Bright Colors for an Endless Winter

March 6, 2015

I used to have a shopping problem.  I haunted thrift stores with 50% off coupons and brought home clothes with pretty prints and fabrics to take apart and reconstruct.  All this hunting and gathering got a little out of hand.  While many of my purchases ended up in various projects, the rest accumulated until my sewing room looked (and still looks)  like an episode of Hoarding, Buried Alive.

Last night I finished off a bag a scraps that had been used and reused for quite a few years. Here is the original stack of reds, oranges and pinks. Great colors to work with in this interminable winter that is mostly brown/gray.  and a little white even this far south.


Their first use was for a quilt made as part of a block swap. I cut them up into large pieces and sent them to four other people with instructions for making improv log cabins. The participants also sent me fabrics and patterns and I made their blocks while they were making mine. Then we all met up for the hand-off.  I was thrilled with what I got, but am embarrassed to admit that these blocks are still in my closet waiting for me to do something with them.


There was still plenty of fabric left and in the meantime I added a few pieces.  (Did I mention I had a problem?)  The only thing to do was to make another quilt, this one as a gift for one of my favorite people.  The design was based on a parking garage and the back was made from a thrifted sheet.



The favorite person has destructive cats so she hung the quilt on the wall and has let me know that it recently ate a whole bag of Cheetos she had bought for our latest snow and ice storm.


Yesterday I was scavenging the sewing room for something to use up and found a bag of the scraps left from these splashy prints.  The scraps were much smaller now, so I chopped them up and sewed them back together into 12 strips that will become vibrant headbands to sell at a spring show.   I think people will be ready for some bold colors like these!

16105671714_ce85b14470 Pictured on our 4″ snowfall

Now this pile of tropical fabrics that nobody wanted has come to the end of it’s journey.  The remaining pieces are too small for even me to save.  Time to find something else to use up!


October 31, 2014

We are expecting low overnight temps, so I got busy with some yard clean up.

The last of the Zinnias. I will miss the brilliant mass of color in my front bed.


photo 1
And the remaining tomatoes.

photo 2

The plants all came back inside.

photo 3

Now I think I’ll sew a little.


Mua ha ha ha!  Happy Halloween!

Going to Blog Again Now

September 23, 2014

I miss having a record of things I make and do, so I managed to remember my password and I’m jumping back in.

Today 5 out of 8 members of the small but mighty Memphis Area Modern Quilt Guild visited LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center to deliver baby quilts to the infant and toddler unit.  (yes, we have an MQG!  I started it after being blown away by Quiltcon 2013!) We toured the new facility and even got to meet a few precious babies and their moms.

Memphis Area MQG Sept 23 2014

This hospital is a regional treasure. Memphians are lucky to have such a world-class facility for our children.  Gwen was a frequent user and was much on my mind.  Today marks the 5th anniversary of the day she passed away in this very place.

A lot of healing has taken place in five years and now I am only happy to think of my sweet girl and grateful to have been in her company for almost 13 years.  She is the best thing that ever happened to me and I have been smiling all day as I remember her.

What I Did All Summer

October 8, 2013

Obviously not much blogging, but I did have a very stitchy summer!

Several folks at Sew Memphis took extended vacations so I spent my days hanging out with the bolts.


I made a tuffet to show off some new home dec fabric.


I also taught two purse classes,

Summer teaching at Sew Memphis

Summer teaching at Sew Memphis

A beginning sewing class,

Summer teaching at Sew MemphisSummer teaching at Sew MemphisSummer teaching at Sew Memphis

and worked with lots of new sewists who came to walk-in open instruction.

Summer teaching at Sew MemphisSummer teaching at Sew MemphisSummer teaching at Sew MemphisSummer teaching at Sew Memphis

These days, I am teaching a 6-session series of sewing classes to homeschooled students. At our last meeting, we did some indigo tie dyeing.

Tie dye class

The results were fantastic and we will make purses (with zippers!) from this fabric tomorrow. In future classes we will refashion t-shirts, learn to applique and make an a-line skirt. I am pretty sure I am having more fun than the students are!

