Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

All month I've been wanting to make a pile of Christmas tree postcards. Yesterday I got a little time and made this one, it's for you.
Merry, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Quilt #9: Last but not least

Here's the last finished quilt we're taking to our little friends. Notice I say last FINISHED quilt, of course, mine still needs to be quilted. But we've got enough done to cover our Christmas gifts. This quilt was actually created for a book. I wonder if its young recipient will ever know that. I do think they could spend a while looking all the patterns as they fall asleep. It measures 37" x 37". Look at the quilt back: it's wild too.

Ok, time to vote. Which quilt would you choose to nap with?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Quilt #8: a sporty quilt

These wonky squares-in-a-square each have a sports theme fabric in the center. Polka dotted and striped fabrics wrap around them. It's all tied together with a narrow striped border. This little quilt measures 36" x 36". Look for the last quilt tomorrow!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Quilts #6 & #7: Theme Fabric

ElfK contributed 2 quilts that are the same pattern. She chose theme fabric: firefighters/primary colors for one (with cool chicks on the back), and flowery pups/pinks for the other (look at the lovely floral fabric on the back). Both are made of 6" squares (42 per quilt) and measure 37" x 42". Her friend ElfN plopped them on her long-arm quilting machine side by side and quilted them quickly. One little boy and one little girl will really like these!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Quilt #5: Nine Patches

Elf C claimed she was using up fabrics for this quilt. Doesn't she have exquisite fabric taste? She also said not to show a closeup of the quilting but you know, this quilt is sturdily quilted and I would not be surprised if it is a lifelong good memory for the recipient. Someday they will think I don't know why but I love those vivid colors of red and turquoise blue together.....Anyway, this one measures 42" x 41".  Remember, you can cast your vote for your favorite quilt after you see them all!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Quilt #4: Batik

The quilter who donated this quilt divulged that she had found this great batik fabric on a sale rack and couldn't leave it there. And suddenly I remember one of my girls when she was little telling me so earnestly about sharing and caring. What a good memory. Elf B is sharing and caring. Now some other sweet little kid will enjoy this quilt. It measures 44" x 44". We all admired the stitching detail for the quilting.....

Friday, December 17, 2010

Quilt #3: Hearts

You know, one of the most fun things about this donation project was seeing what people had stored away  AND feeling like our small quilts are going to a very good home. This Hearts quilt measures 34" x 35". It was a top  -  industrious ElfA quilted it and added a wonderful flannel back. We should vote at the end of all this - which quilt would you choose? Two more small quilts were donated today!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Quilt #2: A hungry caterpillar

Here's the second donated quilt for the lucky kids at First Step. Do you think the kids might try to take this one away from each other? I do, this caterpillar will be popular! It measures 31" x 34"  and also has a flannel back.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Boys in Wonderland

I made this little quilt  (8" x 12") to test a product for C&T's Creative Troupe. And today it appeared on their blog!

The product was Lesley Riley's  TAP (Transfer Artist Paper). The challenge was to use it in a creative way. I'd been scanning family photographs and found an old photo postcard in the pile. Isn't is a wacky photo? I called it Boys in Wonderland because the back  says "Wonderland Post Card Studio, 1206 Grand Avenue, Kansas City, MO." But that is all! There is no other identification, so I have no idea who these fellows are.

After I transferred the photo, I framed it with silks from a box given to me just last summer. I hadn't tried transferring many photos to fabric - I liked how TAP worked!

Quilts for Kids

Our stitch group has taken on a seasonal project. The local alcohol treatment facility called and wondered if we would make quilts for kids whose moms are there undergoing treatment. They wondered if we could make some as Christmas gifts. Our small group responded to this challenge with amazing speed - they dug into their quilt top piles and voila!  I have 6 quilts so far. They are so darn cute I'm going to post them, I think you'll enjoy them.

Elf #1 made this first quilt. It measures 30" square. It's machine stipple quilted and backed with flannel. And look - someone can fall asleep counting their numbers..... 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Seasonal Improv #1

Here's the first little quilt I made from the pieces I started out with a while back....I started out with little scrappy centers and cut strips to add around them log-cabin style. Some are batiks, some are lovely quilt shop fabrics, some are old shirts......this little quilt measures 24" x 24" and will be hanging in my mom's kitchen when the binding is on (soon!). More to come, I'm working lots these days but this piecing is making me so so happy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The sesquicentennial and more.....

