Sunday, October 31, 2010


Happy Hallowe'en!

Somewhere in my house are Headless Snowmen, wreaking havoc and terror on all who venture near!

I'm so busy that I'm multi-tasking everything; even my Hallowe'en decorations for today are heads for my Stacked Snowmen for my Sale.

How's that for efficient?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Artful Thursday - The Angelic Version

This little angel first appeared in BHG magazine in about 1995, I think! 
There was no pattern given, just a picture but I doodled a bit, and came up with my own version. Essentially, she is two different sizes of "quilted" hearts, with a little head tucked in-between

The magazine version had only white buttons but sometimes I like to add a few coloured ones...

The heart for the body is the smaller one; I like to use a layer of flannelette in between the cotton so it has a little padding and body but batting is too thick - makes her look clunky!

The wing heart in the magazine was quite pointed and not much bigger than the body-heart - I fiddled for a long time to get this one the way I wanted it - you need a wide, swooping "v" in order to have the head nestle in nicely. I quilt the wings with a few simple lines, the merest suggestion of feathers.

The best head I could get was sort of a light bulb shape - and works best if only lightly stuffed (this one is sewn and turned, but not stuffed).

Gathered lace is pinned and sewn in to the body heart when it is made - it's way too hard to add it after! Trust me on this one. I sew all the way around the hearts and then cut a slit in the back of the body heart to turn it (it's then hidden between the body and the wing) and the same for the wing heart, except the slit is cut in the front. Doing so will also hide that slit between the body and the wing.

Once you have the hearts and head sewn and turned you can embellish with buttons or whatever you like - I sometimes add small charms or sparkly bits. 

To assemble, place the two hearts, right sides up and tuck the head in between. Check positioning and add or take away stuffing from head as needed - it should lay fairly flat but with a rounded "face". When these are where you want them, glue in place; if adding a hanging loop, slip a knotted ribbon in between back of neck and wing heart. Once the angel  is completely dry, glue a tiny bit of coiled grapevine to her head for a halo.

Have fun, and if you make any please send me a picture. I would love to see what you come up with!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Turn to Rave!

Now that all the Swap parcels are arriving and others are posting about their "loot" I am finished feeling guilty and am ready to show mine off!

This first one is made by Michele of Nook Cranny. It's just the cutest thing, all layered and pretty colours. Music sheets, a shiny bow and candy ornament all dress up a little Christmas toy. It reminds of Christmas as a child Michele, and makes me smile every time I look at it! 

And next was a piece by Appleshoe. She made each square a different bird, with needle felting and bead work and they were all amazing. I was lucky enough to get the Blue Jay - I was 21 years old before I saw my first Blue Jay so this is a very special square for me Appleshoe!

Genevieve of gmglimmerglass made the piece below. I literally gasped when these were opened on Swap-Night; I had never seen a real life layered collage before, (I know, a sheltered life...) so this was a real eye-opener. Wowsers. This piece is as beautifully finished on the back as it is on the front. Genevieve, you have set a very high bar for future reference.

And Diane of Diane Knott's Musings can hit it out of the park every time she takes up a needle, paint brush or glue bottle. Honestly Diane, you just amaze me every time. I'm ashamed to admit how much I wanted this one; I had a coat just like this when I was little and I know all about Brr... I knew the likelihood of getting this was slim and someone was actually allocated it before me but they already had one of Diane's pieces. And as you could only get one from a participant, it had to go back to the pool. My daughter (the official photographer) tells me I screeched when it was drawn for me... It's beautiful Diane.

And last of all, the one that really takes me back to what Christmas is for me. Music and children, cheery colours and a "Merry Christmas"! Marie at Spun By Me made this and it is simply charming in it's joyful simplicity. The children's faces make me think of Christmases past, the early memories, when I first discovered the Carols. You couldn't have created a better picture of a Christmas moment Marie.

Each and every one of all the Swap pieces showed me something different; I could have kept them for a month but somehow I knew that wouldn't go over too well! You are one heck of a talented bunch and I am honoured to have been in your company. This was my first Swap, both to host and to participate in and it has been a terrific experience. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

And on another happy note, I won the French Friday giveaway at A Little Bit French a few weeks back and my book arrived today.
Here's the little package all wrapped up so sweetly by Rhonda,

And here's the little book - just the right size to tuck into my little purse!

If you haven't been to Rhonda's blog before you should definitely check it out. She is in love with all things French and has a real flair for French styling.

Thank you everyone!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Artful Magic!

If this really was Artful Magic I would also be able to make this post appear yesterday, on the right day, but no go; a day late it is.

I am burning the candle at both ends and straight up the middle. Teaching, working two jobettes, the Friday Demo this week, making things for my Sale and in the midst of all this busyness I went and took it in my head to paint the living and dining rooms. Sheesh!

This post really should be titled "An Artfully Clustered Life"!

