Finding Fabric.

photoquiltfabric3Fabric2Quilt Fabric

There is a conversation going on over at a quilting group to which I belong. Art VS quilt, hand-dyes VS commercial, old fabric VS the latest pretties.

A rather typical conversation, actually! 

I am of the commercial collection side of the discussion, and I don’t like buying lines of fabrics, I can identify by designer only a handful of fabrics, and I don’t want ALL the newest fabrics in one quilt.

To each his or her own, but I enjoy digging through my collection and finding things to pair together that weren’t meant for each other.


(This reminds me of the conversation I had with my daughter when she was four. We were getting appetizers ready for company, and I wanted sliced cheese and apple wedges. In her four year old logic, she told me they didn’t go together, because mice and worms don’t go together! —Happy almost 30th Birthday!!!)


Back to the subject at hand, however.  Digging and digging, I cannot for the life of me find any scraps of these fabrics. It seems impossible that I don’t have a strip of any of them in the house, but…

I have this UFO that really needs to be finished. It has sat at the point where a normal person would say, take it to the quilter already. I am not satisfied with it. Something was missing.

I had an epiphany last week, and know what I need to do to make it work for me. But NOT a scrap of any of the fabrics are around!

I need possibly a 12 x 12 inch square of these fabrics. Not all of them, but definitely the black floral, and at least two of the other colors.

They are about 8 years old, ancient in quilt years, and I don’t know the manufacturers.

Anyone recognize any of them? Anyone have a scrap or two they would be willing to give up?


I have reasonable Plan B, but it is rather involved and not necessarily what I would prefer to do….

If you can help out, please contact me!







…I’m back. The heck with Sandy my ass. Sandy  destroyed huge swathes of my home town, of my childhood. I purposely chose to avoid as much of the televised experience as I could. I preferred it that way after 9-11, when we had no TV because our antennas had been on the towers. I preferred it that way this time as well.

It hurts my heart to see photos posted on Facebook. It is worse as days go on, and more and more people come back to post, finally with power, and tell their unique, yet universal, tales of woe. It pleases me beyond measure to see my forgotten borough of Staten Island behaving in such civic minded and neighborly ways, via the magic of Facebook. And now, a week out, news cycles later, with the wonderfully Hooloovoo color our country turned on Tuesday with the election, we need to remember it isn’t over, not by a long shot. New York and New Jersey will be suffering for a long time to come.

But, this post isn’t about that. It’s about QUILTS! And fabric. And the International Quilt Show in Houston, TX. (my photos,– none my quilts!– with placards after each piece. It requires a password. IQF/12 ) Enjoy!

The show was amazing. Fantabulous, even. Just inspiring and tiring and crazy large, and overwhelming and just perfect. I met so many wonderful artists at the SAQA/Quilt Art reception hosted by Karey Bresenhan, I met quilters from message boards I frequent, and I even serendipitously ended up next to someone I had tried to reach out to via email and never connected with! And those wonderful Facebook friends that I finally got to meet IRL!

Patricia “Pokey” Bolton and me at Craftsy’s Open Studios—(VERY cool idea)


A quilted Yurt… (with Jamie Fingal posing for me as “Gert in a Yurt”)

untitled (38 of 1)

My “Haul”…or as male quilter I met from Kentucky called it, new items to add to my collection. (the idea being no one is expected to USE the stamps or the coins they collect, so….) ETA:  I had shoppers block! It was odd… I didn’t have a vision of  what I wanted to buy, and was paralyzed by all the choices…. I finally found one booth where I let loose.. and it was over. The fabrics I bought…many feel like Sandy. There is a quilt there, about my home…we shall see.

An overview….T-shirt, yardage and other assorted toys (Emails from China quilt on the wall)


A selection of the ATC and Mug Rug Swap that was set up by the Craftsy booth.


