Stitched together

It was time to buckle down and finish sewing this together.  I stared at it for a week to try and find things that bothered me, and decided the time had come.  For me, it always makes a difference in the appearance of a piece to see it actually sewn together rather than all the separate pieces on the design wall. Couldn't decide:  do the deeper colors of the branches work?, does the background work?, is  it a balanced composition?, do I need to add more leaves?, should I do some thread painting on the blooms?,  add a border or not?,  etc, etc,

Reading Elizabeth Barton's blog post on eight steps to overcome quilter's panic recently only added to my indecision.  I printed out her steps and pinned them to my wall.  I have so much more to learn.  She posed some probing questions to ask yourself as you try to critique your work.  These 8 steps are tremendously helpful.  I must admit, while I was creating this piece I thought it was going well.  As I put it together, I asked myself the questions from Elizabeth's 8 steps. ( Dang!  It is really difficult to critique your own work.)   Just when I thought Pinkie jumped through most of the hoops sufficiently, I read Elizabeth's last statement of the post :  Remember not everything works and if you think everything IS working you are probably wrong!

YIKES!   Okay, so nothing is ever perfect. Decisions, decisions.  Now that is together, I will  let Pinkie hang around a bit longer before I do the normal (for me) thing.  Quilt it and hope for the best.  

I highly recommend using Elizabeth's suggestions.  Her blog has a wealth of information and inspiration.  She is a fantastic artist and I have heard great comments on her teaching skills.  I hope to be able to participate in one of her workshops one of these days.  As I said, I still have so much to learn. 

Sweet Memories are Made of This

So, back to my somewhat regular routine.  Not that I could ever say I have a routine.  I sorta do whatever, whenever, and try to enjoy what may come.  After returning home from Alabama, and my most wonderful new friends departed for the great northwest, I dragged around for a few more days, still reminiscing about the fun we had.  You might have read about Nifty's, Bonnie's and Tina's purchases while shopping around Cleveland.  After finding those treasures, we hit the thrift store and each bought a few shirts. Then the girls treated Steve and me to a delightful dinner at our favorite local restaurant.  A few martini's, some nice wine and delicious food gave us new strength to head home and cut up the newly purchased shirts.  We continued laughing and cutting up into the wee hours.

Tina rescued the "seams" from all the boxers and shirts and made balls for the cats to play with.  Sorry Tina, but the cats don't get those balls.  I found a much better use for them.  The smaller ones are perfect for filling up the glass of my new Target lamp.  Now to make more more more.

Instead of getting back to work on my dogwood quilt, or any of the other projects that I have started.  I just couldn't wait to play with those shirt scraps that we shared.   I decided to make Friendship Star blocks.  Along with scraps from Tina, Bonnie and Nifty, these shirts turned out to have just the perfect color combinations.  For me at least. I think it will be the perfect quilt full of memories that will last forever.

Got twelve blocks whipped up in no time.  Not sure where it will go from here, but I've got lots of scraps left and it will continue to grow.  As I hope our friendship will continue to grow.

check out the pocket
another "Nifty" idea

Alabama Folk School part 2

Great Friends, Great Fabric, Great Food.  Just can't get enough.  Still reeling with with all the thoughts and memories that will serve me for a long time to come. 

I must take the time to thank Sarah Mills Nee, the director of the Alabama Folk School.  She and her husband are an amazing talented couple.  Sarah and her crew made the daily operation and schedule go smoothly and effortlessly to those of us participating in the workshops.  Everything was done to make our experience relaxing, inspirational and enjoyable.  If you like music or crafts, I can not say enough about this special spot.  They offer classes from nationally know artists and musicians and I can guarantee that you will get your money's worth and then some.
Thank you Sarah and the staff of the Alabama Folk School and Camp McDowell

Mary Ann Pettway - Gee's Bend
Sarah Mills Nee - Camp Director
Anne Robertson - Quilter

Now back to quilting
Mary Ann Pettway posing with her top ready for quilting
Can you tell that she is a fun lady?  


