Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Taco Pillow

My younger sister Martha has always adored dogs, and she and her husband have always had them.  I remember the beautiful standard poodles they had for years, as well as two smaller poodles prior to them.  When they moved to Florida, Taco became a member of the family.  This little chihuahua was named Taco, appropriately!  I enjoyed reading the history of chihuahuas online, and learned (not to my surprise) that the breed is named for the Mexican state of Chihuahua.  This breed is the smallest recognized breed of dog by the American Kennel Club.

After Taco went on to doggie heaven, I asked Martha to send me some photos of him.  I had in mind to make her something that used one or the other of the photos.  I decided, finally, to make a pillow for her upcoming December birthday.

I used Southwestern fabrics for the pillow, thinking that it might end up eventually in Martha's New Mexico home.  Though the bright colors might brighten up a Minnesota winter!  Since moving from Florida, Martha divides her time between their home in Placitas, NM, and St. Paul, MN, where her daughter and family live.

Below are close-ups of the photo I used for the center of the pillow.  I scanned the image, "flipped" it, and then printed it onto TAP.  Then I placed the TAP on some plain fabric and heated it with a very hot iron until the image transferred. (You have to flip the image so that it will be properly oriented when ironed onto fabric.)   The back of the pillow uses a third Southwestern-motif fabric.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Aunt Martha

I recently mentioned my paternal aunt Martha Cheavens in a post about my latest Material Mavens quilt.  She was an amazing person and a wonderful aunt!  I'll never forget the time that she, visiting my family in Austin, persuaded my parents to allow me (17 at the time) to fly to New York (my first time in an airplane).  She lived in Connecticut, but her sister Sallie, another beloved aunt, lived in Queens Village, New York, with her family, that included three cousins I adored.  I also visited Martha and husband Hugh in their home, and Martha took me into "the City" to see a Broadway play ("Pajama Game") and to eat at a Japanese restaurant.  This was before the days of the sushi craze; I have no memory of what we ate!

My older cousin David also accompanied me into Manhattan.  I best recall, with him, attending a popular television show of the era, the show that eventually caused a big scandal, "The $64,000 Question."  David also took me into a bar for the first time in my innocent young life, and because he was 18 and legally allowed to drink,he  impressed me mightily when he ordered a cocktail!  Some might find it very hard to believe that it was in this visit to New York when I first tasted pizza!  We had lots of Mexican restaurants in Austin, but no pizza parlor at that time!

So many responders to my blog post were interested in the book I mentioned, SPUN BY AN ANGEL.  It is a lovely book that would likely be termed a "young adult" novel now, but it wasn't her only book.  I also own a novel she wrote for adults called CROSSWINDS.  Martha was perhaps best known, however, during the 1930s and 40s, for short stories that were published in women's magazines such as MC CALLS, THE LADIES HOME JOURNAL, and GOOD HOUSEKEEPING.

Two of her short stories were adapted for the movies, and I own DVDs of these movies.  One was PENNY SERENADE, starring hearth-throb Cary Grant and Irene Dunn.  The other was SUNDAY DINNER FOR A SOLDIER, which featured Anne Baxter and John Hodiak.

SERENADE I have watched many times.  It truly is a tear-jerker and was loosely based on an episode in my aunt's own life.  I don't think I could re-watch this movie any time soon, as the death of a daughter is the centerpiece of the movie.

The two DVDs of these movies are readily available, and though her books are out of print, I've been successful at finding especially SPUN BY AN ANGEL online, books which I've ordered for my own children.  I also own the magazine story which was turned into the movie starring Cary Grant.

Thanks to all who seemed interested in my aunt, who died in 1975.  You can learn more about her at

The illustrations inside the front cover of CROSSWINDS

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Table Runner for Claire

Claire is one of my great-nieces, one of the granddaughters of sister Kathy.  She, her sister Martha, and her cousin Hannah, are called by me by "Camp Alice girls."  When they were very small, and before I had grandchildren of my own, for two or three summers the girls came to stay with us at what we called Camp Alice.  We always did a craft, visited sights around Baylor and Waco, went swimming, played games, and they loved most of all to dress up in my daughters' old prom dresses.

