Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Slow Geeks

Hey all - still waiting for the geeks to finish up fixing my laptop - ugggghhh! I'm hoping to have myself blogging as usual by tomorrow - computers - a love / hate relationship.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I've Been Attacked

Hi All - Quick Update - My computer crashed! Arggghhhh! I hope to be back on track by the weekend - stay tuned.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Quick Pic From the Market

My new friend from the Phoenixville Farmer's Market - what a cutie, him, not me!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Labor of Love - A Quilter's Garden

A few weeks ago I received an invitation to visit the garden of a quilting friend of mine - an open house for a garden, and not just any garden. Welcome to the garden - no, this is not the famed Longwood Gardens.

We're at the water's edge of Myrna and Paul's garden - a labor of love for these two life long dedicated gardeners. They manage this entire garden themselves, just under an acre in size, spending 8 - 10 hours a day tending, weeding, watering and doing whatever else the garden requires to make it flourish.

Meet Myrna - in addition to her love of gardening she is an absolutely amazing quilter.

Here's her husband Paul, giving a tour of the garden.

And this little guy posed for a shot as well - just look at this beautiful dragonfly - what big turquoise eyes you have!

Here's a look at a lovely cherub perched by the oak leaf hydrangea.

What bird wouldn't love to have lunch at this feeder with a backdrop of the stars and stripes?

This section of the garden is Zen-like with it's plantings, statuary and fountain. Despite the 90 degree temperature on the thermometer it was relaxingly cool in the shade of the tree canopy.

Carrying on with my Year of the Bird - here is a lovely bird themed plaque.

Now that's what I call a door bell! This is the front door to their home which was built in the late 1800's. Myrna uses the bell when Paul gets lost in the garden.

Myrna made two beautiful quilted table runners for the refreshment table. My only suggestion to her for next year was to bring out some of her beautiful quilts to adorn the gardens - she is an exquisite quilter and her creations would look stunning draped throughout the garden. It was a lovely visit Myrna - thanks so much for the hospitality!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Brooklyn has DUMBO - Down Under the Manhattan Brooklyn Overpass; Phoenixville has DUGSO - Down Under the Gay Street Overpass - the location of the Phoenixville Farmer's Market.

Despite the heat - I had another great day selling the Calico Cutters Baby Quilts - sold another 9 quilts today - here's the tent. All of the proceeds from the sale of these baby quilts is being donated to the Maternal Child Health Consortium of Chester County. And, yes, it was a hot one - 95 degrees - and I was in the sun for the better part of the day - thank heavens for the shade of the tent and the breeze.

At one point today a young couple walked up to the tent - they told me that one of their close friends was going through a difficult period and if it were not for the support and assistance of the Maternal Child Health Consortium they don't know what would have happened. It made standing out in the heat completely worth it - gave me goosebumps, and cooled me off at the same time.

I am now officially "the quilt lady" - says so right here:
And that's my sweet potato pie that "the sweet potato pie lady" sold me at the market. I went to school in the south and let me tell you this sweet potato pie was as good or better than any sweet potato pie I ever ate south of the Mason Dixon Line - absolutely scrumptious!

In addition to all of the great local foods available at the market today they also had zucchini bowling - you read right - zucchini bowling - the kids just loved it!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hanging Up My Apron

Hanging it up - my apron, that is - I have to - it's wearing out! Even the bias cut twill straps are becoming thread bare - it's served me well for many years. What to do??? Make a new one, of course.

I decided to use this great home dec weight fabric from Alexander Henry called Bird Song - after all, this is my year of the bird. The hand of this fabric is canvas-like, perfect for a "working apron".

Her's a hint for working with heavier weight fabrics - I use office clips to hold my fabric instead of pins - they work really well. I used my worn out apron as the pattern for this project. I had a yard of 54 inch fabric - perfect for the apron.

And here it is - modeled by my daughter Meredith - she looks great in it - but don't be fooled - she could care less about cooking. After I took this shot she promptly took it off and asked what was for dinner.

