As promised…Placemats

Several weeks ago, our quilting bee made some placemats as a wedding gift for our favorite waitress at a local cafe.  Having no idea of her “colors”, etc., we choose a light center fabric, along with a couple coordinating border fabrics,  resulting in a fresh-springy table mat!

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Next came the pattern, which proved to be an easy selection…real easy!  Take a 14” square, fold in half on the diagonal…(see below) 

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Then fold in half again…

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And…fold in half one more time.

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Next lay a tape measure alongside the edge with a single fold (see below) and it should measure 7”.

 

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Now take the tape measure and lay along outside edge with multiple folds…mark 7” with a pin…

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Using a straightedge, lay it from the straight pin back down to the first corner….

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Now take your rotary cutter and cut off excess…making sure to cut off “raw” edges – not “folded” edges.

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Now taking one edge, unfold the fabric and you should have a octagon…

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Finally you’re ready to border the top..the first inner border can be any size you want, but I prefer a 1-1/2” cut WOF (width of fabric).   Lay right sides together and sew, using 1/4” seam allowance.  Trim off excess strip, cutting it even with next cut edge.  Sew strips to every other side.  After sewing on four strips, open seam and press toward border strips.  Next attach the remaining four strips to remaining four sides of the octagon.  Trim excess and press.

For outside border, repeat same steps as noted above.   Again, a 2-1/2” cut WOF is recommended.  After pressing , your top should resemble this:

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To finish table mat, use the pillowcase method.  Select a piece of backing fabric, slightly larger than top and place right sides together; then place a piece of batting, again slightly larger than top on bottom side of backing. Your stack should be in this order…table mat top, WRONG SIDE facing up, then backing, RIGHT SIDES together and finally batting.  Pin layers and stitch outside edges together, leaving one edge open for turning.   Turn and press, stitching open end closed.  Topstitch 1/4-1/2” from edge of outside border.  Your finished table mat should resemble this:

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These table mats are so quick and simple to make, I hope you’ll try making one or more….till next time – happy sewing. 

Empty Nesters…

The saga of the mother wren who built her nest under a slide of our motorhome has ended.  All five babies fledged and left us.   

On July 7, I snuck out early thinking I’d get one more picture of the babies…well I did!  At first, I thought there were only four babies left in the nest!  But if you’ll look right behind the one on the left, you’ll see a small sliver of white!  That’s the fifth baby hiding from me. 

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After telling hubby the good news, I went back out thinking I’d catch a couple still in the nest – no, they were all gone.  So I started looking and quickly found three of them hunkered down under my wheelbarrow behind the motorhome…

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Momma and babies hung around for a couple of days, entertaining us with their chirping…they spent their first couple of nights hunkered down in the large pine tree next to the driveway….  and then they were gone.

Now before you say, ”where’s your first trip going to be”?, don’t!  We now are babysitting our grand-dog; a 6-month old black lab!  While Mom, Dad and granddaughters are relaxing in Mexico, we’re entertaining Bella!  Yep, I do believe we’ve lost our ever loving minds!!!  She’s a sweet girl but oh so active.  Eight more days….till next time…..

Quilts from the past…

This past week the Austin American Statesman published an article on 400 years of African-American history told through quilts.  These quilts are now on display at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, Texas.  The display will run through August 30, 2015, but since most of you may not have the opportunity to see these quilts, I wanted to share this article with you.  What a fascinating look back into history and to have it charted through quilts is remarkable.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did…

 

“Artists weave storied past into fabric”, By Jeanne Claire van Ryzin (jvanryzin@statesman.com)

The stories are told in cloth. Creating a timeline of 400 years of African-American history, 69 story quilts by contemporary fiber artists now fill the main floor gallery at the Bullock Texas State History Museum.

A national traveling exhibit on view through Aug. 30, “And Still We Rise: Race, Culture and Visual Conversations” features the work of more than 50 members of the Women of Color Quilters Network.

Quilt artist and historian Carolyn L. Mazloomi initiated the project, inspired by the upcoming quadricentennial anniversary of the landing in 1619 of the first enslaved Africans in America.

“The ability of America to respond to the social challenges of today and the future depends on being able to educate citizens, young and old, about the complexity of our nation’s history,” Mazloomi writes of the show. “Quilting is an ideal medium by which to accomplish this lofty charge: It carries widespread appeal, goes hand in hand with comfort and healing and represents a renowned African-American art and cultural tradition.”

Arranged chronologically, the quilts mark historic events and also pay tribute to history-making African-Americans.

