Wednesday, July 27, 2005

New Cutie Pie

This is our new kitten, as yet un-named. Our older cat, Ruby, doesn't seem to mind her. Rather, she just looks at her with the disdain only cats can muster.

She is very tiny, only about 6 weeks old, but she is full of pep and energy! She came home with us last Sunday night and has really made herself at home.

We're hoping she'll grow up to be a great hunter (for rats, not birds, that is!).

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Quilt Conference Countdown

Yeah! Quilt Hawaii starts tomorrow. All of my quilting friends here on Maui are gathering their supplies and packing their trunks in anticipation of the show.

I've yet to pack! I've also not selected the fabric for the "Giant Dahlia" class on Sunday. I toyed with the idea of not going to that class because the samples I've seen are so uninspiring, but this morning on DIY just before Simply Quilts, Staci Michell was giving a fabric dyeing demo and there was on with hand-dyes on the wall behind her. OK. Now I know what I want...but can I get my act together in time??

Thursday and Friday are full day classes with Libby Lehman of "Threadplay" fame. I am so looking forward to being a student instead of a teacher and spending two full days (maybe three) playing with fabric and thread, visiting the quilt show, and seeing what the different vendors have to offer. It is not often that we have such an event in our own back yard (it's been four years since Quilt Hawaii was here last), so I'm planning to make the most of it! See the show website at

More news later...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Juggler

The Summer 2005 issue of Quilting Arts magazine has a self portrait challenge. I've always wanted to do one and this seemed like a good place to start.

When I read the description for the challenge and thought about "a snapshot of how you see yourself on any given day" it made me think of all the things I have to juggle. Of course, I don't do it in such a pretty dress (usually in shorts, t-shirt and running shoes), but that's what worked with my design.

I'll post more pics as soon as I start adding the things I juggle each day.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Quilt Fever

I'm sick with a case of quilt fever. Like any other ailment, it comes upon me at the most inopportune times! Right now my house is a construction zone and I'm supposed to be helping with various projects, not to mention everyday chores like cooking and cleaning. It is not a good time to get out fabric or my sewing machine (after all, I just cleaned up after one quilt), yet I am compelled to do so.

Two weeks ago I heard about the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Quilt Contest. I hear about challenges, contests and shows almost every day through various sources: email, magazines, friends, etc., and certainly don't act on every one. But for some reason after hearing about this one, my mind went crazy with ideas. I pulled out paper and pencil and drew up a pretty good sketch for a design. And I don't even drink coffee!!

Later that week, I received the latest issue of Quilting Arts magazine and read about the Self Portrait Challenge. This one simmered a little longer before taking hold, but right now I am sitting in front of another workable design idea. I'm just trying to figure out how I can squeeze in some creative time tonight so I can at least cut out the pieces. Thankfully, it is only 8 1/2 x 11 inches. The deadline isn't until September...but I have quilt fever NOW!

Fusible, here I come!

Hula Kahiko to Quilt Hawaii

Speaking of hand applique, the border on this quilt was done in just that manner.

When I designed the border, I asked my husband if I should do the applique by hand or machine. He said, "You spent all that time on the inside, why would you take a shortcut now?" Translation: Do it by hand.

Bruce has had a front row seat to my quilting activities over the years. He is artistic and creative in his own right and has a good eye. He has developed an especially keen eye for quilts and is very good at zeroing in on the areas I'd prefer to keep secret. There is no cutting corners on his watch.

I'm actually glad he urged me to do the work by hand. I think it lends a little bit of a traditional Hawaiian quilting aspect to this piece since the rest of it, other than the subject matter, is decidedly contemporary.

I contemplated doing the applique by machine, since I was down to the wire to get it finished for another show earlier this year. I am very definitely the "Queen of the Last Minute" when it comes to deadlines, which has sometimes backfired and did on this quilt. I sometimes get into a rush and do things I wouldn't normally do if I just sat back and thought about it for awhile.

After it wasn't accepted in that particular show, I took out all the quilting on her skirt, which was heavy and flattened it out. I also added the beads to the pieced inner border.

The lesson I learned from this quilt is to slow down and do what is right for the piece, and don't cut corners just to rush a quilt into a show. I think I'd rather forego a deadline than enter something I just didn't feel was my best effort.

She's ready now.

To Fuse or Not to Fuse

I've long had friends who swore by fusing, but I've always associated it with the stiff, cardboard-like appliques of ducks and chicks on baby quilts (even though they didn't make those kinds of quilts). I even had the same association with satin stitching, but more on that later.

I've been a hand appliquer most of my quilting life. I love the rhythmic stitching of needle-turning which I learned from master Hawaiian quilter, Wailani Johansen, when I moved to Maui almost 15 years ago. I've needle-turned my way through a queen size Hawaiian quilt, several wall hangings, and tons of pillows. Fusing seemed like cheating.

But as my work moves away from the traditional Hawaiian designs to a more contemporary look, I'm finding that needle-turning is taking a back seat to other faster techniques. Although I've dabbled with fused pieces here and there, it really didn't hit me until I wanted to make "Kona Sunrise" (see previous posts) for a contest at the last minute.

Knowing that it would be impossible to hand applique the tree and all the leaves AND finish the quilt in a week, I pulled out my Wonder Under and got to work. And I LIKED IT. But did I have enough WU to finish the quilt? NOOO. When I needed to fuse the coffee berries, which are hand dyed silk, I discovered I was out of WU and had to resort to my back up: a piece of Steam-A-Seam. UGH. I don't like it. It didn't stick well to the silk and made cutting the 287 coffee berries cumbersome. It also gummed up the needle when I threaded the quilt.

So, now I am on a quest to find the perfect fusible to have on hand when I want to use it. I know there are many different types, and WU is a good start, but it will be fun playing with the different types on smaller projects until I find the one that works best for me.

I will still hand applique, but as we quilters know, there is more than one way to get a quilt made.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Coffee Quilt Home Stretch

It's a good thing that the deadline was extended for the Coffee Quilt Contest. I had forgotten how much time it takes to machine quilt a quilt on my Bernina. As much as I love my Bernina, I truly miss my old Gammill. The good news is, I may have another longarm before the year is out!

So, after three days of machine quilting this holiday weekend on the good old 160, I am pooped and my poor machine is pretty irritated. Things went smoothly until I made it stitch through the layers of fabric, Wonder Under, batting and decorative thread, and it began to balk. I changed feet, changed needles, even changed bobbin cases, but still had thread breakage and other ISSUES that were driving me crazy.

Then, of course, I ran out of thread and couldn't buy it locally (on Maui, decorative threads are virtually non-exisitent!). Thankfully, my dear friend Joan came to the rescue. She is the Queen of Thread. I ordered my back up from Web of Thread ( and will replace her spool with a full one when it arrives. There is a handful of leaves to finish quilting, but the binding, sleeve and label are on, so it's nearly done!

One of the most interesting things about this project is that it doesn't look anything like my original design. This quilt took on a life of its own and morphed into something completely different. There isn't even a suitable place to sew on the fun little glass coffee bean beads I managed to find, but that's OK.

I'm sure they'll find their way into another quilt later on.