Wednesday, October 31, 2007


It all began with that shirt. I dyed this tiny garment more than ten years ago for my as yet unborn littlest one. And she wore it home from the hospital. I really wanted her first clothes to be something I had a hand in making. For a while after that I dyed a fair amount of children's clothes, both for my own kids and to sell.

That was actually the beginning of my little business. I used many of the same techniques and certainly the same dyes to color and pattern these clothes as I did fabric for my quilts.

At the time making these clothes seemed so right. I had three little children and I wanted them to wear clothes that I had made special for them. It seemed to make sense to make a little more for fun and a little profit.
I don't have such little children anymore. In fact, my eldest, my Halloween baby, turned 16 today. But I've been thinking about these clothes lately and baby items in general.

I've decide to try my hand at these again. This time pairing them up with hand dyed flannel blankets that are bound with my batiked fabric.

I'm going to be adding these four items( I've made two sets) and some others to my shop tomorrow.

I have plans to make these baby items in colors appropriate to both genders.

These have been dyed into one color and are awaiting a second dip. Maybe in a blue?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fabric foursome

Abi suggested that I start offering four packs of quarter yard pieces of fabric in my store. Her reasoning was that people might want more than one color way, but not want to buy four separate half yard pieces. I was pretty impressed with her business sense and this grouping is my first follow through on her idea. I'm planning on making more color ways and more patterns, but, for now, this is what I have. I've also got some plans for new items. More about that later. Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tuesday walk

Every afternoon around 3:30, the girls and I get in the car for the trek to their various swim team practices. Through a confluence of events, the two older ones belong to one swim team and the youngest swims somewhere else. Luckily, one pool is on the way to the second, but neither is exactly around the corner. Most days, bringing the various swimmers home is not my responsibility. Usually, my husband retrieves the little one and the older ones get a ride from a fellow swimmer who lives nearby. This is the case most days, except Tuesday. And, most Tuesdays I drop off my charges and head home to get an hour's worth of studio time before going back to the pool. This Tuesday, I decided to do something different with time I had free while Abi swam.
Not too far from where Abi's team practices is a park. I used to take Abi there when she was little, too little to swim, and the older girls were at their practice. Most of my previous experience with the park involved the playscape, but I knew that there was a nature trail nearby. This Tuesday was a good day to explore.

The two year old in me has always loved the way bodies look in shadow. When you see yourself this way you're always elongated and exaggerated. It always makes me smile and think,"Hey, look how tall I really am."

I made a new friend.I got to enjoy a luxurious hour or so wandering the paths behind the swings and messing around with my camera. It was a lovely way to "wait" for Abi.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mola book bag...finally

A while back (and by that I mean months ago), a friend commissioned me to make a book bag for her using a mola she had purchased in Honduras. She wanted the mola to function as the flap to the bag.
Sometimes, when I'm asked to make something and then told that there's no deadline, I fail to make that item in a timely way. And sometimes, that's a good thing.

I didn't so much as ruminate over the design of this bag as put it out of my mind. But, like I said, that was a good thing. When I returned to thinking about this book bag, an event which was prompted by my friend wanting to know when it would be done, I realized I didn't want to make it in the same way that I'd made others. I opted to piece the flap, back, bottom and front together and then quilt them as one long piece. I quilted the side pieces and sewed them to the other, already quilted, parts.

I finished the seams on the inside with binding and then bound the flap, sides and front. All that means I didn't need to create a lining for the interior of this bag. It's quilted inside and out.

I really like this simpler construction. And there's something about the quilting line that reminds me of Japanese fireman's coats. Apparently, before the advent of fire retardant clothing, these garments were intensely quilted and soaked in water to protect the firefighter.
OK, it's possible only I see the connection, but, nevertheless, my friend picked up her bag this afternoon and seemed pretty pleased.

Friday, October 19, 2007

9 to 5

Here's my "work day" in pictures (and some words):

8:30 am: I came home from swim team to find this moth afloat in an orange dye bath. Despite my sympathy for the moth, I had to capture this beautiful image.

9:30 am: I spent about an hour or so waxing fabric. This was the first bit of stamping I did. I love how crisply this stamped image came out. I knew it was going to be a good day.

10:30 am: My fabric peaks out from the dye bath.

11:00 am: Washed, dried and folded, the fabric from last night's dye session is ready for use. In that pile are two pieces of flannel that I ordered from Dharma Trading and dyed with the intent of making baby blankets for a friend's new arrival. I spent the next couple of hours working on these blankets. My plan was to dye the flannel and then bind it with some batiked strips.
1:00 pm: (No Picture) I met some friends at a local yarn shop, Hill Country Weavers. Believe it or not, I didn't buy anything. I was there helping my friend and her daughter pick a pattern and yarn for a sweater I'm knitting for the daughter.3:30 pm: Back home and ready to finish the blankets.
5:00 pm : Posting here with a big smile on my face. I've had a lovely day and am looking forward to a great weekend. I hope yours is wonderful too.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Just a quick pop in to post a close up of a new work in progress.

