Labor Day

The other night, the word “incubate” presented itself in a bolt of awakeness.

patch 1

In that flash, it became clear:


why I’ve had no words as place markers on the personal map,

White Windows

why I have been sitting on most of the process work for the last month,

Stitched Cube

why I have been brooding, the kind where trusting and questioning can get frustrating and cause a pall on mood.

Grid Stitch 2
earlier piece

The work is incubating, (has been for quite some time)

Black Circle

gathering strength so it can hatch.


Patterns: Two Ways

South Carolina storms are intense with patterns. They come in quickly, starting with a canopy of clouds, then a light patter, a flash of lightning.  I count the seconds like a child. How far away will it strike? Then the bolt of thunder.


Six, seven miles. I’m not that accurate when my heavy head is pressing hard into my memory pillow.  It’s the middle of the night.  My mind wanders several miles to say the least. And I start talking to myself about patterns.

fabrics 1.15.1

In my “awakeness,” I had admitted to someone in Week 16 that I don’t like patterns, following patterns, that is. I don’t like the constraints forced upon me by a list of directions to make something that looks like the original.

garden lady sketch

With two baby girl quilts in my gifting queue, I must consider a design. There is room for improvisation with this pattern.

garden lady bag

Six or seven times I’ve constructed Marston and Moran’s Garden Party Ladies for little girls.

But the longer I’m at this craft, the more I prefer to discover the end at the end, playing with the parts, the pieces of cloth, untangling the surprise of their fit.


Letting it evolve…


It is not the simplest way to the finish, but the journey is more interesting, for sure.

house sketch 2

So I took another look at my sketchbooks.

tree quilt drawing

What I discovered in revisiting my designs is that blanket assertions are foolish and potentially dangerous.


I do like patterns. the kind that recur organically, intuitively, almost genetically.
So here is a short list:

The semantics of words, for one thing
and puzzling over a design
the unbound dress,
the silly little bird,
the feather and the house.

I constantly return to these icons ( and a couple more) on the circuitous thread that is my creative search, that is, in itself a pattern: the recurrence of an image, a theme, an idea.

Where do you get ideas? What are your patterns?

Wedding Prep

The wedding dress project continues with lots of prep – just like a wedding.

I took the dress apart at the seams – which was pretty easy because the thread is reaching the end of its life.  The stitches broke away with no fight and a gentle crackling sound.  There are sixty-plus years of wrinkles to press flat before cutting the patchwork.  This takes quite a bit of steam.



I took part of the project home, trying to stay on schedule and knowing that we would be snowed in. Nothing better than being by a toasty iron and an indoor project anyway.


Strips were cut, based on my design: A center panel, taken from the bustles.  I could only get a 24″ square from that piece.  So I cut 6 1/2″ strips to bring the center/monogram panel up to 36″ square.


Sewing  satin is a challenge.  I use a pinning combination that reduces slippage in both directions,  when right sides of satin are facing one another.  The pins are very close together as in “over-pin.”


The pins stay in the whole time.  Some slip out, but the result is better if you can keep them in while sewing.DSCN2113

I’m pretty happy with the seam.  DSCN2114

I chain pieced anything I could.  This is a 12 1/2 piece stitched to a 4 1/2 strip.  They will be sub cut into a brick-type block that will give a woven effect when I’m finished.


Press the seams open.  I’m really surprised at how well the satin takes the heat from the right side with no major adjustments to iron temperature.  I can smell 1946 in the fabric as it heats up.


While I was pinning another strip for the center panel, I noticed how beautifully the satin draped over the edge of my sewing table.  Stopped to enjoy and take a picture.


The finished center panel is draped over the back of a chair in my studio while I continue piecing.


So far, I’ve gotten the basket weave patchwork laid out for sewing.

DSCN2131I will continue the process until the entire quilt top is completed.  Stay tuned a few more steps and the reveal.

Kiki: Part 2

Kiki Part 2-1

Missed Part 1?  Visit the last post on Make Your Own Kiki Doll
 Kiki and Coco in Paris by Nina Gruener and Stephanie Rausser

2011-03-19 20.08.50

Use a chop stick to turn right sides out and ease the filling into the body, arms and legs.
Use a chop stick to turn right sides out and ease the filling into the body, arms and legs.

