Sunday, November 02, 2008

Back From Houston

I had a wonderful trip to the Houston International Quilt Festival last week. It was great to meet some new folks and catch up with others I'd met last year. Here's a picture of me by my quilt on Wednesday at the Preview Night. Lisa Ellis of was generous enough to take the photo and send it to me stat!

If it were not for the generosity of my friend Dianne Smith I don't know if I would've made it to the show - she very kindly shared her room at the Hilton with me for two nights.

The quilt show was just the beginning of a lovely week. I flew back home Thursday night in order to not miss Halloween with the kiddos, and I'm so glad I did because it was the best Halloween ever. We went to parties on either end of trick or treating, the weather was perfect, and the boys were so happy. I volunteered in third grade for the big partay, and I can honestly say that I've never heard them so happily loud as they were during the toilet paper mummy relay. The week was the perfect balance between quilting and family.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Last Dance

As always, autumn is spookily busy for me. I have manged to work on a few small pieces in the last few weeks, and made it through 3 of the 4 fall family birthdays!

This piece was just completed in time for the Piedmont Arts Association Invitational exhibit. I named it "Last Dance" because the photos used to make this quilt were taken in October and I was amazed that this butterfly was still around at that late date.

I detailed how I made the digital imagery in this post. I wrote another post about adding the appliqued leaves are here.

This detail image shows some of the quilting in the border. My intent was to add quilting that looked like fungi or leaf litter. As always, the free motion quilting is the most enjoyable part of quilt making for me and it feels like dancing.

The leaves are really starting to turn around here, and it's just beautiful. Tomorrow I'm heading to Houston for a brief sojourn at the Houston International Quilt Festival. I'm sure I'll spend some time hanging out by my quilt. If you see me be sure and say "Hi".

Thursday, October 02, 2008

IQA Houston - "The Call"

OK, as per usual, it's been a tremendously hectic few weeks!

My biggest new news is that I received "The Call" from IQA in Houston this afternoon letting me know that I won a cash award in this year's show. I feel very honored. Here's a picture of my entry, "The Gathering".

(Click for bigger)

It's entered in the Digital Imagery category. The central panel is comprised of three strips printed on my Epson 2200 with pigment inks, then the borders were hand dyed to go with it.

I've just completed writing an article for Machine Quilting Unlimited, so hopefully soon I'll share some photos of another small quilt I've been working on.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Summer's End

Well, summer's over and it's been mighty busy.

My newest quilt, The Gathering, was accepted for the Houston IQA show. Under the Rainbow is already in Pennsylvania awaiting the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza. I'm writing a magazine article on Machine quilting, and have begun working on two small quilts for invitational exhibits.

Two of my quilts are in an exhibit hanging in the International Terminal at Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport. I'm going to try and head over there sometime in the next week or two and share some photos with you.

Somehow this summer has ended up being super busy despite no day camps for kids! I personally spent three fun filled (but sweltering) days and nights at a Cub Scout camp in Haymarket, Virginia with my middle son, the oldest went to a week long Boy Scout camp, and we all had a lovely respite in Lewes, Delaware. We also have some *major* (re)construction going on around here that's been keeping us hopping. I haven't gotten much quilting or dyeing done, but with school starting tomorrow hopefully that will soon change.

Here's a little guy I found wandering around the coreopsis and zinnias a few weeks ago.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Summer Fun

Thank you so much to everyone for their nice comments on my quilt! I still haven't gotten around to making a better photograph - here's what I've been up to.

Dyeing fabric

Lately when I've dyed fabric it's been for a very specific purpose. My last few dyeing sessions I've instead taken a more serendipitous approach, and it's been quite enjoyable. In the top photo the middle fabric (with the most colors) has already been made into the most fun pajama pants I've ever had. Added bonus: when we go to the beach in a few weeks it'll give my siblings something to make fun of (as if they needed any help).

Mostly though I've been trying to keep up with the boys. Here they're about to "investigate" a large ant colony on the rock in our front yard.

