Thursday, December 31, 2009
December 31st...finishing this cotton kimono-sleeve house jacket today. I used a cotton fabric which doesn't drape as well in the sleeve area as I would like, but it works. The jacket is lined with black cotton batiste which will make for comfortable wear. All that's left to do is to handstitch the lining of the sleeves to the main body and close the opening where I turned the jacket right side out after lining it. I picked this print for its quirky Oriental cuteness (see pocket detail). The design element of this jacket pattern, an out-of-print Simplicity (#5153), works perfectly to compliment this busy print. I still need to work on adding embellishments to my creations, i.e., beading, threadwork, fabric manipulation, etc., to take this "wearable art" phase to the next level. New Year's Resolution? To design and sew a fun, artsy, wearable wardrobe in 2010...oops...and to get back to finishing those UFOs in my quilt basket. How about you? Current state of Calico Quilter's crafty courage? I mostly only wear my artsy creations at home.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
There's a certain sadness that weighs heavily upon my heart, especially as I ponder the state of Planet Earth and humanity as a whole as we move forward into the New Year. In 2010 I will be working on numerous arts projects. I am just a simple artist who hopes to make a small difference through creative expression and positive interaction. So much to do, so little time.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
So last week I went on a sewing binge. Result: two shirts completed, one linen and one calico. Here's the gray linen one that I made (picture). Pattern: Textile Studio Patterns - Mandarin Shirt Jacket #1213. I'm not done yet. It's Saturday and today Papa drove me to the garment district in L.A. where I shopped for more fabric to make more stuff. Boy did I ever have fun! Specifically shopped at Michael Levine's as I didn't have time to shop-hop from vendor to vendor. Finished this shopping excursion by eating lunch at Phillipe's, a very old, very famous deli in Los Angeles. French Dip Sandwiches...mmmm good!
Last week Papa Paz needed my car all week long and since I had no where to go and no way to get there, I took the opportunity to stay put at the Casita and do some sewing. I chose Simplicity #4077 from my pattern box for a shirt (pictured), using a sweet calico print. The blouse is very simple but it suits me. I have always loved calico prints and this is one that I've kept in my fabric stash for a very long time. I'll kind of miss having it uncut and intact, but the blouse is country cozy and will serve its wearer well.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
by streams of water,
which yield its fruit in its season
and its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does he prospers.
I pieced together a Tree of Life quilt block some time ago. It's part of a larger Sampler of Psalms design which I was lucky enough to come across on the Internet. I have taken a part of the verse and added embroidery designs, using machine embroidery, to enhance the sweetness of this wallhanging. The finished piece will measure approximately 11" x 15". Click photo to see in greater detail. Tree of Life quilt block source: http://members.shaw.ca/wordinpatchwork/psalmtree.html
Friday, October 30, 2009
Fixed my sewing machine without having to take it to the shop thanks to the kind lady at Mel's who answered the phone and guided me step by step. Turns out I had to re-engage the gears of the bobbin case by manually handcranking the wheel...it's just a machine after all. Currently stitching out a Sock Monkey onto an 8" block of calico fabric. Making a special 1st birthday quilt for Baby Chloe. I found this embroidery design at designsbysick.com. Loving it!
Monday, October 26, 2009
Here's what I know about me... I enjoy journaling. I am a long-winded writer. As of today, I am still knitting, not quilting. I have a Bernina 830 sewing/embroidery machine...big, powerful, does all things. Today (10/26/09) mine's out of order and I have to take it in for fixing. Otherwise I would get back to sewing/quilting/embroidery projects. Big sigh! Unfinished Christmas projects are piling up.
