Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jan’s “Flora Bag”

I got an e-mail last week from Jan Savu, a woman who used to be in my local quilt guild, Lake Norman Quilters, but moved to Arkansas a few months ago. She wrote to say that she had made a bag using my “Flora Bag” pattern:
“I finished it up at our quilting guild retreat here in Arkansas and what a hit it was, one of the girls called you right from the retreat to order more patterns. I remember you carrying it to a guild meeting and loved the bag but I don't remember it being so tall, my solution was to just fold down the finished top about 2 inches, kind of made a finished look to the inside, you might be able to see it in the picture. I added some hanging beads to the flap and love it, of course I've already had lots of compliments. Enjoy your blog; keeps me up on all the happenings there. Thanks for a great pattern and easy to follow instructions.”
It was so sweet of Jan to send the photo and nice note. I love seeing how people take my designs and make them their own. Isn’t her bag gorgeous?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Do we find luck … or make it?

I found this four-leaf clover this morning while out for my daily walk with my dog, Sophie.

Four-leaf clovers always make me happy. “Look at me!” they shout. “I’m different!” Botanists might describe them as mutants, but to me, they are a happy accident. Not so different from lots of the people I know, who don’t exactly fit the mold.

Last year, I found 14 four-leaf clovers without trying very hard. Granted, I spent a lot of time walking the dog and hanging around soccer fields while my daughter played or practiced. But I’ve always had a knack for being able to spot things like this. I once found my grandmother’s earring in our 1/2 acre front yard. It is one of my special gifts.

I’ve never been one for believing in luck. The whole concept rubs me the wrong way. Why should one person with “luck” have an easy life, others have to work for what they need, and still others work really hard and still not get what they need? I try to value hard work, perseverance and creativity. I’m making my own luck!

NOTE: I found ANOTHER four-leaf clover the next day! I’m on a roll!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Win this book: “Easy Appliqué Blocks” by Kay Mackenzie

Appliquér Kay Mackenzie has a great new book just out! It features 50 darling applique designs to mix and match, each in 5 different sizes. All the blocks are on a CD that comes with the book (PC and Mac compatible), so it is easy to find the size you need and print it out from your computer.

When I saw the cat-and-fish block on the cover of Kay’s book, I knew it was the first one I’d do. My black cat, Trouble, LOVES our goldfish (a little too much, methinks), and spends time every evening watching the fish, drinking from the fishbowl, and occassionally dipping her paw in to terrorize the goldfish.

Here’s Trouble spending time with her favorite finned friend last night:

Yum! That fishy water is delicious!

And here is my block. I added the bowl (which is actually a large glass canister), but kept Kay’s graceful cat tail, which, alas, Trouble does not have. We adopted her at six months from a shelter, and were told that she had been attacked by dogs as a kitten, and they broke her tail. It has several kinks in it. I’m going to add details (the rim of the bowl, the waterline, and the glass pebbles at the bottom) when I quilt this block.

Here are some of the things I like best about Kay’s book:

1. The blocks are very simple, so they are perfect for beginners. In fact, I told my beginning applique class about this book when I taught Friday at my local quilt shop. The pieces are big, and the shapes are easy, so it’s the perfect way to learn (and learn to love) appliqué.

2. Kay shares her techniques in a reassuring, friendly writing style.

3. There are both hand- and machine-appliqué methods described in detail. Want to do maching appliqué? Choose from a raw-edge machine appliqué or a method using paper-backed fusible web. Want to do hand applique? Try either the freezer-paper-on-top technique or back basting. (I’ve never done either of these hand methods … yet!)

4. Lots of cute, cute, CUTE blocks – baskets, birds, flowers, hearts, cats, dogs, teapots, chickens – that can be used on lots of things, like wall quilts, aprons, dresser runners, sweatshirts, and totes.

5. These are versatile designs to have on hand if you belong to a guild that does block raffles or swaps with a theme. You’re sure to find a design you can use and whip up in a jiffy.

6. Kay offers tons of tips on the importance of addressing vision issues (“Gentle quilter, it’s time to go the drugstore and get some of those groovy granny glasses”), lighting, fabric selection and preparation, tools and notions, and ways to add fine details with embroidery, beading or buttons.

7. Her hand applique instructions are concise and have detailed diagrams on stitching pointy points and smooth curves.

8. The CD makes it easy to print out the blocks you need, and to scale them to the size you want. And the book also includes line drawings you can enlarge on a photocopier, if you don’t have a computer.

But I think my favorite part is the “Little Gallery of Ideas” at the end. Here, Kay showcases darling little quilts made by mixing and matching blocks from the book.

You can win a copy of this book!
Leave me a post today (Saturday, March 28) before 7 p.m. EST, telling me what method you use to appliqué (or if you haven’t tried it yet), and your name will go into the drawing. Check back later Saturday evening, and I’ll post the winner at the bottom of this post.

If you really want to win a book and don’t win my copy, you can go to each blogger’s post on their day and put your name in the hat for their book. Kay’s blog, All About Appliqué, has a list of the bloggers participating.

To purchase the book, ask for it at your favorite quilt shop. It is also available from Martingale & Company and from Amazon. If you want an autographed copy, go directly to the source and order your copy signed by Kay at Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs.

We have a winner!
Kathie H. won the book! Kay Mackenzie will be contacting you to get your address.

