Saturday, October 30, 2010

2010 Fall Quilt Market, Part I


Well, here I am at International Quilt Market in Houston! All the exhibitors — pattern designers, fabric companies, tool manufacturers, distributors, and thread companies are here, and were setting up shop when I took these photos on Thursday afternoon. From the second floor “portholes,” here is the view to the left (above), and the center (below)…


And to the right:


 Wow! What a lot of craziness there is going on down there on the main floor!

The AURIfil thread booth is looking good:


Exhibitors ship their goods in these giant wooden crates:

C&T Publishing employees were trying to get all their titles in the racks in alphabetical order — no small job!


All day yesterday, I attended Schoolhouse sessions. Schoolhouse is designed to introduce quilt shop owners to new products, techniques and sales approaches. Every half hour or so, you can choose from about 15 different presentations. My friend Sarah Vedeler did a Schoolhouse session for Accuquilt, maker of small machines that die cut fabric pieces. She is holding up Judy Steenblik’s version of Sarah’s design GO! Be Dazzled. Sarah’s version is in the main exhibition, and won a cash prize! (She doesn’t know exactly what prize yet; the awards ceremony is on Tuesday.)


Sarah has brand new sets of dies for the Accuquilt for her designs: 


The Accuquilt company rolled out its new, smaller “Go Baby” yesterday, with quilters Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, hosts of The Quilt Show, a TV show produced for the Internet. The man taking photos for Accuquilt kindly offered to take my photo with them:

Can you tell that Alex is a little excited about her new baby?
I love the fabrics and designs of Anna Maria Horner, and am an avid reader of her marvelous blog. I'm going to try to get a photo of her in her booth in the next few days. Here is one of her quilts:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Photo therapy

It’s been one of those weeks. I won’t burden you with the details; suffice it to say that it involves an auto mechanic who made a big mistake, a shop owner who isn’t trying very hard to make things right, and several other events that were emotionally draining.

When things seem overwhelming, it always helps me to do something creative. When I don’t have much time, but I need a fix, photography always fits the bill. I take my digital camera out into the garden or the yard, and focus my energy on finding small bits of beauty around me.

Here’s the lovely jewel I found today: my Nikko Blue hydrangea, which in the spring puts out gorgeous cornflower blue flowers, has managed to sprout a few small blooms before fall arrives in earnest. These blooms, however, are the most spectacular dusky lavender, eggplant and plum colors you can imagine. 

I am trying very hard to melt into those colors, to feel serene. 
“Let your soul
stand cool
and composed
a million
— Walt Whitman

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Headed for Quilt Market

I am about to set sail for International Quilt Market in Houston. This is the world’s biggest trade show for the quilting industry, and all the fabric designers, pattern designers and quilting personalities are there. (Sorry, but it is not open to the general public.) It is the place quilt shop owners go to purchase all the new fabric lines, tools, notions and other goods they want to sell for the next six months. 

I will be presenting a Schoolhouse session for AURIfil thread on Friday. (If you are coming, please come see me in room #362C from 12:25 to 12:55 p.m.)

I’m not able to stick around for International Quilt Festival (November 4-7) this year, but I should get to see a lot of the special exhibitions, because they are set up during Market. I’m taking along my camera and a laptop, and plan to blog each night so I can share all the beautiful quilts I see, the people I meet and new products I discover with you … I’ll also try to score some goodies I can give away here on my blog after I return …  so stay tuned!

MCQG show is this weekend

If you live in the Charlotte area, don’t miss the Mooresville Centerpiece Quilters’ Guild’s quilt show this weekend. I’m going to be at International Quilt Market, and I will miss it (for the first time in years, boo-hoo). This group has some fabulous quilters, and they always put on a great show. 

Dates: Friday and Saturday, October 29-30
Location:  Lake Norman Elementary School, 255 Oak Tree Rd, Mooresville NC, 28117
Hours:  9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Admission:  $5 
Details:  Approximately 150 member quilts, raffle quilt, vendors, gift shop, silent auction of quilts, quilt-related items and antique quilts and quilt tops.  Special displays:  “Catawba River Project,” alphabet blocks, mystery quilts.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Getting “Cooped” ready to hang, and sell

The back of Cooped before adding the sleeve and pocket
I was recently contacted by a woman who loved my piece “Cooped,” which is in the October/November issue of Quilting Arts magazine, and wanted to purchase it. Hoo-ray! We e-mailed back and forth about ways to display it. We considered stitching it to a mat and framing it, with or without glass, or adding a hanging sleeve at the top so it could be hung from a small dowel.

