Thursday, December 24, 2020

Shimmer and Shine

 I started making these Paula Nadelstern ornaments while I was in Florida. I made several following Paula's excellent directions on her website and her beautiful kaleidoscopic fabrics and lots of sequins, beads and colored head pins.

When I got back from Florida at the end of March I piled them in a big glass bowl on my dining room table. I had originally made these to use as Christmas decor, but I liked they way they looked on the table. I had bought this bowl while on a Viking River Cruise through Germany. We went to a glass blowers shop where the owner had worked for Dale Chihuly. While the bowl was expensive, it was a tenth of the price of a real Chaiuly and much more practical. His bowls are paper thin, but this one is very sturdy and I have used it empty or full in various places in my home. 

I wanted them to be a statement piece for the holidays in my small living room.  I sent away for clear glass columns in three different sizes. One is 24 inches high and 6 inches in diameter, the next is 16 inches by 8 and the shorter is 10 by 8 inches. I had to make several more balls to fill them up and smaller ones to fill the "chinks".  If you click on any picture you will get a bigger view to see more detail.

I like the way you can see all of the balls if you walk around the table. Piled in the glass bowl you lost the ones on the bottom. 

There is usually a 6 foot slim tree in this room with silver and white ornaments in front of the window, but I did not put it up  this year. I only put up my Santa tree in the family room, so the ornaments are my tree this year. 

The first ornaments were made using 6, 5, and 4 inch diameter balls, but when I started piling them in the column I still had small spaces to fill. These last balls were only 3 inches. I didn't know if it would work on such small balls, but it did and it took a lot less time to do all the sequins. I only used flat sequins on these little balls because I didn't want anything sticking out and impeding their fitting in the column. 
The ball in front is the only one of all the balls I made that is the same on both ends. I was able to get them to meet and match. Each of these balls is made from a different fabric. I loved making these even if they were fiddly and time consuming, but I have more than I need right now. Maybe I'll make some for Christmas gifts next year. I still have plenty of fabric and embellishments left. 

 This as been a difficult year for all of us, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine and a grown up in the White House. I'm wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and holiday season and a much better 2021.

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Violet Protest Project

 At my SAQA Zoom meeting last week one of the members shared what she had done for the Violet Protest Project. I was intrigued and investigated it and decided that this was something that I would like to do. You can read all about it here.

To briefly sum it up, we are trying to send the message that we are one country, not just red states and blue states. We are trying to get 26,750 eight inch squares, enough to send 50 to each member of Congress. The squares are to have an equal amount of red and blue to give the illusion of violet or purple. They will be displayed as a huge installation at the Phoenix Art Museum in Spring 2021 before being mailed to Congress.

The squares do not have to be quilts, but can be any type of fiber....knitted, woven, crocheted, appliqu├ęd, felted, etc. as long as it is fiber.

Squares are to be mailed by Feb. 1, so if this interests you, there is plenty of time for you to participate. When you sign up and commit you have to do it in multiples of five. I signed up for five and below are the squares that I am sending. 

Skinny, wiggly piecing. I have done a lot of this over the years, but it has been awhile and I had to refresh my memory.

Wonky Log Cabin

This looks like it is pieced, but it is not. I took two squares of fabric, each backed with Wonder Under
and cut into curvy strips with a rotary cutter. Then the strips are woven together and fused down. Very easy to do.

Same technique as the square above, but with deeper curves.

Positive, negative. This is a fun technique. I chose the butterfly because it is a symbol of hope. I did not bind these little quilt squares, but used a machine buttonhole stitch around the edges. Also, no sleeve is required, so these went pretty fast, completing them in two days.

I am linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Santa, Baby, Encore

 A couple of weeks ago I told you about my Santa tree that was entered in the contest for Ann's Place. You can read all about it here. I'm pleased to say that I was fourth out of sixty-six trees and won third runner up. I garnered 1,809 votes, which meant $1,809 for the charity and I won $250, which I donated right back to Ann's Place. 

I started my Santa tree about 25 years ago when it was a small four foot table top tree. The ornaments were mostly small and many of them were fabric, cloth and resin. A few years ago I changed to a 7 1/5 foot tree in the family room and started adding larger glass ornaments. I would retire some of the smaller ornaments to make room for the bigger glass ones. I also added plain red balls to add more sparkle. 

I usually buy one or two new ones each year but this year I found a bonanza at Home Goods. They had a small collection of great glass boxed ornaments made in Poland, where they make the best glass ornaments, for a fabulous price and I couldn't resist buying these four guys.


I bought this long sleeve T-shirt last year at Kohl's for a pittance. Pretty cute, I think.

