Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yankees in the South

Bill and I are northerners by birth who have chosen to live in the south because of its moderate temperatures and warm people. At this point, I have lived in the South for a total of 12 years and Bill, 8 years. I was Bill's translator for our first year of southern living when we made friends with Ann and Greg, our Mississippi friends, among others. Over the years some of our southern-born friends have given us books on "speaking southern". Today has been one of those beautiful blue-sky days in which we have thoroughly enjoyed living in Georgia.

We took a drive through horse and farm country today to visit Washington, GA. It's a charming town with a beautiful downtown square, and as we discovered, some history.

Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, carried out his last business as President in Washington, GA before the South surrendered at Appomattox.

Not far from Washington was the Watson Mill Covered Bridge which is still used as a one-lane bridge.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Over-dye Success

This week I'm preparing for a ten-day trip to Germany by laying out a circle quilt which I'll be able to hand-sew while traveling.
As usual, I thought I had all the fabrics I needed for this black, blue and brown quilt in my fabric stash, but there just wasn't enough variety of color or movement. To amend the situation I decided to overdye some fabrics that were the wrong color but had the qualities I needed.

First, I chose the fabrics...

I wanted to be able to monitor the color changes following dyeing, so I recycled a used Tyvec bag (this one was a post office Priority mail bag) by cutting it into small pieces. The Tyvec will not dye, can be written on, and will not fall apart in the washing machine following the dye process (learned this trick in a Colleen Wise workshop). I numbered each piece so that I could match the "before and after" fabrics. Also, the fabrics were placed in two piles: one for deep blue dye and one for black dye.

Here are some of the results...

Now I have plenty of fabric choices for this quilt and will start cutting today!

Mid-arm Machine

Bill had to get a photo of me on the new mid-arm machine. Practice, practice, practice! I'm already feeling more confident in my curves.

I have one observation about machine quilting...moving the fabric in one particular direction while machine quilting is like writing with my left hand. I'm right-handed but I'm somewhat ambidestrous because my right wrist is fused (it has no bending motion) learning to machine quilt well has everything to do with using another part of our brains to "write" with thread using the left side as well as the right. Humm.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quilts of Valor at the Houston Int'l Quilt Festival

I can't afford to go to the Houston International Quilt Festival (, the mother ship for all quilters on Earth) at the end of this month, but I'll be sending two quilts to the Quilts of Valor Foundation booth ( This quilt, which you saw in the previous blog entry, will hang in the QOVF booth...
This string-pieced quilt, which was made as a Quilt of Valor to be given to a war-wounded soldier, will be given away to such a soldier from the QOV booth in Houston, I hope. In this photo, it hung in the Asheville (NC) Quilt Show in August. I wanted to spread the word about the Quilts of Valor Foundation, but there was no room for a booth at the show. Instead, I made this quilt and called it "Purple Heart Quilt of Valor" to hang in the show.
If you're going to the show, stop in for a visit.

Georgia Quilt Show Entries

This past weekend I had two quilts in the Georgia Quilt Show in Duluth, GA. Each of my quilts won an Honorable Mention ribbon, which was quite exciting. This quilt has been on my blog before. It's a photo of my son in Afghanistan which I built a quilt around. Below that is the back of the quilt. It's hard to tell how much quilting is on the piece until it's turned over to the back.
The little brown quilt, based on one made by Agnes Adkison, is called "Recycle Your Coins" because I used tiny pieces of scrap fabric to make it. It is a miniature at 10" x 11"and was the other quilt in the GQ Show. I made that tiny pillowcase for transporting the miniature.

Mid-arm Machine

The first-ever Georgia Quilt Show was held this past weekend at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, which is on the east side of Atlanta outside the I285 loop. There were classes, vendors, free short presentations with quiltmaking topics on the stage, fabulous give-aways, and a fine quilt show!

The show was put on by The Original Sewing and Quilt Expo folks who have an annual Expo here each Spring. I haven't been to that one yet, but look forward to it following this wonderful show.

I made one large purchase at this show: a Brother mid-arm machine! It's a regular brother workhorse machine which has been extended to give an 18" arm. Like all long-arm and mid-arm machines, it is only capable of free-motion stitching, which is all I need it for anyway.

It is a table-top model with no frame, which is my preference because I spray baste my quilts. Long-arm machines are wonderful, especially if you machine quilt for a living, but I absolutely do not have the space for a 10' - 14' frame in this house, and prefer not to spend a lot of time pinning quilts to the frame. If you are looking for a mid-arm machine that's affordable, and you don't mind the table-top model, this is a good one.

