Friday, January 29, 2010

Hello Kitty!

I just discovered this little quilt that I'd forgotten about.  I love the kittens peeking their faces out of the squares and the way the two teal fabrics flow together, with just the shot of color in the triangles. 

It's interesting when I look at this because it marks the beginning of when I wanted to incorporate beads and charms into my "regular" quilts.  I'd been using them in my applique pieces but here I wanted to use them as accents to the quilting stitches.

There was this really great little shop in Oakland called Orb Weaver and they had tons of beads and charms and all kinds of neat things.  I loved that shop and was heartbroken when it closed down.  It was great because I had so little money at the time and I could go in and spend $3 and come home with a bag full of goodies.  I'm still kicking myself that I missed out on the "Going Out Of Business" sale.  Sigh  . . .

                               
I'm glad I found this little quilt, I think it's a gem-in-waiting.  It'll be fun seeing what I can do with it and since it's small it won't take up too much time.  Besides I need a stitching project to give me a break from the "Creative Journey" quilt.  It's coming along well but I think I need to set it aside for a few days so I can get a fresh take on it.  I need to take it to the next step and I'm not feeling right about what to do next.  So, a little breather's in order.  It's time for kittys!

I don't know what the dog will say . . .

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another Blast From The Past


I just uncovered another stash of old quilts that I did during the late 80s.  This piece was supposed to be one section of a dollhouse quilt that I realized I would never finish.  So, I just finished this one off and moved on.

I remember that I really enjoyed working on this.  At the time it was difficult to get a lot of the fabrics and embellishments.  It was around this time that I discovered Hoffman California fabrics.  I was living in San Francisco and there was a great funky fabric store on Haight Street, ( I actually lived on Ashbury, directly across from the famous Grateful Dead house).  It was called Far Out Fabrics, (big surprise there!).   Anyway, they had a ton of Hoffmans, along with really great ribbon and trims.  I remember buying the marble looking fabric because I was excited to find something that would be perfect for my quilt!

                                           
The chair is upholstered in a piece of wide ribbon, the rug was hooked embroidery, and the flowers on the mantelpiece were made of ribbon.  The firescreen is a piece of cross stitch on black canvas.


The scene in the window is painted canvas, covered with white organdy so it looks like glass.  I was trying to paint a scene similar to San Francisco Bay.  The basket of violets was done in basket embroidery and the framed picture was painted by me and surrounded by couched metallic cord.  I think my favorite thing is the white tablecloth.  I still can't figure out how I got it to come out so well!


The baby is playing with a cat and a ball of string that's getting tangled around the chair leg.  I'm not as thrilled with the baby and the cat, but they make it more interesting.

I've got a few more old quilts I'll be sharing soon.  In the meantime, here's the latest on the Creative Journey quilt.  I'm about half way through and am now going to start moving towards the center.  I'm not sure how it will turn out but I'm having fun with it.  I'll keep you posted.



Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Dream of Jeannie . . .



Here's the latest on the "Creative Journey" quilt.  I did a lot of embellishment on this fussy-cut flower.  Now I need to figure out where to go next!

I've been working away but don't seem to be getting much done.  It's been raining a lot over here and we California girls aren't used to it.  I've been complaining about how hard the rain's been falling and my Irish husband just laughs.  He says I don't know anything about rain, and snow, and muck.  He grew up on a farm in rural Ireland so he can always make me feel a little foolish when I complain about the weather. Except of course when it's 113 degrees, that's when he complains and I just tell him, "It's not so bad, at least it's a dry heat."

I have so much going on that I'm having a hard time focusing.  I hinted in an earlier post that I may have some big news.  Well, no news yet, but I am working on a book proposal so maybe that will turn out to be something "big."  It's quite a process but I can't complain too much.  I have a background in marketing, writing, design, and presentations so that can't hurt.  The hard part is doing the directions.

I've written so many manuals at different companies I worked for so I thought that would be a breeze, but how do you describe what I do?  I don't even know what I'm doing half the time! 

It's forced me to slow down and take everything step by step by step and it's excruciating.  I really wish I was like Samantha on Bewitched and I could just wriggle my nose and it would all be done. 

