Sunday, July 31, 2016

Another Row Completed from the Row by Row Experience 2015

Well, here's another row from the Row by Row Experience 2015. Last year's theme was "Water" in all its various forms. This kit came from Blaine's Sewing Machine Center in Cranston, RI. While the anchor appears to have a grey background, it is actually on the same light blue background as the bird bath. I completed this row while quilting this weekend with friends at a local hotel. We quilt Friday through Sunday, but we don't spend the night there.

I also put the finishing touches on the mermaid piece on which I have been working and since it now all layered, hopefully, I will be able to quilt it tomorrow.

Friday, July 29, 2016

A Historic Moment

Last night, July 28, 2016, Hillary Clinton, former senator and Secretary of State, accepted her party's nomination in the quest to become our country's forty-fifth president.  When I was a child in the fifties,  I would watch Big Brother Bob Emery, a local Boston TV show for children. At noontime,  children would run to get a glass of milk so that they might join the host in a toast to the President of the United States. I don't remember much about the program, but I do remember the president's framed photo on the wall, the "Hail to the Chief" being played, and the toast. It never occurred to me then that one day we might have a woman president.

As I grew older, this bothered me . . . why didn't we have a woman president?  Certainly, through the years we have had strong, intelligent, capable women of bother political parties who would have been effective leaders.

Now, I am not suggesting today that anyone should vote for Hillary Clinton simply because she is a women; that would do nothing for our country. I am saying that I believe she is, by far, the most qualified person to lead our country into the future.

Normally, I write about quilting,  gardening,  photography,  my travels, and, of course,  Emma, the world's cutest schnauzer, but today I felt compelled to comment on this historic moment.

For those who are weary of politics, don't worry it will be over in just 100 days!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sun Printing - Lessons Learned

This morning when I took Emma for a very short walk before the day's heat set in, we passed a mimosa tree with low branches hanging over the sidewalk. I wondered how they would work in sun printing, so I plucked a few small pieces. 

On the spur of the moment, I grabbed my supplies and headed outside. My foam core board is covered with clear contact paper over which I placed a plastic sheet. Drops of Dye-Na-Flow were scattered across the slightly dampened white fabric. Next I spritzed it with water from a spray bottle and used a foam brush to cause the colors to spread. It was necessary to work very quickly in the heat as I placed random items around the piece.

Lesson 1 Learned: Next time gather items before putting down the paint.

I intended to cut the finished fabric into various small pieces to use in future art quilts, but looking at this photo I should have noticed the shadows being cast. 

Lesson 2 Learned: The items placed on top of the paint need to be absolutely flat.

Was this my first time sun printing? No. Why did I forget what I already knew??? I'm totally blaming it on the heat wave that we have been having. So, my results this morning weren't too successful, but in spite of that, it was a good refresher for me.

The mimosa pieces are pretty good, and I loved the spatula image. I've already trimmed the rims off the two white plastic pieces in the top right for the next time. The small plastic sprocket pieces worked; the other little circular pieces not being flat, didn't.

The good thing is you can always repaint, stamp, or alter any section that doesn't turn out well.

Next step . . . let it dry twenty-four hours then iron it on the reverse side.
Better luck next time . . .   Stay cool.    :-)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Seaweed Stitching

Last night I added seaweed as the finishing touches to the mermaid piece on which I have been working. Here I used two layers of batting to puff up the shell and pink seed beads to suggest a string of pearls. The seaweed is three strands of embroidery floss and some blue/green eyelash yarn.

A couple of years ago, I purchased a bag of twisted yarn pieces thinking I would be able to use it in my art quilts. I cut a few short sections to create some different textured seaweed. I've included this enlarged photo to show how I beaded the floss seaweed. At this point, this piece just needs to be quilted.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tale of the Mermaid's Tail

Since it has been hot, hot, hot here as it has been all across the country, for the most part I have been staying in the air conditioning and doing some stitching. Today, I gave the mermaid a face using one strand of light blue floss. If you click on the photo, you can see a close up of her fabulous jewels. :-)

The design on the tail was done with gold, metallic floss which was extremely difficult to work with as it kept shredding. The tail was also embellished with beads which do not show up too well in this photo.

Here you can see the bubbles better. They were each made with a clear sequin and a clear seed bead on top.  In person, they really do look like water bubbles.

 I had bought the fabric kit and pattern from the Quilter's Fancy Quilt Shop in Cortland, Ohio. Since I am a crazy quilter, I did not purchase the embellishing kit as I already have quite an assortment of beads, floss, sequins, etc. It has been a fun project to work on and after a bit of seaweed stitching, it will be ready to be quilted.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Bevy of Bridal Gowns

Today I would like to share with you something enchanting. For the past couple of years, my friend Kathy has been making clothes for American Girl dolls.  She doesn't use store-bought fabric, but rather, fabric with special significance. For example, one woman asked if she could make dresses from some bridesmaids gowns and so she did. They were adorable! Another of Kathy's friends recently asked if she could make doll bride dresses for each of her three granddaughters from her bridal gown which she had worn thirty-three years ago .

