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Inspiring Quilting: Elly's blog to boost your creative IQ

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category


Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

Do you remember topsy-turvy dolls? A bit like a Pushmepullyou from the story of Dr. Dolittle.

Do little, however, is rarely my modus operandi…quite the opposite, I tend to go overboard. So when–a long time ago, I took a class from one of the top dollmakers in the world, Elinor Peace Bailey, I didn’t make a doll from one of her kits. I didn’t make a doll…I made a topsy turvy doll. Here’s the basic body:

Here’s the Sun’s sun-dress, made today from a pillowcase that my grandmother had, and the Moon’s nightshirt:


Takes me back to my girlhood. I never played with dolls, but I made dolls and made costumes for them.

Always nice to have a reason to finish a project. This topsy turvy doll is headed–pun intended–to a baby who is the sun, moon, and stars to her family. Only hope the dog doesn’t chew it up before she can enjoy it!








Serging Ahead

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

My mother taught me to sew my own clothing when I was in 4th grade. (Thanks, Ma!) For the very first time in 55 years, the insides of a garment don’t look quite so wrong. I bought a used Baby Lock serger a few years back, struggled with it, put it away, took a class on serging, put it away, and finally brought it out to use. My inspiration–er, task-master, was some gorgeous hand-blocked fabric from the now-out-of-business Textile Workshop, some smart, dotted linen purchased at a SAQA conference last year, and Pattern #11212 from the Cutting Line Designs, by Louise Cutting. Warning: Directions include tips and tricks for really fastidious finishing. And for once, the Queen of the Quick & Dirty, aka yours truly, did due diligence, and serged all the raw edges, then topstitched them, first from the inside, then from the outside.












I mixed features from both View A (collar) and View B (longer length, pockets). I included a buttonhole tab, using bright African fabrics, but the jacket ended up bigger than I expected, so I ditched the tab in exchange for a belt. Until I grow into it, which seems highly likely.  Or even more likely, give it to a larger  person who can carry off the fullness. And then, I’ll add that tab back in…













And oh yeah, because this blog is about quilting, check out the collar. A soft interfacing used for firmness provided the middle layer for free-motion-quilting, following the chain-link lines of the batik fabric.


Art = Play

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014


      The Contemporary Arts Center –a highlight of a long weekend in Cincinnati, was as fun for my almost 4-year old great nephew as it was for his mom, my DH, and me.  An ultra-colorful and creative current exhibit is titled, “Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? Painting, Parody & Disguise.” Defining the Parody part, curator Michael Stillion mentions, “Taking serious art not so serious and making it hilariously serious.” With that insanely in mind, Zachary Herrmann describes his installation, with its special appeal for us young and old viewers, using other opposing concepts, so that “cultural cues, symbols, and sensual stimulation…project into a more loosely structured space where fictions about beauty and repulsion, violence and humor, mortality, transparency, and psychology are at play.”


detail,fools-houseMark Fox, A Fool’s House Fulfilled–A broomstick — among lots of debris–is a clue as to the scale. P1012102


Upstairs at CAC is the UnMuseum. There, Casey Millard’s character, Shark Girl, is not having a good day. She hides behind a shark head, because that is the animal she feels like. What animal do you feel like? I am a clingy Labrador retriever, Marcie is a kangaroo mother, and Norman is a curious little monkey.



Ryan Mulligan created the most beautiful, free-play putt-putt course–no clubs; you use your feet to guide balls into holes…or send them down the clever chutes…or maybe you simply roll around in the balls like a little Ikea ballroom. It’s called The Dinosaur Says Moo.



P1012115 P1012113 P1012114P1012108 P1012112











I think I’m ready to be more playful with my quilting…how about you?






Tribute to Moms

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Just in time for Mother’s Day! I’m sharing 3 of my fav art quilts on the subject (plus, one of my own).

“The Stove / Empress” by Susan Shie, 1999.  48”x 74”. An art quilt in her Kitchen Tarot series.  Lucky, as she’s affectionately known, describes her piece: “Here  the Stove is a big, warm, nurturing Mama of love and feminity! There are real “lucky” bottlecaps along the stove’s front, as well as many moonstones embellishing its surface.  The stove clock is a coffee can lid, and the burners are CDs. The stove control knobs are some kind of weird Indian things that resemble shisha mirrors.”

Pamela Allen works her usual magic with enchanting Picasso-esque faces, found objects, and a tap on the funny bone. This piece, “Single Parent Family,” looks back as her hard-working mom returned to Pamela and her sister, latch-key kids at a time when it wasn’t frowned upon.


We can all relate to the domestic crises Moms and other female heads of households face, as illustrated in this quilt by Pauline Saltzman. The title of the quilt says it all; it’s called:  All Stressed Out…No One to Choke…So I Might as Well Eat.”

Here’s a quilt I made for my mother:  A tribute to her as a potter and a Torah scholar. The Hebrew is a verse from Jeremiah, which says,

And if the vessel (s)he was making was spoiled,

as happens to clay in the potter’s hands,

(s)he would make it into another vessel,

such as the potter saw fit to make.

Jeremiah 18:4

My mother always says, if a project isn’t going well, I can always mush it down into a lump and start again.  And we quilters, if we’re not happy with our quilts, maybe we can make like the potter and cut them up and turn them into something different, right? or maybe there’s a mother- in-law or a daughter-in-law we’re not so fond of ? Well then, we can give it to them!

I love to endow such wacky folk wisdom in my presentations to guilds. Think about bringing me in next April or May for my “Not Just for Mother’s Day”    presentation. I wear an “I Love Lucy” get-up that ensures the laughs outweigh the tears of  nostalgia.

But as for this year–today in fact, Happy Mother’s Day to one and all!