Sunday, April 13, 2014

Not Perfect...Still Beautiful...

When I went to Dubai a few weeks ago a dear friend gifted me with some extra dollars to spend on something special for myself from there...a special souvenir of sorts.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to find anything unique to that area (at least what I could afford), and came home empty handed.  I decided I needed to find something special that I would normally not buy for myself and deem this my "Dubai Souvenir".

I went shopping on Ebay and found THE most amazing linen ever...a find of a lifetime.  I knew this would be my special piece for myself.  I won it with a winning bid that matched my spending money.

The picture on Ebay had to have been doctored up quite a bit as it appeared pristine white in the photo.  When it arrived on my doorstep it was a nasty rusty brown and more damaged than what I had anticipated. No worries...I've dealt with worse!

With something this delicate and this damaged I was very concerned about washing it as I was afraid it would disintegrate during the soaking but I was unable to use it as it was.  So I held my breath and soaked it overnight with Retroclean.  

Wha La!!!  It came out absolutely beautiful and white.  I was extremely careful during the hand rinsing and drying...I barely held it and then it let it air dry on a towel for a full day before touching it again.

This piece has the most exquisite white padded work, embroidery and Irish crochet I have ever seen.  It is drop dead gorgeous. I contacted the seller to see if she had any further information or history on it and she didn't.  She did say, though, she thought she had purchased it from a large estate sale maybe 20 years ago and she had a "banana box" full of linens that she is selling bit by bit.  It is probably the fact that this piece has been stored in a cardboard box that resulted in the discoloration and damage.

It would be very easy for a "normal person" to just give this up and toss it due to the fact that it isn't perfect.  I'm thankful to not be a normal person!  I would rather have this piece die as a beautiful quilt than be tossed as an imperfect linen.

Many years ago I purchased another linen off of Ebay that was also badly damaged.  It had several tears and holes and the whole outer edge had been chewed by mice.  I placed this damaged piece on top of a piece of cream colored Dupioni Silk and quilted it to death.

Yes, the damage is still there but hardly visible and this piece, too, will die as a beautiful quilt.  I don't travel with this particular one very often as I'm trying to hang on to it as long as I can.

Obviously the Irish linen will have to be placed on top of an underlayment and I couldn't find anything "new" that looked nice had to be something old that had a matching patina.  I had a badly damaged linen that was donated to me and it was a perfect match.  I didn't mind cutting it up as I couldn't use it for a was much more valuable to me as an underlayment for my new treasure.

I also had just the right piece of a beautiful French General fabric for the back.

I managed to finish the quilting on my "Provence" piece this afternoon and will post photos in a future blog. I wanted to get it done before leaving for Paducah...another long flight that will be perfect to get the beadwork done!

Thank you, Darlene, for my beautiful Dubai souvenir.  Hugs, Cindy :)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Featuring Susanne Zientarski!

Last August  I was fortunate enough to be one of the instructors at Maine Quilts and Susanne Zientarski was one of my students.  Today she shared two beautiful pieces she created as a result of those classes.  I was blown away and she graciously agreed to let me feature her work and story on my blog.  Thank you Susanne...beautiful work!!!  Hugs, Cindy

In all the years I've been quilting, the part of the process I liked the least was the actual quilting, which, for the most part, I did minimally in the "ditch" or just pretty basic work.  I had touched on free motion quilting but hadn't done much.  Then when looking at the classes available at the Maine Quilts Show, I discovered Cindy's work and went to her web site only to fall in love with what she did with the vintage linens.

Since I had collected linens over the years, I felt that would be a good class for me to learn more about free motion quilting using my vintage pieces.  I also took a class in free motion quilting with Cindy, but my machine wasn't cooperating that day.  When I went home I was able to solve my machine problem and continued with the 32" tablecloth I had started drawing on in class using stencils.

Using the take home sheets provided to guide me, I basted the linen to another larger piece of cotton fabric working from large to small areas using wool batting.  I kept referring to examples on the handout sheets of what I could do to quilt in the smaller areas.  It did take quite awhile to do compared with the quilting I had done in the past, but I felt the results were worth the effort.  I found some crystal beads I liked in a bead shop and sewed them on to enhance the quilt.  I call this quilt "New Beginnings".  For the thread I used Magnifico for the larger designs and silk for the smaller with Bottom Line in the bobbin.

