It was a wonderful, wonderful day. I am the early riser in the household but when I woke up, the coffee pot had just made me a pot of coffee and birthday presents and lit  (electric) candles awaited. 

Some of my favorite gifts are the pocket scarf my mother knitted, delicious tea from the French branch, ORANGE fabric, candles, books, music, licorice, a lovely shawl, wonderful scented hand cream, more tea--a bajillion flavors from HMHC, luxury yarn, and a chicken!

To the left you see a new candle, my favorite loose tea ever, my old lavender I-Pot and a tea cozy from many birthdays ago. My mother did a shashiko nautilus on one side and the other is made of a soft lavender tiny plaid that was fabric from one of my most favorite outfits from high school

I asked for music--specifically Celtic, steam punk, and Penguin Cafe and here is what I got.

I love it! I wish I could give you a sample of the music but unless I find it on Youtube, it probably isn't legal for me to post it. Instead, I linked you to Wikipedia and the artisits' own websites.


Tea Monday! This is one of my favorites. But which color is best?

This is called CARROT. It is much prettier than the one called pumpkin. My favorite color is turquoise, so how about this one?
They have holes on the sides for tea bag tags! Great idea.


Happy Birthday, to me!


Maybe you can not tell, but this is going to be a crazy-quilt panel. I have a lot of work to do on it just to get the pieces down and then the embellishing happens! I have enough beads to bead every piece and lace abounds in my studio right now. My plan is several rectangular panels in these vanilla tones and then border around them in a grouping of color I can only identify as cinnamon just yet.


What is it going to be? Another little sewing project. Pictures of the finished product some time soon.


It is Thursday, so I am at OASIS, finishing my hearth basket. This one with the blue and purple colors, in fact. I haven't decided which basket will be next. 
Chair caning is going well and my caning teacher will be teaching a class on a jar quilt. I have tentatively signed up for that as well as a Celtic weave quilt class--kind of like baskets and quilts mixed--and a paper pieced teapot square class, too.
I have not run out of things to do.


The finished apron. I wore it to the table for the first time and was met with hooting shouts of laughter. Maybe because I wore it over my granny flannel gown and ratty chenille bathrobe.


My dream fabric. It would be a single roll like brown paper from an old fashioned general store. I would not need any other fabric ANYWHERE in my studio because this magic roll would instantly become whatever I needed every time I rolled off a length. It would change right before my eyes to embody "the quilt in my head" at that particular moment. Lush greens and saturated blues, passionate purples, vibrant reds and sparkling oranges. After being cut from the roll, the piece's color would stabilize and the roll would neatly await my next project.


Look, Mom. Wouldn't this look good on your shelf? It is a pretty one! Find it here if you want to buy one.


Here is the doll to be. What you see is the cover of the pattern, "Under the Harvest Moon" by Deanna Hogan. It can be purchased via her ETSY STORE in PDF form. There are other options to buy her pattern, including Craftsy, Cloth Doll Patterns, and Dollmakers Journey, where I bought mine.

I like to browse Dollmakers Journey and look at each dollmaker's patterns. I visit old favorites like Patti Culea, elinor peace bailey, Margaret-Acker Missal, Lynne Butcher, Kathy Briggs, Virgina Robertson, Barbara Graff, Kathy Hays, Julie McCullough, Barbara Willis, and Christine Shively. One day, I made it my mission to look at each designer's offerings. Usually if I find something I want on the internet, I set it aside, and come back to look at it over the course of a week. Not this time. As soon as I saw this doll, I grabbed my credit card and she was mine. She has been on my "Can't Wait To Do" list for several months.  

I will keep you up on her progress but I may not be working on her every day. Retired means pretty much getting to do what I want but there are so many commitments I have made to other things I want to do that I do not always have uninterrupted stretches of days. PLUS-I have to photograph my steps, do the photo editing and write the blog!


I won a contest the day after Christmas! My prize was a pattern by Toby Lischko at Gateway Quilts and Stuff. In my entry, I chose Zen Garden as the pattern I would like.  You can buy a copy at Quiltwoman.com. Here is what they have to say about the pattern.

"Zen Garden is a beautiful King size quilt that would do any bedroom justice.  It features a separate panel for the head of the bed.  This quilt is a favorite of our staff!"
 Thank you, Toby!


Here are some possible vests for the doll that is waiting for me. When you went to Deanna Hogan's GALLERY, Blue Heron Cloth Dolls,  did you guess which doll I chose?
Here is her ETSY SHOP. Once you get there, click on Under the Harvest Moon. You probably guessed! I bought this pattern at the Dollmaker's Journey store and downloaded it onto my computer. Then, I printed it out when I thought I was ready to make templates.

