Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tropical Seas

I made this quilt because I, a few years previous, had bought a hand full of fat quarters which appealed to me, both because of their unusual colors and the whimsical depictions of mermaids, seahorses, and jellyfish.  Those fat quarters were my start and I pulled lots of matching fabrics from my stash.  I love when I am able to go shopping in my stash and find enough fabric, like this to make what I think is a great quilt, without having to purchase any additional fabric at all.  

This quilt is a baby quilt I made for the second daughter born to my friend and former colleague, Mary Sidney, at the Southern Center.  I have no idea how many years Mary Sidney and I worked together, but she has been at the Southern Center for many years.  Unfortunately, both of her children were born after I moved away, as were just about all the Southern Center children, so I do not know them.  But I am sure Mary Sidney and Harrold are super great parents.

The 51" square quilt was machine quilted by Regina Carter who, quite appropriately, used a pattern called Fancy Fish!

This picture of Baby Amelia - obviously made quite a while after she ceased being a baby - shows her playing with her older sister, Ellie.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's a Jungle Out There!

I no longer recall why I decided to make a "cheater" quilt for this particular baby, but I actually really like the way it turned out.  It wasn't made of a panel designed to become a "cheater" cloth or a baby quilt, rather, I just cut a piece of this beautiful fabric, approximately equal to one repetition.  And when I bordered it with the pink fabric I had, which happened to match perfectly, it looked like a perfect little girl jungle quilt.

I hand quilted it, just following the outline of the fabric design, and that became the quilt I gave to the little girl adopted by my friends Jan and Mou.

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures at all of Makaela, and not even any of her older brother, Jaden.  But I know they are both thriving, happy, good looking kids, who are well loved, and who love each other very much.                                                                                                           

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dog Bed 20

I have written previously about the Mutts With Manners Program, sponsored by our local Humane Society, which places homeless dogs with prisoners at our local medium security prison.  Cheri, a dog trainer - and dog whisperer - works with the prisoners teaching them how to train dogs, but the prisoners do all the hard work socializing and training the dogs, who are then able to find forever homes making lots of families in our community very happy.

My husband and I adopted one of the Mutts, Luka, after our own wonderful 16 year old rescue dog, Jesse, died in November of 2011.  Cheri adopted Luka's classmate, Levi, and shortly thereafter, one of the other MWM volunteers, my friend, John, adopted a third memeber of the "L" class, Lulu.

Since I had already given Cheri a bed for Levi, of course, I wanted to give John one for Lulu, as well.

I wasn't able to get a picture of Lulu on the bed, but here is one of John holding her.  You can tell the two of them belong together, can't you?  Though, I hear that Lulu is quite fond of John's wife, Cindy as well.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pikeville Panthers

I have never made a quilt on commission, nor have I ever sold a quilt.  This quilt comes as close to being an exception to that statement as I have come!  It is not that I have an objection to either one, but given my circumstances and the economics of quilting, it has never been in the cards for me to sell my quilts or make quilts for money.

I am incredibly fortunate to be supported by my ever loving and wonderful spouse, who financially underwrites my quilting.  So, I do not have to make money on my quilts in order to continue making them. That's an incredible privilege, which I never forget. Just as importantly, very few people are able or willing to pay what hand made quilts are worth.  By the time I make a full sized quilt, it has cost me on average at least $400 in fabric and professional quilting.  I do not count the hours it takes me to make a quilt, and naturally it varies from one quilt to another.  But in order for me to make money, it would have to be in addition to the $400 and there is no way, I could find people who would pay significantly above $400 for each quilt.  I just cannot imagine selling quilts which would pay me only a couple of dollars an hour to make.  I would much rather give them away than do that.  And that is what I have been doing. 

As far as making quilts on commission, I just generally find it very hard to make quilts that I don't like or when somebody else makes decisions about the designs of the quilt.  That might make me sound like a spoiled prima donna, but I think that is the artist's privilege, and the issues regarding costs discussed above, apply equally to commission quilts.  Lastly, the one type of quilts people most often are looking for somebody to make, are T-shirt memory quilts, and I really, really do not like to make T-shirt quilts!