At the end of the workshop, everyone "hung" their quilt tops with blue painters tape to the windows.  Here is Bonnie (sorry Bon, not such a good picture) with her two quilts.  Bonnie has a delightful webpage with great pictures and descriptions of our time together.  Jump over to On The Way and read all about it.  Bonnie is a wonderful artist and you must also visit her web page and art gallery.    Hey!  I just had an idea.  Maybe the Folk School should put Bonnie on their list of teachers!  What fun that would be!!!!

I love the idea of hanging our quilt tops in the windows.  It was magical 



Kim and her very cool GB piece

Suzie made lots of great pieces!

Cathy used her wonderful hand dyed and stamped fabrics

Looks like Cathy and I will be going to a Nancy Crow workshop together!
The fun never ends, my friend.
Anne had a blast with this one
I cannot wait to see more of it!
I began making more posies on day 2 and laid them on another bark cloth curtain panel. Soon got a bit bored with the posies and looked over to see what Victoria was up to.
(footnote: Tina made a posey for me too - the one on the top with stripped outer edges
Thanks Tina! )

(Do you think I am easily distracted?)

OK, so, back on track.   I scrambled around for some pale neutrals from the table of "shared fabrics" and made this little block:

Mary Ann and China graciously signed it for me
My plan is to hand quilt this one, frame it and hold on to it forever.

So ends the saga of my Camp McDowell/Alabama Folk School experience.  You can see all the other quilt tops if you jump over to the other sites that I mentioned in today and yesterday's post.  As I said, I am being a bit lazy here.  Or is it a case of TMI?
Whatever, there is just way too much to ever fit into one little blog. 

Happy trails to you
until we meet again. 

Alabama Folk School

I have just returned from a trip of a lifetime.  No, no, not an exotic trip to some far flung destination.  I am talking about Nauvoo, Alabama.  
The Alabama Folk School at Camp McDowell seems to have been a well kept secret.  From me, at least.  Last winter my friend, Nifty, gave me the heads up on her plan to come south to learn from the ladies of Gee's Bend.   Naturally, I could not pass up this opportunity.  Along with 17 other ladies from all around the country, we made quilts with the guidance of Mary Ann Pettway and China Pettway of Gee's Bend, AL.

I had the pleasure of reuniting with Nifty and Tina from Seattle, and meeting Nifty's sister-in-law, Bonnie, from Salem, OR.   I also had the pleasure of meeting Victoria, a.k.a. Bumble Beans,  and Kim from NY after reading their blogs for a long long time. They have both already posted some great pictures and reads. Victoria shared lots of great ones on her  Flickr link  Another new friend, Cathy from Birmingham, AL has posted great pictures and stories on her blog that you will enjoy checking out.  Sweet Diane from Birmingham posted some great pictures on Picasa.  Ann, from Jackson, MS also has a blog and a website.  Jump over to see what she has going on.  So, I am taking the lazy way out.  You must jump over to see their pictures and descriptions.  I promise you won't be disappointed.  
                      But I must tell you about this lady.  Cherrye Parker
left to right:
China Pettway from Gee's Bend, Cherrye Parker from Brimingham, AL, who had never made a quilt, and  Mary Ann Pettway from Gee's Bend.

Cherrye arrived with fabrics that she had purchased in Africa and a sewing machine just purchased, still in the box, with not a clue how to use it!  Not only did she learn to use a sewing machine, but completed the top and began to learn hand quilting.

Just look what she accomplished as a novice sewer/quilter.

My hat is off to you Cherrye!
Cherrye also wrote a very touching note to all after returning home.  With her permission, I am sharing her thoughts:

 but mama said we'd learn to quilt
           a note from Cherrye Fincher Parker

When I was a little girl, mama would sew a few clothes and crochet.
Somewhere along the way she stopped sewing and taught my friend, Juanakee
and me how to crochet...
but mama said we'd learn to quilt.

Mama, Mrs. Lillie M. H. Fincher,  and I crocheted lots of blankets for Cassandra, my sister, Jasmine, my one niece, Mu Dear, my grandmother - Dr. Gertrude C. Sanders, and family friends. We shared good times together completing each others crochet projects. I enjoyed creating the body of the blanket and mama would do the edges and the fringes.....
but mama said we'd learn to quilt.

Years passed fast... work, new experiences, travel, marriages, divorces, illnesses,
job promotions, joys, disappointments, God's grace keeping us strong...time changes a lot of things...
but mama said we'd learn to quilt.

