January 30, 2012 4 comments

Making progress....

Happy Monday! Hope you had a great weekend - I'm feeling sparky and happy and had a productive weekend. :)

When I left you last with this project, I had sliced up those odd birthday blocks I had received into two inch widths, and then I chose some fabrics from my stash to add to the project. 

I fussed with the layout until I was satisfied with it, and then sewed it together with the additions from my stash. 

And I ended up with this, but I didn't stop there!

Check in later this week for the big finish! :)
January 27, 2012 52 comments

My Sewing Room, let me show you it!

Well, good morning everyone - and welcome to my sewing room!  I'm so glad you decided to come for the tour! :)

As you walk in to my room you'll see the predominant feature is the thread wall - hanging on the back on a pegboard. On the same pegboard, you'll find my rulers, some templates and a little bag I hang around my neck when I'm working that has scissors, tweezers, etc. in it.

Behind my chair, you'll also see that Charlie's aquarium got upgraded - in fact, Charlie's not even in there anymore - I got him some friends, he didn't like them, so Charlie got moved upstairs and the friends (plus more of their friends) now live with me.

As you turn to the left, you'll see:

Some of my fabric stash - yardage of 3 or more yards folded 12 inches across in the white boxes, and yardage of 1-3 yards folded in small lengths in the boxes.  You can also see my drafting table, and under it a basket containing some WIPs and batting.  (The cushion in the window is for the day supervisor.)

Inside my drafting table are my acrylic paints, watercolour paints in tubes, watercolour crayons, coloured and black charcoals, fabric dye crayons, pastels, micron pens and "gilt" pens in gold and silver.


If you look along that same wall you'll see my stretcher frames in various sizes which I use when I'm painting on fabric as well as a little bookshelf , which is just inside the door.


All of those shelves contain baskets with craft paints, the rest of my thread, and assorted bits and bobs (buttons in containers, beads, all kinds of things). On the top shelf is a portable container that has all of my various rotary cutters, scissors, marking pencils, regular pencils and pens, measuring tapes and small rulers that can't hang on my peg board (without making it look insane, that is.) The smaller containers to the right have in them a small colour wheel, and saftey pins, and the round black container with the white bow on top has my pins in it.

If you swing around you'll see almost all my dressers from Ikea.  (Wait to see why narrow profile dressers are great idea in a sewing room!)There are 8 of them in total - four are stacked two by two on either side of the bookcase. In the bookcase are all books related to quilting, surface design and sewing, along with magazines of the same theme. There is drawer in the bottom of the bookcase which has another one of those black baskets with ribbons in it, and the rest of the drawer is packed with patterns.

On top of the dressers to the left are three of my seven (!) sewing machines and the aquarium, and on top of the others are more quilt magazines, a plastic container with all of my various kinds of brushes/ tools for using soy wax, a clock, a plant and of course, my selection of Barbie-dolls. ('Cuz every once in a while, to entertain myself, I make Barbie clothes - which eventually get given to my great-niece.)

And what's in my drawers you ask? The rest of my stash of course! Every drawer contains its own colour:

Or kind of fabric (in this case, tulle and mesh); and in one drawer I have oddments like blocks that never got incorporated into anything, or sketch quilts that haven't actually been quilted yet.


Under the table is this little basketry/shelving contraption which contains all of my dyeing things:

Like the above - each shelf has it's own thing.

And from this angle, you can see my design wall and my Judy. If you look to the left of the photo, you can also see peeking out where my rolls of steam-a-seam, stitch witchery, stabilizer, pellon and fusible interfacing live, and my iron is tucked in there too.

and that's my perfect-for-me sewing room!  It's not quite finished yet - I need to add some more lighting above the thread wall, the drafting table and the design wall - it's purchased but not yet installed; and I need to make a new ironing pad as I killed my last one when I was doing all of that transfer paint/disperse dye work in November. (I also killed my tables - the heat actually cracked and split the melanmine surface, so I had to buy new ones!)

But I figured it was close enough to bright to show it to you. Maybe it'll give you some ideas for your sewing room too!

Hope you'll come by and visit some time! Maybe this weekend. :)

January 25, 2012 6 comments

Playing with Fire.

As most of you probably know, I am one of the contributors to a technique-teaching group surface design blog called "And Then We Set It On Fire"

This month, we have a guest artist/teacher, Rayna Gillman, and the work we're doing as a group is based on techniques in her book called "Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts".
I started with some blocks I received from a birthday block exchange I was involved in a couple of years ago.  I had requested blue or purple stars and received mostly blue AND purple stars.  In retrospect, I should have requested black and white stars and I would have had blocks I could actually make a quilt out of - live and learn, as they say!

