Monday, December 7, 2009

Custom Orders...YEAAAAA!!

I know a lot of artists would rather have a root canal that design a custom order but I LOVE THEM! Through all of the different online photos, sites and shops....this customer has chosen me to make that perfect quilt for their special someone.

I start with a conversation with the buyer so I can find out what their "dream" is. It's my experience that every custom order starts with a dreamy picture in the customer's mind of something they would love to have. Through this dialog I can find out what their budget is, when they need it, who it is for, and most important...what type of quilt would they like.

After all the details are hammered out, I start sketching. I clean up the sketch and then pull out my colored pencils. I try to include as much detail as I can. I'll recreate (as best I can) the fabrics I've chosen for the quilt.

I'll then present my customer with the drawing.

This is the point where the changes, if any, are made. This customer wanted to add some darker purples to the applique work. She also wanted to omit the bumble bee because her daughter-in-law was allergic! We decided on an exact size and off to the studio I went.

This is where the joy of custom work flourishes. I love to take an idea and make it come to life. Here is the finished quilt.

When the quilt top was finished, I emailed a photo and explained that I had some fabric left over did she want to add to the collection. She I made a matching bonnet, jumpsuit and pillow.

This is the most recent custom quilt I was asked to design. The drawing was approved and I'm doing the needle turn applique work at this time.

I'll check in with the stages of development so you can follow the process.

Thank you for stopping by to visit! See ya next time.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What Do Quilters Love More Than Fabric?

I have been sitting at my lap top wondering what to write this week.
My thoughts were wandering and I was thinking that the holidays will be here before we know it. I have quilt-y gifts to finish and baking to do. So I was wondering....

What do quilters love more that a free pass to the fabric store? Great food and family.

My mother taught me to cook in a 1950's track house kitchen. Simple appliances that got the job done.

One of mom's famous recipes was a Gooseberry Christmas Pudding. Here is the recipe straight from her hand written cook book.
If you can't find gooseberries, substitute 1 cup of currents and increase milk to 1/3 cup.

2 cups self rising flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup gooseberries plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 tea. cinnamon
pinch of salt
Powdered sugar

Stew gooseberries gently in a little bit of water until plump. Mash berries and add the remainder of ingredients except the powdered sugar. (You'll save this for garnish later). Mix all to form a soft dough. Press into a mold or bowl and cover with foil. Place the container (bowl) in a large pot, adding enough water to come half way up the side of the bowl. Cover the outer pot and steam over medium heat for about two hours, adding more water as needed to keep the water level at half way.

Unmold and garnish with extra berries and powdered sugar.

Give this a try and let me know if it becomes a holiday favorite for you, too.

This was my first kitchen. State of the art, huh?

Well I've written about food and family... now... here is the quilt.

Grandma made this for mom and dad as a wedding gift. It is the flying geese pattern. It now sits at the end of my brother and sister-in-laws bed.

Here is my version.

This quilt, in any size, is a great way to use all those small pieces of fabric. The scrappier the better!

I like to keep continuity and use the same fabric on all units that will represent the background. This mini has center anchor squares that are surrounded by the flying geese.

Help support the handmade community and make a date to spend $30.00 of your holiday shopping on Etsy November 30th. Check out this list for participating Etsy Shops. Or just enter 30on30 into the search box. Thank you!

Thankx for visiting. See you next week!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Rabbit Tarot Show Is Ready To Go!!

Back in October, Nakisha had asked me to join her at the City Trees Gallery in the Seattle area. She will be showing the original watercolors that were used to create the images for her Rabbit Tarot Cards.

I was so honored and excited to be included in the show, that I wanted to make something very special. I had thought about making garments for quite some time, and this opportunity was the perfect time to unveil them!

So, after weeks of sewing and quilting 18 hours a day, my Rabbit Tarot pieces are now in Seattle with Nakisha's watercolors, waiting for Opening Night November 14th. I am showing them here for the very first time. Clicking the highlights will give more detail.

This is a jacket based on the Rabbit Tarot Card, The World. It is done in needle turn applique and is hand quilted. The sky sections are quilted in a stippling pattern with a metallic silver thread to add a little sparkle! The entire back of the jacket has my interpretation of the Word. It too, is needle turn appliqued and stipple quilted.

This is a slouch bag titled The Sun. The detail on the front is all needle turn applique. The quilting around the sun mimics sun rays and have a touch of metallic gold thread to represent light. The back of the bag has contemporary versions of log cabin blocks.

