Thursday, August 30, 2018


Several years ago on a trip to Japan our tour stopped at this incredible museum that contained only the work of Itchiku Kubo. This man made it his life's work to perfect the ancient art of the fragile dyed silks of the 16th century. They used stitch-resist dyeing (shibori), ink drawings, embroidery, metallic leaf and complex layering of colors. He used these techniques to make breathtakingly beautiful seven feet tall Kimono. He had this museum built, with a view of Mount Fuji, to house his incredible works. Our tour only allowed us an hour there and I could have spent all day. I bought the big heavy hard covered book and lugged it around the rest of our trip. I get it out once in awhile and look and sigh.

So when I found out that a large selection of his work was at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute in Utica, New York I knew that I had to go. I grew up in Utica and the museum was there then, but it has since been added to and now has a wonderful modern section. Kimono, the name of the exhibit, was displayed so beautifully and you could get your nose right up to each work and study the stitches and painting.  I took a lot of pictures. Here are just a few. Please click on any one for a bigger view, especially to see some of the stitching.

Another reason for the trip was to see a couple of cousins who still live in the area. I drove up with my sister and her daughter, a 3 1/2 hour trip. It was so good to see them when it was not for a funeral or memorial and we had a grand time reminiscing about our childhoods.

Some of the kimono were displayed together as they were meant to convey a scene. He was very fond of Mount Fuji and it was featured in many of his works.

Detail of above.

Some colors were very vivid. Detail below.

My sister in front of another featuring mountains .

 Cousin Chrissy with my sister and me.

Chrissy with my sister and her daughter, Lauren. I missed getting a picture of my other cousin, Marcella. Sorry, Marcy!

Itchiku Kubota died in his 80's but his work continues on. The museum in Japan has about 20 artists, along with his son, who continue his vision and produce only about one kimono a year. That's how intense the work is. The exhibit in Utica is there  until Sept. 16 so if you are anywhere nearby in upstate New York it is worth the drive. It certainly was for us. We had a lovely dinner that evening, spent the night at the beautifully restored Hotel Utica (now a Hilton Double Tree) and drive home the next morning. A weekend well spent.

You can read more about the exhibit here

I'm also linking up with Off The Wall Friday.

Thursday, August 23, 2018


I spent last weekend (hot, humid and/or raining) inside finishing up this second quilt for my Florida home.

It is quilted and faced and ready to hang.

I quilted this with my Sweet Sixteen, which I had not used for a few months. I loaded it up with gray thread, top and bobbin and sewed away. It was a dream. No thread breaking, no tension problems, unlike other times. I worked most of Saturday and finished all the gray. I loved having all that room to spread the quilt out. No need for rolling it up or bunching to fit under the harp of the Bernina.

Sunday after church I changed the thread to navy and whoa, baby. What's happening? Thread tangles on the back and/or front, thread breaking and general nastiness. I say that this machine is like that poem...."There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very, very good, but when she was bad she was horrid."

It took a lot of fiddling with the tension, top and bobbin to get it working correctly. And, yes, it was exactly the same kind of thread, just a different color. What I thought would take me an hour and a half took me three hours.

But I'm finished and I'm pleased with it. I sewed on the sleeve last night and it is ready to hang,

I did corduroy quilting (narrow straight parallel lines) on the Dupioni silk sections and an angular random pattern on the rest. I loved using that new ruler. You just press your foot (the machine's not yours) against the ruler as you quilt in straight lines. It was a bit of a learning curve as it was easy to stray away from the ruler and then you got a little blip, but I got better as I went along.

This is the ruler, an unimpressive looking little fellow. It is only seven inches long and two inches wide and a quarter of an inch thick. The thickness is important, because if it is too thin it will slide under the foot, too thick and it won't fit. It is designed by Angela Waters, a super duper free motion quilter, who has a whole line of these rulers for making curves. I prefer to do my own curves free-motion, but the straight ruler is a big help if you want to do long straight lines. It was worth the $21 + S&H. The alternative is to use your walking foot on a regular machine. You will get perfectly spaced stitches and perfectly straight lines, but you have to turn the whole quilt around each time you get to the end. Not too bad on a very small quilt, but on a big one it is a nightmare and takes forever, So much easier free-motion with a ruler where you can sew frontwards and backwards or any other direction and not have to turn the quilt.
I put the red dots on the ruler because it is very easy to lose it, being clear. Ask me how I know!


For the shibori sections I followed the patterns of the shibori.

I will be linking up with Off the Wall Friday. Go see what everyone is doing and please leave comments. We all love feedback. I know that I do.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Monday, August 13, 2018

New work

I know you're not supposed to buy a painting to go with the couch, but that's what I did with this piece. My new Florida house has a small den with a small couch that opens into a double bed, an end table, a coffee table and a console with a TV. I might have room for a small chair.

I was so pleased with the mostly navy quilt that I showed you a few posts ago that I decided to make another in navy and gray (my accent colors). This one is an original design using gray Dupioni silk, my hand-dyed cottons and and some of my shibori.

 It is 30" x 40" and I think that will be a good size for the room. The couch is just a neutral color, the floors are gray weathered wood and I plan to add an area rug. If the quilt doesn't work in the room, I can probably use it in my bedroom.

It still has to be quilted and I plan to do it on my Sweet Sixteen. I want to quilt part of it in long straight narrow lines (corduroy quilting) and that is hard to do with free motion quilting. Curvy lines are a snap, but straight are much harder so I ordered a ruler that should help. It is 1/4" thick and you rest your machine foot against it as you go. I will have to do some practicing first.

I'll show you the quilting when it's done. I will be linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Luscious Lilies

Last year when I was making my Presidential Fabrications I started out by using some cotton velveteen that I had ice dyed. I thought it was rather wild and thus suitable for the "Wild Fabrications" theme of the show. But as I started piecing it together and adding some pinks and fuchsias I realized that it was getting too "pretty" and not suitable for a political statement quilt. So I stopped piecing, put it aside and went on to make the quilt in different colors.

I went back later and free-motion quilted it in an all over floral design. Again, "pretty", but lacking. I just put it away.

My day lilies have been scrumptious this year and I've taken a lot of pictures. This variety is my current favorite, "Fountain of Life"

Soooo, I decided to print out some pictures on fabric and appliqué them to the finished quilt. If I had to do it all over again, I would have quilted the lilies first and then appliquéd them, because the extra quilting caused them to sink a little into the background, instead of stand out. You can't tell from the picture. I played with different colors for the shadows and settled on navy blue.

Luscious Lilies  21" x 31"

Detail of background

Detail of Lily

Please let me know what you think. I am linking up with Off the Wall Friday, which I didn't think I could do this week because of horrible problems with my internet. Argh, Comcast!! Two visits to the house and a long time on the phone and it is still sporadic so I am getting this out fast before I lose it again.