Hopefully, I'll have a full view in the next couple days. I'm juggling several projects right now. But, my husband is taking the girls to Dallas for the State Fair tomorrow, so I have two days to myself. WOOHOO!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Ripple: Done

Yesterday I ran into some friends who mentioned that they were planning on making ripple blankets. This prompted me to report that I had finished mine and that Abi was happily using it on her bed. In fact, she's devised a plan where she doesn't need to make her bed in the morning because she lays on top of her duvet and covers herself with her blanket. Brilliant! She doesn't have to make her bed and, even better, I don't have to remind her to.
This was very much a stop and go project. I'd work on it in earnest for a week or so and then suddenly become enamored of a project that offered more immediate gratification. Also, as this was the first thing I've ever crocheted, it might have been a tad on the ambitious size for a beginner.
Despite all that it's a finished object now and true to form I want to make another one. And, as is my way, I've got to find a way to make the project my own. Abi's blanket includes a turquoise yarn that I dyed myself as an experiment to see how well my fabric dyes work on cotton yarn. I was pretty pleased with the results, so I've already ordered some undyed worsted weight cotton yarn from Dharma. I'd like to make my second ripple with hand dyed yarn. I haven't decide yet if it will be exclusively hand dyed stuff or I'll mix in some store bought, but I definitely want my own colors to play a bigger role.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I tricked myself

Have you noticed? Have you noticed? I've been posting daily for over a week now. It all happened because I was so frustrated with my blogging infrequency that I started to think about what might be the cause of my blog neglect. I concluded that it was pressure, self-imposed of course. I felt like whenever I posted it should be well thought out and meaningful. Well, that was one sure fire way to make me dread blogging. It's kind of the same thing that happens when I start a journal. I worry too much about making my writing interesting or witty. After a little while, I can't take the expectations anymore and I quit.
Well, the other day I gave myself permission to just post a picture or even just pop in to say hello. It was all good as long as I consistently posted. What do you know? That did the trick.
In keeping with my new policy, today I don't have a book to feature( though they'll be more of that later) or lots of new work to showcase. I just have a few humble coasters, recently completed and added to my shop.
Oh, and some new dyed and batiked fabric in my full circle design.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What I'm thinking

Lately, I've been spending a lot of time rediscovering some well-loved books. Most of these books have been with me for a long time, but might have gotten a little dusty while my nose was in some newer book. For whatever reason I'm suddenly called to reacquaint myself with these old friends.
I've looked through this book so many times that all of the pages are loose. Consider that a rousing endorsement. Like Maude Wahlman's Signs and Symbols this book was one of the first I bought when I started making quilts. And it's still one of the best.
Also, like Signs and Symbols, the focus of Who'd a Thought It is showcasing African-American improvisational quilts and their makers. I'm continually struck by how energized these quilts are and how fresh the interpretations of traditional patterns seem.
I love so many of these quilts, I could have easily photographed each quilt in the book.
I particularly love this piece and the way it's organized. It feels new and unique. I haven't seen a lot of medallion quilts lately. Well, until recently. I realized when I was looking at this image this afternoon that one of the quilt projects in Joelle Hoverson's new book, Last Minute Patchwork+ Quilted Gifts reminds me of this quilt. It's probably obvious to everyone else, but that newly published quilt is also a medallion quilt.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Chutzpah is Yiddish for nerve. As in you got some... Last night when I read my email, one note prompted me to yell out, "Ayzeh Chutzpah." (Ayzeh meaning 'what' in Hebrew). A buyer on Etsy emailed asking if I would be willing to sell an item listed at $65 for $35. Honestly, at first I was so flabbergasted that I posted to the forums section and asked if this was a common occurrence. After being reassured that this kind of haggling was rare and not appropriate for Etsy, I started to think about how I would reply to this request.

Dearest Buyer,
Having just received your request to purchase one of my handcrafted items at practically half the listed price I feel compelled to clarify some facts and pose a few questions.
1. Each and every one of my products is unique, made exclusively by me and requires hours of work. I alone dye, design, sew, quilt, and photograph my work . If I were to honestly pay myself an hourly wage based on the time
put into each creation, this item would cost substantially more.
2. Making art or artisan pieces is a risk. An artist puts him or herself out there and sometimes what they create illicits compliments and other times not so much. That is as it should be. However, when someone expresses an interest in my art and then follows up that interest by trying to get a "good deal" at my expense, I can only read that as an insult.
3. Out of curiosity, would you go into Target and haggle with the sales clerk about the price of an item? I'm not a multi-million dollar corporation. I'm one artist making work that I love with love.
4. If the situation was reversed, could I get the good or service you make your living from at half price?