However, they were perfect for the purposes of this month's technique - as there was very little I could do with them on their own.  Just sliced up and rearranged is already a great improvement!

Stay tuned...

January 23, 2012 10 comments

Hey, guess what?

My sewing room is finished! And I have a queen sized top to prove it!


P.S. - It's on its side, cuz my garden wall isn't tall enough for it and my design wall (skippy dance) isn't big enough for it. :)
January 16, 2012 15 comments


Long time no see! :)

I have recovered well from my first surgery, so have been slowly but surely been back at the work of putting my sewing room back together.

I'm in the home stretch now, and hope to actually get some work done before my next surgery.  In the meantime, the wall of thread has gone up, and so has my very first design wall.  New lighting is next, the tables will be put together, the last of the furniture painting will be completed - and then it'll be done!

Stay tuned...

January 4, 2012 20 comments


Gee, 4 days in and 2012 has already become WAY more interesting in ways I didn't expect.

First of all, I haven't spent any of my 2 week vacation in my sewing room because the renovation sputtered nearly completely to a stop.  Here's where we are right now:

The laminate floor is down, the walls are painted (two coats of primer, one coat of paint), four of my Ikea dressers are painted (two coats of primer one coat of paint) and they're filled with scraps, one colour per drawer. Also take note of my new T.V. - a Christmas present from BSP! :) Seems like good progress.. but note to your left - those sets of drawers aren't even primed yet. So are not FILLED yet, neither are my books all on their shelves...

But wait, there's more!

Four (actually six) of these bins are filled with yardage - but there are ten more to be done.

This little corner for my paints and assorted surface design stuff looks great - except that most of those bins are empty - and their contents are still in boxes.

To add insult to injury, I've been quite ill. On December 23, I went to see my doc because a cyst I had on my shoulder for ten years became infected.  I was given some antibiotics and an appointment to have the cyst removed (tomorrow).  In the meantime, I developed an abcess on my gum, and a sinus infection - so I am literally filled with infection - leaving me headachy - nauseated, and exhausted.

And AFTER Christmas I had an ultrasound and two appointments with my gynecologist, who informed me that the remaining bits I have since my partial hysterectomy 3 years ago have prolapsed (quite painful, btw!) and you guessed it - one of my ovaries has an infected cyst on it!!! So in February, it's all going to come out. MORE surgery, hurray!

The result of all that is that I've been lying around in bed, running fevers, feeling crappy and moaning for ten days (poor BSP!) - with NOTHING going on in my sewing room.

However, Maggie-May has been faithfully keeping me company - here she is lying in my lap (where she'd been for about two hours) just before I started this post. So the news isn't ALL bad. ;)

So I'll see you post cyst surgery - and in the meantime, sew, quilt, or paint a line or two for me, will you?


January 1, 2012 11 comments

Year In Review - 2011

Well, it's that time already - I can't believe how quickly this year went! 

But January first means two things for me - that it's my third blog-aversary (and 360th post!), and I've been quilting for 3.5 years.  

I said at the end of last year's "year in review" post So expect to see more textile art pieces this year - maybe a lot more - and more quilts along the lines of Of The MomentZen GardensPassage and Once, I Was A Child. And that's pretty much what happened. 

As the year progressed, it felt like I didn't produce very much, but it turned out, I produced a lot more - especially in the "quilt" category than I thought I did.  I made ten quilts in 12 months!  They were:

"Fractured" cotton velvet/satin, a quilt about the nature of our fractured lives. 

"In The Pink" my very first quilt made with my hand-dyed fabric, but otherwise with no special meaning.

An un-named quilt - a gift for a friend's baby - made to her taste and specifications, not to mine!

"Spring" the result of a "play" session - not designed or planned, but thoughtlessly put together. I don't intend to ever make quilts of this kind again! (i.e. - thoughtlessly planned)

"Stepping Stones" my mise en abyme  quilt, made from the scraps of my first quilt, which was made from the textile scraps of thirty-five years of sewing.  A simple quilt, but one of my favourites this year.

"Test Pattern"  - inspired by a T.V. test pattern; this was another quilt I really liked, though it didn't inspire much excitement in anyone else.  Oh well, not every quilt can be a winner. :)

And hey, speaking of, this quilt was a straggler left from 2008 that I finally finished quilting this year.  I was glad to finally finish it, but wow, I didn't like it! None of you did either, as there wasn't a SINGLE comment on that post. If you can't say anything nice ...  ;)

So, what a relief to make something like "Phases"! Back to my familiar stomping grounds of linen and silk,  a limited palette, and a contemporary feel.  The moon goes through phases as do I, apparently!

"Off To Oz".  This quilt and "Fractured" were the two quilts of mine that got a LOT of attention this year - about equal amounts, I think, although they couldn't be more different. This particular quilt was a real departure for me.  A fun one - but I'm curious to see whether I have something else that's similar inside me. 

