Sunday, July 17, 2011

Aunt Kay to the Rescue!

     I have whined sufficiently so that my sister-in-law, Kay, is flying into town to help me with those "cantankerous corners"!  Kay is what a "crazy" quilter like me needs.  We are a great team.  If it wasn't for Kay, all of my projects would be wonky and askew!
This stunning creation was a gift from Kay for my living room.  It is a "Wack and Stack" fan in Asian inspired fabrics.  The quilting is breathtaking and was done by one of Kay's  friends.
     Before, I get to my quilt, I want to tell about Aunt Kay.  Everyone should be so lucky to have a sister-in-law like mine!  Approximately, thirty years ago, Kay and I took a beginner's quilting class in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  Since then, Kay has gone on to be a skilled quilter.  When she saw the new color of my living room walls, she told me that she had just finished a quilt that you look great in the room so she gave it to me!!!!!

     I have found that when  a project is nearing completion, the journey changes from a solitary activity to a group discussion with Kay, Larry, Vince, and Amy.  My pieces are usually strewn across the living room so that we can see the piece from every angle.  Visitors who stop by also get to share their ideas.  Kay and I often discuss possibilities over the phone.  Since Kay travels to all the big shows, she fills me in on the intriguing finishing techniques that she has seen.

Finishing Techniques - That's the Problem!
     So, I'm ready to finish my next big project.  For me the "finishing" part could take another year.  Here is where I am at:  I have pieced, embellished, and assembled 16 squares.  I have attached borders featuring hot pink silk brocade piping, textured navy silk, and deep navy velvet.  I am in the process of embellishing the velvet.  Now, I'm stuck.  I can't get the embellishment on the velvet to flow the way I want unless I assembled the entire top which means I have to measure and miter corners.  Aunt Kay to the rescue!
The borders are not attached at the corners.  I need to do this so I can figure out how I want to decorate the corners.

    Once I get the ribbon work and embroidery done on the borders, I still haven't decided how I want finish the edge.  I have thought about more bright colors!  I also haven't decided whether to include a verse in the embroidery on the borders.  This quilt doesn't have a name yet.  When I talk about it, I usually say, "the one with the elephant". 
This is the sketch I made to begin the borders.  I might include a verse.

     I was hoping to have this quilt finished by the end of the year.  But, maybe the end of 2012 is more likely.  Oh well...I will enjoy the journey!
Even though the heat index was well over 110 degrees, Super Rudy and Naughty Milley insisted on helping me with my photographs.  Keeping Milley off the quilt long enough to snap a picture was a problem.

Look What I Found!
  I found this darling quilt at a sale this week.  Every stitch is done by hand.  The stitches are perfectly even.  What a skilled quilter!  The fabric is like butter.  The softness melts in your hand.    There is a block with a little boy fishing out of a bucket.  Does anybody know this rhyme?  I haven't been able to identify it yet.  I have asked around no one knows it.  You might be the one to crack the mystery.  The quilt is for sale in my etsy shop.  I do have a high price on it because I really don't want to sell it!! Here is the link:


Sunday, June 19, 2011

I'm Thankful - A Vintage Treasure

     I bought an antique feedsack quilt top this week for $1.00.  I didn't inspect it before I bought it because for a dollar how could I go wrong.  When I got it home, I discovered some minor condition issues like a few age stains, and I considered tossing it in the trash.  With closer inspection, I noticed that some of the feedsack fabrics were really cool, some of the fabrics were men's hankies, and the piece was hand stitched.  So, I threw it in the wash thinking that maybe I would keep it.
     Once the quilt was clean, I began to take a closer look.  I discovered that the needle artist from long ago patiently stitched together scraps to make the 3" squares.  She sewed together scraps to make scraps  - which become  3" squares - constructed into 9-patches that become the quilt.
Sometimes 5 tiny pieces or more were stitched together before having a 3" square.
     I decided to name the quilt, "I'm Thankful".  I'm thankful that I don't have to hoard itsy-bitsy pieces of fabric from sacks of chicken feed to individually stitch together to have a blanket for my family.  This quilt was starting to get under my skin.  Now, I am thinking about what to do with it. 

Some patches have a very traditional design.
Many of the fabrics have an art deco look.

There are materials that remind me of my Asian fabrics.
The green and ivory pieces are silk.  The blue and white plaid reminds me of boxer shorts!  

