About Me

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Great Falls, Montana, United States
I love creating art. I love the Creator! And through that love, I find a little slice of heaven on earth and I give Him all the glory! It's a great adventure and I'm excited to see what's around the bend! Come join me, won't you?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ribbon and Thread Scarf: Part 1!

These are the supplies I began with to make my latest scarf.  You will need Aqua Bond; a water-soluble paper sticky back stabilizer.  And Aqua Film topping.  And lots of pretty threads, ribbons, yarns, lace... fabric strips and cordings can all be draped, laid on, and mixed up. 505 Spray comes in handy to secure the threads, before you lay on the Aqua Film in the last step.  See some students in the last class here!

The Aqua Bond package has been opened, and cut in half, lengthwise on a 36" length, and the ends joined together.  (Sorry - I forgot to take a picture of that!) So here's how it looks after I''ve applied my threads and covered it with the aqua film - another water-soluble stabilizer. This piece is now ready for the free motion fun to begin!  You can see the pink swirly circles I've begun in the triangular shape.
And more quilting... around and around we go... a great way to begin - to get free -- with free motion!  I'm teaching a spring-time "Beyond Free Motion" class beginning May 5th at Bernina Silver Thimble; 5:30-8:30 pm. It's a three-week class, held on Thursday evenings.  
 I will share lots of hints, tips, samplers, special free motion quilting embellishments and "free motion applique" for y'all to explore with me! A mini trunk show, educational materials and lecture on threads, needles, tension are also on the agenda! CMON and HAVE FUN with the FREEDOM of FREE MOTION!

I've finished my pink and green triangles.  Now moving on to the blue triangles, with blue thread.  I'll have a post for you on what happens using the YLI thread...

Check the backside of the scarf, to see where you might need to add more quilting... making sure those circles all join and co-join, like a web, to form a surface that is entirely linked, one with the another... whether it be fiber, cord, thread or ribbon... join them with lots and lots... lots and lots... of circles!  And then there's a bit of an 'ooops' I want to share with you, but it'll have to wait for another post. More to learn and show you how I fixed this baby up!

HINT:  Set your machine speed to 1/2 speed or 3/4 speed, and put 'your pedal to the metal' and keep your movement of the scarf fabric at an even pace.

And then WASH, WASH and WASH the glue of the stabilizers out!  Use lukewarm water... and gently swirl, squish, and rinse.  You can let it soak for 20 minutes or so... and then make sure you refresh your water, and go after it again... and several more times, until you no longer feel the slick surface of the glue on your fibers.  Let it air-dry.  Press it flat if needed, using a low to medium heat on iron, and using a pressing cloth... just in case!  (Ask me how I know this one!)  But look at the beautiful yarns that made this "Santa Fe" scarf!  I love how this turned out... and it's made mostly with just the yarn... more on it at class!

WEAR... and enJOY.  No one... no one... will have one just like yours, I guarantee you!  Look at the all-white scarf... with silver and gold metallic threads.  Beautiful!  Great for summer-time wearing, and just as fabulous at the Holidays.
 I've made over 100 of these over the last couple years.  Let me tell you that they will take approximately 3-4 hours from start to finish.  A 'quick' project, really.  If you want to add beads to the edges... expect that to take you another hour ... or two, depending on your skills with the needle and beading.  I share some tips and hints about my beading technique at the class, too.
 I sell mine at GALLERY 16 here in Great Falls.  They retail there for $95.00.  The materials alone will cost you close to $20.00 or more, depending on what you have on hand. I'm TEACHING THIS CLASS on MAY 7th, 2011 - 10:00 am to 1:00 pm a SATURDAY at BERNINA SILVER THIMBLE here in GREAT FALLS!  It's a super fun class!  JOIN US!  I will share all my best hints and tips with directions and a hand-out.  You can get one made before Mother's Day even!  OR graduation gifts?  Or just because... it's a very cool and fun thing to make for you!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


"My Symphony"  
by Wm. Henry Channing
illustrated by Mary Engelbreit in this charming little book:
To live content with small means;

To seek elegance rather than luxury, 

and refinement rather than fashion; 

To be worthy, not respectable; 

wealthy, not rich;

To study hard, 
 think quietly, 
talk gently
act frankly; 

To listen to stars and birds, 
to babes and sages, 
with open heart, to bear all cheerfully, 

do all bravely,
await occasions, 
hurry never.
... To let the spiritual, 
unbidden and unconscious, 
grow up through the common.