I love what T-shirt quilts are and what you can do with T-shirts in a quilt, but they are a pain to make!  Each shirt has to be deconstructed - cut up so you preserve just the part of the shirt which has writing or pictures.  Then you have to iron a fusible stabilizer onto the back of the parts of the shirts that you want to preserve and actually use.  That leaves you with a bunch of pieces of "T-shirt fabric" all different sizes and shapes and different colors.  But at least by now they are easier to work with, they are no longer so stretchy.  It is still quite an undertaking, which requires the use of a big floor space, to arrange the many different pieces into a pleasing and coherent quilt.  It is like a jigsaw puzzle where not all the pieces are there, you have to construct the missing pieces from fabric as you go along!

In spite of all the above, when my dear niece, Sarah, asked if she could pay me to make a quilt from her husband, Jeremiah's T-shirts, I didn't say no.  But that was only because she is my niece and I love her - but, by no means am I at all sure I will do it again for other nieces or nephews, no matter how much I love them.  Also, I did let Sarah pay for the fabric and quilting but she did not pay me for my time, so it was still not a commission, more like a favor, I think.

I knew, of course, that Jeremiah had played football in college, so I was expecting T-shirts from Georgetown, as well as whatever other shirts he might have had from his college years.  So I was pretty surprised when Sarah gave me a bag full of shirts - all in maroon and gray - exclusively from his High School and middle school  sports teams in Pikeville, Kentucky.  Initially, I was fairly worried that the quilt would be terribly dull!  But I am really pleased with the way it turned out!  I bought two different batiks for the top, one maroon and one black with silver dots.  I usually try to piece my backs from fabrics left over from making the top or other fabric I happen to have, but this time I bought yardage for the back, a very striking graphic gray and black batik.  I found and picked the fabrics, but got Sarah's approval before purchasing them

Sarah was very flexible with regard to a deadline for the quilt.  Their wedding anniversary is March 1, I didn't make that!  But I did make Father's Day in June.  (If I'd missed that, she could've given it to Jeremiah for his birthday in November or for Christmas!).  The 58" by 87" quilt was quilted by my trusty long-arm quilter, Regina Carter, who used a pattern called Deb's Swirl.

I had thought it was odd that Sarah wanted to focus just on Jeremiah's High School T-shirts, but when several years later, Jeremiah was inducted into the Pikeville High School Hall of Fame, I realized that his High School foot ball career was a much bigger deal than I had realized and it made more sense to me.

This picture of Sarah, Jeremiah and their two children, Grace and Luke, was taken in Pikeville on the day of his induction into the hall of fame.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Raspberry Fields

When my oldest Danish nephew, Jens, turned 13, I gave him a big quilt.  So when his sister, Anna, turned 13, I had to make one for her as well.  That's the way I had been doing it since they were little, and I was sure she would be expecting her own quilt.  Not that I mind at all.  Jens, in particular, has always been very appreciative of the quilts I have made for him, so it is a joy to make quilts for them.

I don't make as many batik quilts as I might, because I like to hand piece and batiks are so tightly woven that they are hard to hand piece.  Thus, every time I work with batiks, I really have to machine piece and for all practical purposes that means the quilt will have to be made at quilt retreats.  A few years previous, I had bought a bunch of batiks in pink, green, and brown colors which I really liked so I decided to use those for Anna's quilt and picked a pattern, called "Safari" from Karla Anderson's book New Cuts for New Quilts.  I've loved the stack, shuffle, and sew method Karla Anderson uses for a long time and it is particularly well suited for batiks.  The pattern - called Safari only because the particular fabrics used in the demonstration quilt in the book were African animal prints - was simple yet had a lot of interest and movement in it.

As it turned out, I had to supplement my fabrics considerably, however.  Not only did I not have nearly enough fabric to make the quilt, but I also needed a lot more variety than I had.  It turned out that the original fabrics I had bought were no longer available, nor was that color selection.  So I had to branch out.  I added different pinks, greens, and browns and also turqoise as well as combinations of those.

The back of the quilt shows the original fabrics and colors from which I s  tarted.  I had yardage of a couple of those fabrics, and thus enough to piece the back.  It is fun now to see how different it is from the top.  I am glad I had to add fabrics to make the top as I think it would have been a very boring quilt if I had made it of only the original fabrics.

It ended up being 69" x 88" made specifically to fit Anna's bed as it was at the time - of course she has remodeled her room repeatedly since then - and it was machine quilted by Regina Carter, who used a pattern called Sticky Buns.