Friday, October 12, 2007


I haven't officially looked it up in the dictionary, but I'm pretty sure quiltiness is not a word. In fact as I'm writing this, blogger has underlined that word to indicate it doesn't exist. It recommends guiltiness instead. But that's not even close to what I mean. I'm talking about that wonderful quality that quilts acquire after they've been used and loved and, mostly, washed.
This is the baby quilt I made for my youngest before she was born. It wasn't made to go on her wall and she used it. Needless to say it's seen the inside of a washing machine. Now it hangs on the wall of her bedroom and all the laundering has given it a wonderful patina. I love walking by her room and catching glimpses of it. In fact, I make it a point of focusing on the quilt as I pass her room so that I won't notice the piles of clothes covering the floor.
I had asked my eldest to make her bed so I could take this picture. She didn't, but I think that actually highlights the quiltiness of her quilt. It hasn't been washed nearly as much as Abi's, but it still has that beauty that only time, use, love and soap suds can create.
This past week, this quilt came acroos my screen, and I started thinking about the quiltiness factor. I've always photographed, presented and sold my quilts without washing them. I wash all the fabric as it comes out of the dye bath, but not once it's pieced and quilted. I think that might be changing.
Last night when I finished quilting this little piece, I washed, dried and ironed it. I'm hoping I gave it a little quiltiness.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hanging out the wash

The other day my husband asked me why I've sewn so many tops for myself lately. After initially pretending that I didn't have a clue what he was talking about, I had to admit that I'd made 10 such garments this past summer. His question made me stop and wonder why I'd spent so much time and energy sewing these shirts. Then I realized that making these tops for myself is like the ultimate crafting treat. Sewing them doesn't take a lot of time, I have something new and wonderful that I can enjoy, and I get some recognition from others when I wear my new item. In fact that sense of pride increases when, after someone says,"Hey, I like your shirt," I answer, "Thanks, I made it myself."Most of these tops were sewn on a Sunday. Sunday is my biggest work day of the week. I have the whole day to hole up in my studio and sew or dye. I love Sunday and if it's been a productive day then I allow myself the digression of sewing for myself. It's hard to describe how excited I am when I go to bed Sunday night knowing that the next morning I'll wear something new and newly made. Even the pain of waking up at 4:30 am, driving to swim team and swimming for 90 minutes is blunted by the knowledge that in my dry bag is my new,cute little top waiting for it's debut.
Further proof that it is the little things that make life so sweet.
Just in case you think I'm done with this self-indulgence...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Believe it or not, mailing that quilt is still a work in progress. I was going to send it off via UPS, but that proved to be a very expensive proposition. What's with UPS and Fed Ex charging $90-$100 to mail a trackable package across the pond? So, that left crawling back to the post office with my tail between my legs. Except Monday was Columbus Day and the post office is closed in solemn remembrance of this important holiday( my apologies for the sarcasm to all who value Columbus Day). OK, that brings us to Tuesday. I awoke with every intention of getting that package off ASAP. But, Rachel needed to go to the doctor and then, another one, and then to get an ultrasound on her leg. Before I knew it the clock read 5:00 and the post office was closed. My plan today is to actually mail that quilt to it's destination. I am a little nervous because last night on NPR I heard that there's a postal strike in England.
Another work in progress is this quilt. It's heavily influenced by that courthouse steps log cabin quilt I mentioned yesterday. It's made from the leftover fabric I batiked and dyed for the Do Over quilt. I'm still debating the rotation of this quilt. I tend to make pieces that have a vertical orientation, but I'm also strangely committed to not altering a quilt's rotation after I've pieced it. Having just written that down, I realize what a stupid notion that is, but feel that it would be somehow dishonest to present the finished quilt differently than the way I originally constructed it. Sort of like it's orientation was a haphazard afterthought. Oh my, I probably need to get over that.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Just, just

Just wanted to post a few thoughts that have been floating around in my head lately.
I've owned this book for a long time, but can't begin to count how many times I've "rediscovered" it. It's once again sitting atop the stack of books on my nightstand, available for regular infusions of inspiration. I hear(really read) a lot about the influence the Gee's Bend quilts have had on a host of quilters, and while I love those quilts, this book predates the Gees Bend exhibits and books by at least a decade. Yet, I don't hear much discussion about the quilts pictured here or in Eli Leon's terrific compendium of African American improvisational quilts. Why is that?
Check out this wonderful image.
...or this beauty. And the scale on these quilts is large. They are bed size pieces which means that each one of these log cabin blocks is like thiiiiiiiis big.
Leafing through this book lately has been so wonderful. What really amazes me is how I continually see new things in these quilts. This book was probably one of the first quilting books I ever purchased and is now one of many in a crowded bookcase, but it still makes great bedtime reading.