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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Owen’s Giraffes – Grandson #2 Gets a Quilt

My re-entry into quilting began two years ago with the arrival of my first grandson. I dusted off my sewing machine and made “Warren’s Monsters” which rekindled my love of playing with fabric. Now, with the addition of my second grandson it was time to make another quilt; Owen’s Giraffes.

I made it up as  I went, as I usually do because I lack the discipline to follow a pattern or a plan. That’s why quilt-making is my relaxation and therapy; no rules.

Here are the Giraffe Panels:

Owen's Giraffes by gulfcoastquilts.com

Owen’s Giraffes by gulfcoastquilts.com

Owen's Giraffes by gulfcoastquilts.com

Owen’s Giraffes by gulfcoastquilts.com

Owen's Giraffes by gulfcoastquilts.com

Owen’s Giraffes by gulfcoastquilts.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I added the “big brother little brother” block:

Big brother Little Brother Block by gulfcoastquilts.com

Big brother Little Brother Block by gulfcoastquilts.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a few more little boy blocks and a signature block.

Giraffe Quilt by gulfcoastquilts.com

Giraffe Quilt by gulfcoastquilts.com

Giraffe Quilt by gulfcoastquilts.com

Giraffe Quilt by gulfcoastquilts.com

Giraffe Quilt by gulfcoastquilts.com

Hidden messages on the Giraffe Quilt by gulfcoastquilts.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After adding a panel of an elephant family – and sneaking in a pink elephant for the possibility of a baby girl added to the family one day – I put the quilt together and here is the final project keeping my precious grandson warm these days.

Owen's Giraffes by gulfcoastquilts.com

Owen’s Giraffes by gulfcoastquilts.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, it’s time for a new quilt for my oldest grandson who just got his first BIG BOY bed. This GiGi is about to begin a dinosaur quilt for his new twin-sized bed. Yes, he’s infatuated with the Dinosaur book at school – loves the creatures – so it’s got to be the subject for his quilt. This ought to be interesting. Who knows what I’ll come up with but I know I’ll have fun and there will be lots of love involved in this fabric adventure because I adore these two beautiful grandchildren of mine and I’m tickled that my son and daughter-in-law asked me to make another quilt. Love them dearly!

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!

A Great Horned Owl Inspires Fall Mug Rugs & Wreaths

Last night a Great Horned Owl perched on the top of our three story high house. It’s the highest spot in the neighborhood; a perfect place for these silent hunters to sit until they swoop down onto unsuspecting prey on one of the nearby vacant lots. We heard the hooting just before bedtime and it brought a smile to my face. I always enjoy the return of the Great Horned Owls as it signals the beginning of Fall in Northwest Florida. The nights have been just a tad bit cooler and the mornings perfect for coffee on the dock. It’s still Florida warm in the daytime but the promise of fall is in the air. I was inspired to make some fall-themed mug rugs for the store and a few wreaths.

Rug by gulfcoastquilts.com - pumpkins

Rug by gulfcoastquilts.com – pumpkins

 

Mug Rug by gulfcoastquilts.com - fall leaves

Mug Rug by gulfcoastquilts.com – fall leaves

Mug Rug by gulfcoastquilts.com

Mug Rug by gulfcoastquilts.com

 

Rug by gulfcoastquilts.com - owls

Rug by gulfcoastquilts.com – owls

Owl wreath by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Owl wreath by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Rug by gulfcoastquilts.com - For my Saints-loving NOLA friends.

Rug by gulfcoastquilts.com – For my Saints-loving NOLA friends.

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

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