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

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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

 

The Tran-Quilt-ity Series

Living along the Gulf Coast provides ample opportunity for a peaceful walk along the sugar white beaches of NW Florida or a serene stroll through nature at any one of our Gulf Islands National Seashore Parks. Tranquility is easy to find here for most of us.

But then there’s my best friend.

Last week she was celebrating a birthday and I wanted to find the perfect gift for her. I thought about what she needed and concluded she simply needed more tranquility in her life.  She’s a first class worrier but I just couldn’t find a gift that would help her stop worrying. I wanted her next year to be filled with tranquility but I just couldn’t figure out how to do it.

Tranquility:  a disposition free from stress or emotion, an untroubled state, a state of peace and quiet, serenity, placidity, repose, quiet, calm, calmness, composure, peace of mind, an absence of agitation or excitement, an absence of tension or worry.

Because I couldn’t give my friend the gift of actual tranquility I opted to make a special quilt for her that might, at least, inspire more tranquility in her life. I created a new word and a new series of quilts.

Tran-Quilt-ity: the state of peaceful napping, sleeping or relaxing under a handmade quilt made by someone who cares for you, values you, and has only well wishes for you.

I rummaged through my stash for fabric that matched the earthy colors in her home and her self-described decorating style of “contemporary with an Asian influence.” It took three tries before I finally created the quilt I wanted just for her. I call these three quilts “The Tran-Quilt-ity Series.”

The first one is named, “Seeking Peace.”

The TranQuilt-ity Series by GulfCoastQuilts.com

The TranQuilt-ity Series by GulfCoastQuilts.com

tranq7

It wasn’t exactly what I wanted for my friend so I kept trying.

From the Tran-Quilt-ity Series by gulfcoastquilts.com

From the Tran-Quilt-ity Series by gulfcoastquilts.com

The second try started to look more like I wanted it to look but the message just wasn’t working. I had to be more direct with my words. Below are photos of the final version and my friend loved it. I think I’ll make a few more in this series.

From the Tran-Quilt-ity Series by GulfCoastQuilts.com

From the Tran-Quilt-ity Series by GulfCoastQuilts.com

From the Tran-Quilt-ity Series by GulfCoastQuilts.com

From the Tran-Quilt-ity Series by GulfCoastQuilts.com

tranq12 tranq14

From the Tran-Quilt-ity Series by GulfCoastQuilts.com

From the Tran-Quilt-ity Series by GulfCoastQuilts.com

The Emerald Coast Calls

This quilt was inspired by a friend who left the beautiful gulf coast for a fabulous job at the Grand Canyon. After two years she yearned to come home; the emerald coast was calling. This quilt welcomed her home. emerald coast calls quilt

dolphin block