This machine has a wonderful, smooth sound to it (even my husband commented on that) and plenty of power and speed when I need it. I decided not to get the stitch regulator because after about a month of practicing most people don't need one anyway. FYI, the bobbin on this machine is the regular size bobbin, not the extra large type.

The base machine is the Nouvelle 1500s from Brother. If you'd like more information you can contact Mel at Southeast Sewing Products (they're an industrial sewing products company) in Atlanta. Their website is and their e-mail address is

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fabric Dyeing Day, Re-use and Re-purpose for Fall

My recycling idea...this week I had a fabric dyeing day (before a day-and-a-half of flu). I decided to dye some of the natural fiber clothes I have to prepare them for fall and winter. Several of the tops turned out very well, and some will need to be over-dyed because they didn't take the dye well.
I like the way these two turned out...

They both had been white cotton which had faded to not-quite-white. The original color was off, but the fabric was in very good shape...perfect for dyeing for a new season.

One problem with dyeing white cotton garments is that sometimes the white top-stitching is not done well and it's stitched with a polyester thread which will not dye. In that case, stitching over it with a matching rayon or cotton design works fine. That's happened a couple of times for me before, but the blue top below actually had some nice top stitching and looks fine dyed. I like the mottled look, but if I want a solid look to my color I manipulate the piece more in the dye to give an even tone.

Here's another wardrobe boosting idea...some of my favorite black cotton tops for winter fade fairly quickly, but return to a deep, beautiful black with dyeing.

Circle Quilt

I decided to lay out some fabrics on the design wall today for my next little project: a circle quilt sample for a class I'm teaching in January. This circle quilt will have one fabric for the circles (the butterfly fabric) and many colors for the background. The circle fabric is a good one because of the variety of value, density, color value, etc. It's hard to tell true colors from the photos, but they range from light blue-green and lime to dark blue-green with one brown fabric.

Circle Play: Simple Designs for Fabulous Fabrics by Reynola Pakusich is the best of circle quilt books, by far.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Art Quilt Ideas

Art quilt ideas can be found in the most unexpected places...

There is a beautiful rest area on I-85 in South Carolina where I have often taken photos and have mentally made plans for a quilt using them. The rest area is on a hill which overlooks a lovely lake. The view is shaded by tall pines, the likes of which I've only seen in the south. It's a pleasure to stop there when I have a guest traveling with me and to see their reaction to the peaceful setting.
This rest area is located on the northbound side of I-85 (about 105 miles north of Atlanta). It is the first rest area in South Carolina after passing the "Welcome Center" rest area. Stop in for a little peace of mind and some art inspiration.

Fiber Arts Alliance, Asheville, NC

While I was in Asheville with my friend enjoying the Fiber Arts Alliance meeting, my husband was hard at work in the yard with his buddy. They were digging holes, planting things, ...and cutting the telephone line. ha ha He spliced it for a temporary fix while waiting for the phone company to fix it, but today it's raining and the phone line is already nearly out. I'm rushing to get this online before the computer connection goes too!

Patsy Thompson, a member of the FAA, gave a wonderful program on machine quilting yesterday. Patsy has wonderful DVD's that show you how to machine quilt without pulling out your hair. I can't explain why, but my confidence level with machine quilting went way up after watching her first DVD. On her website,, she offers sneak peaks at her new DVD's, free downloads of ALL of her quilt designs on the DVD's, wonderful tutorials and more!

She also offers other wonderful tips; in her first DVD, she shows you how to successfully spray baste a quilt. The second DVD has wonderful directions from her husband on how to make a Plexiglass extension table for your sewing machine at a fraction of the cost.

Thanks, Patsy!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My Birthday was earlier this week and this was a Birthday gift from my son Bryan... the badges that he wore on his uniform in Afghanistan. The ISAF tag identifies him as a member of the International Security Assistance Force from NATO in Afghanistan. His airborne badge represents the unit to which he belongs. The flag...hum, can't remember why, but it is backwards on purpose. Box is his last name. Their helmets also have a tag that gives their name and blood type. These are all things that, as a Mom, I would have hoped to never know.

On a lighter note, if your sewing studio is looking a little rough today, here's what part of mine looked like a few days ago. Yipes! It looks worse in pictures. The large wall quilt and the miniature to its left are now in the hands of the Georgia Quilt Show, which runs from Oct. 16-18 in Duluth (just east of Atlanta) at the Gwinnett Center.

Have a good week!