A Journey In Four Days

I began a journey four days ago.  It was planned last year and I had been preparing for it ever since.  This journey was going take me to unfamiliar, uncomfortable and unimaginable places where fear and failure roam, waiting to pounce when you are the most vulnerable.

I left home at 7:30am although my arrival wasn’t expected until 10:00am.  I had never been here before and I didn’t want to be late because of rush hour traffic or worse yet, getting lost.  I arrived early and waited in the car, finishing up my coffee and talking with myself about how good it is to do something new, to get out of my comfort zone.  I waited and walked, capturing pictures of the newness, preserving this moment.

Stained Glass Shop

As the time drew nearer, I saw a few other people arrive, others just like me, carrying their dreams in back packs and their hearts on their sleeve, overflowing with anticipation and excitement. All of us, on the same journey to learn, grow and transform.

We gathered at the door, each of us looking for the paper with the secret code to enter the building, the code that could and would change us from that moment forward.

Day 1 front door

As I entered the building, I stood for a moment allowing my eyes to adjust to the dimmer light flowing in.

Day 1 inside

We all turned to see another door, this one, yes, this one is where the magic begins.

Day 1 The Door

As we opened the door and walked through black velvet curtains, our breath is momentarily taken away.  We’re greeted with an explosion of color and lights, Bohemian decor and music and the smell of freshly brewed coffee.  A gathering has been planned with the utmost care.

We’ve arrived at Flora Bowley’s studio.

Each of us selected a spot and we begin to unpack our things and then tape our name card above the blank canvas’ already hung on the wall.  Home.

Day 1 station

then we are asked to gather to talk about what is planned for the next four days.

Living room

We spoke of paint, process and pilgrimage.  We watched Flora as she began to magically transform her blank canvas and then we were turned loose to experiment and play.

This is the first canvas with four layers of paint, etching and mark making.

Canvas 1-1

This is the second canvas using the same methods.

Canvas 2-1

Calming the colors down and looking for areas of inspiration.  First canvas.

Canvas 1-2

And doing the same for the second canvas.

Canvas 2-2

The canvas’ I brought home with me are at an awkward stage.  There is no up or down orientation to them.  The rules of composition are absent and color theory does not exist here.  I don’t see the images that are hiding in and among these many layers but I know they are there, waiting to emerge with me, when I am ready.

Canvas 1-3

Canvas 2-3

This journey wasn’t about the canvas’ that I painted, the layer upon layer of color and marks.  It was the emotions that flowed like a river through my eyes and hands as I moved from the fire of the warm palette to the calm of the cool palette.  It was not a coincidence that this journey at this exact time released me from the “old” to the “new” and changed my perception of what it means to be bold, creative and intuitive as an artist and a human.

Thank you Flora for your guidance, wisdom, warmth and above all your sweet soul.

Flora and me

Posted in 2015 | 1 Comment

Scrap Quilt Along: Bigger blocks & things I’ve learned





I pieced together some bigger blocks/slabs last night and made some notes to myself on a few things to keep in mind.  I hope you find these helpful in your scrap quilt journey.

  1. If you are cutting into yardage, cut to a standard width.  1.5″, 2.5″ or 3.5″ strips and squares piece well together.  I cut some random size widths and although it is interesting to the overall scrappiness of the quilt, they take more time to sew and trim.
  2. Thread!  I was trying to use up what I had on hand and became so frustrated with it breaking that I went to our local quilt shop and bought a spool of light grey Auriful.  Oh my gosh what a difference.  This is 100% cotton thread, very strong and minimal lint in the machine.  Side note:  Grey is a great color to use when piecing as it is invisible on most fabrics.
  3. Use a small stitch length on your machine for more accurate seams.  On my machine I have the length set to a 3 which produces 12 stitches to the inch.
  4. Always press the seams after you sew.  Press to the darker side of the piece if possible.
  5. Take time to trim/square up the pairs, blocks and slabs before you sew on the next piece.  This has made all the difference in my piecing.  I have a very old sewing machine that does not have a quarter inch seam guide on the throat plate and my sewing foot is not accurate either so I use a piece of artists tape on the throat plate to guide the fabric through for a 1/4″ seam allowance.
  6. Add more dark colors.  Looking at my blocks overall, I am missing the pop of a dark color (black, navy, charcoal).  I think that 25% of the quilt should be dark fabrics, 25% should be light (aka low volume) and the balance in the mid tone range.
  7. I love remnants but these can be difficult to wash prior to sewing.  I put mine into a nylon mesh zippered bag and then put that in the washing machine on delicate cycle.  The pieces will still fray but not as much.  These pieces I don’t put into the dryer but use my iron on a hot setting to help dry them.  I will lay them out or hang them to dry completely if the iron doesn’t do it.

What are some other tips/tricks that you have discovered?

Keep it simple!

Posted in 2015 | Tagged | 5 Comments

Scrap Quilt Along, Week Three

This week I continued to cut, piece and pair fabric scraps/strips to create the larger blocks, also called slabs.  While looking at the slabs overall on the wall, I’m noticing a lot of pink, turquoise and green and not a lot of dark colors.  I think I will plan on pairing some of these slabs together with dark strips to get more variation and movement in the overall quilt.






I ordered remnant bundles from Westwood Acres Fabrics and WOW are they wonderful.  A lovely combination of lights, medium and a few darks.  Perfect!


