Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I have many lives...maybe I'm a cat. Seriously, they all relate to where I am. Sometimes, like today, I see the photos on my camera and they take me back to another life. Just a week ago I was back in southern Oregon, dyeing with my friends in Cynthia's basement. I found these photos on my camera of Cynthia rolling out some lovely "slotted disks" in three earthy browns. I loved the result.

I miss you all, my dyeing friends up north: Christine, Cynthia, Lene. Have LOTS of fun without me and teach me something new next spring!

I'M BACK....

It's so great to be back in Mazatlan. We are busy with getting our house clean and in order after our eight months of being away. I am getting reaquainted with some of my old pieces  that mean so much to me.

 I am setting up my sewing station and dreaming of creating again. Of course!!!

And best of all, I am seeing old friends, both gringos/expats and locals alike and feeling such warmth of spirit. It's like I never left. This morning was my first visit with the sewing ladies and they are still going strong. The cruise ships are returnung to Mazatlan, just a few for now, but their return is HUGE! Hopefully sales will be up.
Another winter lies ahead...I wonder what will be in store for me??

Monday, December 2, 2013


The process of using a quilted piece as a print plate (my last post) was so intriguing that I thought my friends might like to try it too. I invited them to make a free-motioned piece, cover it with a sheer poly, burn or melt the sheer (for texture), then we would get together for a print-fest (regular Monday afternoon dye session). Both Cynthia and Christine produced some interesting free-motion patterns that printed up really well. Cynthia printed the one above and this floral/leafy one below.

You can see Christine pulling the print (white) off of the quilted fabric plate (gold and black) below. Great design, yes?

Here is another of hers where she used both yellow and black print paste for the printing.

I printed some up too but the quilt plates I made were more of a solid pattern, and the results were less than interesting. Next time, I will follow my friends' examples and stitch in different elements.
What  have I learned about printing quilted pieces?
-Begin with an interesting quilted pattern that has some focal elements;
-When brushing or rolling the print paste onto the quilted print paste, use a light touch. You want good coverage on the high spots, but don't press so hard that you mash the fabric down. Christine used a brush and I think more definition emerged.
-Print paste should a good consistency...not too thick and not too thin.
-I don't think that the whole burning/melting thing is really necessary for printing. I think it detracts from the finished pattern on the print.
-Two colors add good interest.
For now, I've had enough of this little experiment, but it's still back there, swimming around in my head. Also swimming in there is my upcoming migration to Mexico, so further printing of quilted cloth will have to wait. I have some ideas brewing...for warmer climates!!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


I was dying to try this...Terry, one of my Cyber Fibres friends, posted a piece she had covered with a poly sheer and then proceeded to burn/melt  it. I couldn't stop looking at it - it was so intriguing and interesting.
I wanted to do a quick and dirty trial run, just to get the hang of it. I made a 3-layer sandwich (sounds like lunch time) of cotton, batting, and 3 scraps on the top. It looked like this:

Next I put a piece of black sheer poly on the top and proceeded to free motion over it with white COTTON thread. (Cotton is the important part!)  Looking good, isn't it?

At this point I needed to burn/melt it but didn't have a means to do that, so when I was at Cynthia's for dyeing on Monday, I borrowed her heat gun. I took this outside and blasted it with heat and watched the poly melt away. I was recognizing similarities to that amazing image that Terry had sent me.

I don't particularly like the part on the left, as the underlying values are too different but I love the part on the right. It's really not my thing to do something like this but I who knows? I might find a way to incorporate this in my work.
BUT, here is something, a surprising final step, that I think is really great! When I brought the burned piece in to show my dyeing friends, Jill suggested  that I print it. I had some charcoal gray print paste already mixed up, so rolled it on and then laid soda-ashed cotton on top for a print. (I used a large PVC pipe to roll over it.) Here is the result.

The stitch lines even show up. I wish I would have used a darker print medium, but hey, we've just begun. I think there will be more of these to come.