The border around the label is fabric from a shirt which was Anna's favorite when she was a tiny tyke.  My sister, Anna's mother, had given it to me for possible incorporation into the quilt, but this was the only way I could make it work.  The fabric was very thin and somewhat fragile - as it was Anna's favorite shirt, it evidently had been washed quite often! - and it just didn't work with the rest of the qullt.

Going Green

The guild to which I have belonged ever since I moved to Kentucky has a "challenge" each year.  In my opinion, it is usually not really much of a challenge; all that happens is that those who chose to complete the "challenge" can show their finished quilts at the Christmas meeting, which is the dead-line.  Those who finish theirs later can show them later, and those who never finish just don't open their mouths.

In last year's "challenge" each quilter "blindly" drew a piece of fabric out of a bag.  The "challenge" was to use all of that fabric in a quilt top, adding as many additional fabric as one wished, and using at least some nine-patches. I picked the pale green print which appears as the background fabric. I cut all of it into 4" squares and went through my box of 4" squares and picked out all the green ones and started making nine-patches. When I had used up all the challenge fabric, I had 25 squares which I put together into the above quilt.

I had not started making it with a particular recipient in mind but at some point remembered that I had never made a baby quilt for our friend John Garland when he and his lovely wife Pamela had their first child, Eli.  That was actually about 2 years ago, but this quilt finished at 54" by 54" so I thought it was big enough for a toddler - and better late than never, right?
Since the top, while nice and green, might not totally appeal to a toddler, I bought some cute saggy-baggy elephant fabric for the back, instead of piecing the back out of whatever I happened to have on hand. Regina quilted it to perfection using a "Square Meander" pattern.

In May, John's parents, Ed & Judy Garland, hosted a benefit for the Southern Center for Human Rights, at their amazing home - Ed is on the Board of the Center - so I got a chance to hand deliver the much delayed quilt to John.

At Least Five Servings A Day

This quilt, which ended up measuring about 36" x 54", is just a collection of squares of fruit and vegetable fabrics which I pulled from my stash.  Not an obvious choice for a baby, perhaps, but it's colorful and I felt like the theme was a good one for the baby's parents.  The baby, of course, doesn't care at all what he gets anyway.

This particular baby, who ended up being named Otis, AKA Little O, was born to a most lovely young lawyer at the Southern Center, Atteeyah, and her lovely husband, Nate.  Atteeyah was an investigator a the office when I worked there and I always thought the world of her.  I think everybody was as excited as he or she could be, when Atteeyah, after completing law school at Stanford, returned to the Center as an attorney.  It is great to have her, Nate, and now Little O as a part of the Southern Center family.  I only regret I am so far away and won't get to know Little O as he grows up.

I hand pieced the quilt and it was, as always, expertly machine quilted, this time using a pattern called "Deb's Swirl," by Regina Carter.  

I always love getting a picture of the baby on the quilt when I give somebody a baby quilt.  This time I got a bonus, Little O and his beautiful Moma, both using the quilt together.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Switch plates

This is obviously not a quilting project but just a little something I'd been wanting to do for a long time and finally got around to doing.  Decoupaging a couple of switch plates.  I am so hopeless when it comes to anything but quilting, so it took me forever to actually do it although it was laughingly simple.  I love them, but I am sure I will never get my act together to do any more.  And probably shouldn't considering how long I - completely unnecessarily - left the covers off while I was working on these!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dog Bed 17

This dog bed went to somebody who is herself a quilter, but also very much a dog lover.  A dear friend I originally met at a quilt retreat in North Carolina.  I went to the retreat with my BFF, Michelle, and Jan went there with her BFF Sally and the four of us became fast friends, connecting in subsequent years and in other places as welll.

Jan, who got this dog bed for her black pug, Cynthia Williams - yep, that was the dog's name! - is a veterinarian, and has several dogs.  But at the time when I gave her this bed. Ms. Cynthia was the queen of the pack.  Unfortunately, Cynthia has since gone off to the Rainbow Bridge, but she did get to enjoy the bed for a couple of years before she passed on.

When I give somebody a dog bed, the only thing I ask in return, is that he or she send me a picture of the dog on the bed.  Far too often, in my opinion, I never get a picture.  And I have been known to repeat the request, in some cases to the point of nagging.

Fortunately, Jan was very compliant, so here is a picture of the lovely Cynthia presiding on Dog Bed 17.  She clearly took possession of the bed.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dog Bed 15

This is the biggest dog bed I have made to date. Unfortunately, I lost the picture I took of the full bed before giving it away. I gave it to the Danville Boyle County Humane Society which was having an auction to raise money for our low cost spay/neuter clinic, Happy Paws, a great clinic with which I volunteer every week myself.

