Monday, January 20, 2014

A word for the year

On one of my email lists,, many members select a word for the year, to guide them in their art and life. The words are varied, and the discussions thought-provoking, and the idea is a lot more inspiring than a resolution.

So after a lot of thought, I decided on the word "Purposefully," as a guide to life.

Purposefully - "with a specific purpose or objective in mind."

The last couple of years, life has been a scramble, with our businesses, finding time for my art (and the business of art) and life in general. I feel like I've spent too much time reacting to things, rushing to do things at the last minute and generally not putting my time to good use.

That's especially tough for my art. It's terribly frustrating to have some time free, want to sew, and not know what to work on, or have to spend half my time digging out supplies or looking for something.

So, I want to do things purposefully. That means getting my studio organized - I've been working on that the last couple of weeks - so I can find things and have space to work. It means getting projects planned out so there's always something ready to work on. It means making time for the business stuff - getting business cards printed, ordering ink for the printer - before I need something for the next art show. It means getting a few handwork projects set up so I can work while watching TV or traveling. 

I don't want to take the fun out of my art - or my life. But with purposefully as my guide, I hope I can enjoy getting things done more, and have less stress in the process. We shall see!

More later.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Trash to Treasure

I'm a treasure hunter. Thrift stores, yard sales, friends clearing out their studios, are all great sources of treasures for my fiber art work and for decorating. And that's been especially true over the past few months, as I've been decorating a vacation rental unit.

Leftover blocks and fabric combine with found tablecloths(right).
Last weekend our Fiber Guild celebrated Roc Day, or St. Distaff's Day, the day women traditionally returned to their spinning and weaving, after Christmas activities were over. Part of the meeting was a Trash to Treasure exchange. While I forgot to bring the bag of yard I'd hoped to rehome, I did bring home a treasure, a stack of six-inch quilt blocks in blues and yellows, along with some coordinating fabric. They coordinated perfectly with a pair of yellow tablecloths I found a couple of weeks ago.

I wanted to make valances and half-curtains for the kitchen windows in the rental, but there wasn't enough fabric in the tablecloths. But with the addition of the quilt blocks, I had a plan.

I divided the quilt blocks, 11 for the smaller window, 16 for the larger, arranged them to create a pattern, and sewed into a strip. Here's how to make a row of quilt blocks into a simple, lined valance (or curtain).

Sew the blocks into a row. Measure the quilt blocks (mine were 6 inches) and add 3.5 inches for the rod pocket (for standard curtain rods, more if yours is larger). If you want a border at the bottom, decide on the border size and add it twice. For my 6 inch blocks, I cut coordinating fabric at 12 inches.

With right sides together, stitch the row of blocks to the coordinating fabric along both sides, creating a tube. Turn right side out, then turn under one-fourth inch on the raw edges and stitch it down, keeping the tube open.

Finished valances
Lay out the tube with the blocks facing up, and arrange so 1.5 inches of the coordinating fabric shows at the top, for the rod pocket. Press. Stitch along the top edge of the blocks to create the rod pocket. Stitch closed the sides below the rod pocket. If desired, top stitch along the bottom edge, this is a great place to use decorative stitches.

Hang your valance.

Here are my valances installed. Once I get another pair of curtain rods, I'll use the tablecloths to make half curtains for the bottom, finishing this project.

I expect to have several more projects to share over the next few weeks, then I hope to get back to my own quilts, both art and traditional. More later.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Treadle On Cat Block Exchange

Happy New Year! Wow, it is embarrassing to see how long it has been since I've posted. But my New Year's resolution is to do more stuff worth posting and get it posted!

We're starting off the new year on the Treadle On email list with several block exchanges, and the one I'm hosting is cats. Here are the instructions for the two cat blocks that can be used for the exchange.

Reclining Cat

cut 4 inch strip
cut 3.5 inch strip

from 4 inch, cut 5.5 inch piece
from 3.5 inch, cut 1.5 inch piece
from 3.5 inch, cut 1.75 inch piece, cut in half for two 1.75 inch squares (save one for next block)

cut 5 inch strip
cut 3.5 inch strip
cut 1.5 inch strip

from 5 inch cut 8.5 inch piece (body)
from 3.5 inch, cut 3 inch piece (head)
from 1.5 inch, cut two 1.5 inch squares (ears)


Place the two 1.5 inch squares of cat fabric (ears) on ends of 3.5 x 1.5 background. Draw diagonal lines ending in two upper corners. Stitch along diagonal lines. Press open, then trim excess from back.

Place the 1.75 inch square of background fabric on the top left corner of the 5 x 8.5 inch piece (body). Draw diagonal line and stitch on diagonal line. Press open, then trim extra from back.

Stitch the ears piece to the top of the 3.5 x 3 inch piece (head).

Stitch the head to the 4 x 5.5 inch piece of background.

Stitch the top section to the body section.


Sitting cat

Cut 3.5 inch strip
Cut 1.5 inch strip

From 3.5 inch, cut one 1.5 inch piece
cut two 3.5 inch squares

From 1.5 inch strip, cut two 8.5 inch pieces

Cat fabric
Cut 3.5 inch strip
Cut 1.5 inch strip

From 3.5 inch, cut one 5.5 inch piece (side)
Cut one 7.5 inch piece (body and head)

from 1.5 inch strip, cut two 1.5 inch squares (ears)


Place the two 1.5 inch squares of cat fabric (ears) on ends of 3.5 x 1.5 background. Draw diagonal lines ending in two upper corners. Stitch along diagonal lines. Press open, then trim excess from back.

Stitch the ear piece across the 3.5 end of head/body piece.

Draw diagonal line on one 3.5 inch square of background. Place over 3.5 x 5.5 (side) and stitch diagonal line (from lower left to upper right) Press open and trim excess from back.

Stitch 3.5 background to top of side/background piece.

Stitch side/background to body/ears.

Stitch 1.5 inch strips on either side.


For the Treadle On exchange, the cats are to be made with small print fabrics (calico cats!) and jewel-tone Kona Cotton backgrounds. Blocks may be reversed/mirror-image if desired. Sets are 10 blocks, with maximum of three sets. Each set should be different fabrics. Use either, or both designs, blocks returned will be a mix of whatever is received.