Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Fun Day

Okay, this is not fabric related and it may seem silly, but Asheville has been doing a happy dance since yesterday because Publix has come to town. Publix has never made an appearance in NC and I for one have been waiting for 12 years. I make the run to the Publix in Greenville, SC for my favorite coffee, only sold at Publix, rolls and pastries etc. The store made its grand opening yesterday, the parking lot was full, no shopping carts left and thousands of people had gone through the store. It was a giant party and we had to be a part of it. It's a beautiful store, sparkling and some wonderful and interesting little vignettes.

wonderful flowers
wine and cheese .....and much more....and then onto the Biltmore Estate...
where we had lunch at the "Stable" and then  saw the Downtown Abbey Exhibit.
We have annual passes to the Biltmore; we live close by and nice to be able to go for just an hour or so or just do lunch. The exhibit was wonderful, not only did they have many garments (40+) that were worn by the cast, but a lot of background and history on each one, something you don't get when you watch the series. Maggie Smith wore the above outfit in an "acceptable" color after the mourning period of wearing black.
 Nurses uniforms worn by Sybil and army uniforms featured here. The garments were spread throughout the Biltmore house.
The garments were heavily beaded and embellished and wonderful to see up close.
One of lady Mary's beautiful gowns.
This is Mrs. Hughes outfit always wearing the keys to the house along with one of the ladies maids who in the beginning wore hand me downs with a white apron.
It was hard to distinguish where they belonged on the staff as they had no set uniform; that changed to a distinct color but kitchen helpers were the lowest on the food chain and continued to wear hand me downs. The footman were always chosen for their good looks. Some wonderful history and facts about that time in history and being a big Downton Abbey fan, I found it fascinating.
Next time, back to the studio.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pebbles on the Pond

I have been working on this piece on and off for a while now and finally just decided to get to it and finish it. All the fabrics I made myself either through marbling, dyeing or deconstructive screen printing.  Working with these fabrics can be challenging which is why I have been such a procrastinator.
 My Fiber Junkies group gets together every month and often our plan is to make deconstructive screened fabric. I get so excited and want to try all different colors of dyes which I have found to be a no-no! I wind up with small pieces, all different colors and none that will work together. This last time around, I was more sensible and stuck to a couple of colors having lots of choices within the same color way - not as much fun but more practical in the long run.
 I realized this piece desperately needed white, and searched through my marbled fabrics and lucked out, found one that worked. I didn't have a lot, but I didn't need much.
 The feel of the piece reminded me of pebbles, ponds, water etc and thought a tree coming in from the side would add some interest. Let's face it, I love trees and think they would go with anything, but in this case, they really did.

 I did minimal quilting on the darker areas.
 I quilted around the "pebbles and did small circles in between to make the rest pop

 The trees looked flat so I used some acrylic paint to highlight them.....
 giving them a lot more dimension.
And the finished piece - "Pebbles on the Pond".

Friday, April 17, 2015

Getting Organized

It's always been a challenge to keep track of the needle I'm using in my sewing machine; I've written on cards, only to misplace the card, I've used magnetic boards but the needle slips to a different space. I change my needles often but sometimes I'm only using it a short time and it still has some good life left in it....What to do.
First, I gathered all the needles I use. I typed the needles/sizes in a size 14 font and printed them on a fabric sheet, ready to run through the printer.
I then ironed fusible web on the back of the printed fabric and cut out each strip. Using an iron, I pressed them onto an oversize pincushion. I divided each section of the cushion into 2 parts.
The little pin/button at the top of the cushion I use to mark the section of the needle I'm currently using. When I take the needle out of the machine and it needs to go back, it goes where the pin/button is sticking. It solved my problem of not knowing what needle I'm using and where to store it when not in use. I know there are lots of good systems out there for storing needles, but this works for me.
Happy sewing!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Lake and Mountain Quilt Guild