Breathtaking in their range of fiber art technique and material, the quilts offer exquisite examples of free-motion quilting, embroidery, needlepoint, appliqué, fiber collage and hand beading.

Fabrics go far beyond typical cotton pieces to include organza, leather, velveteen and traditionally-made African fabric. Deftly incorporated into the designs are a surprising range of materials including beads, buttons, shells, metallic thread, metal chain and vintage and found objects.

Transfers of newspaper clippings and photographs are printed on fabric. Some artists paint and draw on fabric.

Cynthia H. Catlin’s “The Beginning of Social Justice” features the text of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation magnificently stitched.

Marjorie Diggs Freeman works shackles of metal chains into her visual story of the 1839 slave revolt on the Spanish ship La Amistad.

Marion Coleman culled historic images from the Smithsonian to create photo transfers in her homage to Bessie Coleman, the first African-American to earn an international pilot’s license in 1921.

April Shipp’s quilt in honor of Harriet Beecher Stowe — author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” — features an elegant, tufted silk skirt that extrudes three-dimensionally.

Rich in their range of material, inventive in their visual storytelling, the quilts in “And Still We Rise” chart important history with vivid, original artistry.

 

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Peggie Hartwell’s work“ Lucy Terry Prince: The Griot’s Voice,” which is made from cotton fabric, cotton batting, cotton thread, nylon thread. In 1746, Lucy Terry, an enslaved person, becomes the earliest known African-American poet when she writes about the last Native American attack on her village of Deerfield, Massachusetts. Her poem would not be published until 1855. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS BY THE BULLOCK MUSEUM

 

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Julius J.Bremer’s“In Memory of Jesse” is cotton fabric and acrylic paint. In 1936 in Berlin, Germany, African-American track-and-field athlete, Jesse Owens, wins four gold medals in the summer Olympic Games, thwarting Adolf Hitler’s plan to use the games to demonstrate Aryan supremacy.

 

 

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Laura R. Gadson’s“  Mammy’s Golden Legacy” is cotton fabric, acrylic paint, buttons, beads, cotton batting. In 1940, Hattie McDaniel is the first African-American actor to be nominated for an Oscar, which she wins for Best Supporting Actress in “Gone with the Wind.” No other African-American actor will win until Sidney Poitier in 1958; the next African-American woman will be Whoopi Goldberg in 1991.

  

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Connie Horne’s“1968: President Lyndon Johnson Signs the Civil Rights Act” is made of cotton, fusible web, fabric paint and rhinestones. President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968 on April 11, prohibiting racial discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing.

 

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Barbara Ann McCraw’s “The Loving Quilt: Repeal of the Virginia Racial Integrity Law” is cotton fabric, 60-weight decorative threads, 80 percent cotton /20 percent polyester Hobbs batting and rhinestones. In 1967, Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, emerge victorious in the case Loving v.Virginia when the Supreme Court unanimously declares Virginia’s 1924 Racial Integrity Act unconstitutional.  The decision renders race-based marriage bans in the United States illegal.

 

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Marjorie Diggs Freeman’s“Amistad: A Supreme Court Decision”is commercial cotton fabric,African cotton fabric, cotton batting, cotton cord, grosgrain ribbon, photo transfer, shackles of metal chains and half-beads. In 1839, slaves being transported aboard the Spanish ship La Amistad revolt and sail to Long Island, New York.  Represented by John Quincy Adams, the sixth United States president, they will eventually win their freedom in the Supreme Court case United States v. The Amistad.

 

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Marion Coleman’s“Her Heart Was in the Clouds” is made of photo transfer, found objects, fiber collage, fusing, poetry, cotton fabric, polyester,wool and thread. In 1921,Bessie Coleman becomes not only the first African-American woman to earn an international aviation license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale but also the first African-American woman in the world to earn an aviation pilot’s license.

 

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Carolyn Crump’s “20 and Odd” is cotton fabric, felt batting, cotton thread, acrylic, dye, colored pencil, three-dimensional paint,wood, tulle and cotton cord. In 1619, a Dutch ship brings 20 African indentured servants to the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia.

 

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Dawn Williams Boyd’s “La Croix de Guerre” is assorted fabric, silk ribbon and found objects.  In 1918, the U.S.Army organizes two African-American divisions, the 92nd and 93rd.  General John J. Pershing gives to the 16th Division of the French Army the troops of the 93rd, including the Harlem Hellfighters.  The Harlem Hellfighters spend 191 days in combat.  The French government awards the entire regiment either the Croix de Guerre or the Legion of Merit for their courage and valor.  No African-American soldier will receive a World War I Congressional Medal of Honor.