A ‘detail’ of some beads, rulers, paints, as well as my purchase from the  Pet Charity postcard booth, by Sylvia Weir (the Green piece)


And because no vacation should be considered complete without a trip to the beach….We went to Surfside Beach on the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday. (plus other random photos from the trip.)

I’m ready to go back. Eithne, Robin, are you up for it??

Houston Bound!

The heck with Sandy. We will see what becomes of her over the next day or two but I am focusing on the other end of this week:

My first trip to the International Quilt Festival ( IQF ) in Houston, Texas!

Long on my bucket list, Timmy decided it would be an awesome Christmas present this year. ( I tend to agree. Both that it IS an awesome gift, and that HE is an awesome husband!Red heart)

Unfortunately, he didn’t give me very much time to squirrel away money to SHOP! I think I may be going for the show (ie, LOOKING at the quilts) and for the friendship….meeting up with 50,000 like-minded souls.

(OK, and the tiniest bit of shopping, but lots of looking and plotting and planning…. if only I could sell my first-born, alas she is a bit old for that…Smile with tongue out)


I will be going as well to see two of my photos that were juried into the photo show that is on display at the quilt show, in a special Exhibit called Favorite Things.



“The Stories They Tell”

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And I will be bringing along a small pile of ATC’s and Mug Rugs to trade!  I have never made either, but I have had a lot of fun working on them (and feeling they may not be worthy, but that is a post in itself, isn’t it?)

I have been on a kick lately of just using up scraps. And using them in a very organic, no-thought kind of fashion, stitching them together until they resemble something large enough to cut into a shape of something else. I did sort a few tubs of scraps kind of by color, so some of the new pieces of fabric have a feeling of ‘unity’, but a good deal more are simply random.  Here is a lap quilt top using some of that ‘new’ fabric.IMG_2058

The ATC’s began as the leftovers of a Drunkards Path quilt called Emails from China that I made.  Very neutral colors, taupe and such. (Very NOT me, but I love it, and it hangs in my bedroom, probably the calmest colored room in the house) An in progress photo of the quilt. Yes, I am feeling too lazy to go take a new photo! of the finished product.


After arranging scraps on Peltex and stitching,  I decided they needed some color. Out came my wild variety of paints, fabric and otherwise.  I keep saying the one thing I will NOT get sucked into is hand-dyeing fabrics. But over-dyeing and painting on commercial fabrics is fun!


I made one set of these, and haven’t completely decided if they are finished yet….(but time is growing short, I know….)

Next, mug rugs. Using some of those new pieces of fabric I made with scraps, I then added some fun ribbons, and practiced some really awful machine quilting…. I also am trying to get myself to admit defeat, so I took a rather unsuccessful holiday wall-hanging, and have ‘repurposed’ it into mug rugs. (Think a washable, overly large coaster, where you can place your hot chocolate or coffee on one side and a nice big brownie on the other.)IMG_2495IMG_2498

Last but not least, I made myself a funky fabric covered button, announcing to one and all that I am a Quilt Art online member! (oh, and I got new glasses yesterday!)


See you in Houston!!!

Scrappity scrap scrap! (quilts!!!)

I am not a quilter who worries overmuch about rules, or about precision (except where REQUIRED and UNAVOIDABLE), nor am I afraid of color, or colors matching, or….well, I think you get the idea….

Earlier this month, I had a revelation about my studio, and so enlisted DH to take a trip to IKEA….sigh…

We came back with the perfect solution to the chaos that WAS the studio….


After.  IMG_2057 

We bought the insides of kitchen cabinets, white, wall mount sized, that would fit those wonderful scrapbooking containers.  Mounted one set on legs, to make it the proper height to iron on, tossed the ironing board in the Goodwill corner, and mounted an 18x 48 piece of wood, with batting and Teflon covering.  The other set is without legs so it would slide a bit under the cutting table.

So, now that I have such an organized space, I need to make some quilts, right? Prove to myself that what was stopping me was disorganization?