Here's a little photo treat for you. I was in Philly earlier this week and saw this beautiful mobile - I just had to snap a photo for you - go figure - more birds.
What am I working on today - an adorable little dress for my niece's birthday - I'm using a pattern from Olive + S - Sunday's post! Tomorrow I'll be at the Phoenixville Farmer's Market selling baby quilts for Calico Cutters Quilt Guild - stop by if you're local and say "Hi".

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Did You GOOGLE Today?

I love the google image for the day - a graphic celebrating the design aesthetics of Josef Frank on this, his 125th birthday. Josep Frank was an architect and designer, including textile designer; and one of the founders of the Vienna School of Architecture. His designs cry out to be interpreted in quilting - take a look at his work on line and get inspired - click here for a google image explore of his on-line images - it's a feast for the eyes - there are pages and pages of his many designs ranging from architecture to graphic design - Enjoy! I'm feeling inspired!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Round Two of framing my quilted works - I'm new at this for the most part so take a seat on the learning roller coaster and expect updates as I refine my process. For today I have two examples to share with you using the same framing technique. I do not have step by step photos for you but I think my explanations will allow you to try the process. This is basically a two step process - 1. create the main quilted element, and 2. create and apply the quilted frame wrapping fabric.

Here is Glinted Moss, an abstract interpretation of moss on the forest floor. The finished framed piece is 20 x 20 inches, the center main piece measures 17 x 17 inches.

Here's a close up view of the corner. I created the center quilt element as a completed quilt - it is composed of the quilt top, batting and a backing fabric - the backing fabric is the same as the fabric used for the frame treatment. I finished the quilted center using the pillowcase technique, adding my quilting after "pillowcasing" the top.

After completing the main quilted element I moved onto preparing the fabric for the framing wrapping treatment - I used a beautiful Stonehenge from Northcott. My frame in this case was a pre-stretched canvas frame that I had on hand. I calculated how large my frame wrapping fabric needed to be to cover the front of the frame and wrap around the back. I cut my piece of fabric, backed it with batting, and quilted it with a few different color threads - I did not quilt the center portion of this fabric since it will not be visible, nor did I use a backing fabric since it will not be visible.

After quilting I stretched the fabric over the frame and used my staple gun to fix it to the frame as you would if you were upholstering something.

Corners - my enemy. Next time I try this I plan to go to my framing store to have the framer show me how to handle the corners - I really want to make them sit flatter. This was my first attempt using this framing technique - I decided I did not like the unfinished edge so I made some changes in my next piece.

Here's The Summer Still - it measures 10 x 12 inches finished, the center main quilted element measures 8 x 10 inches. For this piece I used stretcher bars to create the framing structure.

I created the center element as above using the pillowcase method to finish the edges; however in this piece I did all of my quilting on the top / batting portion of the quilt, prior to pillowcasing. I was trying to create a degree of depth to this piece so I chose to use black fabric as the backing for the center element and was very happy with the shadowing effect.

As you can see, I pieced the frame wrapping fabric. Initially I was going to try to match the wrapping piecing to the main element piecing, but after auditioning the process decided I could achieve more depth by not matching the piecing lines.

When it came to quilting the frame wrapping fabric I used batting, and in this case chose to use a backing fabric since it would be visible on the back of the piece. This piece was small so I quilted the entire piece, including the center portion - it was just easier.

I refined my stapling technique in The Summer Still by allowing enough fabric so that I could turn the edges under, avoiding the raw edges on the back of the frame.

Attaching the main quilting element - this applies to both examples - Once I had the frame treatment applied to the frame I then attached the main quilting element to the framing fabric by hand applique. I think it would be very difficult - next to impossible - to attach the main quilting element to the framing fabric before stretching it to the frame - it would never end up being centered. There you have it - my developing framing process. You are definitely going to see more of this from me - I really like the finished look.

Now for a great party menu. We had a bunch of family over on Sunday for dinner and I made a great menu that I wanted to share with you. I actually think there was an element of clairvoyance in my menu development. I was not following the soccer world cup - had no idea who was playing in the finals - yet I chose to make a Spanish themed menu, and low and behold, Spain won. Cool - wonder what else I could predict with my menus?

