Monthly Archives: May 2010

Crazy Quilt

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So here's my completed crazy quilt. The big problem was how much the fabric frayed. The next step was hand embroidering around each shape, which I didn't think would be a problem, given that I embroidered in high school. Wrong! I managed to fumble through the blanket stitch, with the help of a book, but I ripped everything else out in frustration.

I wanted to make a crazy quilt so that I could learn hand embroidery, and have something to do during the many hours we watch TV.  Well, I guarantee that this will be no easy task. I have enough learning to do to get me through the next few seasons of  American Idol!!!!

I’ll admit, I thought of just doing the embroidery on my Janome, which boasts 150+ decorative stitches. However that doesn’t solve the “need handwork in front of the TV” issue, so I’m going to continue with my original plan.

I also finished listening to “The Aloha Quilt” by Jennifer Chiaverini. What a treat!  I had such a great day sewing and listening to this wonderful book on CD. I felt like I had my own personal quilt retreat. I’m looking forward to reading and/or listening to the other books in the Elm Creek Quilters series.

Crazy Quilting

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I wanted to try something different this weekend. JoAnn's had sari material on for 50% off (about $5.00 per yard). I bought 1/2 a yard of a bunch of gorgeous fabrics. Then I came home and tried to figure out an interesting project, since I generally sew only with cottons.

So I decided to do some crazy quilting. I approached this in the same way I would paper piecing. Just started with two inside pieces, and kept adding around it. This project went quickly (the whole thing probably took about 4 or 5 hours) and was a lot of fun. The pictures don't show the sheen of the fabrics, but they're gorgeous.

Between projects

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I’m between projects and it’s driving me crazy! I’ve started a few things that I haven’t liked, so nothing’s really clicked there (very unsatisfying). I’ve been going through my old quilting magazines and tearing out future projects … but haven’t seen anything that I just love.

Part of the problem is that I’ve been sick the last week … so I haven’t had a lot of energy. Combine severe asthma/coughing spells with my prescription cough medicine, and it isn’t exactly a recipe for creativity. I’ve been more interested in zoning out in front of the TV.

I finished my daughter’s guitar quilt, which has been my major UFO for the past few months.

I’ve even been cleaning up my studio. That’s been frustrating as well. The room is the formal living room in our house, although we set it up as a school room/office before I took it over for quilting. However it’s got lots of bookcases (mostly full of books) which are awesome for books — and not so great for fabric and quilting supplies. I’ve been trying to move books to the basement, but I’m still left with a room that was not designed for quilting and is hard to organize to meet my needs. It’s like putting a large square peg in a small round hole. I added an ironing board and table to the space, which makes it look crowded and disorganized (which it is).

I start my Quilting 102 class tonight, so I’ll have my traditional quilting project to keep me busy. I know that I will enjoy it, but I’m much happier when I have something more artsy going on. I keep looking through my stash and hoping that some great idea will come to me.

Plus it’s hot here in Long Island. Yesterday it was over 90 degrees.  I’ve got the air conditioning on, but I’m still not feeling very energetic.

Boy, this was an uninspiring post! Hope everybody else is being more productive!

Helen Keller Cottage, Second Visit

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A few weeks ago, I visited the abandoned house in Southold, Long Island. This is the house where Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan supposedly spent their last summer together in 1936, just before Ms. Sullivan died. The house is in great disrepair. Although there were people who were trying to save the house, I saw in Newsday last week that the town council has voted to raze the cottage sometime in the near future. My daughter and I visited last weekend for our (likely) final look at this cottage. This time we went around back, where you can really see why there’s no hope of saving it.

Front of the cottage. Actually doesn't look too bad.

A sign is posted on the door warning not to enter the house.

The reason for this sign is obvious when you see the back of the house.

Boarded windows, with broken panes.

More broken windows ... something very spooky about them.

The back of the house is wide open.

Now we realized why they couldn't fix it.

A vew into the pantry. The green are the cupboards.

The house had been abandoned for 40 years, yet the propane tanks remain.

Overgrown foliage.

This was the porch along the side of the house, and is completely rotted away.

Top of the porch

Wall of the house, inside the porch

That's all folks! So sad that this house is being torn down.

Purple Pansy Quilt

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This fabric was purchased online from Keepsake Quilting. It arrived today ... just in time to start my Quilting 102 class on Thursday! The pattern is a series of half-square triangles arranged to form a star, as well as four-patch blocks. I wanted something pretty and summery. It was actually fairly hard to find something online that had small enough prints for the tiny triangles and 4-patches ... but then bigger flowers for the borders. I also wanted realistic flowers. Overall, I think this effect will be lovely.

Sewing & Felting

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I've had this picture for a while and wanted to do something art quilt related with it. I just wasn't sure what. Then, when we were at the Fiber Festival on Sunday, I bought some hand-dyed wool. I thought it would be very cool to try applying the wool, using a sewing machine, to make a picture of a buffalo (or whatever this animal is).

Here are my efforts. I used fabric, stabilizer, and then muslin as a base. I drew on a picture of the bull. Then I started sewing on the wool. First I used a ziz-zag stitch, but I quickly realized that a straight stitch would be fine. I actually feel like this would give a cool effect for a whole piece, but my sewing machine started jamming. Quite honestly, I wasn't in love with this enough to invest the time to finish it. But it was a cool project.

Hallockville Fleece & Fiber Fair

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Yesterday I attended the Fleece and Fiber Fair at the Hallockville Museum Farm, located in Riverhead (Long Island), New York. We got there after 3:00 PM, so we missed all of the demonstrations that were planned for the day. Nevertheless, it was quite interesting. My daughter and I were very taken with the llamas. Note their haircuts ... they are actually shaved with very cool styles.