In the end, we settled on an approach that will allow her to hang it either using the dowel-through-the-sleeve approach, or on a wire strung through a piece of foam core that fits into a pocket on the back, keeping the piece nice and taut, and able to be hung on a single nail. Here’s how I constructed it. This is similar to the way some of the members of Fiber Art Options (a Charlotte-area group of fiber artists) finished their pieces for our Orchids: Sensuality Stitched exhibition earlier this year.

The piece is about 11-1/2" wide by 8" long. I used fabric that matched the facing, and cut a piece 12" x 8". On each 12" side (what would become the left and right sides), I folded under and pressed 1/4", then folded under and pressed 1/4" again, and stitched it down to create a finished edge:

I did this on both the left and right sides (so that it was now about 11" wide, slightly narrower than the piece), and then did it on the bottom edge, too. The photo below shows the back side of the sleeve/pocket (the side that will go against the back of the quilt), with the top part with the unfinished edge, folded down about 2", and machine stitched in about 1/4" from the unfinished edge to form the sleeve:

Note: On a larger quilt, I would have created a 4" sleeve at the top, since this is the standard sleeve size for quilt shows. This piece is so small that a 4" sleeve would have covered most of the back, and been rather silly!

Next, I pinned the sleeve/pocket to the back of the piece, with the sleeve at the top. I started hand stitching at one of the sides at the bottom, and stitched the pocket part to the back of the quilt, then knotted, and left a small gap right before the seam for the sleeve (see photo below for details). Then I stitched the back of the sleeve to the back of the quilt, leaving the front part of the sleeve open so a dowel or slat could be placed through it to hang it that way, if desired. 

I folded down the very top edge of the sleeve about 1/4", to leave a little “give” for a rod or slat, in case it ever needed to be hung that way:

… and then stitched across the top of the sleeve, and down the other side in the same way as I described above. 

Next, I measured the pocket, cut a piece of foam core to the correct size (in this case, 11" x 7"), and taped the edges with artist’s tape to make them nice and clean:

I measured the distance from the top of the sleeve to the gap in the stiching where the wire would come through, and then marked this on the foam core (you can see it in the photo above) and made a little hole with a sturdy needle. I cut two pieces of wire about 10" each. On each side, I ran a wire through the hole and wrapped them together for about 1-1/2" next to the hole:

Then I inserted the foam core into the pocket just a bit, fed the wires out of the unstitched part of the pocket, and then pushed the foam core completely into the pocket. Last, I wrapped the two wires together in the middle:

Here is the piece hanging on a single nail on my studio’s red wall:

I think it looks great on my red wall; it picks up the bits of red on the chickens’ heads! It hangs nice and flat against the wall now. I hope its new owner will like it.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It’s almost here!

My latest Quilting Arts Workshop DVD, “Master Machine Stitching: Thread Sketching Beyond the Basics,” should be available soon. I’ve ordered a bunch of copies, and am offering the DVD for pre-sale on my website. I’ll ship them out as soon as I get them.

The DVD is 76 minutes completely on the topic of thread sketching. I think that most quilters are visual learners; they learn best by watching. So I spent a lot of time in this DVD actually stitching — explaining what I am doing and why, while I stitch. Here’s a little clip:

In the DVD, I demonstrate how I take two projects (the apple in the clip above, and the butterfly on the cover of the DVD) from basic fused fabric layers like this:

to this:

… and show you how to do it, too!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

In the land of cotton

Cotton! I was on my way to an errand in a small town nearby – China Grove – when I came around a curve and saw this. At first I thought it was snow, but the temperatures (still in the low 80s, despite the calendar reading October) obviously ruled that out.

My excitement about seeing cotton growing just a few miles from my house makes it obvious that I am a Yankee living in the South. I’ve now lived more of my life in southern states than in northern ones, but my accent (and my excitement about seeing cotton, I suppose!) will always reveal my roots. 

Cotton used to be a common crop in North Carolina. It is one of the reasons that this state was a center for textiles. Today, most of the textile plants are closed, and the jobs gone, mostly to Asia. That’s where the majority of our lovely cotton quilting fabrics are printed these days.

There is an storefront in the historic center of Mooresville with faded old lettering on its door that has a name and “cotton broker” on it. The railroad tracks that run right through town used to carry cotton in and out of town, and straight to the door of Burlington Mills in Mooresville. The mill manufactured denim into the 1990s, when it shut up its doors and the company – and hundreds of jobs – left town.


Nowadays, you seldom see cotton crops while driving through North Carolina. It is a fascinating sight this time of year. The plant itself is prickly and scraggly:

…but the hull where the cotton fiber comes out is a lovely shape:

Picking it by hand must have been incredibly back-breaking and hand-bloodying work.

