Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Inspired By Elvis

On June 28, 2018, a new art quilt book celebrating Elvis will be made available for purchase and one of MY QUILTS is in that book!  Here is the book, INSPIRED BY ELVIS, if you are interested.

In 2016, the author, Donna Desoto, put out a call for entries.  Participating artists were encouraged to choose a song or other theme having to do with Elvis.  When I read the lyrics to the song MEMORIES, I knew that would be my choice!

The  reason?

One evening in 1975, I was driving home from work and passing by Graceland, as I did twice each day, when I was surprised to find the gates open and Elvis himself signing autographs for a small group of fans.  This was the one and only time I ever saw him in real life.  I wanted to represent that memory with my quilt.

MEMORIES by Patricia Smith   36" x 36"

I am fortunate that MY QUILT will be exhibited at the INTERNATIONAL QUILT FESTIVAL in Houston this fall, 2018!

The song I chose, MEMORIES, speaks of 'holding hands and red bouquets', which are depicted by the Elvis fans  My 'twilight sky' is 'trimmed with purple haze' while 'golden autumn leaves' fall to the ground.  The 'laughing eyes' of Elvis can be found in the grass in the foreground (bottom right).

The golden silk fabric in the sky represents the silk drapes that hang in the living room at Graceland, where Elvis entertained family and friends.  The digital camouflage fabric in the distant lawn (between trees) represents his service in the Army.  His face can be found on two areas of the lawn as can a guitar.  To represent his Western movies, there are cowboy hats and boots sparkling in the treetops.  There are palm trees and flowers to represent his beach movies.  Glittered felt musical notes remind us of his gift.  There are three Blackjack hands...and Ace and a Queen...scattered around the quilt to remind us of the decades he spent performing as a showman in Vegas. 

And last but not least, the back of the quilt is covered with money, to represent the income Elvis continues to provide for his family long after he has passed.

The working title of this quilt was ‘TINY GRACELAND’ because this house is TINY!  The west-facing windows are made with three layers of fabric...a silver lame’, a gold glittery organza and a purple-gold tulle...to give the impression of reflecting a setting sun as well as duplicate the diamond grid pattern of the windows at Graceland.  

The 'laughing eyes' of Elvis peer out from the grass, made of various fibers and fabrics.

Back in 1975, the road was still a highway and there was a grassy area between the fence and road...unlike today's concrete pads.

The golden silk fabric used to depict clouds reflecting the setting sun was actually torn from the drapes at my own home!

Tiny Elvis and his fans were made paper doll style...creating the overall form in fabric, then making clothing from separate fabric pieces.  I asked my friends to pose for me one day in a restaurant to provide models for the fans.

The fans depict the song lyrics,' holding hands' and 'red bouquets'.

'Golden autumn leaves' are scattered on the ground behind Elvis.

 Elvis continues to provide.

Perhaps you remember the song?


Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened thru the ages just like wine

Quiet thought come floating down
And settle softly to the ground
Like golden autumn leaves around my feet
I touched them and they burst apart with sweet memories,
Sweet memories

Of holding hands and red bouquets
And twilight trimmed in purple haze
And laughing eyes and simple ways
And quiet nights and gentle days with you

Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened thru the ages just like wine,
Memories, memories, sweet memories

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Bouncy Seat

 I have, in my possession, a very old bouncy seat from the 1950's.  My mother used it for her three children, allowing her babies to learn to sit up and build muscles and coordination.  When the babies grew out of it, the bouncy seat was put into the attic, where it stayed for decades.

My older sister was the first to have a baby, so in the seventies she got the bouncy seat out of mother's attic and tried to clean it up.  The plastic seat was cracked and crumbling, and the paint on the metal frame was peeling.  So my sister repainted the frame and made a new vinyl seat, using the old seat as a pattern.  When I had my babies, I was given the bouncy seat to use and, just like before, when the babies grew out of it, the bouncy seat went back into the attic.

Fast forward to present time.  I pulled the bouncy seat out of the attic to use with my new grandbaby.  When I tried to remove the seat for cleaning, the strong snaps pulled holes in the old vinyl!  Great...

So, I bought new vinyl (marine vinyl from Joann's) and traced the seat pieces onto it.  After cutting, the pieces were bound and joined with purchased bias binding.

Generally, I opened out one edge of the double-fold binding and straight stitched it to the edge of the vinyl piece, sewing right in the first fold from the edge.  Then, I folded over the binding and used a zigzag stitch to secure it.  

I started with the seat back.  I bound the lower edge of the back half-piece as described above.  To join this to the main/inside back piece, I straight stitched the binding around the whole (main/inside) seat back, then folded it over in preparation to zigzag, but first, I put the half-back piece in place before zigzagging the binding down.

Instead of trying to pin this vinyl, I held the pieces with hair clips.

I used the iron to smooth out the curves...touching the binding, NOT the vinyl, with the iron.

I removed the clips as I approached them.

I kept the zigzagging on this piece closer to the outside edge...I was using WIDER binding than on the original and I had NOT cut the pattern piece any larger, so didn't want to risk making the piece too small to fit over the frame.

Hooray!  The back piece easily slipped over the frame.  