Spring Shows

June 9, 2013

Good sales at holiday markets over the past two years led me to consider doing some spring shows. When I was offered a free tent early in the season, I took that as a sign from the universe and started signing myself up.

In April I did the V & E Artwalk, a festival in a older but funky neighborhood with a strong neighborhood association. That show went pretty well, so I added “Cathedral Day”, a festival at our local Episcopal Cathedral. That show went even better, so I committed to setting up at the first annual Overton Park Day of Merrymaking last weekend. My expectations were low, but sales were high! Sometimes it’s good to be wrong.

Here are some pics from the V & E. I had aprons, bibs, black & white soft baby books and recycled yarn (added to the baskets after the pics were taken) as usual. But the knit hats and Christmas ornaments that sold so well at the holiday show wouldn’t work for spring. To beef up inventory, I added some patchwork headbands, patchwork lanyards and made more birdseed hang-ups in the shapes of flowers instead of stars.

My booth at the V&E Artwalk

A & E Artwalk

Patchwork headbands

bird seed hang-ups

black and white baby books

My favorite part of the day was a surprise visit from my friend Jethro. I babysit for him when his people go out of town. He was interested in the recycled yarn.

My friend Jethro came to check out the yarn

There are no plans for any further shows this summer because I’ll be busy preparing for fall and winter. I was very fortunate to be accepted to a one-day September show that is reportedly hard to get into, but very well attended. I’m hoping to add another one-day show in early December and will do the Memphis Arts Collective holiday show that runs from Black Friday to Christmas Eve as usual. Needless to say, I will have to crank out a lot of merchandise between now and then!

A Stitchy Spring

May 20, 2013

Memphis has enjoyed a real spring season this year (i.e. more than one week between damp/gray/winter and steamy/humid/summer) and I have been out and about with some knitting.

Earlier this year, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art contacted my knitting group asking for collaboration on their upcoming exhibition Angels and Tomboys: Girlhood in Nineteenth Century American Art. They requested that we yarnbomb the front of the museum and we were only too happy to oblige them!

All area knitters and crocheters were invited to join in. On an overcast and unusually chilly day in March we converged on the museum with our handiwork.

We covered the front entrance


and all the posts.

IMG_3765 IMG_3764


We wrapped the benches



and any other random thing we could find.

IMG_3784 IMG_3774


This gate gate was commissioned for a local estate, but the owners decided against using it and gave it to the museum. It was not spared.



Renee took care of the lion.

Knitbombed lion

My job was to fit one of the very tall bike racks with a new sweater. I started out with some big holes


got bored and switched to smaller eyelets with an icord laced through them,


and finished up with colorblocks and lots of stripes. Finally, we strung Kenon’s knitted hearts and draped them among the three bike racks.


We used zip ties to hold everything up. Thankfully, the museum staff had the job of taking it down!

A Quick Spring Getaway

May 2, 2013

On a rare sunny weekend in an unusually cold March, my mom and I zipped over to Arkansas to visit P. Allen Smith’s Moss Hollow Farm. Dubbed “The Martha Stewart of the South” by the New York Times, Allen runs a home and garden lifestyle business which includes a PBS show, several books, and his beautiful farm west of Little Rock.   He was at home that day and led the tour himself.

P. Allen Smith

My mother is crazy for daffodils, so we planned our trip during “Daffodil Days” when the pastures were awash in shades of yellow and gold. The flowers just went on and on! There were all sizes, shapes and hues of sunny blooms waving in the breeze all around the house. It was a most welcome sight for the winter-weary!

daffodils at moss hollow farm

Although not much else was blooming, there was still plenty to see. The farmhouse, an environmentally-friendly wonder, was built less than a decade ago but made to look as if it has been there for years. An enormous post oak in the front driveway adds to the illusion of longevity.