I am reminded of this song I learned as a child, probably from my mother:
Jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton,
Jump down, turn around, pick a bale a day.

O Lordie, pick a bale of cotton,
O Lordie, pick a bale a day.

Me and my gal can pick a bale a cotton
Me and my gal can pick a bale a day. 

And of this one – “Dixie Land,” of course:
O, I wish I was in the land of cotton
Old times there are not forgotten
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.
In Dixie Land where I was born in
Early on one frosty mornin’
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.
O, I wish I was in Dixie! Hooray! Hooray!
In Dixie Land I’ll take my stand
To live and die in Dixie
|: Away, away, away down south in Dixie! :|

NOTE: Ann Marsh, a woman I met at Barnful of Quilts who read my blog today, just wrote me to tell me that folk/blues singer Huddie Ledbetter poplularized the song “Pick a Bale of Cotton.” She sent me the link to this interesting website that details his extraordinary life. You can hear Ledetter singing the song here: Pick A Bale Of Cotton by HUDDIE LEDBETTER

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Petri Dish Promenade

Petri Dish Promenade
19" x 34"
I finished Petri Dish Promenade today. I started this piece in spring 2009 with a piece of hand-dyed and soy-wax-batiked cotton (the central panel), and then embroidered and embroidered and embroidered it. I couched down bits of thread that raveled off  the edges of yardage coming out of the dryer, and some silk roving, with all weights of embroidery floss and beautiful hand dyed threads and perle cotton.

After I was done, I thought the circles looked like cultures growing in a lab in petri dishes, twirling and spinning down the panel. Hence the name.

Then the piece sat for a long time while I determined what I should do with it, how I should finish it. I eventually decided that it needed a little “breathing room” around it, so I added a frame of some lovely cotton-silk fabric (“Radiance”) that I hand-dyed at Grace’s Dye Day for the Pandoras in August. You can see it on the top of the drying rack on the left in this photo:

I’ve always been a bit leery of working with silk – it seems so slippy and uncooperative! — but there is enough cotton in this fabric that it behaves itself. Rather than disturb the lovely patterns in the dye, I decided to cut a hole, or frame, and then reverse appliqued the central panel with the circles inside. After doing a bit more embroidery to continue the circles out into the frame, I added some fairly light, organic quilting lines, and enough quilting in and around the circles to add dimension. 

I tried a lot of new techniques and materials in this piece, and I’m proud of that.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A few more photos from Barnful of Quilts

It was a beautiful day for Barnful of Quilts 2010! I didn’t have much time to take photos, so here are just a few more.

The Charlotte Quilters’ Guild has a beautiful donation quilt to benefit its 2011 quilt show.

Carolina Llamas brought some wonderful fuzzy friends to the show.

Don’t these feet look like something that only Jim Henson (creator of the Muppets) would dream up? 

Oh, my, I’m tired! It was a great – but long – day. Goodnight.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Setting up for Barnful of Quilts 2010

I spent this glorious fall day setting up my stall – yes, literally, my stall — at Barnful of Quilts. Tomorrow is the day!

Barnful of Quilts is a celebration of quilting and fiber art held in the spectacular barn at the the Fox Family Farm in Waxhaw, NC, south of Charlotte. It is one day only, tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There’s a silent auction, bake sale, raffle quilts, and quilts for sale. Vendors offer a wide variety of art and craft items, mostly quilt or fiber related, but usually there is fabulous pottery and jewelry as well. 

Here are some shots of my stall:

This year’s show will feature the Charlotte Quilters’ Guild Best of Show winners, so two of my quilts will be on display in the center ring (below), which looks more like a cathedral than a barn!  

My Harbinger’s Hope (below, behind that gorgeous wearable art) won a Best of Show ribbon in 2008.

My Sunrise Sunset (below) won a Best of Show ribbon in 2006. 

Here are a few photos to give you a little taste of what you’ll see if you come tomorrow:

If you are in the Charlotte area, I’d love to see you tomorrow! Just look for these signs:

… and turn here!

Directions from Charlotte:
Take I-77, and then 485 East to Rea Road. 
Turn right (south).
Follow Rea until it dead-ends into Providence Road.
Turn right, and go through Weddington to Waxhaw. 
In historic downtown Waxhaw, go over the railroad tracks and turn left at the light onto 75. 
Go about 1/4 mile, and at the fork, turn right onto Old Waxhaw-Monroe Road and has a sign to JAARS). 
Go 1.5 miles and turn right onto Sims road at Piney Grove Church.
Go 1.4 miles and turn left in to Fox Farms. 
Follow the drive to the red barn.