Busy Busy Busy!!!

I’ve been so busy at my new job that I’ve had very little time to dedicate to sewing.  However, I recently attempted something new at the request of a colleague.  She saw a piece I did and immediately commissioned me to make a gift for her daughter.  She wanted me to recreate this picture of her adorable granddaughter dressed up for her first Halloween.


What a great subject, but I had always done famous people — could I tackle a subject matter that was so close to someone’s heart?

First I decided to change the background and make her look as if she were walking among the flowers.  Then I changed the positioning of her hands and removed the smart phone that was in her left hand 🙂 and had her hold a flower.

This is the result….

fullsize piece

Here’s a close up of her cute little face….

close up

Sharon says she loves it — but who couldn’t love that face?!

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Posted in Art Quilts, Halloween, Sewing

August 22nd Class

Last summer I spoke to the quilters at Everybody’s Quilters Guild.  This summer I am teaching a class to those same ladies.  This post has been written with the class in mind.  It will outline the steps in my process and provide a list of supplies that should be brought to the class.  I am so excited for this opportunity!

Hello Ladies!  By this time most of you will have sent me a photo of the home or barn you wish to create in quilt form.  I am in the process of enlarging your photos to the desired 11X17 size.  This size is easy to work with and allows for en001ough details to lend the piece depth.

Before the class, I would like you to consider the different colors that are present in the structure you are replicating.  Years ago, one of my projects involved recreating a stone foundation on a 002003barn. I went through all my fabrics and chose variations of blue and grey that I thought would work.  I cut out samples of each fabric, then ironed Heat and Bond Lite adhesive to the backs of my chosen pieces.

For the class I will be providing the adhesive.  It’s by far the best product for this type of work.  I would like you to bring all the fabrics you think you will need for your piece.  You don’t need to bring bolts — that’s the best part of this project — you’ll use up your scraps!  I actually have bins that I separate my greens, blues, blacks, etc into.  So look carefully at your photo and choose the  pieces of fabric that you think will represent it best.  Remember; the largest pieces of fabric will be to represent your sky and grass and the color of your home/barn.  All other fabric can be smaller than a fat quarter.

I would like you to purchase 1/2yd craft stabilizer.  Pellon has a lot of products.  I would suggest staying away from the fusible kind because they can be too thick.  Look for ones that say they are easy to cut and sew and that will not distort when ironed. You will want something thick enough to not pucker when sewed, but not too thick that it will stress your needle.

In the class we will start by placing your background fabric on the stabilizer. These will be the largest piec#98 more stoneses you will use and will represent the sky and the grass.   These strips of fabric will be backed with adhesive and then placed on your craft stabilizer, dividing the piece along the horizon. After they are ironed down, we will then carefully cut out the largest object in your piece (the house or barn). You will then trace this piece onto the back of the your chosen fabric, which has been ironed with the adhesive. Using the remainder of the printed piece as a guide, you will center the house/barn on the background and iron it down.  If you look at the photo to the right you can see how I carefully cut around each stone and then utilized my picture to properly place the stones on the wall.

new pic 004We will then start with the next largest piece on your photo – this will probably be the roof.  At this point the process detailed above will be repeated.  You can see from the photo on the left how one picture of a barn is broken down into its major color groupings.  But instead of doing each piece separate (which can lead to small gaps in the final piece) I use one piece of fabric for the entire structure. I then cut the roof out of the photo and use it as a template to cut it’s shape out of the desired fabric.  Trust me… this all sounds way more complicated than it is!  Think of it as a layered color-by-numbers.  Does that help, or am I making it worse?  We’ll get there together on Saturday — don’t worry!

Here’s more pictures of the above project to give you an idea of the process (click on them to see more detail)……

new pic 002

new pic 001


I think that helps to demonstrate the layering process we will do.  A lot of the depth and excitement comes out of the piece when I sew on it.  Unfortunately I don’t know that we will have enough time to sew on Saturday, but bring your machines and a selection of thread just in case.  Below I am listing suggested material to bring the the class.