Thanks so much to everyone who posted; it was great to hear about your applique techniques!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Quilters by the Sea Guild in Wilmington

Spring was just arriving in beautiful Wilmington, NC, when I visited there on Monday and Tuesday to speak and do a workshop for the friendly Quilters by the Sea Guild.

I arrived in historic Wilmington a few hours before my presentation, so I strolled through a residential part of the older part of the city, which boasts spectacular turn-of-the-century (and older) houses.

Love those Christmas snowflake lights and the charming red door.

A beautiful door and transom. Check out the little metal Daschund to the left of the door ... perhaps a boot scraper?

Here’s part of the talented group that took my “Surface Design Madness” workshop on Tuesday. What a nice bunch.

We stamped and stenciled on fabric with Lumiere fabric paint.

We made beads from Tyvek and wrapped them in wire and beads.

We melted Tyvek to make embellishments.

This student really went to town with her Lumiere! Isn’t this gorgeous?

One student made this by stamping Lumiere with a regular kitchen sponge. Great texture!

More fun with Lumiere.

This is Lumiere sponged through sequin waste.

We also stamped and embossed Angelina.

It is always so interesting to me that each student finds something different that “floats her boat.” I try to offer many different techniques and materials in this class. We cover a lot of ground in six hours.

Many thanks to Mary Ann, and all the Quilters by the Sea!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Charlotte Quilters Guild 2009 show

The Charlotte Quilters Guild’s 2009 quilt show opened today. I am so proud of the Pandoras! We won a second place ribbon in the “Group” category for our quilt, “Motherhood” (above), and a Judge’s Choice ribbon from Joanne Arntsen! The panels are by (from left:) Grace K. Howes, Lushorn Millsaps, me, and DeLane Rosenau.

Nancy G. Cook won the Best of Show-Small for “Southern Hospitality,” which features a magnolia tree.

Cynthia Page’s “Illusion” won a Judge’s Choice award from Kathlyn Sulivan.

Christine Scholz won a Best Machine Quilting ribbon for “Oriental Dreams.”

Pattie Bethune’s “Fire Fern” won the Best Use of Color ribbon.

Joan Roeder’s charming “Joansborough” won the Best Hand Quilting ribbon. I love how she used textured fabrics and hand embroidery to create this lovely village scene. Here’s a detail shot:

Joan says, “My village was inspired by my love of the history of the Middle Ages, and my inability to pass by any fabric of architectural design.”

Kimberly Profitt’s “Sandhills Beauty” (above) won Best of Show-Large.

Kay Horn’s elegant “Garden Path.”

Elizabeth Miller dedicated “Room to Breathe” to her friend Joan Colvin (1933-2007), “a gentle and talented artist who only wanted ‘room to breathe.’”

Elizabeth’s “Linens and Things” features work by Elizabeth as well as various unknown quilters and embroiderers. She collects vintage linens (runners, doileys, quilts, tablecloths and hankies) and uses them in her quilts to preserve this wonderful “women’s work.”

My “Round Red Barn.”

Elinor Washington’s “Rose Appliqué” was so sweet, soft and feminine. She started it in 1940, and finished it in 2008!

P.J. Howard’s “Hands On!”

June Alston’s “Colonial Star” (based on a pattern by Jacquline de Jonge)

Cary Langhorne Caldwell ’s “Old Bay.” Cary is a very talented up-and-coming young art quilter, and I love her work.

“Under the Watchful Eye of Queen Charlotte II” by Deborah Langsam contains “people and places that have shaped Charlotte” in a mosaic of tiny photographs printed on fabric. Here’s a detail shot:

Cary Langhorne Caldwell’s “Cousin Fredrick.”

Melanie Paul won a first place ribbon for her “Well, Shut My Mouth,” which includes one of her mother’s favorite quotes by Abraham Lincoln.

One thing I always enjoy at the Charlotte quilt show is the exhibit of dolls by the Flights of Fantasy Doll Guild. “Aurora” by Lee Williams looks as though she is soaring!

Aren’t these chicken stitchers funny? They are by Cindy Page.

This lovely doll is by Margaret Williams (pattern by Christine Shiveley).

Nancy G. Cook’s “Winter Confection III.”

P.J. Howard’s “Dragon Bag.”

My “Home Planet.”

My “Purple Evening Bag.”

Nancy G. Cook’s “Crepe Myrtle: Homage to Klimt”

Linda Stegall’s “Losing Serengeti” points out that “the Serengeti plains are one of the world’s largest animial habitats, containing the greatest variety of animals in the world. They … are rapidly diminshing due to our indifference.”

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Announcing the Fiber Art Options blog

I belong to a group of marvelously talented fiber artists from the Charlotte area. I was very honored to have been asked to join this group about two years ago. It includes Nancy G. Cook, P.J. Howard, Janet A. Lasher and Linda Stegall. Elizabeth Miller was an active member until recently (she is now an honorary member, too busy to attend most meetings, but welcome to come if she wants!).

One of our goals for the coming year is to create work individually that could be used in group exhibitions. We decided that it would be good to have a group portfolio, so that we could easily and professionally present ourselves to potential curators. This morning, we officially launched our blog,

We have included posts from our members, as well as links to our current exhibitions, where we have been published, and a short bio and portfolio for each member. We’ll be sharing our works in progress, as well as our techniques and ideas. We invite you to view our blog, and to follow us (just go to the bottom of the sidebar on the right and click the “follow” button).