Front of the house with Post Oak

The interior of the house was no less dazzling than the outdoor show. Allen likes the early American look and has managed to capture that aesthetic while also using modern touches and accents. The living room is akin to an art gallery.

living room at moss hollow farm

I loved this modern version of a Windsor chair.

modern take on early American chairs

This arrangement of serving pieces on the wall is gorgeous!

plate arrangement

Of course, I noticed this half square triangle quilt pattern.

Looks like a quilt..but it's a rug!

A closer look shows that is not a quilt, but a rug!

rug detail

My favorite room was the sleeping porch with three beds at one end..

Sleeping porch at Moss Hollow Farm

and a gleaming copper tub at the other.


This is what you see from the porch.

View from rear of house

And here is a view of the back of the house.

Back of the house

The gardens were pretty bare this early in the year, but we admired the espalier


And the variety of heritage livestock such as these Buff Orpingtons.

Buff Orpingtons at Moss Hollow Farm

For lunch, we feasted on recipes from Allen’s cookbook. It was so delicious that we went straight from the table to the gift shop to purchase copies of our own. For the rest of the afternoon we were free to walk around the property and see the rose garden, the vegetable garden and the rest of the livestock.

Moss Hollow Farm is open for tours most weekends and is only 2-1/2 hours door to door from my home in Memphis. Mom and I both highly recommend a visit and are planning to return later in the year to see the gardens in full bloom.


March 17, 2013

My normally predictable life has been anything but lately. What will probably be the highlight of my year was my trip to Quiltcon, the first-ever convention of the Modern Quilt Guild.  After all those years at home with Gwen, I felt anxious signing up for this event and registering for workshops all three days. I even considered backing out at the last minute!  Thank goodness I didn’t because I haven’t had so much fun or seen so many fabulous quilts since the Gee’s Bend exhibition came to Memphis several years ago.

At first I was sure I would be the one old fogey in a sea of skinny hipsters with pink hair and copious body art/piercings. But this convention drew every kind of person you could imagine!  There was pink hair, gray hair, no hair, and even blue hair on the ladies in the Spoonflower booth.

All the modern quilting rock stars were in attendance, most of them teaching workshops and showing quilts or new lines of fabric.  I saw Lizzie House, Jay McCarroll, Denyse Schmidt, Weeks Ringel, Amy Butler, Thomas Knauer, Yoshiko Jenzenji, Angela Walters, Anna Maria Horner, Alicia Haight Carlton, Jacquie Gering, Mary Fons, Sherri Lynn Wood, Lotta Jansdotter, Malka Dubrawsky, Penny Layman, and Elizabeth Hartman to name a few.

And I saw quilts! Rows and rows of wonderful, colorful modern quilts! I had to go through the show at least once every day to take it all in. In the front of the exhibition was a display of antique quilts. Here are a few that look very much like the “modern” quilts we are making today.

This little quilt, Ode to Paul Klee by Serena Brooks of Los Angeles was my favorite in the mini quilt category.

And here are a sample of quilts that caught my eye. There are many more in my Quiltcon Flickr set.

Adrift byt Tina Michalik

Paper Shredder by Pamela Johnson
"Paper Shredder" by Pamela Johnson

Lifesavers by Lee Heinrich. I love what she did with those stripes!

Bolt by Rebecca Roach

Whoa!  Hold the phone! OMG it’s NANCY!  You know, THE Nancy. As in “Sewing With…”.  She was not listed as an instructor or lecturer, so I guess she was just checking out the modern quilt movement. It was such a trip turn around and see her standing there! She is even prettier than she looks on TV.


OK now back to the quilts. Here is my favorite.

Pantone Circles by Elizabeth Brandt.
My personal favorite at Quiltcon

And another one by the same artist.

Another by Elizabeth Brandt

My second favorite.

My Tribute to B.C. Binning by Diane Thompson
Second Favorite at Quiltcon

A few more

Cool blue Kona Modern by Terry Aske.
At Quiltcon

Up in the Air by Latifah Saafir

This quilt won best in show. What a creative way to update the traditional double wedding ring pattern!

Double Edged Love by Victoria Findlay Wolfe
Best of Show at Quiltcon

Here is a detail of the winning quilt.


