Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Girls' Day

Last Thursday my sister and I got together for an increasingly rare girls' day. We had a great time. We lunched at a lovely little restaurant, Chez Moi, and talked and talked and talked.  Perfect!  We also visited the garden of a friend and picked spinach. Back at her home we shared our current projects. 
She helped me pinbaste the London quilt. Now it's ready for embroidery and quilting.I'm working on design ideas.
I took photos of some dishes she wants to sell. (let me know if you're interested.)
On the way home, I stopped at Pieceful Heart Fabrics. Their website doesn't show it, but they're retiring/going out of business and having big sales. I'm very sad--they're my LQS (local quilt store) and it's a very friendly shop with wonderful fabrics. This is where I got the William Morris charm pack that got me started on the London quilt. I got a few things--some notions I'd put off getting previously, some sale fabrics, a bag of wool bits that I plan to felt.  And I said "goodbye."

Sunday, May 26, 2013


I've been inspired again lately. It feels so good!
I've been working on the ring-bearer pillow. I'm really enjoying this project.
A friend gave a lecture at Homewood Embroiderer's Guild about applique. She provided kits and demonstrations for doing needleturn applique.  I love this technique, but my skills could use improvement, so I took a kit home to practice.  I completed my heart the night of guild and I didn't have to stay up too late to do it. The combination of the books she brought to her talk plus her demo really helped. Hearts are great shapes for learning with the inner and outer points and curves.
Another friend has sent me a variety of silk fabric remnants from her mother's estate. Some were portions of garments and some were scarves. They inspired me to collect a few silk scarves of my own in coordinating solids and to begin to make yo-yos.  I love how the houndstooth silk kind of sparks up the solid colors.  I'm not sure what the end result will be. The scan above was the work of one evening of fun.  

I was inspired by something I saw in a book, where silk yo-yos were stitched in rows on the outside of a tote-type purse.  I'm debating stacking the smaller ones on the larger or stitch them in alternating rows. So many possibilities!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Crewel projects

I'm working on a ring bearer pillow for a friend's wedding.  She wanted a strawberry motif.
After numerous sketches and tracings I came up with this.
I thought that if perhaps I scanned my recent pieces, the colors would come out more accurate. I was correct. Scanning worked perfectly (when I tried to photograph this fabric when I bought it, it came out looking almost white).
Here's the start of the ring bearer pillow embroidery.  So far I'm pleased with it. I'm making notes of the colors I'm using on the final design tracing.  To get the design onto the cotton fabric, first I traced it using Charcopy "carbon" paper.  It worked well but the chalk-like lines brushed off quickly, so I traced over them with a very fine Pigma pen in a brown. Now the design is there to stay. I'll have to be careful to cover all of the design lines. 

I'm using Appleton crewel wool and working in a hoop.
I've begun playing around with design ideas for finishing. I have enough fabric in case I want to make self-piping---but I'm thinking white might really set it off.  It'll be a while, but it's fun to plan.
And here's a scan of the blue crewel piece showing the accurate colors.  It's set aside for now while I work on the ring bearer pillow.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Spring Walk

It's been over a week now since we took a second spring walk at Bailey Homestead at the Dunes. This time the flowers were out in force!
Tiny spring beauties were everywhere.  They're hard to photograph because they're so small and like to hide in shady areas. They're often white with pink stripes.
Narcissus were in bloom.  We consider them Mrs. Bailey's, like the hyacinths we saw last time.
Large areas are covered with their leaves. Blooms are rare now.
This hillside going down to the river is behind the Bailey home. It looks like the plants are all lilies or daffodils of some sort. There are a few blooms off to the right.
We saw more Jack-in-the-Pulpits than ever before.  They tend to have their backs to the path and be far away--making them hard to photograph. This one came out pretty clear.
Here's another. Every time we turned around we spotted more. The weather must have been ideal this year.
And here is a whole gathering of Jacks.  I've never seen large groups of them like this.
I found these "blooming" maples to be fascinating. They're also up near the Bailey home. The leaves are just unfurling.
The image seemed very Japanese to me.
A bit blurry, but the best I could get of a shy trillium in full bloom.