This is to be my symphony
--Photography by Leslie Vaskey McNeil--

I hope you enjoyed this personal illustration  created just for you using some of my favorite photographs and charming poetry.   
I'm excited to be playing with lots of new things in my sewing studio, and I have been planning a few more tips and hints to share.  I hope you'll visit again next Monday as I'm off serving our most gracious God at the 
Women's Tres Dias tomorrow evening! 


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The "Isaiah" Scaves

I was asked by a good friend of mine, to add a bible verse to some scarves she had purchased for our Big Sky Tres Dias Prayer Team. "Tres Dias" is Spanish, meaning three days, and it is a weekend dedicated to help us grow, explore and mature our faith in Jesus Christ --- to learn more, & be strengthened in living our Christian life. Visit the website "Big Sky Tres Dias" for more information, or contact me. I so enjoy the sweet fellowship of seeing old friends, and meeting new ones every time I serve these weekends.  Here is the verse for our Women's weekend retreat:
So, truthfully, I was a bit intimidated by the sheerness and fragility of the fabrics in these scarves. I knew two things: some sort of stabilization was needed, and I wanted to write the verse out by employing free motion.  
The best stabilizer for this job was "Aqua Bond" -- a sticky-backed, water-soluble stabilizer.  I cut it into 1 1/2 inch strips, peeled off the paper backing, and placed it on the backside of the scarf, at the top edge. I chose my #24 free motion foot to help prevent excess fabric from 'flagging' which means the fabric travels up the needle in an unpleasant fashion. The #9 foot would have worked well here too.
For thread, I chose a Superior Threads, tri-lobal polyester.  I had to loosen my top tension greatly --- to .5!  I put a black Isacord polyester in the bobbin. I found out that if I kept my stitches too small, they easily could make a hole in the scarf... not cool. I wish I had tried a 50 weight thread for the bottom... but I didn't until I was finished! Sew .. it.. goes!
 It was definitely a great benefit to use my 'white gloves' (quilting gloves), to help grip the thin fabric, making it as taut as possible, and especially working with just the top edge, too.  I did think about a hoop... but I would have had to move it alot, and I think it would have damaged the fragile fabric, too.  After I finished stitching, I washed out the stabilizer, and pressed them. I was fairly pleased with the way they turned out. I got to try something new, and was blessed to be asked, and to learn... more. 

 Isaiah 12:2:  Surely God is my salvation: I will trust and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might, He has become my salvation.
 Praying He is YOUR strength and might...and if He is not... that He will be! Amen.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Bernina - Free Hand System and Tip

If you own a FHS on your Bernina (or other brands as well), did you know that using it can save you approximately 25% in sewing time?  True story.  I love mine! 

I was telling my Bernina mastery class about this extra little tip for using the Free-Hand system. Thought it might be useful to y'all out there in 'blog-land.' 
This is a nice little 'extra' you can take advantage of if you already have a Free Hand system.  Take the free hand system off of your machine, and thread your spool of your thick threads onto the metal bar (if your spool hole will slide onto the width of the metal bar).  It keeps the thread nice and tidy while you are couching it on with the techniques I've shown before, and in the pictures below!

If you don't know what the free hand system is, it's also called a 'knee lift' and by tilting your knee to the right, you can automatically lift the presser foot without using both of your hands. 