Wouldn't that be great?  I remember as a kid I used to dream about being able to do that.  I've never been able to wriggle my nose so I'll just have to nod and blink like Jeannie.  Of course I wouldn't look that great in the Jeannie outfit but if I could "blink" like she could I could make myself look pretty fab pretty fast.

I'd love to have some of that magic.  It would be great to have a clean house without lifting a finger, meals prepared, shopping done, and laundry, OMG, I wouldn't have to do laundry or clean out the dishwasher!

Of course, I'd still do my own quilting but what a stash I'd have, and that expensive machine . . . mine!

Oh well, dream on.  I guess I'll just have to drag myself away from my keyboard, slog through the fabric scraps on the floor and somehow make it through the Nerf bullet covered family room carpet and out to my kitchen, (with a dishwasher that needs to be emptied), to make dinner.  Such are the dreams of an everyday housewife!

At least I get to sew tomorrow, Yippee!!!
Happy Stitching,

Susan


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Applique Technique


I received an email from a reader today regarding some of my applique techniques.  Those of you that have been following my blog for a while have seen some examples but one I haven't shown is one I'm using a lot on the "Creative Journey" quilt.

As you can see I've been working on it again.  It's amazing how much I can get done during 4 hours of "24" (although a lot less than Jack does!).  Anyway, I've been working away adding another flower.  This one is fussy-cut, and I chose it because I could see a lot of embellishment opportunities with it.  I also knew that I could add, (or disguise), colors that would make the flower work, (or not),with the rest of the quilt.

In this case I've already done a bright turquoise chain stitch, and couched the inner design of the petals. Now I want to change the center.  I like it but I want to add more dimension so I needed to find a different fabric for it. 
                         
I chose this fabric because I liked the pink dots with the orange background, I also saw some potential with the triangles in the center.

To do this I had to fussy-cut the center piece.  I measured the center of the printed flower and then cut a piece to fit.  Now, I actually couldn't get this piece to fit perfectly because the original center was an oval, not a circle.  However, I'm not too concerned about it, I think it will make it look interesting and add more depth.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                     
I marked the center with a pencil then backstitched using a matching thread with two strands of embroidery floss.  In this case I want to add some depth to the piece so the two strands will give it more lift once it's stitched on.  If I wanted it to lie flat I could use the same technique but with only one strand of a fine thread. You want to keep your backstitches at most 1/8 of an inch, I try to get 10 per inch if I can.  Once you've stitched over the marked line, you can leave your threaded needle attached.  If I doubled my thread instead of inserting two strands into the eye, I will cut one of the threads close to the stitches and save the threaded needle to do my final applique.  It's also a great way to baste it in place if you need to.

Once you've done the stitching, press the piece both front and back until it's flat, steam if you have to.  Next you need to use a little fray check, or in my case clear nail polish.  I carefully apply the polish close to the stitches.  You don't need to use it further out as those edges won't likely fray as you're stitching.  Trim the piece to about 1/4 inch then clip and notch close to the thread.

                                         
This shows what the back of your applique will look like.  Turn it to the front and carefully finger press the notched edges under at the thread line.  If you feel you need to you can take a couple of basting stitches in the center of the applique to hold it in place.

Hold the piece in your nonstitching hand.  Tuck your knot under one of the stitches and then come up through the next stitch.  Then stitch down into your quilt over the stitch.  You can either tuck the stitches under the applique, or show them at the edge.  I do both depending on how I want it to look.

Continue stitching until you're finished.  It takes a little practice but is a great way to hand applique things like flowers, which have inner and outer curves.

Try it and let me know how it goes.  I intend to get this finished tonight while my son watches "American Idol."  He loves the audition shows but they just make me feel sad for all those delusional people who really think they can sing, and then they're awful.  Seems exploitive to me but I guess they volunteer for it.

Oh well, off to make dinner, I hope this technique works for you. 

If you ever have any questions you can contact me at susan@gillygaloofus.com.  I check it regularly so I should get back to you pretty quickly.

