Friday, August 12, 2022

7 Ways to Create in Happiness on Off the Wall Friday

 This week I read an emotional social media post made by a friend of mine from high school.  They are and always have been a truly unique, special individual.  I knew that from the moment I met them when we both were 14 and I said, "Hey, you want a Pez?" The post spoke finally of their acceptance of the fact that they did their art for the love of it.  Not for the money...not for the accolades...not for the "likes".  

I read it and I thought FINALLY!

I knew from the start that their art wasn't for everyone even though it was brilliant.  I mean really, what does"everyone" know anyways? I mean,  Everyone thinks it's a good idea to pay pro athletes millions of dollars a year while asking teachers to spend their own money on school supplies.  Oops...sorry...that's a rant for another day.

This whole line of thinking brought to mind my "Things Mentally Strong Women Don't Do" series found Here, Here, Here, and Here.  That series started a new theme for this blog...the idea that it's super important to keep yourself mentally strong if you are going to continue to create for a lifetime.  

Ways to Create in Happiness


That's right ...repeat after me..."I am MORE than enough".  You have everything you need to succeed in you and you don't need to go magically looking for it.  Now, this is not to say that you don't need to study and practice more.  It means that you have it inside yourself to do that. I love the quote, "Comparison is the thief of joy."  Of course it is!  Your inner critic is always going to be there to tell you that you suck!  It's NOT true!!   Ultimately, whatever you decide to study and practice and create is ENOUGH.  Say it again..I am enough!


Stop making what you think you should make and start making what you want to make.  This is not supposed to be a job.  It's supposed to be your passion.  It's supposed to be fun.  For me personally, most of the things the world thinks are fun, I personally don't.  I like to do what I like to do.  So do you!  So create what you want to create, not what the latest trends tell you.


You do not have to make excuses about why you spend a lot of money on perfectly good fabric, cut it

up and spend hours sewing it back together.  You do not have to feel guilty that you'd rather spend your vacation at a quilt retreat than on a beach.  The hours you spend creating are productive and just as worthy as anything else you do in your life.  Create guilt and apology free.


Accept your art as a part of you..the good..the bad...the ugly.  (Yes, I'm sorry. I'm a lifelong Eastwood fan).  If you are looking for validation from outside yourself, you have a long wait.  I remember someone saying to me that once she got into Quilt National she thought it would change how her work was perceived.  That it would mean she had  "made it".  Since I thought she was joking, I laughed.  I felt terrible for her when I realized she wasn't.  Accept your is truly amazing because it came from you!

Okay, that's this week's hug to you !!

So under this week's likes...

I got my tickets to hear Fran Lebowitz talk in the fall.  Fran, if you don't know is an author/social commentator from New York City.  I love how she's unapologetically outspoken on all sorts of topics.  I love her insights on today's culture as well as yesterday's. It's not that we always agree, but I love how she takes the whole "Freedom of Speech" wholeheartedly. I highly recommend her Netflix DocuSeries, Pretend It's a City.  It's hysterical as well as enlightening!

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Friday, August 5, 2022

Rosie Lee Tompkins on Off the Wall Friday

Recently, I was cleaning out my fabric room and found my hoard of quilter "hand me downs".  Apparently, when people hear you are a quilter, they automatically will give you leftovers they had inherited.  As a young quilter, I just wanted to treasure them and marvel that in my closet sat work from quilters from the last 100 years.  Thirty years later, it dawns on me that I should either use them or Tessa will be passing them onto the next random young quilter she meets!  With that in mind, I did pull out some for a project for my upcoming September post for National Sewing Month.  

Sorting through it all (and yes there are several shelves!) got me thinking about quilters in days gone by.  It strikes me that no matter how different our lives as women we all have one big thing is common...we like to take fabric...cut it up....and sew it into something new.  

One of those women was African American folk quilter Rosie Lee Tompkins (1936-2006).  Tompkins, whose real name was Effie Mae Martin Howard, was born to a sharecropper family in Arkansas. She was very private and a devoted Christian. She would not give interviews or allow herself to be tape-recorded, photographed, or quoted.  
 This is notable since her work took the art world by storm with her first exhibit "Who'd of Thought It?" in 1988 in the Renwick Museum of the Smithsonian.  (If you haven't gone there - you gotta go - honestly, it's amazing!)  It was like all of a sudden the world realized that textiles could genuinely be a viable art medium.  Her work continued to gain recognition being shown in top museums and galleries throughout the country.  

