Saturday, May 28, 2011

On My Design Wall

Despite my lazy dog days with Daisy and George, I have managed to get my fabric cut and the blocks made for The Bear's graduation quilt. 

Can you see the mistake?  Luckily I found it before the blocks were sewn together. 

I'm taking pictures and writing the instructions as I go so I can share how I went about it later.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gorgeous George

Phew!  The month of "May-hem" (thank you, Mary!) is almost over and we appear to have survived the tournaments, end of season parties, field days, exams, and final projects.  We have one exam, one faculty v. 8th grade basketball game, an All School Mass, and graduation before we are FREE for the summer.

Apparently, however, I am not busy enough for my own good.  Either that or I've completely lost my mind.  Because last weekend while shopping for shorts and bathing suits and a wallet for my father, I accidentally got another dog.

Okay, accidentally isn't exactly the word.  I'd say we foolishly visited a dog adoption day at the mall and got in over our heads.  So without further ado, may I introduce....Georgie!

How could you look into those eyes and send him back to the kennel?  The agency didn't have a foster home for him yet.  But the kicker is when my husband asked if he would fetch, and the volunteer said, "We don't know if he's ever had toys." 

All together now...Awwwwwww!  

So anyway, we brought him home.  He and Daisy are getting along well, wearing each other out, and settling in. 

I haven't gotten a lot done, but I'm really enjoying the view!

I hope your day involves time with a friend

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Day with the WannaBees - Playing with Paint

After our awesome guild program with Nancy Graham last week, the WannaBees decided we wanted more playtime with paint.  Lynn was gracious enough to let us make a mess in her kitchen, so we trucked in fabric, paint, brushes, sponges, scissors, leaves, vines, styrofoam trays, a hot glue gun, and pieces of plexiglass.

Ben showed off some cool Magic Stamp, which you can heat with a hair dryer, press a design into, use it to stamp, and then heat it up to "erase" the image and use it again.  Amazing! 

He created several textures, swirls, and other designs to practice with.

I had an idea about using photo transfer, the Skydyes technique, AND stamps to create an image.  I started with some pictures of The Bear that I had pulled out for the various graduation activities and printed them onto my favorite photo fabric sheets.  Then I used the translucent dyes and sprayed the photos a bit. 

I used some clipart for inspiration, and cut out a Polaroid picture shape from a sheet of Fun Foam.  I also cut a camera shape with a round opening.  I mounted each of these on a piece of scrap plexiglass that Lene's husband had donated to the cause. 

The clear plexi allows you to see exactly where you are placing the stamp.  In some cases a general idea is fine, but when stamping over a photo you want a little more precision.  

Lene was intrigued by Nancy's leaf prints and used that as her jumping off point.  For some reason, I didn't get a great shot of her finished product, which is a shame since they came out great.  She used some strawberry leaves that made gorgeous impressions.  

 My favorite project of the day, though, was Lynn's.  She was looking for a project to do with her three girls over the summer.  She has a stash of brightly colored, inexpensive t-shirts that she wanted to print on. 

She found some clipart and printed it out, stapled it to the Fun Foam, and cut it out.

She rolled the paint onto the stamp with a brayer...

...laid the stamp onto the t-shirt and pressed with paper towels.  These help absorb any paint that oozes out from under the stamp.  


Then she used some scraps of the Fun Foam to make this adorable paw print stamp, and used hot glue to mount it on a piece of wood.

How cute is that? 

And for one more shot of gratuitous cuteness...the inspiration for the dog art:


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bloggers Quilt Festival - Spring, 2011

Amy's Creative Side | Bloggers' Quilt Festival

It's time for the Bloggers Quilt Festival over on Amy's Creative Side!  I absolutely love this idea, and give myself breaks during the day when I sit down with a giant glass of water and allow myself 5 or 10 links before getting back to work.  It's inspiring, motivational, and very relaxing.