A treat always waiting in my morning inbox is A.Word.A.Day by Anu Garg, courtesy of

I see words I know and words that I do not know. I learn something most every day. Yesterday's word caught my eye as we are busy putting the finishing touches on a book that celebrates the upcoming Kansas Sesquicentennial (150th birthday) by Linda Frost, a fellow Lawrencian and quilt guild member.

The word is sesquipedality. Anu explains: "Literally speaking, sesquipedality is using words that are one and a half feet long. A related word is sesquicentennial (150th anniversary). Nothing wrong with using a sesquipedalian word once in a while, if it fits, but it's best to avoid too many long, polysyllabic words. This dictum doesn't apply to German speakers though, as Mark Twain once observed, "Some German words are so long that they have a perspective." "

I'll show you Linda's book cover soon. You'll note we steered clear of the LONG S word.....we are lobbying to have the felt sunflower included. Maggie Bonanomi acquired it when she was a Kansan. Now that she is a Missouri resident, she passed it on to me........

Monday, December 6, 2010

Behind the scenes with Maggie

Photo courtesy of B.Grubb
We're putting the finishing touches on a new book by Maggie Bonanomi. I'm eager for it to be ready so I can tell you all about it. Today we photographed some items for the cover. There's always a little down time in a photo shoot. As we visited during a lull today, Maggie mentioned that she had recently been working on a small drawing for a tattoo.

I was fascinated. Maggie can draw! If the book business folds, there could be a new career waiting for her. Get your favorite primitive tattoo, by Maggie! We tried out a few designs, what do you think?

Friday, December 3, 2010

A great quilt seen at guild

Our last quilt guild meeting of the year was a fun one. Some people bring things to sell and other people do quick demonstrations of things we like to make. I showed several people how I make toothbrush rugs. One woman watched and told me her mother used to make them.

When it was time for show and tell, that woman showed us a quilt she had finished for her mother. Marilyn McClure's mother, Ruth (Seal) Chapman of Wakefield, Kansas, allegedly never threw anything away. She had a quilt top she was meaning to finish and Marilyn loved the top so she kept an eye on it. When her mother was 85, she admitted she would probably not get to that top. So Marilyn took it home, hand quilted it, and brought it back for her mother to use. And she did use it. When she moved to assisted living, Marilyn brought the quilt home. I love the story and I love the quilt! It is so totally scrappy.......I had a hard time identifying the block in the Encyclopedia, so I made a lifeline call to Barbara. She . thinks "it's an Ocean Wave with a nine patch for the square. I was fascinated by it too. Here's a picture from BlockBase. It's actually not in the book Encyclopedia. It's something Penny added to BlockBase. Seems to be KCS 1942."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy December

There have been years I have dreaded December, with all the expectation and busyness. This December is starting out more relaxed than some past, to my delight. I always stop by our local Festival of Trees, a creative fundraiser for our local Shelter. Our beautiful Liberty Hall in downtown Lawrence is filled with trees and other creative holiday projects - they were auctioned last night.

I saw several trees that I loved this year. Here's my favorite: Weaving is Believing, made by wonderful art teacher Laura Torres Porter and her students at Bishop Seabury Academy. It's a woven ribbon tree. And look at the topper!

Happy December to you!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Locked stove epidemic

On occasion, you know, I have to report about life here in Lawrence. What follows comes right from one of my favorite Dave Barry lines: "I am not making this up......."

For some reason, we have had an epidemic of stoves locking and refusing to open among our stitch group buddies. Thankfully, I am so instruction-challenged that I gave up trying to self-clean mine (which leads to the locking) and sprayed it with chemicals (yum). But my friends are smarter and braver. They read the instructions, set the self-clean options, threw the lever and locked theirs. And then the ovens would not UN-lock! This has happened to 2 stitchers so far.

Stitcher A gave up trying to solve the dilemma herself quickly and called the appliance guy, who came by the day before Thanksgiving and fixed it "in about 5 seconds," she reported. "We felt like idiots."