Friday, October 2, 2009
These past weeks, I have dedicated most of my time to knitting and crocheting rather than quilting. Knitting is one of my favorite things to do. But then...I say the very same thing about quilting when I am working on my quilts. I sometimes think about those quilt projects of mine that are not getting done while I'm busy knitting and crocheting and I wonder how other crafters do it. While the weather continue to be very warm during the day here in Southern California, the nights have cooled and the weather is turning. I welcome the cool autumn evenings and early mornings. I have begun knitting this year's Christmas gifts for friends and family.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
These are some of my craft books. The casita has been shut down for paint and repair for most of this past summer and my books as well as most everything in the house had been stored in boxes in my son's storage unit during the major part of the remodel. Quilting and other projects went on the backburner, pending completion of the house. It's September and things have been back in order for a while now at the casita, except for my workroom and a few other spot projects throughout the house which are almost done. Until today my books have been stacked in piles in the closet. It's been a slow process for me to want to start up again. I have many excuses, not to mention the puppy, humid weather, garden chores, housework, misc. appointments, catching up with my reading, but mainly...pure delightful laziness. Henry the Yorkie pup is going on 9 months old. Potty training's no longer an issue, but Henry is full of puppy energy. He digs up the garden, runs, jumps, loves to squeak and play with his toys ALL DAY LONG, in between puppy naps, all with joyful, youthful glee. Exhausting! As usual in my tiny garden, this past summer I grew jalapenos, bell peppers and tomatoes. My crop was small, but the harvest was a success (except for the bell pepper). Papa and I enjoyed jalapeno poppers and I made my famous Chinese Beef Tomato dish for supper. There were lots of green tomatoes left on the bush at the end of August, enough to make a Sweet Green Tomato Relish, which I have already put up in 1/2-pint jars, now stored in the pantry; a yummy condiment. Thank goodness I couldn't sleep last night and started to organize my books. In sorting through the stacks and stacks of books that I have collected over the years, I am reminded of those things that I love to do, i.e., quilting, sewing, knitting, crochet, weaving, embroidery, jewelrymaking, and arts and crafts in general, and I am finally inspired to take up where I left off. It's crazy to be up so early without a full night of sleep, but I am ready to get back to work. I recently took up my knitting needles and finished knitting a thick pair of warm gray socks for my son and just started on a soft pink pair for my sis. Christmas presents, you know; socks for everyone! Am glad to be back on board!
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Chloe is my baby granddaughter, 6 months old. When asked about what she might like, her mommy said, "Maybe something bright; Chloe loves to look at bright colors, flowery prints and...stripes. She's very interested in stripes." Stripes?? hmmm... Well here's my pick (click on photo for up-close detail). Like Morgan's quilt, this will be a wash and wear quilt. Chloe and Mommy like to sit outside on the grass on nice sunny days while dad's at work, or sometimes Chloe rolls around playfully on the floor during tummy time. It'll be fun to see how this quilt blooms and a pleasure to make something special for sweet Baby Chloe that she can use to tote around for fun.
It's springtime and my garden thrives as the weather warms. The small front entry to the Casita is planted with a collection of white flowers, primarily roses. It's never very cold in Southern California; however, we do have what's called the June Gloom annually, which simply means overcast and cool in the morning. Tending to the garden in the spring takes me away from the sewing room for a while. My herb collection includes echinaeca, aloe and scented geranium (photos). This miniature aloe plant has helped to heal many minor kitchen burns. Our gated garden in the front is visited daily by a California non-crested bluejay. There are lots of other birds around, sometimes even hummingbirds, but the bluejay comes around most often...must be a nest nearby.
Here's my trusty basket of tools with a thimble, pincushion, scissors and thread that I use when handquilting. I'm currently working on a Sunbonnet Sue quilt which you might find a picture of in the March archives. In quilt lingo unfinished stuff is often referred to as UFOs. My Sunbonnet Sue is one of those. Now that I'm thinking of UFOs (I have a few), I'm wishing I could sit and get with it, but not yet! The Casita is currently being painted inside and out and paint crews are underfoot. We've had to move things around and the house is quite a mess. Summer's on the horizon, the puppy is potty-trained, the garden's in good order and once the house is freshly painted, this Casita will surely settle down. I am oh so ready for some peaceful quilting time!
Yesterday, I found myself at an all-day, hands-on sewing class at Mel's, to learn the features of a very fancy, very new sewing machine (Bernina 830) I recently traded the old one in for. About 12 ladies attended, including me. Back at the casita, 15 minutes before class was to start, I made a quick call to Mel's to shout out "I'll be there!" then ran out the door dragging my machine and all the parts and instructional manuals that came with it. My, my...this machine is a heavy sucker to tote...not good, considering the fly-by-the-seat-of your-pants, last-minute habits that I cannot seem to shake. The weight of the machine is cumbersome. I was rushing, while trying not to bump, bruise or break anything. Luck was with me and me 'n my machine made it to class intact, only 10 minutes late, managing to get situated and start on time with the class. The fun part was, of course, the hands-on part. The ladies ooo-ed and ahh-ed each new feature as we worked our machines. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Whew! Time flew as the instructor put us through the paces of the machine. I was stiff, stiff, stiff from sitting so long, but very satisfied. There's a Part 2 to the class next Saturday...about embroidery! I'll be there...on time!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Life at the Casita is currently topsy-turvy with puppy energy abounding. There's been little progress with quilting projects in recent weeks. Instead, I chase l'il Henry around and we play, play, play. When he's not romping, he naps...thank goodness. The little fairy in this Rose Red picture is my granddaughter Jaden's fairy. I drew her to resemble sweet Jaden. Isn't she a cutie?