For this festival, I chose my recently completed See Greer Grow quilt.  This is a very simple quilt that shows off a focus fabric and is a great example of how an uncomplicated design can make for a beautiful quilt. 

I chose a baby quilt for my festival project because that's how I got started in quilting.  I made a quilt for my best friend's son when we were both pregnant at the same time.  My mom made a similar quilt for my baby.

Baby quilts are, by far, the most common type of quilt I've made.  For some reason, I almost always finish them by the baby's due date or arrival.  I wish I had that same kind of follow through with other projects but, sadly, my list of UFO's tells another story!

Baby quilts are immensely satisfying for me to make. They are small enough to be quick projects; you can use those adorable novelty prints, bright solids, or exquisite reproductions and still get a satisfying result.  They are also a perfect size for practicing your free motion quilting on a domestic machine without feeling like you're wrestling an alligator.

I had a great time free motion quilting on this project.  I used swirls and hearts and leaves and vines and flowers to create a soft, feminine flow to offset the boxy piecing.

Almost everyone appreciates the beauty of a baby quilt and the heirloom it may become.  At the same time, I find they are the most used quilted gifts, which gives me no end of pleasure.  The greatest compliment someone can give me is to ask me to replace the binding on a five or six year old baby quilt because it has been loved and worn and washed.

Plus, is there anything more blissfully sweet than this face?  Who wouldn't want to make that angel a quilt?

I hope you enjoy the Blogger's Quilt Festival.  Thanks, Amy, for this awesome idea and for hosting us each market season!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Fading Fast

Remember this?

It's the 50th birthday card I made just under two years ago for my friend, Teresa.  I was at her home the other day when she asked for a favor: to go over the writing on the back because now it looks like this:

I am so sad!  I cannot believe how quickly it has faded.  I used a Pigma Micron pen to write on it, and thought that it would last a lot longer than two years.  It makes me wonder how long my labels really will last.  I use these pens sometimes, and other times I use my printer and fabric sheets

Hopefully this degree of fading is due to the fact that Teresa had it sitting out in her kitchen and exposed to more sunlight than a normal quilt label would be.  And luckily, I took pictures of both sides so I could remember what I wrote! 

Has anyone else had this problem?  How do you deal with it?  Is there a more permanent ink I can use for fabric postcards and labels?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

My prayer for mothers today...

For all the new moms, I pray for endurance.  The learning curve is steep and exhausting.
For all the old moms, peace.  You have learned the truth behind "Little kids, little problems."
For all the grandmoms, happiness.  I hear there's nothing better than a grandbaby.  In my house, we know that they love each other so much because "they have a common enemy."
For all who want to be moms, hope.  I know that Mother's Day is one of the hardest all year.  Know that the child who is supposed to bless your life is coming, maybe not the way you wanted, maybe not the way you planned.
For all who have lost their moms, peace.  May her spirit always fill you with wisdom and love.
For all who have lost a child, faith.  On this day for honoring mothers, remember that you still are one, even if your child is not with you, even if no one else remembers.  I pray that you are filled with faith that you will hold your baby again, or for the first time. 

To my own mom, THANK YOU! for putting up with me and teaching me that being "the meanest mom on the block" doesn't mean I'm messing it up.

To my mother-in-law, THANK YOU! for putting up with him and raising the wonderful man I adore.
To our grandmoms, we miss you and love you.

To all my friends who are moms of kids older than mine, thanks for the advice and encouragement.
To my friends who are moms of kids younger than mine, especially those late-in-life unexpected arrivals, thanks for the smiles and the memories!

I hope every one of you has a beautiful day!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Going to Guild - Nancy Graham

I finally made it to a guild meeting for the first time since January!  This spring sports season really put a damper on my social life, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

This month's speaker was Nancy Graham, the sister of one of our members.  Nancy came to visit a few years back, and I was the lucky winner of a jar of her hand dyed fabrics.  It was great to have her back.