Oh, and thanks Becky for asking if I have a book, I wish!

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Friday, January 15, 2010

Things to Be Grateful For


It's so easy during these difficult times to forget about all of the blessings you have.  Watching the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti made me realize that I take a lot of stuff for granted every day. 

I live in earthquake country in California and have experienced my share.  When I was a kid we had a very nonchalant attitude about it.  I remember sitting at the table eating soup with my family when the soup started sloshing in the bowls and the chandelier started swinging.  We just continued on with our conversation!  I've gotten used to the small shake here and there.  Our last home was on a canyon on the Hayward Fault and we could actually hear the earthquakes coming towards us.  I felt one a few months ago while sitting on my couch, I actually turned my head thinking someone was behind me but it was the earth moving towards me.  That one was really weird because I sensed it before I felt it and was actually able to tell where it was coming from, (that's not always obvious!).

Anyway, here in California we are as prepared as anyone can be for an earthquake.  A lot of our buildings have been retrofitted, and we know what to do when one hits. But those poor people in Haiti were not living in retrofitted specially designed structures, they didn't do drills or have people trained to help, they didn't have extra supplies in their garages, or a jacket and a pair of comfy shoes in their car, (in case you get stuck and have to walk).  Heck, their lives were pretty miserable to begin with!

It got me to thinking about how many things there are in my life that I'm grateful for.  Of course, there's my family, that goes without saying, but there are simpler things I take for granted all of the time.  Here's a short list:

1.  Color!  I can't imagine a life without it.  It endlessly fascinates me and makes me happy, life would be very dull without it.

2.  New Fabric!  Nothing more exciting then new fabric to play with.


3.  My Sewing Machine!  I love my little Janome, I know it's not a fancy machine but it sews like a dream and for the amount of machine work I do it's perfect!

4. My Clean Studio!  Yeah!  I actually took some time over the last few days to clear out all of the Christmas chaos and get things back into working order.


5.  My New Sewing Machine Storage Area!  I made this cover for my sewing machine, (note the little pocket on the side for the thread holder), and love the little organizing cabinet below.  It's perfect for all of my sewing machine supplies and it's bright and cheerful.


6. My Cozy Family Room Fireplace!  I wish this one was mine, (it "looks" cozier), but I love cuddling up in front of my fireplace with my dog and some sewing.


7. Pizza!  I love it the most because I don't have to cook it and the clean up is easy.  Yeah for Friday night pizza night!

8. TV!  I'm not a huge TV watcher because I don't have the time, (and my husband and son are always watching sports).  But when I do watch I love "The Office."  My husband and I have recently been watching "ROME" via Netflix.  It's totally addictive and very adult, but the characters and the acting are fantastic.  And then there's my favorite newsy show, "RedEye" which is on at midnight out here, (I DVR it!).  It's hysterical and makes me laugh out loud . . . and nowadays, sometimes I really need to!




This is just a short list and probably seems petty in comparison to what others are going through.  However, I think it doesn't do any of us any harm to enjoy our simple pleasures, life's too short not to!

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Loving that Digital Camera


Aren't digital cameras great?  I remember the days of loading and unloading film and then taking it to the drug store to have it processed.  It seemed to take forever and was so expensive!  Not to mention that I've never been a great photographer so half my photos were horrible...it was such a waste.

Now I keep my camera by my desk and use it all the time for all kinds of things.  At Christmas I take shots of all the decorations and where I put them so next year I can re-create the things I liked.  I use it for clients to take photos of projects in progress.  And, lately I've discovered my favorite new purpose, documenting my fabric layouts.

I've shown this in a previous post and found it to be the handiest thing ever.  I have the directional pins and know how to line up my piecing, but I rarely get to do projects from beginning to end without interruption. This way I can save my fabric layouts and not have to worry about pinning everything and taking the chance that I'll still remember where it all goes.

Now I can spend an afternoon laying out and cutting a bunch of things, take photos of the layouts and then just stack the pieces in a box to be sewn later.  I've started printing these out in sheets and putting them in a binder for easy access.  Now I can even prop up the binder by my machine and work away, confident that I'll know where everything goes.
                          