Enter the scrap quilt. (Wow, did I find a LOT of scraps.) During the Olympics I dumped all those totes into a pile and sorted, very loosely, into color groups. (i.e., all the teal/blue/aqua/greenish into one pile)  I didn’t agonize. I just went with my gut.  Then, I took a container to my quilt meeting, ironed all of the scraps, and loosely sorted by size.

Next, I grabbed a handful and started sewing together in strips. As you see below, there is NO organization. They aren’t the same size. The widths are different. The colors are all of a feeling of belonging, however. I didn’t square up anything, so if it was 2 inches at one end and three at the other, well then it starts to get wonky is all.


I took a square ruler, and began to cut out 9 inch squares.  (The scraps from the cutting will be sewn together and made into another quilt.)


Next, cut into diagonals. And choose another fabric to make an equal number of 9 inch squares. *(six, this time)


Pin those stretchy bias edges like a mad fool and chain piece!


Press, with lots of starch, and lay out on a design wall.


All that is left is to settle on a layout, and what color sashing I will use. (Probably black.) Add a nice wide border with some other large-ish piece of fabric that I haven’t chosen yet, and Viola!!! A quilt!



And, a completely different, yet scrappy project, is another baby quilt!

Spoiler alert:    This is my signature baby gift.

My theory being if the quilt is too ‘precious’ the parents won’t let the child barf on it, so I choose 42 (the meaning and purpose of life) colorful 5 inch blocks, sewn together 6×7 rows. Then half of a length of fleece, a package of satin blanket binding, some fancy stitches to hold it altogether, and a test run through the washing machine later, we have a baby quilt! (Complete with baby’s name embroidered on the edge)


A tale of two quilt stores (or three or four…)

I don’t write a lot about my work life, which is in retail sales. However, I have recently acknowledged out loud that I will be approaching my 20th Christmas season. Which means I have gone through at least one other “it’s the economy, stupid” cycle. (Or competition. Or is it customer service? Or simply over-saturation?)

The competition theory can’t be argued. Once upon a time I worked at the ONLY branch of Bath and Body Works situated inside the five boroughs of New York. Yep, us on Staten Island, we WERE the New York City store. And it was good. We had, of course, loads of customers who worked in Manhattan. But they came to us—after work, on weekends, and shopped.

And then the company decided it was ready to join the Disney-fication of Manhattan. It opened a huge store in the mall under the World Trade Center. It was a BIG store back then for them. I was one of the employees that helped them to set up before opening.

And they opened. And then, terribly surprisingly to the “Powers that Be,” but not at all to ME, my sales went down. Alas, not only did my sales go down, but for a time, those on their lunch hour in the Towers would pop down to BBW and purchase. Only to decide over the weekend that the scent was wrong, or some such. And since they were headed to the mall ANYWAY, well, they made us their return center. Ultimately, it led to my leaving the position because I was unable to maintain a +30% volume from the year before the WTC store opened.


Not much to do with quilting, you are right. I am getting to that (come on, you KNOW I blether on forever!!!)

Timmy and I took a trip to San Diego over the summer. And my girlfriends and I took a jaunt to some quilt stores in North Carolina last week. I Googled quilt shops in California, because HE Googled Car Museums. I found a bunch. And one, I even found had a Car Museum on the next corner. Bingo! It was out in El Cajon, and so we set our GPS eastward and headed out to the hot part of town.

We arrived a little after 4 pm. The sign said they closed at 5 pm. Now, being in retail for so long (and having had the opportunity, mostly repressed) to harass people out of the store so we can get on with it, I was aware that I couldn’t meander to the degree I might normally.

The store was FABULOUS. I am talking probably the nicest quilt store I have ever been in, bar none. HUGE, but comfortable. The color stories set through out, the overall feeling was like I had found my home away from home. It didn’t take long at all for my arms to become filled to over-flowing with bolts of fabric. I’m talking maybe 20 minutes and I had spent over $100 in single yard pieces. I was in LOVE.