The clinic is run almost entirely by volunteers, only the vet and the vet tech are paid, everybody else is a volunteer. We are open one full day a week and over the course of the four years the clinic has been in operation we have spayed or neutered over 5,800 dogs and cats. In addition to doing great work in helping keep the population of unwanted cats and dogs down, it is also a really fun place to volunteer. I have met some wonderful people at Happy Paws and made some good friends there. I look forward every week to spending time with the dogs and the fun and good people who chose to volunteer at Happy Paws.
One of the most competent people who work at Happy Paws is the vet tech Nikki. Nikki works as a vet tech at a local veterenarian's office most of the time, but on Thursdays, she has been working at Happy Paws, which has been a life saver for us. She is incredibly competent, a no nonsense person who knows how to handle just about any situation, and has a great sense of humor to go along with it. Unfortunately for us, Nikki has recently gone back to school and is currently studying to become a people nurse, so she is only rarely able to spend the entire day with us. We miss her terribly already, but she will be such a terrific nurse that it is impossible to be anything but happy about her decision.

Due to my admiration of Nikki, I was particularly happy when I found out after the auction that it was she who had bought Dog Bed 15 for her big rescue dog, Kingston.

And because I knew the person who got the bed, I also thought it would be no problem getting a photo of the bed with the dog on it. However, unbelievably, when I asked Nikki recently for just such a picture, she told me that Kingston suddenly had developed severe internal bowel issues - related to injuries sustained years ago before he was rescued from being an abused fighting dog - and that he had to be euthanized.

Nevertheless, Nikki sent me the above picture, Kingston's Christmas photo, where he sits on the dog bed. It is a great picture of Kingston and I am honored to have it even if it doesn't show much of the bed. As you can see in the picture, Kingston was a big handsome dog who needed an extra large dog bed. I know he was fortunate to live for a while with a person with an extra large heart who took extra good care of him, and I also know that he left an extra large hole in her heart when he had to die so suddenly. Having recently lost my own Jesse to old age, I can only begin to imagine how hard it must be to lose what she thought was a healthy dog so suddenly.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dog Bed 19

This may have been the largest dog bed I ever made.  In fact, when I finished it, I thought it was ridiculously large.  So I decided to give it to my friend Cheri, who is a dog trainer - also known as Danville's dog whisperer.  She has several dogs of her own, and also boards dogs at her home, so there are frequently quite a few dogs at her house.  I knew the dog bed would be used at that house no matter how large it was.

Additionally, Cheri had recently adopted a beautiful young black German Shepherd, Levi,  from our Mutts With Manners program.  Levi was in the same "class" at the prison as my own recently adopted dog, Luka.  The prisoners who train the dogs have five dogs per class and name them alphabetically, five dogs per letter.
I knew Levi was a big dog, but I didn't realize that I actually had made the bed the exactly right size for him.  As soon as he got on it, I realized it was just right for him and it just affirmed my decision to give the bed to Cheri.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dog Bed 18

This dog bed went to a very special rescue dog named Tony.  Unfortunately, I've never met Tony, but I feel as if I know him, because I have heard so very much about him.  Tony was rescued by my friend, Carolyn, who is a fellow volunteer at our Humane Society's spay/neuter clinic, the Happy Paws Clinic, where I get to help out every week.  Not only do we get to help curtail the overpopulation of cats and dogs in our community - and I get to hang out with some mostly cute and often handsome dogs for a few hours! - but it's a GREAT group of volunteers and we always have a good time together.  It's my favorite time of the week.

Carolyn lost her old dog, a St. Bernard named Claudia, for whom she had been providing what can only be described as hospice care, for several months at her home, in December of 2011.  As this happened very shortly after my own dog Jesse died, it was only too easy for me to empathize with her loss, and I was so happy for her when she announced in late January 2012, that she had adopted Tony.

Tony is a young black and white standard poodle.  I've seen lots of pictures of him, though regrettably I don't have one to share, and he's a very handsome fellow, who I KNOW is the very spoiled Alfa male of his and Carolyn's home.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dog Bed 16

Katie Turbyfill  is the Director of our Humane Society's Spay-Neuter Clinic, AKA the Happy Paws Clinic.  I have written about it before, it is an awesome place where I get to volunteer every Thursday - the one day a week it is open.  Happy Paws is run by volunteers, Katie too is a volunteer even though she works the entire day every Thursday, plus untold hours outside of that getting us ready and organized every week.  The only paid staff are the vet and the vet tech. In addition to volunteering so much of her own time, Katie's two daughters, Eliza and Victoria are frequent volunteers as well. 

