NOT All Talk and No Action

Darling Boy and I drew together last night and I started the visual journaling I have been wanting to try. I didn’t do any writing, which I think I should. I found a picture of a fabric flower (fusing probably) in a catalog and have had it pinned to my design wall for ages. I thought of creating an applique’, but never did. The first step to an applique’ is a drawing, so I did some drawings using different media last night.

Felt tips pens.

Colored pencils and chalk pencils.

The drawings didn’t come out the way I expected, but I am not disappointed with the results. I still have the CPS article in my mind and my drawings look very different. If I am going to do much of this, I will have to stop comparing my drawings to anyone else’s and become comfortable with my own style.

Thinking Blogger Award

Kristen awarded me the Thinking blogger Award. While it has taken me awhile to post this on my blog and write about it, I was really glad. I don’t think I have ever really shared my writing in any meaningful way beyond letters to friends, essays at school and my thesis. Receiving Kristen’s Thinking Blogger Award made me feel like I had achieved something.

I started this blog, because:

  1. I needed to jumpstart my quiltmaking work after a long drought of time and ideas. I figured if I had an audience of regular readers, it would help me to keep at sewing and writing.
  2. It was a regular opportunity to write for a reason: I was gearing to up to write something longer and needed to “train.”
  3. I wanted to share what I was doing, including pictures, so that I could get feedback without joining a quilt group.
  4. I wanted to chronicle my progress.
  5. I wanted to explore one subject thoroughly.
  6. I like the concept of social networking and the technologies associated with it.
  7. I wanted to show that an ordinary person could also do extraordinary things sometimes.

I did not start this blog to:

  1. Blather on about my personal problems
  2. To talk about the entire universe of ideas and information.

Part of the Award is to make note of other blogs that inspire me or make me think. Here they are in no particular order:

  1. Yarnstorm creates a beautiful blog. The design of the blog itself is a work of art. Then I get the joy of looking at her photos and her projects and her color sense. It is fresh and well written. Her photographs celebrate the ordinary [work of women]. I especially like this post.
  2. Jan at Be*mused has a wonderful sense of design. Her photographs are little works of art. They really exemplify her sense of color. Her title looks like the Bewitched logo from a zillion years ago. An example of her fabulous color sense is in this post. I also like the photos she posts about projects that inspire her, which she follows up with examples of her interpretation.
  3. Red Shoe Rambling. I admire Deb’s perseverance in posting every day; she committed to doing it and she does it. She also has gorgeous photos. They are really different from Be*mused and Yarnstorm. I love the ones she posts of nature. I also appreciate her bravery in posting photos of when she was a kid!
  4. I really like Laume’s Studio, because she describes her projects and thoughts about them. Again, she posts wonderful photos. Laume looks at the world the way I do. She posts pictures of patterns that she sees in her daily life, such as this post about the photo of fence.
  5. I supposed I could have chosen more than 5, but in sticking with the rules, I decided to only choose 5. It was difficult, because there are a lot of bloggers I admire: Deirdre (love the tabs on her blog and she always reads my blog. Also, she is a master painter), High Fiber Content (Julie is fearless in trying new things. Her blog is also a great chronicle of all the various projects in her life), Fibermania (Melody Johnson is so consistent and cheerful in her posting), I chose Pamdora’s Box, because of her drawings and her sense of humor.

You can read Kristen’s post about my blog is here. You can find out about the Thinking Blogger Award in general here.

CPS Writes Tips for Creative Sketchbooks

This is the e-mail newsletter that Cloth Paper Scissors sends out. I am including it here to give you another resource for creative sketchbooks and journals. If you want more information go to the Cloth Paper Scissors website.

In This Issue
Sketchbook Tips
The Buzz on “QATV”
Pre-Order Quilting Arts Gifts

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Fiber & Mixed-media Trends from Cloth Paper Scissors Issue 47

In this issue of Cloth Paper Scissors Embellishments, you’ll learn tips for keeping a sketchbook, news about “QATV”, and the latest on Quilting Arts Gifts.