I have to say I am really excited and can’t wait to meet you all and share this simple yet fascinating technique. 🙂 Mary

Supply List


IRONING MATT (I use a thick towel folded over several times)

Pellon CRAFT STABILIZER — at least a 11X17 piece

FABRIC (bring your scraps as well as a few larger pieces for the background and main focal point)

sharp SCISSORS for fabric 

sharp SCISSORS for paper cutting (if you are particular)

clear TAPE


original PHOTOGRAPH (I constantly refer to mine for reference)

sewing machine

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Posted in Uncategorized

Cabin Fever Art Show

I have taken my kids to Piney Run Park for years.  There we’ve hiked, gone fishing, picnicked and rowed boats.  This past weekend the nature center at the park hosted a Cabin Fever Art Show.  art for saleI signed up to be considered for the show (it was a juried sort of event) and was accepted.  It was only after I was committed to attending that I was sent a flyer which advertised an “art show for artists inspired by nature”.  In recent months most of my pieces have been centered around portraits — I had some work ahead of me!chicken quilt

I ended up creating three new pieces for the show.  One was from a photo my neighbor took of her chicken, Booboo.  When I incorrectly identified it as SunnyJay on Instagram, she was able to quickly correct me (which made me proud that I had so accurately captured her bird!) The success of this particular quilt had a lot to do with the talent my neighbor has in her photographs.  The vibrancy of the feathers just lent itself to my medium.  I spent a few excited hours stitching in the details of those feathers with a variation of colored threads.

close up of chicken quilt

The next quilt was of a photo I had taken of a sunflower on our property.  I plant sunflowers every year, and every year I end up taking dozens of photographs of them.  I can’t seem to get enough.  This was a close up of a particularly tall one.sunflower quilt full size

And finally I wanted to pay homage to the family of red-tailed hawks that lives in our sycamore trees.  They have nested there since 2009 and I love to listen to their high pitched calls and watch their shadows as they glide over our land.  The mascot at my college was the red-tailed hawk, so I guess that also lends to my affinity for them.


I had a great deal of fun creating the right shading on the back feathers of this hawk with varying colors of thread.  In the photographs I have taken, it looks as if the tail is in 3D, but it is actually flush with the rest of thehawk full sized quilt 2 quilt.  This was one of my favorite quilts and I unfortunately did not have it long enough to get a proper photograph taken — it sold to a very nice fellow quilter, whose husband loves the red-tailed hawk that lives on their property.  🙂


hawk full sized

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Posted in Sewing


I’ve always encouraged my kids to be creative.  They come from a long line of talented people (and not just me! 😉 ) Their grandma, my mother-in-law, is one of the most talented peoplAnne's Boxe I have ever met. I’ve menAnne's handiworktioned her in a previous post but thought I’d share some of her work here.  This is a wooden box she made for my husband.  The detail in the piece is just breathtaking. Another year she asked Terry for a picture of our house.  He sent her a photo that she manually drew grids on, and from that she created this for me: a cross stitched completely accurate depiction of my home.  I can do work similar to this, but with a computer and in fabric.  She eyeballed this and it came out beautifully.

So my kids come from a talented line.  Tom was one of 15 sophomores selected in the state of Maryland for the All State chorus.  He can play almost any brass instrument and has been in our hmore forced famliy funigh school’s award winning jazz band since his freshman year.  Elizabeth has a real eye for art.  She sews like her mom, but paints like her grandma.  She loves experimenting with new medium and has 2 craft closets full of materials.  My oldest, Eddie, never thinks of himself as creative, but he’s the one I’m writing about today.

When I went back to work this summer I was very concerned that the kids not spend all their free time sitting in front of one screen or another. To ease my mind, Eddie took over the care of Elizabeth.  They went on day trips, saw some movies and made jewelry together.  Elizabeth has been doing this for years, but it was new to Eddie.  He’s always liked intricate work (painting small models, building complicated Lego structures) so this was no stretch for him.  However, he soon discovered he had a real affinity for it.  beading

Before college resumed this semester, Ed spent a good deal of time beading while watching Netflix marathons.  His work is really well done.  He has begun to experiment with metals and is looking into taking a metal work class while in college to satisfy his art requirement.  For my part, I opened up an Etsy store for him and encourage you to visit it.  Since his earrings are not too expensive, I decided to show only one of the kinds he has made in the variety of colors that he chose (Etsy charges by the piece for displaying work and this would keep his costs down).  However I think I’m going to be a proud mama now and share some photos of his other work here.

earrings 2 braceletsearrings 1


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Posted in jewelry, Not Sewing

Iwo Jima Flag Raising

rosenthal's originalAs the wife of a Marine, I know to call this iconic photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal the 2nd flag raising on Iwo Jima.  The date was February 23, 1945 and the image inspired a nation, winning Mr. Rosenthal a Pulitzer Prize in Photography.  It said to be the most reproduced event in World War II.  night view

