My Pink Nesting Place

My Nesting Place

By Judy Moore Pullen

We all need a place to relax, create, and play. My place is a pink wing-back chair, surrounded by things that make me comfortable and cozy. My pink chair is like a “learning set” which I encouraged parents to provide for their children during my years as a public-school educator. It is the place that my body and soul go to and get ready to hand sew.

nesting place

My Pink Nesting Place

I discovered my pink chair in a resale shop in San Angelo, Texas, years ago. My pink chair has accompanied me on several moving ventures and adventures. It has suffered some dings, which I cover with an old piece of lace across the wings. Try as I might to connect with my pincushion on the table next to my pink chair, it continues to endure punctures of needles and pins in the upholstered arm on the right. A handmade rolled pillow, a gift from friends years ago, fits across the back to better conform to my back.

On the right side of my nest is a once discarded small end table that my dear husband, Don, picked up at a garage sale before we met. I have adopted it, placed a lovely vintage lamp on top, and scatter balls and spools of thread, pretty little bowls for scraps, a funny coaster for refreshment, and an array of pencils, scissors, note pads, and flat out stuff.

Adjacent to my table, I have extended my nest to include the arm of a big leather sofa. I admit to having more than one hand stitching project going at a time…I have a problem. The arm of the sofa is large enough to hold an old jewelry box encrusted with black beads, also a great find from a resale shop. On the inside of the box, my jewels of choice are needles, straight pins, needle threaders, small scissors, a Roxanne Thimble, Needle Grip-its, and bits and pieces of needful things. There is still room on the arm of the sofa to hold a stack of on-going projects.

Box for all my "jewels"!

Box for all my “jewels”!

Since I am AARP age, I have bonded to a lighted magnifier with a flexible arm that sits on the floor on the left of my pink chair. Early in the evening, if the stitching I am doing is not too small, I bend the flexible arm and place the light right over my work. As the evening progresses and my eyes tire, or if my work is small and detailed, I lower my light and peer through the magnified glass.

There is another small table to the left of my pink chair that belongs to Don as he joins me in the evening, paws up in his recliner. I have been reminded, a few times, that I have my own table…but he is still willing to share if I need to spread out.

Sometimes during the day, I place things on my pink chair: mending, a new quilt magazine to share with Don for ideas for the barn quilt blocks he paints, a bag of chocolates for munching in the evening.

My nest is a pink chair, a place where I am comfortable and my mind and spirit get set to sew.  I jot down ideas as they bubble up in my mind during the evening. My nest gets messy, but so do I when I am in the throes of making something by hand. It is my place. I have ownership. I was once offered a brand-new recliner, which I promptly turned down. Only now is my pink chair perfectly broken in.

I believe we all need a place where we can go, do those things we enjoy, and just be. I hope that my pink chair lasts as long as I do. It is a gift that I gave myself years ago that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving. A thought just bubbled up into my mind:  I need to put my old pink princess phone on the table next to my pink chair!

Wishing you a nest place of your own.

Happy Stitching,

Judy Moore Pullen

Designing & Playing with Wool

Designing & Playing with Wool

By Judy Moore Pullen

If one plays around with fabric and threads, one can discover her own inner creative child, which is what gracious members of the Wimberley Quilt Guild in Wimberley, Texas, did last week. I had been invited to do a lecture and trunk show featuring wool applique, followed by an afternoon workshop. I passed around samples of hand applique using felted wool from the bolt and re-cycled wool. We also cooked/over-dyed wool in crock pots using onion skins, Kool-Aid, and a color transfer technique.

In the afternoon, after a discussion of becoming aware of designs all around us, guild members began thinking and talking about how they could transform several pieces of wool and a bag full of wool scraps into their own personal designs. I just love the process part of a project, and the easy-going interaction of the ladies was an important part of that process. They were encouraged to do “walk-abouts”, and see what others were doing, offer suggestions and comments. Some wanted their design ideas complete before beginning to stitch, while others jumped right in and took needle and thread to fabric.

wool applique prep

Prepping!

Wool applique prep

We also discussed tools: John James and Mary Arden Chenille Needles for wool applique and Tapestry Needles for wrap stitching. Chenille needles work so well with wool. They are strong, have a sharp point, and the shaft opens the fibers of wool so that the thread glides easily through. The elongated eye makes threading easy with Presencia’s Perle Cotton and Embroidery Floss. Tapestry needles are blunt, therefore make sliding the needle under stitches and not penetrating the fabric much easier. Wrapping stitches with contrasting colors of thread with a tapestry needle is part of the fun.

The ladies also played and experimented with Colonial Needle Felting Needles and Box Wool Roving. Needle felting and roving opens up the door to so many design possibilities.

wool roving

Coloinal’s Paint Box Wool

One of the secrets of using roving is to separate the roving into little see-through wisps. Place a piece of wool on a 2”-3” thick block of foam rubber. Layer of wisp of roving on top. Hold the felting needle straight up and down and punch the roving gently into the wool. Add more wisps of different colors to create texture. Gently sweep the tip of the needle against the wisps to make shapes. Couch with Presencia Perle Cotton or Embroidery Floss in a variegated or solid color if you desire.

Eleanor, who is going into the second grade this fall, created a one-of-a-kind piece of over-dyed wool by layering 3 colors of 100% wool and brown onion skins.