Monday, November 4, 2013


I took a tumble last Friday...down 6 steps, head first, on to concrete. The results were a few small scrapes and bruises and a chipped bone on my left foot. The doc put a splint on my foot/leg, suited me up with a pair of crutches, and told me I'd be getting a call from the orthopedist. When I pressed him for how long I might have this, he told me 4-8 weeks.
Four to eight weeks? Crutches and doctor appointments for four to eight weeks? This can't be. I have things to do!
At home, Tom got me settled and poured me a glass of wine. Rather than a celebration or relaxation drink, it was more to numb me to the reality of this situation. Even though I'm smiling, I was not very happy.
By Saturday morning, I was feeling better. I talked to a few friends, posted the above pic on Facebook, and decided to keep our dinner engagement that night. Life must go on. My friend Jayne reminded me that "life happens when we're busy making plans". How true. And I was well aware of how lucky I was that I only had a small fracture.
I knew one thing for certain...I could still sew. I woke up Sunday morning and decided to do some "crazy sewing". To me that means going somewhere I've never gone before...not worrying about time...just going with the flow of the process. Of course I wanted to put together another piece for my "Signs of Life" project, so that defined some specific guidelines (signage and a bird) and the rest just sort of happened.
As all of the pieces for "Signs of Life" relate to some experience I've had this year, the event/person I'd been pondering about lately was my friend Sudie Mason, a longtime boater who has been coming to Refuge Cove for years. She is wise and wonderful and always has a great story or tidbit of wisdom to share. This year she commented to me how she tries to "experience nature every day". That really stuck with me.
I wanted to start with white cotton and create my own background piece with fabric markers. I googled some nature-related images and just didn't find anything that interested me. I decided to fall back on one of my standard free-motion stitching patterns of leaves, ferns and flowers. I have used this so many times throughout the years, every since discovering Laura Lee Fritz's books on continuous line quilting. She is amazing and works with so many different themes, but I stuck with the floral/foliage theme and became proficient with it.

I first used a disappearing ink pen to draw this continuous line design onto white fabric stabilized with freezer paper. Then I went over it with a permanent black fine-tipped marker. Next I colored in the shapes and finalized it with a bright yellow background.

Now for the text. I had to really think about the layout on this one as all the words are different sizes and I wanted to have room for some sort of BIRD (of course) and possibly other nature images. I went to my WORD program and proceeded to type
just as I have just done above (aligned to the right), and then played around with different fonts to see what I liked best. I decided on the very intricate "Jokerman" as I hadn't tried it before. Now, in retrospect, I think it is a bit busy with the background design, but I can live with it. I made a quilted sandwich with the top, some batting, and a backing and proceeded to free motion all of this text. I worked right to left which was very different for me, and also a bit challenging with all of the detail of this font. (I used my favorite 1/4 " tape to help me line it up.)

I  colored in the letters with black permanent marker and set out to plan the rest of the design. I had a few ideas in mind, but decided to let them all tumble around in my dream/sleep state and work on it the next day.
I wanted to keep it simple so settled on a tree/branch/leaf motif with a nest of two baby birds.
Sometimes life evolves in strange and mysterious ways. Gifts of time to do some "crazy sewing" are initially disguised as accidents. I wonder what else is in store for me this month?
And I've already come up with ideas for experiencing nature every day: choosing fantastic nature shows on Netflix, babying my house plants, reading on the deck under a cozy blanket, exploring new nature images to use in my work, or just being mindful of the colorful leaves as they blow across my window.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Dear Tom, THANK YOU for the new fantastic sewing space you helped me create in our small closet. It's PERFECT!!! I LOVE IT!

And what have I been doing? I'm working hard on my SIGNS OF LIFE project and now have 58, yes 58!!! small journal quilts WITH STORIES for my SIGNS OF LIFE PROJECT! Yeah!

ANd my new favorite book is Elizabeth Barton's Inspired to Design. I am definitely attracted to her sense of light and composition. I thought I'd put together a simple Barton-inspired piece for my quilt journal theme of "Windows". The next book on my list is her Working in a Series. I now like to work a series for a full year.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


One of the great things about living in southern Oregon is the close proximity we have to amazing places. Whatever the direction, you will find beauty and interest and something new to explore.
Last weekend we found a slim window to take off for a 3 hour drive west. I had never been to the southern end of the Oregon coast. Tom had cycled it over 30 years ago, but basically it was new territory for both of us. And the weather forecast was great.
The journey to the ocean wound along the Smith River and through the Redwoods, traveling next to massive, old, full-of-life-and-history trees.
Once at the coast, we spent time driving north along highway 101 to the town of Brookings and onward to Gold Beach. We wanted to check out state campgrounds and other areas for future visits.
Turning back south, we ended up at Crescent City, California, another beautiful oceanside town.
Here we saw a huge reconstruction project to repair and refurbish the tsunami-damaged harbor.
And some very lazy sea lions.
The tide was low so we were able to walk out to the Battery Point lighthouse and visit with the volunteer caretakers. I saw a Bernina (just like mine) in the window as we walked around the building. What would it be like to live (and sew) at a lighthouse for a month?

Late afternoon, we found ourselves a picnic table for our daily game of cribbage. Surfers and beachcombers were in the distance, along with the rhythmic sounds of the ocean. And I won!!!

We found the local cinema for an evening movie ("Gravity"), and a small hotel to catch some sleep. We woke before the sun and headed back east towards the Rogue Valley. Our 30 hour vacation was well worth it!

