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

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

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

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