Happy Halloween!

Those of you who know me know how much I love this time of year. With the cooler weather and the leaves starting to change – I know I am not alone in my contentment. And of course every October we all celebrate the macabre. There’s an acceptance of all things dark and scary that is fascinating– I mean, come on – don’t y’all find it bizarre that you can buy tombstones and human remains at Michaels?

Part of the joy I find in celebrating this time of year is how well our home lends itself to the season. It was constructed over three different periods. The log portion was built by early settlers in the 1700’s, the brick section was added in the next century, and then came the frame edition, which doubled the size of the house. This was done in the 1860’s so we have always called the large living area the Victorian Room. My latest spooky quilt was created to hang on the wall of that room.

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I wanted to try something extra large this time. The final quilted piece measures 3.5 X 4.5 feet.

It was really interesting to work on a piece this size. I was telling a friend that the process could get very confusing, but when you take a step back it all makes sense. She said that was a profound statement — I kind of agree.

Below are some close ups of the detail work. See if you can tell what portion of the skull they are from.

Happy Halloween!!!

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Jen & Artie

As some of you may know I have been working locally for the past year. It has given me more time to spend with my family, do a little cooking when the spirit moves me, work on my garden & house … and SEW 🙂 I’ve enjoyed the work too; my colleagues especially. But the grant that funded my position has ended so I must move on.

Since tomorrow is my last day I wanted to give a gift to my supervisor, Jen. She has a little bird she just adores and I have loved hearing about his adventures, so I decided to make her a wall-hanging of Artie.

The process remains the same for animals as it does people. I ran a photo of Artie through an Adobe filter. Then I set about choosing fabric I thought would best represent him. I tried to use a lot of different patterns as I felt it would add depth to the piece.

Once I was happy with my fabric choices I started piecing.

This is Artie when I finished piecing the fabric. It looks a little strange and flat but I wasn’t worried. I knew that the stitching on this piece is how the final image would really come to life.

What a sweet little bird! Doesn’t the light in his eye lead you to believe he is likely to get up to all sorts of mischief? 😉 I hope Jen enjoys looking at the wall-hanging as much as I enjoyed making it for her.

Thank you to all my colleagues for the guidance, laughs, and support. You all ROCK and I will truly miss you ❤

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Simply Stashing 9/14 Class

Today we had the final class for the Four County Quilter’s Guild. I was so pleased that almost half of the ladies could return for this second part where we focused on the stitching. Together we were able to work through the process and I think they were pleased with the overall results.

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Quilt Talk, Meditation, & Mindfulness

I will be giving a talk this Monday evening at the Friendship Star Quilters in Gaithersburg, MD. I am so excited to meet these ladies! I had a fantastic time with the Four Corners Quilters Guild and look forward to sharing my process with more quilters.

I have been working on several projects at once because… well… I’m a quilter. I used to think I was alone in this (as well as my stash hoard) until I started to speak at these quilting guilds.

Ah, jokes only a quilter could love!

One of the projects I’ve been working on is a quilt I call “Mindfulness”. Over the past 20 months I have embraced life a little differently. Previously I would let anxiety rule my days; I would push and push until exhaustion overwhelmed me at bedtime. It was how I got things done. And I was happy, just not content. Now, I am still busy…

(we had quite a few home repair projects this spring… re-plastering some ceilings and painting the whole damn house🤦‍♀️)

… I’m just no longer anxious. The biggest difference in my life is meditation. It has allowed me to slow down and be present. Here’s a quote that really sums it up:

“The thing about Meditation is that you become more and more you.”

David Lynch

So with that in mind one of my next projects to complete is this…

I have her mostly stitched down — I need to work on the rock she sits on and her yoga pants. which are still just fabric at this point. But I love her hair so far. It is a little unkempt, but she is at peace — even though the world is swirling around her.

“Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.”

St. Francis de Sale
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Four County Quilters Guild Talk

I wanted to thank the Four County Quilters Guild for having me out last night to talk about my quilts. I had a fantastic time with these energetic, inspiring ladies! It was wonderful to talk to a group of relative strangers and feel that shared connection ❤ I am looking forward to working with them again at my upcoming workshop at Simply Stashing on August 24th.

I also wanted to send a special shout out of thanks to my husband, who was my assistant and willing accomplice in my new venture. Thanks, Babe! You made fabulous night even more enjoyable 😉

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Creating a House Quilt

Over the next few months I will be giving talks and teaching classes about my quilting process. I thought it may be helpful to break it down here so the people attending my classes can get a heads up on the steps I take to create my quilted home portraits.

It all starts with a photo of the home you wish to recreate in fabric. This is the most essential step . As an example, this is a view of my home that I love –it is what I see each day when I come home from work.

However, it is not a great photo of my house. If I were to recreate this in a quilt, because of the angle, your eyes would be drawn to the different sizes of the windows, the odd slant of the porch roof — making everything appear off kilter.

Overall, it is simply not as appealing as this photo…

Home

The photo is still at an angle, but it is from higher up – the windows don’t look as distorted, there is more roof visible as well. All this helps the house look more “home like”. When you choose a photo of your home, be cognizant of the angles– try to show more of the roof if you can. I had to take this photo standing on a chair 😉

Once I get the angle I like, I print out the piece in the size I want the final quilt to be in. This time I sent my photo to Staples and had them print it out for me on heavy paper in a 12×18 size (it cost $9.95). If you have a reliable printer, you can always print it out at home. Then comes the fun part, picking the fabric.

