Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Making of BFF BELLES

This little art quilt (8 1/2 x 11 ") was inspired by this picture of two BFF's. They are children (teenagers) of the cyber age, living on their iPhones/Pads/Pods etc.; but on this day they were being presented in a very traditional manner as ambassadors/hostesses for their community. One is the daughter of our good friends and the other is her best friend since childhood. I just loved this picture and kept going back to look at it for weeks.

 Some time ago, I had been gifted with some 3" designers'  sample squares of silk and had been "saving" them for just the right project. I thought this might be the one.

I used Photoshop Elements 8 to first convert the photo to black and white, crop it, and enlarge the image a bit. Then I used the "find edges" filter to get clear outlines of the girls. I used a fine point sharpie to outline the girls and all the elements of their dresses.

I then traced each element separately onto parchment paper. At this point I need to back up and tell you that there was A LOT of "Mistyfusing" involved in this project. I love "Mistyfuse" and would be non-functional as an art quilter without it. It is a very fine fusible web that absolutely does not change the hand of your fabric. You can check it out by clicking here.  All of my little fabric swatches were pre-fused before being cut into one inch squares or other shapes. I forgot to take pictures of that process.

I placed the swatch of fabric with the "mistyfuse" on the back, fused side down on top of the pattern piece I had traced on the parchment paper, then pressed again. The tracing of the pattern piece was transferred to the back of the fabric by the mistyfuse . Then all I had to do was use some small, sharp scissors to cut the piece out and it was ready to be added to the whole.

Mistakes were made. Ahem. Some proportions or colors just did not work. I learned that silk changes colors dramatically in different lights. This dress, for example, just did not work.

The next step was to assemble the girls by fusing all the elements together on a "Goddess Sheet" which is a teflon sheet sold by my friends at "Mistyfuse". It protects your ironing board and serves as a release paper so that whatever is fused on top of it can be easily removed. It is a wise idea to have another sheet between your iron and whatever you are fusing to keep your iron clean. (It also works to use parchment paper as a release paper.) The figures can then be lifted as a whole unit off the release surface to fuse onto the background.

For the background, I used a favorite technique of the "Rebel Quilter" aka Jamie Fingal. I cut my pre-fused fabric into one inch squares and began building the background. Yes, tweezers were involved. When I had the background assembled, I picked up the girls and put them in place. Then, fused everything to a piece of wool blend felt.

Now, time for quilting. First, I outlined the girls and each element of their dresses for a "raw edge" appliqué. Next came the free motion quilting beginning in the middle with the sky and working out. The last step was the hand beading on the dresses. I do not have pics of those processes..sorry.

But here you can see results of the free motion quilting.

Here is a detail shot of the quilting.

 At this point, I added another piece of felt for backing and ran a tiny zig-zag stitch around the edge of all three layers for finishing. I trimmed the pink background so that only a tiny sliver showed because I did not want it to overwhelm the piece. 

I love this little quilt and everything about it even if I did do it. I also love the fact that the girl's dad cried when I showed it to him.

Monday, May 21, 2012


I am very honored to have my quilt "Here's to Strong Women" included in the Rituals exhibit curated by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison of the Dinner at Eight Artists.

The ritual I chose to interpret is the toast I lead every year when our group gathers for fun and fellowship in Houston at IQF (or any place else for that matter).    
Here's to Strong Women
May we raise them.
May we know them.
May we be them.

There were a couple of times when I really did not think I would would make the deadline. A case of pronounced of procrastination was my first offense. Then in my normal fashion, revised my design at least twice. THEN, just when I was thinking, "OK, I've got it now." I got really sick and was non functional for at least four weeks. This required another design detour as I knew I could never finish my original plan.

THEN, after I decided to plow ahead, I was presented with the necessity of getting way too well acquainted with my machine's "private parts."

With a lot of encouragement from and support from dear husband and some good friends, I did, in fact cross the finish line, which was pretty much all I was hoping for at that point. I was truly thrilled when my quilt "made the cut".

Here are a couple of pictures of my "studio" aka the dining room. These were taken early in the process. Toward the end, there was another large table in there and very little empty space anywhere.

The Rituals exhibit will debut at the International Quilt Festival in Long Beach July 26-29, 2012 and is

 sponsored by Moore's Sewing Centers. 