Tips for Keeping Sketchbooks


In the most recent issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, Jean Littlejohn shared her process for making sketchbooks from recycled, otherwise unwanted books. Here are some tips for starting your own creative sketchbook:

  1. There are no rules. Your sketchbook can be formal or informal, a pastiche of ideas or a whole work based on a theme.
  2. Prepare your pages ahead of time. Start with a recycled book like Jean, put a color wash on white pages, or doodle in the borders. Anything to get over being intimidated by a blank page.
  3. Carry your sketchbook with you. You never know when inspiration will strike.
  4. Include a glue stick, a permanent marker, and watercolor pencils with your sketchbook, as well.
  5. Record the mundane as well as the profound. Beauty is often found in the simple moments of life.

The following books can also help you create your own special sketchbook:

Do You Hear the Buzz?


Many of your favorite fiber artists joined Patricia Bolton last week to shoot episodes of the upcoming “Quilting Arts TV” show that taped in Cleveland. The Internet was buzzing as Lesley Riley, Frances Holliday Alford, Judy Coates Perez, Pam Rubert, and others blogged about their experiences. Patricia also taped segments with other talented artists you’ve seen in Quilting Arts Magazine, including Natalya Aikens, Laura Cater Woods, Jane Dunnewold (pictured here, with Patricia), Robbi Joy Eklow, Wendy Richardson, Susan “Lucky” Shie, Tracy and Allison Stillwell, Shelly Stokes, Beryl Taylor, Mary Ann Tipple, and Elin Waterston, plus many other creative people from the quilting world.

To read Patricia’s take and see more photos, visit the Editor’s Blog.

Don’t Miss Quilting Arts Gifts

bookOur special Gifts issue has gone to press, and it’s a winner, loaded with projects, patterns, and a list of the latest must-have gadgets that you’ll enjoy for the holidays and beyond.

You still have time to pre-order and take advantage of the special pre-order discount. Quilting Arts Gifts is available by pre-order and on select newsstands only.

For more events, projects, challenges, and new and exciting mixed-media products and books, visit our website, If you are a current subscriber of Cloth PaperScissors® Magazine, or if you place a subscription/renewal order with an order, you will receive 10% off our retail prices on all your purchases (excluding subscription orders and renewals).


Cate Coulacos Prato

Features Editor, Cloth Paper Scissors


I am still thinking about creative journals/sketchbooks. The Darling Child draws or plays his clarinet each evening before he starts playing his hand-held devices. It is much easier to create a new habit with someone else, so I have decided to draw at the same time he does each evening. Even if it is just 5 minutes, it is a start. There are lots of ideas for drawing/visual ideas swirling around in my mind, so I have to make a start. We’ll see how it workss.

Hiatus Progress

I decided that this brief interlude while the 9K is in the shop can be considered a Pineapple hiatus. I don’t want to take the blocks off the wall and put them away, because then it will be a year before I get back to it, so having a small break where I can work on different projects will be rejuvenating for my work on the Pineapple.

Although I spent most of the day working yesterday, I did have time to make the baby blankets. I get a yard of flannel and hem the edges. On the 9K, I have a variety of decorative stitches and letters that I can use to make words. Between flannel baby blankets and gift bags I have tried nearly all of the stitches on my machine and found which ones I like for which type of project. Usually on baby blankets, I use the star pattern. I also use the letters to make words which say “For Baby Last Name” and “Made by My Name.”

However, with the 9K at the doctor, all of that is out the window. In using the Jem, I don’t have very many options in the decorative stitch department and I have no options for words. I made due and used the zigzag and whizzed through all 6 blankets. I still need to wrap, get cards and send. I don’t know if I will make bags for them, but we will see. It is a good way to spread the word about gift bags.