I found this video on Youtube of the inimitable Earth Kitt singing Santa Baby, as no one else can.

I finally finished my last charity quilt. The duct tape holding down the throat plate worked like a charm, although I was able to get a new one online which  hasn't arrived yet, 

All of these blocks came from the same fabric. I probably should have photographed the fabric first, but those turquoise and navy stripes went through the center of the fabric. I redistributed them when doing the piecing.

I especially liked the pop of red in my flanged piping. I quilted the border in red, too, using the same garlic design. 

I am linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Sewing Machine Woes and a Collage

 You've heard me singing the praises of my old 1230 Bernina sewing machine. It was just humming along doing great free-motion quilting, although the throat plate kept slipping a bit. I was able to pop in back in place until I was about 7/8 of the way through. Then I broke 4 needles in about ten minutes. I took the throat plate off and saw that there were 2 little spring clips on the underside. One of them was loose and that's why it kept slipping. I found my set of teeny, tiny screwdrivers and it split the screw in half.  So I gave a deep sigh and decided that I would drop this machine off when I picked up my other one. 

No machine for over a week. Fortunately I had other things to do. But now I want to finish that red quilt and I want to make a Christmas mask or two. I don't know why I didn't think of it before, but today I thought of the fix-all for so many things......duct tape. And guess what? It worked! I did a sample run of free-motion quilting and it did not slip at all. It does mean that I will have to remove the tape whenever I want to clean out the lint, but that will do until I can get this little screw. 

The prompt for this month's challenge was Ice or Water. I chose ice, mainly because I had this great Hot Potato Stamp of a snowflake. I had to dye a little piece of white velvet blue and I got the right color the first time. As before I used pages from an old encyclopedia and dictionaries. I found some good pictures online that I printed onto tracing paper so that the words beneath would show through. I also used a stencil with some white modeling paste on the lower photo of icicles. And I had a cute little stamp of a snowflake that I printed in blue. 

I am linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving in Covid

 Thanksgiving is certainly different this year. My sister and I had already decided not to go to her daughter's as we have in years past and then she decided to cancel it all together. We will be Zooming later with all who used to be there. 

You have often seen my prior posts of Lauren's beautiful table scapes. I didn't even try to match it, but I did set a festive table for just the two of us. 

I'm not even making turkey because Ruthie doesn't like it, but making a center cut bone-in roast pork instead. I haven't made that in years but found a great Martha Stewart recipe online. I have to have stuffing and gravy, roasted little red potatoes around the roast and roasted acorn squash smiles. Ruthie is bringing a green veggie. Also having pumpkin pie for dessert, a must-have for me, with real whipped cream.

I'm hoping that next year this will be a distant memory and we can enjoy the holidays as we always did. Not to rush the season, but for some reason this Christmas song from World War II has been going through my mind and it is so poignant and relevant for right now. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Quilt of the Week

 I didn't post a quilt last week for a couple of reasons. I was quilting on the red quilt when I ran out of the variegated thread I was using. I have used Rainbow by Superior for years and was having a hard time finding it, even on the Superior site and then I realized that they are no longer making it and have substituted  Fantastico, which has two sizes of spools, a large cone and the smaller size that I want. So I ordered it and then went to the lavender and green quilt. I had a nice variegated Rainbow in the right color, which I have used on all of these charity quilts with great success. I was quilting merrily along when all of a sudden it started having a hissy fit....skipping stitches, terrible tension, breaking thread. I had to rip out a large section. This was on my trusty Bernina that I have always bragged about it being able to use any kind of thread without a problem. 

I have not had this machine serviced in a long time. Shame on me! So I packed it up and got it ready to go to the shop and got out my older Bernina, 1230. This was great machine for several years until it started giving me problems. It went to the shop a couple of times before they had to send it away to Bernina and I think they replaced one of the motors. It came back better than ever and had I known that I wouldn't have purchased the newer one, Quilter's Edition153. But I was impatient and couldn't stand being without a machine. 

Now I am using my 1230 and loving it! It is all metal, including two telescoping thread spindles, unlike the plastic one on the 153, which sometimes flies off. The walking foot is so easy to get on and off, unlike the 153, which drives me crazy. It is also so much easier to fill a bobbin and that is basically all I had been using it for, since it is set up on an L-shaped table next to the other machine. It free-motion quilts like a dream. This machine is well over 20 years old. I know that my husband was alive when I got it and he has been gone for 20 years. If I go to Florida this year I plan to take a machine and leave it there. I was going to take the 1230, but now I think that is the one I will leave here. 

Now onto the quilt. 

My patio furniture is put away so I am back to photographing it draped on a living room chair.