It will also be shown at the International Quilt 

Market (Oct 27-29) and Festival (Oct 31-Nov 4) and is sponsored by Havel's Sewing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lighten Up

I am part of a wonderful online quilting community. Every year, instead of making New Year's resolutions, we choose a word to focus on for the year. This year, I chose LIGHTEN. I want to "lighten" my load of "things" that are holding me down. I want to make room for more creativity in my life. I want to "lighten" my attitude toward many things so that I become a better person.

In that pursuit, and with a big push from my husband, we have been very busy over the last few weeks.

We have shredded the contents of at least 38 rubber maid bins of "paper history"  such as old checks, records of moves (We have done a LOT of moving in our career),  old payroll receipts, college term papers for pity's sake...the kind of the stuff that once you pack it away, it is real easy to forget about. Having been POA's for various family members over the years, we not only had our stuff, we had records from three generations back. What a load!
Once the paper was done, we started culling the "hard" ware. We have been pretty brutal with this effort. But, every time I heard a voice in my head saying, "You might need this someday." or "This has been in the family quite a while," I just thought to myself TORNADO. So many people here in Birmingham had their life histories strewn over three states by the tornado in April of this year. If I had been a couple of miles south, all of this stuff would have been blown away and I would never have missed it. So I just pretend that is what happened. So here are some of the remains boxed up and waiting for the Salvation Army truck to arrive.

And, what, you may ask are we going to do with all the empty space? That storage end of our basement/garage is going to become my STUDIO!! It will not happen overnight, but it will happen. Because I have been willing to "lighten up" I now have room for creative space!  I am on a roll now.

Monday, September 5, 2011

May I come back?

If I ask nicely, will you have me back? About a year ago, I became frustrated with my blog and just quit. I am sorry because it has been a great year and I have let many things go by undocumented. The "Little Dancer" sculpture in Charleston is just one of the things I did not post this year.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Beneath the Surface Postcard

Here is the postcard advertising  Beneath the Surface. This is a special exhibit curated by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison, which will be presented by the Dinner at Eigth Artists as part of IQF in Long Beach in July and Houston in November.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Reason to Celebrate

The first weekend in June was a special time for us. We traveled to the Tampa area to celebrate the much anticipated high school graduation of our youngest grand nephew!
On the way down, we stopped in Tallahassee for dinner with the family of our adopted Goddaughter. While we indulged the two little boys with gifts and tons of attention, she and her husband prepared a truly gourmet meal for us. They are both outstanding cooks and it was amazing. Think Chilean Sea Bass...the real thing. (Sorry there are no pictures.) The highlight of the meal came when, after already having served amazing wines with every course, Winston opened this bottle of Grand Vin Chateau Latour 1995! When we got home, I realized I had NO pictures of the family, No pictures of the food, but I did have this close up of the wine. My only defense is that we had already enjoyed several glasses before this.

Then it was on to Tampa for a really big celebration. There were parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends. We had all been pulling hard for four long years and it was time to celebrate!  The next morning the graduate still could not believe it had finally happened. It was a pretty bumpy road. Here, reality seems to have set in as he and his older brother examine his diploma more closely.

Even the four-legged brother, Kaiser, needed to be convinced. Yes, Kaiser. He really did it...just as we all knew he would. I cannot WAIT to meet the man he chooses to become.

The next morning, older brother was off to fulfill his duty as an Army National Guardsman. I pray that perhaps cleaning Florida beaches will be as close as he ever has to come to the mixture of heat, sand and oil.

We try never to leave Tampa without having a meal at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. This authentic Cuban restaurant was established in Ybor in 1905. There are now several others in the area, but for me, this is the only one that really counts. If you are ever in the area, it is worth a visit. At dinner there are Flamenco dancers and reservations are highly recommended.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Interview on Dinner at Eight Artists

I was recently interviewed on Dinner at Eight Artists blog. Please click on the link to read the interview. I am honored beyond belief to be included with the artists listed here.  My quilt, Quagmire, will be part of a special exhibit at the International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, California  July 22-25; and in Houston, Texas , Nov. 4-7. This has been a real growth experience for me.  I want to sincerely thank Jamie Fingal and Leslie Jenison for their work as curators for this exhibit. Also a special thank you to the sponsors Moore's Sewing Centers( and Brother International ( in Long Beach; and MistyFuse ( in Houston.