Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Art and Alexandria

Come on in and sit awhile... I have a few pictures to show you of our travels the last couple of days. DH is required to take the week off between Christmas and New Years, so we catch up on museums, shopping, and movies during this week. On this Dark and Stormy night, we visited the National Gallery of Art in DC.

The lights shining against the cloudy sky made for a spectacular "movie set" kind of feel to the place.

I took many pictures to play with later in composition as one of my goals this year artistically is to learn more about manipulating the digital image, printing and making altered art. I'm interested  in developing a personal use of the technique so it's going to be a learning curve. I've got ideas....

 Again, the lights bouncing off the clouds made for dramatic lighting. This is the view outside between the two Gallery buildings. If you peer down into the glass structures you'll see inside one of their gift shops.

DH dropped me off to shop and parked the car.
Of course the first thing I did, after going through security digging through my bag, was check out exhibits of interest that were closing soon. Then I might as well shop while waiting for Drew, and since I was given a 20% off coupon, the game was afoot.
isn't this a wonderful pattern?? paving stones outside the building
I found some treasures for the studio, including a dry erase board, and a magnetic figure of an artist to move around it for fun, a necklace of glowing colored crystals and Drew found an artistic bow tie for our NYE dance. Another learning curve, how-to-tie-a-bow-tie.
On our long walk to the first exhibit, of Charles Marville, click here photographs of Paris in 1850's before the ancient buildings were demolished to make the large streets of today, we walked through the antique furniture exhibit where I took the photo of the yellow divan. Oh, to have the space to live with this furniture!
The photography exhibit was fabulous, and we met interesting people looking at the photos. One couple had been to Paris, and told us all about their trip. Another woman just had to correct my pronunciation of the name Eugenie, as apparently it MUST be spoken only in French, ooh lala. She then told us more about the history of the period than we thought we needed to know. The Nat. Gallery of A is the only place I've been corrected numerous times, unasked, on name pronunciation. Thanks, y'all.
We then visited the exhibit of Yes,No, Maybe where a group of print artists discover what quilters know, that you can add elements til it's too much, then take some away, and decide if it's enough, needs more or is too too much already!
 The next day we went to Alexandria VA to walk-with-poodle and enjoy the decorations. We visited the dog treat store, and along the way saw
This wonderful place!

 I coveted nearly all I saw in this shop, Decorium.
These feather duster pink trees were awesome!
Not exactly panetone's color of the year, but a cousin.

Then there was this enormous round shelf. If it hadn't cost so much cost more than we have to spend right now, I'd still be downtown Alexandria wrestling it into the car!!
I saw many large banquets, and even more really large hanging light fixtures and chandeliers that I could imagine glowing in our little cluttered house-that-needs-too-much. I HAVE good taste people, just not the wherewithall to use it. 
And then there was this chair with a wee little drawer  apparently just right for a remote control, heehee.
Or a pin cushion...

When you are already this close, and you have a 25% off coupon good for one more day, one absolutely must go visit Jenny Beyer's studio to seek some more fabric. She has moved from mainly traditional patterns to the most yummy modern blenders and I covet all of them. Yep, I'd make room in the stash for lots more.

After a lot of deliberation I decided the three shades of concrete on the left here, would be perfect to build a border on my tumbling blocks hand piecing project that is almost done. There has been some movie watching time, and some car riding time to sew, and although I haven't shared this quilt with you yet, it's soooooo cool to me, and about ready for borders of "concrete"
The other fabrics are for the petting stash, oh go ahead click on the image and see them close up, so nice... And I got a sale pattern, bwaahaahaa, LeeAnna following a pattern! I think I can do it, and it's got paper piecing as well as circles... whee!
Tomorrow I plan to share my New Year's quilt and a few goals with you all. Hope you had fun with us this season. There's a contra dance tonight so we can start the new year doing what started our marriage, dancing. Want to see more about contra?? check out this post

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Art in many forms

The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, MD

We visited the Walters Museum in Baltimore to see a special exhibit Egypt's mysterious Book of the Faiyum, an ancient scroll done in hieroglyphics. The artifacts surrounding this work of art were so very interesting. (pics prohibited) I not only saw drawings/manuscripts and art but jewels and mummies of crocs. Don't miss this one.
While here we looked around at the book binding exhibit and although I can't quote names of the makers, they were awesome little gems. Lookie...
Here are two shots of the beautiful books. The one above would make a glorious quilt, no??
The one at the right is bound on six sides! and opens in a zig-zag method, each section a different book!

