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

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

 

Evolution of an Owl

Happy Fall, y’all! Owls are flying out the door!

I got a call from Pottery & Garden Alley telling me that two more Velveteen Owls sold and they needed some more. This gave me the perfect opportunity to make some changes to the design.

I enlarged the owls and added bulk to their face in the hope of giving them more personality. I also added more defined legs and some internal wire to help them stand taller. I didn’t add as many “feathers” to their wings. Lee, at the shop, likes the old wings better but they were time consuming to make. We’ll see how these two owls sell and I’ll determine which wings will win out in the end.

The finished product? Drumroll, please…

Introducing Evan Emmanuel Owl and Guinevere Isabella Owl, my first “gal owl.”  (And, in case you’re obsessive compulsive, yes, I skipped the letter “F” because I’m still working on Franchesca Gabriella, a flamboyant red velvet and gold trimmed owl.)

Velvet Owl Collection by gulfcoastquilts.com

Velvet Owl Collection by gulfcoastquilts.com – Evan Emmanuel Owl

 

Velvet Owl Collection by gulfcoastquilts.com

From the Velvet Owl Collection by gulfcoastquilts.com – Evan Emmanuel and Guinevere Isabella Owl.

 

Velvet Owl Collection by gulfcoastquilts.com

Velvet Owl Collection by gulfcoastquilts.com – Guinevere Isabella Owl

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

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