As we quilters know, a lot of time, effort and skill went into the creation of these quilts – Hope you enjoyed this brief glance at African-American history.

Maternity Time…

Springtime always brings all sorts of new growth to our small piece of paradise and this year has been no different.  We’ve seen an abundance of baby rat snakes, rabbits, birds, frogs, etc.    The rabbits especially have always claimed the area under my hubby’s workshop as their home, along with an occasional rat snake.  While I’m not a fan of snakes, I’ve come to appreciate the rat snake as they love to eat mice, rats, and other snakes, especially rattlesnakes.  Keeping that in mind, one momma must have had more than one brood of babies this spring under the shop, and we’ve found over 20 dead babies, all about 12” long, in the back yard.  It wasn’t until yesterday while picking another dead one up, that I realized our mockingbird friends may be the guilty culprits as this snake, along with the others, had a hole in their tail about an inch from the end.  Just the right place a bird would think to grab a snake, or so I think.

Enough about snakes….let me tell you about our maternity ward!  In late March or early April, while working in the garden, I noticed some twigs sticking out of the bottom of the plastic owl I have in the garden.   Looking closer I noticed the nest was empty…I should have taken it down right then but decided I’d leave it.

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Skip forward to early June.  While working in the garden I kept hearing this chirping sound.  Upon investigating further, there were 3 little heads moving about in the bottom of this owl.  Immediately I became concerned as temps were warming up considerably and the owl body being plastic, was rather warm.  The next morning I went out to check on the babies, and much to my surprise, the nest was empty.  A bit later I heard a mother bird just scolding me big time.  After looking around a bit, I found the 3 babies on the other side of the motorhome – they apparently had left the nest early that morning.!

Great news I thought – little did I know what lie ahead of me.  While walking past the motorhome I noticed something sticking out from under one of the slides….yep, another bird nest!  So I paused and looked in…one little white speckled egg.  Hmm…ok..no big thing……wrong! 

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For the next 4 days, momma Wren would lay another egg until she had a total of five eggs (as of June 6, 2015).

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Then the wait began…when would the eggs hatch…every day I’d check and momma would be still be sitting on the nest.  Finally on June 24th we got our first look at the babies…

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Then June 27th…

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Then this is today’s picture (July 1st)…

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Cute little things aren’t they!  Look at all those feathers……maybe, just maybe, in another week these five little babies will fly the coop and then….we can use our motorhome! 
So that’s about all the exciting news from our place….happy weekend.

Color, Color, Color….

Have you ever walked into a fabric shop, knowing exactly what you wanted, only to leave with something entirely different???  I know I have and frustrating as it might be, there’s a reason behind the insanity…..it appears to be our mood!  What a relief as here all along I was thinking I just got overly excited seeing other fabrics and lost my train of thought!!  Nope, it seems it just might have been my mood. 

Psychologists have been saying for years that we need to choose colors that help us feel good (aka our mood), rather than following design trends.  The same holds true for choosing fabric; the fabric colors and designs we pick, may add energy to our mood or simply create a tranquil feeling within ourselves.  For instance:

– “soft blue” colors are soothing colors that can help lower stress levels, 

– “orange” is considered a shade that expands creativity and is energizing,

– “red” stimulates energy and our appetites (just what I need),

– “green” can evoke composure and tranquility,

– “purple” has long been related to royalty and can also help stimulate the creative side of the brain, and

– “yellow” stimulates conversation and makes our thoughts more focused.

Our choice of color can also be influenced by the change of the “season”; like spring brings about light pastel colors, summer brings warmer and deeper colors, fall comes along with those deep gorgeous rich mixtures of all the colors, and last, winter creates those soft, clean “bleak” colors.  

Recently I read an article about Roberta Horton, who was one of the pioneers of the quilt renaissance in California in the early 1970’s.  She said every piece of fabric has three characteristics that need to be considered: color, value, and pattern.  In her book, which is out of print, The Fabric Makes the Quilt, Roberta provides six tips on color that I want to share with you:

–  Every color is good,

– Colors don’t have to be used in equal amounts,

– Use colors together that mismatch so that they will read as individual pieces,

– Don’t worry about color schemes,

– Warm colors come toward you and cool colors recede,

– and finally, the greater the number of colors on a fabric, the busier it will be perceived.

While those tips are “sinking in”, I want to share some posts from a few of my very talented bloggy friends, that talk about fabric, color, value, etc.  You might want to take a few and check them out. 

