Saturday, December 20, 2008

Working Day and Night

I got the scraps on my design wall fused down. Here's a taste. I'm not ready to show the whole thing yet.

I've also been crocheting scarves like crazy. I can't show them here since they are gifts. But if you want to peek at a few of them check me out on Ravelry. I'm citygirlq.

Safe and happy holidays everyone!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Give Love

Give water.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Separation Anxiety

It has been a while since I posted. But not because I haven't been busy.

I'm hand quilting the quilt I swore I wouldn't hand quilt.

I finished piecing the Olympic quilt.

Which left me with lots of delicious scraps to play with.

And I've done a lot of crocheting.

Mostly I've been dealing the work/life stuff that causes me to neglect my blog. I always manage to find time for a creative life. Just not the time to talk about it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Return of Gordon Gartrelle

Remember that episode of the Cosby Show where Denise told Theo she could make him a knock-off of a designer shirt for the big dance? And it came out all lopsided with long arms? And Theo was mortified?

I have a love-hate relationship with garment making. The idea of is always a bajillion times better than the reality for me. So when I realized yesterday (in what I am sure is just the first of many 11th hour school projects to come) that my son needed an outfit for culture day at day care this morning, and I thought "I will just make him a really simple shirt", someone should have stopped me. I even found a pattern that said "fast and easy" right on the package. Three times. That should have been my signal to throw it down and run away. Because it was neither fast nor easy and I don't know how many times I have to be lied to by packaging before I learn my lesson. In the end, I just improvised the collar because I could not make heads or tails of the so called directions.

But I did manage to get it put together. And it actually stayed together all day. I expected it to fall apart halfway through the day. And, like Theo, my kid only cried a little when we put it on him. I'm pretty sure it didn't cause any long lasting psychological scars. Fortunately, my son does not stand still long enough for anyone to notice the various improvisations, crooked seams, tucks, and threads I refused to deal with properly because it was late and I just wanted to be done. I'm going back to quilting.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hello My Name is (Part 2)

I finished the calling cards. I don't really need calling cards. I just wanted to see if I could do it. It was more of an exercise in seeing if I could focus my artistic point of view in small space with limited images and text.

They are the size of standard business cards and made from fabric that has been used in other projects. I also decided that they had to incorporate hand work so they have some type of embroidery or beading on them. I created an image from a baby picture to go with the text for the reverse side. I used an iron on transfer to get the image and text onto the fabric. Mostly because I wanted to try out the iron on transfer stuff.

I put an eyelet in my favorite card and tied it to the bag I made with a piece of scrap ribbon. I will probably attach the rest of them to future projects. It is a good way to use up scraps of fabric. And one day, when we have gas in our state again and can leave the house, I might actually be able to give them to people. They are calling cards after all.

I didn't use anything like a stiff stabilizer or fusible inside the cards because I don't like to hand sew through that stuff. So the cards are flexible which I kind of like. I embellished the back of the cards before stitching the two sides together because I didn't want the stitches to show on the back. And the whole thing is put together like a pillowcase because I don't like binding. I guess my artistic point of view also includes a certain amount of laziness. I'm okay with that.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hello, my name is...

I'm making some calling cards. Not that I ever go anywhere or meet anyone. But I was thinking about things like artistic voice and communicating a point a view. Something like a business card or calling card has to communicate everything you want someone else to know about you and where you're coming from in a very small format. So I decided to try making some. They are pretty much like ATC's but 2 by 31/2. And there is text on the other side. I was thinking of attaching them to projects.

Work on everything else has stalled. Mostly because I just can't get to it. But I can work on these little cards here and there and feel like I'm accomplishing something. I'm crocheting baby blankets too. Lots of people seem to be having babies these days. I don't know if they will be girls or boys. But I figured I'd make a few in different colors and get ahead of the curve for a change.

I'm hoping to get back to the other projects soon. The cityscape and the olympic quilt were moving along really well. But I just haven't been able to get to them. I think someone is slipping me decaf.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Super Easy Fun Bag

I made a bag. I've been wanting to make a bag for a while now to hold crochet projects. The fall issue of Quilts and More had a pattern for a super-easy bag. I'm usually skeptical when I see words like "super easy". And I doubted the pattern the whole time I was making it because if anyone can get a pattern wrong, it's me. But this bag really was super easy. In fact I made it in one night. With an almost 2 year old. And a cranky husband.