Friday, May 1, 2009
Today Henry went to puppy kindergarten and learned to sit properly upon command. In class around other pups larger than himself, Henry went very low profile, I think mainly for self-protection, being the wee laddie that he is. The Aussie shepherd pup only 11 wks old towered playfully over our laddie. There is a happy balance at the Casita now that Henry is potty trained and has settled in as a member of the family. As this photo demonstrates, at home Henry is king of the hill. This is his pack...Mr. Potato, Miss Pinkie and El Tigre. Like Henry, they each get a bath weekly. Now that Henry's business is in order, it's time that I get back to quilting and most happily so! The garden also needs tending as we move solidly into spring. Time for a visit to the local nursery. Maybe I'll put Henry in a tote and bring him along.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The other day Henry threw his rubber chicken into his water bowl. But two nights ago, Henry threw Papa Paz into the jacuzzi. Of late, it has been Operation Get Henry Potty Trained around here. Two grown people could not be more dedicated to this effort. Ray was showing off to me how, if he stood in a certain spot, Henry would respond to his command and pee upon the puppy pad we had strategically placed outdoors. Ray swung his left leg over the gate that protects Henry from the pool, to get in place, but Henry had other ideas. The pup ran to the wee wee pad and began to pee right where he should, all by himself, in advance of the command. Yipee! He's trained! But poor Papa! With one leg on one side of the gate and one leg mid-air, he was watching Henry's triumph when, ka-plewie! Ray tumbled dead center into the jacuzzi, taking the gate and wire shelf it connects to with him. Like a dream in slow motion, water splashed and flower pots went flying. Henry ran inside, then turned and peeked out the door to look at Papa standing in the middle of the jacuzzi in the dark, dripping wet but otherwise unharmed. I picked up Henry and we both stared at Papa. "I'm okay, I'm okay," Ray muttered as he slowly hoisted himself out of the freezing water. "Mama, I think we're too old for this," he said. I just shook my head and gazed at little Henry who by this time was bouncing happily about our feet. The hour being late, and Henry having done his business, we put the pup to bed. Laughter filled the air at the Casita as we chuckled and thanked our lucky stars Ray had not been hurt, then peace and quiet settled in as we dimmed the lights and called it a night - two tired old people and a little Yorkie pup. Oh Henry!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
There's a potted planter full of scented geraniums around the side of the Casita which are blooming bountifully. I ordered these as tiny slips from Papa Geno's nursery in Nebraska, I think last season...or maybe two seasons ago. They're in just the right spot in the garden and must be feeling the love here in sunny Southern California because they are healthy and gorgeous. (Click on the pictures to see them in greater detail.) Mmmm! The fragrance is delightfully refreshing. My favorite is the rose geranium which I planted separate from these, in the front, in my little herb garden. A-a-choo! Papa Paz thinks these are all "stinky" but he has allergies so it's to be expected. I study herbs for their medicinal as well as culinary uses and I feel overwhelmingly fulfilled when I can gather those things I grow to cook with or make use of. There's calendula, mint, sage, rosemary, basil, thyme, lemon thyme and, of course, lavendar in my garden. Sounds like quite a plot, but it's actually very small, quite manageable and very self-sustaining during the times I get caught up with my quilting and forget to go outside. But of course, Papa Paz put a drip system in for me with a timer, so the garden waters itself...lucky me.
