There’s probably a better way…

The construction methods I am using in this scrap project are very time consuming. I am positive there is a better way, but…these scrap projects are make-it-up-as-I-go-along. Sometimes you go forward, then backward to make progress.

I started with the dark blue background and put some contrasting strips on it. Tried lots of variations but didn’t have what I wanted to add with me so I basted it and put it aside until I got home.

Original idea

I ended up adding only a couple of little strips and basted again. At this point of construction, I baste to a piece of batting or felt. Then I can do any stitching or beading without worrying about the messy back showing. I add a backing after all that work is done. That requires a bit more stitching to hold those layers together, but I can plan for that!

Thought I wanted to add tons of glitz and foo-foo, but really couldn’t figure out what would look good AND not totally obscure the strips! Then inspiration struck, thanks to a picture from Katie McGrath and I decided that a simple circle pattern would work the best. Sooooo, I machine basted that, using the presser foot as my guide.

Basting all over this baby! Started hand stitching, again keeping it simple and removing basting stitches as I went along. The basting on the machine took about 5 minutes. The hand stitching takes a bit more time! Here’s where I’m at, hours later, with lots more stitching ahead.

But guess what? Simple stitches are so relaxing. No worry about which new stitch to use, or to learn or balancing the variety of stitches chosen. Simply sewing. Lots of basting, and more basting and taking out the basting. Then lots of stitching and when I add the back, more stitching.

Yes, there probably is a better way, but this way gives me lots of decision making time and every bit of it is working with the textiles I love! It’s all good!

And it was our local Appleumpkin Festival this weekend, so we took time out to walk uptown and check out everything. It’s also become a family tradition to visit one particular vendor who creates metal yard art. I ALWAYS find something I love and here is this year’s winner.

I have a pretty good metal art garden going on now. I plan to arrange it more purposefully in the spring, and make it a nice feature in the front of my house. Always have more plans than time, but this is a spring project–lots of time!

Right now it’s finishing time for all my pieces—Holiday Show in Lansing, through Grove Gallery, my Artisan Showcase on Nov. 3 and a joint show with Katie McGrath at the Northville Art House in January. Life is busy, but it’s soooooo wonderful!


Stitch your way to happiness

Designing, piecing, fusing, texture stitches, quilting–all parts of the textile world that take me to a happy place. I had a free weekend, fabrics calling out to me and right now I’m in a very happy place!

Decision made on the old leaf piece–straight across.

I did not do a lot of quilting on it, but made all the motifs leaves. I used variegated thread to add a little sparkle (without glitter!) and finished the edge with the same thread. Here’s a detail.

And I ALSO finished that bossy little mountain sunrise piece that told me what it wanted to be!

Focus pieces with straight edges, all fused down, none of the raw edges I like so much. Straight line quilting from edge to edge. Sometimes I don’t clip my threads as I go along, and I’m always sorry when I have to clean up a thread mess like this.

A few lines of trim added

and bam! Another finished piece.

Traditional binding finish on this one.

I could stay holed up in my studio for days right now and never run out of ideas or enthusiasm for what I’m doing. I feel like I’m chock full of creative juices and can’t wait to get to work every day. I am so very lucky and truly brimming over with happiness these days. I say it often and mean it every time–life is sooooo good!

Silk grasses

I’m not sure if this piece is finished or not. It kind of feels like it needs something else.

And I thought it was square, but after stitching, of course it is not! Almost an inch difference from side to side. I’d like to take that inch from the top of the left side and make my colored ribbon tilt a bit more. Maybe I left too much space on that left side. Sparkly thread? Perhaps I need some more, different ‘vegetation’ along the bottom of the ribbon area. Beads? Sigh…

I think there was a reason that this was sitting in time out for so long. It still needs some time out!

New and old

It’s time for me to get really organized. My work will be part of a holiday show, my own sale, a dual exhibition and I’m going to teach a class or two again. Finishing, making–do I want to have some ‘craft’ items that will probably sell or shall I stick to what I consider more ‘art’? Which piece goes to which venue and do I change as things sell, or don’t sell?

So, of course, I’m ignoring all of that in favor of working on a new piece. Not totally new–just set aside for a while for thinking. And while it was percolating, I decided that it needed the leftover pieces from another project. I have always said that we all tend to work in a specific palette–I know that I do. Pieces from multiple projects all seem to have leftovers that work well together!

This will have lots of thread work and maybe some beads…that’s not decided yet.

It is sewn/quilted to a piece of felt right now, rather than my usual batting but it needs a backing fabric. The felt is necessary for stability and the more decorative threadwork is yet to come. Beads are iffy because it’s hard to attach them between layers so the beading thread doesn’t show on the back.

