Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Coaster #4

This one might stay with me. Some coasters turn out to be endlessly interesting to look at and I think this is one of them. It started with pretty tiny scraps, surrounded by longer strips, courthouse steps style. I got to use some reproduction fabrics, old shirts, a scrap with slubs, and threw in a Marcia Derse rectangle just to jazz it up. I started this one to match a bold black background.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Coaster #3

Coasters are an easy way to see what works. What scale, what color, what textures work when you place them together. I start by selecting a back, then poking through the scrap box to see what would go with it. The back of this one is purple. I also like to play with slivers of fabric. You'll see I worked one in on this coaster, just barely. It became a corner.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Coaster #2

Let's get this one out of the way early, as it features Christmas-like colors. Actually, it began with the colors of my current quilt - red, white and black. A little green added and it became festive. I like how the central triangle-like pieces became the center of interest. And I like the strips at the left, they all have a little sentimental meaning for me. Keep all your scraps, you never know when they might come in handy ... really! None of these coasters is the same size, but they are all about 5" square, just a nice size for most cups or glasses. I back each one with a cotton square, no batting. These are all quilted in the ditch.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Coaster Days #1

I amuse myself by making fabric coasters this time of year. I like to give them as presents.

They offer a way to relax in the hectic days leading up to the holiday. I get all stressed out about it, my family notices...

How do you like this one? I gave it to my husband. I like it for several reasons:
  • It combines some very different fabrics: several shirtings with a Kaffe Fassett print you might recognize. 
  • I  like the way the striped fabric continues around 2 sides.
  • I like the way the chambray fabric interrupts the striped fabric.

When we lived in Germany, I liked the way they carried Christmas on for 12 days, from the day after Christmas until the day before Epiphany, formerly the last day of Christmas festivities, observed as a time of merrymaking (January 6, or the Twelfth Day). Well, I missed the first few days, but I propose bringing you an improvisation a day until January 6. 


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Merry Christmas to Me

It has been a while since I have found a quilt or top that I liked enough to acquire.

You know my strict qualifications:

  • it has to be quirky.
  • i have to like it.
  • it has to be thrifty.

Look at this! I found it today at an antique shop in Yankton, South Dakota.

What I noticed first was how bright it is. That is an advantage to tops, isn't it - they have not been used. A wide variety of fabrics are used: some feedsacks, lots of solids, lots of stripes. And lots of clothing scraps, for sure.

The blocks measure about 3" finished. It's pretty big, it covers the top of a full-size hotel bed. You can see there is some orderliness about it. The solids and stripes are arranged in diagonal rows, as are the blocks.

But the blocks! They are wildness itself! The outer pieces of the little squares in a square happen every which way.

It came at a thrifty price ($12.95) because some of the seams have come unsewn right in the middle. You can almost hear some old fellow grumbling that this ain't worth nothing ... well, we know it won't be any problem to stitch those back together. It will be a nice hand project. Merry Christmas to me!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

What is Bea up to?

Many of you know Bea Oglesby, a well-known Kansas City applique artist.

I visited her today at her home in Lakeview Village in Lenexa. The first clue Bea is around: you see one of her exquisite small quilts on display (right) in the hallway when you arrive on her floor.

Then outside her door is another clue Bea is around.

And if you need any more confirmation, another B greets you inside her apartment.

Bea is busy as usual. She showed me this quilt she is giving her grandson in honor of his marriage. She made it earlier, she is just adding a label now.

At her daughters' request, she is writing up the story of all her quilts. Maybe when she is through, she will tell me how many quilts she has (all made by her). I know it is a LOT.

By the way, Bea divulged that next month she will turn 90. So Happy Early Birthday, Bea!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Creative Boost

We look forward to our Bizarre Bazaar on the Saturday after Thanksgiving every year. It's a tradition that dates back several decades.

We buy some gifts. We admire the creativity and the wonderful art. Much of the art uses recycled and found materials. Rugs woven from t-shirts. Books made with old baseball cards and album covers. Signs made with cut-up license plates.

And we get lots of ideas. You know what we think: "I can make that!" But of course, there is never time to make everything you want to make ...

My favorite artist this year was Max McGraw. Max paints on broken skateboards. He's a student at South Middle School and he's been doing skateboard art for two years now. His work has a true folk art feel. This cat had to go home with us.

Remember (and if you want to contact Max, email him at maxart785@gmail.com):

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite holidays. We get to eat a great meal with people we love and give thanks for all that is good.

Happy Thanksgiving to you! Thank you for sharing my joy for all things textile and thrifty. And enjoy a look at my latest rug, one created for a very colorful entryway.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Toothbrush Chairpads

Now this was fun.

My friend Georgann has a colorful new house. I love it. The rooms are painted in bold colors - the kitchen is an especially wonderful warm, buttery gold.She has some nice wood chairs there but the seats needed a little cushioning.

This is a good time to whip out the toothbrush and make a little rug. All you need to do is make a pattern of the seat shape. Start your rug so it is the same shape as the seat and it will fit just fine.

For my runner/base, I used a shaggy woven loom end. More about those soon. The worker pieces were bright colors, some picked by Georgann, some added in by me.

I added one extra row of stitches on the chair front to fill it out.

I love how they turned out. You can make one of these in no time at all!

Monday, November 18, 2013

33 pounds of fabric

Four sweaters
I did an inventory of my fabric by the pound purchases today. I am pleased to report that I was happy with what I picked (which I will admit I quickly picked and threw into the cart, no second guesses).