And here they are racing towards a pavilion at Brookside Gardens after a tour of the butterfly garden.

My nephew's birthday is in June, and there's always a pool party to celebrate. There were 12 children at the party, and things had started to wind down a little - until Uncle Bobby showed up.

I hope you all have a safe and happy 4th!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Deadlines & Commitments or Mayhem

Whew! As I came up to the wire on the IQA deadline I was more than a little busy with real life. "Highlights" of the past month or so include: having 28 trees cut down in the front yard (not to worry - there are still more than 70 there), an all day 5th grade field trip to Philly (quite nice), First Communion for son #2, a colonoscopy and endoscopy for son #2 (he's fine, thankfully), pre-school graduation, Mother's Day Tea, having wood floors refinished in the living room and dining room, the Science Fair with two projects from our guys, finally getting a new sofa!, a hit and run accident when we weren't even in the car (it was parked at the grocery store) and subsequent repairs, International Night, a wonderful Cub/Boy Scout Memorial Day flag placing ceremony at a local cemetery, dental work for various people, fifth grade "graduation" and several related parties, plus the obligatory husband traveling for work. There was more, much more, but I can't remember it all.

Nonetheless, I met the deadline by the skin of my teeth.

Next year, someone please remind me that May is a busy, busy month - no wonder the word "mayhem" begins with "may". Apparently I need to start quilting by the middle of March to meet a June deadline with ease.

I'd like to take a little better picture before showing the full quilt, and am not set up to do that right now, so here are a few detail shots and a view of my quilting area.

Doesn't that seem like it should be enough thread? There's even more you can't see on the left hand table, and yet sometimes it seemed that there just weren't enough colors. One thing that's clear is that I need to buy thread in neutral colors too, not just the "pretty" colors.

I hope all of you have also found some creative time for yourselves amidst the everyday details of life!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Exciting Week

This has been such a great week (despite my seasonal allergies!). I worked hard to clear out my basement lair enough to make room for the Horn table to return to its rightful place. My last two quilts were made in the living room, amidst the pitter patter (or thunder, depending on the child) of little feet. I loved being in the midst of it all, and needed to be, but trying to do precise quilting while the table is shaking or loud Pokemon battles are occurring does increase the degree of difficulty somewhat. Now the table and machine are in a well lit space and I'm raring to go.

Here are some of the hand dyes I made about a week ago.

The horizontal fabrics are the borders for my new quilt, the vertical ones were made with leftover dye. I'm happy to say that the borders are on the quilt, and I'm hoping to baste today or tomorrow.

My *biggest* news this week is that I was awarded second place in the Small, Non-Traditional Wall Quilt Category at the AQS show in Paducah! Here's a link to the winners list, which includes links to photos of the quilts. I won't be able to make it to the show, so if anyone is going I'd sure appreciate a photo of my quilt!

I hope you all are having a great week too.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Resq'd! And a Dye-a-gram

I've been working on a new quilt. It's printed, and the borders are dyed. Last year I showed some pictures of my "dye studios", here are some pictures of this year's setup.

First off, the view:

No complaints about that!

And here's my fabu setup:
I was *very* lucky - it's been quite cool this spring, but Thursday was a super bright day in the 70's. I wasn't quite ready to dye the borders, but rushed to get it done with such perfect weather. I was especially concerned about the temperature because I was using so many blues, and some turquoise. Those attractive storm doors to the basement get very hot, so once the fabric was just damp (and not dripping) I transferred the fabric over there to "cook" it some. Three out of four borders came out just right, the fourth I redyed on Saturday.

Here's the "dye-a-gram" I followed (click for bigger).

I measured color changes in the background of my image, then wrote notes to myself on what dye colors to use and where to change them. I don't mark the fabric, but use this as a guide. I used the same technique last year for Under the Rainbow and was happy with the results so thought I'd use it again!