So I continued.
Determined that the snaps would NOT pull out again, I used Wonder Under to affix some canvas to the back of the vinyl in the areas where the snaps would be installed.

After fusing the various areas, it occurred to me that I could have just fused the whole thing...it would be stronger and look better!  Oh well......

I had purchased two packages of the extra wide bias binding...each was 3 yards.  I had experimented with application methods, using about 6-8 inches.  Well, as luck would have it, when I was ready to bind the last piece, my last strip of binding was about 6-8 inches short!  Grrrrr.....  

However, there was a short piece left from the first package that was about this same length.

I had no inches to spare! 

 I had to join the binding pieces with a straight seam (as opposed to using a mitered seam, which reduces bulk).  As I was pressing the new joint seam open, it occurred to me that I might be able to stretch this length of binding to get the desired length.  Yes, it would get narrower as it got longer but it was wider than I really needed, so I ironed and stretched the binding before applying it to the vinyl seat piece.

As you can see, after stretching and stitching, I ended up with a tiny bit to spare!

Once again, the hair clips were handy for holding the pieces together so I could zigzag them to secure.

Once the tray/saddle section was zigzagged to the rest of the seat, the sewing was complete.

Now it was time to install the snaps.

I used a leather punch to create a small hole where each snap would be installed.

Then a hammer and scrap wood on the workbench allowed me to install all 10 sets of heavy duty snaps.

And VoilĂ !  The bouncy seat is good as new!

Ready for the next generation of babies.

I really gave this no thought; I just copied what was there. But if I was starting over, there are a few things I would do differently.  I might line the various pieces, since the back of the vinyl does show.

Also. The tray was a squarish/rectangle shape; I would round this a bit to be more like the shape of the frame.

But all in all, the project was successful and took only one day of sewing...I did cut it out one day last week.

And now I have a cute bouncy seat awaiting the next visit of that baby...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Stroke of Genius!

I must say, every now and then a good idea comes along that makes me really happy.  This is one of those ideas.  Nothing life changing or anything...just a good idea.

We were at a restaurant, waiting to be seated, when my son and DIL arrived with our infant grandson in tow.  He was in his car seat and was wearing no coat, nor was he covered with a blanket.  Poor baby must have been cold!

Recently released guidelines recommend NOT dressing a child in a coat before strapping him into a car seat.  Studies have shown that in an accident, a child wearing a coat is more likely to be ejected from the car seat because the straps are loosened to accommodate the coat.  They suggest placing the coat OVER the baby or using a blanket.  

Neither seemed like a satisfactory solution though.

Once we got home, I went straight to the sewing room to design and create something that an infant can wear OVER the safety straps, something that would still be comfortable and warm, yet still allow him to use his arms.  VoilĂ !

I used some polar fleece from my stash.  The scrap I had wasn't long enough, so I joined two pieces together, inserting a strip of cotton ribbing so it would look more like a design element than a mistake!  I gave it ragland sleeves with cotton ribbing at the cuffs and neck.

The back is simply open.  I decided that if an accident should occur, it would be best NOT to have this attached around the neck, posing a possible strangulation hazard!

The edges were serged then turned and topstitched. 

He was quite happy with this on.  He could move his hands at will....or, at least, as well as he usually can, considering that he is just learning to reach and grab!

All in all, this was a successful prototype!  Next time, I will select fabric that is actually large enough (to avoid the extra seam across the belly!). I might even see how flannel works up, perhaps lining it.  And wouldn't it be cute to make one with a monogram? The baby's mother and I both agree, this is a very good thing!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Itsy Bitsy Spider Quilt

Yep, I am still here.
And I have just found an easier way to post to the blog!  I am using a Blogger App for iPad and this is my first attempt.  Let's cross our fingers that this works.

I have recently finished a small strip quilt...a spider web quilt.  I planned the strip placement in this, though, as opposed to making it scrappy.

I love to see the texture of a quilt once it has been washed!

This one was double batted...one layer of cotton and one layer of thin polyester.  I wanted it to be washable (it's a baby quilt) but I also love the crinkle that cotton provides after washing, so I used both.

This is the first quilt I have quilted in quite a while.  I have been working in other things lately...sewing, yes, but mostly slow piecing.

I alternated the wedges to give each spiderweb a bit more interest.

I really like the brown fabric that the kites (four "kites" make a star) provide!  Actually, the size of this quilt was determined by the amount of brown fabric I had!

The back fabric represents the rain...see the droplets?

Because the seams were pressed open during construction, I was concerned about the stability of the piecing.  So, in addition to the spider webs, I heavily quilted the center of the stars made by the kites, sewing a circle filled with pebbles...or water droplets.  That should prevent any seams from separating over time.

In the outer border I quilted a trio of swirly lines and droplets to represent the rain which comes down and washes the spider out.

I made faux piping on the binding, which allows the whole quilt to be done by machine.  I strongly dislike doing handwork!  From the back, you only see the brown binding, but on front there is a blue flange between the binding and the body of the quilt.

While they don't know it yet, this quilt will be given to my son and daughter in law who has just given birth to my grandson!  Yep, he was born 5 weeks early and weighed only 5# 2oz, but he was perfect!  He is now 4weeks old...still one week shy of his due date!  

I need to get that baby a loofah! 

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