For the other two girls I made quilts for them when they graduated from high school.  But some how, Claire never got a quilt from me!  So I decided to make a table runner for her for a wedding gift.

I chose warm colors and a few "SouthWestern" style fabrics.  I have a wonderful book with many table runners to chose from, but this was the one that I thought showcased many fabrics the best.

I contracted with friend Judy Steward to quilt it for me, and she chose to quilt two long feathers down the length of the runner.  She used variegated thread for the quilting, and it really shows up nicely against the fabrics.  I had found a marvelous fabric for the backing that looks as if I had sewn together many, many tiny squares of fabrics to match those on the front, but not so--this fabric was just serendipitously printed this way.

Here are a few close-ups of the quilt that show off Judy's gorgeous quilting.  By the way, I've only partially hand sewn the binding to the back, and that's why the quilt is hanging rather irregularly!  Below is a portion of the back.  And then those close-ups.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Throw Pillows for the Grandchildren

Locke, my California grandson, turns 10 years old next week.  His Granddaddy and I will be there to celebrate this event with him.  We're giving him an assortment of gifts--boxed sets of The Cosby Show on DVD (a show greatly beloved by his Michigan cousins), two throw pillows to join the one I made him earlier this summer, and a Horned Lizard figurine that I bought several years ago in Fredricksburg, in the hill country in Texas.

One of the pillows has a Southwestern theme, in terms of fabrics and the Horned Lizard in the center.  This image I found online.  I wrote the photographer for permission to use his image for a quilted project, and he readily agreed, saying he was flattered that I wanted to use it this way!  I printed the image in reverse onto a wonderful product called TAP--Transfer Artists Paper.  This is a polymer product that you then iron onto fabric, and the image comes out incredibly crisp and true.

A side note about what we used to call Horny Toads, when I was a child.  We saw them everywhere in Austin, where I grew up!  We'd catch the babies, keep them for a time in a shoe box, and then let them go.  We used to say that we would "hypnotize" them by stroking them between the horns on their heads.  I remember vividly how soft and appealing their little undersides were.  Sadly, these critters are fast becoming extinct or at least they aren't as ubiquitous as they once were.  They aren't a toad at all, but a lizard, as their proper name denotes.

The other pillow features his Uncle Rob's dog Zeno.  Locke is crazy about this dog!  He loves him, he says, more than his own dog.  But Zeno is a dog any little boy would love, being a playful and active Border Collie.  Whereas Rolie, the dog who lives at Locke's house, is a placid and sweet toy poodle, definitely a "lap dog."  I used doggie themed fabric encircling Zeno's TAP image.

I like to give the non-birthday child one small gift, too, and so I made a throw pillow for his sister Lia, as well.  For her, who loves Rolie, the poodle, I transferred images of Rolie, Rolie and Lia, and then I printed off a heart to add to the pillow top.

At present these are just tops--I'll work on the backs of the pillows later, but I wanted to get this post up before time got away with me.

Here are photos of the pillow tops.  As usual, click to enlarge.  Lia's pillow is actually smaller--12" square, whereas the two for Locke will be 16" pillows:

Lia pillow top
Locke's Horned Lizard and Zeno pillow tops

The Horned Lizard close-up

Zeno close-up

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Another Baby Quilt

This is a quilt made for some dear friends of our late daughter who are expecting a baby boy soon. I learned from daughter Susan that the mothers of this little boy are decorating his nursery with a beach or ocean theme.  I found two wonderful fish and seashell coordinating fabrics at a local quilt fabric store.  Actually, several years ago I had used one of these fabrics to back my quilt called "Lake Michigan Beach Boys," a quilt that hangs in my studio, and a duplicate of that quilt was given to Susan for her 40th birthday.

I'll be able to present this quilt to these friends when next I am in California.

I "fussy cut" the larger fish images from the primary fabric.  It was printed as wide stripes, featuring the fish alternating with the seashell and alphabet stripe.  This latter stripe I used as the top and bottom borders.  I also used from that section the shells and seaweeds that form the "cornerstones" of the sashing. The side borders are the coordinating, "tossed fish" fabric.  The sashing is a fun fabric that looks as if paint had been splashed onto it.  The binding is a wonderful stripe that contains all the colors in the quilt.