So how have I been Resq'd? When I print out an image on fabric in strips, I somehow have to baste the strips before sewing in order to line up the image properly. Previously I've glue basted in the seam allowances, but I wasn't completely sold on how that worked out. I bought some Res-q Tape at Joann's, and it worked amazingly well. (My package says Dritz, not Collins, but I'm pretty sure they're the same product.) Now I have no stiffness in the seam allowance, and I can press it open if I want to.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Looking Up

First off, I've been very remiss after finding out that Jolene made a lovely Esther's Tote for Jody and not showing it - here's the picture. Great job, Jolene! If anyone else has made one I'd love to see it too.

I feel like things are looking up around here.

Standing in the center of my front yard, looking up

The enteritis that led to my appendectomy persisted for several weeks after the surgery, and it's only in the last 2 weeks or so that I've begun to feel myself again. I try to leave family health problems off the blog, but this has really been a slog for me. I've managed to make a number of stamped cards and have loved the instant gratification associated with that, but haven't yet manged to get my quilting mojo back.

Quite a few weeks ago I thought I had a quilt design finalized to print out, and had all the supplies ready to go. After printing the test image below I realized that I didn't have a design, I had a collection of competing pretty objects.

This is a small portion of my original design

When designing quilts on the computer it's easy to see the big picture, but sometimes hard to see how individual small sections will look. This makes it essential (to me) to print out test sections before making the entire quilt. From this test I could see that I needed to lose the white outline around the butterfly, trim out the white part at the bottom of the butterfly's body, the antennas needed work, and that the red leaves needed to be reconsidered.

I think I finally almost have a completed design that's very different from the original. The day before yesterday my husband looked over my shoulder and said "Wow!" while I was working on the design. Since he's never said this about any other design I have high hopes ;). Wish me luck!

I hope spring has started to come to your neck of the woods, wherever that may be!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

We Have a Confirmed Sighting!

Check out Miranda's lovely version of Esther's Tote! She opted to not interface hers, and used a wonderful combination of stripes. Thanks for sharing it, Miranda!

I haven't gotten any quilting done, but I've had lots of quilty "stuff" going on. Under the Rainbow was accepted for the AQS show, and Grotto will be at Quilter's Heritage Celebration in Pennsylvania, so if you're going to either of those shows stop by and say "hi" to my quilts.

I sold Marsh Grass I to a wonderful buyer - a lovely surprise. I've also been invited to have a quilt in an invitational exhibit later this year.

We've had a mild winter, but spring has been slow in coming this year. Only one crocus has bloomed so far, but things should really start popping in the next few weeks.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Just When I Thought it Was Safe ...

to try and get my work space organized, I (literally) stumbled upon this madding crowd

As you can see, the lights are back on, but my territory has been invaded! I took one kid to cub scouts, and when I came back this scene (which is a very common one here at chez OOhPC!) had appeared. In a way I'm quite happy about this. I was concerned that once I moved my sewing machine back to the basement, the kids wouldn't hang out down there. Obviously - not a problem now that there's light! Though there have definitely been down sides to sewing in the main living area, I really loved being in the middle of everything and being available at a moment's notice. It looks like I won't be lonely in the basement either.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Hello World!

Well, a *very* big welcome to all of you stopping by due to the link on Thanks for checking out the tutorial! I hope you enjoy your visit. If you're also interested in quilts please be sure to check out my website, Also, many thanks to Mama-E (Erin) for providing the link to Craft! (You should definitely check out Mama-E's warehouse - she dyes very beautiful yarn and fiber.)

Minty has been over here lately, and she's always so nice about my nature photos, so I thought I'd post a few just for her. We had an ice storm this week, and I very briefly ran out and took a few photos before the rain washed all the ice away.

The ice was coating this bush.

To my amazement, this ice casting was formed.

I placed it on our broken sundial.

On another happy note, the lights in my work space are back on, so I can get back to organizing my own space - yeah!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Well, I guess I jinxed myself with that last post. As I was typing it, my new lights in the basement stopped working! The electrician can't come out until tomorrow, so we've returned to cave like conditions in my work space.