My whole dinner was based on a recipe from Brian Boitano - yes, the skater, turned Food Network host. About a year ago I caught his show and saw him make paella burgers and thought they sounded so delicious. Here they are - they were fantastic - we devoured them!!! They are made with ground chicken, chorizo (a spicy sausage) and scallops, along with other seasonings - fantastic and so simple. They were to have been grilled, but 5 minutes into the grilling process the gas ran out - so into the saute pan for finishing - actually 3 saute pans - I was feeding a crowd.
Now I know I promised lots of photos - but what can I say - I enjoy my company too much, and a lot of peach sangria had mysteriously disappeared ... sorry!

I used my Tapas cookbook from Penelope Casas for a few of the recipes - this is hands down the best tapas cookbook available - I've had it for years - it's falling apart from overuse - everything in it is amazing. If you can find it - buy it!

Here's the menu:
Peach Sangria

Squash Blossoms stuffed with Lemon Basil Brebis
Fried Okra
Swiss Chard Canape
Pickled Carrots (from my last post - they're history - my nieces loved them!)

Paella Burgers with Pimento Mayonnaise
done "shooter style"
Vegetable Salad in Romesco Sauce (Tapas)
Anise Flavored Beet Salad (Tapas)

A Duo of Granitas - both from Granita Magic
Peach Granita
Saffron, Cardamom and Honey Granita

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pickling Carrots

I got rained out today at the Phoenixville Farmer's Market - YEA! We needed rain in the worst way. I rescheduled the Baby Quilt Challenge Sale for Calico Cutters Quilt Guild for next Saturday - hopefully the weather will cooperate.

What to do on a rainy day??? Pickle carrots - remember I "over-purchased" carrots at the market 2 days ago. I found a great recipe for pickled carrots from David Lebovitz. I made only one addition to David's recipe as printed. Here are my carrots, peeled and ready to go. These carrots were deliciously sweet even before the pickling process.

I started with about 2 1/2 pounds of carrots and ended up with about a pound and a half after trimming and peeling. I cut the carrots into uniform sizes so they would fit nicely into the jar.

The carrots receive a one minute blanch, and are then submerged in the pickling liquid.
Here's my recipe alteration - if you read David's post he talked about having ginger sugar on hand and was going to use it in his picked carrots - his recipe does not mention this. I thought the addition of ginger sounded great, but I have no idea where to get ginger sugar. Improvise - I added about 1/4 cup of thinly sliced candied ginger to the pickling liquid.

My 1 1/2 pounds of carrots yielded 2 pint jars of pickled carrots - aren't they beautiful? They taste great! These carrots are not heat processed, not "canned". They will hold for up to two months in the fridge - believe me, in my house they won't last 2 weeks. One is going to be gifted to a friend - I'll wrap her's with the gorgeous veggie ribbon, mine is tied up with rick rack. We're going to need to have a tea towel conversation very soon - I buy all of my tea towels from a lovely woman, Ellen - they are handwoven, and everyone of them is a work of art. And sturdy - I've had some of my tea towels for over 10 years and they look like new. I need to introduce you to Ellen sometime soon.

Tonight for fun my husband and I headed to West Chester for the Iron Hill Twilight Criterium - a bike race - WHAT FUN!!! This was the start of the professional level race - I could not believe how fast they were moving. What a fun night!
We're having friends for dinner tomorrow - the menu is great - I'll put my daughter in charge of getting photographs as I never remember to snap pics when I'm busy entertaining. Promise to re-visit framing ideas Monday.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Inspired by Tramp Art

Two posts in one day - the demand has been expressed for a tutorial on my framing process - here goes.

I'm revisiting Feeling Blue in this post to show you how I quilted the frame. My inspiration for the frame treatment was tramp art - a form of folk art wood carving created during the depression by hobos using salvaged wood - cigar boxes and fruit crates were popular sources of wood. Frames and boxes are common tramp art applications. Intricate designs were made using simple V shaped notches in the wood, layering notched segments to create intriguing geometric designs as seen below.
Visit Strawser Art to see beautiful tramp art reproductions - if you're local check out the beautiful tramp art piece created by Daniel Strawser in Restaurant Alba in Malvern.