As you can see, this lovely dotted swiss gown had yards of lace and ribbon. Not only was Kathy able to make three dresses, but she designed each dress differently. Notice the lace she applied to the sleeve of one gown.

A veil accompanies each dress. 

Here's a closer look at the front and back of my favorite.

Now, Kathy didn't stop there; she had just enough fabric left to make a dress (a size 4-5) for the oldest granddaughter. She used a piece of lace for the bodice and ribbons to make a headband. There is also a beaded headpiece.  All of these elements came from the original gown. Hopefully, this special dress will be worn in turn by each of the granddaughters as they grow.

Kathy was going to deliver the dresses to her friend this afternoon, and I can only imagine how delighted she must have been. How lucky these little girls are to have such a loving grandmother, and how lucky the grandmother is to have such an incredibly talented seamstress friend.

Thank you, Kathy, for letting me share your photos and wonderful work with my readers.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Vince Gil Concert

Last evening I attended an incredible concert at the South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset.  Vince Gil along with his eight piece band performed well over two hours. He remarked that he has returned to play in Cohasset every summer for thirty-five years. The fact that nearly all 2,300 seats were filled is a testament to his ability as a singer, songwriter, and masterful guitarist. I first saw him there with my brother in the late 90s, again maybe six or seven years ago, and he is as good as he ever was. As would be expected, each member of his band was also outstanding.

For those who have never been to the Music Circus, let me just say it is an awesome place to see a concert as no seat is more than fifty feet from the stage. I remember Martina McBride a few years ago saying what a pleasure it was to perform here. Being used to playing in huge arenas, she thought it was wonderful to actually be able to see the faces of audience members. The performers always seem to get a kick out of the fact that the stage slowly revolves. Yes, it's a great venue, but since it is a tent it is subject to the weather. . . no air conditioning here.  Last night it was like taking a sauna with 2,000 of your closest friends. Hot! Humid! Hot! When Vince introduced the members of his band, he remarked that the drummer was the only smart one as he was wearing shorts. Sure enough, after the intermission folks roared with laughter when Vince came down the aisle also wearing shorts!!!

If you have never been to one of his concerts, I urge you to do so. Those guitars were cranking all night and his voice was strong and true.

The only bad part was that I had to cut short my time at my little cousin's seventh birthday party in the afternoon. I am happy to report that he liked the "fun things" and the books (former English teachers always give books:-) that I picked out for him. Funniest part of all . . . I also gave him a shirt with a character on the front. He took it out of the bag, immediately pealed off the shirt he was wearing, ripped off the tags, and put it on. Successful presents . . .

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Working for Scale on a Mermaid's Tail

What does the title of today's post mean? Nothing . . . I just liked the rhyme.
Anyway, my friend Laurel came to spend the day quilting yesterday, and I continued to work on my mermaid piece. I used a very narrow, close zigzag stitch to sew down each piece. (For interested quilters, I used a length of 1.0 and depending on the size of the individual piece, a width of 1.5 or 2.0.  I learned this in a Libby Lehman lecture; she pointed out that you should aim to have the zigzag just wide enough to catch each side. I've done my raw edge applique like that ever since.) Of course, sometimes you might want to use a wider zigzag stitch as a decorative element. 

 Here I used a gold thread on the sections of the mermaid tail to provide some definition and matching colored thread for the rest of the pieces.

It might surprise non-quilters to know that this stitching took all day! It takes longer than you would think it would especially when trying to use such a narrow zigzag stitch. Because it was so very hot and suffocatingly humid, we didn't even stop to go out for lunch!

I used two pieces of slightly smaller batting beneath this shell to give it dimension.

 I also add batting under the fish and the mermaid's pillow; she'll have a soft place to rest her head. :-)
Now it's time to add the embroidery, yarn, beads, handstitching, etc. FUN!!!

For Emma fans, here she is after her trip to the groomer on Monday.

This time her ear tips had sparkly green stick-on blink.

I was able to take this angle as Emma is currently curled up on my lap. It's not easy typing with a schnauzer and a laptop balanced on my lap. 

This afternoon I'm going to my cousin Freddie's seventh birthday party and later a Vince Gil concert at the South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset. Life is Good!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Day Trip to the Southern Maine Coast

Yesterday, I took a drive up to the southern coast of Maine with two friends. The first stop was at Knight's Quilt Shop in Cape Neddick. Since my two friends are not quilters, I dropped them off at Stonewall Kitchen, and then headed down the road for a quick visit to the shop. This shop's row for the "Row by Row Experience" this year features Betsy Ross and two log cabin blocks. Though I am not collecting kits and patterns this year, I did pick up the pattern from this shop. I was also drawn to a wallhanging on display and, of course, I had to order the pattern. I won't describe it as hopefully you will see it made up as soon as the back-ordered pattern arrives.