I have a new quilt in the works, but I'm waiting for various supplies I've ordered to arrive. Believe it or not we need to add some extra memory to the computer in order for me to finish designing it! I tend to keep lots of files with intermediate design steps in them, and if I'm using many layers the memory sure does add up.

In a surprise move, I've already received several Valentine's from my guys.

Lovely flowers from my husband

Part of a "bouquet" of hearts from my preschooler. He made a heart for each family member saying why he loves them.

OK, I had to make this picture bigger so you could read it. He likes my quilts! I didn't even know that he'd noticed them - I was very touched.

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

P.S. I invite any of you who are interested in paper crafting to visit my new blog, Paper Playground. I haven't been able to sew for various reasons for the last month, so I've indulged myself in making some cards. It's been a fun creative exercise while I haven't been able to get the quilting done that I'd planned.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Buried Treasure

I've finally convalesced enough that I was able to make a little headway on getting my studio set up. The electrician came a little over a week ago and the results are simply astounding! He noted that he thought it would be much better than essentially sewing by candlelight - ha!

Yesterday I went through and got rid of (or at least sorted out) seven very large boxes of, well, stuff. I found some clothes I sewed between 15 and 30 years ago, and I can't believe how neatly I used to finish my clothes that long ago. Too bad I'll never fit them again.

Here's some of the booty I found:

Lobster Napkins, believed to have been appliqued by my mother back in the crafty 70's.
Keepers - they rock!

My very first applique project, also a relic of the 70's. If Wonder Under and stabilizers existed then I certainly wasn't aware of them!

Hand embroidered linens given to me by one of my mom's many super crafty friends.

Not pictured: My perfect pleater! (WHY did I buy that?) , sketches and stitch samples I made while designing And They Danced ... , the handouts from an applique class I taught in League City, TX back in about 1990, and *lots* of odds and ends of fusible interfacing. Absence did not make my heart grow fonder for most of the items, making it much easier to just get rid of them.

My big question - what suggestions do you guys have for dealing with fabric you know you'll never use? Some of it I"m willing to give away, there's a senior center nearby and of course elementary schools who might be able to use some, but there's plenty more than that. Is ebay the way to go? There's quite a bit that's high quality, like Hoffman fabrics and various batiks. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Esther's Tote Tutorial

I've learned so much from other blogs and websites, I thought after two years of blogging I'd give back a little with a detailed tutorial. This is a quick, cute tote bag I've made as a gift for both little girls and ladies. I hope you enjoy using it, and let me know where I can check out a picture if you make one! I think you'll especially enjoy the method I used to miter the bottom and attach the lining to the outer bag.

I'm thrilled for you to make as many bags as you want for personal, noncommercial use, but please respect my copyright and don't distribute copies of the pattern or sell bags you've made from it. I'd also appreciate a link back to me if you use the pattern. Thanks!

2/16/08 Edited to add: Several readers have listed some great tips in the comments for alternate construction techniques and I encourage you to read them. I deliberately chose the methods demonstrated here to provide a very finished, professional interior of the bag, with the lining and outer bag attached so that the lining doesn't creep up when the bag is in use. I've never liked turning linings and bags right side out through small openings and then having to close the opening, so I chose the construction techniques shown here. The method of attaching the band and handles reinforces where the handles are attached for a sturdier finished product. However, if you make it - it's your bag! Take what works for you, have fun, and run with it! I look forward to seeing your creations.

10/22/11 Edited to Add: If you've made a bag from the pattern I'd *love* to see a picture. Thanks!
Esther’s Tote
©2008 Diane R. Doran

1 yard Shirtailor Interfacing
½ yard outer fabric
½ yard lining fabric
¼ yard fabric for band
1/4 yard fabric for handles
(Note: if you use heavy decorator weight fabric you can skip the interfacing.)
Cut Shirtailor in the following order:
2 - 3”x22” strips for handles (from one short end of the yard)
1 - 6”x30” strip for band
1 - 15”x30” rectangle for outer bag
Interface all fabric pieces except lining and bias. Tip: Apply interfacing to fabric, then cut out fabric pieces. (The band and handles won’t be completely interfaced.) The extra ½” on the band makes it easy to turn the raw edge up to finish that edge.
Cut Fabric as follows:
Outer bag – 15”x30”
Lining - 15”x30”
Band - 6½”x30” (leave ½” on a long side without interfacing)
Handles – 5”x22” (apply interfacing to center of fabric strip)
Fold handles in half lengthwise wrong sides together, iron folded edge. Open, then fold raw edges in to center. Fold together so that raw edges are enclosed. Press. Top stitch close to long edges.