The bag has six pockets on the outside which is perfect for hooks, scissors, stitch markers, a pattern, an ipod, a bag of M&M's. Everything you need for crocheting. And I do love pockets.

The inside can hold a surprising number of skeins of yarn. It's holding an unfinished scarf right now. The finished bag is 8"x10"x4". So it is not huge. I don't think I could cram a whole finished afgan in it. But I prefer not to cram afgans into bags anyway. I just want to keep the yarn away from cats and toddlers and keep all of the related notions together. Now I can be super organized.

This was a fun project. Super fun. Now that I have it figured out I can add all kinds of embellishments next time and maybe some kind of closure. It's perfect for those big prints I've been hesitant to cut. And I've got that fashionista fabric in all kinds of color ways. I was thinking it would be cool if I could make it a little bigger. Then I could make a bag that matched the baby afgan and put the afgan (folded not crammed) inside the bag. The baby can use the afgan and the mom can use the bag. On second thought, I might have been better off if the pattern hadn't been so super easy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

One Thing Leads to Another

My quilting olympics is going very well. Of course, I don't have funky, totally unfair tie-breaking rules to deal with. If two people get the same score they should share the medal or do a tie-breaking back flip or something.

Anyway, I've managed to do some needleturn every night since the olympics started. And I'm getting better at those outside points. I think I've figured out a way to turn the corner that works for me, and they aren't coming out lumpy or weird anymore. It has also given me a chance to experiment with different threads for applique. I'm loving the silk. I like it so much, I want to try quilting with silk thread. And I just happen to have some old silk remnants that would be perfect for such an experiment. I will never have to worry about running out of things to do as long as one project leads to another.

On an unrelated note, why oh why did the current issue of Craft magazine have to be about weaving? This is the kind of temptation I don't need. Now, when no one is looking, I sneak peaks at looms online. Somebody stop me. I actually had a loom when I was kid. My grandparents gave me a plastic table top loom and I would make squares of fabric. It was fun. I never turned them into anything. But when you are a kid people let you just make stuff without it having to be anything. Maybe that's what grabbed my attention. It takes me back to when process was more important than outcome. I wonder if my mom still has that loom?

Monday, August 11, 2008

She Sticks the Landing

I decided to join Quilting Olympics. I know I have other things I should be doing. But I really wanted to do some applique. So I whipped up some 4 patch blocks at world record pace, and cut some squares to applique to the blocks. I'm doing needle turn applique to attach the squares. By the time I'm done, I will have perfected outside points which is the goal of this exercise.

Go team needle-turn.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Let the Games Begin - But Give Me a Minute First

The Olympics are about to start and I am woefully unprepared with hand projects to work on during my must-see events. I'm a little bit of a summer olympic nut. It's weird if you know me because I'm not much of a sports fan. But I get into the Olympics. I must watch gymnastics, diving, swimming, and track and field. Maybe some tennis and basketball. And some bicycling. And maybe some synchronized swimming. You get the picture.

But I've been preoccupied with other things and neglected to get my hand work together. It's not that I don't have hand projects. There are a few projects waiting to be pieced or quilted. But I don't have the right batting, or the right thread, or a clue about how to quilt something. I might have to pick up a UFO.

I have done some quilting on the cityscape. I have most of the wig shop quilted. Sorry, no pictures. I'm too lazy to get the camera out plus there are loose threads all over the top. There's a project right there. Schnoobie said there are no wig stores in her town and it made be laugh because there was one on every block in the neighborhood where I grew up. Seriously. They are like Starbucks. They didn't just sell hair and wigs you know. You could get jewelry, clothes, toys - pretty much anything made in China - in those places.

Which brings us back the Olympics. In addition to not preparing any hand work projects, I just realized that we are also out of ice cream. We are so unprepared.

Friday, August 1, 2008

5 Days of Solitude (Almost)

The vacation is coming along nicely, thank you very much. Apart from the telemarketers and the ants that are trying to eat our relatively new air conditioner, it has been ideal. I even gave up worrying about the germs that were threatening to put the whole household out of commission.