Above are the fabrics that I used. The two left hand fabrics will go to the baby due in October (person I want to impress), the two purple fabrics will go to the baby due in December (colleague/fellow librarian/friend), The two right hand fabrics will go to the second baby due in October (colleague/fellow librarian/friend).

So, #1 on the list is complete.

  • 6 baby blankets: two colleagues and one person I want to impress are having babies: 2 each
  • Binding for Sharon’s quilt.
  • Binding for Serendipity Puzzle.
  • Gift bags: I have lots of fabric for bags, and Christmas is coming.
  • Cut out fabric for test blocks. I am going to start looking at new machines soon and I want to have some piecing in my own fabrics, which I can use to test the machines.
  • Wash and press new fabric.
  • Replenish Pineapple strips.

I was also able to work on pressing some fabrics that have already been washed and cuttings strips for the Pineapple, but I am in no way near done with that and I doubt I will even be able to make a dent.

Making Lemonade

When you have lemons, make lemonade.
As you know, the machine is gone and I can’t work on the Pineapples (Well, I suppose I could, but I want to be sure all of the problems are consistent by using the same machine). I have a Janome Jem, which I have only used a handful of times, so I have formulated a list of other things I can work on while giving the Jem a little workout. Here it is:

  • 6 baby blankets: three friends/colleagues are having babies-2 each
  • Binding for Sharon’s quilt.
  • Binding for Serendipity Puzzle.
  • Gift bags: I have lots of fabric for bags, and Christmas is coming.
  • Cut out fabric for test blocks. I am going to start looking at new machines soon and I want to have some piecing in my own fabrics, which I can use to test the machines.
  • Wash and press new fabric.
  • Replenish Pineapple strips.

I also have a lot of hand work, which I can now work on since the thimble came back from vacation:

  • Pamela’s self portrait from June 2006
  • Pamela’s garden from June 2006
  • Pamela’s house and garden from May 2007
  • Kissy Fish

So now I am going to get off my duff (computer) and start some of these projects.

One good thing about the machine being gone is that I could get a good picture of the Pineapple blocks.

Oh Joyous Day!!

I had a lot to do today, as is par for the course, I guess. I needed to be out of the house early, because I had an appointment and wanted to stop by my designer as well as take my machine in for a service before the appointment. (Just to cut the drama, I accomplished it all!).

I was feeling quite sad as I packed up my machine, knowing that it would be at least a week before I would be able to work on the Pineapples again AND that now I had to spend valuable time going in search of a thimble. The thought of no fiberwork was too upsetting to even contemplate, but the machine really needed the service. My dealer went out of business and the subsequent dealer who serviced my machine was subpar IMO, so I hadn’t taken it in for service in a long time.

I sucked he drame, uncertainty and all of my worries up and took the poor machine in. Then I went about my business of the day. Eventually I made it home and went up to the workroom. The first thing I saw, sitting smugly in the middle of the floor looking like it had just returned from an illicit rendezvous, was the thimble. I was elated! And puzzled. The floor of the workroom was somewhere that I searched and, unless I am going selectively blind, the thimble wasn’t there.

Regardless, I am thrilled. I can make progress while the machine is gone and I don’t have to go and try to replace the thimble. I will definitely buy a second thimble the next time I am at a quilt shop or show that has them.

Sad Day

Today I lost my thimble. It was in my little handwork bag, I think, when I worked on the Cross Blocks (Flowering Snowballs) on Tuesday. Now it is not there. I loved that thimble and used it constantly for handwork. I can’t do handwork without it. It was a small silver thimble in a very classic style that my mother gave me some years ago. I supposed I have to go and seek out a new one, but it won’t be the same. I am really sad.

Making Cross Blocks (Flowering Snowballs) Tutorial

Judith asked about making the Flowering Snowball blocks, so here is a visual tutorial. Please note that this is the “Jaye-Way” and may not get you an prizes at Houston.