  –  For quilting, check out Doreen at Treadlemusic.  Her magic fingers combined with her “Ms. Sweetie”, produces some amazing “free motion” machine quilting.  Her choice of design and thread brings every quilt that she touches to life!  In What’s Better than… post I think she used the perfect design.  Don’t forget – this is all FMQ!

  –  Now if you’re a designer or love to piece, Melanie at Catbird Quilt Studio loves to design medallion quilts that are simply colorful and stunning.  Of all the many blogs she’s written, Fairy Border 3 provides detailed information on color and value – a must read for anyone that quilts. 

  –  For those of you that love to weave, farm and quilt, TextileRanger at Deep in the Heart of Textiles, is fabulous at understanding color.  She collects plants to make her own dyes for wool dying before weaving.   This post talks about what type of plants make which colors.  Don’t forget to check out her quilts as they reflect color, color, color!

One final thought…remember to take time to browse the store and let the fabric speak to you, but most importantly…. know your mood before you shop!,

It’s Been Way Too Long…

Wow, has it really been two months since my last post?  Guess time got away from me and other “things” got in the way.  No worries, as during my “off” time I’ve been busy, oh yea!  So let me do a quick recap; first, in late April, my blog decided to go haywire for whatever reason, so that required a re-do.  I’m still stumbling through the re-do but it’s better than it was….what a mess. 

Next came gardening time – well at least I tried between showers.  During the month of May, Central Texas recorded it’s wettest month in many years; our lakes finally got filled and our aquifers were recharged. 

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(No, this isn’t our house but rather the game house on golf course by the creek).  Yes, there’s a road under all that water…

Even the poor spiders had a difficult time trapping their dinner in the rain…

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My quilting buddies and I made a set of eight placemats for a shower gift, which is how we all got started making placemats.  This southwest pattern was perfect for my neighbors new home in New Mexico (below) so I made them a set of four.

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While it continued to rain, I selected this fun fabric for our breakfast table:

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These placemats were oh so quick and easy to make…I’ll share the “how to” in a future blog. 

Finally, once the rain stopped, the weeds, birds and deer came!  Did I tell you the weeds came…ugh…I pulled, dug, sprayed and finally got the front flower beds cleaned out.  Considering the deer made mincemeat of my shrubs in the front, I found it necessary to dig them up, all 12 of them.  I know the neighbors thought I was crazy but it had to be done.  Between the chiropractor, tylenol, and hubby’s backrubs, I survived.  Maybe – just maybe I’ll tackle the westside flowerbeds…next week!  Till next time….

 

 

It’s Iris time ….

As a child, springtime was always a favorite of mine, as Mom’s tulips, daffodils and crocus’  would be popping their heads out of the ground.  What a beautiful sight it was to see all those gorgeous spring colors blended together.  Mom was always so proud of her spring flowers; the flowerbeds were just overflowing each spring with color.  I remember one specific time when the daffodils were in full bloom and we had a freak late snowstorm dropping a foot of heavy wet snow.  Mother hollered at us to help and ran outside to start cutting all the daffodil bloom stems.  We had vases filled to the brim with blooms throughout the house for days!  Much to our surprise, when we got up the next morning the snow was gone; those few blooms that were left behind in the flowerbeds, were just fine. 

Now here in Texas,  daffodils bloom but tulips will not come back and bloom year after year as they do up north, unless……you dig them up each fall and place the bulbs in the refrigerator.  Oh, we’ve tried several times and while the green leaves emerge, they simply will not re-bloom as our winter temperatures simply are not cold enough.  So, as I got older, that’s when I discovered Iris’; now they are my favorite spring flower.  In fact, I have a few that are re-bloomers, as they will bloom again in the fall!

So without further adieu, I give you my Texas Iris!  This was my first bloom…a single white bloom…

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This next one has become one of my favorites – it’s one of my re-bloomers…

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BTW…I’ve designed a pattern for an appliqued “Iris” wall hanging…but until it becomes a reality, these photos will just have to do.

 

And then there’s my red Easter Lilies…they were absolutely beautiful this year…

 

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Now just in case you haven’t seen our state wildflower, please let me introduce the Texas Bluebonnet…

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The Lord blessed us with some spring showers that helped these beautiful flowers blossom this year.  In fact, about 2-3 weeks ago, NBC nightly news featured our beautiful bluebonnets on a news segment.   Of course their pictures were just out of this world….That’s about it from the garden section this time.  Till next time……