The FHS is GREAT for turning corners, and to get the most out of this system, it's essential that you also engage needle down to preserve your 'spot' when you want to turn the fabric. 
AND... it works so very beautifully as a way of keeping my thread from tangling when I am using one of my very favorite feet - the 39C clear embroidery foot.  If you missed seeing some of the posts, you can see them here and a project I called "Pick Up Stix Glitz" here! 

I also used it to make some charming "Spring Placemats" and you can see them here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"Stained Glass" windows - the Gallery Glass way

Some of you may have seen pictures and posts I've put on the Blog about my porch.  You can see the post here.

... and the inside entry door, below.

I love the 'custom' and even kind of 'high-end' look this gave a very inexpensive door.  I had to be patient and build up my paint coats, applying a thin coat multiple times, letting it dry completely, about 5-6 coatings.  The raised image of the leaf had to be repeatedly painted  multiple times (letting it dry in between coats), so that it would stand out.  It was a bit of a challenge as the door was already hung, too.  It would have been MUCH easier had I thought to do it when it arrived, and just put it on a couple saw horses, or even a table, and accomplished the painting that way without dealing with drips that happen on a vertical surface.  But I LOVE the soft light that radiates into our living room from the porch door and window, yet it gives us privacy, too.

I've also created a stained glass effect on these windows in our home.  I used a pattern from a book on this one. It is the very first window I ever painted.  I believe I traced the measured lines with a sharpie-type pen first.  Then placed the black leading lines (which are also dried first).  They kind of self-stick, until you add the paint to make them stay put permanently.
They are only on the bottom sash of our dining room windows, which face north.

and a clear glass effect in the living room.  A window that faces west, and directly into the next-door neighbors entry door!  When I first bought the home, people would stand at the neighbor's door and knock, turn around idly, and peer directly into my living room area.  It was sometimes rather startling to see them glancing at me if I was in that spot... so I made it 'private' and yet, very light and bright, and well... attractive, at least to me... and that is what counts!  These designs were basically random swirls, done in very thick applications (before I knew better!).  It took forever to dry!  But I was able to remove the window, so it was flat when I painted it.

What is Gallery Glass?  It is a type of 'faux stained glass' - this product is water soluble while wet, but dries like an acrylic paint once it has cured on the window.  You can use paint brushes, sponges, and your fingers to make designs!  

 Perhaps even more important to know, is where YOU CANNOT (or shouldn't) put it.  It won't survive well in a high humidity area, like a bathroom.  It doesn't maintain it's color, and will peel in a window or door that has constant south-facing sun, or one that is an outside door!  I know this quite well, as I've done it, and it peeled off in a  matter of a few hot summer months.  It is readily available at Michael's craft stores, JoAnn Fabrics, and probably at Hobby Lobby, too, and no doubt... online, somewhere!

It has been perfect on our double faced windows in the bedroom, even tho they face south.  Because there is another screen/storm window on the outside, and they are well protected, they seem to have done well.  These windows have been painted for over 8 years, now.  The Gallery Glass paint goes on cloudy, and dries clear.  Nowadays, they make leading lines for you that you can purchase.  When I first began, you had to make your own leading lines by squeezing black paint in a steady line, onto a piece of waxed paper covered cardboard; let them dry and cure for at least a day.  Then peel them off and apply; they are self-stick, basically.  You can, and should, apply leading lines first, if leading is part of your overall design.  In the living room window, and my inside entry door, I didn't need to use leading lines.  I only used the CLEAR Gallery Glass paint.   

I loved playing with this technique.  It is functional, beautiful, and best of all... pretty darn easy. If you make a boo-boo... just let the paint dry, before it's cured, and you can then just cut it away with an x-acto knife quite easily, and repair it seamlessly with another application of the paint. 

Hope you liked seeing our windows!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Summer SHIMMER - completed!