As many of you may know, this image reproduced into a bronze statue in the 1950’s and is on display in Washington D.C.  The United States Marine Corps War Memorial is a must on any visitor’s site seeing list.  When in D.C. on business, my husband often makes a point to visit the memorial and act as a docent for any tourists interested in the battles listed around the plinth.  The statue was commissioned in the early ’50’s — entirely paid for by donations from Marines and friends of Marines.  It was initially made of plaster, then dismantled and taken to Brooklyn, NY for casting in bronze.  This process took nearly three years.  Once the parts were finished, they were reassembled into a dozen pieces and trucked back to Washington, DC on a three-truck convoy.  An interesting family connection; my father’s father, who was still living in NYC at the time, saw this convoy pass.

I thought the up coming 70th anniversary was a good reason to try my own interpretation of this iconic image.  I’ve included a lot of detailed images because I love how all the differing shades of grey worked together to convey real depth in this image.

close up 2close up 5close up 1

Flag raising full quilt

Semper Fi.

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Posted in Art Quilts, USMC

Kathy’s Horse

For the secret Skathy's horseanta at the office this year I drew my friend Kathy’s name.  I was very excited as Kathy was one of the reasons I enjoyed my job.  She has a spirit about her that makes you want to be around her and know her better.  She’s funny, creative, smart and dotes on her grandbabies.  I wanted to make her one of my quilted portraits as she has always been so supportive of my art.  She had a horse that she treasured and I decided to try to recreate an image of Ace for her.  It was kind of tricky getting her to send me a photo of him, but I made up a reason and she did. (Kathy is also very trusting) 🙂

The picture she sent was of the beautiful beast you see here.  I loved all the chocolates in his coat and looked forward to recreating its highlights.  This is my first horse art piece created with the use of a photo.  I also made a cow portrait for my neighbor a few years back.  She recognized it as her “Daisy” and I am proud to say Kathy immediately recognized Ace. She particularly liked the “life” my stitches gave to his eye.


When she first opened the gift, however, she was speechless.  It is a moment I will always treasure.


fullsize quilt

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Posted in Art Quilts

What I’ve Been Up To Lately

I’ve been so busy with work and the holidays that I have not had any time to post about my sewing.  Tonight I decided to take a minute to share two house pieces I was commissioned to do for Christmas presents.  One was for a lady who found me on my Etsy site, and another was of a local home.  The first is a vacation home favorited by my client’s parents.  She asked that I include some words that she associated with the home in the sky surrounding it.

full quilt

There was a lot of detail, (which of course translates to fun!) in this piece.  I especially liked the flower beds that surround the home.

I just found on my Esty link that my client also left me a review.  It was so sweet I thought I’d include it here.

house detail 3I ordered a custom piece of a family beach house. I don’t even know where to start with my review! Working with Mary and corroborating on this custom piece was a wonderful experience. Mary took all of my thoughts, ideas and requests into consideration and created the most beautiful piece of art my family will treasure for ever. I hope she posts pictures of this piece on her storefront so that you can appreciate the workmanship that went into creating it. Amazing artist and I’m so glad that internet/etsy surfing led me to her!


view with fenceThe second piece was of a local home.  I enjoyed taking the photos myself and finding that one perfect angle that spoke to me.  I settled on a view from the fence line with the trees surrounding the house.  When I began to tackle this quilt I considered at first removing the trees from the portrait so I could focus solely on the house.  I quickly reconsidered as the owners probably loved their tree surrounded home and I didn’t want to remove its character.  What got me excited about leaving them in was the fabric I could then use.  About a year ago I purchased fabric that looked like vegetables — tomatoes, corn, lettuce, peppers.  I don’t know what I thought I’d do with it, but it was too cool to pass up.  As I looked at all the colors in the leaves of the trees I began to see that veggie fabric — broccoli, asparagus, red and iceberg lettuce.  I really love the final piece because I can easily pick out all those vegetables … I wonder if you can too.

I should apologize for the quality of this photo — I was so anxious to get it to my client on time that I took this picture through the glass of the frame with my phone. 🙂  You can’t see all the details like the curtains behind the pained windows, or the exact vegetable prints that I used.  But I think it’s a nice picture of the piece anyway.

full house

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Posted in Art Quilts

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