I had been calling it Snowflakes which I felt was too pedestrian. The snowflakes are fused applique and created by folding freezer paper and cutting paper snowflakes a la kindergarten. It was a lot of fun, but somewhat fussy work. I ironed the snowflakes onto the fabric with Wonder Under on the back side and hand cut them out. I tried to fold the fabric but the thickness prevented getting perfect snowflakes. I used two shades of pink, two of lavender and some gold lame with a fusible woven interfacing on the back to prevent fraying.

I'm uncomfortable using a fusible without stitches the edges down so this time I covered each jacket piece with a cream colored sheer and quilted in metallic gold thread around each snowflake, quilting through the sheer, the background fabric and the flannel "batting", but not the lining fabric.

The sleeves only got a couple of snowflakes therefor I was concerned about the sheer flopping away from the sleeve so I quilted "phantom" snowflakes: outlines without any fabric appliques. This was harder than I expected because the freezer paper snowflake templates I was stitching around didn't fuse well and kept lifting!

I own these 6 snowflake charms which I had intended to add to the jacket front. I'm not sure it needs them. What do you think? Do you think they add or take away from the design?

If nothing else I could probably figure out how to make some dangling earring from the charms :-)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Road to California

Today I'm making some more samples for my class tomorrow at Road to California. I will be teaching "All That Glitters" Thursday evening. We will play with foils, glue pens, Shiva paintsticks and, of course, Angelina fibers and film. And I get to shop at the vendors and ogle the gorgeous quilt all day, too. I can't wait!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Don't Take My Picture!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Program Chairs Who Go the Extra Mile

I've been presenting fashion shows at quilt guilds, women's groups, ASG meeting etc. for a while now and looking back I've had a great time with all the groups. However, a few stand out as exceptional in my mind, so I thought I'd post about what makes things extra special for a teacher coming to present to your group.

Communication is so important! Bookings, contracts, etc. are all necessary, but the groups that go the extra mile with written directions (or at least the address of the meeting), suggestions of what to see in their area (favorite quilt shops!) and quick e-mail to confirm everything one month in advance, these are the ones that really win a smile. And a cell phone contact number is always a good idea.

Thoughtfulness is always appreciated. Watch for the speaker and greet her when she arrives, direct her to a reserved parking space if she has a lot to unload, have water available, let her know where in the program her talk will come, save her a seat. All these things are appreciated.

Show enthusiasm for her program. Yes, she was probably booked by the previous programs chair and the subject might not be quite your thing, but don't assume you're not going to enjoy it or learn anything new. I've never been to a program where I learned nothing!

Being a programs chair is a big job and we appreciate that they are volunteers, but just going a little bit further will make your guild one of the high points.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Jacket "Seeds"

One of the gifts my thoughtful husband gave me this Christmas was a gift certificate to Rosie's. I decided to select some fabrics to stretch myself. We all get into ruts and I was falling into the same trap. I kept thinking of making jackets that were no more than color variations of past jackets. Time for a change.

Challenge #1: More surface design. I had a lot of fun playing with gelatin prints, but hadn't done anything with the resulting pieces since they were not cohesive. This time I'm starting with a gradation of grey fabrics and hope to use warm colored paints. With all the wonderful gardens at my new home I'm bound to find some interesting subjects.
Challenge #2: Using the new large scale bold prints that seem to be all the rage right now. If you look at my work I tend to use prints that read as a solid. Could I make a jacket using big bright and bold modern fabrics? I'm going to give it a shot!
Challenge #3: I bought my first jelly roll! I am a rule maker and tend to make somewhat arbitrary rules such as "only one colorway of a print in a project" or "no purchasing of fabrics meant to go together" so jelly rolls have always been a no-no for me. Well rules are meant to be broken and I aim to see what kind of a jacket I can make from this jelly roll. I hope one jelly roll will be enough :-)
Do you ever challenge yourself? If so, how? Think about it!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I've been going to the gym at least 4 times a week for 10 months now. Granted I only stay about 45 minutes at a time, but I do 20 minutes of cardio and 9 weight machines and generally come out all sweaty (ewww!)

Today I took my first pilates class. Argh! I can't do anything! It was so embarrassing! I have no abdominal strength so I guess I'll be working hard on that at the gym from now on. The pilates class is only offered on Thursdays in a time I can attend so on Tuesdays I'll try Bosu Balance. That ought to be pretty embarrassing, too, since I have such poor balance, but it's all for a good purpose, right?

Hey, if I can do this you can too!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

UFO Finished! Flower Child

Sometimes a UFO just doesn't want to be what it was intended to be originally. I made the background of this jacket over 10 years ago. It was intended to be a background for some Susan Carlson inspired fish. After making 4 or 5 fish I stalled and new projects came along.

Now being a completionist, this bothered me. Generally I pass it along to someone who will enjoy whatever I've started or just utilize pieces of a project, but I felt this had promise so I kept it. I have a very small number of UFOs and this was one of them. After the move to our new home I felt it was time to finish some things up and this was the first.

I made more fish in a smaller scale because what was missed was a sense of depth with all the fish a similar size. Unfortunately the technique did not lend itself to smaller and they were less than satisfactory. I pondered and pondered then decided to chuck the new unhappy fishes, use the larger ones in small wall quilts and use the background for something I had been thinking about: a woven flower jacket.

So here is Flower Child
and closeup where you can see how the flowers are woven from 2 different batiks. I tried a variety of woven leaves, but nothing really worked so two toned leaves will have to do. I think it's bright and cheerful for a cold winter's day.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Whisper Quilts

A year or more ago Quilting Arts published an article on Whisper Quilts. A group of friends in my quilt class made them and we were all so charmed we decided to start a whisper quilt by interested member of the class.