I love a book, don't love the kindle as much as I do a book, although it has it's good points. I like to hold a book and not scroll from page to page if I missed something. Funny how we have to scroll from page to page now, like the old scribes who wrote in hieroglyphics on papyrus.

The museum provided us with a small piece of papyrus to write our story, but I took mine home instead, to write a story and put it in my journal.
While here we also visited the medieval floor, holding a lot of paintings as well as furniture, dishes, jewelry, suits of armor and swords. I was taken with this particular piece. Now, we all know there are a lot of Mary and Jesus interpretations. This one caught my eye because there is intricate delicate subtle design in the halos and it looks so like quilting pattern. The gold leaf isn't etched, but there is texture, and the design within the halo is so faint but so detailed. Always thinking of quilting, aren't you?
 No visit to a museum is complete without shopping in the giftshop. There are treasures and trinkets specific to each museum. I had been coveting jewelry that looked ancient and some modern, sketchbooks, purses, then This little fellow sang out to me!!  I chortled along with him! He looked like joy to me. This picture just doesn't do him justice but Drew picked him up, and like a puppy, once you pick 'em up it's alllllll over.
He obviously came home with us and lives in our cheerful clutter reminding us to find enjoyment in the mundane and oh so daily life we live. He might have led me to a word to explore for the new year.
Enjoy.     We'll see....
Hope you enjoyed our trip to the gallery, and are doing something different over the holidays. Tell me about your adventures...
(scroll down for studio pictures)
linked to sew-darn-crafty-

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Playing Tourist

 We wanted to do something a bit festive on Christmas night so we bundled up, and drove to DC to join the thousands of people looking at the National Christmas trees. Cole especially looks forward to these yearly trips, as he LOVES our Nation's capital. I suspect he loves the international smells but he bolts out of the car, and uncharacteristically starts pulling ahead to the end of his leash as if he knows where we are going. Now that he's a senior, it's really refreshing seeing him so excited again.
I love going there too, as there is such a fun vibe.
If you wondered where the tourists were, it's here.
We heard many languages, and saw many people shivering while taking pictures of the trees, White House, Monument, and each other. Waaaaay too many baby carriages. If you've never been, there is a tree for each state, with clear plastic ornaments decorated by
children from that state. There is a stage, Santa house, nativity scene, and usually a yule log burning as well.

 Earlier that morning we opened our little stash of gifts to each other. Cole was thrilled to see three new tweety birds, that still tweet, a pig ear, a bone, and this gift from his Aunt Patti.

I am thrilled to have an ipod so I can kind of feel like I'm living in the current century, while taking the daily walks-with-poodle. I can now hear music and books while waiting for someone to sniff a tree for the meeelionth time.
On Christmas Eve we went for a trip to the Baltimore Harbor's Christmas market, meant to remind us of Germany's open air shops. It was lovely with the skyline in the background, and open charming shops full of international items. While there, big fluffy snow started falling,

 We shared a mug of warm holiday wine, and it felt very holiday-like!


I liked a lot of items, including little wooden carvings that spin around from the heat of candle flames, but they were more money than I wanted to spend, so i chose one of these little charming pottery houses made in Lithuania.

Isn't this view charming, the lights and seagull, cold but the snow had stopped.

We went to Little Italy around the other side of the harbor, for dinner but "our place" Amicci's was closed, so we walked around looking at the lights decorating the tiny row houses.

This is old Baltimore. Granite stoops. Wrought iron railings. Doors opening right on the sidewalks. In the summer there are bocci ball tournaments and open air movies shown on sides of buildings.

So in two days we traveled to Baltimore and Washington DC with the feel of also seeing a bit of Germany and Italy. For my friend JoAnne, we went to the bakery and brought home pieces of chocolate cannoli cake for Christmas desserts.

  I'll leave you now with the picture of another rowhouse showing the reason for all this celebration...

now, on to New Year's Eve!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas, my friends!
This is our fall-open-pre-lit-skinny-tree with a few decorations on it.

Poodles, cows and betty boop. I collect ornaments from everywhere we go, and love little ornaments most of all. I have a few friends who keep a tree up all year long with seasonal ornaments on it, and I think that is genius. What a way to display whimsical collections. I have two trees worth of ornaments in the basement with the big tree but our house is so small...