The haircuts are used in judging (just like dog shows) to show the best parts of the llama and hide the not-so-great features. These llamas were on leashes. They were very friendly and liked being scratched under their chins. Somehow we thought llamas were unfriendly and unsociable. But then, on reflection, I'm guessing we were mixing them up with camels. Oops!


Baby llama ... so cute! It was hard to get a picture as it was nursing it's mother. My daughter was ready to get rid of our dogs and raise llamas!


Mother sheep with her two week old babies. The babies weighed about 20 pounds. They were quite stressed being on display. There were some teens from 4H taking care of them.


Where does wool come from, mommy? It comes from naked sheep! Here it is in the raw form!

Yes, I had to buy something. Beautiful, isn't it? The label says "64 count Merino Wool Top for felting/spinning/blending." I know ... it didn't say art quilting! I'll be the first!!!!

Summer Classes

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It’s that time of year … school is almost over and we’re looking at summer activities. I signed up 15 year old up for a week of sleep-away summer camp last weekend. Hopefully, this week, my daughter be enrolled in a 2 week photography camp over the summer. I also made plans for our family vacation in Ontario, Canada.

I also looked at what I can’t afford to do … sigh. There are so many wonderful week long camps that involve quilting. Many of them are in upstate New York, within a day’s drive of my home. Since I’ll be 50 this summer, I’m guessing that I’m a little old for somebody to give me a trust fund to fund these quilting classes. Sigh again. However I spent a significant amount of time this week looking at these classes and feeling sorry for myself because I couldn’t afford to attend. Then, to make myself feel even worse, I looked at many other classes offered around the U.S. and imagined what it would be like to spend a week with a national teacher and like-minded quilt enthusiasts. Add to my misery the fact that I have a terrible cold … so self pity, wheezing and a runny nose have not been a nice combination.

So here’s my compromise. Our local quilt shop offers a really nice deal. For $90 you can buy a voucher for 6 months worth of classes (with a few exclusions). So I went to my quilt shop, bought the voucher, and signed up for three classes over the summer. I was already enrolled in an intermediate quilting class … so I will be busy. I will be sharpening my skills, close to home.

I also noticed that Connecting Threads have their quilting books on sale for 40% off. Maybe I’ll buy a couple books and have my own personal retreat.

Okay … I still REALLY would love a trust fund. But this will have to do!

Holocaust Quilt

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The quilt is inspired by the book  “… I never saw another butterfly …” which is a compilation of children’s drawings and poems from the Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942-1944.  Of the 15,000 children who passed through this camp during those two years, less than 100 survived.

My friend Gillian told me about this book. Gillian is committed to teaching young people about the holocast, both her Hebrew School students and by developing a curriculum that can be used by others. She is a gifted writer and teacher. She is also my dear friend. So this quilt was for her.

I started with several blue fabrics, randomly pieced together for the wall at the bottom, then heavily thread painted to represent the stonework. The black scarf represents the blackness of the concentration camp, which is sewn on. I made each butterfly individually, and I talked about the technique in previous posts. The flowers are made of felt — and are talked about in previous posts. I wanted to give them a folk-art type look of being child-like, to give the piece a sense of child-like art.

I used deep blue commercial fabric imprinted with the Star of David, which I free motioned quilted with stars.

This piece held great significance for me — both because I was making it for a friend, and because of the historical tragedy it represented. It is the first quilt I’ve created with deep meaning.  It was an odd feeling to be quilting with a lump in my throat, or holding back tears. This was my first experience with the emotion that can go into our artwork. I am very proud of this quilt. I was honored to create it for my friend Gillian, because I know that she it is a piece of her more important work.

“Many More Butterflies”  is approximately 26″ x 30″ in size.

Quick Quilt

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This was a fun 8.5 x 11″ quilt. I started without any project in mind … just a piece of blue fabric I liked and some green thread. It was fun to see what developed as it turned into a face with a threadpainted main of hair.

This was primarily a study to see how I could do with managing to stabilize fabric without using a hoop. I find hoops annoying because you can only work on a small area at a time. I made a fabric sandwich in this order:

1. Super Solvy Water Soluble Stabilizer

2. Blue Fabric

3. Heat ‘n Bond Lite (Sewable Permanent Adhesive)

4. 100% wool batting

5. Heat ‘n Bond Lite

6. Muslin

7. Super Solvy Water Soluble Stabilizer

Yes, the preparation took a little while. I ironed the Heat-n-Bond onto the fabric and also used Sulky KK2000 temporary spray adhesive to help glue everything together. I used safety pins around the outside to help hold everything together. My original piece was probably 13 x 15″ or so, which I cut down when I was finished.

I had never used the Heat-n-Bond before and it seemed to work very well.

I must also make a formal apology to Sulky for my previous trashing of their Super Solvy product. I’d used it once before and HATED it. It was after a class. We’d made butterflies on a hoop, and I was finishing the project in a hotel room. I know I hadn’t read the instructions … but I’d tried to remove the Solvy by running it under the tap (warm water, I recall) and it was a gucky mess. I vowed never to use it again.

When I went to Joann’s, the Sulky product was the only one available, so I decided to give it another try. This time I read the directions. You soak your project in COLD water for 5 to 10 minutes. The stabilizer completely disappeared. There was no guck or mess at all. I was extremely pleased. So I’m now a Super Solvy Water Soluble Stabilizer fan (say that three times fast!).

This was a great project. I feel like I can move ahead now, knowing that I have a good method to stabilize and to thread paint. I really just sitting at my machine and seeing what happens!