Monday, April 13, 2009
This morning Henry threw his rubber chicken into his water bowl. Splash! Henry's a small patootie but I think he thinks he's a very big wolf and was born to be wild. Oh Henry! Henry's potty training is about 98% complete, but he's still off about 2%. I sometimes wonder if he's protesting the taming of his wild ways. I just now caught Henry yanking at a piece of pink gingham which I'm going to use for a quilt backing. My assertive glare and the "NO" command sent him trotting cheerfully out the door. Henry has a mind of his own but we're on track with the Dog Whisperer as our guide. Our goal at the Casita is to make Henry happy and lovable. He's a lot of work, but so far so good.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Morgan's quilt is done...just in time for her birthday party. It's a busy but cheerful compilation of bright prints. I wanted this to be a wash-and-wear blanket for Morgan, so I used a low loft polyester batting for the inside of the quilt, knowing it might be run through the wash many times. I stitched one big boxy "X" at each cross-section where the green prints meet to secure the quilt top to the back, and finished the edges with a matching green calico with a back-to-front binding technique, using mitered corners. Finally, I attached little tufts of hot pink yarn at the center of each green cross section to "tie" the whole quilt together. It's quite a feeling of accomplishment to take something from start to finish. Morgan loves her quilt and we are all happy on this blessed Easter Sunday and wish you the same.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Here's a photo of the Underground Railroad quilt (reference Harriet Tubman) I just finished. We call it Ray's quilt since it will hang in his office at work. The finished quilt measures approx. 30" x 44". Each quilt block is only 6" square. Miniature quilts can be a challenge to piece together but, with precise measurements, accurate seams and a little patience, they work up pretty quickly. After finishing the quilt top, I sent it out to be quilted for a more professional polish. If you click on the photo you can see the quilting in more detail. I really enjoy making smaller quilts like this one.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Today I am spring cleaning my sewing room while trying to make it a visual feast for fun and inspiration. What a mess! It's all because of Henry. Henry the pup is napping...he's like a baby that way. With a "baby" on board, I find myself cleaning every nook and cranny that he can get into. Despite the doggy-ness of Henry, the casita is nice and clean-smelling. All this spring cleaning keeps Henry healthy and Papa Paz happy.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Today it's raining and cold outside, not typical for sunny Southern Califorina. Henry, our new Yorkie pup, is tiny and got the shivers when I took him outside first thing in the morning. Mean old me! Right now, Henry's wrapped in an old orange and white stripe beach towel in his doggie bed napping, quite comfy now that he's warm again. I have learned that little terriers can be oh so stubborn and this Yorkie loves my time and attention. Henry and I are working out the potty training. One for me, two for Henry so far. I think I have confused him with all the fuss. Henry has taken away from my quilting time, but he's a positive addition to the Casita. I DO WISH he'd get with the program! All projects are on hold until then.
Monday, March 16, 2009
WHILE AT THE FABRIC STORE..."You're a quilter?" I nodded. "Leisure World. We meet on Thursdays, 2 to 4 p.m., in the big rec room. I've rounded up a bunch of us." Giving me a once over and nodding her head thoughtfully, she stated emphatically, "You should come." I smiled. "Thanks, ummm...I'll think about it." The little lady shrugged and wandered off in search of batiks, leaving me alone with the calicos. Join a quilting group? Mmmm...maybe not yet.
I am a a quilter, a grower of herbs and flowers, a baker of bread. The house is quiet and I get a few more stitches in before calling it a day. Tomorrow I will make a delicious Lemon Thyme Poundcake using fresh thyme from the garden and a lemon from our tree. Here's our semi-dwarf lemon tree which is still young and currently about 3 ft tall. Daily sunshine is typical for California.
Here's Morgan's dolly quilt still in progress. I am working on the matching quilt and it is going very fast since I am doing simple rail blocks. I quilt at night as well as during the day - so much to do, so little time! Good that my garden is taking care of itself for now.
I am handquilting this Sunbonnet Sue quilt sampler, which I pieced using a variety of block patterns from a learn-to-quilt book. I added Sunbonnet Sue and Calico Sam appliques on a whim and love the result. It is my very first quilt and I have been working on it for a very long time, off and on over the years. I also added tiny Prairie Points, way too soon way back when, and may have to remove them to finish this quilt properly. I'm not sure yet. It's been like that with this one. This sweet blanket is my favorite, already soft and old from handling; it is the quilt that taught me how to quilt.
I quilt and cook and do artsy things. Sometimes when I am quilting (and sometimes just generally speaking), I forget to cook dinner, but Papa Paz is very understanding and on those days he brings home takeout. On any given day, you might find me puttering around the house, in my sewing room, in the garden or out and about, shopping. Morgan will be six years old in April and I am making a simple quilt for her and one for her dollies to match. Morgan likes Strawberry Shortcake. These are the prints I am using (see photo).