I have been able to find the right color for the bindings from my sash of my hand dyed for each of these quilts. You wouldn't believe how many greens I had to look at to get just the right color. More about green dyed fabrics below. I very seldom use purple or lavender, but I did have a six way gradation of this lovely Amethyst, a perfect match for the border. I did a very loose garlic design for the free-motion quilting in the border. I have used this motif so many times I could do it in my sleep, but I have never done it on such a large scale. Maybe I should have done it a little smaller, but It is done.

I used a commercial hand-dyed look fabric for the backing. It was OK for the backing, but not a good green for the binding.

This large quilt, Emerald City, is one of the reasons that I have a huge green stash. I dyed six different greens, each in a six way gradation. This was purchased by Yale New Haven Hospital for one of their doctors' waiting rooms several years ago.

This very large quilt, Big Green Diptych, was a finalist at The International Quilt Show in Houston, TX a few years ago.

That's it for this week. I'm still waiting for that red thread and if it comes on time I'll have that for next week.

I am linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Santa, Baby

Hand made by me last year.
One of my favorite charities is Ann’s Place, a local non profit organization that provides comfort, support and resources to cancer patients and their families free of charge. For more information, go to their website:

Every year Ann’s Place holds a Festival of Trees, where over 200 decorated trees are displayed and voted upon. Viewers buy tickets and put them in a jar next to the tree and the lucky ticket winner gets to take that fabulous tree home. It is also one of the social events of the year with a big cocktail party on the opening night with music and a silent auction in addition to the trees. There is a Teddy Bear Tea for the little kids, a boutique and much more. In previous years I have decorated and donated two trees.

Of course this year the festival has been cancelled due to Covid, but there is a virtual festival online. Contestants can enter a decorated tree, either made specifically for this year or photos of a tree at their home last year, as I did. People will vote on the tree for a dollar a vote with a $20 minimum. The tree with the most votes wins a cash prize. And unlike previous years you do not get to win the tree you voted upon. If I win I would give my prize money right back to Ann’s Place. I am late to the game because I just entered my tree yesterday. 

The easiest way for you to see my tree is to go to my Facebook page and click on the picture. It will take you directly to my tree and the voting. If you want to see all the trees, go here:  The name of my tree is Santa, Baby.

I am linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Quilt of the Week

 I'm still working on my charity quilts and finished another this week. I have two more tops that are pieced that need to be basted and quilted. 

After that snowy picture I showed last week, we are having an unexpected warm spell. It was in the seventies today, unusual for mid-november in CT. But I'll take it. I took advantage of the weather to get rid of all the annuals on my deck today, which were killed by a hard frost last week. I will be taking in my furniture soon and will lose my quilt prop. 
All of the center squares were cut from the same striated batik.

I had very wide borders on this quilt because of the amount of squares I was able to piece. I thought this swirly design was terrific and I was able to free motion machine quilt following those lines. Again I used the no-hand-sewing flanged binding. So far I have been able to find a complementary color in my hand-dyed stash. 

Arrangement of the week.There were no bicolored mums in the store this week so I bought a bunch of plain rust daisy mums and a bunch of yellow spider mums. I jazzed them up with some faux berries and orange leaves. If you are very observant you may notice that I have the same table cloth on. This is my favorite fall cloth and I bought it in the Provence area of France, where they make the most beautiful linens. I live alone and use a placemat when I eat, so I can keep a cloth on for a long time. I have a lot of blue and white ones for the summer.

Just got the news a couple of hours ago that we have a new President. Time to make America decent again. I am a happy camper!

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Another finished comfort quilt and a collage

 I could not photograph my finished quilt draped over the chair on my deck today because this is the weather we had this morning. The snowflakes were huge but it only lasted for a couple of hours and it is already melting. We are supposed to get a hard freeze tonight and that will be the end of the annuals. I will have to do a lot of work one day this week to get everything out. I still have a lot of annuals in the front of the house and they will be toast, too. I hate fall cleanup but it has to be done.

So I photographed it draped over a chair in my bright living room. Aren't the colors so pretty?

I used the same flanged no-hand-sewing binding and loosely free-motion quilted around the patterns in the fabric of the border. I like to use variegated thread for the quilting and have quite a collection of Superior Rainbow thread. It changes colors every inch and this one had purples and greens, just perfect. 

And this cute purple butterfly fabric for the backing and binding.
I have the next quilt all spray basted and ready to quilt, so come back next week.

Our monthly collage challenge was due today at our Zoom meeting. I followed the same "formula" of using pages from the encyclopedia and dictionaries that I have done in the past. But instead of pictures, I used stencils with Distress Oxide Inks and an old Martha Stewart Stamp for the oak leaves. I had to dye a piece of white velvet and this time I got the right color of orange the first time. However I was surprised that it embossed white.