So, how did I take this folk art form and interpret it in fabric as a frame for Feeling Blue?

My focus was to create the repetitive imagery of the V notch in every manipulation of the fabric I used in the frame. No other stitch suggests a V as a zig zag stitch. My first step was to quilt the framing background fabric (Moda from the Basic Grey line, and backed with batting) using a zig zag stitch and a red contrasting thread. I quilted the fabric as a whole cloth, and once quilted cut the fabric into strips wider than required to create the tubes which I would construct later to cover the slats of stretcher frame. Layer one of my V notch development.

Moving onto layer two. Layer Two is an open prairie point strip in red. I created the prairie points using the strip cutting and folding method - I did not use the special ruler created for this purpose - you can easily accomplish this without the ruler. Click here to see a great tutorial on this method of creating prairie points. So here are my finished points, a view from the fold side.
Now I'm ready to anchor the prairie points to the background, right-side up, I simply sewed them into place. I did have a problem with this later - stay tuned.

Now to create the third layer - it actually consists of 2 steps of V's. Step one involves cutting a strip of wool - I used a beautiful teal gray wool for this portion of the process. I initially tried using a pinking shears to cut the wool but I could not keep to a straight line no matter how hard I tried. I ended up running out to Joann's Fabric with my coupon in hand to purchase the zigzag rotary cutting blade which worked beautifully to cut generous 1/2 inch strips.

Step 2 of Layer three - attaching the wool strip to the background component. I was working with layers of fabric here - batting, background, the multiple folds of the prairie points, and the wool. I used my walking foot to help to move the pinned layers smoothly. Maintaining a straight line was so important to pull off this technique successfully. I used the triple zigzag stitch to anchor the wool strip with a beautiful red variegated thread from the YLI Colours line - I ran out of that beautiful thread after completing three strips of the four strips - PANIC! Emergency call to Ladyfingers Sewing - of course the paper ID from the spool of thread was long lost - I tried to describe the thread to Denise at the shop and she thought she had it in stock. Jump in the car - speed to the shop - eureka! - they had one spool in stock!

Here's my finished strip with three layers of V application.

Now I had to get this fabric into tubes to slide over the stretcher frames. I wanted a tight fit and adjusted my measurements accordingly. I did a number of samples until I was happy with the fit, you should do the same. Sewing the tubes was a piece of cake - turning them was not fun - but, you can do it, be patient, take your time!

Remember I said there was a "complication" with the prairie points - here it comes - duck! When I stitched the prairie points to the background fabric I used a wide zigzag, not for appearance sake - but to try to "grab" the folds and anchor them securely. Unfortunately some of my points began to unfold after the tube turning - no problem a few little hand stitches behind the scenes (and a smitch of glue) can't handle.

The next step in the framing process involved mitering and math - admittedly not my forte, but I got this far and I wasn't giving up. You need to cut your tubes to fit your frame, including cutting the correct angle - it was easier than I thought. Boys need miter boxes - quilters can manage this with a good ruler. Once I cut the tubes to the correct length and angle, it was time to slide them onto the stretcher frames and hand sew the mitered angles together. Stretcher frames are wobbley - but using this treatment really added stability to the wooden frame.

A fourth element of the tramp art application involves hiding the joinery of the hand-stitched corners. I made simple rosettes out of a pinked strip of wool by gathering one edge of the strip and pulling. A handsome silver button helps to anchor the rosette to the corners.

The fifth and final layer of the quilted tramp art process was applied to the quilt, not the frame component. After completing the frame I was very happy with it's overall appearance, but I did not like the overall scale of the frame in relation to the size of the quilt. To enlarge the appearance of the frame I decided to add prairie points to the finished quilt component to peek out from behind the frame perimeter, creating the illusion of a larger frame.

The actual Feeling Blue quilt is attached to the back of the frame using tacks to secure it.
Tomorrow I'll show you framing method number 2 - it's a lot easier!