I had a stripe in my stash that has made an appearance in a number of baby quilts to use for the narrow inner border.  For the backing, I used a sailboat print, another fabric printed as stripes.

Good friend Rita did the quilting, using an all-over pattern called "Double Bubbles," which fit in beautifully with the bubbles that are in the other two main fabrics.

Below are some close-up photos.  For all photos, you can "click to enlarge":

Above are close-ups that show the nice quilting that Rita did.  Too, you
can see a few of the cornerstones.  AND also one of the things
that I liked best about this quilt--the way in several of the blocks,
part of one fish is "continued" in the adjoining block!  See the yellow dotted fish above.

The baby's name will be William.  As is customary, I included the
names of the designer and piecer, as well as the quilter, the date the quilt was
completed, and where it was constructed.   A bit of the yellow sailboat fabric
can be seen in this picture.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Hour Glass and Yo Yo Quilt

I've been working on this quilt off and on for several months.  I made it for the now two-month old twins, Kaitlyn and Dylan, of my nephew Joe and his wife Melanie.  I thought this wall-hanging quilt was the perfect baby quilt for the shared nursery of a little girl and boy!

Actually, this quilt was begun years ago, truth to tell!  I designed it under the tutelage of quilt artist and teacher Mary Mushuta at the Houston Quilt Festival.  The quilt made by Mary is found in one of Kaffe Fassett's books, CARAVAN OF QUILTS, in double spread pages 12 and 13, and then the directions for it are on p. 78.  Mary used all Kaffe fabrics, shot cottons and stripes.  The fabrics I chose are not his, but are considerably brighter than the ones Mary used.  In the class, after we cut out the hour glass blocks, Mary helped us with designing the layout.  I pinned the pieces on flannel, folded it up, put it away, and then, years later, pulled it out to make the quilt.  I ended up not liking how Mary had me arrange the blocks!  She wanted me to use four different fabrics in each block, which made the quilt look far too chaotic to my eyes!

I decided to alternate warm and cool colors in the hour-glass blocks, and I turned the cool blocks one way (in terms of color value) and the warm colors the other.  When I made and attached the yo-yo's, I chiefly put a warm yo-yo on a cool block, and vice versa.

I quilted it just as Mary did--with serpentine stitching through the seam lines of the blocks, the big ones and the small ones in the sashing, plus "stitch in the ditch" quilting along all major seam lines.  For the serpentine stitching,  I used violet thread in the cool block, coral in the warm ones.

warm yo-yo on cool block--violet quilting

cool yo-yo on warm block--coral quilting

The label that is adhered to the back of the quilt.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Fabric Color Wheel!

I am taking a class next week from Katie Pasquini-Masopust at Quilting Adventures in New Braunfels, which I have attended five other times, always in March.

We are taking acrylic paints and she's providing canvases for us to paint.  We're also to take small pieces of fabric with graphic prints, such as dots, stripes, and plaids.  Some how we're going to combine what we paint on the canvas with these graphic prints, which evidently we will also paint, once we apply the fabrics to the canvases.  Sounds interesting!

We were to come up with color schemes before we arrive, and so I've been studying books that I have that deal with the color wheel and the various color schemes.  One of these books was an older one of Katie's.  In it she suggests making a color wheel from fabrics we have in our stash.  This sounded like a great way to familiarize myself with the wheel, and so I've done just that--made a fabric color wheel.

As you can see, Katie advises finding tints and shades of all the primary and secondary colors.  For some, this was easy--the blues, greens, yellows, and reds were easy to find in my stash.  Much harder was a dark orange to accompany the true orange and a red orange to go between the true orange and the red.  Also difficult was the entire family of violets.  I've never been drawn to the purple family, though strangely, I have an entire Elfa drawer full of these colors!  I can differentiate red violet from blue violet, but the "true violet" in the middle was quite a challenge for me!  I had to take a trip to a fabric store to find some of these colors that just were not in my stash!

Anyway, this was a most informative project and I enjoyed assembling it.  Now to decide on my color schemes!

Here are the violets now, close-up!