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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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

 

She’s Flamboyant, Feisty and Named Francesca Gabriella!

The owls having been flying out the door at Pottery & Garden Alley so I needed to add one more to the store. I found this delightful piece of red velvet in the stash of fabric samples I scored from my favorite decorator, McAlpin Interiors. The red velvet just screamed flamboyant, feisty, fierce!  She had to be named Francesca Gabriella, and she fits right in at the shop with the feisty ladies at Pottery & Garden Alley, Lee and Dawn. Stop by the shop and you’ll find treasures from furniture to Christmas stocking stuffers.

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

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

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

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

The Admiral’s Quilt

My oldest brother called me on the phone and said, “I have a great idea for you – a new project!” The red flag went up right away; I knew this was going to be trouble.

He suggested that I make a quilt for a retiring two-star Admiral. He recommended that I make a block for each place the Admiral served during nearly 34 years of service in the United States Navy. His first suggestion was to applique the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, and then make a block of the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco. He added, “Maybe you can do a block with the Navy War College in Rhode Island and the US Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.”

I told you this was going to be a trouble.

Oh…and I wasn’t going to get paid for this quilt. I was going to do it for free because I ADORE the Admiral. Really, I do. I love the Admiral. She is my ever amazing sister-in-law who has proven you can be a successful military officer AND be an outstanding wife, mother of three fabulous kids, and grandmother of three precious grand-babies. And, to boot, she’s the best sister-in-law I could ever hope to have. I got started right away.

I began secretly stealing photos from the Admiral’s Facebook page from the various locations she had served. I did a lot of internet research finding images via Google searches. I was relieved when I got her Transcript of Naval Service to see that she had served in multiple locations twice. That meant I really only had to make ten individual blocks. Yay!

I didn’t applique the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco. However, I did do the Bay Bridge and Yerba Buena Island where they lived when she served at Treasure Island. And I did applique the Vincent Thomas Bridge representing her service in Long Beach, California.  And yes…I did the Acropolis of Athens Greece as a reminder of her service at the Greek Embassy and her command of the Greek language. (Oh…did I mention my sister-in-law is one of the smartest women I know? She really is amazing. And she runs marathons.)

The end result is that I got the quilt done today. It’s a surprise, and I’ll give it to her at the Change of Command and Retirement Ceremony one week from today. (See, I’m not procrastinating. I got it done early.) It was a labor of love even though I was sure I couldn’t possibly create such a quilt in the very beginning when my brother suggested it. My oldest brother…he pushed me to my limits. I did it because I adore him, too. Military spouses play a big role in the career success of every member of the military.

I love and appreciate ALL of our military members and the families that support them! Hats off to all of you!

This is our Admiral: http://www.navy.mil/navydata/bios/navybio.asp?bioID=486

Here is the Admiral’s quilt named, “Fair Winds and Following Seas.”  Shhh… it’s a surprise!

(Photos of individual blocks were taken before the quilt was assembled and quilted.)

The Admiral's Quilt by Gulf Coast Quilts www.gulfcoastquilts.com

The Admiral’s Quilt by Gulf Coast Quilts http://www.gulfcoastquilts.com

The Admiral's Quilt by www.gulfcoastquilts.com

The Admiral’s Quilt by http://www.gulfcoastquilts.com

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Christmas Advent Calendar

I visited Cody, Wyoming a few months ago and found a fabulous fabric shop, Friends & Co. Quilt Shop. It was overflowing with a delightful fabric inventory but I had very little space in my suitcase so I was limited to grabbing a few Christmas panels I found in a sale basket. This one called, “I Believe in Santa” by Nancy Halvorsen, inspired me to create a Christmas Advent Calendar for my grandson. The fabric for the rest of the calendar was found at Colorado Fabrics, a huge discount fabric store in the Denver area. The fabric for this calendar came from my trip out west. My husband laughs at me and asks, “How many women visit fabric and quilt shops when they travel?” I think the answer is “A LOT of them!” Who’s with me on this?

Christmas Advent Calendar

Christmas Advent Calendar