Detail from "Rain Dance," an original quilt by Sherrie Spangler

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

1,000 comfort quilts!

Some of the Gig Harbor Comfort Quilters celebrated yesterday
to mark finishing our 1,000th quilt to donate to cancer patients.

Party time for the Gig Harbor
Comfort Quilters!

We put the final stitches in Quilt No. 1,000 this month. That's 1,000 quilts donated to cancer patients since Carol Arnold started the project in 2002. That's about 100 quilts a year, or two quilts a week. That's a lot of LOVING STITCHES.

Comfort Quilt founder Carol Arnold with Quilt 1,000.

Here's Carol in front of Quilt 1,000 during our party yesterday at Harbor Quilts, where we meet every month to sew colorful lap-size quilts for cancer patients -- mainly breast cancer patients. (Carol started the project after she completed treatment for breast cancer.)

Carol kept trying to turn the focus back on the group, but she deserves special attention for plugging along month after month for almost 10 years, collecting fabric donations, overseeing the work sessions, and delivering the finished quilts.

We had scones and bubbly ... and chicken noodle soup, homemade bread, fudge, brownies, cookies, chocolates ... flowers and balloons.

We worked, too. A lot of little patches went through those machines yesterday. There was a lot of laughter, which is why I'm so happy I found this group of wonderful ladies when I moved here a few years ago. They got me through my first dark and rainy winter in the Northwest and now I SO look forward to our monthly sewing sessions.

Here are some of the quilt tops coming together on the design wall yesterday:

The gorgeous quilt below was pieced by a volunteer at home and then passed on to another volunteer recently for the quilting. There was much ooohing and ahhhing over it.

Back story on Quilt 1,000:

Below is the unfinished quilt having a photo shoot on my front porch last year, although I didn't know at the time it was going to be the milestone one. We had been piecing the blocks during a meeting last summer and I volunteered to take it home to finish sewing the blocks together and put on borders. (It was purely selfish -- I loved the colors so much I didn't want to wait another month to see it again.) After that, it took awhile to work its way through the system for the long-arm quilting, binding and label, but this month it was finally done and ready to be donated.

Here are the rest of my blog posts about the Comfort Quilters, in case you want to see more beautiful colors and designs and learn more about our group, which meets the fourth Tuesday of the month at Harbor Quilts on Pioneer and welcomes donations of fabric and new volunteers. Enjoy!

Label on back of Quilt 1,000:
"Thinking of you. Gig Harbor Comfort Quilters. 2012"

Have a colorful day!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Background challenge

The challenge quilt's deadline is March 1 and I still hadn't decided over the weekend what kind of background to use. Black would be an easy solution -- it really sets off the colors -- but I'm tired of black.

I thought this batik (above) would work because it has the same colors, but the quilt just disappeared against it. On the other hand, that could be an interesting effect.

Then I pulled out the veggie print that also matched the colors exactly, but it overwhelmed the quilt.

I like it against this piece of fabric that I painted last year, but the piece wasn't big enough and I don't feel like pulling out the painting supplies. In the photo below I tested a strip of pink to see how it might work bordering the edges of the pieced section.

Finally I went to the quilt shop (as if I don't have enough fabric in the stash) and settled on the whimsical pink raindrops on green batik. Rain for the garden. I also went with the pink border to set the quilt off from the background print. Now it's quilt, quilt, quilt. Should be done tomorrow!

Have a colorful day!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Feet see Gauguin in Seattle

Big day yesterday for the Feet and Forks! We took the ferry to Seattle and saw "Gauguin & Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise,"  a new exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum.

From the windy ferry deck, we watched Seattle emerge on the horizon, as blue as the sky and the water.

I see an abstract possibility here, looking down from the ferry.

The Feet hoofed it along Alaskan Way to Starbucks, stopping for a photo op with the big stuffed Elliott the Otter. Then it was up the loooong staircase and hills to the museum.

"Tahitian Women (On the Beach)," 1891, Paul Gauguin

Photography wasn't allowed in the Gauguin exhibit, but here's one of the paintings we saw (above). Paul Gauguin, one of the leading French Postimpressionists of the late 1800s, did this oil painting shortly after moving to Tahiti, a period when he increasingly sought expressiveness through COLOR. (My kind of artist!)

Self portrait, 1888, Paul Gauguin

I was struck by the pensiveness of the expressions on his subjects and I couldn't help noticing that they never seemed to be looking at one another. They seemed disconnected from each other and their "paradise." Maybe this was intentional -- I don't know enough about Gauguin to answer that one. Do any of you know?

The exhibit runs through April 29. It includes about 60 of Gauguin's paintings, sculptures and works on paper, most of them brilliantly hued.

Moving on to the the Abstract Expressionist gallery (my favorite period), I pondered the deep meaning of "The Blackboard," 1961, by Conrad Marca-Relli. I decided that the meaning didn't matter to me -- I just liked the large scale, the puzzle-like shapes and the raw edges. Even though it was gray (shudder), I still was attracted to it. It reminded me of textile collage and of farmland seen from an airplane.

Above is a Marc Rothko painting, also from the Abstract Expressionist gallery. I think I'd really like a painting using Rothko and Gauguin's colors but the shapes from "The Blackboard." (Note to self: Possible art quilt.)

Below is a variety of glass art in another gallery.

Then the Feet moved on to The Wild Ginger, where we earned the Forks part of our name. The empty dessert plate had a delicious piece of dense, flourless chocolate cake topped with whipped cream and pieces of toffee!!!

Even though we were stuffed, we somehow ended up minutes later in Pike's Place Market at Beecher's eating free artisan cheese samples.