Back to the vests. My doll's vest is really the bodice of the blouse. I have not decided if I will do it that way or wander out into the realm of reinventing the wheel--my usual mode of project work.  ON the one hand, separates would allow a lot of combinations. On the other hand, well, it is reinventing a perfectly round wheel.

Lower right section? I LOVE LOVE LOVE this fabric and all I have left are those strips. I will be trying to get them in on this project any way I can. Upper left? It has a teeny bit less teal in the tone than I would like but to its benefit, it DOES have DOTS. I LOVE LOVE LOVE DOTS.


Blouse fabrics! Here are my final four. Like I said, this doll will probably have a wardrobe of separates because I had so much fun pulling coordinates.


Interviewing fabric this past weekend. Here is what I have so far.
These are the finalists for skirts for a doll in the making. I bought a pattern from Deanna Hogan of Blue Heron Cloth Dolls some few months back. I will link up to the particular doll later this week. Click her GALLERY link and go see if you know which one I chose. Here is her blog if you want to get to know her a little.

Although my photo editing needs more experience, in real light, all these skirts have a teal/turquoise in common. They look terrible together, but this doll will only be wearing one of them, so that should not matter.  All of the coordinates I picked go with each potential skirt so it may be that this doll will have a wardrobe of separates.

Come back tomorrow to see some blouse fabrics.


A while back, I joined the 2012  Free-Motion Quilting Challenge. See my badge on the right? I carefully chose good but economical fabric, decided to sacrifice a nice batt, inventoried my needle supply, and purchased 505 spray and a spool of variegated thread. Then I watched the tutorial on SewCalGal's blog.

I practiced with a pen and paper. Many times. I waited until I had an entire day with great lighting in my studio and cut and spray basted (for the first time) my sandwich samples together. I selected a needle.

I practiced on a single layer remnant. Not bad, just a little shakey. Tension issues I will work out on the sandwich remnant. That would be next after a break for lunch so maybe I could address the shakey issue.
Gloved and ready. I may not find much in their magazine, but I DO like Fons and Porter quilting gloves. I am about to bring the bobbin thread up to the top and begin on the sandwich remnant. Everything is going just fine! Cute little trial on the sandwich remnant. Time to try the real deal.
Oh-oh! Thread shred. Maybe it is just a fluke. Re-thread the needle. No, that is not it. Wipe the goo off the needle from the 505 spray.
No, that is not it. Adjust the tension up. No. Down? No. TRY A DIFFERENT NEEDLE!    By now, the sun has gone behind a cloud, literally and metaphorically. I tinkered with the light in this picture but you can still see the dismal mood of the situation reflected in the no longer warmly glowing fabric.

One more shred and I am CHANGING THE THREAD. 
This is the back. There are issues with the top thread tension being too loose but that happens mostly near the beginning of the shred. I unsewed at the shreds, brought the bobbin threads up to the top, knotted and buried them. Considering the trouble I had, and the increased tension I carried while determinedly pressing toward the finish, this is not worse than I thought it would look. 
Yes. I changed the thread. I finally finished but not before I decided I still do not care to FMQ. I can HAND QUILT in the time it takes to do this and my results are MUCH MUCH better looking. I have 11 more months to change my mind. We will see.


My favorite tea this month is from Mitoku. It is called Nagata Organic Brown Rice Kukicha and it tastes like happy twigs. I thoroughly enjoy it.
An interesting quote from the Mitoku Company: "In Japan, kukicha has been stigmatized as a poor man's drink, because, like brown rice, it brings back memories of the days of deprivation during and after World War II. Macrobiotics founder George Ohsawa introduced kukicha to the West forty years ago. Since it contains only one-tenth the caffeine of sencha and because it is the most alkalinizing Japanese tea, Ohsawa considered it to be the most balanced beverage. Indeed, kukicha is an excellent complement to the grain-based, mostly vegetarian diet he advocated."


Happy Birthday Mom. Did it arrive? I did an excellent job on it and I truly enjoyed each stitch.

Here are photos from Away Son's birthday gift.


Thanks to Ernie Ball's cheap straps which I destroyed to get the hardware, and a tutorial by One Shabby Chick, I was able to make some guitar straps. I have no idea if BASS GUITARS use different straps but I guess I could make those, too. I have a workhorse Bernina 910 and with great care, I was even able to coax it to sew through the holes in the leather tab. I simply adjusted stitch length for EVERY SINGLE STITCH ONE STITCH AT A TIME. It was very easy and only took a few minutes to go around the square twice each. Who knows, maybe I will branch out and make neck straps for saxophones next...


