Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Dorothy Curtis made these wonderful placemats using a combination of Fred and woven cotton fabric. She used the pattern 'Calendar Placemats #139', by Little Country Quilts in Brookfield, WI. (phone: 262-782-2210).

Dorothy and I sew together in a small group named 'Miniatures'. We are proud of the fact that none of us have ever made a 'miniature' anything; sometimes I think we just keep the name to scare off people. (Mary's dining room is full to overflowing on the days we meet.) Some time ago, when the group was formed, we had the intention of learning to make miniature quilts. We gave that idea up almost immediately. What I like about this group, in addition to a very mellow blending of personalities, is the comfort factor. Ages ago we had a discussion about all the places we have lived in our lifetimes, and the cultural differences, and especially the differences in food. The next month, Joanne Gruver brought for lunch a pan full of pork and sauerkraut she recalled from her Pennsylvania days (I had never cooked pork). This evolved into us each taking a month and treating everyone else to comfort food. It also led to "Jake's: Where Your Fantasy Is Our Reality", but that's another story.

Dorothy is the one who keeps us laughing through the month. When I declared that I was not buying another stitch of clothing until I lost some weight, I guess she got tired of seeing me in the same old things, because she handed me a stack of things to wear! Yikes. I have lots to thank her for.


The name of this piece is "World Gone Wrong". It is a calendar of sorts. The upper section is a piece of Fred that has been rusted, then free-motion stitched to the dark green back layer. The lower section is a catalog of many of my concerns and fears. It seems that as soon as I start to figure things out (no matter what the subject is) and make myself a better person, my world a better place, I realize that anything I can do is just a quick fix, a patch job. As I was hand -stitching all these little bits and pieces to the fabric, I wondered how Mother Nature feels as she tries to hold together a much larger, much more complicated puzzle than I will ever have to work with.
This wall-hanging was included in "It's Good to be Green", a show that Larkin Van Horn put together for the Latimer Quilt and Textile Center in Tillamook, Oregon. There is an exhibit catalog on cd-rom, that includes more than 200 photographs. It is available at Thanks for inviting me to participate, Larkin.


I spent the summer of 2007 giving the fabric away. Through this project I have met some people doing some amazing things, and not just with fabric, either. I'll introduce them to you as they send me photos of their work. In the mean time, I'm including this photo of our favorite camping area in the Little Belt Mountains for your viewing pleasure. I actually live here! Excuse me while I pinch myself.

Part I of the fabric giveaway was officially declared ended during the Rocky Mountain Sewing Festival, held each fall in Billings, Montana. I was there to learn a little about indigo dyeing, and ended up giving away several boxes of Fred. Fred, if you remember, is shorthand for 'fabric-giveaway fabric'.

One of the people I met there was Cynthia Coe of Dun a Si Farm ( She raises sheep and hand dyes the fleece, and was at the Sewing Festival as a vendor. We chatted while I filled my shopping basket with amazing colored wool roving. She remembered seeing the article in the paper about Fred, and said she would love to have some to make clothes for her sheep. (Actually, a blanket-type wrap that protects the fleece before it is shorn from the sheep. But I didn't know that then; I stood absolutely still for a moment, imagining...all sort of possibilities.)

I went to my car and filled a box with colors I thought would be functional out in a field, not show the dirt too much, then threw in a hot pink, just because I had a lot of it. Cynthia looked through the box, and said, yes, these are good. Then she saw the pink and got excited! "And THIS is for LOLA!!!" she exclaimed.

Now remember, each piece of this fabric has its own color name--and this particular shade of hot pink is called 'lipstick'. That's right; Lola in Lipstick.

Well, this seemed like an auspicious time to declare that Part I is over--the part where I give large quantities to groups and individuals. Eighty of the boxes have been sent out into the world to be turned in to wonderful things.