Cole's perch is right next to the tree and I often wonder what he thinks about the whole decoration-concept.
"if you put this here for me, it doesn't smell remotely like venison and none of those toys even squeak"
"if you think I'm dyeing my hair pink and jumping voluntarily into a bubble bath, you're crazier than I thought"
"I can hardly SEE the TV now"

I grew up with a real tree, big lights and tinsel shimmering all over it. Then in the late 60's we went to a silver foil fake tree with a tri-color wheel light that turned the living room into a disco. When I struck out on my own I had a real tree with tiny twinkling white lights and crafted ornaments. We realized a few years ago we all had an allergy to fresh cut trees, so have tried several faux ones.
Life moves along doesn't it?? What kind of tree do you have??

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A REAL (messy) working Studio

 Welcome to my world!
These are the doors leading into my happy place. My happy place has full-spectrum spotlights, lots of color, and sewing supplies to rival any quilt shop! Come on in!!


This is the view from the door, turning left. I keep a quilt hanging in view as you walk in the room, and there are shelves there holding my paints, inks, and brushes. I didn't take a picture as I'd rather save that for another day.
I have done studio posts before, check the page at the top for a few pictures look here, or detailed  posts under the label at the side check it out here! 
 The yellow shelves on the left hold trims, zippers, tools, sheers/ organzas, the ocean fabric collection and work folders for teaching/lectures. There are 3 magic wands, as who doesn't need a bit of magic?
As you enter the room, my sewing cabinet is next to a window ( again there are pictures of this under the label studio) and I love my Horn sewing cabinet as it allows the machine to sit down level with the top. The cabinet opens up to support a large quilt, and it's opened at the moment. Being open takes up real estate, but is so very convenient.
This is a REAL studio party right?? This is a REAL hot mess as I'm in the middle of  reorganizing, putting away new supplies, and fabrics from the last three projects. It piles up, doesn't it? I even imported an extra table to give me some sorting space. The cutting table is wonderful, and the cutting mat covers the whole top. My ironing board sits on the end of the table for quick press before cutting, or after sewing. The design wall is a large cotton batt pinned to the wall. It's over another one holding a long term project. I needed to keep the first one up, but also needed current working space.

This cabinet, from Ikea holds my vcr/dvd player, TV on top, magazine holders that hold paper... the bits you cut out of magazines, the pictures of flamingos, the pictures of cows, etc. It also holds patterns in the blue boxes.  Beads are on the bottom two shelves, and that detail of storage will be for another post as well as the book shelf system. My systems really work, so I want to spend more time showcasing them later.
There is a multicolored shelf next to the cutting table that holds my rulers on top, the remote controls, all pencils and pens, and paper piecing printed sheets for when I want to sew but don't know what I want to sew.  This system will be shown in more detail later as well.

I have shown fabric storage in previous posts, both yardage and scrap containment systems. Go see them if you get a chance.


The room isn't large, and is even smaller when there are piles of stuff everywhere like there is at the moment. But it's all mine, on the first floor near the kitchen and powder room, there are two closets, and I lose track of time when I go in there to play.
I asked DH to call before coming home from work, so I can try and disengage. There were times he came home, and I asked what he was doing there, and he said, well it's 7 o'clock! I had no idea!
Hope you had fun, feel free to come for a visit sometime. Call first...
Linked to Vicki's REAL studio tours party, go check them all out   HERE, FOLKS

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas "present" bag

I like to make tote bags out of scraps. Something from nothing. Since I am not the Ugly Christmas sweater kind of gal, not since I stopped teaching middle school at least (smirk),  I wanted to wear something festive for the holiday.

The way I approached it, was to pull out the Christmas scrap bag. Take strips that were any width, but at least 30  inches long, and piece them lengthwise next to each other in a pleasing combination. Once I had a piece of pieced fabric about 17" by 30" I layered it with lining fabric, peltex stabilizer, and the top, like a quilt. I did simple quilting of straight stitch, first in the ditch with cotton, then metallic sliver down the middle of the strips for sparkle.
You might be able to see the quilting line if you click on the picture at right.
I made straps, which I'll save that tutorial another day. They were positioned with 11 inches of space left at the top to sit on a shoulder. Topstitched down.
I made the "ribbon" the width of my strip, crossed it over the strips,  and topstitched with a buttonhole stitch and hologram sliver thread in copper. The pin is a gift from a friend and since it puts holes in clothes, it now has a home!

Then I proceeded with making this quilt into a bag. RST, stitch sides with 3/8" seam. Cover with double fold bias tape and topstitch that down. (I''ll show you that later if there is interest) This finishes off the raw seam. Box the bottom, bind the top with my fast machine binding and same copper thread. Add a bow, and you're done! Could be done with any holiday fabric.