Stitcher B was breaking in a new stove for the holidays. Here is her report:
     "Turkey day went pretty well, over all. I/we had used the new stove's oven 3 or 4 times, and each time it STANK!!!!  So, I read the manual, and it said that "the smell will resolve with the first cleaning, if not before," so I decided to use the oven cleaning feature.  So, the night before Turkey Day, I throw the latch to lock the oven, and hit the button for cleaning.  I then realized I hadn't removed everything from the oven, so I hit the off button, released the latch, opened the oven, took stuff out, threw the latch to lock it and hit the "clean" button again.  And I went to bed.
    The next morning, I released the latch, and the oven wouldn't open.  It was still locked closed.  Hard to cook a turkey if you can't get it in the oven. So I read the instructions, which were not helpful.  Then got on line, and found a few more things to try.  Tried those things, it was still locked.  Tried them again, same result.  Called some appliance repair places, no one was answering.
    So, after jumping through several more hoops, we (by this time more of my family was here) decided to order turkey at Dillons.  We wandered over to do that while my brother-in-laws were serially contemplating the locked oven door. 
    We successfully ordered a turkey breast to be cooked for us at Dillons, and wandered back home to find that my more mechanically minded brother-in-law had managed to unlatch the latch.  So we could have Pumpkin Pie and Turkey!!  As well as Ham, Grouse, and now the Turkey from Dillons.  So, after that, all went well, everyone got along well.  We wound up eating at 3:30 instead of 2:00, but had lots of snacky stuff, and the day was fine...How was yours? 

    By the way, one of my daughter's friends was here just now, and she was telling him the story, so he had to try the latch. It locked the door AGAIN, but this time I was able to get it unlocked after about 5 minutes of trying.  I bet I'll be faster next time.  Or maybe I'll just get it fixed."

Thanks to ace stringer Roseanne Smith (aka StitcherB) for sharing her story..........

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A best day of the year

One of my favorite days of the year is today, the day of our Bizarre Bazaar. It started years ago and I've been in attendance for years too. My kids too. They remember the old days when it was truly a bunch of alternative artists (also called hippies). Today there are many many more artists, in a much larger venue. It retains it's very creative ambiance and I do think this year was the best ever.

This year my daughter Betsy went with me. We show each other things we like. Then we buy them for each other. We buy gifts. We occasionally buy something for ourselves. And we are so inspired by all the creative ideas. Here are a few I liked that I think you might too.

I looked at these aprons for a while, wondering how they came to be. Marilyn Pilkey of Ottawa told me she works with the local theatre company and that the painted backgrounds came from the backdrops of earlier shows. They are sturdy canvas, just perfect for aprons. She also used quilt blocks for apron tops.


I bought a present for my husband (the surprise in the sack) from Boho Girl Creations. They also had piles of crocheted rugs, all made from recycled t-shirts. Aren't they cool?

Our quilt guild buddy Sammie Messick got creative with recycled t-shirts too. She stitched the bottom hems together, cut the tops of the shirts into straps and sold them to use as shopping bags. She recommends putting meat you buy into them, as they are so easy to wash. She used child size shirts to make smaller bags that could support what you put inside. Betsy picked some out.

I was happy to see Sandra Fos there. I've admired her quilts so much - today she offered punked out pillows, hand sewn scarves and enlightened recycled lampshades. Her daughter Laura came along to help. When I asked if I could take a picture, she said no but relented if she was in the background (you will note I complied.....)

Best of all, I came home inspired to get to work on a few holiday presents. Ho ho ho!

(Note: you can click on the Bizarre Bazaar link in the first paragraph to contact these artists.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Things People Say

My weekend project
Many of you can probably identify with this. People say doubting things to me all the time about how I work.

I am not making this up, I have heard:

"Don't encourage her."

A shrieked, "Oh no, you're not going there (while I was checking the fabric store trashcan for scraps after a class)." (I calmly told ShriekerA that a number of somewhat famous authors I've worked with confess to doing that...)

"What are you going to make with THAT?"

And perhaps my favorite, shrieked while I showed an old quilt with knots tied on top: "Didn't they know the RULES?"

I am thankful for all of you, for being there and understanding and supporting my unconventional ways of working.........Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hail the wale

Plan now to celebrate National Corduroy Day next Nov. 11, 2011.
That date - 11/11/11 - is especially chosen as those numbers are most like the wales (the raised ribs) of corduroy.
I learned all this thanks to a piece on the Corduroy Appreciation Club by Bill Geist on CBS Sunday Morning. You can see more about his report here.
To celebrate: I propose that we incorporate SOME corduroy into our scrappy work. Adding different texture makes a textile project more exciting.
A total corduroy piece is probably NOT ideal. I do have one, this improvised quilt I featured back in January. It's fascinating to behold but HEAVY!

Doesn't this bring back memories of all the corduroy clothing you've had over the years? I've always loved corduroy. In the story, they showed bolts of it that brought back sewing project memories. Paisley corduroy! Striped corduroy. I remember having to buy extra fabric to make sure all your wales ran in the same direction. My sewing teachers usually banned it (to my dismay). They were timid (and probably rightfully so, wanting to avoid advising us on the intricacies of working with fabrics with nap). I had many corduroy jumpers - I found a picture of one from the 1960s.

