You Never Know Where a Scrap of Fabric Will Take You

I’ve been in love with fabric since I was a little girl. My mother used to take me to the fabric store where we’d browse through pattern books, button racks, thread spools, and bolts of fabric before coming home with bags full of supplies for my school wardrobe. My busy working mom would spend the weekend cutting everything out, then we’d take it to my grandmother who did the sewing. Mom finished up with the handwork; hems, buttons etc. My job was to wear all those pretty one-of-a-kind new clothes with pride. I loved my wardrobe as a little girl. As I grew older, mom and grandma taught me how to do the handwork, cut the patterns, and eventually, how to sew.

Fifty years later, I’m still thankful to them for teaching me the skill and instilling in me a love of creating things with fabric. Yes, I play with fabric. It’s my medium of choice.

Because I love fabric so much I hate to let a good scrap of fabric go to waste. I have a fabric scrap basket and every little piece of usable left-over fabric from my projects goes in the basket to be used later. And I do mean every little scrap. Some scraps have a mission. This is the story of a tiny fabric scrap with a mission.

I make funny little stuffed owls out of discontinued fabric samples that an interior decorator friend gives to me.

Francesca Gabriela Owl is up for adoption at Pottery & Garden Alley. Made by gulfcoastquilts.com

Francesca Gabriela Owl gulfcoastquilts.com

My friend, Lee, sold them out of her home decor and gifts shop. One day Lee called with a special request; a customer who liked the owls wanted me to make three teddy bears for her. I decided to give it a try.

I worked with the customer, Holly, because I was intrigued by the challenge. Holly wanted me to use some old clothing from her father who had passed away. She wanted Christmas gifts for herself, her sister and her mother who were still grieving. I immediately connected with them because fifteen years later I’m still wearing the flannel shirts that once belonged to my dad. It keeps him close to me though he’s been gone a long time.

Holly gave me a brown paper bag with some old shirts, a pair of jeans, and some clothes with logos to incorporate into the teddy bears. The clothing led me to believe he was a practical man, a hands on kind of a guy. Holly confirmed my suspicion so I decided that the teddy bears needed to be practical, useful, not dust collectors.

After a few failed ideas I settled on making flat bears filled with rice and lavender that could be warmed in the microwave oven and used to sooth aching muscles or sore joints, or to beat back a headache. I selected the jeans and a thick but soft burgundy-colored corduroy shirt to create the three bears. Success! The ladies loved their bears.

Rice and lavender filled bears made from recycled clothing. GulfCoastQuilts.com

Rice and lavender filled bears made from recycled clothing. GulfCoastQuilts.com

I returned most of the clothes to Holly except for the tiniest scraps of the burgundy corduroy. The scraps were tossed into my scrap basket.

A few months later I decided to make use of my scrap basket with a little project; I Found A Quilted Heart (IFAQH). www.ifoundaquiltedheart.com

The IFAQH project has s simple goal; participants simply sew and leave little quilted hearts in public places for random strangers to find to put a smile on their face, to brighten their day, and to remind them that they are loved. It was the perfect way to use up some of my scraps. Without thinking much about it, I made a few hearts with the scraps from Holly’s dad’s shirt. Then, one day while walking through a local park on a hiking trail I hid one of the hearts. Most hearts are never reported to the website as found but this particular heart was reported and the post filled my eyes with a happy tear or two.

The anonymous report read: “Found a heart today at the Gulf Islands National Seashore Visitor’s Center Breckenridge Hiking Trail in Florida…..at the Santa Rosa Sound. On a trip with my sister in law. My first trip without my husband (her brother), who passed away from cancer in December, 2014. It has been a lovely but somewhat painful trip, and it was kind of a fun moment to find this cute little heart. If this was your heart, you can find me on Facebook. Thank you.”