The Silver Cross Quilt was inspired by a handkerchief I picked up in a Maine antique shop with beautiful drawn work.  I used Superior #100 Kimono Silk thread in the mesh areas and perimeter of the hankie, and silk and Magnifico in the grey areas with Bottom Line thread in the bobbin.

Since the center of the hankie was puffing up I put a silver metallic cross in the middle.  This quilt is beaded  in between the mesh areas with sewn on crystals.  In the grey triangular areas crystals with a glue backing were applied with an iron designed for that purpose.  I added a light grey piping before the binding to repeat the lighter tone of the hankie.

I'm glad I persevered in free motion quilting.  I hope to get better at it with many thanks to Cindy!

Susanne Zientarski

Monday, April 7, 2014


Four days after arriving home from Dubai I got to hop in my car and head up to one of my most favorite places of all...McCloud.  This is where I hostess four quilting retreats a year at the McCloud Mercantile.

The Mercantile is nearly 120 years old and is the perfect spot to hold a retreat.  We have a 3,000 square foot sewing room on the 2nd floor  which overlooks the tiny town of McCloud.  This year we were treated to chilly, foggy, cloudy, rainy weather...perfect for snugging in at a sewing machine for hours on end!

As I make my blessing rounds during the day I am always treated to lots of "eye candy".  This can include quilts being born with hundreds of pieces all labeled and ready to go...

...and watching others going from parts on the table to quilts on the design walls...

...some of us work better on the floor...

and then there are always the tops on the tables being basted and getting ready to head to the machine to become quilts...

...and not everyone is machine piecing or quilting...we had two special ladies doing handwork...loved this view from her magnifier :)

...and those of you who have attended my workshops and retreats know that we always have a flock of chickens hanging around just waiting to be adopted!

I am home for two weeks before heading off to Paducah for the very first time...I am SO jazzed about that trip.  If you are going to Paducah please keep your eyes open for The Nun's Quilt...she was accepted to be shared with all of you at the show.

Big Hugs, Cindy :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fabulous Dubai!

I got home late Sunday night from my teaching engagement in Dubai.  Although I have had long flights to Australia and New Zealand in the past two years this one topped the bill at 20 hours flight time plus layovers. Oie.  It was well worth it though!

I was teaching for the International Quilt Show sponsored by Classic Quilts.  I had two workshops plus one speaking engagement.  Each class was filled with students from all over the world and they were all so eager to learn.  Everyone was SO appreciative I was there and I was equally thrilled to BE there!

I stayed at the Grand Excelsior Hotel and this is where the workshops took place too.  Talk about lots of ideas for quilting inspirations!  The above photos are of the reception area as well as the elevator...can't you just see some fabulous backgrounds here or center medallion designs?

Ricky Tims was there as well and I was fortunate enough to have a "down day" on the same day he presented his all-day lecture so I chose to spend the day in class with him.  I'll never have a chance like that again...time very well spent!

One of the most fascinating things for me were the buildings.  They just don't seem real.  I took countless pictures of everything and narrowed it down to just a few to share with you...incredible.

The quilt show itself was not held at the hotel but at the Ikea building in Dubai which is a public shopping mall.  At first I thought it was odd but once I was there I completely understood.  Quilting is being "born" in this is very new to a lot of people and having it in a public place like this introduced these beautiful works of art to many people who would have otherwise never had a chance to see them.

Just as amazing as the trip was and the beauty and jaw dropping architecture of the city, the part that will be unforgettable was the hospitality and generosity of my "care people" and my students.  I want to personally thank Joan for taking such amazing care of me...for inviting me into her home, hauling me around everywhere and for her fabulous Scottish sense of humor!  Thank you to my unforgettable students who were so appreciative of me being there

...and lastly to Shanker and his beautiful wife, Mala, for bringing me to Dubai for one of the most unforgettable trips I will ever have.

Big Hugs, Cindy :)