She shared some of her beautiful quilts, made with her own hand-dyed fabric, as well as her stamping and printing techniques.

Nancy is very green, using all kinds of things the rest of us would throw in the garbage or recycling bin to create texture and images on fabric.  "It used to be called 'cheap'," she says.  She finds patterns in all kinds of materials, from the bottom of a yogurt container to bubble wrap!

Nancy often uses styrofoam from food packaging to create her own prints.  You can use a ball point pen, but Nancy also likes fat knitting needles and other found objects to cut out the designs.  She claims you don't have to be an artist, and has even put plastic lizards onto a copy machine to get the outline of her "totem" lizard.  Although she has used many kinds of paint, she likes the Jaquard Textile Paints a lot.

Nancy sometimes uses Fun Foam, adhering it to a piece of plexiglass, to create stamps.  One of those little suction cup hangers makes a great handle!  But she's also been known to glue her foam stamps to bottle caps, credit cards, or anything else you can get a grip on. 

Of course, her designs look that much better when they are printed on a piece of her yummy hand-dyed fabric!  Nancy is a big fan of Dharma Trading Company, and swears by their recipes. 

Nancy's signature prints are her New Hampshire leaves.  She has a freezer full of them - who needs food? - that she collects and saves.

She was so generous in showing us her techniques and even letting us come up and practice. 

I got to make and take this beauty!

 Thanks so much, Nancy!  I can't wait to try this at home!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sew Bee It: Ringgold, GA Tornado

Watching the devastation from last week's storms has brought a barrage of emotion.  I'm so grateful that, although we stayed up all night and watched, the clouds somehow opened over and around most of Atlanta.  We didn't even get rain here.  My heart is broken for those who have lost family members and friends to the unpredictable violence.  I feel the knot in my stomach just thinking about those parents watching the storm hit Tuscaloosa, wondering if college kids have enough sense and good old fashioned fear to get out of the way, not knowing what kinds of emergency preparations have been made, and are there even basements in dorms? 

Sew Bee It, a lovely shop in Ringgold, GA, was utterly destroyed by the tornadoes.  This is the shop we always managed to stop by on our way to Chattanooga, and my children have fond memories of picking out fat quarters of fabric that I'd never get around to using (Coca Cola, motorcycles, ballerinas); a kind of fabric scrap book of our visit. 

The photos on their Flickr stream tell the sad tale.  Luckily they are safe and the employees homes untouched.  Word on the street (okay, at guild) is that they intend to rebuild.  Let's hear it for resilience!

Looking for a way to offer assistance to the victims?  Click here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Field Trip: Thread Bear Fabrics

Now that the quilts for the twinkies are done, I'm ready to start my next project:  The Bear's 8th grade graduation quilt. 

After a lot of thought, I decided to go a similar route to his brother's graduation quilt, and make some extra large, chunky blocks.  I didn't want the same pattern, but a similar one would work.  I decided to make a giant Disappearing Nine Patch in the colors of the high school he will attend.  

As much as I love shopping from my stash, I don't have enough manly-man fabrics to make a twin size quilt.  I would have to go shopping.  (Oh, darn!)  Purely out of my devotion and love for all of you, dear readers, I chose to go to a shop I hadn't seen before, Thread Bear Fabrics just up the road a piece in Forsyth County, GA.

I've heard about this shop and its vast selection from excited members of my guild for months.  I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to go, since I really did NEED a wide variety of fabrics to choose from.  This is just a fraction of a glimpse around the store, and doesn't include the giant sale room/classroom next door!

I was thrilled when I walked in and found a friend from guild working that day.  Cathy does beautiful custom longarm quilting in addition to working at the shop.  She was a great help while I stacked up bolts of fabric to audition.

Despite the fact that so many fabrics have a floral or somehow feminine feel (no polka dots for this boy!), I was able to find enough great choices and never felt like I had to compromise.  This would be an excellent shop to visit when you, like me, you had something specific in mind.  Or nothing in mind!