This past week, while my daughter and granddaughter were here, I took a 2 day break to teach in South Carolina - a lecture and workshop. As much as I hated leaving my gals, it was a nice break to stay in a Hampton Inn all by myself with my Kindle and a glass of wine. I also had the wonderful opportunity to have a mini reunion with a group I used to belong to - Focus group. Our dinner came to an end way too soon and so much more to be shared, but it was the best! On to the lecture which I gave on Ink Jet Printing on Fabric which is always fun as I love the technique and enjoy talking about it. The workshop the next day was filled with 20 wonderfully talented and enthusiastic women. We were doing Shaded Florals which involved using a pattern (their choice of 3 available), doing basic appliqué and shading it with Shiva paintsticks.  The shading and the different ways to use the paintsticks was the basis of the workshop.
 I managed to snap pics of a few pieces, many were busy at their machines and I couldn't get pictures.
 I really liked the wonderful background choices for their pieces - lots of interest without being overpowering.
 I didn't think to take a picture until the end of the day when many were leaving or already packed up but you can get an idea of the beautiful pieces these ladies were doing. I'm hoping they'll send me a picture of their finished piece which I promised to share on my blog.
 One of the gals - Pat Kerko, didn't want to use the Shiva paintsticks and brought along a product called Luminarte.  I had not heard of them and wanted to find out more to share. They have a website which is hard to use so I went to Amazon and had great luck. They are in a powdered form - beautiful colors and what looked to be mostly metallics.
 A teeny, tiny amount was mixed with an acrylic medium in a small paint tray. They were highly concentrated. By mixing them with a medium, this made them permanent. They were the consistency of the medium making them easy to use and control.
 Pat made herself a sampler of the colors which is always a good idea - no guessing that way, although the colors in powder form look the same when mixed with medium, which is not always the case.
 You can see where a small area has been done.- to the right of the yellow. The color is strong and concentrated so they could probably be thinned quite a bit.
 Pat uses a Fantastix stick, from Dharma Trading, which is good for blending.
Q - tips will also work well.
You can see the pretty effect of the Luminartes around the yellow "tongue" of the Iris. I am definitely going to look into these.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Crazier Than Usual Week

This has been a wild and crazy week...more than the usual craziness - but fun, I have to say... BIG FUN. My granddaughter was here and we planned lots of holiday activities starting with an Easter bunny cake. I used to do these "cut-up-cakes" with my students many, many years ago.

The coloring of Easter eggs and wearing
 the princess dress from Frozen. At Christmas it was the Angel wings.
 Our Easter egg hunt was the next day - plastic eggs filled with little treasures. Audrey loved looking for the eggs; the treats were secondary; this might be a good idea for future treasure hunts.
 And the beloved Easter basket; one does tend to forget after 30 years of not doing one HOW MUCH GRASS IS IN THEM and HOW IT GETS ALL OVER THE PLACE ...whew...I'm still finding bits of it...kinda like Christmas tree needles!
 We visited the Nature center and brushed the goats, also danced at Mellow Mushroom while eating pizza, went downtown to our favorite shoe store - Topps and I had a 2 day teaching trip to South Carolina in between everything! My daughter asked me what I was going to do this weekend after they left - my answer without hesitation....SLEEP!
 We did manage to get in a crafty project for a friend of my daughter's who's having a baby. My daughter and I made a mobile for Audrey's room when she was first born - little fabric birds, sitting on twigs that floated around. Her friend Emily wanted the same thing so we were off and running. First the fabric which Emily picked out to go with the room colors of yellow, coral and gray.
 One of the main fabrics was from the fairytale - "The Princess and the Pea" which became part of the birds and also a pillow for the room. Jill bought extra to make pillowcases for Audrey's bed, but that's another post.
 Here are the birds which are still being attached with fishing line. They are mighty cute when suspended from the ceiling and gently float around.
 The front of the pillow....
and the back which I like better and would probably use as the front. Anyway, everyone is gone, the house is reasonably quiet, my hubby helped me get it all straightened out after they left and life is back to normal, so maybe I'll start another quilt...hmmmm...sounds like a plan (a very good plan) to me.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Happy Easter

However you celebrate Easter, I wish you a joyous and beautiful day. We have our granddaughter coming the day before and being 2 years old, I know she'll get a thrill out of our Easter decorations.
 First there's the egg tree in the family room..
 ceramic bunnies my mother made close to 40 years ago...

 cloth bunnies my mom made for my daughter when she was a toddler (she is now 38)
and more ceramic pieces to hold jellybeans. These things are so precious to me as they come from my moms heart and hands. She's been gone for 24 years but these wonderful things keep her with us.
And as I posted last time, some cute little Easter things. Holidays are so much fun when you have a tiny person with so much joy and innocence to share them with.
Happy Easter, Happy Spring to all of you - my readers and friends.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Red, White and Blue

Our annual PTA Retreat has come and gone - and it was great fun - but now I have to finish the projects in progress -  not nearly as much fun as when you're sewing in a group of ten fun loving gals. I was only at retreat for 2 days but had all pieces pre-cut so it speeded things up. I did a larger version of this design in Indigo and white. edge it. 

I finally sewed it together this week and added the borders, but started to think that a tiny strip of red might "zing it up a bit.
 So I emailed my good buddy to get another opinion...
 and Mary loved the one with the touch of red.
 as opposed to the one without. I guess I need a little nudge to steer me in the right direction. I was totally down the middle and sometimes being so close to something doesn't help in decision making.
So here is the finished top, still needing to be quilted but I've decided to hold off until I can set up on my deck outside in the fresh air and do some sewing then. So far, I have 5 quilts ready to go. It's going to be a busy summer.