My home is an unusual color. It is not green, nor it it blue or grey. You can see from both these photos that it looks different depending on the time of day. I just finished painting my home so I am very familiar with the color. When I went to the fabric store I could not find a fabric that represented the color accurately. So I bought a variety of grays and greens, and I got some blue and green dye. I have dyed fabric from time to time to get an exact match for what I need, but usually I like to stumble upon the perfect fabric — it’s a little more exciting that way!

  • These are three samples of the resulting variety of green or blue dye on grey and green fabrics.

Once I found the color I wanted to represent my home – which is the largest piece of fabric you will end up using- I set about gathering different shades of green that would represent the next biggest feature — my garden and trees.

All my greens

When representing nature – like with a garden – you need to account for something you probably don’t think about, and that is the shade among the plants.

For this reason I like to choose fabric that has some depth to it – a variation of colors within the fabric. I also get a kick out of using pieces that have realism — like the following lettuce and pomegranate fabrics. The seeds of the pomegranate make great stalk flowers. (Trust me!)

I love veggie/fruit fabric!

Before you start, there are a few things you need besides scrap fabric and a blown-up photo of your home…

  1. A sturdy backing –I use Craft and Home Decor Interfacing- 70 PELTEX Ultra Firm Sew-In
  2. An iron-on adhesive for the back of the fabric –I use Heat-n-Bond Lite.
  3. A hot iron and an flat ironing pad.
  4. Sharp scissors for cutting the paper as well as the fabric.
  5. Clear tape
  6. Pen

The first step is to line the backs of your fabrics with Heat-n-Bond Lite. I like this adhesive because it is sewable. Plus if you place something and decide to move it, it is easy to reheat the glue and remove the piece.

The next step is to cut out the entire shape of the house — roof, porch, everything. This paper house will become your template. For my home, you can see in the original photo that a tree covers part of it. I recommend, even if your final piece leaves some of the branches covering your home, that you cut the shape of the house out completely. For my piece, I trimmed back the tree significantly so more of the house comes through.

With the house cut out, I flip it over and trace the wrong side of the template onto the back side of the heat-n-bond lite fabric. This will ensure that your final piece will not be a mirror image.

Then you will want to pick out a fabric for the sky and iron it down over the top portion of the backing. Using your template as your guide, place the fabric for the house on your backing, and iron it down as well.

Pick a fabric for your roof and repeat the procedure. Once your roof is ironed down, tape the paper portion you cut out back onto your house. You will be doing this a lot — it keeps things organized and helps you place the pieces with accuracy.

Using the same procedure you will cut out your windows. What I like to do for the homes I recreate is “leave the lights on” – all my window are yellow 😉 Makes it feel more homey, somehow.

In the photo below you can see where I cut out the siding between the second and third widow from the left so I could better gauge where to place it. Once ironed in place, I taped the paper window back onto the house template. Notice that I did not cut out individual pieces of fabric for the white and red trim. That is because the trim is much easier to add with stitching.

Placing the windows
Piecing almost done

Here you can see that the process of cutting and ironing down the fabric is almost completed. My garden is just a jumbled sampling of a variety of green fabrics. Below is what it looks like when a some colored fabrics are added. Notice the realistic broccoli fabric? It has been one of my favorite purchases!

Garden without stitches
A stitched garden

Then you sew — sew, sew, sew like the wind!!! All the stitching will really bring the piece to life. I sometimes get asked what type of stitches I use in this process. I think that is one of the best parts — mostly I use a straight stitch and a zigzag. I have a very fancy sewing machine, but I did this piece on my mom’s old Singer.

My home

If you compare the photo to the stitched piece you can tell that I moved some items, cut back the tree, put more color in my garden, and added my sunflowers (which I expect to be fully in next month). That’s the best part about stitching your home, you can declutter a porch and move a tree, all in an afternoon 😉

I hope you have enjoyed an introduction to my process. I think writing it out makes it seem more complicated than it is. Trust me, you will be able to design your own work of art! 🙂

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Librarian Challenge

After completing a recent piece, my sister-in-law Lili suggested I try my hand at a series of authors. I have done quite a few over the years — Poe is my favorite, of course. But when Li suggested the series, my mind went right to JK Rowling.

Some of my fondest memories from my kids’ childhood are based around Harry Potter. I remember taking them to the first movie –we saw it on an outdoor screen– and we were hooked. For the viewing of the 3rd movie I made wizard hats for the kids. Afterwards my middle boy created his own Marauder’s Map — wish I still had that treasure!

When book 7 was released we were on a camping trip in the Allegheny Mountains. I can close my eyes and still see Terry reading the first few chapters while the kids sat around the camp fire.

For this Librarian Challenge, JK would have to be my first piece. I wanted to capture the thoughtfulness with which she wrote her books so I picked this contemplative pose.

JK Contemplates

I added some details that I thought would help identify the author; the sign of the Deathly Hallows, HP symbol on the mug and, of course, Hogwarts.

I also wanted to highlight the contrasting themes of her stories — good vs evil, darkness and light — so I positioned her image in front of a sky that is both day and night.

Full quilt with border

I was so happy to find some Harry Potter fabric at my local fabric store. The white border resembles the newspaper, The Daily Prophet. I’m pretty sure its from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

This was a lot of fun — Thanks for the inspiration, Li! ❤

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