Anyway, start collecting your corduroy scraps now. Be ready for 11/11/11.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My new Trip Around the World quilt

You know I'm a sucker for a bargain. So when I found this quilt on my recent trip to the Wichita antique mall and price tag said $35, I sighed and knew it was going home with me.

I have no regrets! I love it. It's condition is good and the fabrics are 1930s lively. It's a fun one to look at on the dining room wall. The light sections especially are quite scrappy, with many fabrics of the same value worked into the rows. The maker used her scrap bag well and didn't shy away from using plaids and stripes going every which way.

It's hand pieced and hand quilted, bound with red bias. It was assembled in blocks - slightly different reds in the corners of the middle block helped me see that. And I do note a few machine stitched seams where the blocks came together. It measures 70" x 70", the blocks are 23-24" square. Individual pieces are 1 1/4" square.

There are a lot of names for this classic pattern in the Encyclopedia and I like them all: Mosaic Block, Squares Around the World, Postage Stamp, A Trip Around the World, Sunshine and Shadow, Grandma's Dream and Sun and Shadow.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My favorite market product: new needles for big stitch

I've tried the big stitch, quick quilting with perle cotton. I wrestled with my needle and wondered what would be good to use. So when I noticed a schoolhouse presentation by Pepper Cory on that topic, I joined a line of quilters to file inside and learn more. I was hooked when Pepper started her pitch by saying one of the roots of the big stitch was poverty. 1930s scrap quilts that were needed for bedding were purposely quilted with a big quilting stitch to get the quilt onto the bed quickly. Other roots were 1920s sashiko quilts, and 1930s mail order quilts that used larger stitches in contrasting thread so hand quilting would show. She also said today's modern quilt guilds (boasting 10,000 members in just one year) have been known to favor the big stitch on solids.

Here's the product, slated for an early 2011 release. There are 6 needles in 3 sizes - good for using both #8 and #5 perle cotton.

Pepper has a blog too, check it out.

Friday, November 12, 2010

By popular demand

Keiko quilt detail.
I've been helping Barbara teach a class on improvised quilts this year. We met last night and I showed the group a slide show of improvised quilts on display at market in Houston. A class member asked me to post a picture of Keiko Goke's spectacular My Double Wedding Ring quilt so she could look at it again and again. On the quilt label, Keiko explained that she began quilting using traditional patterns. She turned to contemporary quiltmaking and then found herself recreating traditional patterns, but without patterns and on this grand scale.

Kathe goes for it with one of grandma's blocks.

 We've all been a little surprised, I think at the fun we've had in this class, challenging each other to try new ways of thinking about quilting. We've tried several sewing projects. Last night we took quilt blocks and cut them apart then put them back together in an improvised fashion. Here are some of our starts.

It was fascinating to see castoff blocks now making new shapes. I have blocks we found in my grandmother's estate. We'd never seen her sewing them but I recognize some of the '70s fabrics. I'm going to start slashing!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I met Gee's Bend descendants

A little more from market - we stayed for the very last schoolhouse presentation of the day to hear two Gee's Bend descendants talk about their lives and their new project.

Loretta Bennett (left) and Louisiana Bendolph were both born in 1960 in Gee's Bend. Louisiana recalled watching school busses go by as she stayed behind to pick cotton as a child. Today they both still live in Alabama, but away from Gee's Bend. They've created Gee's Bend inspired quilts that will be kitted by Windham Fabrics. A portion of the profits will be shared with the Gee's Bend Quilters Collective.

I liked this bright design by Louisiana.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fall improv

It's finished! I set out with a bag of scraps a few weeks ago and now I have a small  (27" square) improvisational quilt in fall colors. That is a pocket near the top - from the best boy's shirt ever.

The quilt goes along with the swiss chard we still enjoy from the garden and the celosia still blooming on the front porch.

Happy fall!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Today's election day. Be sure to vote. Do it for the suffragettes who worked so hard for us.

These great patriotic quilts on display at market in Houston will get you in the proper mood.

This flag quilt top was made by Ralph Syverson of Cordell, Oklahoma in the 1940s - 48 stars are embroidered on the flag.

And this detail is from a crib quilt made only of these stars, quiltmaker unknown, circa 1930s, also acquired in Oklahoma......

I'm off to cancel out this NO vote for our library expansion! See you at the polls!
(Thanks to ace stringer Roseann for spotting this memorable sign.)