In 2020, Berkley Art Museum gave a retrospective of 70 of her quilts.  She had made over 500.  In it, you can see how she used improvisational piecing to create her abstract pieces of art. Her work is made of all different fabric types, cut up and put together to make something beautiful.

Just like we do.  

I wish I could have seen the exhibit, but I guess I'll just have to settle for seeing a YouTube video of it.  'Cause like I always's not worth knowing if it's not on YouTube!

All quilts on this post were the work of Rosie Lee Tompkins.

That's your five minutes of art history for today....

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Friday, July 29, 2022

Off the Wall Friday

 I'm traveling this week, so I'll just host!!

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Friday, July 22, 2022

WonderFil Thread Pt 2 on Off the Wall Friday


After writing last week's post, I was really excited to try out some of the WonderFil threads I've been collecting.  They have been sending me nice samples for the whole pandemic and I've never gotten around to seeing if they actually worked in my Janome Horizon.  "Work" is defined as easily free motion quilted with little to no fussing or breakage.  I don't know about you but the one thing I HATE is having my thread continually break.  Not only does it annoy me but it ruins the creative flow I have when I quilt.  That was one of the main reasons I switched to Mettler's Polysheen.  I could easily switch my sewing machine foot to my darning foot and off I went.  No other adjustments were necessary.  I could FMQ till my bobbin ran out!  It's also why my Sulky rayons sit unused unless I need to straight stitch!

As for the WonderFil, I made this sheet using my printer and took an afternoon to test my threads.  I used DecoBob in the bobbin, a quilting or Metallic needle, a blue dot bobbin case, and just warm and natural batting.  I thought this was a handy size since it would fit nicely into a sheet protector in one of my binders.  

The Results

  • Spagetti - 12 wt Cotton  - actually free motion nicely (don't ask me how)  It definitely is a hefty thread though!
  • Glamore - 12 wt Rayon - not surprisingly I couldn't get to even begin to make a sample
  • DTwist - 20 wt Rayon - Started off good, but eventually broke.  I think with some fussying I probably could get it sew, but really, who likes to fuss?!
  • Fabulux/Splendor - 40 wt Rayon - both FMQ without breakage but the tension was off and I would have to fuss with that
  • SpotLite - 40 wt Rayon Metallic - FMQ like a dream - yes  - I am shocked!  It will now be my go-to when I need a metallic for a project.  I stop designing things with metallics because I couldn't get them to work.  This one though did great and it has a nice pretty glitz to it!
  • Silco - 40 wt Cotton - I had trouble with the tension.  Also, I felt like for a 40 wt it sat on top of the fabric a lot.  
  • Mirage - 30 wt Rayon -WoW!  love this ... the tension was perfect - it sews wonderfully and its not too shiny
  • Tutti/Efina - 50/60wt Cotton - as expected these quilted fine - but really how often do I quilt with cotton?
  • DecoBob - 80 wt Poly - I'm happy to report that this probably was my favorite.  The tension was spot on and it has a nice fine quilting line.  I definitely can see myself using this more often when I need quilting but not the "Line".
  • InvisaFil - 100 wt Poly - I could not get to quilt without breakage.  I'm sure it will straight stitch though and that 100 wt thickness is tiny, tiny!
Even though it took a long afternoon, I'm so glad to finally get these tested.  Now I know what I will and will not use or buy!

Under my other Likes...

With all this thread out I needed a place to organize it. None of these really had a home in my big thread
boxes, so I was looking for a smaller one that was economical, clear, and plastic.  After some searching ('cause you know there are 100 thread boxes out there), I settled on the Dritz Thread Storage Box.  It's a good size  (17 prongs) for a small collection of thread and I liked the $5.47 Amazon price.  I think the only thing I don't like is that the top doesn't snap on and off with any kind of latch.  Besides I already had one here so now I have a match set!!

Okay, I'm sure that is more than you ever wanted to know about my WonderFil sample thread...

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Friday, July 15, 2022

Wonderfil Mystery Bundle on Off the Wall Friday

Spotlight, Aqua
Okay, I'll admit it.  I'm turning into a thread geek.  I wouldn't say a thread snob but definitely a thread geek! It came on gradually.  I mean in the beginning, we were all taught that you MUST use cotton thread on your quilts because your quilts were made of all cotton.  Through experimentation, I found you could use all sorts of threads while making quilts (the biggest surprise was hand quilting with rayon on my drag around quilt.  It washed and wore fine!)  The more I explored, the more I found exciting new threads to try and of course, collect!  