I spent the last few days working on a city scape. It's like a landscape but for city girls. I've been wanting to do something like this for a while now - but who has the time? So it was like my own self-directed art quilt camp. And I have been learning a lot.

All of the piecing, fusing and zig-zag stitching is done. And I'm pretty happy with the outcome so far. Naturally there are flaws, but they have taught me valuable lessons, so I choose to look at them as learning opportunities. I'm moving on to the quilting next. Hopefully the ants won't carry us away in the night.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Day Spent Quilting

I got to spend the whole day quilting. Right now, I can't think of a better way to spend my vacation.

I did some piecing and I quilted the water quilt which now has it's official title. I don't actually put the names of quilts out there until they are done or mostly done. That way I'm sure they actually are what I decided to name them. Anyway, this quilt is named "Middle Passage Mediations". I'll take a non-blurry picture soon.

The fabric is hand dyed. And it is machine pieced and quilted.

I even quilted a ship on it.

I don't really have too much to say about what's going on with this quilt. Or I have so much to say that I don't know where to start. I'm not sure which is true. Suffice it to say, I think every person has something in his or her consciousness that sort of haunts them. It is useful to process these things and meditate on why they grip you. I think it might also be useful to get them out of your head an up on a wall where you can gain some perspective. That's all I have to say about that for now.

Update on the Blair Witch. I've managed to stay one step ahead of her with hand sanitizer and mentholated vaporizers. It seems like she's not going to get my vacation. But I've seen enough scary movies to know that as soon as you let you guard down, something crawls out of the TV and gets you. And yes, I know those are two different movies. Risk is everywhere.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Best Laid Plans

Yipee! I have the whole week off. I don't really say yippee, but I'm not convinced that I can spell yay. Anyway. I have the whole week off. I really need a vacation. My brain is functioning so poorly that I can't even come up with a proper metaphor to describe how much I need a vacation. That's how bad it is. So I'm off. And the plan is to spend the week making quilts and doing other arty type stuff in attempt to reboot my brain. I'm really looking forward to it.

Of course you realize that my vacation is like those kids that go off into the woods all happy and ready for a nice camping trip not realizing the Blair Witch is behind a bush waiting to wreak havoc. It started with my son coming home with a very low grade fever and a runny nose. Now he's coughing and sneezing on everything. And since my husband is helpless against baby germs, he's gone down too. How will it end? Will we all get away in the nick of time? Or will the whole family be left standing in the corner waiting to be taken out? Stay tuned.
Tell the people at Intownquilters I love them and I'm so sorry.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Proof Of Life

I’ve been a big slacker about keeping things updated around here. And since Kyra was nice enough to give me a shout out on her blog, people have been stopping by. I kind of feel the way I do when I have visitors and realize that I haven’t dusted in a while. It happens to me more than you’d expect.

I have managed to get bits and pieces of things done in between everything else. But I’m not going to show you the whole picture because nothing is at the showing it to people stage. But I think I need to show some proof of creative life.

The water quilt top is done and I’ve dreamed about how to quilt it. I even have backing fabric. But not the right thread. Who has time for quilting anyway?

I pulled a bunch of scraps out of my scrap bin. From time to time, I get to piece them together. I have no idea where this is going. I’m just sewing stuff together.

I’m drafting a pattern for a quilt. It is based on stuff from my sketchbook. I get a minute here and there to ink the pattern.

I’m making favors for a birthday party. There is extreme danger for me anytime I go near the scrapbook section. There is so much in there for quilting and journaling. Forget about actually making scrapbooks. So far, I’ve managed to keep it to what I need for the project.

So at least I’ve managed to do a little bit of something every day. I’ve taken enough piano lessons and art classes to know that you have to practice everyday – even if you only get a few minutes. Everything doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. You just have to keep working.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Coffee Break

I finally finished the coffee quilt. It was actually finished a while ago. But I just got around to binding it.

This quilt was a UFO. It was going to be much bigger than this. But I put it aside and started working on other projects. Every now and then I would piece a few blocks. All the piecing is done by hand so it was easy to pick up the sewing from time to time. I thought it would take me one hundred years to finish this quilt.