The piecing and pairing can get tedious at times, but I keep reminding myself


She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight.  

Proverbs 31:13

Until next time, keep it simple, colorful and joyful!

Posted in 2015 | Tagged | 1 Comment

Scrap Quilt Along, Week Two

This past week has been a whirlwind of activity with little time to work on the scrap quilt- a-long.  I’ve been sewing pairs to pairs.  Here is what’s on the design wall.



I love the serendipity of the the hummingbird head just peaking out over the seam.


Believe – yes, I believe that I will get this quilt done!


The cat print by Melody Miller for Cotton & Steel fabrics.  Part of the Black and White collection.

The city skyline by Francis Newcombe for Art Gallery fabrics.  Part of the Utopia collection.


I found quite a few florals, fruit and vegetable prints in my stash.  I saw something in one of Kaffe Fassett’s books years ago using a mixture of flowers and fruits/vegetables, I think it was called garden rows.  Well, that quilt never happened so these pieces are now rows in a scrap quilt.



I love the pink swallows, also part of the Utopia Collection by Francis Newcombe.  You can also see some Kaffe Fassett florals and Riley Blake chevrons and stripes.


The pink basket of pairs waiting to be sewn.


And the roll away bin with 1.5″, 2.5″ and 3.5″ strips and squares waiting to be paired up.

DSC02293I think this is where I spent most of my “quilt” time this past week, cutting strips and squares from my stash.  I have a pretty random supply of colors and patterns and I have removed ugly fabrics from my stash.  It feels great to finally let go of those and move on.

I hope you had a creative week.

Keep it simple and colorful!

Posted in 2015 | Tagged | 2 Comments

Sewing Scraps and Cleaning Out the Stash

Here are some scrap pairs sewn last night to be used for the scrap quilt along hosted by Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts.  This is just the beginning.  I will need to make hundreds of these pairs for a queen sized quilt.

Scrap PairsHere are some up close pictures.  Some of the pairs are uneven, no worries, they will be trimmed up later.  For now, just get the pairs sewn together.

Scrap Pairs up close 1

Scrap Pairs up close 2

Scrap Pairs up close 3

I’m sticking with white and mid tone bright scraps (no cream colored backgrounds or dusty muted colors).   I’m trying not to over think what I am pairing together.  I look for pieces that are similar in length and sew them.  This is, after all, a scrap quilt.

Here is my favorite scrap piece so far.

Pear scrap

I LOVE those pears!  I bought a yard of this years ago from Spoon Flower and have coveted it.  I just cut out a few pieces to use in this quilt.

Here is where the fun begins, scraps all over the cutting table waiting to be pared up and sewn.  (That pink basket will be used to hold the completed pairs).

Sewing table

The good thing about a scrap quilt is that you get to use what has been saved, but for me the best thing is that I get to go through my fabric stash and cull out those fabrics that I won’t use.  Don’t we all buy a bit of fabric thinking that we will use it for something and then forget about it, find it and ask ourselves “What was I thinking?”  I’ve been in a “sort and purge” mode for a few days now.  I have a large grocery bag full of yardage and scrap fabrics, not sure what I’ll do with those yet.

In the meantime, I’ll keep sewing and destashing.

Keep It Simple.

Posted in 2015 | Tagged | 2 Comments

Scrap Busting Quilt with Amanda Jean, Week One

Today is the day!  Have you been waiting like I have?  Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts posted her Quilt Along called Scrap Vortex Quilt.  Isn’t that amazing?  Just look at all the scrappy goodness in that quilt.  I could spend hours looking at all the different fabrics.

I’ll be playing along.

The sewing room area is ready.


I’ve pulled out my bin of scraps.


Not too many scraps so I ordered some fat eights to round out the selection  🙂

Hung my felt “wall” to hold the pieces and even found some already pieced blocks in the bin.


Let the scrap busting begin!

Keep It Simple.

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This past week I had a lower back then a knee injury which kept me close to home and spending time sitting with ice packs and heat pads.  It’s very rare for me to sit for longer than a few minutes at a time so I picked up some stitching to keep me busy.

I have a few more stitches on my practice “doodle” cloth. (this is where I just practice and play with needle and thread).



I LOVE the woven circles below.  I will be making many more of these.


I pulled some scrap fabric and randomly sewed the pieces together then basted the piece to muslin and began stitching on that.


And then created some fabric wrapped and beaded balls.


I saw these on Alma Stoller’s blog and couldn’t resist making them.  I would love to make lots of these, layer them in a clear jar then place them on a coffee table.  Wouldn’t they be lovely to look at and a good conversation starter?

A few weeks ago, I discovered Debby Schnabel’s stitched quilts and fell in love with her hand embroidered Kantha beauties.

I am pondering using her style of embroidered circles with Kantha style stitching on this quilt top that I finished in February.

Quilt Top 2

I think appliqué embroidered circles will lessen the checkerboard effect of this pattern and provide another layer of color and texture.

This week also began our local CSA subscription at Working Hands Farm.  Look at the beautiful organic veggies we received.


Beets, radishes, spinach, broccoli, chard, kale

IMG_2609Strawberries, arugula, turnips, lettuce, cilantro, bok choy

Is there anything better than fresh (picked that morning), organic, locally grown produce?

How about vases full of flowers picked from my cutting garden this morning?




Keep it Simple!

Posted in 2015 | Tagged , , | 1 Comment