My Quilty Friend and I have done a little sale shopping. I added a few pieces to my stash.

Unfortunately, I think I might already have this one. It makes great legs for elves and fairies. I am sure I will use it.
Here is another favorite. I buy a lot of bright checks and I know I have had this one before. I think it is quite an old one back to when I first started making dolls. It always reminded me of Valentines day.

I just had to have this one. Those tiny little umbrellas and the bright yellow, green, teal, and blue make me smile. Maybe this is destined for a vest on a frog prince.
 Here is something you do not see everyday--pink in my stash. This is a piece of homespun in a color I call Capezio pink. It is the color of ballet shoes. I think I know where it will go but it might not work. I will have to see.
Another stripe. Chocolate and Capezio pink. The stripe is fairly wide--maybe a quarter of an inch.  It might make good smocking for a bodice and peplum. This bears some thinking.


Happy Birthday, Away Son. I made you some things. What are they? I hope they got there in time.



I never showed you one of my favorite gifts. These little deer remind me so much of where we live. It is in my studio right now and I decided to keep it out all year. My Quilty Friend gave it to me for Christmas. It actually has a pretty maple frame but my photography does not show it to advantage, so I cropped it out of the picture.

My Quilty Friend does lovely hand work and two of her quilts have won awards. Right now, she is getting ready to make this. I think this might be a photo of the original quilt top from the American Folk Art Museum in New York. You can see it has a kind of 18th Century sampler feel to it. My Quilty Friend likes primitives, applique, and truly loves the Civil War reproduction fabrics. 

I believe this photo is from SEWPRIMITIVE, Karen Mowry's new book called a Bountiful Life which she ALSO engineered on the original quilt.

A quote from KAY HARMON about the original quilt:
"The Civil War Bride quilt is an interpretation of a quilt in the American Folk Art Museum in New York City, c 1858-1863. The top was made during the Civil War period and is thought to be an unfinished wedding quilt. A female figure is appliqued in one block but the block next to her is almost empty which leads experts to believe the maker had planned to include a groom but for some reason did not. Their theory is supported by newspaper templates, including one of a male figure, that were found with the quilt top."  Kay used modern fabrics for her rendition. Check out her blog and see some of her blocks.

 Naturally, My Quilty Friend was attracted to this quilt. She bought a pattern released by Corliss Searcy from a shop in Australia called Threadbear.  You can see by the watermark, she says she designed it. I think she actually means that she designed pattern pieces to look as much like the original as possible and did all the math work (believe me, there is a metric ton of math work) involved and included all kinds of instruction for $40.00 Australian. I think she should put Engineered by Corliss Searcey because the designer is a woman long gone.


Here is more of Dot Vaughn's Crazy
This photo shows another section with butterflies. She also used part of a doily or maybe it was a dresser scarf? I like the way she let her stitching carry her across a gold plaid piece.
Here is a piece of the tiniest cross stitch you can imagine. She cut it up to go in this quilt. The little red triangle to the right of it is fabric I have sewn with before.  It looks like it has sequins on it but it is very easy to sew right through. I used it to make sugar plum fairy costumes in 1998.
Dot loves gold. Gold and butterflies are recurrent themes in her work. This shows another of her butterflies and the beautiful border she used.  Last week she told us to remember to do something on the borders but not too much. It should enhance not overwhelm the work. She has put a pin of some kind on the corner, giving it the feeling of fancy bow. A lot of her border is free of the French knots and embroidery but the corners have a little something special.


My Crazy Teacher for Crazy Quilting is Dot Vaughn. She always brings a car loaded with boxes of fabric for her students to dig through. She loves glitzy, gold, and gorgeous. Her boxes are full of damasks, silky prints, and cut up evening dresses and curtains. 
 One time I said to her, "This is beautiful. Don't you want to save some for yourself?"
"Oh, honey. This ain't even my good stuff. You should see my stash."

I still have my two block sample awaiting more stitching but sometimes there is a quilt in my head that just has to come out. I have a couple of projects on my work space but when I get a chance, I will photograph my current Crazy. Until then, have a look at some of Dot's work.
Here is a pretty good shot of much of Dot's award winning Crazy. I would like to show you the label but it gives too much personal information for me to put it here. She made it for her daughter and it is lovely.
This close-up shows a neat little pyramid stitch with red crowns. Dot uses a lot of black in her work, also. The back is black and she does a lot of tacking from the front to the back as well as tying. She is careful to "hide" the tacks and ties in the black areas of her quilt.
The black fabric in this photo had butterflies on it, but Dot added a few here and there. I like the lacy one with the purple embellishment. I think it was a motif she re-embroidered.