And then I got to the counter, and the love affair was over. A cursory “Hello” was uttered to me. Not the simplest acknowledgement of any kind to any of the fabrics I was purchasing being one of their favorites, or very popular, or what are you making or …..well– or anything. I could have been at the deli counter at a supermarket.

Now if you’ve never bought fabric that might not shock you. But when you are buying fabric, even at Joanne’s’ where I had worked for 4 years, there was usually an interaction. After all, one Fabri-holic to another, you know, we find comfort in the fact the people in a quilt shop *UNDERSTAND* our addiction. They feed it. They caress it.

They usually comment on a color combination, or wonder what you are going to do with it (ANSWER—Did I have to DO something with it??)

So, while I stood in my solo contemplation of my lovelies being cut to size, I spotted a color combination I hadn’t noticed yet, and said to the cutter as I was picking up my sizable stack, “I’m just going to go and see if I can’t find a bit of that green…it would be awesome with this selection and I hadn’t even noticed!”

Her response—“Well, you have a few minutes yet. We close at 5.” Not, “Which shade of green? You can find them in the room to your left.” Not, “You are so right!! That would be beautiful together.”

Nope, ‘just hurry the hell up so we can go home.’

Double yeah.

Now, I have thought on mentioning the name of the shop. But since I want to write a nice little anecdote about another shop, and want to mention THEIR name, I feel I probably should. After all, I have told a lot of people how unhappy I was with the treatment I received at this California shop (Rosie’s Calico Cupboard)

Now, a few thoroughly enjoyable experiences.

We started out our quilt trip by collecting my NJ friend from the train station in Richmond so we could have a quick hit of quilt shopping before we left for North Carolina. We stopped in at Quilting Adventures, and of course she was bowled over by Joyce’s selection. We had a couple of wonderful impromptu chats with other women roaming about and found a fellow Staten Islander in between the bolts of fabric (maintaining my belief Staten Island is the center of the universe for some odd reason—or at least it plays well in the Game of Six Degrees of Separation)

A lovely little place where we spent Saturday morning was called “Knit One Smock Too” in Winston-Salem, NC. They have only the smallest of selection of quilting materials, as you can you tell by their name. My friend, a NY transplant, had us down last week for a fun-filled “quilting” weekend. (We did NO quilting, other than quilt shopping. Which is as my husband expected.) ‘Us’ being me from Virginia and our friend from Red Bank, NJ.

This shop was small, and it offers a variety of needlework arts. We walked in and the atmosphere screamed ‘Welcome.’ A few women were sitting around a table chatting about starting a Sit and Stitch. A woman came in and sat down with her project, stuck on a stitch and just knew someone would take the time to talk her through her difficulties.

We oohed and aahed through the store (we are NOT stealth shoppers) and the owner quickly, politely and without us feeling like she was hard selling, showed us add-ons to projects, and even suggested, with sincerity, that if we came down again, to call her and she could schedule a PRIVATE CLASS in any of the items we were drooling over. It was a place I could imagine stopping by of a Saturday morning with coffee for everyone and just settling down to hang out and be amongst kindred spirits…


We also went to Maryjo’s, a large fabric store, which doesn’t have the atmosphere, but was dizzying in its array of all things bolted. And while they were not chatty, they were friendly and the customers were too….

Why was I writing this? Dunno. It just was something I had observed. And I was lovingly folding all my new fabric and it all seemed to come together in my head.

Retail this Christmas will probably be hard. I am already having to explain to my powers that be that really, the customers who COME to my counter, they mostly leave happy, and with a purchase…but I can’t make them COME to the counter. And that seems to be a point of disagreement on their part. I know I do my level best and make an effort to find the good in the customers I deal with. And let me tell you, from the other side of the counter, if you have never been there, it’s not the easiest thing to do. And I feel I have trained my staff in a similar fashion. So, it’s now waiting on you, the consumer. The one thing I can’t control.

So, yeah.