     This 30s quilter was definitely a kindred spirit.  I have a list of possibilities for the quilt.
1.  I could pay someone to quilt it for me as a lap blanket.  When doing hand work, I often use a lap quilt.  I could put this in my new studio.
2.  Next year, I could use it to make porch pillows.
3.  I could embroider and embellish it turning the scrappy quilt into a crazy quilt further avoiding the dysfunctional cat and stupid corners of my unfinished projects.
4.  I could send it to my sister-in-law, Kay.  One of her guild members might like it.
5.  I could put it away for later.
     Yesterday, I looked on ebay to see what old quilts are bringing in online auctions. Little to Nothing.  This quilt top has no monetary value.  But, I think that many will agree that it is priceless. What do you think I should do with it?


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Jewelry Room

     I admit, I'm avoiding my unfinished projects!  Yesterday, I cleaned the jewelry room instead of sewing.  Choosing cleaning over sewing means that I am really stuck with "Dysfunctional Kitty" and "Cantankerous Corners"!

Jewelry Room History

       Upstairs there is a tiny little room that has had many uses over the last 30 years.  It has been the nursery, a playroom, and Amy's studio.  Now, it is our jewelry room.  About 5 years ago, I asked Amy to design a space to be used as a dressing room and storage for our vintage jewelry (junk jewelry) collection.  The economy was taking a downward direction and I had 2 kids in college so the project had to be finished using very little money.
First, stripes were painted on the walls in tone-on-tone taupe.

Next, the built-in cupboard and woodwork were painted white.
       Amy and I have a lot of junk fermenting in the basement.  Whenever we need something, the first step is to shop in the basement.   The basement excavation yielded pieces of antique iron fencing and a cedar chest. Both got a paint- job.  Larry added hooks to the fencing to hold belts and scarves.  We keep blankets and sheets in the chest, and it gives more space for showing off stuff.

     I found a vanity at a garage sale for $50.  The owner had spilled Jean Nate' in the drawers so it took a lot of airing out!  The vanity was painted a distressed light green.  Larry had a piece of old glass in the basement which he cut to fit on the top.  I put a few antique postcards under the glass.  The chair was also a basement find.  I love how the curly-ques in the chair coordinate with the vanity hardware.

     The most expensive piece in the room is the light fixture which I bought on ebay for $125. It was the perfect size for the tiny room so I had to splurge.
The backs of the bookshelves have a product that is covered with fabric so we can pin up our jewelry for display.  We are always moving pieces around just for fun.  I do all of my ironing in the jewelry room. I have been known to wear some of the more gaudy earrings and necklaces while ironing since I don't dare wear them out of the house!
None of our jewelry is valuable.  We just like bold colors and lots of bling! 

     A mirror, floating shelves, and curtains were bought at "Wally World" for maybe another $75.00.  I think the entire room cost less than $350.

Studio/Sewing Room Update
     The dining room furniture is gone!  The walls have been painted.  Larry is refinishing antique cupboards.  I can't wait to use the space and to unveil the finished product.  My sister-in-law, Kay, is a great quilter.  She is very precise.  I have been whining at her to help me finish those darned corners.  I told her that we could even work in my new studio.  I think that she might fly up in July - yeah!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Porch Rejuvenation - Summer Project #1

Every summer dusting off the Nebraska winter from my front porch is my first priority.  This year, Amy helped to create an eclectic yet cohesive space for me to relax, read, visit,  and create.  The permanent elements on the porch are:  the swing, the church pew, the red bricks, and the blue wood floor.  To help unify the space, Amy chose to paint the wicker chairs and table a dark charcoal gray.  I never would have thought of this.  I love it! 
Painting the wicker chairs charcoal gray helped coordinate the chairs, swing, and pew with the bricks.  We bought the side table at a "Big Box" store.  Amy replaced the top with a vintage wooden checkerboard that she sprayed with poly.    

I acquired the antique wicker table this spring at an estate sale.  It was a beautiful golden wheat color with a brick red top.  I thought it looked great as it was, but Amy was right when she suggested that I paint it gray.  She also added the vintage cooler, milk box, and crate.  The rug is made of recycled plastic.
The colors in the crate look so much richer against the gray table.

I made the pillow tops from old vintage tablecloths.  I found just the right one with red, gray and turquoise on etsy.  I had a great shopping experience with:

 My husband always says to tackle the worst project first.  I will tackle the worst projects later.  The sewing projects that I am dreading are:  1.  My Dysfunctional Cat  2.  Cantankerous Corners.  These are projects that need lots of help!