The tenth quilt was one I sent to Japan post-tsunami, and don't have pictures of.

And then the art.  

The art makes me laugh as I look at what I produced over the year - it reminds me of the schizophrenic oeuvre I produced in 2008/2009 when I was trying out every kind of quilt in every kind of style, trying to figure out what worked for me, what I liked, "How the heck do I MAKE the quilts I see in my head?"

"Happy wife, happy life" - one of my "inspired by Charley Harper"  pieces.

Having done that already, I at least knew what this year would look like as I tried out new-to-me techniques, in an attempt to find the best medium to express what I want to say.

Take A Winter Walk With Me

Early in the year - on January 7, I tried this. I was doing "fugitive media' before I even knew what it was - as I had painted this little piece with acrylic paints before quilting it. I loved this piece but resisted it - it was too different from what I had done before, too far from my comfort zone.

Back Seat Driver

I went back to what was comfortable to me - only this time trying it with needle felting - but it didn't feel right to me any more. I knew that I needed to get out of that comfort zone or I was never going to get where I needed to go.

Failure To Thrive

In March, I decided to try a different version of the painting - I only showed it to you recently as I initially disliked it so much I didn't want to show it to you - but I like it better now, although I still see the room for improvement!

By The Sea

More needlefelting, combined with hand-painted fabric, this time with a lighter hand - and I liked the results better  - but it still didn't feel quite like "me'.

"Newlyweds" another inspired by Charley Harper piece.

By the time I was done this piece, I knew this wasn't for me either.

So I tried a different method of needle felting and hand painted fabric.  I LOVED it - needle felting all those fabrics together, and then finding the face within; but that was the problem. It all just kind of came together - randomly painted fabrics, and finding the face - what were the chances that would happen again?

We Are Mermaids Too

So, I gave it another shot.  Needlefelted some of my hand-painted fabric together and then tried to "find" something in it.  I didn't in the way I did with "Wood Witch", but I found a nice background for a mermaid scene.

Taking Flight

I tried some more abstract sketches as well - the art I'm drawn to as a rule is non-representational - I like the intellectual exercise and the emotional power I feel in abstract art - I don't like it when the story is already there, waiting for me to "read" it  - but it turns out I'm not really any good at non-representational art.  Perhaps as I learn and grow I'll be able to do so - or perhaps, I'm already doing it in my quilts, rather than my art.

Arboreal Oasis

I also tried going back to repair prior mistakes - with some success - although I'm not sure I like the "corrected" version any better, I learned a lot about something I called "ghost quilting" and it's something I'll put to use in future work.

Transracial Adoption

Around this time, I was asked to be a contributor to a technique driven blog  in which a number of fiber artists tried out different techniques for the edification of themselves and others called And Then We Set It On Fire.  It was to fill in for a couple of months, and since I was a follower and a tryer anyway - I decided to give it a go.

The first technique we were to try was fugitive media -  techniques in which you apply things ordinarily applied to paper (water colour, pastels, acrylic paint, etc.) to fabric.  Without knowing it, I'd already dabbled in it and I took to it like a duck to water, producing Transracial Adoption above, and


With "Erosion" I knew I was really onto something - I loved everything about the technique and the method, and was sure I'd found my medium. (And "surprise!" it looked VERY much like the piece I produced the first of the year.)

In the meantime, I finished the last of my Charley Harper inspired series with Cardinal, and

continued to try new techniques with And Then We Set It On Fire, like the one I taught - transfer paints and disperse dyes.


And the unusual materials challenge through another group, in which I made quilts out of anything BUT fabric.

Towards the end of the year I re-visted some old favourites - shaving foam painting and needle felting to produce November.

So, at the end of it all, what did I learn?

My main learning is "how" I'm going to make the art I want to make.  Fugitive media and painting on fabric is what I'm going to continue to explore in my personal work - my main goal for 2012 is to get better at it.  And the quilting continues as it should.  Fractured, Phases, Stepping Stones, even Test Pattern are all the direction I intend to continue in - I have plans for lots of quilts in the future - they're even designed already, if only I could find the time to actually make them!

My biggest accomplishments this year were being featured on or at "big" websites and at Generation Q Magazine and for 2012 I hope to do more of the same, and I intend to start showing, throwing my hat into the ring for some of the juried festivals. 

In addition, I've been asked to become a permanent member of And Then We Set It On Fire so I'll continue to make sketches (or journal quilts) in different techniques throughout the year as I participate in the blog.  

So that's my plan!

Thanks for being with me throughout the year - and I look forward to talking and sharing with you in the year ahead!


"I am seeking, I am striving. I am in it with all my heart."

                                                                       Van Gogh