I would suggest that you read the book by Jinny Beyer on handpiecing, as she has a lot of good tips, though she doesn’t recommend using a felt tip. You can use a mechanical pencil to mark, if you want.

I am using templates and handpiecing them. I use a black or red Pilot (formerly SCUF) ultrafine point felt tip pen to mark around the templates. I use grey Aurifil thread and a thimble. Sometimes I put wax on the thread to keep it from tangling. Use whatever needles you like. I use betweens for piecing.

Practice with the felt tip on fabric. You want a thin line with no blobs at the end. I usually run over the end of the template a little and start lessening pressure on the tip right at the end of the template. If you leave it in one place too long, you get a blob. Blobs are bad for precise handpiecing and they look ugly, too.

Trace around the templates on a hard surface. In this case, I am using the book as hard surface. Trace on the back/wrong side of the fabric.

That tiny print says to flip the template 180 in order to get the most pieces out of your fabric. I was cutting 4 pieces from each fabric, but found that to be too many. I will use the ones I have, but am now only cutting one or two. I am trying to keep this quilt to a reasonable size (HA!) and to have as much variety in the fabrics as possible. If I like the fabric, I can always go back and cut more of it, right?

I trim around the templates by eye. I don’t measure the seam allowance. I try to keep it to arounda quarter of an inch and not to get too close.

Detail of trimming.

Here are the pieces cut out.

Here is the pinning. First, I pin right in the corner just inside the drawn line. I poke it through the foreground (colored) fabric first.
This is the back of the pinning. Same deal goes here. I come up through the back. Get the pin right in the corner where the drawn lines intersect and just inside. Remember you have drawn around the template, so the drawn line is a little larger than the template. This is why I try to pin AND sew just inside the drawn line.

Here (above), the pinning is done. Note that I put two pins close together at the beginning, but I take the first one out right when I am ready to sew, so I can start. The second one holds the pieces together while I get started. I try to make small, even stitches that are evenly spaced. Remember to look at the back as you sew so that you are poking through the back right inside the drawn line.

It is ok that the piece is wrinkly, because you want to match up two curves that are going in opposite directions. Use the bias to make them match.

How the Pieces Go Together

My whole philosophy, which I am pretty sure is a general quiltmaking philosophy, is to go from smaller to larger. This means to build the blocks by making the smallest patches into larger units and then putting the larger units together to make a whole block.

First, take one corner piece and one background piece and sew them together. Sew/pin with right sides together. Curves require, at least for me, a lot of pinning. For pinning, start at each corner and put pins in by lining up the corners of each piece with each other.

When you sew the corner and background together you will have a unit that looks like the above unit. You can see how the felt tip lines show through, which is another reason to sew just inside the drawn lines. They won’t show on the front of the quilt if you keep them in the seam allowance.

Seeing the felt tips lines here also allows you to see how they line up, if you do the piecing correctly.

Add another background unit. Note: I am trying to use all different fabrics in each position in the block, but you don’t have to do that.

Now you have quite a large unit. You will need two of these units per block.

Sew the center patch to one of the corner (foreground) units.

Here is how he unit looks once the middle patch is attached to a corner.

Sew a second corner to the center patch.

With this unit complete, you are ready to attach the side unit to the center.

So, just do it. Attach a side unit to the center.

Once you add that unit to the middle piece you are nearly there. The above piecing is the hardest part (but not like you are taking the SATs without a prep course), because the seam is long and the middle section is quite floopy. It also takes a LOT of pins. Make sure you sew through where the seams match several times to keep it strong and make sure the seams line up. I care about that stuff, but you don’t have to match your seams.

I don’t always press the patches after I sew them, because I am sitting on the couch watching TV while I sew (why do you think I have a hand project?) and am too lazy to trudge upstairs to press. It makes the piecing a lot nicer if you press as you go.

Add the last unit and you are done!

Completed square. I usually trim the block after I am done with the hand piecing. Make sure you don’t cut over any of your seam lines, because your piecing will unravel if you do. This is not machine piecing.