2011-03-16 19.43.27

Take small amounts of fiberfill at one time and gently push to furthest part of doll from opening.  Continue until the doll is firm, but still soft. The neck should be especially firm, so that the head does not flop.

2011-03-16 21.48.00

The legs and arms can be filled “almost” to the top.  Leaving a bit empty at the opening makes it easier to fold over and/or attach the arms and legs.  The legs are inserted into the opening of the “dress.”

Pin legs in place and pil remaining "dress" closed before sewing.
Pin legs in place and pin remaining “dress” closed before sewing.
Sew close to edge of  "dress" opening.
Sew close to edge of “dress” opening.
Legs are securely in place.
Legs are securely in place.

Add arms by hand sewing with doubled thread or embroidery floss.

Pin arm in place.
Pin arm in place at shoulder.
Replace pin with threaded needle.
Replace pin with threaded needle.

You should stitch through the arm and body at least two times with heavy thread.  Then use the same thread to add the button.  Make several knots in end of thread to secure button.

Kiki Add Button to Arm

You need three or fall small pieces of wool fabric or felt.
You need three or four small  (4″-5″) strips (1″) of wool fabric or felt.

The longer piece wraps around her face and is trimmed to length.

Pin first strip of wool into place around face.
Pin first strip of wool into place around face.
Take tiny stitches in and out of wool and scalp to attach.
Take tiny stitches in and out of wool and scalp to attach.
Keep adding strips until back of head is covered.
Keep adding strips until back of head is covered.

Trim hair into preferred style.  Make a face!Kiki Sew eye 2

I start with one eye by sending the needle through the back of the head to hide the knot.  It comes through the face and the three stitches are drawn before moving the needle to the other side. I went over the main stitch three times to give it prominence.

Stitch in other eye in same manner.

Kiki Sew eye Other

Cut a tiny heart for Kiki's mouth.
Cut a tiny heart for Kiki’s mouth.

Use light-colored thread to attach mouth with a tack stitch.

Stay tuned for How to Make a Dress for Kiki: Part 3.

Tel Aviv

street Y + O

shuk back alleybauhaus1

The white city has gone gray over time.  Once-pristine sandstone buildings show years of wear and tear on their faces.  Renovation is rampant – indicator of a culture not ready to cave in amidst the struggles of middle eastern existence.  Life – chaim – is everywhere.

I just returned from another powerful visit.  Reflecting, I focus on the beauty of paradox, the fine thread of “either-or”  that permeates this wonderful city.

October breezes from the Mediterranean, soften the humidity.  It is pleasantly cool in the mornings and evenings with enough warmth to enjoy a day seaside or wandering, walking, sun steady. A seasonal array of flora dress the sidewalks.  Growth continues as does incessant pruning of giant-leafed greens.  I step over it, looking down, then up, not to miss nature’s show of color and shape and the hand of anonymous artists – tel aviv their canvas.

This is some of what my eye and my camera caught…

flower 1

flower 2


shuk fruit

street couple

street dachshund street dali

street expresso pot

street flower

street footprint

street heart

street kissing couple

street little guy

street mug

street skelton

So sad to leave…

Inspiration by Surprise

The raw land at the development where I live,  offers so many gathering opportunities.   In the nice weather, with Nellie on leash, I wander up unpaved hills, onto weedy patches of sand.  On any day, I might find rusty nails, twisted rebar, tangled wire and strapping among the rust-colored stone shards and plant life on the path.  My favorite find is the overworked saw blades the workers have dulled.


DSCN0981The nails end up in my mordant water, or tucked between folds of fabrics I’ve tied.  I also have a plentiful source of oak leaves, (one of my favorite shapes) and feathers from the wild turkeys that have escaped the neighborhood bobcat.  Now is the time for fresh windfall in abundance.

I glove, mask and goggle-up to bend metal into a new word house. I wrap and fold and dye cottons in rusty water, onto rusted bolts and wire and sprinkle nails like jimmies on cupcakes. I piece and patch, boro-style, appliqué, cut away and stitch.



monodye 2
monodye 2

I never quite know what I will get, but the earthy colors marble the cloth like volcanoes and storm clouds.  It is where I live.

House Climb Front

House Climb Back