Friday, May 10, 2013


I've been on a mission lately to purge stuff, starting with books. Most of my books are in stacks and piles (bookshelves ran out long ago). Over the past couple of month's I'd accumulated about a 4' stack to purge and last weekend we took them to Half-Price books.  They don't give much but will take everything, not pick and choose.  In the past I tried easy things--a note here, taking them to guild, talking to friends, taking selected books to local used book places (there are a couple of nice ones near campus)--all with little to no luck.  When I think about the time I'd spend to try to sell them online, Half-Price Book's payment looks pretty good.
 While waiting for them to evaluate my books (a shopping cart full!), I found a treasure to replace them. I find it extremely hard to part with books, this book is proving to be wonderful consolation.
 It's part of a series. Others they had were on the 1950s and the cheongsam.  This one really sang to me. It's got pages full-page photos (scans?) of fabrics, photos, images from books (I have an original book full of illustrations like the ones in the top photo on the left--this takes it a step further), line drawings, some showing embroidery stitches.  One spread almost exactly matches a book illustration of a costume with a photo of a woman in the same costume. 
The book came with a disk--I haven't looked at it yet.  It's tempting to think of sending some of the fabric designs to one of those custom fabric printing sites and being able to have them to use.  

So far I'm resisting looking to see what else is in the series.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Half Doll Redo

A friend recently sent me this half-doll pincushion to repair. Her skirt is in bad shape.  I began by removing her waist band. You can see the stitching holding the skirt tight to the porcelain.
Careful snipping (tweezers came in handy), I was able to remove the stiff cotton threads holding the pleats and stitching them tightly to the doll body.  (some of the threads are shown bottom left).  The skirt was a bluish pink.  The fill was wood shreds--which makes me think she originally wasn't a pin cushion.  The wood would not be a good filling for needles and pins that could rust.
I gave the doll a bath with plain water and a Q-tip (cotton bud).  She cleaned up nicely.  She's marked on the back--Germany and a model number.
I think she's really sweet, with her 1920s bob.
 An oddity I found before taking her apart was hooks on the back of the skirt bottom. At first I thought it was to hang her on the wall, but then I realized she'd be face down. I learned from my friend that she was found with a small basket.  So now I believe these were hinges to attach her to the basket and that she was a basket top. The wires are pretty heavy duty.
Before I began disassembly, I measured everything. I haven't looked yet to see what the original base was--I'm thinking some sort of cardboard, since it's warped over time. 

I got silk in a 1920s color, Eau de Nil (water of the Nile, a faded bluish green) to use to make up the replacement skirt.  I'm thinking about a replacement filling--right now I'm leaning toward rice hulls with a layer of quilt batting over the top. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013


My head, not yarn, sadly. I've been battling vertigo again. It won, for the most part. I just have to ride along until it settles. Once it began to calm, I could read and, finally, sew. 
I made some progress on the crewel piece.  I may try to scan it--these colors are much too light (faded). Even without flash, the colors aren't right in the photos.
I also finished step one of the London Quilt. It's sideways here, I forgot to turn the original. I've added the side pieces and, since taking this picture, removed all of the cardboards.  The next step is to pinbaste it to the backing (which I have) and batting (which I have yet to get). And plan the quilting/embroidery design.
I made a pilgramage to Fishman's Fabrics recently. I got silk (the perfect eau de Nil color!) and cotton (the perfect pastel green)--neither of which would photograph at all.  The silk is for the half-doll--more on her in my next post.  The cotton for a ring-bearer pillow I plan to make for a friend.  The fabrics above and below are from a $5 grab-bag they had. They're upholstery samples.  I plan to use the reds above with the red pieced design from Stitch (shown here).
These are generously sized squares--nearly 12". I do not need anything new in my stash but I couldn't resist. (Plus, the red pieces I was looking for were in the same bag!)

My other "stash" purchase was the lovely piece of linen twill--nearly a yard and 60" wide. Most linen twill for crewel is plain twill--this has multiple bands of twills (kind of like some twill tapes).  I think I'm set for life--and it was less than half price!