Press up ½” on one long edge of band. Open out this pressed edge. Fold band into a rectangle 6.5”x15” right sides together. Sew along raw 6½” edge. Press seam open. Note: the seam allowance for the bag band, lining side seam, and outer bag side seam needs to be consistent, but you can make it whatever you want.
For both Outer fabric and Lining Fabric:
Fold in half right sides together to make a 15”x15” rectangle. Sew raw edge that is opposite the fold. Press seam flat, then open. Sew one other raw edge with right sides still together. Press. Cut a 2” square of fabric out of the corner where the two seams meet. Use it as a guide to cut a square out of the opposite corner. Tip: use the same guide square for both the outer bag and the lining. Be sure to cut from the seam line in.

Now for the fun part! You will now join the lining and outer bag, and miter the bottom corners of the bag at the same time. Open up bottom corner of outer bag, and bring bottom seam allowance up to meet the side seam allowance.
Pin. Do the same with the lining bottom. Pin the lining and outer bag together with the bottom seams together.
The lining and outer bag should be “bottom to bottom”. Both the lining and outer bag are still wrong sides out. Sew from one end of your pinned miter to the other.
Repeat this step with the other lining and outer bag corner.
The lining and outer bag are now attached at both bottom corners, still inside out. Pull the outer bag up over the lining so that the outer bag is right side out.

Baste upper edge. Center handles on front and back of bag with 4.5” space between handles and machine baste.
(I switched bags here to show better contrast between the bag and handles)
Place outer band over outer bag, right sides together, matching raw edges of unfolded edge to raw edges of bag and lining.
Stitch all layers together with a 3/8” seam. Press seam and band up towards top of bag.
Pull up outer band and bring down folded edge to interior to cover seam and all raw edges. If necessary trim raw edges.
Top stitch on outside of bag in the ditch, catching the folded edge of the band (inside the bag) in the seam to cover interior raw edges.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Fits and Starts, and Stops

Emily wrote a great post about January. I've been filled with ideas and plans too.

That tutorial I promised just needs one more proofread, and I'll try and post it next week.

In the meantime, I've been trying to get my basement sewing area straightened up so that when my new lighting is installed I'll have an actual sewing space of my own (as opposed to the living room). The lighting was supposed to be installed last Friday, but then there was snow and ice and a delay, and then it was supposed to be installed today, but I'm just not up to it. Tuesday evening I had an appendectomy (surprise!), so no furniture moving for me for a while. I think my appendicitis story is pretty much on par with everyone else's (except my friend Kim, who has an incredible story about rural Bolivia in the mid 70's and her appendectomy), so I won't share any gory details.

Lucky for me my amazing mom has swept in and kept the household running. So until next week I'm just planning on lying around and every once and a while doing some knitting. And on the bright side, "Under the Rainbow" did get into the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, so I'm looking forward to that.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Update on Paper Passion

In the comments on the last post Jeanie said

"I've got a Spellbinders Wizard (love the product & love the company) so I decided to try cutting plain fabric. I tried batik, "cheap" (i.e. low thread count) cotton, muslin & flannel. Everything I tried cut very cleanly. Not one thread was left hanging!"

I'm not surprised at this, as the Wizard is a more heavy duty die cut machine than the Cuttlebug. I want to emphasize that my results were just for the Cuttlebug, and I'm glad Jeanie mentioned her results as it might help someone else who could be looking for a die cut machine specifically to use with fabric. Thanks, Jeanie!