Tutti, Mountain

So that brings me to my first "Haul" blog post. I decided to take a leap of faith and buy the Wonderfil Mystery Bundle.  I've made several purchases from them in the recent past and they were always really generous with their free samples. The deal was you get at least $100 worth of stuff for $45 shipped free.  They promise to include threads perfect for quilting, piecing, and general sewing. Crossing my fingers, I ordered.

I got....drum roll...

DecoBob, Dusty Rose

 1 Spool of DecoBob, 2000m,  80 wt polyester,  Dusty Rose...I  love this thread.  I already have big spools of all the neutrals for bobbin winding and small spools of all the neutrals for appliqueing and English paper piecing. It has totally replaced cotton when I English paper piece.  It also has replaced my love of Bottom Line threads since it's just that much thinner and shows less. For that matter being thinner it's cheaper (Bottom Line $7.60/1000 m) So I imagine I can use dusty rose sometime.  ($5.30)

1 Spool of Ahora, 40 wt polyester, Cream...this apparently glows in the dark.  Oh, that's new!  You  recharge it under lights or in the sun. Honestly, this is the only thing that I wasn't quite sure what I'd use it for, how it would work, and if I really needed it.   I'll let ya know! ($6)

Thread Dispenser

2 Spools of Tutti,
1000m, 50 wt cotton, Shell & this is their main cotton quilting/piecing thread line.  The interesting thing is that with a little math calculation the price/meter it is MORE than aurifil. (1000 m of aurifil - $10.31 US, Tutti $11.34 ea)

2 Spools of Spotlight, 1000m, 40 wt Metallic Rayon, Red & Aqua...these are apparently a metallic thread but made of rayon so it should quilt and embroider without breakage.  I've NEVER gotten a metallic to work with my machine so this ought to be interesting.  It definitely has a nice "metallic" shimmer to it, even more than a regular rayon.  I love the colors since red and aqua are definitely colors I will use for this kind of work!  ($16.40 ea)

1 Box of a 6 mini spool collection of InvisiFil, 100 wt polyester...I've tried this before to hand applique and EPP and found it too fine.  Now with this nice little collection, I'll try it in my machine to machine applique and free motion.  ($26)

Mini Spool Collection of InvisiFil- Great Colors Right?

1 Ultimate Thread Dispenser...I never thought to buy one of these but after watching the video Here, it has me wondering if it really is more than the latest gadget!  I have some threads that I can NOT get to feed right into my machine so if it works on them it's totally worth it.  I'll let you know.  ($16)

Retail that comes to $108.78

Plus they included a cute 2022 mini calendar which will fill a small space in my work from office and stickers (come on - who doesn't love stickers - do  you think it's inbred in us as little girls to love stickers or what?)

All and all, I totally thought it was worth the  $45.  I had a ton of fun opening it up and exploring exactly what they sent me.  I think it would have made it easier if they had included some kind of literature on what was what in there.  I had to track it all down on their website which actually is really nice to us and full of helpful information.

Plus now I can try all the different types of threads and report back on how they worked in my Janome!  I never had a stitch or thread sampler and I don't think it's a bad idea to have one.  

Any comments and suggestions on what thread I should try next would be welcome!

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Friday, July 8, 2022

All Hands on Off the Wall Friday

 "You know if you get up and sew you'll have something to blog about for Off the Wall Friday"

So my husband said to me last weekend as I was binge-watching 3 seasons of "Glow Up" a British make-up competition show (Netflix - I highly recommend seasons 2 and 3 ..grin).  God really blessed me when he put that man in my path.  He is so right!!  So I got up and tackled my studio.

First I had to clean it from top to bottom.  All the remnants of orange, green, and beige got put away.  Then, I had to search out all my free motion gear and switch my machine into the FM Goddess she is!  Then make up the sample quilt sandwiches, because Lord knows, it's been an age since I free motion quilted!

