Friday, July 30, 2010

Hand Embroidered Tea Towels - A Reminder of Mamaw

As far back as I can remember, my Mamaw use to hand embroider tea towels and pillow cases. She had a cedar hope chest in her guest bedroom that was overflowing with set after set of tea towels and pillow cases that were ready for the next wedding, housewarming or Christmas gift. She was very fast and sewing these, and I'm sure this was in her top two pasttimes (the other being baking).

When she passed, I inherited most of her sewing stuff. When I finally gathered the courage to go back through everything I had, I found several sets that she had already prepared for embroidery. This set in particular was set off to the side, and I found the thread she had planned to use - even down to the pre-threaded needle. The colors? Blue, mustard yellow, green and red - my sister's house colors. Since my sister also loves muslin, how much more perfect could it be?

I wish I could be in Seattle when Jen opens her box and sees these at the bottom. I know she will love them and she will smile with a fond memory of Mamaw.

With friendship,

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mini Quilt - A Little Crazy

Originally posted in 2006 on my old Quilt Journey blog, which is now retired.

I've always wanted to learn how to crazy quilt, so I decided to take the plunge.

I've always loved crazy quilts - even the ones that were done with traditional fabrics. I had always imagined how cool they would look with some of the crazy fabrics I like so much. My first attempt at the process was a joke. I couldn't figure out how to do it! That was about a year ago and I never tried again.

A few months back I caught a Martha Pullen episode on PBS where she demonstrated how to crazy quilt. AH HA! Now I knew the trick! I immediately began the search for fabrics on which to try my newfound skill. I found a few sources on ebay that sold fabric scraps and purchased about 5 pounds worth. (My hubby just scratched his head when the packages arrived).

I decided that I wanted to do something for fall, so I picked out some beautiful silks from my stash. Following the instructions that Martha provided, I was off and running.

I pieced the two quilts using the traditional crazy quilt method. Once the piecing was done, I used poly and rayon threads to add decorative stitches. (Next time I plan to use some pearl crown in the bobbin, but I was being somewhat conservative for my first time.) I'm not sure I'm done with these two pieces - I think they may want to become my new fall bag . . .

With friendship,


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mini Quilt: Squares

Like most quilters, I cannot bear to part with fabric, no matter how small the scrap. So, instead of tossing out those scraps I cut them up into two-inch squares and place them in a big bin. I've done this for years and now have quite a collection.


I found this fabric a while back and fell in love. (Can you relate?) I had no plans for it at the time, so it hung around for a while. I ultimately ended up making a pair of pants from it and cut the leftovers into squares. I decided to play with the squares a bit and see what happened. I have to say I was surprised. When the stripes all go the same way, I see more brown. Whey they are alternated, I see more pink.


Nothing too mysterious on this one. I started with the two-inch squares, turned every-other-one 90 degrees and sewed them together. I was going to do some quilting, but ultimately decided against it. I have a tendency to quilt my pieces to death, so leaving this one simple is a bit of a challenge for me (we'll see how long I last before I attack).

With friendship,


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Sister's Cuff

One of my favorite things to do is beadweaving. When my sister announced her engagement, I was dying to make her a cuff. I've been wanting to do a piece with pearls for a very long time, so I was excited when she told me to give it a go. My mom has a broach that belonged to my grandmother. It is gold with tiny ivory pearls throughout. I thought it would be perfect to incorporate that "something old" with "something new." Here are the pictures of my progress so far.

This is the broach from my grandmother. I added the big pearl in the middle. I also left the pin on the back so that Jen can remove it later, if desired. It is secured to the bracelet, but can be removed with a few snips.
You probably noticed above that the left and right side don't match. I got the right side done but then stopped and wondered if the left side looked better. What do you think?
Here is the left side - no extra pearls.

Here is the right side with the extra pearls. I am truly torn!

Here is a side view showing what both sides look like with the broach.

And here is the clasp. It is simple with three pearls that are hooked into three loops. Sorry for the first pic being so blurry!

So, which side do you prefer? The more simple side or the side with the extra pearls?
With friendship,


Monday, July 19, 2010

My Sister's Quilt

In the last month or so I've been working on a quilt for my sister. It will be a wedding gift . . most likely a LATE wedding gift. My sister really appreciates vintage items and loves anything handmade. If you can tie it to some sort of historical or family significance, even better.

When she approached me about making her a quilt I immediately remembered a dusty box stored in the top of my closet that had not been opened in several years. I inherited that box when our grandmother passed several years back. I had not opened it in years becausing doing so brought on a flood of tears. I knew that box contained a stack of hand-stitched blocks our grandmother had diligently worked on for years.

I mustered up the courage to open the box and I was delighted to find enough blocks to make at least three queen-sized quilts. I took pictures of the various blocks and send them to my sister. She selected the fans.

In total there are 125 fans, and it looks like I'll need most of them to make a queen-sized quilt. Due to wide size variations in the hand-piecing, I had to cut all of them down to 6.5 x 6.5 squares (they were originally scaled to be 7.5 x 7.5). It broke my heart to do so, but then I realized my grandmother would much rather see them cut and put to good use than sitting in a dusty old box hidden from view.

Here are the pictures of the original fans. They are all different - I have not found two that are exactly the same. I'll share more pictures as my work progresses.

With friendship,


Friday, July 16, 2010

Inspiration: Jill2Day

I have always had a love of fashion design and even had a period where I was designing children's clothing and selling them on ebay. I still dream of someday designing clothing for women. In particular, I would love to design clothing for plus-sized women since everything seems to be designed for the older generation. (Hey - hellooooooo . . . just because we're plus-sized doesn't mean we want to dress like grandma!)

Recently I've spent some time noodling on what I would design if I could sew a sleeve in properly, and I came across Jill2Day on Etsy ( I love her eye for color, how she designs so the clothing will be flattering, how she upcycles and, most of all, how her clothing reminds me of quilting. You simply must check out her shop. She even offers stacks of fabrics that you can then have designed in your own custom piece. How cool is that?

Jill, hon, you really got to write a book or tutorial or SOMETHING. I'm dying to buy one . . .

With friendship,


Quilt Journey

Over the years I have found myself trying new things - jewelry, silversmithing, soap making, lotion making, scrapbooking, clothing design . . . but I always seem to return to quilting. I remember watching my grandmothers quilt as a little girl. I recall both of them teaching me techniques - one taught me machine piecing and the other taught me hand quiliting & embroidery. In total, I've probably made well over 50-100 quilts, but my personal collection is quite small. I have a tendency to keep the smaller works for myself and give away the functional quilts as gifts.

In the last few months I've had to stay away from my newer hobbies due to severe tendonitis in my wrists. During that time I've been quilting again. Ahhh . . .how I've missed it. Unlike my newer passions where I am wholly focused on what I'm doing, quilting gives me the opportunity to let my mind wander. During one of these wanderings I remembered that, several years back, I was going to do a new quilt every week. I think I did six weeks before life got in the way. Perhaps its time to revive that mission.

In the meatime, I thought I would share those works, and start talking more about what I'm working on between the stuffed animals (made another donation this week, by the way - 50 toys!) And, I'll share some of my top inspirations along the way.

So, welcome to my quilt journey. It will be a slow, relaxing trip.

With friendship,

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