Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Super Rudy - The Tail of a Certified Therapy Dog

     Rudy is a 6 year old shetland sheepdog who assists me (or I assist him) in my fifth grade classroom.  Rudy is a certified therapy dog.  He loves to listen to children read.  Rudy receives approximately 20 letter per week from his students.  He works very hard to answer each letter personally!
     Recently, three of his students, Conner, Jordan, and Arieous,  have started a comic book series, The Adventures of Super Rudy.  Here is  a glimpse of their awesome work!

       One of Rudy's many talents is playing video games.  He must also work- out because he clearly has 6-pack abs!

                                                    "His cape is magic.  Anything he want comes true!"

                                                    In "Super Rudy 2", Rudy meets Super Rudy Girl who is pink.

                                                     Rudy at work.

     Super heroes are real, and sometimes, they are covered in fur!  If you would like to know more about therapy dogs check out this website:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Hunt

     Crazy quilting is the perfect combination of collecting, creativity, shopping, and friends.  One of my favorite aspects of crazy quilting is "the hunt".  By this I mean, the gathering of fabric, thread, jewels, beads, buttons, trim, and whimsy to incorporate into a quilt.  Not only do I enjoy visiting fabric shops all over the nation, but I also get to explore antique malls, flea markets, and estate sales for unique embellishments. 
     On "the hunt", I am usually in the company of my daughter, Amy, and close friends.  A shriek rises from the sale when one of us finds a particularly prized item.  Stopping for lunch or pie to admire our treasure is a requirement on the quest. 

                                           I found this old piece of amazing gold work this weekend! 

     The hunt is not only for collecting objects to put in the quilt.  The hunt is also a quest for ideas and techniques.  This usually involves books.  I refer to my collection of ideas as "my research".  My research requires delightful detours through bookstores, museum gift shops, online vendors, art galleries, and libraries.  Buying more books becomes easily justified when it is labeled as research.  This also makes explaining purchases to my husband a lot simpler.

                                                  Handmade lace recently bought at an estate sale.

      I buy all kinds of books, new and used, for inspiration.  If the house was burning down, after saving family and pets, I might just save my two favorite books by Penny McMorris and Carole Samples.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Getting Started - Beginning a Fabric Stash

I come from women who sew.  Women who sew save fabric, buttons, thread, and trim.  Although in the beginning, I wasn't a woman who sewed, I did have a few of their habits.  I had a sewing machine, and I had a stash of fabric - my clothes.  Back in the 80's, my teacher-wardrobe consisted of wool skirts in bright plaids and solids. I had a huge box of these vintage 80's fashions in my basement waiting to be cut into pieces.  This was enough for me to get started.

Using wool, denim, and corduroy was perfect for my first quilt because the primitive look of the fabric matched the primitive level of my embroidery skills.  This view from "My Sampler" shows deep green corduroy from an old jumper.

As my skill level improved, my fabric selection improved.  I went hunting for more variety in fabrics like this blue velvet from a bridesmaid dress.

Soon, friends and family started bringing me pieces of their fabric.  The bright red velvet in this block is from a Christmas dress my cousin made for her daughter.

My Aunt Irene gave me a piece from her wedding dress.  It has a prominent spot in "My Quilt that Glows".

Minnie is a cherished piece of fabric found in my Grandma's stash.  So, my point is...if I can do this so can you!  All you need is a sewing machine and a box of old clothes!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Flutterby Butterflies

One of my favorite items to stitch is a butterfly.  I grew up in a town named after butterflies, there are butterflies painted on our water tower, and my high school mascot was the monarch.  Maybe there is a connection!

This butterfly measures almost 5" wide and 5" tall with wings spreading over several patches of fabric.  In my latest project, I have experimented with all different sizes of motifs.  It is outlined with peacock iridescent beads.  I stitched his body and wing accents in black floss and metallic threads.

These are my very first embroidered butterflies.  They cheerfully embellish the pink vintage velvet in yellow and black pearl cotton.

My first and second butterflies can be found in "My Sampler".  This little guy is confined to his denim patch.  I like that the beaded butterfly can spread his wings across the quilt.

 I love to use hand dyed silk ribbon.  The wings of this butterfly are made with silk ribbon.  I stitched on top of the ribbon to add detail and texture to the wings.

Sometimes, there is a butterfly in the pattern of the fabric as was the case with this piece of vintage silk.  It is featured on the side of a stuffed cat that I have been working on.

My hometown!  Go Monarchs!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Glow

     Crazy quilts glow.  When I was struck with  the passion for crazy quilting, I had caught a glimpse of a crazy quilt draped over a sofa.  The only thing that I remember about this quilt was that it glowed.  That glow left an imprint in my mind.  A seed was planted in my brain:  "I want one of those."
     I went to the library.  My local library had 3 books with information about crazy quilts.  Luckily, one of them was Crazy Quilt Handbook by Judith Baker Montano.  Montano's book was the best place to start because it contained all that I needed besides a sewing machine, thread, and fabric.  I am frequently asked, "How did you know how to do that?"  Really, it was all in the book.
     That was approximately 11 years ago.  In my blog I hope to explore my experiences with crazy quilting from then to now.  I hope that you enjoy!

  This is my very first block.  For my first quilt, I used fabric from my old clothing.  You can see the wool  and denim from my skirts and jeans.  My big, bulky stitches were done in pearl cotton.  At the onset, I gave myself permission to make mistakes without ripping out.  I knew that my first quilt  wouldn't achieve the glow that I was after. I called this first crazy quilt "My Sampler" because I thought of myself similar to the young girls from ages ago who practiced their handwork on samplers.
     It took 1 year to complete "My Sampler".  Three years later, I completed my quilt that glows.

These are two pieces from my third large crazy quilt which is a work in progress.  I've come a long way!