After things slow down a bit, I might make a video of some of the techniques, just to make it easier yet.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Threads anyone?

Oooooo  Shiny Sparkly!!  Wheee!

I am linking up with Field Trips in Fiber today joining her links party on Studios  Real Studio Tour
I just found out about it, so I will start with my favorite storage solution. Thread boxes.
I collect threads almost as much as I collect fabric and beads. It all started with a sale, and I stocked up on cotton thread. One day, long long ago, a sparkly thread caught my eye, and the love affair started! Back then the shiny metallics were very bratty, and I was sewing on a 1950's era Singer who did not find metallic threads amusing in the least.

I figured out how to deal with them, and then began teaching others how to work with any thread in any situation and it's a very popular class. Check it out  HERE

Threads have a way of unspooling themselves despite locking in the end, or using the plastic grips. That's why I like these hot wheels containers. I bought them long ago at Walmart in the toy section for a tiny amount of money. I have 6.
They have many sections, and there is a door on each side of the whole container allowing you to lay it down and look, close the door, turn it over, open that door and look. 
 This one is laying flat, and you see how many DMC cotton 50 weight smooth threads I have stored on one side (the plastic door is closed)

Here is a box standing up, and you can see both halves. The quilting industry discovered our use of these and now sells them for this use in particular. They now cost more of course!

I have my threads sorted by type, because that is how I use them. I know I want a metallic, not a red. A RED metallic. And it will be tucked away in the metallic box with all colors of metallics. 
 This shot is looking straight down into the IKEA rolling crate that is the perfect size to hold four boxes tucked away under the sewing machine cabinet. I roll it out, look at the labels and pull a box according to what effect I want.
I likes my thread, y'all!
This system keeps them dust free, mostly light free, and at hand.

This shows how the crate rolls around next to my chair. You might notice there are another two cases, ahem, did I mention a thread collection??
This is my favorite storage solution.
When I am about to quilt a big project, I go through all the boxes pulling possible threads, and putting them on one of those vertical free standing spool holders, to have them right in front of me for the project. At the end, I put them back in their category/ boxes.

I love this system, it works for me, the threads mostly stay in place. There was the time, DH was vacuuming the studio for me, and the vacuum got too close to a thread tail hanging out of a box, and faster than you can scream, unspooled an expensive thread all around the beater bar. Being cheap not wasteful, I carefully upended the vacuum, and reverse rollered the thread off the beater bar, rewinding it around the spool. I won that one!
When we take the vacuum in for periodic service, the guy always complains about the threads stuck in odd places. Well, that's what we pay you for.
( a reader wrote in and said: Walmart still sells these containers for $7.00 online. It's called Creative Options Thread Organizer)

Don't forget to check out the other studios!
you might like to see other studio organization HERE

Thursday, December 12, 2013


It's cold here y'all! Cole hasn't been out of his JimJams  since we groomed him. These jimjams are from a pattern, that I amended because he is so deep in the chest. ( Like his mom) It is old, old, old and has shrunk but still his fave. It has moons on it, so I think of him as Harry Poodle-Potter.
Want a break from the holiday frenzy? Enjoy jigsaw puzzles? Here's one for you to do online CLICK HERE

And a joke in honor of the weather... what did the green grape say to the purple grape??
Breathe, you idiot, breathe!!
ho ho ho 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's a pink Christmas

 The pink tree went up yesterday in the entry.

Er, doesn't everyone do pink? It's just so, colorful.
I have to admit, I didn't even consult the men in my life about this, but I figure Drew can pile the mail up next to whatever color tree I choose.
Note the flamingo wire sculpture holding the poinsettia. I am watering the flowers, but they are dropping leaves like crazy already. It'll be a Charlie Brown Poinsettia.
The flamingo came from a home show one year. Imagine, DH toting it around the whole convention center while we looked at a thousand roofing or siding displays. Actually people stopped us and asked which booth it came from.

 I think the red and pink look smashing together, so I hung up the chandelier crystal hearts on the tree this year.

Hey,  Sherri D, look where the flamingo tin showed up! This was a gift from my friend Sherri blog is here
You've seen the pink poodle, but the squirrel is Cole's and I'm not sure how he feels about my use of it. The squeaker still works after all.
The tree needs a cute little quilted skirt.
Do you know any quilters?
 I usually put an elaborate garland on the banisters, but haven't felt like dragging them out this year. You know how some years you go all out, and some years get a bit less?? Anyone out there like me, that way?