But efficient as ever, the Demo from the store will be the makings of this post.
We got a new product in: Texture Magic and I was intrigued from the get-go. I love texture and the idea of quickly and easily giving the fabric of your choice luscious, touchable, and beautiful texture was too much too resist!

So this is what I'm seeing now...

dark linen, stitched in a 60 degree diamond grid and looking like tufting, adorned with torn fabric roses...

This is what the linen looks like after the texturing- you take a sheet of texture magic (a kind of poly fabric that will shrink up to 30% when heat and steam are applied, (and note this important point - they are applied from a distance!), layered with fabric, with or without batting, and then stitched in a pattern of your choosing.  I drew the lines for the grid 1 1/4" apart but am eager to try this with a smaller grid. I also used silk batting for this because it has such a beautiful loft but is also very lightweight.

The grid is drawn on the Texture Magic, all the layers are put together and pin-basted and then sewn. Once that is done, steam for as much texture as desired! (The blue lines will wash away with plain water.)

This snippet is Osnaburg fabric, again the silk batting, and a stipple stitch.

View from the back.

I have been making these torn muslin roses for days now, late at night watching TV as I unwind from the busyness of the day. I have a little stash of them in various sizes from different fabrics and once I make enough textured fabric for some small projects, these will be needed to add just the right touch.

I just haven't yet had time to think through what those small projects might be!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Artful Thursday Meets Philosophical Friday

Almost all my Artful Thursdays have been project oriented but today I am feeling philosophical...

The picture above is of Robert Service, Bard of the Yukon and he has written a few of my most favourite poems (remember the Spell of the Yukon?).
I like this picture because it looks as though he was telling someone a thing or two that he felt very strongly about, kind of like how I am feeling right now. 

There has been an ongoing refrain in the quilting world for decades, and I am hearing it more and more, and also in other creative disciplines, - "I have so many things that aren't finished..." accompanied by a guilty expression and big sigh.

I gave up fretting over finishing things long ago and when ever anyone would say to me "You must have so much unfinished work because of all of your Demos and classes!" I would simply reply "Finishing is over-rated."

Puzzled looks, laughter and disbelief at my irreverent attitude prevailed until one day my good friend Carol bit and asked me whatever did I mean? She has a quiet, sarcastic wit and baits me all the time, thinking perhaps I might just be spouting off without any active thought. But I am old enough to have seen too many of Lucy's replies to Ricky's "Lucy, you got some 'xplaining to do" to miss a beat!

Finishing is over-rated if the thing you think you should finish has lost all interest for you. If you are only working on it to get it done and off the list, if there is no creative joy left in the making of it, only duty, no creative exploration, only mechanical drudgery, and no excitement to give it as a special gift either to yourself or a loved one, is the time spent finishing it not a waste of creative spirit?

Because we start something, are we obligated to finish it? 

When a piece becomes a bore for me it's because whatever I was supposed to gain from the making of it has been gained; I have what I was meant to receive, it has nothing left to give. I take it's gift of knowledge and understanding and excitedly move on to a project that will showcase all I have learned about a new technique or a special material. 

The great masters did studies; when they were looking to do a portrait of a lady in velvet, they would "play" at painting velvet - different colours, different light, different shadows. These were sometimes finished, often by apprentices, but sometimes not at all.

Perhaps if we shifted our thinking, allowed ourselves to be "artists" and recognized the value in "study" pieces, we could stop beating ourselves up over our unfinished work and recognize it gave it us what we needed, when we needed it.

If you can't do that, the next best thing is what I did last week - I told my daughter Laura that if I get hit by a truck, take whatever you want from my sewing room and then call Lucille. She'll know what to do with the rest!

p.s. - I really wanted to use the famous photograph of Churchill by Karsh but it's copyright protected... bah humbug...

**I've added this last bit after reading one of the comments - here's what I do with those unfinished projects, many of which were quilt tops. If the materials are something I want, I have been known to take a thing apart for salvage. If not, I sometimes took them to my old quilting group to see if anyone there wanted them. A large number of quilt guilds donate quilts to hospitals, women's safe houses. You could check with your local guild to see if they would take quilt tops as donations and they could then quilt and bind them for donation.
If they had no redeeming qualities at all, I pitched them. I know that sounds wasteful, but actually throwing something away that I had spent precious time and money on has made me think a little more carefully about what I start. And that in itself has led to less unfinished things. 
And the things that I really like that I haven't yet completed? They are safely nestled in a box waiting for the day I am in the mood to take them up. Mostly they are quilt tops waiting to be hand quilted and they'll all get quilted in turn - eventually!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Swap Guest Post by Lucille

Hi my name is Lucille, and I am doing a guest post on Jillayne's blog. Some day I will have my own blog but for now I am happy to follow all of yours. Jill and I work together and when she talked about doing a swap I knew I had to be a part of it. 