Here is a vest based on the card The Star. I loved making this because of all the beautiful colors and patchwork pieces. The pieced stars on the front are continued on the back, where I have recreated The Star card. The back is needle turn appliqued and hand quilted. Out in *space* I have hand quilted more stars with a metallic gold thread.

I have reproduced the back of the Rabbit Tarot Cards on this bag. Around the center medallion I have placed pieced blocks made entirely of black and white fabrics. The quilting around the bunnies are done in shadow and the body of the bag is a free form graphic pattern.

I hope that you have enjoyed the new additions to my quilt family. I had so much fun making them so I have several more on the idea board ready to start.

Thank you for stopping by!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Deluxe Rabbit Tarot Give Away!

CONGRATS to Mona C of Georgia,
She is the winner of the Deluxe Rabbit Tarot Set!!

My friend Nakisha and I are having a give away!

All of this is in preparation for Nakisha's gallery show of the original art for the Rabbit Tarot, which opens November 14th at the City Trees Gallery in Ballard, Washinton. For more details visit her website. Nakisha has graciously invited me to show some of my Tarot pouches and quilts with her at the show. We have joined together to celebrate with this fun giveaway! Anyone... anywhere... can enter, unless you are family, or have already won something from her in the last year.

What you can win:
The Deluxe Tarot set. This includes a deck of Nakisha's beautiful Rabbit Tarot Cards, one of my hand quilted Rabbit Tarot Pouches (seen below) a bunny pin back button and three Rabbit Tarot postcards. A $48. value!

How to Win:
Leave a comment on Nakisha's blog or this blog post. Be sure to include a way to contact you!

Bonus Entries:
Do any of the following; each * will count as one additional entry:

*Follow this blog (or mention you already follow it in the comments).
*Follow Nakisha's blog (or mention you already follow in the comments)at
*Follow us on twitter cottontailquilt AND bluedogrose AND Tweet (once) this phrase-

RT Win a FREE Rabbit Tarot Deck and Deluxe Tarot Pouch from @bluedogrose @cottontailquilt

Contest ends October 30th, and the winner will be selected by a random number generated by, and Nakisha will announce the winner on her blog on October 31st, 2009.

If you can't wait to have your own Rabbit Tarot Set, I have a Limited Edition Luxury Set in my shop at

Or visit bluedogrose's shop for your own deck at:

These are some examples of other pouches I have made to coordinate with the Rabbit Tarot Cards.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Daisy Tarot Pouch is honored in a treasury!

thank you to nutmegnsassafras at Etsy for including me in this adorable daisy treasury.

We live in northern Michigan and our daisy season has ended until next spring. I thank you so much for bringing spring into my heart for the long cold winter ahead.

Please take a look at the sweet daisies that have been collected for us to enjoy!!

Etsy :: Treasury List

Thank you again, nutmegnsassafras

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm sorry to announce that the "Name This Fabric" contest was a bust. I waited all day today for any final entries, but there just wasn't much interest.

I will leave the offer open until the fabric is named.
Thank you to the entrants. I really appreciate your suggestions!

Exciting news just came my way on Tuesday.

My friend Nakisha is having a show of her beautiful paintings in Seattle at the City Trees Gallery on November 14th. She will be showcasing the original watercolors of Little White and Dutch Rabbit she painted that are used as the images for her Rabbit Tarot Cards. She has asked me to include the carrying pouches I've quilted and two Tarot quilts (I'm still working on) featuring my adaptation of her paintings.

I am so honored and excited that Nakisha has asked me to have my quilts and pouches join her on her very special day!!

If you live in the Seattle area, please stop by and say hello to her on November 14th. She may even give you a reading. She has 10 years experience and it should be a lot of fun.

I am a member of Quilter Blogs. Check them out for fun and informative quilting news and projects.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Summers End

Summer has officially ended.

We fired up the wood stove today and that always signals the beginning of fall.
Last spring we split and stacked 5 cords of apple wood and that's what we have burning now. The smell is divine.

Frank was out in the back 40 taking pictures today and I thought I'd share them with you. The season of natures magnificient color is so short.


This is out over the pond.


These are at the bottom of the driveway.

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The days are getting shorter and nights colder. Snow is forcasted for tonight. The nostalgic thoughts of a quilting hoop on my lap, holding a warm and cozy quilt makes the end of summer less melancholy. My season of quilting has begun!

I will post a quilting project next time. Thank you for stopping by.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Name This Fabric Contest!