The hearts came from IKEA one year by the way. You just never know where you'll find a treasure. We also found the hanging light display, you can just see it hanging on the wall next to the stairs, at IKEA one year. We leave it's cheerful self up all year, and it makes the best ever night light. I dread the passing of these bulbs as like so many things, it is no longer available.

Last but certainly not least was this Christmas display seen in the 'hood last weekend. I am a nut for flamingos so this caught my eye.
linked to I have to say...
and sewmuchado 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas table runner

 These are  two of my favorite table runners for Christmas. I am a big believer in more is better. Yep. I am a fabric collector. I have a bin of Christmas fabrics collected over many years and wanted to use them.
You might notice these "table runners" are on the sofa. There's a reason for that. My dining room table is becoming an archeological dig at the moment, piles of life stuff, getting taller and taller, in anticipation of someone in the future using it as a tool to understand a 21st century homeowner. They are a mess.

To make these the basic design is from the tutorial on Halloween table runners. See it here Click here to see

I replaced several of the strip sets with a solid to better show off the word. There are a few appliqued stars done quickly with fusible web and a blanket stitch.

 To make the letters, I suggest going to the site DaFont   http://www.dafont.com/
They have many options downloadable for free. You look through them, choose some to download to your computer, create a new document for your chosen word (s) and try out the new font. I usually increase the letter size until it's the size for my quilt and print it out. Now I can audition it on the real quilt to make sure it has the look I want.
There are options for putting the letters on fabric. I tried two. One was to reverse the letters, draw them on paper side of fusible web, fuse to fabric and cut out individually. The other was to use Saral paper, which is like chalky carbon paper, then trace the word onto already fused rectangle of fabric. Layer the fused fabric right side up, the Saral chalk side down, the pattern right side up, trace leaving the outline of the letter showing on your fabric. Cut out and arrange on the quilt.

I used gold metallic thread, and I love YLI for durability and sparkle, and a programmed stitch on my home machine to do some sprigs of hanging branches, and some ribbons for fun. Practice on a sample first. I did simple straight line quilting for speed, the programmed stitches, a buttonhole around letters all in the quilting.
I used my quick-as-a-bunny binding, see tutorial Here.

Well, that's it for today. In the new year I am changing the Monday discussions from Overcoming Creativity Roadblocks, to hints on how to be more creative in your daily life. These are my own personal prompts and hints, so I hope you join the discussions and we can all learn from each other.
It's snowy here in MD. I had to give up the morning walks-with-poodle because of the slush factor with my sneakers. I feel like I have a free day to just play in the studio, which still needs straightening up before I can begin the exciting Christmas tote I'll share later. I have full spectrum bulbs in the studio, so it's lit up like an airport runway, and very cheerful on a gray day. Hope you are being cozy and sewing where ever you are!


Saturday, December 7, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

 The reindeer have begun drinking....
Santa is bigger than ever (this is NOT our house)

We went for a walk in another town this morning while out running errands. We saw lots of what I call
Christmas Pumpkins mixed in with nativity scenes.
All they need is an Easter bunny and heart lights and they've got it all covered.
 Cole has started his shopping spree. He especially loves our local gardening and home center. He shops all the shelves within nose level, greets people and always stops to share a drink socially from their doggie water bowl.
 This time he enjoyed the ornaments and the decorated trees.
They even have a pet section where we can sit a spell. I wanted to soak in the atmosphere, all the shiny sparkly items, the reds, the greens, the golds of the season. None of them dusty or broken or tangled.
We put up a few lights in front of our home tonight before the evening walk. Half a strand will be burned out...
 the rest are a tangled mess. The staple gun won't go through the garland.  I said, let's just put something up so it feels like Christmas.
I have special dishes for the season so those will come out tomorrow while we clean carpets in anticipation of a tree. All of us are allergic to real trees, we all LOVE a real tree but now own one that falls open with lights already on it, waiting for
clean (er) carpets.
Oh, and to make this quilt related....

 The men in my life waited while I looked at fabric and notions and specialty threads.This is a wonderful shop called Tomorrow's Treasures located in Crofton MD, site of all our errands today. 
Okay, I also looked at sewing machines as the time is coming when I will have to invest. Santa....
 Cole just put their sign on as a joke. He's a barrel of laughs.

That's it. No contra dance this evening. Just home to eat, watch a movie, and drink a glass of wine to celebrate the season. Are you decorating for the holidays this year? LeeAnna