This is a representation of one of the sheets in my book. These are for a serious of handbags I'm working on.  It'll take me a while to get them all pieced, but now I feel confident about not making a mistake when I do piece them. 

These pages can also be handy for quilt squares, if you photograph your layout you won't have to worry about placing something in the wrong spot.  And, when it's on your photo editing software, you can get a different perspective on how it looks.  I've noticed that pieces that are way out of whack sometimes show up better in the digital image.

I really love working this way.  I tend to get a bit turned around sometimes and it really helps to see my original work right in front of me, no more misplaced pieces!

I hope to get some piecing done tomorrow, after I clear the decks from all the cutting and pressing and laying out I did today.

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Monday, January 11, 2010

Embellishing with Couching

                           
I've been working away on the Creative Journey quilt again.  I've been going over the "finished" section and adding details and accents.  I stitched the spiral in the middle of this flower and added a flower sequin in the middle and one to end the spiral on the outside.  I love to end stitching with a bead, button, or sequin.  It's a great "stop" for your eye.  You hit that end point and instead of wanting to continue go back up to see more.


I also filled in the center of the small pink flower by couching an orange pearl cotton around the orange section, and then adding orange and yellow beads to the center.


Speaking of couching, it's one of my all time favorite ways to add interest and texture.  I'm sure you all know what "couching" is but since some of you might not have embroidery experience, couching is a technique of stitching over a thread that's lying flat on the fabric. You can do it with fancier stitches but I prefer to just stitch over it at even lengths.

DMC has a great line of variegated pearl cotton threads that match their floss.  By using both you get the variation in colors working for you two ways, on the background and also on the stitching thread.  This swirling tendril kind of follows the fabric print and ends inside the binding.  I decided not to put anything on the end of these because I want them to draw your eye out to the border.  I guess you're getting the point that when you look at one of my pieces your eyes go kind of crazy, that's what I'm aiming for.  The thing about the style I have is that you never get bored looking at the piece, and I don't get too bored making it!


This photo shows my technique a little better.  As you can see I have one needle threaded with the pearl cotton and the other with the matching floss.  By using a large eyed sharp needle I can weave the heavier thread under the appliques and then stitch it down with the floss.  This way I can get a lot of dimension and texture.  This is a great way to fill in background space when you want something more than a quilting stitch.


As I've said in previous posts I've been struggling getting everything done that I wanted to get done. However, I was able to get one project done over the last couple of weeks and that was to finish updating my website.

I'd been wanting to have some fun with it for a while, so I decided after Christmas to take a few days to design new headers, change the background, and update the text. Although writing all the code is a pain, I actually enjoy the process of designing websites. They're built in layers, just like quilts, so it's not too difficult once you figure out the basics. Now that I know how to update it I can keep it fresh and add new photos and features as they become available.

If you have a few minutes, click on the link on the right and take a look. There's a whole section on my quilts, including my quilting resume, (which I need to update, again!).

We're expecting a big storm to come through here tomorrow so I spent today doing the shopping and laying in supplies so I can sit and stitch all day.  I'm looking forward to it and hopefully nothing happens to derail my plans. 

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Juggling Act



I don't know about you but whenever I read articles, blogs, or even follow my friends on Facebook I'm always amazed by how much other people seem to get done. 

I know I'm not a lazy person, but it seems like so much of my day is taken up with small but important tasks, and those bigger things that have to be done.  Everyday I spend at least a couple of hours in the kitchen cooking and then cleaning.  And then there's cleaning the house, laundry, and taking care of things like going to the post office or buying another birthday party gift, or just making sure my son hasn't fogotten his gym shorts. And the grocery store, I really hate the grocery store!

I also work 6-8 hours a day, trying to get my little business off the ground and taking care of clients.  Then there are the design projects, the "when I can find the time" things I really want to do, and of course, quilting!

The worst of it is that I know I have it easier than most.  I work from home and have only one child, (who's 12 and able to fend for himself a lot).  I don't know how those of you with multiple children and full-time jobs do it.  I get exhausted just thinking about it.