And, yes, there is debate about whether or not that matters, but to me it does.

I’m trying to choose a backing fabric. Not one inch of it will show in the final piece yet I still have a hard time deciding.

Of course, there is the same silk as is on the front.

Meh….boring. I have a bright, blendy, hand dyed stripe.

And a slightly more muted but busier piece.

Will it really ever matter? Not one bit. I guess I’m mostly feeling lazy and procrastinating from doing the actual work! Because I’m also putting off all that other stuff I should be doing, too.

Call me the Queen of Do It Later—go ahead—I can take it. I’m going to sit around for a while, doing nothing.

And. I. Like. It.



A few beads

For some reason, unknown to myself, I have not done much beading lately. This week I’ve managed to get back to it. I also realized that I often show you in-progress work but sometimes forget to show the finished product!

The black beading definitely rescued this piece.

And I decided that beading was necessary on this piece, too.

Even though the thread was shiny and metallic, it wasn’t quite enough to stand out from the busy background.

Plain turquoise beads seemed like they would fill the bill. And it is too small a piece to agonize over beading decisions!

And as I added the beads in little staggered rows, I was distracted by my container of ‘leftover’ miscellaneous beads. So I added some.

I couldn’t decide if the plain dangles were enough or if I needed to emphasize them with more turquoise.

And neither was correct! I will end up continuing the staggered rows all the way to the tips and incorporate the dangles between the turquoise beads.

I was kind of surprised that the dangles looked so good, since they are totally strung by random selection. But my hindsight tells me that it makes sense, because of all the colors in the background. I may experiment with dark leaf shapes behind the ‘flowers’ before I call this one finished. And I will try to remember to show the finished piece!

I’m getting the urge to start on a BIG beaded project again, but don’t have one shaped up in my imagination yet. It may be that one with the rust fabric circles, but that one is still in a time out right now! I have even looked through my rarely used sketchbooks, but found more piecing ideas than anything adaptable to a beaded project.

It’s wonderful to have too many ideas and not enough time. I cannot imagine the horror of a creative block and hope I never have to work through one. For now, a bit of each of my loves–beading, quilting, embroidery, dyeing–makes me very happy!


Had quite a bit of time in the studio today and it felt really, really good! Glued a couple more pieces to their canvases and painted a few more. I started to clean things up a little so that I could feel a bit more organized, and, of course…distraction!

One more scrap of interfacing, laying next to the bag of strings…what else could I do but make another string piece background?

These don’t take very long when they are this small-about 8 x 10-and I put all those tempting strings away as soon as this was done!

I decided that it was time to start getting those bright scrap quilts finished up. Yes, they have only been sitting in the stack for less than 2 months, but they are all basted and ready to go. No excuses. Pick one up and get it done!

So I did.

A question that occurred to me as I was quilting…what makes the quilting design ‘right’ for me on an improv beast like this one?

I decided against straight line walking foot quilting. Too boring for my mood, though it would have worked just fine for the quilt itself!

Mostly it’s a matter of sections and shapes. All of these small quilts are made with a total mix of scraps; no design, no background, no repetition of shapes. There are not rows or sections easily seen, though each individual piece is defined by the construction seams. Basically, then, an overall meander quilting seems like the best choice.

And the way to make it work is to be sure and overlap the quilting between chunks of fabrics.

Those swirls roam around that quilt top as though it were a whole cloth quilt, with no regard to which scrap is being sewn.

Totally suited my mood and goes so quickly. I got it done in an afternoon and I feel invigorated by getting some quilting finished. A happy, happy day!

Busyness abounds…

Have not spent any time in the studio this week! Grandson and friend here Tuesday, so I got to watch the race cars racing and the nerf guns shooting and listen to their lovely laughter.

Got some new shoes, though. Aren’t these perfect for a quilter?

Wednesday was lunch with friends, drive to Grand Rapids and dinner with other friends. A totally wonderful day.

Thursday–AQS quilt show in Grand Rapids and that is always a delight. Hubby went to the Gerald Ford museum right across the river and he had a good time, too!

Got to check out my friends working on an Art Prize neighborhood project…really cool! All four sides of the building will have a mural in this style.

Home again and an extra baby-sitting night with the grandson. BONUS! And then our regular summer Friday with him. Loved that he climbed high up in a tree…look at that smile!!

High enough to make me nervous, but also made me remember how much I loved to climb trees, too.

Maybe sewing time on Sunday, or maybe one more lazy day!