I just bought a great book, The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff.  I can't wait to play with fabric and her techniques.  Today was my first day of summer vacation.  I was up at 6:00 A.M. because I was so excited! There is so much inspiration everywhere! 


Sunday, May 22, 2011

I Love My New Adventure!

     Hunting for treasure is only half of the fun.  Sharing the loot is just as fun!  It is so exciting to make a connection with people in all parts of the world.  These precious pieces that to many are junk were mined in the Nebraska or Iowa, spent time with Amy and I in Papillion, and then journeyed to exotic destinations!
     Amy and I bring home these gems.  Then, we polish and admire them until we are ready to let them go. Amy can often be heard exclaiming, "We find the coolest stuff!"
     Most of our merchandise goes to the east or west coast of the United States, but the Aussies and Canadians are great customers.  We ship to super-cities like Taipei with a population of over 2 1/2 million, or we send to tiny towns like Chewton, Australia with a population of 403.
      One day, I hope to visit these places, but for now, I am enjoying my view of the world from right here in Papillion!
      I'm clearing out the dining room so that Amy can design me a totally tricked-out studio.  I will be sharing the project in future blogs.  Yesterday, I bought an old wooden workbench out of a garage for $50.  It is going to be so great in my studio!  Hmmmmm, trading fine cherrywood furniture for a piece of junk from a garage, some might say I'm a little nuts!  Who cares!  I love it!

Crazy Kindred Spirit, Vintage Butterfly, and Perfect Moments reside in Papillion, Nebraska where the spirea are in bloom!

Lace Gloves:  Papillion to Taipei 7268 miles, 11697 km

Bakelite Buttons:  Papillion to Chewton, Australia 9256 miles, 14,896 km
Feedsack Stars:  Papillion to Otterup, Denmark 4494 miles, 7233 km
Texas Bluebonnets:  Papillion to Lucan Co. Ireland 4001 miles, 6439 km
Vintage Purse:  Papillion to Shizuoka, Japan 6146 miles, 9891 km
Chalk Sconces:  Papillion to Pousaflores, Portugal 4427 miles, 7125 km

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hearts and Hands for Sendai

Planting the Seed
     Hearts and Hands for Sendai is a project through Crazy Quilting International.  These blocks will be assembled into wall hangings and sent to Japan to be displayed in the International Quilt Show in coordination with Patchwork Tsushin to raise funds for the recovery of Japan.  Here is my contribution.

Harvesting the Inspiration
     The first fabric I chose was a vintage silk scarf with a dusty purple background decorated with berries and flowers.  My main concern was that it didn't fit within the parameter of "jewel tones".  The scarf was calling to me so I had to use it.  I chose the rest of the fabrics hoping to add jewel tones, contrast, and funk.  I didn't want to old scarf to look too stuffy.
Mixing the Soup
     I started with a 5-sided piece of turquoise and lime vintage paisley silk off centered to the left.  I then added dupioni and cotton solids in bold colors:  deep purple, hot pink, and rich gold.  There are 3 different sections from the scarf that I "fussy cut" for color and motif.  You can see the pink and gold butterfly from the scarf. I put in another piece of deep purple patterned silk.  This piece is in the top left corner.  Lastly, I used a groovy cotton toward to bottom.  It is the fabric with the orange swirl.

Adding the Spice
     I started with the heart.  It is done in colonial knots of rosy silk ribbon and beads.  I can't resist butterflies - it's my heritage!  I made the royal blue butterfly out of hand dyed hannah silk ribbon.  I hoped that the deep blue and black in the butterfly would bring down some of the heat given off by the bright colors.
     Since I didn't use any kimono fabrics in constructing the block, I wanted to bring in an Asian feel with the silk flowers.  I used a piece of vintage kimono fabric as inspiration for the hannah silk flowers and leaves on the lower left side. 
 Soup is Served
I continued to try to add Asian flavor by adding a branch of small pink flowers to give the impression of cherry blossoms.  To tie in the swirl fabric and to create movement, I repeated the swirl with thread through the blossoms.  I nestled the blue butterfly and silk flowers with small butterflies stitched in shades of blue and purple floss.  I balanced the weight of the overall design by stitching over the pattern of the original silk scarf.

Since I hate to cook, this is the only "soup" being served at my house these days!  I'm still trying to figure out how to use my kitchen cupboards for my stash instead of for all that cooking stuff.