Paper Passion (to Die For)

It might not be obvious (ha!) but I tend to get intensely interested in some art or craft, learn as much about it as I can, then move on. Sometimes I feel guilty about these little obsessions, but I think that often I take away, sometimes subconsciously, ideas that surface later on in my quilts.

The "paper arts" - most notably stamping and decorating papers, is a case in point. For a number of years I tended to really get excited about them, usually in the autumn. An obvious result of this interest is the series of quilts I've made that include manipulated "paintings", including "Grotto" and "Under the Rainbow".

As Christmas approached this year I noticed a Joann's ad that include a "Cuttlebug". I had no idea what this was. Turns out it's a small die cutting machine, and it also embosses paper. I asked for one for Christmas, and low and behold got one. It accepts all major brands of dies, and is very easy to use. Caveat: it doesn't exert as much pressure as some of the "bigger" (and heavier) machines, but I thought it would be just fine for my little dalliances.

There's also a hot new die that's on the market called "nestabilities". Unlike traditional dies, they are a series of metal shapes (frames of shapes) that gradate in size, hence the nesting. I was immediately drawn to them, and purchased sets of circles and scalloped circles.

I played with the dies, cutting card stock, ruminating on how I might use the nested circles with fabric. The burning question: Would the nestabilities adequately cut fabric in my Cuttlebug? My husband's burning question: Would the Cuttlebug emboss fabric?

Here are my quick and dirty test results using some nestabilities circles and a Cuttlebug embossing folder:

As I expected, it cut the Lutradur very easily. The embossing looks much more impressive in this picture than in real life.

Painted Fabric

The painted fabric cut beautifully. (As you can see, it's pretty heavily painted.) This fabric probably embossed the best.

Hand Dyed Fabric

This fabric was not starched, and therefore very floppy. It did not cut very well. The embossing was quite minimal.

Wonder Under Backed Hand Dyed Fabric (paper removed from back)

I was most interested in this sample, as it would be great to cut circles for applique. It cut just fine, and the embossing was pretty good too.

I'd still like to try this test with silk paper (I couldn't find where I'd stashed mine), freezer paper backed fabric, and something like Timtex. In all honesty I didn't expect the fabric to emboss at all, and only did that test because my husband really wanted to know. My hypothesis is that if you get any of that embossing near high humidity or steam that it will disappear.

So there you have it! I can indeed cut fabric with my little machine, and I'd guess that the heavier die cut machines, like the Spellbinder's Wizard or Sizzix machines, would potentially work even on the plain fabric.

Happy cutting!

Friday, January 04, 2008

All Was Calm, All Was Bright

Our Tree

(If you look very closely on the right side, you'll see the fused glass magnetic puzzle that my sister made for our guys)

We had a lovely Christmas, and I hope you did too. I'd planned to post the above pictures late Christmas Eve, but still had some packing to do for our trip to Louisiana, so now they're here. Happy New Year! And thank you, Felicia, for your Christmas wishes.

In early December I was so busy patting myself on the back for not getting sick, and having healthy children, that of course that all had to change. Nothing serious, but enough to keep us hopping all month (including one child with an abscessed tooth on Dec. 21, and of course my little trip to the hospital for dehydration on New Year's Day courtesy not of over imbibing, but a lengthy stomach virus) and we're all fine (or nearly so) now.

I need to take some pictures of the knitting I've been doing (hint: we're bulking up), and in its stead we have the teacher totes I managed to crank out at the very last minute.

Here are two of the three that got finished.

In a pinch, they're reversible.

I'm working up a tutorial for the totes, so feel free to remind me about it if I don't get it up by late next week.

I've finally figured out that after a Fall full of birthdays, soccer, Halloween, and Thanksgiving that by December I'm running out of steam. Hopefully I'll remember this next year and plan accordingly. I really enjoy making things as Christmas gifts, and that takes more time and planning than I've been able to manage. One really great gift that I did make was a book of photographs of our family that I published using blurb. They provide free book editing software, you lay out the book and upload it, then it's published and bound for you.

Finally, congratulations to Jolene on the arrival of Baby Joe!