I just finished this little quilt that features my original hand made fabric. I have used upcycled fabric and threads to create this fun, textured fabric. I quilted over all the little pieces to make it stable and keep it from shedding. My studio is covered with a million brightly colored fuzzies that escaped the quilting needle.

After the quilt was pieced, I added the floral elements in cottons and felted wool. All are needle turn appliqued. Doesn't it look like an impressionist painting? I've titled it: "Field of Wildflowers"

But.....I have a problem.......this fabric needs a name! Can you help?

I have been playing around and can't find the right one. So...I'm having a contest. Name This Fabric.
For the next 10 days I'm open to any and all suggestions. Just leave your idea and email address in the comment box here and on October 15th I will announce the winner. As a thank you for helping me, I will award the winner a 6x9 inch bag, featuring the fabric.... with it's new name!

I thank you all, in advance, for your entries. Please keep it clean. I look forward to reading all of your creative ideas.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sharing, Caring and Cooperation

I was so surprised and thrilled this week when I received an email from Stefanie on Etsy. She had included my Spacewalk Bunnie in her beautiful Treasury "When I Grow Up"! She asked her three year old daughter what she wanted to be when she grew up, and this treasury was dedicated to her answer.

Thank You very much Stefanie, for including my quilt in your adorable Treasury. To be included in the company of such established Estians was quite an honor. Working together as a community of artists on Etsy, is the very meaning of cooperation.

Spacewalk Bunny is a cooperative effort I have with Nakisha at bluedogrose on Etsy, too. Nakisha has graciously allowed me to translate her Little White Rabbits into quilts. They have been so much fun to work with. The whimsy and imagination make these quilts perfect for a little one's room. Can't you just see them used as the inspiration for story time? Or, do you have someone special that collects bunnies? What a great addition to their collection!

I'm so fortunate to be be working together with Nakisha, again. I am going to add to the LWR series with three new quilts.
I'd like to share that Nakisha has spent over a year creating paintings of Little White Rabbit and his friend Dutch Rabbit. She has had them professionally printed into the beautiful Rabbit Tarot. Each image is a recreation of an original watercolor. What a labor of love!
I am in the process of designing hand quilted carrying pouches for the cards. Each pouch will have a rabbit themed design. The pouch is sized to hold the Rabbit Tarot and with the deluxe set, a reading mat of organic flannel. I'll feature the pouches in my next post!

Thank you for visiting. See you next week :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Think Outside the Box

For a long time now, I've wanted to expand my quilt collection to include techniques that would read more as art than a traditional quilt. My desire was to blend my traditional hand quilting background with a contemporary, fiber art twist. I thought outside the box of traditional quilting, and this is where I landed! Who would have believed that the answer would come to me while I cleaned my studio.

These fiber art pieces had their beginnings as the scraps left behind after I squared off my fabric with the rotary cutter. I had just finished a quilt that had different fabrics with a white theme and I had a million little strips. With a little adjusting to my new found treasures, I was on the right track. I looked down on the stack of fuzzy white mini-strips and was a bit disheartened. The tone on tones that worked so well in the queen sized quilt, just looked like a sea of white. Flat and uninteresting. So I dug a little further into the basket and found some pretty sky blue pieces. I striped them up and added them to *the mix*. That was what it needed. A little color variance to give the collection some depth.

But it still lacked the 3-dimensional feel I was looking for. This was solved with a look into the basket that sits by my sewing station. I found little bundles of threads...all tangled together. I picked through them, sorting out the whites and metallic. I added the thread bundles to my fabric scraps and there it was! I was so excited.

The next task was going to be securing the thread and fabric bundles. All those little pieces!!

I needed a backing....
something to anchor the little pieces to. A piece of plain white muslin would do. I carefully laid all the little strips onto the muslin and pined like mad! Then to the sewing machine. I attached the darning foot and off I went.
For the first time in my quilting career I didn't have to worry about tying threads and burrying them at the back. I left the tails and it just added more personality to the....what do I call my new fabric creation?

I then cut the new fabric creation and assembled the little quilts the way I have for years. I added a needle turn applique tree trunk and soft sculpture branch, covered in snow, to the "Snowy Oak".
To "Believe in Magic" I incorporated a needle turn applique dragonfly and hand embroidered the verse.

To follow this new idea of an art piece, I made stretcher frames and mounted the quilts around them instead of using a binding.

I'm very happy with my decision to think outside the box. I have four more quilts on the design wall and have been having so much fun with this new technique.