After passing around a sign up sheet we discovered there were too many people interested for one group so we have 2 whisper quilts in progress. I started both of them and chose to make different starter quilts. A size of 12" x 12" was determined because people felt that it was small enough they could get it done in a month or less. Also the square size removed any orientation questions.

What IS a whisper quilt you ask? Briefly it's like the game of whisper (or telephone as we called it). One person starts by making a quilt and passing it on to the next person without showing it to anyone else or discussing it with the first recipient. They use that first quilt as inspiration to make their own quilt. Once done they return the first quilt to its maker and pass only their own quilt to the next person.

The interest is in how things change along the way. Just like in the game, what you start out with: Grandma is wearing a red hat, may change drastically: Panthers are hearing baby chicks.

Only time will tell. I took pictures of my quilts before they left and they have been returned so things are progressing, but there are still others working on their quilts so I can't show yet. Wish I could!


Monday, January 10, 2011


I was hoping to show you pictures from the class I took this weekend on woven lavender sachets. Unfortunately the class seems to have been cancelled, but no one told me. Don't you just hate it when you show up for a class you signed up and paid for only to find no one there?

Elisia has been home for the weekend so we did girlie stuff on Sunday. We shopped for dresses to wear to Pierre's Change of Command this summer (no luck yet, but it's never too early to start looking!), I went book shopping with half and half luck and had a late lunch at Panera.

So instead I will show you the little minis I've been working on. And if you see any not quite perfect points remember they are only 3 inches finished!

paper foundation pieced flying geese, but the rest is traditionally pieced

traditional piecing
square-in-a-square is paper foundation pieced, but the rest is traditionally pieced

traditional piecing
and more paper foundation piecing.

Friday, January 07, 2011


I love to take classes. I love to learn new things. I guess I'm just not very patient because when I sign up for a class I want it to start right away. I'm taking a class tomorrow that I signed up for back in September. That's so long ago I wonder what it was about this class I was interested in, LOL. Oh well, it will be fun and I'll learn something totally new. It's not a quilting class, but you can bet I'll be wondering if there's a way I can reinterpret it in a jacket.

I also love teaching classes. It doesn't matter if it's a new class or one I've taught 20 times before. I ALWAYS learn something new from my students.

I will be teaching a class on Angelina fibers, foiling, etc called All That Glitters at Road to California in a few weeks. And I have a workshop called Curves coming up in April in Fallbrook where students choose from 4 projects. It gets a bit hectic, but it's a blast!

Taking classes, teaching classes, life is all about learning!


Thursday, January 06, 2011


My sister, Cindi, raises pugs and her Raisin just had a litter. They are sooo cute I just had to share a few pictures.
Here's the mama, Raisin, in her beauty shot :-)

And Raisin enjoying the out-of-doors in Maine

And here are the little puppies just a day old. (They're actually quite black and shiny, but the lighting put the colors off.) Aren't they just adorable?

A closeup of one of the little snugglers

And another closeup
I don't see how Cindi could sell the little sweeties, four girls and one very spoiled boy, but that's the plan. Raisin and the father (do you still call him that when a doctor did the impregnation?), are pedigreed show dogs so these are extra special pups!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A Brief Personal Quilting History

I have been through many stages in my quilting career. In my first quilting class we learned how to draft our own blocks from traditional patterns, cut them out with scissors and hand sew them together. Naturally I hand quilted those first quilts.

Then I moved to California for the first time and took a class in making a school house quilt. We used sewing machines and it was awhile before I learned about that all important 1/4 inch seam allowance! Those first house quilts are pretty shaky, LOL.

We moved to Virginia where my next challenge was miniatures. My favorite quilt shop had a class called miniature madness. It was a kit class and by the end of a days sewing we each had a good start on 3 mini quilts. We also learned some new techniques along the way.

Miniatures naturally led to clothing where the scale is smaller. It was also around this time that Judy Murrah came out with her first Jacket Jazz book. The cool techniques in her books really struck a chord with me and the rest is history.

I currently have over 85 jackets and 5 long coats in my closet. And who's counting all the vests, skirts, dresses, etc. as well as the wearables I have given as gifts to family and friends. I'm very glad to have found my niche and that it allows me to try out almost all of the latest techniques. (Don't tell anyone, but I'm a technique junkie!)

I'm visiting the past right now making mini blocks again. This time I was inspired by the Dear Jane book although many of my blocks are my own creations (not that they haven't been thought of before) and they're smaller. That's right, these are 3" finished blocks, all based on a 9-patch grid. Pictures soon.


Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Pele's Fire

Last year was a busy year for me with lots of fashion shows, workshops and classes. Consequently I needed more samples to send out. One of my most popular classes is my Curves class. Students get a choice between identical matching curves with flanges or random curves without flanges. Pele's Fire is the same technique as Trickles, random curves without flanges.

But I couldn't resist adding a little flange to the hints of accent color. I just love metallic copper, don't you?


Monday, January 03, 2011

The Year of No Excuses

I tend to make new year's resolutions, some that I've accomplished and others not so much. This year as I pondered what to resolve I decided that I would just make this the year of no excuses.

I'm a great one for having an excuse why I can't do something. "I can't go to the gym today because I have a headache." OR "I can't find anyone to multi-size my jacket pattern so it's not available yet." OR "My hormones are fluctuating madly and I can't do anything but sit here and cry."

Well no more! This year I'm going to push through and accomplish things! Including blogging more :-)


P.S. I've made it to the gym every day this year despite headaches and it actually helps my head fell better!