Posted in sewing

Stash-busting: Open Wide Zip Pouch

Okay, so I’m making this zip pouch because Chris at Chrisknits can’t stop making them! They are just so darn quick and useful. You can check out her blog here:

Do I have what I need? Let’s see. The project requires about 1/4 yard of fabric each for the outer shell and lining as well as a zipper. This one is about ten inches long.

I also required the better part of a cup of coffee to get started.

The gold cotton damask on the left is left over from a bedspread I made about 15 years ago. This scrap has been used in an experiment with Dye-Na-Flow fabric paint. I applied the paint to the back side of the fabric, to see if the color would seep through the woven vines but not through the shiny gold parts. It sort of did that. Now I have a use for it.

I also have this scrap, printed with shiny gold dillweed stems. I’ll use it for the bottom section of the bag.

Instructions for this project come courtesy of Anna Graham, at Noodle-head. com. You can get the details here:

open wide zippered pouch: DIY tutorial

My first attempt took about an hour or so to complete, with only one rip-it-out moment.

This is very girly looking, with the pairing of flowery and metallic prints.

Here’s a peek at the inside. It does indeed open wide.

This will be a nice item for gift-giving. I think I will make the next one with a wrist strap.

Posted in colorwork, quilting

Thread Art Baby Portrait F.O.

This is a qualified finish. I still need to quilt the border and bind the edges. But the creative work is essentially done. I chose to use echo lines to quilt the background. The work went swiftly and smoothly.

The cotton damask fabric is a joy to work with. I had the benefit of a fresh needle in my machine, thanks to the delivery of my on-line order from

Following the example of Lola Jenkins, I used Prismacolor pencils to color the image. I had never tried this medium on fabric before. But by working slowly and carefully, I managed okay, rendering shadow and highlights modestly. Here she is as of today.

Here is a close-up of the subject.

I noticed that a damask vine landed smack in the middle of her onesie. I didn’t plan that placement, but serendipity happens. So I chose to leave it unpainted and embroidered a running stitch around it.

At 18 inches square, this piece is a good size for framing or mounting on artist canvas. Perhaps the arts supply store will open soon and I can buy what I need. In the meantime, she will be tacked up on one of my foamboard panels, allowing me to admire her on a regular basis.

Posted in quilting

Days of Fine Dining – Damask

How many of you remember a time when fine dining took place on a table set something like this? Okay, don’t answer that. I’d like us all to maintain our youthful appearances. I do remember that time – perhaps 30 or so years ago. Back then I went to the extent of buying crystal glassware. But the silverplate and the damask linens were given to me by the generation ahead of me. Every once in a while I get out the silver. The pale pink damask napkins you see in the photo were a gift from my mother-in-law. I’ve never found a use for them that fits my current lifestyle. They have been in the back of the linen closet, unused, for almost twenty years.

But that ended this week, thanks to Lola Jenkins and Thread Art. While stashing away some other fabric, one of the napkins fell out onto the floor. Timing is everything! It came to me that I could sew a portrait on this pale pink piece of fabric.

The subject I have in mind is my grand-daughter, from this photo taken at four weeks.


I decided to overlay this image onto one of a daylily. How about this one?

In the thread art process, the photographs are manipulated to size, and then the contour lines of the image parts are marked up. Here is the baby photo after marking.

I enlarged the flower until the baby could settle comfortably into the center of it. Oops, the baby is missing a foot. I manipulated one of the daylily petals to cover the place where the foot should be. After more fiddling, I came up with this.

Bill thinks this looks like an Anne Geddes photograph. I don’t care.

Now to transfer the lines to the fabric. This proved a little trickier than I expected. I first tried the chalky transfer paper used in traditional embroidery transfers. The lines were way too faint and uneven. Then I found, in the deep recesses of my sewing cabinet, an Aunt Martha’s transfer pencil. Using this tool, you mark up the back side of the image, lay the marked side against the fabric and press with a hot iron.

You get bright pink marks that ARE PERMANENT. But I am living by Lola’s slogan today – and Going For It! I will be covering all the pink lines with black thread.

For the best results, the quilt sandwich should include interfacing fused to the quilt top. I did that and then I cut the batting and backing, pin basted and started quilting.

Here she is at close of business yesterday ……………………

…………….And here is the image with all the contour lines stitched.

So far, making this fiber object has been challenging and fun! I’m so happy to have found a use for the damask napkins.

The next steps are to quilt the background and then add color to the subject. Lola Jenkins uses colored pencil. I will start with that medium, but I may experiment also with some fabric markers. After all, it’s time to go for it.

Posted in quilting, sewing

Springtime and Sorting

It’s been heart-breakingly beautiful outside over the past several days. The weather forecast for today predicts extreme thunderstorms. So I thought I would memorialize some of the garden’s spring perennials. They are so lovely, and their day in the sun is so short every year. Here are a select few.

