What I Did On My Fall Vacation

I suppose I should say “vacations” since there were actually two of them. The first one was my annual trip to Rhinebeck, NY, to meet with friends and to attend the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival. The second one was a trip to Houston, TX, with friends, to attend the International Quilt Festival for the fourth time.

I’m afraid I didn’t take any pictures on the first trip. I can’t explain that omission, other than to say that I was having too much fun. I took the train from Toronto on the Wednesday before the festival weekend, and enjoyed the following two days catching up with everyone, and making a few visits to area shops and restaurants. Saturday and Sunday were spent at the Festival. Monday was the long train ride home. We rented a house in the Rhinebeck area for the second time and it worked out very well once again. It allowed for a lot more comfortable visiting than staying in a hotel does, plus group meals and assorted other food preparation. It was a wonderful trip, made all the better by being able to meet with friends that I otherwise only see on Ravelry.

I didn’t buy much at the fairgrounds, just a few skeins of sock yarn intended for making shawls and fingerless mittens.


The yarns are (from left to right): Holiday Yarns Flocksock sock yarn in Pinot; Cephalopod Yarns Skinny Bugga! sock yarn in Other Mother, and Golden Tortoise Beetle; and undyed Hudson Valley Sheep & Wool Co. sock yarn.

My second fall trip began only eight days after getting home from the first one. After a big rush of catching up with laundry and errands, not to mention sleep, and some tense hours worrying about Tropical Storm Sandy, I was on a plane to Houston.

We arrived on Tuesday (Oct. 30) and got settled into the hotel. I took 3 classes on this visit to the Quilt Festival, and attended 3 lectures. In between I shopped and looked at quilts – such amazing quilts!

Here are some of the results of the classes I took:


From left: “Applipiecing” Curves, taught by Caryl Bryer Fallert; “Under the Sea” fabric manipulation and embroidery (not yet finished), taught by Judith Baker Montano; and “Heavy Metal Play Day” (embossing metal for art quilts), taught by Judy Coates Perez.

I also attended a lecture on “The Elements of Art Quilting” by Lyric Kinard, and one on Modern Quilting by Heather Grant. Both were great – interesting and enlightening. The Modern Quilting lecture was eye-opening for me – I realized that this is a style of quilt that interests me a lot, and that I’d like to explore in the future. (Check out the Modern Quilt Guild blog to see what I’m talking about.)

I think I overdid it with classes and lectures this year – by the time I got to the last one I was a bit brain-fogged and saturated, and was glad the class wasn’t too demanding. In the future, I think I should allow for more free time, and fewer early mornings!

I didn’t buy a lot at on this trip, either, but here is a picture of what I did buy:


On the left are some pieces of Thai silk, in the middle are some half-yards of fabric from Marcia Derse, and on the right are some fat quarters of Cherrywood fabric in a yummy array of colours. In front are a couple of strands of beads, and a skein of embroidery floss from ArtFabrik, which are dyed by Laura Wasilowski. I seem to be in an orange and purple phase of stash enhancement. I wonder if that means anything?

I also want to mention that I sewed a new bag for myself to use at Quilt Festival. I wanted something small that would hold essentials. I’d seen a leather bag at Roots that I liked, so I decided to copy it in fabric. I’ll probably write a blog post about the making of this bag, but I thought I’d show it off here.


It has a long strap to sling the bag across my body, and both outside and inside pockets to hold everything. It worked out perfectly.

Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and reflect on all that I’ve seen and done in the past few weeks. And to sleep late, rest up, and recover from this jet-set lifestyle. And maybe rake some leaves or something.


In Which I Sew an Apron

Our next official (i.e. complete with teacher) art quilt meeting is going to be a session of working with paints, inks and other messy things. I know it’s going to be lots of fun. I was thinking about what to bring along when I realized that I don’t own an apron. Well, that’s not completely true. I own several aprons, with varying degrees of frilliness, but those are for use in the kitchen (theoretically). What I don’t have is a craft apron to keep my clothes from getting splotchy.

My first thought was to make a trip to the local dollar store to buy a disposable plastic one. I took a couple of those with me to the Quilt Festival in Houston, and they worked out very well. They took up hardly any space in my suitcase, and I threw them out when I was finished with them. What they aren’t, though, is environmentally friendly. I also thought the store might sell a cheap cotton one, but before I got there to check it out I decided to make one myself.

I was pretty sure I had a pattern somewhere, and a quick check online of the indexes of various magazines led me to a simple pattern in the January 1996 issue of Threads Magazine (#62). That gave me the basic layout, but that pattern made it double layered and reversible, and I wanted to go even simpler than that. So I just used the pattern as a general guideline.

I had a big piece of artist canvas, so I decided to use that. What suits getting paint on it more than artist canvas? First, I ironed it (which got my iron dirty, which makes me think this canvas has some sizing in it). Then I cut out the basic shape (shown here folded along the centre-front):

craft apron - cut basic shape

The unhemmed apron measured 30 in. (76 cm) long and 24 in. (61 cm) wide, with the top neck 11 in. (28 cm) wide. The arm opening drops about 8 in. (21 cm) down from the top. I placed a selvage edge along the bottom so I wouldn’t have to hem it.

Because this canvas is thick and stiff, I didn’t want to have to fold the edges over double to finish them, so I sewed some commercial double-fold seam binding over the raw edges, then folded that back and topstitched it in place.

craft apron - finishing side and top edges

I dug into my bin of odds and ends and found some scrap pieces of inch-wide braided strap, and a pair of plastic D-rings, so I decided to make the neck strap adjustable. One straight piece of strap on one side, and a longer piece with the two D-rings on the other:

detail of neck strap

Two D-rings stitched together into a loop of the braided strap:

two d-rings, close-up

This makes the strap adjustable:

Then I stitched on a couple of lengths of twill tape that I also found in my bin of stuff, to use as ties. Here is the finished apron:

finished craft apron

And here it is, with me inside. I’m all ready to play with messy things.


Side-back view:


I’m quite happy with this, but I’m already thinking about how to decorate it. Perhaps its first role will be as painting surface rather than painting guard.

One nice thing about this project – everything I used was stuff I already had. One possibly detrimental thing: I am now convinced more than ever that I should never throw away my odds and ends, or my magazines. I might need them someday!

Art Books!

On Friday, the two art books I ordered from Indigo arrived in the mail (really fast!). They both look great.

Book number one is called Fabric Art Workshop, by Susan Stein. It features chapters on many different fabric art techniques, including Paintstiks, foiling, Angelina fibre, rust dyeing, marbling, and many others. In fact, there are 27 sections, each covering a different technique. And the final section is a photo gallery of inspiring art.

Book number two is one I’ve been waiting for since going to the International Quilt Festival in Houston last year. It is Modern Mark Making, by Lisa Engelbrecht. I took a class with her on Lettering on Fabric. Her book expands on what I learned in that class. It covers all kinds of lettering, from classic calligraphy to funky graffiti lettering. She discusses different tools and materials. And there is a whole section on lettering on fabric, too. I also love that it’s a spiral-bound book wrapped in a hard cover, so it lies flat on the table when open. This makes it far easier to use.

I am looking forward to experimenting with these new reference books at my side.