I finally got an opportunity to give Katie a Dog Bed when at Christmas she and her daughters adopted a new puppy.  They got this puppy, not because they had been looking for one, but because they were called up the day after Christmas by the shelter director and begged to take in this tiny puppy who was in very bad shape and desperately needed 24 hour a day attention, bottle feeding, and tender-loving care if she were to have any chance of survival.  Of course, Katie said yes.  When she a couple days after bringing the puppy home was able to take her to see a vet, she was told the little one had a 50/50 chance of survival.  When the puppy went back to the vet a week later, thriving and having put on some weight, the vet happily exclaimed that he had actually thought the pup was not going to make it!

But due to the love and care given to this little creature, oddly named Danny by Victoria, she now not only has a chance at life but a very nice home indeed.  She is definitely the tiniest dog to get one of my dog beds, and I was very happy because this is the smallest dog bed I have made so far - though it is impossible to tell from the pictures because Danny is so small.  To give you an idea of the scale, the coat Danny is wearing is actually one of Victoria's fuzzy fleece socks.  I had been wondering if I had made the dog bed too small, so I was happy to hear about and be able to give the bed to Danny, who quickly figured out how to walk all over it!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Marisela's Quilt

When I moved to Kentucky in 2008, and no longer worked, I started looking for other things to do with my time, and among other things signed up with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Bluegrass.  It took them a while to match me with a Little Sister, but on September 1, 2009, I was matched with Marisela Cruz, and since then it has been my privilege and delight to get to hang out with her for a few hours every week.  

She's a really cool kid and we have a lot of fun together, and it's been fun to see her grow and become more mature.  I don't know how obvious it is from the pics, but she has grown like a weed in the alomost three years I have known her, from being a little girl at age 8 1/2 - picture on left - to the beginning of a young adolescent now at 11 - picture on right.  We share the love of animals and dogs in particular, so that has been a great joy.  But in some ways we are very different.  Marisela has ADHD, so the idea of sitting down and spending a long time sewing little pieces of fabric together to make a quilt is very foreign to her.  She has very little patience and a very short attention span;  it is very near impossible for her to consentrate on any one thing for more than a very short time.  So trying to teach her to quilt would not be a god idea.  

Nevertheless, she loves my sewing room, all the fabrics and colors and all the unusual gadgets, tools and notions are very attractive and intriguing to her and from the very first time she came to my house, she has wanted to go in there to find out what I do there.  And, of course, I wanted to make a quilt for her.  So we decided that she could help me design the quilt.  She started out working exclusively from my scrap box and would design a bit which I would then sew and when she came back the next time she would continue to add to her design.  When the quilt top got to a certain size, however, the pieces of fabric left in the scrap box were no longer large enough for her and she asked for bigger pieces.  Initially we picked out some animal fabrics from my stash and at the end she asked me to buy some basketball fabrics.  

In Kentucky there is a heated rivalry between our two big school teams, University of Kentucky and University of Louisville.  Where we live in Central Kentucky, most people are UK fans, but Marisela's mother is a huge Louisville fan, so Marisela couldn't make up her mind whether she wanted UK or Louisville fabric and we ended up with both on the quilt.  When the top was finished, meaning big enough to cover her bed, I told her that I would make the back and she would have to wait until it could be quilted before she could have it.  For a while she asked about it a lot but then I think she forgot about it.
I used mostly purple, Marisela's favorite color, for the nine-patches on the back, and added some novelty fabrics of things Marisela likes.  Several dog fabrics, President Obama, the Simpsons, VWs - she loves to play punch buggie - and, of course, a zebra.  The zebra was for me, Marisela alternately loathes and tolerates zebras!The finished quilt measured 63" x 76" and Regina Carter quilted it using a "Bubble Meander" pattern which made it look awesome, as always.  It was finished just in time so I could give it to Marisela for Christmas which I think came as a surprise.  Although I think it hangs on the wall most of the time - Marisela's Granny, with whom she lives, asked me to make a sleeve for it which I did - she will have it and can use it later as she pleases even if Granny makes her hang it on the wall now.