Even the ribbons were show-worthy!

Even the ribbons were quilts

It’s going to take several posts to cover everything I saw and did at Quiltcon. Overall this event was well-planned, seamlessly organized, all-inclusive, and generally spectacular in every way. Kudos to the MQG board and volunteers for putting on a first-class show!

Playing Catch Up

February 12, 2013

Now that Valentine’s Day is approaching, maybe I should get around to posting pics of my booth at the 2012 holiday show.   The show ran from Nov 30 – Dec 24th in an empty store front in Midtown Memphis and participants took turns staffing it.  I had many more sales this year because I had a better variety of products and price points.   I also set up shop with other women makers at a Memphis Cash Mob event in the lobby of our local literacy agency.  It only lasted a few hours one rainy afternoon, but lots of people came and everyone did well.

Here is the whole setup.  It looks a little awkward and there is too much empty wall space, but I will remedy that next year.  We never know where our booths will be until the last minute so it is hard to plan ahead.  This year  I bought some fancy gridwall to better display the bibs.


I went ahead and made aprons even though everyone is making aprons.  I used large-scale prints with coordinating fabrics for backs so that they are reversible.  The best seller was the Buddha apron which is second from the back in the pic below.  I bought a lot more of that fabric for next year.


These birdseed ornaments sold as fast as I could make them!  I made the boxes out of recycled cereal boxes and nestled the ornaments in shredded tissue from last year’s gift boxes.


My sister made these adorable house ornaments.  There was only one left at the end of the show.


This was the big surprise of season.  I made about 30 decoupage ornaments using pages from fabric catalogs.  I was just sure that most of them  would be coming home with me after the show closed.  But I sold every single one of them and many of the people who purchased them bought two!  These take a long time to make and I even took the supplies on vacation with me.  Many were assembled while we anxiously watched last year’s presidential election returns in front of a fire in a cozy condo in North Carolina.


Other merchandise included hand knit caps, black and white fabric books for infants and recycled yarn.  I only sell one or two lots of yarn every year, but I will keep putting it out because people think that recycling yarn is cool and the pretty colors draw them into my booth.

Things went so well in 2012 that I’m looking to do more shows next season.  And I am starting on the stitching now to avoid the last-minute making frenzy that happens to procrastinators like me!

Glad To Be Back!

November 19, 2012

I took a long break.  Nobody told me that the second year of grief is often worse than the first.  It was.

But I finally feel like blogging again, my sister has been nagging me mercilessly and there have been some exciting new stitchy developments that have necessitated my return to this space.

You see, I have business cards with this address on them.   I ordered them from and used Flickr photos of various projects from the past.  They turned out so well that I ordered some mini cards to use as price tags in a show I’m doing next month.

Yes, a show!  I did my first show last year and it was successful.  So I decided to do it again this year.  I’ll show you some of the merchandise in future posts.

AND because I am teaching!  A friend opened a small but fabulous fabric shop in May and invited me to work there occasionally and to teach anything I wanted.  (Check it out at Sew  So far I have taught purses and pillows for beginners, fabric jewelry for girls, tooth fairy pillows for kids, t-shirt upcycling, pajama pants and half of a two-part Christmas tree skirt class. In December I‘ll be teaching aprons, sock monkeys and drawstring gelt bags for Hanukkah.

Here I am in action.  Can you tell how much I love what I am doing?  (Please note that since this photo was taken I have lost 20 pounds!)


I have also made several custom pillows for clients of an interior designer friend of mine.  Here is the most recent.  The client wanted a pillow to match a quilt for a baby boy’s room.  She scanned and enlarged this horse from the quilt  The designer purchased the white and tan fabrics, gave me some direction and cut me loose.  Here is the result.  I fused and zigzagged the fabrics and embroidered the horse’s facial features and the birds’ legs.   I was worried about zigzagging around all of those curves, but setting my machine to the slowest speed setting made it manageable.


And so, as sands through the hour glass, the stitching (and seam ripping) continues………

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