Mu Dear had a stroke at the age of 90 and mama took good care of her for two years until she went Home...
and mama said now we'd learn to quilt.
100 days after Mu Dear went Home, I guess she got lonely because
mama went to sleep and followed her Home too...

Three years later, Grace brought me to the company of some awesome women, representing eight different states and phenomenal quilters from Gee's Bend at the Alabama Folk School.  With my brand new in-the-box sewing machine in hand, no thread, Joy in my heart and my mama's spirit dwelling in me, I worked hard to make my first quilt top. Mary Ann and China showed me how to bring it all together and several of my new friends added a stitch here and there.

Mama said we'd learn to quilt.
We did.
I know she was there.

Each one of you have blessed me.

Love ya'll,

(Cherrye's sister/best friend, Juanakee, passed away 5 years ago from breast cancer.) 

Here we are, in our final hours together, still laughing

And now to the beginning:
Day 1
China is amazed at Victoria - the day has just begun and she has already gotten half a quilt pieced!  

Where do we begin?

(left to right)    
Mary Ann, Bonnie, Tina, Nifty, Barb, Victoria, Cathy

Nifty & Tina stitching away while Mary Ann confers with Bonnie

(Note the extra large classroom with lots and lots of natural light.  It adjoined the cafeteria and made it oh so easy for meal breaks.  The food was just plain wonderful, I might add. 

Mary Ann shows us a top made by another Gee's Bend lady
Using old boxer shorts from my hubby & son (much to their dismay) and cut up for me by Nifty, Tina and Bonnie.  I brought along a bark cloth curtain panel from the 1950's, as well as bundles of Kaffe fat quarters given to me by Bonnie.  This is the beginnings of my Gee's Bend interpretation.

China suggested that I use this dark green along with the bark cloth.  I agreed, tentatively, but secretly, I didn't like the idea.  But then, why did I come here?  Just to do my own thing?  NO, I wanted to dig into the creative thoughts of a lady from Gee's Bend!  So I reluctantly decided to go with her suggestion.  

I am so happy that I did so.  And I think China was pleased too!  Ya think it looks a bit Gee's Bendish?  I promised China that I would quilt it immediately and not go home and stick it in a drawer.  

Bonnie incorporated some blue "flame" fabric given to her from Tina
Nifty's in progress, using pieces cut from her baby clothes made by her grandmother.
Tina's all together, using some blue and white vintage fabrics from her Mom.
Isn't it great!!!!
Okay, so if you have gotten this far, congrats.  Enough for today, but I promise that there will be more to come.  

ideas for my next one

lured away from piecing the pink dogwoods
 to the iris blooms in my yard
the warm, sunny weather
 camera in hand
life is good
 " graceful ballerina"

 "delicate lady of a certain age"

"spun silk"

"purple tiger"

"lemon drop swirls"

"hold on, I'm coming"

Now then, back to the pink dogwood
it is coming along, making more changes as I go

Spring has sprung

Or is it summer in disguise?  Down south we have had record high temps.  Whew!  Need I say that I am not ready for summer?  What happened to spring?  The dogwoods and iris are in full bloom. Gloriously.
I am stuck with my latest geometric triangular design. So why not go with the flow?
Taking pictures of the prolific dogwood blossoms and giant white iris blooms, I have left those geos in the dust/mud and felt compelled to create new textile art/fiber art/quilt from my pictures of the exquisite deep pink dogwood tree in my backyard.

Taking multiple photos of all the dogwoods, pink and white, I quickly settled on the composition of the white dogwood.  However, not wanting to do another white bloom, I used this photo as my design, using pink as the color of the blooms.

Okay, so I know that they are totally different botanical configurations, but this composition just spoke to me.  Hello.  Use me.  But make me pink.  Call it artistic license.  Does that work for you?  Hey, it is working for me, at any rate.  Here is where it has gotten me thus far.  

the pattern:

day 3:

Just know that these are simply pieces of fabric pinned to my design wall and not sewn together.  Subject to change at my whim.  They are not my usual colors of choice.  But I am liking the pink (okay I have begun a new love affair with pink) and the blue greens, which seem to play well.

I am off and running again with my fav.  
I can't wait for tomorrow.