Of course when my son was younger and I was working outside the home it was harder.  My house was a lot messier, and the meals were more often frozen or take-out.  I also remember getting up in the middle of the night to squeeze in some quilting time so I could make a contest deadline.  I was also a lot younger, which is probably a bigger part ot this equation than I want to admit.

When I was younger I cared about more things than I do now.  I was more into being fashionable, and going out, and being "up" on all the new things.  Now I feel like I'm stuck in 1995, still expecting that new Seinfeld episode on Thursday nights and feeling dumbfounded that I don't know who any of the people in "People" magazine are.  I was actually looking at some photos of the "People's Choice Awards" and the only person I recognized was Steve Carell from "The Office."

Maybe I'm so out of touch because I 'm so busy living my life, and maybe that's a good thing.  A couple of years ago I was in a store and my son kept saying "Mom, Mom, Mom," and it was driving me crazy.  There was an older woman shopping nearby who caught my eye and smiled.  I said to her, "I know there's going to come a time when I'm going to miss hearing "Mom, Mom, Mom," but today isn't that day!"  She laughed and told me I was right, that she'd love to hear it now, but that she remembered those days when she just wanted her kids to shut up. 

I guess the trick is to make the best of the time you have, set your priorities and somehow make it happen.  I'm determined that in the new year I'm going to carve out some more time for quilting, and maybe cut back on those grocery store trips, (now if I could only keep my son and husband from drinking so much milk!).

If any of you have any tips I'd love to hear them.  Now, I have a couple of hours before the basketball game so I'm going to get some quilting done.  Yoo Hoo!

Happy Stitching,

Susan

Friday, January 8, 2010

Creative Journey Resumed


When I said in an earlier post that I didn't get anything done over the holidays I lied!  I was actually able to squeeze in a little handwork on the "Creative Journey" quilt.


I finished the beading on the large flower and added some leaves.  The one above is a batik with a design that worked perfectly for a leaf.  It's also a different green so it added some dimension.  Notice the backstitched squiggle between the flower and the winding stem.  I was noticing some minor puckering that was making the flower recede slightly so I did a little decorative quilting to tamp it down a bit and help the flower pop.


I did some more embellishment on the leaves and added some blanket stitiching to help tie the interior applique to the exterior butterflies.  I'm also running a variegated thread quilting stitch down the middle of each stem.


A smaller flower has been appliqued and accented with printed leaves and an appliqued leaf shape.  I need to do some embellishment in the middle of the flower and define the petals better.


This is a new "flower" that is in the process of being appliqued below and to the right of the large pink flower.  I intend to have some leaves and smaller flowers radiating out from it.  The circle background, (love those blue leaves!), is fussy cut from an old print in my stash.  The flower is a Tonga Batik from a couple of years ago.  I love using batiks in applique because they have such a high thread count and take a finger press really well.

I'll keep updating you on the progress of this "journey."

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Over The Years


It's been a strange few days.  I've been in the process of moving things around and doing a massive clean-up and purge around my house.  While doing it I keep coming across pieces of my work that I'd put aside years ago. 

Today I came upon 4 pieces, all made between 1985 and 1995.  Now, I started quilting, (very young!), in the late seventies so by the time I created these pieces I'd been working along for a while.  When I started there wasn't a whole lot out there.  Only a few quilt shops, (all at least 40 miles from where I lived), and I don't think I ever saw quilts on display except at the County Fair.  There was an exhibit at the Oakland Museum in the late seventies but I didn't get to see it.

So, I was out there struggling away on my own.  Fortunately, I had learned how to sew early on, and was adept at embroidery, (the technicality of that helps).  I also had been trained in apparel design and clothing construction so even without real guidance I was able to figure things out.  I also knew that although I studied art and fashion my real passion was for quilting so I was determined to master it.

I figured out piecing quickly, and was flying along with that early on.  I really loved picking out colors and fabrics, and although I was on a very limited budget, I was able to put together a small stash.  Of course working as an Assistant Manager at House of Fabrics, (remember them?), helped a lot.  I got first grab at remnants, and love that employee discount!  Once in a while they'd even give me fabric to make something to put in the window display, which was great because I got to keep the scraps, and they let me have the piece for myself when the display came down.