But earlier this year I decided to just finish my UFO's or get rid of them. It's hard to explain, but I feel like my work is in a different place now than it was a few years ago. I don't want to spend my time now on a project I came up with when my head was in a different place. Especially since my time is more limited. So I decided to just stop piecing and put together a top with what I had. It is all hand pieced and machine quilted. After the top was together, I thought it was kind of boring. Again - I don't think about my work the way I used to. So I stamped coffee stains all over the piece with fabric paint. The piece is called, "Wake Up and Smell the Non-fat Carmel Macchiato."

I have one more UFO to take care of. It's being difficult. But it's going down.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I Could Be Loosing My Mind

But I'm not because I make stuff every day. I haven't been getting a lot done but I do enough to maintain an even keel. There's nothing bad going on. Just life.

Here's what I've been up to.

I graffiti tagged some fabric.

I started drafting a pattern.

I started a dream studio journal.

My major accomplishment was cleaning my workspace. I mean really cleaning it. Like throwing out 35 pounds of magazines clean. I'm even going to dust tomorrow. It had really gotten to a point where I couldn't even work in there because of all the stuff everywhere. I know that people say a cluttered workspace reflects a cluttered mind. I choose not to believe that. And clutter really doesn't bother me. But things had seriously gotten out of hand in there. So now everything is back in where it belongs and there is space to work.

And if I can manage to go a week without anyone catching a weird virus, or a tree falling, or some other bizarre and expensive problem, I might actually get something done.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Proof of Life

I'm still waiting to exhale but I'm still working too.


I'm painting some background fabric that will be part of a bad luck quilt. The first layer will be stenciled letters. I made these stencils out of freezer paper so they would look like letters I would draw by hand instead of neatly prepared stencils. I'm using an iridescent Shiva paint stick that is very close to the background color. Since it is the bottom layer, I want it to be subtle. This is way too much fun. I could spend all day smearing around this color. Is that weird?

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I finished the improv quilt. Since I just made up the cutting and piecing, I decided to just make up the quilting as I went along. It was fun. I got to play with lots of different threads and lots of different stitches. I'm relatively new to the machine quilting thing - at least new to doing it correctly. So this was my chance to experiment. It's almost like a sampler. I'm sure I will refer to it when I'm doing more deliberate machine quilting. The quilt is raw edge applique, machine pieced and quilted. The fabric is hand dyed.

I ended up naming the quilt, "This is Your Brain on Shuffle." I was listening to iTunes while I was quilting and I had it set to shuffle. I have wide ranging tastes in music. The randomness of the songs that were playing was entertaining and kind of like the quilt.

You know what? Quilting is fun.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Looking for My Thread Snipper

I didn't fall off the face of the earth. Or get kidnapped by the quilt police. I'm just tangled up in the loose threads of life. I'm working on getting them buried and clipped.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Progress Through Guilt

I'm making progress. Slowly but surely. Here's what I've been up to.

I figured out what was missing from that improv quilt. I reconstructed the circles and lines I deconstructed in the other blocks and voila - a new block. Now I just have to figure out the quilting. It's always something.

I've also made progress on the coffee quilt. Actually, it is pretty much done. But I don't have the right fabric to bind it. Like I said, it's always something.

I was approaching the other UFO, the blue quilt, in the same way I approached the coffee quilt. That is, stop piecing and see what I could make with what I had. But I didn't seem to have enough blocks to make something out of what I had. So I pieced some more. It's still not working. Did I mention, it's always something?

I've also picked up my crochet hook. I have all this yarn in my sewing room and it has been sending me on a guilt trip. Every time I go in there, "So you're making stuff out of your fabric stash again. I guess we're not good enough to be stuff." And, "We were here before some of that fabric. Sorry, we're not as much fun." That kind of thing. Yarn can be so whiny sometimes. So I'm also busy converting the yarn into scarves and hats and other such things so it will get off my case. It's looking at me right now. I'd better go.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Stitched Myself Into A Corner

So I decided to to a little improvisational quilting. Like jazz, but with cotton and thread. Because sometimes you just have to play with your materials to see what will happen.

I made these blocks. And I wasn't entirely sure where to go next. Did this ever happen to Ella Fitzgerald? Did she ever start scatting and it just got away from her?