But if you want to see some really incredible collages take a look at these gems by Vic Munz. Check out this article by the New York Times and be sure to zoom in to see the phenomenal detail.  

I am linking up with Off the Wall Friday. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Another finish

  I finished quilting my second donation quilt. I contacted the director of Ann's Place in Danbury and she will see that they go to the chemo ward at the hospital. She told me that patients are not allowed to have a friend or spouse with them during the pandemic, so a little extra comfort will be welcome. 

I photographed it outside so that you can see the true colors. All attempts inside made it too dark.

I was so happy to find this dragonfly print for the borders and backing. I roughly outline quilted the dragonflies and used that flanged binding again with no hand sewing. I'm rather pleased with the way this turned out and hope it will bring smile to someone's face.

I did something really stupid while cutting the binding. I have been sewing for umpteen years and using a rotary cutting for almost that long and I have never had an accident. I don't know how it happened, but  I rammed right into my pointer finger on my left hand. Ouch! I quickly ran to the bathroom and ran cold water over it, but it bled and bled. I kept putting pressure on the cut and finally stanched the bleeding and then saw that it was also bleeding from the nail. Yep, I had run right across the nail, too. It took a long time for it finally to stop and when it did I put a bandaid on it very tight, then another on top of that and then put on a finger cot. Since I wash my hands so many times during the day it's hard to keep a bandaid dry. The finger cot worked like a charm. It happened two days ago and I took the bandaids off this morning. It looks okay, but it still needs a bandaid and a finger cot. Good news! I did not get blood on the quilt.

This sign hangs on my studio door. 

I always have flowers on my kitchen table. They are so inexpensive at the grocery store and I pick up a bunch or two every week. I have been using Alstroemeria all summer. They are so easy to just cut down and plop in a vase and they last all week. But for the last three weeks I have been buying mums. I love the pretty color combinations, although they do have to be made into an arrangement with Oasis. My kitchen adjoins my family room and if I'm not in my studio, that's where I am and I get to enjoy them all day.

So that's it for this week. I have two more quilt tops spray basted and ready to go, so come back next week to check them out. I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Friday, October 16, 2020

This and That

 I finished quilting my first donation quilt. It will go to a friend of a friend who is going through a very rough time with her cancer. The charity to whom I was originally going to give these quilts requested flannel backs and I bought some very pretty ones at Joanne's. I washed them all, knowing that flannel shrinks but was dismayed by what they looked like after the washing.They were all pilly and looked terrible. I took them back to Joanne's and they gave me a refund. Then I had to go through the process of picking out all cotton for the backs. I am giving them to a different local charity to avoid a lot of mailing.

For this one I used the same pretty floral fabric that is in the binding. 

I free-motion quilted it in a variegated thread just following the wiggly lines in the striations. It was quite easy to do on my Bernina, working from the center out since the quilt is only 40" square.

I bound it using a wonderful method given to me by my friend, Barb. The two long strips are sewn together, then sewn to the back of the quilt, then brought over to the front where you sew it down on the machine. No hand sewing involved and I like the way that piping gives it a little pizzazz. If you want the directions, let me know.

One of the best things that happened to me this week was purchasing this fabulous little quilt from the SAQA Benefit Auction. It was made by Lin Elmo, a member of our local SAQA group. Lin was an art teacher for 37 years and is so very talented. I asked her her process and she told me that she drew the bears directly onto the white cotton with a sepia Fabre-Castell Pitt artist pen. She then added color with Derwent watercolor pencils. It is an original design. I wish I could draw like that!

This was her statement on the back of the quilt and the title is Partners With a Purpose.

I had fun decorating masks this week. I used a Tim Holtz stamp from his Flower Garden collection. I stamped it with a permanent ink in black and then used acrylic paints to color them in. I think they look like watercolors. The mask came from Joanne's and I think they are neoprene. They are very comfortable, fit close to the face and wash and dry like a dream. And they are very inexpensive....3 for $6.99.

For this one I used the same stamp, using white acrylic paint spread rather thick on my craft mat. 

Same as above, but this time painting the flowers in with more paint. It took forever! I had to go over and over with the white for it to cover. I would put the paint down and think it looked just fine, then would come back 10 minutes later to see that it had just sunk into the fabric. But I still think it looks pretty cute and I wore it out to dinner last night to favorable reviews. 

I plan to make some more of the light gray (they don't have white). I think they would make nice stocking stuffers at Christmas.

I am linking up with Off the Wall Friday.