It took me a while to remember that some of the fabric from Holly’s dad’s shirt was on that heart. That’s when I realized that I had to write the story of the little scrap of fabric with a mission. You really never know where a scrap of fabric will take you. I’m glad it took me on this journey. I’m inspired to keep making and hiding hearts. I hope you’ll consider joining us too. Learn more at www.ifoundaquiltedheart.com

More hearts by gulfcoastquilts.com to hide for www.ifoundaquiltedheart.com

More hearts by gulfcoastquilts.com to hide for http://www.ifoundaquiltedheart.com

Advertisements

A StoryQuilter and A Magical Kiss Under A Moonlit Magnolia Tree

The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

I don’t know if I’m a story-teller who quilts or a quilter who tells stories. I do know that I can’t make a quilt unless it tells a story. There’s just got to be a good story involved.

My friend, Sarah, says I’m a “StoryQuilter.” I like that description. And, although I’m not a traditional quilter I think I’ve finally found my home as a fabric artist. I just discovered SAQA, Studio Art Quilt Associates. SAQA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the art quilt through education, exhibitions, professional development, documentation, and publications. SAQA defines an art quilt as “a creative visual work that is layered and stitched.” I’m pretty sure that’s the direction my work is headed. I may be joining SAQA soon.

I’m working more on art quilts these days; quilts that are framed and hang on a wall. I completed the first in the next old window series, “Southern Magic.”  This first quilt is called “The Midnight Kiss” and it features a full moon, a magnolia tree, southern magic, and true love.  Here’s the story that goes with it:

A Magical Kiss Under a Moonlit Magnolia Tree

I’d just moved into my dream home; a lovingly restored Craftsman-styled bungalow overlooking an exquisite little park near Pensacola Bay. Exhausted from unpacking, I plopped down on the couch, cup of coffee in hand, to read the card left for me by the home’s previous owners.

“Enjoy your new home; it brought us years of joyful living. We hope it does the same for you. Leaving was not easy for us; we’ll never find another home filled with such strong southern magic. Take advantage of the short walk to the water’s edge as often as you can. A walk along Pensacola Bay will always sooth a troubled soul. And when you need a reminder that true love lasts forever be sure to stay up until midnight during the full moon.  The best view of the midnight kiss under the old magnolia tree in the center of the park is from the attic window. Oh how we will miss that magic.”

 I looked out the window and there it was; a bold golden full moon. I sipped my coffee and wondered what I’d see from the attic window at midnight.

What I saw was southern magic in its rarest form…

It began in 1942. America was still mourning the attack of Pearl Harbor. He was a sailor with orders to join the USS      Pensacola, a heavy cruiser later nicknamed the “Grey Ghost” by Tokyo Rose.  She was a nurse, selected to be one of the first women to serve as a Navy Wave.  They were young and in love, and before he left to join his ship he asked her to meet him under the old magnolia tree at midnight. It was a full moon when he got down on one knee and presented her with a ring and his intention to marry her when he returned. She said yes and they kissed, at midnight, under the full moon, under the magnolia tree.  Leaning on his southern heritage, he’d selected that precise place and time to propose because he knew southern magic promised that a kiss under a magnolia tree under a full moon would seal eternal love.

He joined the crew of the USS Pensacola where just a few months later he was counted among the 125 brave men killed in the Battle of Tassafaronga, 30 November 1942.

She never stopped loving him. She never married. She dedicated herself to nursing. She rose through the ranks retiring as an officer with a distinguished career as a Navy Wave, then building a second career caring for veterans in the VA hospital. She lived her final years alone in a cottage near the park, visiting the old magnolia tree often.

It was after her death that the neighbors began to whisper of the ghostly figures kissing under the magnolia tree. All these years later, during the full moon, they still meet at midnight under the magnolia tree for a kiss confirming their eternal love.

At midnight during every full moon I climb the stairs to peek out my attic window, and I know that a magnolia tree touched with a little southern magic really can make true love last forever.