New Inspiration

The seasons are changing here. I think we are past late summer and entering early Fall. The clouds are changing and the air feels different. Work got me a new device, which has a camera. It is not as good a camera as my regular one, but for quick shots while I am out and about, it is fantastic! I would often want to take a quick pic and not have my camera with me. Now I have something with which to record things as I wander through the City.

Morning. Thursday. Looking East.

Afternoon/Early Evening. Thursday. Looking West.

Afternoon/Early Evening. Thursday. Looking West.

Coffee Art. My barista does great coffee art. I have long admired it. Finally, I have a way to record it.

Go and Make Stuff!

Project Progress

I now have 15 Cross Blocks (Flowering Snowball). I could have laid them out in a 3×5 grid, but it didn’t look that good.
MavMomMary and I took the Pineapple Quilt Class together back in January. She is already putting her quilt together. I haven’t seen it since she had only done a few blocks and was thrilled to see it today. I think it looks fantastic. And very different from mine.

And a detail.

New Fabrics. Again.

I couldn’t manage to finish entire blocks over the weekend (remember? I was staring at the screen all day Sunday hoping a blog post would magically appear?). I did get part way through these, though, and it will be a good start for next weekend.

Lamenting my lack of background dots, I was pleased to find that eQuilter had these dots on her site. When I wanted to get Quilter’s Home badly enough, I bought them to make the shipping worthwhile. Unfortunately, QH was not included in my order! What a disappointment! Not sure if it was a shipping error or user error eQuilter is very good and I have never had a problem, so I am betting user error, but I will check in with them. Regardless, I need to find a copy somewhere as I understand there is a SUBSCRIPTION now available YAY!

St. JCN received her fabric, so I can tell you all about Superbuzzy! It is an online fabric ‘store’ (DUH! What else would it be???) that carries Japanese fabrics. St. JCN and I were drooling over the red in basket blocks Jan showed in one of her posts on Be*Mused blog. I left a comment and Jan was kind enough to e-mail me about Superbuzzy. I had never heard of it, but I went there and found that they have cool fabric! It is mostly, if not all, Japanese fabric, yet not all quilting fabric (buyer beware). I managed to find, as you can see, some wonderful dots. I got pieces of the bottom three for St. JCN as well as I knew she was having a tough week and could use a pick me up. One of the reasons that I like the site is that, although it has a small footprint, you can see everything on the screen you are on: your cart, the search box and items. Much less clicking. Check out Superbuzzy!

Thr3fold Journal Articles Review Part 4

The last part of the journal is what I would call the how-to section. I can accept this section as it does not tell me how to do a certain project. I don’t want to do someone else’s project. I want to learn how they achieved a certain look and then use it to make my own project. Thr3fold has respect for their readers; thank yo for not treating me like a moron!

There are five parts to this section:

  1. One Hit Wonders: Monoprinting, pg.30-33
  2. Shadow Play, pg. 34-37
  3. Working on the Edge, pg.38-41
  4. Drawn to Pen and Ink, pg.42-45
  5. Dyeing for Color, pg.46-51

And the journal ends up with the The Last Word, pg.52.

I began reading the One Hit Wonders: Monoprinting, pg.30-33 article and my eyes started to glaze over. I put Thr3fold down and went and did something else for awhile. When I came back to it, I was in a better frame of mind and really became intrigued by the process, because the article shows you how to get words onto your quilt in your own handwriting!

The article tells you very clearly what a monoprint is and the different ways that it can be used in fiber arts. I also liked the way, once the basics were taken care of, that they suggested variations on the theme.

Just a note about supplies: I think they forgot to mention the brayer in the supply list.

Shadow Play, pg. 34-37 has absolutely gorgeous pictures associated with the article. Shadow applique’ is the technique they teach in this article, which is a combination of digital printing and applique’. Linda starts the article by saying that this technique is a way of building up layers in a quilt. You can clearly see in the examples, the layering of fabric, embroidery stitches, embellishments and quilting to achieve a rich look.