Once that was all done, I got down to the nitty-gritty!  I pulled out the boxes of my favorite Mettler Poly Sheen thread and opened up my new roll of Golden Threads quilting paper.  Okay, so how I got through 30 years of my quilt life without knowing about this magic, I have no idea.  Maybe it's because I have a habit of spontaneously free motioning instead of actually planning it out.  But I want to give a big THANK YOU to Jenny Lyon for clueing me in on it!!  This paper is specially designed so you can trace a design,  pin it to the top of your quilt, free motion along your traced line and then easily tare it off. Initially, I thought really?  Is it that much better than regular tracing paper or tissue paper?  The answer is yes!  And if you need proof, you can watch this short video by Leah Day.  Plus she shows you exactly how to use it which isn't rocket science.  Two Pro can easily be found on Amazon Prime and you can use a fine tip light color sharpie to trace and it works great. 

So after I got my FMQ chops tuned up, I managed practicing out some hands.  After the first one, I realized that one line was NOT dark enough.  I did it again going over the hand's line several times.  I also found that for me it worked best if I traced the line every couple of inches.  It gave me a nice smooth line.  This is the sample I cut out and put up on Tessa.  And yes, Tessa now looks ALL HANDS!!  I don't know why I didn't realize that #1 her hands definitely needed a light brown thread and #2 they didn't need to be all thicked line.

This is why you make visual decisions visually!

Funny story of the day, Paul came in to check on my progress (and I believe to make sure I didn't go back to Netflix).  He was all encouraging (I told you he was smart) and praised my work!  After I explained my process of trails, he look vastly relieved and said, "Oh good I thought you were going to leave it like that!"  See God blessed me with that man! He did ask me why are you doing so many trials?  Obviously, he has never tried to take out free motion stitching!!

Anyways, I did manage to get all the trials done and found the right color for the last.  Now I just gotta decide if I'm going to stick with the shiny Poly Sheen or switch back to a nice matte cotton.  Who knew there were so many decisions in one little project!

So the saga continues...grin....

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Friday, July 1, 2022

Exploring the Abstract on Off the Wall Friday

Walking Through Time, Sue Benner

Flora 6, Anna Brown
Okay, am I the only one that just looked up today and realized it was July 1st?  How did that happen?  I mean it's half the year!  I was cleaning my studio and noticed the little pile of Christmas gifts I got that I never really dug into.  One of them is this amazing book, Exploring the Abstract: an Instructional journey by Joan Blackburn. Although it's explorations using paint, it could easily translate to surface
design on fabric.  It landed on my wish list because this book is loaded with ideas on how to start an abstract piece.  I've had more than one person ask me how I do abstract pieces.  Honestly, I didn't really have a good idea.  I mean I have a vague idea of how to start, but what I wanted was a PURPOSEFUL way of starting!!  As I skimmed this book, I love how Joan didn't totally plan out her piece but it was purposely done with an innate flair! I want to learn how to do that.  

#1 Learn the Rules

#2 Keep to the Rules while Experimenting

#3 Learn when to Break the Rules

Red Head, Cynthia Corbin

I thought it would be a good idea to work my way through the book, sometimes using paint, sometimes fabric, and show my explorations here. I want to adapt her painterly exercises into fabric and see if I can learn something new.  I think I will do them in manageable smaller sizes and keep the best to do later in full scale...hmmmmm...we'll see.  

 I was hoping to have done more than skimmed it by now, but ya know, my customers need their clothes.  Luckily that seems to be coming to an end so I'm happy!  Must be all the fuss around the 4th and people realizing "Wow" it's summer!

So stay tuned!

Now under Things I like...

Last Friday I was contemplating how to transfer some of the quilting lines to my mosaic quilt. After wracking my brain for half a minute I got the idea to "Phone a Friend"!  I sent a  quick message to Jenny Lyon and asked if she had 10 min for me.  She message back yes and I opened facebook messenger, pressed video, and there Jenny was all the way out in California!  She was sitting in her studio and I in my family room and for the first time we got to talk face to face.  I'm not sure what tickled me finally be able to talk to someone for "real" that we've corresponded over the last 10 years or that it was so darn easy and cheap!  So it did take about 10 min for us to brainstorm some ideas on what would work with the project.....then it took another hour of us chatting once we started about all things quilting.  It does a body's soul to connect with your people, doesn't it?

So I want to give a big shout of THANKS to Jenny for the help and the creative boost.  I highly encourage you to reach out to an online friend and connect.  This separation from the last year is not doing anybody any good! 

ohhhh and apparently this is #500 OFF THE WALL FRIDAY!  Wow on the day I thought - we need a blog link-up that starts with art quilters....wonder if anybody would come every week if I hosted one....I never thought it would last to 500!!  Thanks everyone for being faithful!

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