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

Christmas 2014 and a New Year of Adventures!

GUlfcoastquilts.com Bou chillin' under his Christmas Tree decorated with birds, mice, fish, butterflies and other things cat's love.

Gulfcoastquilts.com Bou chillin’ under his Christmas Tree decorated with birds, mice, fish, butterflies and other things cat’s love.

December 2014 was a very busy season and I had fun creating all kinds of fabric art but my favorite project began when a sweet lady brought to me an old shirt and a pair of jeans that belonged to her dad and asked, “Can you make something from this?” She also brought some items that had logos that were powerful reminders of him. You see, they were mourning the loss of a good man and she wanted a special Christmas gift for her mother and sister. She gave me the freedom to try anything and it was fun!

The final project was to create bears from the shirt and jeans, add the special logos, and fill them with rice and dried lavender. If you pop the bears in the microwave oven for 1-2 minutes the bears are a perfect way to sooth aches, pains, and headaches. From the items she brought to me I judged her dad to be a practical man and decided that whatever I made should actually “DO” something. Well, I was right and the bears were a hit! I ended up making several more bears from my fabric stash as Christmas gifts for friends and family, and I even made an adorable cat stuffed with rice and rosemary for my best friend to wrap around her neck after grueling days working at her computer. Here’s a photo of the bears:

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

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

My busy Christmas season will be followed by a break from quilting and playing with fabric for a while. The New Year puts me back to work after a very short stab at retirement. With a return to teaching a leadership program for the first half of 2015, and sadly, the closing of Pottery & Garden Alley due to some life changes for the owner, my sewing room is now neat and tidy and my office takes center stage for curriculum development, PowerPoint, and business travel. In between business trips I’ll be back to work on my novel, the right-wing chick lit project, “The Quilt-maker’s Christmas.” Main characters Fiona and Ann Marie need their adventure completed and with some hard work the book will be ready for Christmas 2015. I’ll keep you posted!  Have fun everyone!

You Never Know What You’ll Be Asked to Create!

I believed that my creative talent had sunk to a new low as I found myself stuffing old WalMart bags into the Grinch’s backside…yes…as in butt. I stuffed the Grinch’s butt with old WalMart bags. And yes…I made a Grinch butt for a Christmas display for the store.

Pottery & Garden Alley’s owner decided she wanted a Grinch Chrsitmas tree display. She found a photo on Pinterest of a bent-over Grinch tucked inside a tree stealing all the gifts and said, “I need you to make one for me.” The challenge was on.

Materials: An old Delta Airlines blanket, two yards of old green flannel found for two bucks at the Waterfront Rescue Mission, two gift wrap cardboard tubes, a hundred old plastic grocery bags, an old pair of slippers, some polyester fiberfill, a hot glue gun, a sewing machine, and a woman bold enough to think she could copy something she saw on Pinterest.

This had the makings for an extraordinary Pinterest FAIL but in the end…as in Grinch butt…it turned out OK.

Grinch for display by gulfcoastquilts.com

Grinch for display by gulfcoastquilts.com

gr 2 gr 3 gr 4 gr 5

 

The Velveteen Owl Collection

With hopes of cooler weather and golden harvest moons arriving soon I’m waiting impatiently for fall to arrive. To pass the days until pumpkins, witches, ghosts and skeletons take over I’m cranking out velveteen owls. They make adorable early fall decorations, especially for school teachers. Here are the first four owls: Augustus Theodore, Bentley Jeremiah, Cornelius Horatio, and Donatello Marcus.

Augustus Theodore Owl by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Augustus Theodore Owl by GulfCoastQuilts.com

 

Bentley Jeremiah Owl by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Bentley Jeremiah Owl by GulfCoastQuilts.com

From the Velveteen Owl Collection by GulfCoastQuilts.com: Cornelius Horatio Owl

From the Velveteen Owl Collection by GulfCoastQuilts.com: Cornelius Horatio Owl

From the Velveteen Owl Collection by GulfCoastQuilts.com: Donatello Marcus Owl

From the Velveteen Owl Collection by GulfCoastQuilts.com: Donatello Marcus Owl

Autumn is in the Air: The Velveteen Owl Collection

Augustus Theodore Owl by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Augustus Theodore Owl by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Whoooo knows what’s going to fly out of my quilting loft next?

Autumn is in the air. The promise of everything pumpkin, crisp red, orange and gold falling leaves, cooler weather, and holidays focused on family time brings me to my favorite time of the year.

My first autumn challenge was to FINALLY get on the owl bandwagon. I know owls have been popular for quite some time but I wasn’t motivated to make any until a few school teacher friends mentioned it. After all, fall is about to bust out and back-to-school time is upon us.  I found a cute little owl poem and decided to give in to the owl craze. I made a few owls for my teacher friends, and a few more for Pottery & Garden Alley to sell.

I started out, experimenting, by designing small, simple owls made from my bargain $2.00 a yard pillow ticking. They were cute so I decided to enlarge them a bit and try some more elaborate fabrics. Much to my delight, just before I dove in to the fabric selection process a cherish friend called and offered me all of the discontinued fabric samples they were pulling off the shelf in one of the nicest interior design stores in town. You can imagine my delight when I rummaged through a huge bag and found beautiful velvet and brocade samples.

The Velveteen Owl Collection was born. Below are photos of the pillow-ticking owls and the first two Velveteen owls named Augustus and Bentley. I’ve also included the owl poem in case you want to make an owl for a teacher.  Whoooo knows? You may enjoy making your own owls!

Augustus & Bentley Owl by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Augustus & Bentley Owl by GulfCoastQuilts.com

 

Designing the owls: I used pillow-ticking for my first owl attempt.  GulfCoastQuilts.com

Designing the owls: I used pillow-ticking for my first owl attempt. GulfCoastQuilts.com

A wise old owl lived in an oak

The more he saw the less he spoke

The less he spoke the more he heard

We should be more

Like that wise old bird!

Fall decorating - Velveteen Owls by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Fall decorating – pillow-ticking owls by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Fabulous Fabric & An Unbelievable Deal!

I found a bin of unloved fabric and fell in love with some of it. I got a great deal – two bucks a yard – on the decorator fabric if I bought the entire remains of the role. Here is what I bought:

Designer fabric for two bucks a yard!

Designer fabric for two bucks a yard!

Then, I dug through my scraps to see what matched.

Rummaged through the scraps to find a match.

Rummaged through the scraps to find a match.

Then, I started sewing circles and making quilts. I have the first of three ready to be quilted – that’s tomorrow’s project. I wonder if I can sell them? I’ve never sold a quilt before; I’ve always given them to family and friends, or donated them to charities for fund-raising events.

Appliqued blue and turquoise circles.

Appliqued blue and turquoise circles.

Quartered and rearranged.

Quartered and rearranged.

I made a few crazy abstract circles.

I made a few crazy abstract circles.

Blue circles ready for quilting.

Blue circles ready for quilting.

I have three quilt tops ready to go. Inspired by the beautiful blues and turquoises of the Gulf of Mexico they are named Coastal Curls, Surf Circles, and Ripples in the Gulf.

Finished the first of a series of three quilts - this one is named "Surf Circles."

Finished the first of a series of three quilts – this one is named “Surf Circles.”

"Surf Circles" quilt by Gulf Coast Quilts

“Surf Circles” quilt by Gulf Coast Quilts

Next to be quilted, "Ripples in the Gulf."

Next to be quilted, “Ripples in the Gulf.”

The next project will be from the other fabric I nabbed at two bucks a yard! I wonder what I’ll do with it? Here it is:

Found these great leftover designer fabrics!

Found these great leftover designer fabrics!