Then we rolled across the street and made a beeline for the donut machine, which dispenses hot little donuts that melt in your mouth. We got a bag and shared them while sipping free tea samples from the tea shop.

The vegetable and fruit displays in Pike's Place looked as luscious as any Gauguin painting.

Touristy sidewalk display on Alaskan Way.
Back down on Alaskan Way, the other Feet and Forks went to the fudge shop while I got my second iced decaf nonfat no-whip mocha of the day at Starbucks. Then we hustled onto a packed rush-hour ferry for the ride back home.

Our seagull escort home.

Well, I hope you enjoyed your little outing with the Feet and Forks in the great Pacific Northwest.

Have a colorful day

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Chocolate bunny quilt

Karen Musgrave's challenge quilt is hopping along. The vintage fabric we have to use includes brown, which of course made me think of chocolate, which led to the chocolate bunny fabric and the pile of Hershey Kisses foil wrappers in my stash. 

That's the vintage "challenge" fabric in these two blocks. (The strips with the pink and brown print.) It used to have a white background, but I painted over it with transparent SetaColor fabric paints in warm orange, pink and yellow. Much better with my usual colorful palette!

Scary chocolate bunny, glaring out of the garden patch.

Since I have a huge chocolate wrapper collection, I was able to select just the right pink, orange, gold and chocolate colors. I ironed them between plastic sandwich bags (dry iron, low heat, with a press cloth) to stabilize them for sewing.

Part of the challenge is to use Rayna Gillman's techniques from her new book, "Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts," which is why I have all these wavy, wonky strips. She calls them "therapy strips," and she's right. It's easy, mindless, fun sewing -- great therapy!

Now I have to decide how to finish it. I want to leave the irregular outline, but I might mount it on this veggie patch fabric (above). The colors really pop against black, but I've been getting away from black lately in my work. I guess I'd better have some chocolate and think about it.

To read about Karen's challenge and see the vintage fabric, go to her blog post here:

Have a colorful day

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Commission blues

Have you ever had
the Commission Blues?

This is a set of sheer panels that I made on commission to hang above a fireplace on either side of a clock and an arrangement of branches. The client said it just wasn't what she had in mind -- she envisioned something airier -- so now they're mine. She did really like the colors, which had to go with her upholstery, rug, and the clock, but she didn't like the end product.

So while I'm disappointed, at least I can do a good blog post. Above are some of the materials I pulled together -- silk chiffon that I painted, unspun hand-dyed wool, and some other yarn and fabric. I made three trips to her house with various parts of my stash before she finally found all of the colors and textures that she wanted.

We discussed design, then I set to work, above. But our minds, apparently, were on divergent paths. Below is an unfinished panel next to a sample of her upholstery. Quite different from my usual gaudy lime, hot pink and orange palette.

I finally put us both out of our misery today when I told her that I just couldn't change it anymore and I didn't want her to have to pay for something she wasn't happy with. I can't TELL you how much better I feel now that it's not hanging over me and I can move on to doing work for myself.

Have a colorful day

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hoppy Valentine's Day

Two of my honeys.

Hoppy Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

And the winner is ...

Ellen Gets Crafty!

A copy of "Creative Quilting with Beads" will be on its way soon to sunny San Diego, CA, home of the prolific blogger and crafter, Ellen Gets Crafty.  Her blog always brings a ray of California sunshine.

My low-tech random drawing consisted of putting names on little pieces of folded paper and pulling one out of the pile.

For those who didn't win but still might want to do a quick Sparkling Heart for Valentine's Day, here's what it looks like in progress:

1. Layer a main fabric, batting and backing that are cut large enough to either wrap around a stretcher frame or to fit inside a mat and frame. (Note: Do NOT baste, as directed in the book. Just pin the corners.) Cut a 5 x 7 inch opening in a piece of paper and lay it on top to isolate the finished area that will show. Layer snippets of sheers, hand dyes, shimmery lame or whatever catches your fancy in the opening to create a rich background. Pin. Glitz is good.

2. Quilt as desired -- just make sure you catch all the little bits with a few passes of quilting. For projects like this, I like to use shiny rayon or gold metallic in the sewing machine.

3. Make a heart template and pin it in place, using the 5 x 7 cut out again for reference. Either trace around the heart with some sort of marker or do as I did -- leave it pinned in place as a guide until you've done a row of beading around it.

4. Outline the heart with beads, then do a few more rows to emphasize the design. You might have to try a few sizes and colors to find a combo that stands out against the background. Then I filled in the center of the heart with scattered beads, but you should do whatever you want. Make it your own!

5. Finish by either wrapping it around a stretcher frame and stapling it to the back or by matting and framing it ... or bind it, incorporate it in a tote bag, whatever your heart desires. Yesterday's post shows the finished piece.

NOTE: The book goes into much more detail about beading, and has a lot of other fun projects. I highly recommend it, especially if you're a beginner and want specifics about thread, beads, stitches, etc. Here's the link:

I'd love to see your hearts and post them on my blog if you do the project.

Happy Valentine's Day

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Last chance to enter

My Sparkling Heart project that's in the book.

The deadline is fast approaching to enter the drawing for a free copy of "Creative Quilting with Beads." I'm picking the winner when I wake up tomorrow. Just leave a comment and you'll be in the running! (If you don't know what I'm talking about, see the Feb. 8 post.)

I'll celebrate the drawing by having my usual venti iced decaf nonfat mocha. I found this luscious silk scarf at a gallery near the Art Institute of Chicago when I still lived in Illinois. And the turquoise earrings were only $7 from a vendor at the International Quilt Festival-Long Beach last year.

It's all about the color!

Have a colorful day