About the Artist: Quilt-maker and storyteller, Gina Maddox, was born with sand between her toes. She resides in Gulf Breeze, FL with a water view from every window of her home. Her quilts always tell a story and reflect the beauty of the Northern Gulf Coast.

The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com 

 

 

The Story of the Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

The Story of the Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

Detail - The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

Detail – The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

Detail - The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

Detail – The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

Detail - The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

Detail – The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

Another Mermaid & The Ladies of Outnumbered

#2 of 3 in the Old Window Series; Serena & the Stars by gulfcoastquilts.com

#2 of 3 in the Old Window Series; Serena & the Stars by gulfcoastquilts.com

The Mermaids are a hit so I finished  #2 of 3 in the Old Window series. “Serena & the Starfish” went to the shop yesterday. The first in the series, “How Starfish Become Stars” sold in just two days. I was pleasantly surprised!   One more Serena the Mermaid is in the works. Each of the series are similar but distinctly different. Here is the story of Serena:

The story about the Old Window Series; Serena & the Stars by gulfcoastquilts.com

The story about the Old Window Series; Serena & the Stars by gulfcoastquilts.com

With the old windows working out so well as frames I made a girl’s only pickin’ trip to central Mississippi with my friend, Lee, and we cleaned up on old windows. I have a small stash for my next series of old window quilts. It was a productive trip and I’ll make one more stop at the end of the month to pick up a few more windows. Old windows are running $25-30 each around here but when we buy in bulk we get a great price in Mississippi.  It’s not an easy task, digging through stacks of old windows, searching for unbroken ones, sweat dripping down your face in the steamy heat of the south but a good window makes it worth it.

A truck full of old windows.

A truck full of old windows.

Pickin' for old windows in MS.

Pickin’ for old windows in MS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On another note, I was inspired by one of my favorite FNC news programs so I quilted up a little gift and mailed it off to New York for the ladies of the new show, Outnumbered. It’s a daytime FNC program and I listen to the ladies talk while I sew and quilt. I recommend the show – great discussions – you’ll enjoy it unless you’re a flaming liberal.

For the ladies of Outnumbered on FNC by gulfcoastquilts.com

For the ladies of Outnumbered on FNC by gulfcoastquilts.com

I did a little more pickin’ this week with my husband and my best friend. One find was an abandoned blue-green chair. It was solid and sturdy so I cleaned it up, gave it the shabby chic treatment and some flowers and it’s cute as can be now waiting for a new home. My husband thought I was nuts when I told him to put it in the truck but he’s a believer now. He’s threatening to create a workbench with pink tools for me in the garage. (I actually like the idea but don’t tell him.)

This blue-green abandoned chair just needs a facelift.

This blue-green abandoned chair just needs a facelift.

The blue-green abandoned chair gets a facelift.

The blue-green abandoned chair gets a facelift.

The blue-green abandoned chair gets a facelift.

The blue-green abandoned chair gets a facelift.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope to finish another commissioned quilt this week; a birthday gift for someone’s best friend. I’m enjoying being a part of the gift exchange between best friends. I put both of their names on the quilt so it will become an heirloom reminder of a great friendship. I also signed it with my name as the quilter so it means I get to be a part of that heirloom. That’s the fun part of commissioned quilts.

That’s the update for Gulf Coast Quilts this week. Have a great week!

Skulls, Old Windows, and Blocks of Wood

It’s been nearly a month since my last post but I have a very good excuse…I’ve been busy in the quilting loft.  My new adventure, a space at Pottery & Garden Alley, has turned out to be a perfect fit for my quilts. Just a few weeks ago, store owner, Lee, talked me into stepping outside my comfort zone to quilt some “Sugar Skull” placemats. (Here’s the story behind that adventure.) I was hesitant…until…the whole set sold on the second day it was in the store. I have learned that Lee knows her customers and I need to listen to her advice.