Yesterday I finished sewing the last of three quilted buckets. This project is meant to yield a system for organizing and storing fabrics. While my stash is not large, it is somewhat unweildy for its size.

Three buckets holding fat quarter to one yard sized pieces.

That leaves the scraps. After a year of working with fiber, I have a much better idea of how I tend to use fabric in my projects. I particularly like using scraps in little strips to make small art quilts. Consequently I have become very reluctant to throw any of them away. Resulting in this:

Sorted by color family, they are even more beautiful and precious to me. Like the colorful spring growth only more enduring.

So I still don’t have a useable system for keeping this hoard in order, under control, and yet easily accessible. Reluctantly, I will be putting these gems back into the shoeboxes. Suggestions are encouraged. How do you keep your stash sorted?

Posted in quilting

Abstract Sunset Progress

By the end of Monday’s work, I had finished the piecing the fabric to my abstract. Rummaging through my spools of trim, I found some bronze colored satin cording. I couched it into the location of the sun, making this round object disrupt my perfectly angular image.

The next step is to decorate the surface. I always have to take a long pause at this stage. There are just too many options available to me – paint or embroider, hand or machine quilt, add more trims?

And how about all those embroidery stitches on my Bernina?

While I ponder my options, I will just enjoy the wonderful geometry and colors of my work in progress.

Posted in weaving

Another Friday, Another Finished Object

This is the little weaving that I had started as an example for my fiber arts students. A few weeks ago, I was cataloging a list of my unfinished objects. Spying it lying around, I realized that I needed to count it as one of the dirty dozen UFOs.

Today I can announce that this weaving has moved to the finished pile. After working to the top of the warp, I cut off the yarn and worked the loose ends into the back of the weaving. There was still a lot of looseness on all four edges of the piece. I decided to machine stitch around the sides. After that, I slipped the top and bottom loops onto a pair of knitting needles and considered it done.

I call it Blue-Orange Duet.

Image showing machine finished edges.

Mulling about what to do with it…….. Hm, I noticed that the weaving’s colors worked very nicely with my origami installation piece on the east wall of the studio.

So up it went. It looks quite at home amid the pinwheels and the birds. Sort of like a punctuation point, a period at the end of a sentence.

Welcome to the studio, Blue-Orange Duet. Make yourself at home.

Posted in knitting

Friday’s Finished Object

Glammed up water bottle carrier

Keeping with my self-imposed deadline, I managed to finish off another UFO. This is the be-ribboned and beaded water bottle carrier that I started over five years ago.

The part that had stumped me was how to finish out the top edge and strap. I found a solution by Melanie Smith on Ravelry. She simply divided the stitches in half, working each half in stockinette, gradually decreasing until five stitches remained. Then she worked I-cord about 15 inches each side and grafted the sides together.

Thanks, Melanie.

I tried to make the strap long enough to sling it over a shoulder. Here I show it knotted so it can be carried over the wrist. The yarn is a bamboo blend purchased from the hobby store. Hopefully it will prove strong enough. I worked the middle section side-ways, knitting a metallic ribbon in. The top section is beaded.

This is a standard 16 oz. bottle. The piece is actually big enough to hold a taller bottle.

Two down, eleven to go. Hooray!

Posted in knitting, sewing, weaving

Back Home

Yesterday we arrived home after spending a week in Wisconsin. The trip was undertaken to help our daughter and her family prepare for a move. It was a weird and wonderful trip. With constant changes implemented by the authorities in the states we traveled through, we never knew what to expect from day to day. Thankfully, many businesses on the interstate highways remained open to provide for the necessities of travelers. All the staff we encountered along the way were both kind and helpful.

The trip was a success. While we stayed with the kids, daughter and son-in-law found and put an offer in on a suitable house in Madison. That’s a big hurdle accomplished.

I discovered a new travel craft – weaving on the little 8 by 10 artists’ canvas loom. All the materials fit into an average size project bag, and the motions of the fiber artist do not ever distract the driver. You see in the photo above my attempt to create an S-curve out of two colors of yarn.

I received two items from daughter that will inspire future fiber objects:

The Vogue Knitting book is a delightful compilation of the best of the Vogue Knitting magazine, from the 1980s through to 2011. Lots of inspiration is here. I have my eye on a couple of patterns found within. Of most value to me are the charts of various lace stitches.

This little book is called omiyage, by Kumiko Sudo. It was purchased by my mom, who passed it to daughter, who gave it to me. The Japanese have a thousand-year-old practice of making and giving small gifts. Back then there were strict rules and a great deal of formality surrounding this ritual. The author re-interprets omiyage for modern times, using fabrics both traditional and modern. As she is a quilter, she pulls fabrics from her stash of quilting cotton, and incorporates bits of silk and wool as well. I plan to try making some Good Luck dolls.

