Archive for November, 2010

I’ve written about Ernie’s pillow earlier. Here’s the back story. Whenever Ernie is seated, except at table, he’s in his recliner, with a heating pad against his aching back.


That wasn’t quite enough to relieve the pain, so we tried all the small pillows we had. Since none was comfortable, I made a pillow by sewing a rectangle of old bed sheeting and stuffing it with fiber fill. It took some adjusting of size and amount of stuffing to satisfy Ernie. Now he has a Goldilocks pillow—not too fat, not too small, just right.

Shortly after I’d made the pillow, I decided to make a cover for it. At the same time, I had been thinking that I needed a background, a venue, for using TAST 2010 stitches. Of course: Make a crazy patchwork and use TAST stitches as seam embellishments. This is intended to be a utilitarian pillow, not a decorative one. It will spend its life behind the heating pad, behind Ernie’s back. It has to be durable and comfortable, so nothing too dimensional, or too fancy to take the wear.

Ernie’s favorite colors are green and blue. In my stash I found plenty of pieces of denim and chambray, which are remnants of old clothes, as well as various print fabrics—all cotton, and old sheeting for backing. (I may soon have to declare a sheet “old” so that I can put some more of that fabric in my stash.) Of course the patchwork couldn’t be just blue and green. It had to have some hot color for me.

I’m lousy at piecing by machine; I’ve done so little of it, and then only very small pieces. This seemed like a good opportunity to work on my machine-piecing skill. After doing one side on the machine, and having to finish it by hand-basting, I just hand-basted the other side. I wish I could whip out pieced blocks, several at a sitting, as others do. Haven’t learned how to do that. Here are the two sides, pieced.


Now I had something on which to use TAST stitches. All the seam treatments I’ve done so far are on Flickr, but here are a few.

Vandyke stitch_edited-1 Chained cross stitch Three more

This is definitely not traditional crazy quilt seam treatment. For the most part, I resisted the temptation to add more decorative stitches to the TAST stitches. Further, the seams are almost exclusively stitched in #5 pearl cotton, not a variety of threads. The next shot is WIP, not all seams covered:

Pillow cover WIP_edited-1

When I’d covered all the seams, the large patches were too blank. If not stitch embellishment, then what? Appliqué? You may have already read about this process. Back to my stash and cutting some small shapes from various print fabrics—still all cotton.


After fusing these shapes to patches, I had places to put more stitching—on and around these shapes. A few examples:

Turkman stitch as a borderTurkman and Spiked_0002

Spiked knotted cable chain stitch

Turkman and Spiked_0001

Flowers, stitched over and around. Raised close herringbone for the leaves, from TAST


Tight, or tailor’s buttonhole, not from TAST


Don’t remember this stitch. Anybody recognize it?


For stitching these appliqués, I used DMC cotton floche and #8 pearl cotton.

Shown again, here’s the finished first side of the pillow cover.


Now I’m working on the other side, still using TAST stitches. Here’s a scan of part of it.

WIP second side

Back to work. Because I’m pushing to finish this pillow cover, I made a list of previous TAST stitches that I hadn’t used on the first side. I’m working my way down the list, putting them on this side. This time I’m documenting the stitches as I go, so there won’t be any I can’t identify. And each Tuesday, I add the new TAST stitch.

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I’ve just finished embellishing one side of Ernie’s cushion cover. I’ve used it as background for TAST 2010 stitches.

Here’s the last patch outlined with Eastern stitch. It follows curves nicely.

The idea for stitching on these print patches comes from Broderie Perse, a popular style of embellishing quilts in the 19th century. Chintz fabric printed with beautiful large flowers and floral arrangements was very costly. Women couldn’t afford to buy much of it. So they cut out the flowers and arrangements and appliquéd them to their quilt squares.

Here’s an example from an antique quilt.

I found this at Barbara Brackman’s website, Material Culture. She shows many exquisite examples of 18th and 19th century quilts with Broderie Perse.

What I did is not really Broderie Perse, but that was the source of the idea.

I cut out the flower from print fabric, then outlined it with stitching—outline and back stitches. The leaf is raised close herringbone from TAST 2010.

I made this blue flower pop out by stitching around it with tight buttonhole, or tailor’s buttonhole stitching.

Ernie’s colors are blue and green, but I had to add a third color family—red for eye appeal to please me. The small patches of print fabrics are all stitched with the same three threads—light green DMC cotton floche, blue and pink/mauve DMC #8 cotton pearl.

I was going to add a second button, but Ernie said he found the single button more intriquing. I’ll decide after I look at it for a while.

Now on to the other side of the cushion—pieced and ready for seam treatment stitching. Since this is a utilitarian cushion cover I’m making, there’s no fancy embellishment, none of my usual beads, metallics, gold metal work, or heavy dimensional stitching. Only cotton fabrics and threads. It has to be comfortable behind Ernie’s back, and durable.

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It’s official

I did cross the finish line of the FUNd Run 5K race. Here’s the official photograph that I received today.

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One magnificent gift

From my gifted friend in Austria, Elisabeth Preininger, has come a fabulous bag she created. When she showed it on her Flickr site in August, I left a comment that I coveted this bag. What I meant by that was an expression of my appreciation for this work of art. But Elisabeth wrote me this Flickr message:

Dear JoWynn,
many thanks for your nice comment. It will be exposed at Quilt-Fest in Linz in October 2010. After this event it will be sent to you in Baltimore! Hugs Elisabeth

Here’s her bag at the exhibit.