With the first set of Mexican Folk Art Sugar Skulls sold, I got busy creating more in several colors. The excitement grew as I got commissioned orders for appliquéd Sugar Skulls to be framed! One set to California and another to Norway! You never know what people will like. It’s been fun. More photos of the new Sugar Skull sets are below.

Sugar Skulls by gulfcoastquilts.com

Sugar Skulls by gulfcoastquilts.com

 

Sugar Skulls by gulfcoastquilts.com

Sugar Skulls by gulfcoastquilts.com

Sugar Skulls by gulfcoastquilts.com

Sugar Skulls by gulfcoastquilts.com

 

 

When I was asked to make a quilt that could be framed it got me thinking about an old cabinet door that had been sitting in my laundry room for some time. It was a “mistake” door that was sent to us when we built our home.  The cabinet company quickly sent us a correct door and told us to simply dispose of the old one. I knew it had potential so I held onto that silly door for years. I was cursing about it being in the way the other day while I was vacuuming and decided once and for all to DO SOMETHING with it. I made a quilt, mounted it to the door and hurried down to the store with it. It hasn’t sold yet, but I’m confident it will. Here’s a photo:

Quilted Heron & Dolphins by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Quilted Heron & Dolphins by GulfCoastQuilts.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During a long drive to Memphis last week I stopped at a flea market in Mississippi and found three old wooden windows to use as frames. Below is a photo of the first in a series of three window-framed-quilts that will reflect folk lore of the Northern Gulf Coast. The first one is called, “How Starfish Become Stars” and the story of the Mermaid, Serena, is listed on the back of the frame. I’m now able to combine my need to tell stories with my love of quilting. Does that make me a Quilter who writes? Or a writer who quilts? Also below is the story of Serena and how starfish become stars in the sky.

Framed in an old window, "How Starfish Become Stars" by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Framed in an old window, “How Starfish Become Stars” by GulfCoastQuilts.com

 

 

 

The story behind the quilt: "How Starfish Become Stars" by GulfCoastQuilts.com

The story behind the quilt: “How Starfish Become Stars” by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Last but not least, I found some old redwood in my husband’s wood stash. He cut it up for me and I found a way to use up some of my scrap fabric left over from my commissioned quilts. These little blocks are going on the store shelf tomorrow.  There’s no end to what you can do with old wood and fabric. Just have fun! I’ll write again in a week or two after my “Girl’s Only Pickin’ Adventure Road Trip” next week. THAT will be an adventure. I’m looking for more old windows at a few flea markets in central Mississippi.

Old Wood Blocks by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Old Wood Blocks by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Old Wood Blocks by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Old Wood Blocks by GulfCoastQuilts.com

purple flowers

 

 

 

pink flowers

Gulf Coast Inspired Quilted Greeting Card / Mug Rugs

I’m starting to sell a lot of quilted greeting card / mug rugs. Tourist season is heating up here in Northwest Florida and a store on the beach wanted some greeting card/mug rugs that reflected the wildlife on the gulf coast. I brought two dozen cards to them last week. They featured pelicans, herons, seagulls, dolphins, sea turtles and flowers. Let’s hope the tourists like them. I also made some mug rugs for a few B & B’s.  Here are a few samples:

pns bch heron turtle card 2

Quilted Greeting Card Mug Rugs by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Quilted Greeting Card Mug Rugs by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Quilted Greeting Card Mug Rugs by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Quilted Greeting Card Mug Rugs by GulfCoastQuilts.com

turtle card

 

Last Year’s Vacation Crazy Quilt – What next?

Last Summer our grand-daughters came to visit us in Florida. I let them rummage through my fabric stash. Then, we traced everyone’s hands onto some fabric and picked out some shapes that would remind them of the visit – chasing lizards, morning coffee with Gi Gi, PaPa’s plumeria and palm trees, the Florida sunshine…

We turned it into a crazy quilt and the girls loved it! When they went back to school our youngest granddaughter brought the quilt to school as part of her “What I did this Summer” project. She said the boys were jealous because she caught lizards in Florida and had a lizard on her quilt. (Extra points for PaPa for lizard hunting and extra points to GiGi for the lizard quilt block!)