By now it was time for lunch, so we found Hobbs Harborside Restaurant in Wells where we each had a delicious meal. The fried clams, my choice, were awesome! The lobster trap scene above was photographed on the pier beside the restaurant, and that is also where I spotted this gorgeous purple rope. 

On the way to our next stop we passed through Kennebunk and photographed The Wedding Cake House built by shipbuilder George W. Bourne in 1825. If you would like to read more about the true story of this house, please check out this link.

We continued on to Kennebunkport where we visited a few of the shops.

There were flowers everywhere including these little dories that lined the sidewalks.

Here is a lock covered post on the bridge. I first saw this phenomenon in Florence, Italy,  where lovers wrote their initials and a significant date on a lock which was then fastened on to a railing. When the weight of the locks becomes too heavy, in Florence at least, they are cut off with bolt cutters.

A trip to Kennebunkport wouldn't be complete without a drive out Ocean Avenue to view the Bush family compound at Walker's Point. What a gorgeous spot for a summer retreat . . .

Along the road where you can pull in to take a picture you will see this anchor and sign. If you click on the second photo, you should be able to read the inscription.

Our last stop before heading home was at Nubble Light in Cape Neddick.

It was a full, fun day!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Saturday Sampler

Besides gardening, I have been doing some quilting. My crazy quilt project is coming along well, and I have been working on some rows for a quilt from last year's "2015 Row by Row" Experience.  The theme last year was "Water," and perhaps my favorite row of all was from Quilter's Fancy in Cortland, Ohio. During the initial phase of the "Row by Row Experience" you must visit each shop in person to obtain its free pattern or to purchase a kit. After November 1st, you may contact any participating shop to buy its pattern or kit. I had seen photos of the awesome mermaid row from Quilter's Fancy online, and so, I ordered the kit. I didn't purchase their additional embellishing kit as I already have anything that I might need for that part.

I thought it might be interesting, especially for non-quilters, to see some of the steps involved. The kit came with these luscious fabrics and here you see the various layers pinned and ready to be top stitched to create the ocean background.

After the background was sewn, the shell, mermaid, and fish were added. (You may click on any photo to see a larger view.)

I had not purchased the additional kit for the mermaid's hair, so next I had to search my stash for something that would work. Though I tried a number of fabrics, none seemed quite right, so I visited a local quilt shop where I found this brown batik with its different shadings and lines. I placed the pattern pieces around the fabric to take full advantage of the tonal range.

Salt water does nothing for human hair, but just look at this mermaid's glorious tresses. :-)

This is only the beginning stage as the various elements are merely fused at this point. Everything will need to be stitched, and then the real fun will begin!!!  I'll be embellishing the piece with beads, jewels, shells,  yarn, and embroidery. (It might be nice if I start by giving this lovely mermaid some facial features.) This row will not be part of a quilt but will instead be made into a separate  wallhanging.

Finally, I wanted to share a photo of the sweatshirt pillow that my neighbor made for her granddaughter.  Isn't it a clever idea!!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Another Teapot for My Garden

 My friend Janice had given me this teapot to use in a garden art project, and so I decided to make another teapot feature for the front border of my large garden. I didn't want to go to the expense of purchasing the copper pipe, copper fittings, and floor flange again, so I decided to simplify the design.  I followed the instructions given in the link indicated in one of my recent posts, but this time all I did was hang the teapot on a small shepherd's hook. Instead of a china cup and saucer, I used this bright over-sized mug.  A short length of a bamboo fishing pole was substituted for the copper pipe. (You could go to a craft store and get a dowel with the right thickness and then cut it to the proper length.) Truly, the hardest part is lining up both elements so the beads cascade into the mug/cup.

 I wanted to show you this hibiscus in my large garden. When I bought this plant, it was just starting to form buds. Imagine my delight the other morning when I saw these luncheon plate size blossoms. Wow!

My daylilies and bee balm are also in bloom. I have bee balm in shades of red, pink, and magenta.

Just look how much more color there is in my small garden since last week's post.

It rained in the early hours of this morning, so I was able to capture the drops on these plants before heading off to my flute lesson.  

The weeding and mulch spreading will just have to wait for another day, and since the forecasters have indicated that hot, humid weather is moving in, I plan to stay inside tomorrow and do some quilting. :-)  

These images were all taken with my iPhone; sometimes I am just too lazy to use my "real" camera, even though I should. :-)