Birds of Paradise

Birds of Paradise

Friday, 24 December 2010

More completed student projects

From l to r: Lisette, Loralee, Susannah and Dee Dee in their new aprons

Robert and Erin model their aprons
My last Beginning Sewing class for 2010 ended on Monday night.  The students left with their new aprons ready to wear or give as Christmas gifts.  A new round of City of Long Beach Parks and Recreation sewing classes will begin on January 4th.  These classes are always satisfying to teach, especially when students finish their projects. It is wonderful to see how students gain confidence in their sewing skills as the class progresses.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Etrog box

 The assignment for my first City and Guilds assessment piece was to create a container using a pieced design based on architecture. I designed, engineered and created an etrog box using traditional English box-making techniques with some contemporary twists. The etrog  (citron) is used during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, as part of the four species.  It is held together with the lulav and blessed during the holiday.  When not in use, the etrog is usually stored in a decorative box.  

The design inspirations for the box were windows in the Dohany Street Synagogue (Great Synagogue) in Budapest.  The synagogue survived World War II and has been restored to its former glory.  Today, it serves as the focal point for the small Jewish population still living it Budapest, and it is a major tourist attraction.  One of the reasons I chose to use this building as my inspiration was to pay homage to those who perished in the Holocaust.  Although there were numerous stained glass windows in the Synagogue, the one below was perfect for patchwork.  The patchwork for the  top and sides of the box were constructed using foundation paper piecing (flip and sew.) The color scheme was based on the colors used in this window and another more elaborate window, shown on the right.  The Star of David on the lid was created with English paper piecing.  The fabric for the lining of the box was created by sun-printing branches from our lulav. The lining was machine embroidered.


The construction of the box proved more challenging than anticipated.  I had planned on using heavy-weight  Fast2Fuse for the construction, rather than cardboard or card stock, the foundation material used for most English embroidered boxes, to avoid having to glue my fabric to the base.  (Fast2Fuse is a heavy, stiff interfacing with fusible web on both sides.  I use it in the center of my postcards.)   My original intention was to fuse the patchwork to one side and the lining to the other, and then to satin stitch the segments together to join them.   When I sampled this construction method, it did not seem elegant enough, so my tutors suggested using the traditional hand ladder-stitching method of joining the pieces, and using two pieces of Fast2Fuse for each segment so that there would be no raw edges.  This extended the scope of the project, and as it was not portable, due to the risk of bending the pieces, it has taken months to complete.  Each piece of the box is made from two pieces of covered Fast2Fuse which are joined together with topstitching, using YLI  Silk Sparkle thread.  Due to the small scale of the patchwork pieces, it was necessary to use a very fine thread for the quilting and topstitching.  When I sampled heavier threads they overwhelmed the patchwork, as many of the pieces are under one inch.  However, I had to test numerous needles before I found one which did not cause the thread to shred while going through the thick layers.  The only needle which worked was a size 80 SUK (jersey) needle.  Once each side was assembled, the sections were hand ladder-stitched together, a very time-consuming process, due to the thickness of the pieces, and the need for the stitches to be invisible.

The box is now completed, and ready for use next Sukkot.

Box closed

Box open

Box open

Monday, 20 September 2010

Environmentally Correct Project

This coffee cozy was inspired by a Creative Troupe call-out to use Liquitex Iridescent medium in a project, and my recent 120 mile plus two day tandeming adventure on the Hazon New York Ride.  As I love leaves, I decided to create a fall coffee cozy----using the Liquitex Iridescent medium, Liquitex Acrylic paints, and Superior copper-colored metallic thread, which behaved in my Bernina 830.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Postcard---Israel Land of Flowing Milk and Honey

This is my latest postcard, made for an exchange entitled Israel---Land of Flowing Milk and Honey.  The postcard is made from a fabric and Fast-2-Fuse sandwich.  The back was created in Microsoft Word.  The front features hand dyed fabric, lightweight Lutrador painted with white paint mixed with Liquitex irridescent medium and gold paint, and the jug was enhanced with paint too.  It was stitched on my Bernina 830 taking advantage of the tapering feature.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

A Lutrador Postcard

This is a sample made for C & T publishing's Creative Troupe.  I had to wait to post it until Ultra Light Lutrador came on the market---then I forgot to post it.  The card features embroidered fish as well as fish made from painted Lightweight Lutrador.  I used Lutrador "as is" on top of fabric to give it the hazy feel one experiences when under water.

Student Work

This week I was lucky enough to see some of my students' finished projects.  It is always exciting to see what students create, and how they use the projects as a platform for their own design touches. The students shown gave me permission to post the photos of them with their finished projects.  All three projects are from classes offered at Sew Vac Ltd. in Long Beach California (, through the City of Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine  (

Kristal proudly shows off her first quilt made in the Nuts and Bolts of quilting
From left to right---Lucy, Sherrie and Monica proudly wear the Summer Totes (a Lazy Girl Pattern)
that they completed in Beginning Sewing--The Tote Bag
Alyssa is modelling the apron she completed in Beginning Sewing.
She personalised it with rick rack.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Fiber Artistry Exhibition at the Orange County Fair

Announcement card featuring all the quilts
I was lucky enough to have The Sunflower selected for the Fiber Artistry Exhibition at the Orange County Fair.  Jamie Fingal (  curated the exhibition.  The quilts were arranged in a gallery-like setting on white walls.  The Sunflower is a dye-painted quilted using Hollis Chatelain's method (  Even the binding is dye-painted to coordinate with the background. The quilting was done with a variety of colored threads to bring the flower to life.
The artist with The Sunflower    
The Sunflower

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Parfait Dyeing ---Part 2

This is the result of the parfait dyeing.  I also did a two-tone fabric.  I am not being as aggressive as I should be about pushing the fabric into the other colors and allowing things to intermingle.  I think my inner perfectionist is coming out. 