Yesterday it arrived. Not having looked at the photos since August, I was awestruck when I opened the box. It couldn’t be more spectacular, and the craftsmanship is superb. The work of a master craftsman.

When I showed it to Ernie, who has also exchanged messages with Elisabeth, he exclaimed, “That’s you!” And it is, too. These are my colors. To show you, I spread some of my clothes out on my bed.


Then I placed the bag with them.


I love this palette!

Now for a closer look at the bag.

Isn’t that a great design?

And look at the ends, or sides of the bag.


Terrific print, don’t you agree? What a great choice.

Inside there’s even a zippered pocket.


And Elisabeth’s label. It includes her address, telephone number, and e-mail address, but I don’t think I should show that information on the web.

Am I fortunate? Am I blessed? I can’t thank Elisabeth enough for this beautiful gift of herself.

Go to her Flickr site. Don’t miss seeing more of her glorious textile art and other photographs. Her photographs of the bag are much better than mine, truer to the actual colors.

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On Saturday, October 30th, my first husband Skip married his 1970s sweetheart, Cherie, in a fabulous Halloween wedding. All five of our sons, most daughters-in-law, and most of our grandchildren were here for the weekend—the first time so many of our family were together in eight years.

The partying began Friday evening when son Michael and his wife Carolyn hosted a dinner party at their home. Both our family and the bride’s family were present. I didn’t take many pictures, because I was more interested in having as much conversation with as many people as possible. But somebody else used my camera.

Two weeks before I had run the 5K FUNd Run. At the pre-wedding party, I ran again, racing the length of the hallway at Michael’s house with two great-nephews, Domenic and Luca, niece Stacy’s sons.





Son Pete with granddaughters Katie and Rachel at the chocolate fountain.


Matt placed his hands in a pan of chocolate sauce, then held them toward me, palms out. I placed my hands on his, then we painted our faces.


We Johnses know how to have fun!


Now for the wedding. It was held at Skip and Cherie’s home, a beautiful wooden house, deep in the woods. So many people were expected, that parking attendants were required to direct us to parking places. As we walked toward the entrance to their house, we passed a graveyard between the house and an outbuilding that served as the caterers’ staging area.



Inside, the house was festooned with black and white cobwebs, leaves caught in them, spiders, and bats.


Below you can see daughter-in-love (and my personal trainer) Anne, talking with son Bill. Behind them are granddaughter Katie and grandson Josh.


Above the bar, see the ghoul and the rat over trailing dead leaves. Seated to the left is a stuffed witch


The decorating was fabulous, so creative, and it was everywhere, inside and out, on two levels. Here’s a table of elaborate masks.


Many of the guests were in costume. Here are a few examples.IMG_1196_edited-1

Above, a baby in a sleeper, a squaw, and a nun. Below, a homeless veteran.


She came as a casualty.


While she appears to be an Egyptian princess.


The ceremony officiant was garbed as an angel, complete with halo. Behind her, on the left, is daughter-in-law Karin with the long red wig and feathered mask with her husband Pete in prison stripes.


Pete and Karin—slinky dress and stiletto heels


Now this is Cherie’s aunt Amy. Amy is a neighbor here at Charlestown, One day she said to me, “Did you know that we know someone in common?” Thinking she meant another Charlestown resident, I said, “No. Who?” “Skip,” replied Amy. “Skip Johns?” I exclaimed. “How on earth do you know him?” “My niece is marrying him! Are you going to the wedding?” And so we were both there, Friday night and Saturday. In the background, Rachel, Michelle’s partner Braden, and Michelle.


But this man claimed to be the real “Aunt Amy.” He assured me that that other woman was an impostor. I think they are related in some way; I couldn’t quite get the whole story.


Geoff and Carol came as dominance/submission—Goddess and Mr. Slave. She’s carrying a whip and holding the leash. Because Carol and Geoff stayed Friday night here, I got to spend most of the day Saturday with just them. Which was great. Since they live on Vashon Island off Seattle, I haven’t seen them for a few years.


Here’s a full-length view of Carol. We had to go shopping for the fishnet hose after breakfast Saturday. To her left are Katie, Matt, and Josh.


The groom appeared as the Mad Hatter, in dark green velvet with satin brocade waistcoat.


The bride was the Red Queen, or Queen of Hearts, as there was a row of red hearts down the front of her wide skirt.


Not in costume, but too adorable to miss: Michelle and Braden, on the deck, through the window. Note the sculpture.


Rachel and Matt—bosom cousins.


This is the only wedding shot that includes son Steve. Fortunately, I got to spend time with him on Monday. But now I realize there’s no picture of Michael. All five sons were there.


I snagged this shot of Michael from Facebook.


Lavish food, but I couldn’t get close enough to most of it. These candy apples were on display, and grandson Noah actually tried to eat one. (They were real, but a real challenge to eat.)


Below is the wedding cake!


The ceremony was moving, but it included laughs. The bride received a ring. The groom received a watch. He had to choose which one from several worn by the bride, then wrest it off her arm.


Did you see the angel’s wings?

What an occasion! As in the newspaper accounts of weddings, I include the number of guests—86, and maybe more.

Finally, this is a view from the upper deck of Skip and Cherie’s home. It was a perfect day for a merry, merry wedding.


May they have a joyful partnership for years to come. Or, as Ernie and I say often to each other, “for as long as it lasts.”

Monday Steve, Rachel, and Katie spent the afternoon with me before flying back to Colorado. Precious time with my distant loved ones.  Marvelous to have quiet conversation with just them.


Happy weekend for me.

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