In the mid eighties I set myself a challenge.  I believed that there wasn't anything that couldn't be reproduced in fabric so I decided to recreate fashion plates from a book on 1880s fashions.  I made about eight small quilts, all done with calico fabrics, trims, and embroidery.  I hadn't quite conquered some problems, (background puckers, yikes!), but learned so much about applique and layering.  Below is a detail of one of those pieces.

The most important thing I learned from making these quilts was how to layer applique pieces.  I had to take my time and patiently work through how each image would be constructed.  It was a huge step forward for me and makes it possible for me to do the kind of work I do now.  It was also a tremendous skill to have when I tackled graphic design.  I already "thought" in layers so figuring out how to work with Photoshop and Illustrator was a lot easier for me.

The next step was adding my own embroidery and applique to simple quilted pieces.  The piece below was inspired by the sun batik print.  I added borders and then quilted, embroidered, and added embellishments around the edges.  It's a simple piece but for me it was another step in the process.  Notice how I used the marbleized prints to give the outer edges movement.  I wanted it to look like the sun was radiating heat.


This next piece was all about me having fun with circles in squares, one of my favorite things!  I did even more embellishment on this piece, I particularly like the "toile" lady in the corner.



This last piece is one that I think I learned the most from.  I'm not so fond of it but it was important to where I went style wise. I put a lot of major embellishment into it  but realized too late that I hadn't put enough contrast into the piece.  If you look at it up close it's really beautiful, but from a distance it looks like a simple piece of fabric.  It was very disappointing to me at the time but it taught me an important lesson.  Now I always try to have contrast so all of my handwork stands out, instead of fading into the background.
                        
                         
It's been fun looking back but now I'm getting excited about moving forward.  I have a couple of more days of non-quilting stuff to get through and then I'm going to have some fun!

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Loving Those New Fabric Lines!



I love the first part of the year because that's when a lot of new fabric lines come out.  Although I have more fabric than I will ever be able to do anything with, (another member of that large club!), there are a few lines I"m looking forward to seeing in the quilt stores.

Don't you just love "Confections"? (see above)  Those funky looking cupcakes are just too cute and I think they would be really great appliqued onto other funky fabrics.  I'm not sure what size they are yet but I'm sure I'll be able to find something to do with them.

By the way, the size of prints is a big issue for those of us who order fabric online.  Sometimes the shops put a ruler underneath so you can get an idea, but there are some that don't.  I nearly made a big boo-boo when I wanted to order the Brandon Mably floral prints from last season.  I thought they were a really great design, but for some reason held off buying them.  I'm glad I did because I just saw them used in a quilt in a magazine and the blooms were about 10 inches wide.  I had no idea from the picture!  It was a big lesson for me but fortunately not an expensive one.  Now if I'm unsure of the scale of a pattern I search online for it until I find a shop that shows the actual size.

                         

Above is another really cute line,  "All My Heart,"(I"m liking those Robert Kaufman fabrics this year!).   I love the bright colors and the fun heart shapes.  Once again I'm not sure of scale but this is one line I'm going to be looking for.  Especially the middle pattern, I love it!

                         

More Robert Kaufman cuties!  Isn't this line fun?  In case you haven't noticed I have a real weakness for bright prints.  I love these because of the little bits of outlining, and the white on turquoise accents on the top left fabric.  I love that delicate, yet modern look.  It's so fresh and fun.

It looks like I'm going to have to start saving up the pennies so I can add these to my collection!

Are there any fabric lines out there that you're loving this year?  I'd love to hear about it!  I think I'm pretty on top of it but then I realize too late that I missed out on something good.  Not an option!

I've been making some progress on the Creative Journey quilt so I hope to post some pictures of it tomorrow.  In the meantime . . .

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Flashbacks


Over the weekend I found myself looking through stacks of old photographs.  I'm not the overly sentimental type and looking at old photos is not something I do often.  Frankly, unless I'm in the right state of mind it tends to depress me a bit, usually because I can't remember the events in the pictures! 