Saturday, September 28, 2013


font: Forte
I had a bit of fun today playing around with fonts. Typically I just free motion any old letters, mostly capitals, but lately I've been interested in what else is out there. So, with a bit of help from my word processor (WORD), I just typed in the word I was going to stitch, highlighted it, and went through different options for fonts. Then I started stitching! (I'll admit I did need to practice with pencil and paper for some of them.)
font: Candara
font: Kristen
font: Curlz MT
font: Goudy Stout

Five fonts today with more to come!

Saturday, September 21, 2013


We've been back in Oregon for over a week now, settled in our simple home here, and most important, I'm back to sewing! The first half of our southern migration was successful.

On the way south, I was able to go to this year's first guild meeting for Quadra Quilters. It was great to connect with my guild friends and catch up with some of my quilt journal buddies. We turned in our summer challenges, portraying a "place" of importance to us. Mine showed my garden, with bees a-buzzing.

Onward to Sydney, BC, just north of Victoria, where we stay with our friends and Refuge neighbors, Jim and Sharon. On the way down, we stopped in Duncan for a SAQA (western Canada division) show. All pieces were 14" square and so well done. Great inspiration!

In Sydney I met with new Cyber Fibres member, Judith. I brought some of my quilt journals to show and she had her smart phone with photos. We connected well, got to know each other a little, and now we aren't internet strangers anymore.

Before we boarded the ferry to Anacortes, Washington, I stopped at another show that happened to be on display next to the ferry terminal. This was an exchange program of fiber art from Canada's east coast (Bay of Fundy) to the west coast. Ocean related, sea-faring themes dominated...more inspiration.

Anacortes brought us to Chris and Sarah's house for a few days. My niece, Sarah, and her hubby Chris are living in the area as Chris is stationed at the nearby Naval Station. Among other things, she showed my how she embellishes baby clothes with bleach product, and also tips on using Pinterest.
We also saw friends from past days when we kept our sailboat in Anacortes. This is a special place for us and we always stop to re-connect.

We're getting closer...but there's one last stop. Alaskan friends Becky and Kevin (from my Gustavus days) have a snowbird home in Port Townsend, another ferry ride southward. They shared fruit from their apple and pear trees and we had a few hours to catch up before we headed off for the last leg of our migration to Oregon.

Ah, feels good to be settled...and sewing!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


I do a lot of discharging and my product of choice is Soft Scrub with Bleach (or, if in Canada, Vim with Bleach). A friend of mine doesn't like bleach products because of the smell/fumes, and her product of choice is Discharge Paste, a product she buys through Dharma Trading Company. For curiosity's sake, I purchased some and have used it with stamps, etc., but never in creating signage or with lettering.  I thought I'd do a comparison project.
I used the same fine tipped bottle for application that I use for the bleach product. (I used a syringe to get it into the bottle.) After I free-motioned my two bottle designs onto my sandwiched fabrics, I carefully applied the discharge paste to the bottle on the right. I let it dry for an hour before I applied a hot, dry iron to it for pulling out the color. The discharge paste obviously ran and bled past the stitch lines, and the result was a bit of a mess. Following this, I applied the Soft Scrub, let it sit on the surface for 10 minutes, then took it to the sink for a gentle washing/brushing of the residual product lying on top of the fabric. The product stayed behind the stitch lines, leaving crisp, precise detail. I would have predicted this outcome, but this little project made the differences even more obvious.

I recently used discharge paste to stamp on a dark, multi-colored parfait fabric. The result was muted and organic, perfect to use as an unfocused background piece with something of detail in the foreground. I used it  in this piece I created for my "Signs of Life" project. I like the little bit of spiral that peeks through, creating the idea of a sun. What's Mexico without the sun!!!?

I want to make a few personal remarks about about using bleach product. I use it sparingly as the brightness or neon-look of the results can be overpowering in a composition. I try to use it in a well-ventilated room, or even better - outside. Most of my discharging projects are completed in under ten minutes, and if I have more than that to do, I might take a break. I have been regularly using this technique for over five years, and believe that with conscious use, it can add so much to the world of fiber art.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