Traditionally these dolls were the focal point for a festival called Girl’s Day. I think they would be wonderful made from some of my hand-painted fabrics. Because they are small, making one should be a fun, inexpensive and quick project.

Well, I am keen to resume my making. The Just Trees mini quilt is still unfinished and I would like to get that weaving off the loom soon.

Until next time, keeping making and be well.

Posted in weaving

Fun, Kid-Friendly Fiber Art Lesson

Dear friends: Due to travel plans I will not be able to post blogs for the next week or so. So today I have for you a project that you can do at home, with your kids or with yourself. This is the last lesson I did with my fiber arts kids, ages ranging from eight to fourteen. They all enjoyed it. I call it:


After spending weeks looking for some inexpensive frame looms that were more than just toys, I decided to make them myself. I found a package of ten 8 by 10 inch stretched canvas artist frames for $13 at a local Walmart. I bought a box of 1 inch panel board nails and a tack hammer at the local hardware big box store. After marking every 3/10th of an inch across the top and bottom of the frames, I tapped the nails about half-way in. ( I used the needle nose pliers to hold nails in place. That was a tip from my husband) Voila: loom. After a few hours of hammering I had made ten looms for less than 25 dollars.

Next I fashioned some shuttles by cutting 8 inch by 1 and 1/2 inch rectangles from matt board. You can use any sturdy cardboard you can get your hands on. I made a few from posterboard which worked okay – just tended to bend too much. Cut each narrow end into arrow shapes, then slice straight down into the center of each end about an inch. I removed a narrow sliver from this slot. Here is my finished shuttle. Make more than one so that you can have multiple colors of yarn ready.

You will need the following materials and tools to get weaving: cotton yarn or string for making warp, yarn, string of other fiber stuff for weft threads, wide craft sticks about 8 inches long, scissors, tapestry needles and a plastic fork which serves as a beater and of course, your home-made loom and shuttles.

Procedure: Using a cotton of other sturdy thread, tie one end to lower right nail. Begin wrapping by stretching yarn up to corresponding top nail, then back down to next bottom nail, up, down and so on until all the nails are wrapped. Be sure to keep the yarn moderately taut. Tie the end of the warp thread securely to the final thread. I used a surgeon’s knot, but a double half-hitch will also work. Wind your shuttles with about three feet of yarn.

Use the craft sticks as weaving sticks: weave one stick in and out of warp threads all the way across your loom. Push this stick to the top of your loom. Now work another stick through the warp going the opposite way, that is, the over threads are now unders and the unders are overs. Push this stick up next to the first stick. To open a shed, you just twist the lower stick. Run your shuttle through the opening, spreading weft thread evenly. Drop the stick and remove it. Now mash your first weft thread evenly down to the bottom of the loom. Open the alternate shed with the remaining stick and run your shuttle back through. You can leave the top stick in place, but you will need to reset your bottom stick every time. Such is the fate of a weaver using a primitive loom. If you don’t like using the shuttles, you can weave with yarn and a tapestry needle. The down side is that you will use shorter lengths of yarn and have to rethread often.

There’s lots of little techniques you can use to vary your weaving. To carry the first color up the side of your weaving, wrap the second color around the first before the next pass of the shuttle. With each pass of the shuttle the yarn will be covered as it moves along to the location of its next use.

Have fun. I am attaching a pdf file with the complete lesson. Since I have never done this before, I hope that it is useable.

Posted in painting, quilting

Just Trees in Progress

It’s a cold, drippy, soggy-ground day here. Even with the sun behind a cloud, one can revel in the beauty of Spring arriving. This is our neighbor’s tulip magnolia which overhangs the fence in our yard. It is robed in amazing color just a handful of days every year. So I put on shoes and went out into the wet to capture its moment of glory.

Yucky weather seems to give one full permission to huddle indoors and work on fiber objects. The Weaver’s Square vest is within three inches of being fully knitted. I should have a good image to post in a couple of more days.

Here is a progress photo showing work on my latest fiber object, which I call “Just Trees.” I have cut and basted four rows of clam shell shapes, then painted each with a tree.

My original intent was to paint all trees without leaves. But hey, I can’t ignore the burst of color right outside my window. The three trees with black trunks and pink tops are meant to be redbuds. It is a native tree that puts on screaming pink to magenta blossoms in mid Spring – usually before any of the other hardwood trees have even leafed out.

I think three redbuds will be enough to create a nice focal point.

So far the top two rows of appliques have been stitched – by hand – into place. This step is only a little bit tricky. But patience and persistence always yield results.

With a continuation of rainy weather and the unceasing announcements of event cancellations, I may easily finish this object before next weekend.