Here's what I finally chose:

If you don't live close by, Thread Bear Fabrics has an online store through the website, and also maintains an eBay storefront.

Happy shopping!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

April Book List

Nothing like Spring Break to get a few good books under your belt!  I love April!

This month I read:

Live Wire by Harlan Coben.  This is another Myron Bolitar book, one of my favorite series.  I'm looking forward to the next book, which you find out about at the end.  Looks like a whole new chapter for both Coben and Bolitar.

The Siege by  Ismail Kadare.  This gem was tossed in with the two bricks my mother-in-law left for me last month; and foolishly I saved this one for last.  This was originally written in Albania in 1970 about "a 15th-century Ottoman siege of a Christian citadel in Albania."  It won the Man Booker International Prize in 2005.  There were so many fascinating little details about this era interwoven with the narrative about life during campaign season.  I know next to nothing about Albania, but now I'd like to read more.

Circle of Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini.  I used to buy these books the moment they hit the bookstore, but somehow have fallen behind.  One of my favorite things about these books is that Chiaverini manages to keep the stories about Elm Creek without them getting old the way some series do.  The original Elm Creek crowd are virtually background characters in this volume, but you still get to check in with them.  A word of warning:  this was the most emotional of her books that I have read and, in my opinion, the most personal so far.  The section about Karen hit very close to home for me and, I imagine, Chiaverini and all mothers.  But I wasn't prepared for the section about Russ and Elaine.  While this may be my favorite of the books so far, it wasn't as much of the light, easy read that I have come to expect and enjoy.  Pro or con, you've been warned. 

Capital Crimes by Jonathan and Faye Kellerman.  I'm a fan of both authors, and this book is the best of both worlds.  It includes a novella written by each of them.  Apparently they've done this twice, so I'll have to look for the other one, called Double Homicide.  This prolific couple feeds my appetite for crime drama in different ways; if I were honest, I'd say I prefer Peter Decker to Alex Delaware, but either will do when I'm in the mood for a murder mystery.

Deadly Game by Catherine Crier.  The only thing that grabs me more than a murder mystery is a TRUE murder mystery.   This book covers the details of the Laci and Conner Peterson case, for which Laci's husband and Conner's father, Scott, was found guilty and sentenced to death.  I followed this case fanatically from Christmas Day, 2002, when Laci was initially reported missing, all the way through the sentencing.  This is the case that is used against me to prove my obsession; while the jury was deliberating I needed some minor surgery.  I arranged for a friend to text me if they came back with a verdict so I'd know as soon as I woke up.  I'm sure there is a 12-Step program for people like me somewhere; for now I just spend a lot of time at Websleuths.

And then, just to get another perspective, I read For Laci by Laci's mom, Sharon Rocha.  As much as they told the same story, this one dealt so much with the personal, gut-wrenching pain and search for answers.  I have never really been upset by a true crime book, but this was definitely hard to read in a different way.  Sharon writes so clearly about her agony that I was having a hard time not imagining myself in her place.  I couldn't put it down, but at the same time it was horrible.

The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier.  I have got to read the rest of her books.  I loved Girl With a Pearl Earring, and this one was just as good.  I'm fascinated by the way the art becomes a character in her novels, and I love reading the facts at the end - the little known true details that inspired the story.  Also, no one is brutally murdered.  Sometimes you need a break.

Too Late to Say Goodbye by Ann Rule.  One more true murder mystery that I followed in real life, this one hit very close to home as the victim, Jenn Corbin, and her husband/murderer, Bart Corbin, lived just one county over.  This is another crime that I followed closely as it was happening, and I was shocked along with everyone else when the case came to an abrupt halt.  

That gets me back on track for my New Year's Resolution to read a book a week.  Nineteen books in seventeen weeks - only thirty-three to go!  I'm sure being a little ahead will come in handy once September rolls around!

How are you doing on yours?

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