This journal piece, with the theme of "intersections", was created in the spirit of play…piece some scraps together, stitch in some intersecting lines, and bleach out some line sections. My intent was to get a look at some of the color intersections of the bleached out fabric, but they turned out to be quite subtle, and not of great significance (to me).  The line pattern I chose was random and after it was all completed it reminded me of the boardwalks here at Refuge Cove, crisscrossed with timbers to strengthen them as they span across the moss covered rocks and scrub vegetation.
This piece really didn’t evoke much inside of me…there’s not a story attached to it for memories or significance, and the visual outcome wasn’t up to my expectations. It was just one more journal quilt I could check off of the list, and sometimes (not often, thankfully) that’s as good as it gets.
But it goes on.
I am in the midst of writing up a publishing proposal for my book Signs of Life: Techniques and Ideas for Including Signage and Script in Your Fiber Art. My goal is to have it completed and delivered by the time I leave Canada on September 10th. Currently I have quite a bit completed but I am trying to include many examples of my work which relates to the theme of this book. So a few days ago I decided to put together a “title page” and all of a sudden realized I was heading off in the same direction as my journal quilt on “intersections”. While in the middle of construction, I secretly was hoping that I would be happier with the outcome.
That thought must have been happening just as I was free-motioning the word script, because when I took a look at what I had written, it said “scrupt”. #*^$#%&(()!  And double %@@%*I! So I tore out the stitches, not that carefully, re-stitched the word, and continued working until it was completed. Hmmm…my personal jury is still out on this one, but it definitely follows the idea of its predecessor, “Intersections”. I haven’t decided if I will use this piece or not because it doesn’t follow the theme of the pieces I have created in the book…yes, it shows the signage and script part, but doesn’t include one of my whimsical birds. Hmmm…more decisions. (And there’s definitely a minor flaw on the “scrupt” repair.)
So... it is what it is. We'll see where it all goes.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Quilt journal time...the theme was wisdom. This was inspired by a visit to my archival tub of old pieces and fabrics.
This piece was found in the depths of my tub of old pieces.
I came upon a finished piece that I had for sale at the Cortes Craft Shop many years ago. I had stamped (using bleach product) one of my favorite sayings on it (full of wisdom!) and when I saw it, I wondered how I could use it for a quilt journal. At 20”x20”, it didn’t quite fit my size format. Should I cut out the words and attach them to another piece? Or start with a new piece?
The 2013 version...another quilt journal piece completed!
I had recently dyed what I call “moon” pieces, and decided I would free-motion stitch these wise words to the center of a sandwiched moon piece. After bleaching out the letters, I filled them in with a permanent blue pen. This was an easy one, bearing a message full of wisdom.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


When I'm talking about my process and mention "bleach product", some people think I'm actually talking about pure BLEACH. The products I use contain SOME bleach. These commercial products are found in the cleaning section of the grocery store and are thickened solutions that are used for cleaning sinks or toilets. They are much thicker than liquid bleach and much less caustic to the skin or respiratory system. "Soft Scrub with Bleach" is my product of choice for most of the work I do, but I also use "Clorox Bleach Pens". When in Canada, I will buy "Vim with Bleach". A thinner product that I might use for rolling over a stamp or soaking a fish net in for printing is "Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner with Bleach". The "with bleach" part is what's important as that's what pulls the color out of your fabric. The consistency is another important factor as it needs to lie inside the stitch lines without bleeding out.
I always date my bottles. Right now I'm working out of my 2011 bottle (above) and all is good, but if I noticed that application was difficult (which happens when bleach breaks down), I'd get myself a new bottle and sequester the old one to the bathroom or the kitchen.

When I first started working with bleach product in 2008, I was using a small, stiff-bristled brush. It was slow and tedious, but I could paint the bleach product within the stitch lines with some precision. Then I tried putting the product in a small, metal-tipped bottle and I've never looked back. It flows out easily with little squeezing pressure and it's quite easy to control. There are some applications issues to watch out for, but that will be the topic of another blogpost.
It's important to shake the original product well before putting it into the small bottle. I fill it to the top, push the applicator tip on, then slip a pin into the tip to keep it from flowing out.

I then cut a small piece of foil and wrap my bottle to keep the light out. Light breaks down bleach and if left out, you will find the bleach becomes stringy and causes lots of problems. (Time to wash a sink with it!) I then store it in a spice bottle I have wrapped with masking tape...a further light barrier!
"Clorox bleach pens" contain a good product but I always transfer the product into my smaller bottle.
A few years back we flew to Mexico for our winter's stay. I packed a suitcase of dyes, soda ash, urea, etc., and one of the products I brought along was my "Soft Scrub". Sadly it was confiscated at the airport as a hazardous material, and I quickly called a friend who was driving over the border and asked her to bring me a bottle. The next year I had saved an empty opaque bottle of shampoo just to haul my "Soft Scrub" and it successfully arrived with me in Mazatlan.

Friday, August 16, 2013


I was a child of the 50's and 60's and ironing was one of my chores as a young girl: sheets, pillowcases, hankies, shirts and anything else my mom put in the basket for me. I didn't exactly love to do it, and now,  given a choice, I prefer easy-care items that I can shake out from the dryer, perhaps do a bit of smoothing or finger pressing, and it's good to go. But hand-dyes? I love to iron my hand-dyes. The colors and patterns just pop out from their previous semi-interesting, wrinkled wad of potential.

So today was my ironing marathon for the basket of semi-interesting wads of potential that I created at our retreat last weekend. I had washed them and hung them on the line to dry, so to get best results, I had my spray bottle along to dampen them for best results.

So many pieces, not enough time!