Monday, 28 June 2010

Quiltart @ 15

I can now reveal my Quiltart @ 15 project which can also be seen in the context of the other entries at .  The challenge was to create a 15 inch square work for the Quiltart list's fifteenth birthday.  My quilt is designed to highlight fifteen things I have learnt from belonging to Quiltart. Can you find them all on the quilt?  I chose to use cotton, silk organza, machine embroidery and quilting, and TAP transfer. TAP is a product developed by Lesley Riley for image transfer. It can now be bought at  Their blog entry for June 27, 2010 has a link to a 90 minute tutorial on using TAP.  I wish that I had had access to it when I created the project! 

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Fabric Parfait

I signed up for one of Shelagh's Challenges ( which just closed.  The first step was to dye a fabric parfait (she swears that they are calorie free so I will see what the scale says this week.)  This is another form of slow fabric (fabric which sits and "percolates" for several days).  This is a picture of the fabric parfait in the garage, hence the less-than-perfect photo.  I cannot give out any more information----I have been sworn to secret by Shelagh. But..... tune in for more in a day or two!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Slow Cloth

These are samples of a type of slow cloth I created for one of the City and Guilds exercises.  The fabric was painted with a base paint, and the the second color was added.  After the paint was worked into the fabric, it had to sit for several days without my peeking into the closed bags to see what was happening---so I had no idea what would emerge until four days later.  I was pretty pleased with the results for my first attempt with this technique.  I actually liked the back side of the green better than the front!  The grey reminds me of a stormy wintery sky.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Serenity Bag

This is my take on the Serenity bag pattern by byAnnie. (  It was made as a class sample but no one signed up for the class.  Hopefully I will be able to offer the class again in the winter.  The quilting on the flap followed the fabric design.  I used Hobbs Tuscany Wool batting as well as Texture Magic to bring out the quilting. The quilting was done with Superior Thread's copper-colored metallic thread which behaved beautifully.  Instead of using headliner foam to shape the bag and give it structure, I used fusible fleece.  When i make the bag again I will enlarge the pattern slightly so I can use 1/2" seam allowance.  I found 1/4" too skinny.  The lining fabric which was in my "resource centre" frayed a lot, making construction a bit challenging with the skinny seam allowance.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Embroidered Jacket

This jacket was embroidered using my Bernina 830 and the jumbo hoop. The designs are by Embroidery Library  Multiple designs were combined using the Bernina Artista v.5 software. There were many hours of stitching involved, especially as I changed some of the colors and the color order. This was a project which I had to "babysit" all the time. Many of the threads were from Ricky Tims' Art Studio line (Superior Threads.) The others were from Superior Threads' Nature Color line. The jacket is a slightly stretchy cotton. 

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

A Thank You from SAQA

These beautiful flowers arrived this afternoon. I was wondering who they were from. I opened the card, and they were a thank you from the SAQA board for my presentation on mailable art at the Chicago Quilt Festival

Monday, 26 April 2010

From Fiber to Fabric is available again

I have kicked myself for years for not buying from Fiber to Fabric when it was published in 1997. At that time quilting was fun, but I had not been seeking out lots of information. Now that I take my quilting more seriously and am a City and Guilds student, I was thrilled to find it in e-book format on C & T Publishing’s website. (It is also available in a print-on-demand format.) While I do not yet own an ebook reading device, I was readily able to read the book on my computer as it is a .pdf file. Unlike most quilting books, there are no projects…it is a reference book to be used as necessary.

One caveat---the book is about cotton quilting fabric, threads used in quiltmaking, and batting. It does not cover textiles made of other fibers such as wool and silk. Secondly the discussions on batting and threads are a little out of date, as these fields have burgeoned in the last two years since the electronic edition of the book was released. In the chapter on batting Ms Hargrave discusses some specific battings, while the thread chapter is much more generic, but does not talk about many of the specialized options available in the current marketplace.

For quiltmakers who want to understand the fabric and thread they are working with, this well-written book will tell you everything you want to know---and possibly more! The information on the processes used to create woven cotton fabric is extremely detailed and well illustrated. The information on how thread is produced is also well-illustrated and easy to understand. Ms Hargrave devotes a section to testing fabrics. While this may not be important for fast and easy quilts, it is important for heirloom quality quilts designed to last a long time. Although most quilters will not go to the lengths described to test their fabric for most projects, the information is there to use as needed.

For years I have suggested to interested students that they borrow the book from a library; now they can own a copy.

This is the link to the ebook (it is hard to find it directly with C & T's search function.)

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Happy make-it-and take-it participants at the C&T Pulbishing booth

A few links to photographs of  my make-it-and-take it at the Anaheim CHA Trade Show
Fabric postcard on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
C & T's Publisher makes a postcard
A few of my postcards on loan to their booth

This was the first time I had done something of this nature.  It was a great learning experience for me.

Friday, 1 January 2010

New Year---New Words for the Year

Jenny Williams of Quiltart suggested selecting a word for the year. I chose two.

Explore try new techniques and methods of working
Challenge Challenge myself to work harder, smarter, and push through my fears and blocks.