It was a helluva buy. I got 33 pounds of fabric. That included:

4 sweaters (for a project I have in mind)

For rugs:
red flat sheet (queen)
green square (card table size)
red round tablecloth
purple/green pillow sham
chambray duvet cover (king)
Big stuff
blue chenille bedspread (queen)
twin flat sheet

Clothing to cut up:
long sleeve shirts - 5
shirt sleeve shirts: 5
kids cotton clothes: 8
crib size flannel blanket
cotton pants
cotton skirt
ralph lauren t-shirt (could not pass up even with a hole)
cotton bags: 2
cotton dishcloths: 2
awesome linen skirt
Fabric 1 (all cotton)
cotton shorts

For possible wear:
tie-dye shawl
red bandana
knit pants (improbable but who knows)
awesome Austin t shirt (i have it on now, freshly washed)

3 woven trivets
odd vintage doll
hand dyed (rust/red/brown/orange/off-white)
10' x 12' civichrome elite muslin photographer drop cloth
More fabric (mostly cotton, some linen)

It cost:
$45.87 (plus tax)

If you are a confident fabric selector, this is a GOOD BUY!! I am fortunate to live with someone who calls this cheap entertainment. It is certainly that. The washing machine is busy here!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fabric by the Pound

We are supposed to be sightseeing this week, but the girls left us alone for a day or two ...

So I start googling best thrift shops in Austin. The one I wrote about a few days ago, Uncommon Objects, popped up first on that list (no surprise). I read that there are 25 Goodwills in the Austin area and the queen of them all is called the Blue Hangar. It was called legendary: "a south-east Austin warehouse, this is where excess clothing from the surrounding Goodwill locations comes to its final resting place before being swept away into your arms." It mentioned competition and a price of $1.39 PER POUND. And it warned: "This place is for the most hardened of treasure hunters or newbie thrill seekers."

We were off!

Here's how it works: you enter a large warehouse space with many windows. Shopping carts are available. Aisles are created between large, shallow plastic wheeled bins. As new goods are wheeled onto the floor, they are lined up in a new area that is off-limits. Crowds line up at the edge (the regulars know the rules) and when a sign is given (i missed who gives the signal), people race into the area! Swarm!! You quickly notice there are serious regulars who are not to be messed with. I did notice snatching, but mostly fairly civilized behavior.

When the cart is full (my sign to stop), you head for the checkout. There is a scale in the floor - you transfer your goods into a cart on it, and voila! It is weighed.

I was grateful we were there on a weekday afternoon. I shudder to think how nuts this place could be on a weekend. I'll post the news of what I found there in a future blog ...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I'm always on the scout for a project I can take with me to stitch by hand. I'm in several stitch groups and you can get a lot done if you have a project ready to work on ...

I noticed this quilt in the antique shop in Austin - ta-da! I think it would be a great take-along project because:

A. I like it.

B. I can have the circle blocks ready and do the endless decorative stitching at stitch group. We are working with silk and silk ties these days - won't this be a good project for that.

Here's a detail shot:

And a bit of stitch inspiration:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Austin Antiques

We are in Austin. What a place. Our girls moved here and there is much to see and do.

We stopped in an antique shop on South Congress. They call it raw materials - I noticed:

  • incredible displays, items grouped by colors.
  • great quilts - note the antique improv.
  • cool things we can do with our sewing items.

A spool shelf
Giant wool hexagons
Silky improv
Scrappy strings

Last, but far from least, are these strings of wooden spools. I collect them. But I just keep them in containers - look how great they look all strung together and hung up.

I can't wait to do that when I get home. I'll probably find I need to collect MORE.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I will confess to feeling like a kid in a candy store at quilt market. I am just bedazzled by the inventive displays - the ones by fabric companies are always amazing. I thought Moda's was a bit hokey when they were setting it up and behold! When I came upon it at market and a whale was spouting bubbles, it took my breath away. But I didn't get a decent picture of it, I'll be on the lookout for one ...

One display I could not get over was the Fairfield booth. It was truly a phantasmagoria!  I was told one woman created 4 sides (you are viewing one side) for this large square booth (probably 20 feet tall) by stitching blocks displaying different batting and foam products together. Keep an eye on their website - they said there would be more about how this display came together soon (click on the museum).

Here's a close-up shot. 

I liked this one with a ceiling of quilt tops. We all have lots of tops - we should try this at home.

Another company had quilted panels of their solid reading fabrics. Grommets for rings held it all together.

Solids are hot. It's exciting to see solids coming out in the hues that Marcia Derse designed.

I saw leaves and circles on strings in several spots - Lotta's caught my eye.

Some folks I know will be happy to see this lovely display for a new V&A Museum line.

 Last, but not least -  we were hooting when we saw this one! Many of these won awards from Quilts Inc.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I Saw Red

First, sorry to be slow with the market news. I  helped with a booth and I forgot how hard people work setting up and running market booths (kinda like you forget the pain of childbirth).

But I'm at it now, I'll post a few reports of what I saw at market. On my first walk through, my search was to answer this question - WHAT is the hot color or colors? And I posed it to others, who reported back.

We agreed that we all saw a very BRIGHT colored market. Wild, hot colors everywhere! And I noticed a lot of red quilts. I must disclose that I love red, so maybe that is why I gravitated to these quilts. But notice I kept seeing red ...

I noticed red and white quilts graced a few booths - like Minick and Simpson's:

Weeks and Ringle:

And as splashes of color:

So you can imagine I chuckled with I noticed this fellow:

Now that I'm home looking at these, i notice most have some blue or turquoise in them, which makes me add this quilt I liked so much by Jean and Valori Wells:

So to sum it up, we can agree it was BRIGHT!

More soon, I promise! I have lots of pictures!