Thank you very much for stopping by and I hope you visit again next week.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Custom Bunny Portraits

I have been working with Nakisha at bluedogrose for the last few months, recreating her beautiful Little White Rabbit watercolors into lovely quilted wall art. As I was working on New Blue Ribbon I was thinking, "Wouldn't it be fun to quilt a bunny portrait!" There are many quilters that specialize in portraits, but I wanted to try something different. I wanted to compose a story....with background elements having as much weight as the subjects.

My friend Ellen has two adorable bunnies, named Hudson an Honey. Hudson is charcoal grey and white and Honey is the color of...well... honey. Elle had the most precious photograph of them snuggling nose to nose on flickr . They were laying on the prettiest rag rug and I knew the composition would make a beautiful quilt.

Isn't this great! This is the original pic.

The kicker was going to be recreating the rag rug. If I didn't get that just right the quilt just wouldn't work. So I spent two weeks (a three tries) to recreate the rug as I saw it in Elle's photo. I used the needle turn applique technique to create the brightly colored rag strips. After they were applied, I embroidered the connecting threads with floss. I did it. Even the tassels! Now to step two.

This is the rug that took three tries!

I contacted Ellen and asked if I could recreate her photograph to fabric. She gleefully gave her permission and I was off to unite two beautiful bunnies with their favorite rug.

Hudson and Honey are applied to the quilt with needle turn applique as well. This seem to be my technique of choice these days. I think it's because it's so portable. Hudson's white body was applied first. I then overlayed the black. Honey was a challenge to do. She is a fluffier bunny so I cut some very low loft cotton batting a quarter inch smaller than the applique. I used a glue stick to hold the batting to the applique and tacked them both to the quilt body at the same time. To finish it off I embroidered their outlines in 2 strand of floss, in a medium grey.

Hand painting the eyes and the ears were last. I think I'm a glutton for excess stress because this is always the last step. One mistake and I'm in big trouble. I crated the dog and bunny so I wouldn't be bumped, took a deep breath and with brush in hand, started painting. I wait until the quilt is finished , because the eyes and ears bring the bunnies to LIFE!

I finished the quilt with a small black inner border and and outer border in a primary stripe to coordinate with the rag rug. I sent the quilt off to Ellen. She was very happy with my interpretation of her photo and added the quilt picture to her flicker collection.

A special thank you to Hudson and Honey for being fantastic subjects.
To my dear friend Ellen, thank you for the opportunity to play with your bunnies and to recreate your photo to fabric.

Bunny kisses

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Easily Connect To Your Creativity and Find Your Muse

Creativity can be such an illusive thing.

At times it's oozing from every pore and then, quick as you please, it's all dried up like the Mohave Desert. This week I had one of my dry spells. I was just finishing up a custom quilt and intended to plan my next quilt. NOTHING. I couldn't find a single creative thought.

So I decided I would take a walk through my family history for some inspiration.

My great grandmother was an artist. She painted in oils on copper in the Hudson River style. Her paintings are so serene. Cows grazing in the field, bubbling brooks and willow trees swaying in the breeze. You can almost smell the grass. Occasionally she would paint florals in watercolors. This medium allowed her to express her talent for detail.

My grandmother was a quilter. She created pieced quilt tops that were perfect. She collected all quilters do...and when she had the right combination of colors out came the big, grey tailors scissors and her box of patterns. Gram wouldn't have liked this age of rotary cutters. She was in her zen place when she was cutting. After the quilt top was finished, it was time to bring out the quilting frame and begin the hand quilting that would fill her winter days. Her quilts were a labor of love and she was a master.

My mother was a seamstress, though she'd just tell you she liked to sew. She was quite well known for her pill box hats and stunning wedding gowns. The detail of her gowns was amazing. She covered the buttons by hand and crocheted each loops herself so they would fit perfectly around the buttons. There was always a sea of white on our living room floor as she added the laces, seed beads. sequins and pearls... ALL BY HAND! She made a name for herself with her creativity and attention to detail.

To help me find my creativity, I called on these artistic women. I went to my living room wall and got lost in great Grandmother Elizabeth's paintings. Then off to the bedroom to spread across my bed, the quilt Grandma Sarah made for me when I was a little girl. I finished my search for creativity with an old and tattered photograph album. On it's pages I saw the beautiful wedding dress my mom made for her only daughter.

Each of these creative women touched me and I was aware that they were now my muses. I began to hear their quiet guidance and filled my design wall with ideas for many new quilts.
Though they are no longer here with me on earth, their spirits are alive in the beautiful things they left behind.

Thank you