I felt like they wanted to do this.

Now what? Heck if I know. So I cut up some more fabric and came up with this.

I like the x blocks. But, as the kids say, I'm not feeling this design. I think they might want to be in their own quilt. I've taken enough art classes to know that the eye needs a place to rest and this thing probably needs a color to unify the blocks, yadda, yadda, yadda. I'm just going to leave the blocks on the design wall and see what else they have to say. But if they start singing "A-tisket, A-tasket," I'm leaving.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Is It Procrastinating if It's Fun?

I really should have worked on my UFO's today. I've finished the quilting on the coffee quilt. It only needs a bit more work to be done. And the blue quilt is up on the design wall. I sewed some of the blocks backwards, so I need to unsew them and put them together correctly. I should have done either one of these things today. But a box of hand dyed fabric was calling to me. It was saying, "Come play with us."

So I cut some squares, and rough cut some circles and sewed them to the squares.

Then I decided to see what would happen if cut them, shuffled them and sewed the back together.

Then I cut them again, shuffled them again, and sewed them back together.

It's fun to play.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New Year's Resolution Quilt 4

I finished the fourth bad luck quilt. This one is called "Don't Squish Spiders." If there is a spider someplace you would prefer there be no spider, get a piece of paper or a cup, and escort it outside. It is bad luck to kill a spider. For one thing, they eat bugs that are even more objectionable than spiders.

The quilt is machine pieced and quilted. Everything is from my stash except the thread. The spider web is made out of angelina fibers and sewed on by hand. The spiders are hand beaded. As I mentioned before, they came out a little more realistic than I anticipated. I was thinking cute beaded spiders. These things look like they might car jack you. I think the legs are creating the ick factor here. Since they are dimensional and not flat on the quilt, they look like they are going to crawl away.

You might be wondering how I come up with designs for the quilts that incorporate objects or images like the bad luck quilts. I usually have an idea of what I want to make, like a spiderweb or a broom. I use these as keywords in a google image search. For those of you not familiar, you go to google, select images, and then enter the search term. It will spit out pictures instead of websites. And you can search for anything. Even coffee stains. Just don't search for spiders. Trust me. There's something out there called a camel spider, and once you see it, you can't unsee it.

Anyway, I try to find several different images. I don't want to copy the images I find. Instead, I'm looking for common characteristics of the object that would help you identify what it is. Like the bands on a broom or the holes in a salt shaker. Or the legs on a spider. These are sort of iconic elements that help you immediately identify an object even though it might be a strange color or in a weird setting. I then sketch the object and plan the background. Sometimes, the background will be a setting, like the Buy A New Broom quilt. Lots of times, I try to enlarge an element of the object and make that the background. The Don't Spill the Salt quilt has baby blocks as a background because if you look at salt under a microscope it has a cube shape. And sometimes I don't put that much thought into it and just go for a pretty color. So that's my tip for the day.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Why Is There A Tissue On This Quilt?

Because there's a spider on it. Ewww!

I am aware of the fact that I made the spider. But still, I didn't think it would be so creepy looking.

It's giving me the willies.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

These Are The Good Times

All Skate officially moves from the UFO pile into the done pile. Woo hoo! It is machine pieced and the curved piecing is done by hand. 98% of the quilting is done by hand. The circles were quilted free hand for the most part. Marking the quilt was a pain, so I didn't bother. Actually, if I drew the circles free hand, this what they would look like.

The quilt is from a magazine pattern. I added the border because I couldn't bear to have the bias edges in the circles on the outside of the quilt. For some reason, it reminds me of when I was a kid and would go to the roller disco. I had my own skates you know. I got them for my 7th birthday. If you look under the table you can see them (that's me in the yellow shirt which I also got for my birthday). We had a raging slumber party the night before that brought down the canopy bed. We went to the Rink (or the Loop) roller disco the next day for a party. My mother's mentor, Abena Joan Brown, rented a limo for us so we wouldn't think people just rode in limos during funerals. I still hear certain songs and think, "that's a fast skate" or "that's an all skate." And somehow, the music and all of those memories are caught up in this quilt.

Now, I've got two UFO's on the list. I'm half way through piecing the top of one of them. How exciting.