One section talks about digital printing in fairly specific detail. Once that hurdle is crossed, Linda moves on to designing the piece and discusses auditioning fabrics as well as rummaging through her scrapbasket.

The final piece is gorgeous. I love the quilting pattern and have seen it enough in this journal to attempt it next time I have a small piece to quilt.

While I can’t imagine ever having enough time to work on the binding in a way that would make the Thr3fold girls proud, I love the ideas espoused in Working on the Edge, pg.38-41. The article discusses embellishing your binding. They touch ever so briefly on attaching the binding (no step by step details – HOORAY!), but spend most of the article on choosing the right color for the binding and embellishing it. These are seriously creative women. I would never have thought of continuing a line of beading out into the binding, but it makes perfect sense. A few beads and a little blanket stitching would add some interest that might take judges’ eyes away from less that stellar sections of the binding. The article discusses it all. It is really a catalog of ways to dress up your binding.

Drawn to Pen and Ink, pg.42-45 really stuck in my mind because of one of the photographs. They use a maple leaf as an example of drawing with pen and ink on your fabric (or paper). The photo that got me thinking was the one where they had traced around the leaf on a light table and cut it out of white paper or cardstock. Since leaves can be fragile, this is an excellent way to use the leaf over and over to try new ways of embellishing it. It also mitigates the whining of “I can’t draw that!”

The article talks about implements and makes me want to try one of those Koh-i-noor pens. They look carefully at the actual leaf to find areas that need to be a little darker. They also use the leaf to find the veins. I think that this idea combined with the idea of tracing over designs to get the major lines that we discussed in the Liz Berg class in January of 2006. BTW, Liz Berg discusses keeping a sketchbook as well. I really need to get to an art store!

As I may have mentioned, dyeing fabric is not my thing, but the Dyeing for Color, pg.46-51 article has such gorgeous illustrations and pictures of the gorgeous fabric they produce that it makes me want to take up a new hobby. They discuss the various ways you can dye and what to do when you are just starting out. All of the supplies and safety requirements are touched on. The authors also point out what dyeing you can do when you don’t have a dye studio. The article discusses the various products and different types of dyes. I also liked the sections on how to achieve different results, e.g. bag dyeing and layered dyeing.

Finally, the Last Word got me excited about the next issue by telling me what to look for (more challenges with slight variations on the theme, which made me think about a house quilt) and what they believe about their work.

My overall take: the photos in this journal alone are worth the price of admission.

Yes, I’ll look at the CD and review that as well…later.

Thoughts on Visual Journals

I stared at the screen all day yesterday and was amazed when no new posts materialized.

Today Deirdre got me thinking with her post mentioning a new box of crayons. This dovetailed with me finding two sets of felt tip markers that I have had for years (yes, they still work). No longer my implement of choice, they have been languishing.

I am still thinking about visual journals so Deirdre’s post made me think of the “visual work” I did when I was a kid. Doodleart were black and white posters you bought in a tube and then colored with felt tips. I loved Doodleart posters and am amazed that they are still in business! I see the aquarium and think I did that one way back when.

I was also thinking about coloring books. I used to go to TG&Y on my bike and buy coloring books and paper doll punch out books. I think coloring books may have been the original visual journals for me.

This Disneyland coloring book is copyright 1975 by Walt Disney Productions. It is called a Whitman Book, Western Publishing Company, Inc., Racine, Wisconsin. There is a history of this company online.

I really thought a lot about color when I was coloring. Notice how Minnie’s shoes carefully match her dress?

It should come as no surprise that I was extremely neat in my coloring. I also DID NOT share. I didn’t want anyone messing up my work of art. 😉

Still no movement on actually creating a modern visual journal, but it is still rolling around in my head. I think I need to find a good art store.