I suppose that's the point behind photos, and this weekend it worked out well as I was able to find enough pictures to put together a DVD for our friends' 20th Wedding Anniversary party.

Along with photos of our friends I also found photos of quilts I made years ago.  It actually brought back some good memories and got me thinking about how far I've come over the years, and yet how true I've been to my initial vision.

The quilt at the top is one I made for my husband when we were first together.  It dates from around 1995 and is geared towards his interests.  Of course, you can guess he's a fisherman!  The lake is Whiskeytown Lake in Northern California, and the cow is there because when he was a kid in Ireland he once ran into one on his bike.  This hung in his office at several jobs and is now hanging in his music area at the top of the stairs.


The quilt above won First Place in Mixed Media at the Embellishment Show in Portland in 2000. It's framed and hanging in my upstair's hallway, under glass and away from the sun.  This is a picture my husband took for me to send to the show to see if the piece would be juried in.


This piece won Best of Show at the Embellishment Show in 1999.  I took this picture at the show.  You can imagine how exciting it was to see that blue ribbon on it!  It was the first show I'd entered in over 20 years so all those years of working away paid off.   I wish I still had it but it was sold at the Cotton Patch Outdoor Quilt Show in Lafayette in 2001.  I put what I thought was a huge price on it thinking no one would buy it, but of course somebody did!  It was sold and disappeared and all before I got any decent pictures of it.  The only good ones I have are slides so eventually I'm going to have to get a photograph off them.



Above is one of my pieces from within the last few years.  I think I've improved skill wise but the main differences to me are my fabric choices.  I'm really getting into the more modern and/or retro looking fabrics.  It'll be interesting to see how my work changes over the next 10 years!

I think it's a good exercise to look back and see how far you've come and how your work has changed.  It's bound to help your confidence to see where you've come from and where you are now.

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Monday, January 4, 2010

The House To Myself



Well, the holidays are finally over.  It was a fun-filled and work-filled couple of weeks and although I had a wonderful time, I'm ready to move forward into 2010.

So, now I'm sitting in my empty house.  My husband's back at work and my son back at school and I'm trying to dig out from under all of the things I've neglected for the last two weeks.  I'm also working on no sleep, due to being completely out of my routine.  A few late nights and sleep-ins have got me all out of whack, and getting up at 6:30 to take my son to band class was brutal.  I intended to get back into bed when I got back but never made it.  A cup of coffee and a messy office propelled me to work instead of sleep and I'm beginning to regret it!

While digging out I encountered some fabrics I'd pulled for projects before the holiday onslaught.  I thought I could get a few things started over the break but no way Jose!  It just never happened and now I've forgotten what I'd intended to do.  I really need to keep some kind of diary!  I used to be able to remember everything but not anymore, this old brain is on overload.

Anyway, whilst reviewing what I'd pulled I started thinking about the kinds of fabrics I've been acquiring lately.  I work almost entirely with prints so things can get a bit busy.  What I'm always looking for are "blenders" that aren't boring, but still give your eye a quiet place to rest, while making the more boisterous fabrics stand out.  

Above is a selection from "Mingle" by Robert Kaufman Fabrics.  Monaluna designs a lot of quieter prints that are hip and modern while still fitting in with florals solids, and wild patterns.  I've already got several colorways of the dots and circles, and am planning on buying some of the other patterns.  The stripe would be great for framing blocks, and the really retro looking rectangle print would read as a solid in a busier quilt.

                         
I also love these floral prints.  They're very fresh and fun and could go either "Hippie" or "Asian."  They're flannels but I like using high quality flannels in my patchwork.  They give a certain depth and texture that can be strangely soothing and yet add interest.  I'll have to pick up some of these as well.

I think I'm going to turn in for a little nap before I pick up my son from school and then it's back to putting things away and getting inspired to start sewing again.  I'm looking forward to having the peace and the time to get a few things done.

I hope you'll get to do the same!

Happy Stitching!

Susan