The Fabric Giveaway turned a year old on Earth Day--April 22, 2008. I celebrated by putting off updating this blog for a little longer. Actually, I had been thinking about what monumental amounts of my time and effort this little project has ended up taking, and how it seems pointless in a lot of ways, and had pretty much decided to just end it all, and get on with my life. The top picture, one we took near our favorite camping place, sums it up: Mother Nature and I were both feeling burned out.

But then the most amazing things started happening. Everyone seemed to come out of their winter caves, nests, where ever you hole up, bit by bit. I started getting emails, phone calls, pictures, and requests for more fabric.

The second picture is of a wall hanging I made over the winter. I had made some vests and kimono jackets as thank you's for people who are helping me with the giveaway. My idea was for them to wear them to the quilt festival in Houston to advertise what we are doing. (Never having been to that show myself, I had no idea how warm it is in Houston during the show! So the vests and kimonos jackets were variously displayed in a booth, worn for 10 minutes one evening, or carried around and shown, or left at home. But everyone did distribute the little pins I also had made to introduce the giveaway to anyone interested.) I had told everyone they could either keep the garment as it was, or give it back to me and I'd turn it into a wallhanging for them. So that is what is pictured. It's official title is "World Gone Wrong II", but more often I call it "Scary Quilt"; my husband calls it part of my Soapbox Series. It was made using part of one kimono jacket as the base; this was sliced apart and stitched to a woven cotton fabric backing. The sun is made from a rusted coffee filter. It sums up how I was feeling over the winter: uncertain and very burned out.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Mary K Gartland is a wonderful friend to have. She is one of the very few people in the world with an insatiable curiosity about all things, and the courage to say 'Sure. Let's try that'. She is also the kind of grandmother that I dream about being.
This is a placemat she made for one of her grandchildren (yes, folks--that would be 'Chad'). She wrote his name on the dark green shamrock with a bleach pen, and bound the knit fabric with woven cotton quilt fabric.
Mary K helped me sort the fabric from all 90 boxes into piles of related colors so people could find what they wanted more easily. She spent a day cutting the stuff into 1 yard lengths, until we finally looked at each other and thought 'This is stupid. What if people don't want 1 yard pieces...' She also has shared her family with me--it is her daughter Mimi and granddaughter Ella who are in the video clip that is on the newspaper website, in the article about The Fabric Giveaway.
Mary K gets her choice of either a vest or a kimono. She deserves both, actually. As if I had that kind of time.......


Another unfinished creation! I am making this for the Official Writer of The Fabric Giveaway, Linda (Lynn) Jackson. If you click on the image, you will see that I free-motioned two layers of the fabric together to make the vest, then added (with Misty Fuse) some burned shibori. It will now be subjected to lots of machine and hand embellishment before I will call it finished.
Shibori is a traditional tied resist used in fabric dyeing; it just felt right, in this case, to skip the dyeing and roast it like a hot dog over an open flame. Why? Well, the fabric was going to be incinerated, right? So I was curious what that looked like, smelled like, etc. Also, and it's a big also, we in the American West have been having a problem with wildfires the past few years. By mid-summer the air is filled with smoke, the sunrises and sunsets are bright, beautiful, deadly red, and depending on the wind direction, you can see almost part way across town. Normally we can see the Beartooth Mountains from here.
Every one who sees this fabric wants to know how it is done. I will photograph the process and show you, just as soon as I wrap another stick with the fabric.


While I was waiting for Mere to arrive, I started making thank-you gifts to give to people who helped me organize and start the Giveaway. I am making this for Nora for sending me wonderful emails that have kept my spirits up, and made me realize that even if I still haven't figured out why I am doing this, it has meaning to others and reminds me once again of the healing power of Art.
While I was working on the easy-to-get-in-and-out-of version, I was actually picturing a gloriously long, embellished version. So Nora and I have decided to do this: I will send her the unfinished short kimono for her to decorate and wear, then I will do a fantasy version with the very loooonnnng one, being inspired I am sure by the colors she uses, the things she does. I am hoping it will be something that will make you close your eyes, smile, and imagine floating through a perfect world where there is no pain.