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

Something New: The Day of the Dead

Mexican Folk Art - gulfcoastquilts.com

Mexican Folk Art – gulfcoastquilts.com

I never believed I’d be so excited about skulls. Yes, skulls.

One of my longtime favorite shopping haunts is Pottery and Garden Alley where you never know what you’ll find. Owner, Lee, makes multiple trips a year deep into Mexico rummaging through old warehouses and throughout the countryside to find treasures overlooked by others. Lee has an amazing eye for finding precious gems under a seeming pile of junk. She hauls her finds back to the store where her flair for displays delights countless loyal customers. I’ve spent a fair share of my decorating dollars in her store.

Here’s the exciting part. I’ve joined the team as Pottery & Garden Alley‘s lone quilt artist. The first challenge Lee issued to me was, “Make something for our Day of the Dead display.  Make something with skulls; Sugar Skulls are popular.” I realized this wasn’t going to be easy.

Macabre at first glance, the Day of the Dead is actually a charming celebration in Mexico and in other cultures around the world. The holiday focuses on honoring loved ones who have died. Family gatherings, special foods, and cleaning up cemeteries are all part of the festivities. In Mexico, candy treats, extravagantly decorated Sugar Skulls, are offered to the living and the dead. The skull is a common symbol of the holiday. 

There are many collectors of Sugar Skull themed items and Mexican Folk Art. Many shop in Pottery & Garden Alley. My challenge was to study the styles of Mexican Folk Art, add my own touch, and create some tabletop items for the Day of the Dead display. It was a fun challenge and I’m excited to learn more. Below are photos of place mats and a table runner made using applique and thread sketching and featuring Sugar Skulls and the Day of the Dead. Stop by and visit Pottery & Garden Alley if you’re in the Pensacola area!

Mexican Folk Art  - Sugar Skulls by gulfcoastquilts.com

Mexican Folk Art – Sugar Skulls by gulfcoastquilts.com

 

 

Mexican Folk Art - Sugar Skulls by gulfcoastquilts.com

Mexican Folk Art – Sugar Skulls by gulfcoastquilts.com

Mexican Folk Art - Day of the Dead and Tree of Life by gulfcoastquilts.com

Mexican Folk Art – Day of the Dead and Tree of Life by gulfcoastquilts.com

 

 

Mexican Folk Art - Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls by gulfcoastquilts.com

Mexican Folk Art – Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls by gulfcoastquilts.com

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