It was so much fun to see the swap as it happened and to see all the squares. I would have liked to take one of each home. I was very inspired!

Now that the mail out is done I can show you what I received. 

This first piece is from Genevieve of GM Glimmerglass,

and this next one is from Susan of Suztats

This piece is from Michele of Nook Cranny Gifts 

This is from Freda of Sew What's New?

And the last one is from Tina of One Wild Swan.

I love all the blocks I received and I enjoyed being challenged; I will definitely take part in another swap.
I know the parcels have been mailed so now I am looking forward to reading your blog posts.

Thank you again for my beautiful squares. They will look lovely in my sewing room! 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Got It!

Marie sent me a few small packets containing some beautiful little treasures she had made and I have tried a few times to take pictures of them, to no avail.
The packets were clear bags with lovely card stock toppers; she had cut the papers to size, stapled them to the bags and then hole-punched them so they could be hung - so pretty!
But every single picture I took made the bags shiny and you couldn't see through the glare to the pretties inside - so...

I took a picture of the top half, leaving out as much of the bags as possible and then opened them...

You really must click on the picture to see them close-up; beautiful little tags and ornaments. Thank you Marie!

I have 6 Swap parcels ready to go and am finishing up the last little things to tuck into the other 5; tomorrow is mailing day!

Today I also spent even more time sorting through my messy sewing room. Honestly, I could hardly walk into it without stepping on something. I tend to be a stacker: each pile containing whatever I need for that project, which works really well unless you have twenty or so projects being worked on concurrently and you have a tiny room!

So I got busy and finished a few things, put some others away that will have to wait until after the New Year and arranged the others in working order, all the while promising myself I won't do it again. 

Yeah right!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

It's a different Thanksgiving this year,

We're at home, for the first time in several years, and we are two. No kids, no family, just us two... and it is just fine. You see, we started that way.
Just us.
And it's easier to be thankful when you're quiet. 
Reflecting on happy times and family celebrations, cherished friends and pets; simple joys, enchanted moments.
I am always most thankful for ordinary days; the kind of days when you don't have to think of how lucky you are - blissful in momentary ignorance. Those are the best.

One thing I am especially thankful for this year is this blog of mine and all of you that I have met through it. It has changed me; I am more hopeful, confident, comfortable. It has helped me achieve a clarity in thought and understanding that had eluded me for so many years, but now seems so simple.
I am making changes I would never have had the courage to do and it is through both reading your blogs and the comments left for me here by my own readers that I have figured out a thing or two about a thing or two.

So thanks be to you.

And thanks also be to Genevieve of GM Glimmerglass who sent me this:

and these,

Genevieve is a graphic artist, among other talents and she participated in the Swap I just hosted - these cards were a thank you gift to me!

I have one more thank you from the Swap and yet again have difficulty with the picture!
Marie, I promise I will get it right tomorrow!

 And a Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Artful Thursday - A Little of This & A Little of That

Today's journey begins with little bits of fabric, that when joined together,

became a little quilt,

A little batting and a little stuffing,

a little sewing,

and a little cinching,

a little more fabric and a little yarn,

makes a happy little couple!

A little close-up!

At last year's Sale it was pointed out by the Managers I didn't have enough "cute" stuff, so this year, "cute" is first up.

 These have been a best-seller for me for years, excepting of course last year, when I didn't make them. I change up the colours and styles, sometimes country, sometimes cheery Christmas colours, an applique one or two in the mix but this is the first year for pastels.

Hopefully this will make the Managers a little happy!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

On Generosity and Friendships

Today was a happy day.

The bags for the Swap are sewn and only need to be embellished - Lucille has agreed to help me with that and I have agreed to provide the wine. Sooo... if your lace looks askew, or your bits and bobs are a bubble off centre, you'll know why!

Some of you sent beautiful little thank you gifts to me - totally unnecessary but so appreciated all the same.

I'll post half today and half tomorrow... I need to re-take a few of the pictures but got into the wine too soon...

from Dorthe,

A beautiful stitched heart with an image of Marie,

A close-up.

And from Diane,

A charming fridge notepad and pencil (I use these all the time!), a tag of lace and lovely hand made card,

From Susan, 

Lovely cards (I remember that post!!), a lovely stitched lavender sachet, and a beautiful piece of her tatting,

and from Lucille,

A bird of my own! For those of you who will be receiving one of her pieces, you will be amazed at the quilting!

Tomorrow I will also post about the squares I received. I looked at them again today and can't believe how lucky I am - I would choose them all over again!

I am overwhelmed by the comments and emails I have received regarding my last post. It seems there are many understanding souls out there, and surprisingly, most have wrestled with the same feelings.
I am still feeling the lightness that comes with finally making a decision one has wrestled with for a long time. I remember a quote from years ago that said 
"We all know the right thing to do, the hard part is doing it".
So true!