What are we going to make THIS summer? I wonder if it might be time to begin teaching them to sew? My grandmother started teaching me when I was about twelve years old and I’ll be thankful for the rest of my life that Grandma King shared her time and talent with me. I know I had to be an exasperating student and I wore her patience thin. Sewing is my connection to my wonderful Grandmother and I sometimes wonder if she is looking down from heaven, shaking her head, when I do sloppy work or have to rip something out because I didn’t think ahead.

The grand-daughters came to visit us this summer.

The grand-daughters came to visit us this summer.

The girls selected fabric from my stash.

The girls selected fabric from my stash.

The Florida block.

The Florida block.

Crazy Vacation Quilt

Crazy Vacation Quilt

Crazy Vacation Quilt DONE!

Crazy Vacation Quilt DONE!

The Sail Inn Welcome Sign

Welcome sign detail inspired by life on the emerald coast of NW Florida. gulfcoastquilts.com

Welcome sign detail inspired by life on the emerald coast of NW Florida. gulfcoastquilts.com

My wonderful husband surprised me with a Silhouette Cameo for Christmas. I didn’t even know I wanted one but I acted excited on Christmas morning.

The truth is…I was afraid of it.

I took it out of the box and thought, “I’m in way over my head with this thing.” It sat in my office for 6 weeks, taunting me. Finally, I got up my nerve and decided to take on the Silhouette software. The manufacturer claimed you could import and create your own images and cut just about anything. I needed a project.

Inspiration came to me while enjoying a wonderful Valentine’s Day breakfast at one of our favorite local restaurants. I found my project at the Sail Inn; they needed a welcome sign and I loved their logo. I would use the Silhouette Cameo and copy their logo.

Logo for the Sail Inn Sandwich SHop

Logo for the Sail Inn Sandwich Shop

I watched a somewhat confusing youtube tutorial about importing and customizing graphics, but I learned enough to get started. Then, I tracked down a similar perching pelican graphic through a google search of images. Importing and formatting the image took a while but I figured it out. I also learned how to import and cut fonts and purchase images directly from Silhouette. My goal, however, was to learn how to create my own graphics. Mission accomplished. From what I’ve seen, only the Silhouette Cameo offers that option. To make sure I had the process mastered I created several gulf coast inspired graphics. (See photos at the end.)

I cut the fonts, and the flying and perching pelicans, and started the applique and quilting process. Here’s the finished sign.

The Sail Inn Welcome Sign by gulfcoastquilts.com

The Sail Inn Welcome Sign by gulfcoastquilts.com

Then, I started making blocks with the other graphics I created. These are individual 12 x 14 wall hangings but I think I’m going to tackle a quilt made of these blocks in various Gulf Coast colors. I’m thinking about palm tress, blue herons, sandpipers…the image options are countless with the Cameo.

My husband knew exactly what I needed even when I didn’t. He’s amazing. I’m a lucky woman.

I purchased the dolphin and sailboat graphics from Silhouette for .99 each.  You can cut them any size up to 12 inches in width. Here are the completed blocks:

Wall-hanging quilt blocks inspired by life on the emerald coast of NW Florida. gulfcoastquilts.com

Wall-hanging quilt blocks inspired by life on the emerald coast of NW Florida. gulfcoastquilts.com

Wall-hanging quilt blocks inspired by life on the emerald coast of NW Florida. gulfcoastquilts.com

Wall-hanging quilt blocks inspired by life on the emerald coast of NW Florida. gulfcoastquilts.com

Wall-hanging quilt blocks inspired by life on the emerald coast of NW Florida. gulfcoastquilts.com

Wall-hanging quilt blocks inspired by life on the emerald coast of NW Florida. gulfcoastquilts.com