This is what I began with.  My first piece of shibori-styled, hand-dyed fabric, made in the glorious summer-hot days!
 These are the threads I chose to create Summer Shimmer:  YLI threads in three styles: Candlelight, Pearl Crown Rayon, and Designer 6, all wonderful textures of thick threads from YLI.  I also used GLITTER and Rainbows tri-lobal polyester from Superior Threads.
And I also chose a bit of Angelina fibers and Textiva film in golden tones for a reflective feel, which makes me think of the fun of a pool with a bunch of kids laughing, jumping around and splashing! See posts here and  here.

I cut it into long, curvy pieces, and placed them where I wanted them on my quilt top, before I began quilting.  (It's really alot easier that way!)  I added additional angelina fibers, too. 
 The picture above was when I hung the piece in my dining room to evaluate.  Hmmm... I'm likin' it ... still - it needs 'something more.' Back to the machine! Add the GLITTER thread in a darker, turquoise blue.  Binding is already on it, too, at this point.  But I knew that I could still add thread play without any buckling or warping... so I DID.  Can you see the difference in the picture below?  A matter of personal preference... but I did some MORE!
The next picture is without the Glitter thread... 
And then... after adding a bit more of the Glitter thread.

I think I'm on the right track - it fits in with the summertime images I had as my inspiration when I began with the piece.  
Sometimes.. it just takes a few days for me to figure it out... and not being in a hurry is a big advantage.  Getting it "just right" --- like "The Three Bears" children's story with the beds...chairs, and porridge. 
And I think this piece is just right now!
I found that after playing with it on the wall, I really liked the versatility of it hanging either vertically or horizontally.  My favorite is the horizontal, which evokes childhood memories of playing at the pool, laughing, screaming, splashing, taking swimming lessons... the beautiful cool, aqua blue water, and then later in the afternoons... the heat waves from the hot prairie sun as we dried off! The pool was very much a sanctuary for myself, my brothers and sister, and some peace of mind for my Mom.  She saved to buy our family season passes, and made sure we knew how to swim.  As a single mom, at least for those few summer months, she knew we were well occupied, having fun, and safe at the pool.
I think the Glitter added that 'fine bit of detail and movement that really appeals to me, personally.  There is a point in free motion quilting, when you may be a bit disappointed with your threadplay, and think it's not going as well as you'd hoped.   That is exactly where you should be, as you progress in getting to know more in the quilting process.  You will find with your stitching, when more is needed, and when it's time to stop! It's really a matter of the time spent free motion quilting, I think.  I'm figuring it out more as I quilt... more!  As I continue to learn, I've also realized how much there is to just loving the learning process, itself.  It's not just about the finished quilt piece. It's really part of a larger journey.
Let me be transparent with you all here, regarding the photo above, with the yellow and blue curly-q's.  I'm not sure I'm crazy about the blue ones... perhaps I went too far. Or perhaps I could have chosen a different motif... I don't regret it, it's just part of the fun of exploring, trying new things... and stretching yourself beyond what is comfortable!  Be adventurous... be something of a risk-taker! I'm glad I did, as I've discovered more about what I like.
But I sure do really dig the overall look, and feel, and the happy SUMMER memories this evokes for me.  It gives me great joy!
 I dig the binding, too.  It is a commercial batik... and I think it most excellently ties in with the feel of the quilt---it's colors, it's movement, enhancing the overall quilting style, yet defines the space and shows off the lovely curving edges that emulate that pool-like quality I was going for.  It's a darker color value in the same color family, and finishes nicely (in my opinion!). Most importantly - it makes me happy when I look at it. 

Begin! Choose something you love, whether it's the fabrics, a pattern, threads, quilting, motifs, or all! Be inspired. Love what you do. In teaching, I encourage students to do just that.  Just begin!

So this is how it is hanging right now.  I will make hanging sleeves for this piece so it can either way. 
Which way do you like it best?  Hanging vertically or horizontally?
Note: picture above was taken before I added the additional Glitter thread.
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