Eleanor's Dyed Wool

Eleanor showing off her dyed wool

She rolled up the layers and tied the bundle with strips of wool, then cooked the bundle in a crock pot. She also had great fun cutting her own shapes of wool and stitching with Perle Cotton. Eleanor took to needle felting and hand applique like a proverbial duck to water.

wool applique

“Just Play and have fun!”

Just play and have fun! If it is not perfect and you are, call it a one-of-a-kind piece of folk art. You will improve with practice and play. In my opinion, there is great value in work done by the human hand and not “perfect”. I was so inspired by Eleanor and all of the gracious members of the Wimberley Quilt Guild. They are great teachers, eager to learn, and demonstrate great community spirit and creativity.

Playing with Needle and Thread

Playing with Needle and Thread

By Judy Moore Pullen

Yesterday I had the pleasure of presenting a program on “The Wonderful World of Wool” at the Colorado Valley Quilters’ Guild in La Grange, Texas, home of the Texas Quilt Museum. What an amazing group of ladies whose hearts and hands serve not only their families, but their community as well. Many serve as docents for the museum, provide books and quilts for families, and share their talent and creativity with others.

One of the wonderful things about wool is that I can play with threads. John James Chenille Needles, sizes 18-26 provide the opportunity to use beautiful Presencia Finca Floss and all sizes of Presencia Perle Cotton threads.

I have convinced myself that the older I get, the bigger my number, the “finer” I get. This helps me remember that the bigger the number, the finer the thread and hand sewing needles. Machine sewing needles are just the opposite. Presencia Perle Cotton threads, sizes 3, 5, 8, 12, and 16 are the same: the bigger the number the finer, smaller the diameter of the thread.

John James Chenille Needles have a larger, very smooth shaft that opens the fibers on wool. Those wool fibers of course, close again after the thread is pulled through. Presencia Perle Cotton size 5 can easily be threaded through the elongated eye of a size 18 chenille needle. Try playing with a combination of a strand or 2 or 3 of Presencia Finca Floss with a contrasting color of Presencia Perle Cotton and stitch at the same time. Perhaps you would like to test this thread combination on a scrap of wool before stitching on your project or throw caution to the wind and just begin stitching!

I also like to play with what I call a “wrap” stitch. I sew a running stitch line of Perle Cotton size 8, solid color, on a scrap of wool, making my stitches about ¼” long. With a contrasting color of Perle 8 and a John James Tapestry Needle, size 22, I come up from the back of the wool at the bottom of the line of stitching. Then I slide the needle just under the first thread from right to left, not stitching through the wool.  A tapestry needle is dull, so I can easily slide my needle under the next stitch, right to left, and continue with this pattern.  Try it, and take a look at what you have created. Consider doing the “wrap” down the line of running stitches to where you began with yet another color of contrasting thread.  Think of all the times you can use these great decorative applique stitches and have fun while playing.

quilting, applique

Wool applique wrap stitch example

quilting, applique

Up-close view of wool applique using Presencia threads

I think we have some new wool applique enthusiasts from the Colorado Valley Quilt Guild. They also seemed to enjoy seeing all the options and surprises that can result from playing with needles and threads. The choices are endless, and the process is fun and rewarding.

Happy stitching,

Judy Moore Pullen

The joy of sewing – “Learning with Quilts”

The joy of sewing – “Learning with Quilts”

Judy Moore Pullen

Oh, boy!  Oh, joy!  I spent the better part of today visiting with like-minded friends organizing quilts and books for the new school year.  “Learning with Quilts” is one of the community service projects of our Highland Lakes Quilt Guild here in the heart of the Texas hill country.  We select children’s books that are quilt-related, make the accompanying quilts, and distribute them to seven elementary schools in the area.  Those of us who met today are retired educators who have a passion for quilts, books, and of course helping children.  There are some wonderful quilt-related books available with great themes.  Some of the books are about people of other cultures or other countries.  Some are historical fiction or seasonal.  All have themes of core values like kindness, making do, or problem solving.

the tortilla quilt

‘The Tortilla Quilt’ – One of this year’s “Learning with Quilts” books

Making quilts that accompany the books is sometimes a challenge, as there are rarely patterns or instructions for the quilt.  However, brainstorming, teamwork, and drawing on the specific talents of some of our quilter friends, the process of making the quilts is great fun.  We have quite a list of books but are always looking for new titles.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Now, to spend the evening hand quilting an orphan block that will become a table topper, while listening to a good book.  Oh, boy!  Oh, joy!

Happy stitching,

Judy Moore Pullen

Big Stitch Quilting

Big Stitch Quilting

Thoughts on Big Stitch Quilting from Pepper Cory

Big Stitch Quilting

Pepper Cory with her Big Stitch Quilt

Many times I hand sew because I find the rhythm of handling the needle—in, out, back down, in, out while gathering stitches— very therapeutic. The action requires total focus but my hands know more what to do than my brain. After a short while, the work happens without effort. I find myself stitching and my mind wandering. Call it a ‘mental vacation with a needle.’

This summer I pieced and Big Stitch quilted a small, simple quilt. After five days of work, it was done and I felt a sense of accomplishment and peace. The small quilt is coming with me to the upcoming Houston Quilt Market.  If you’re attending, please stop by and see us—the quilt, me, and all the Colonial Needle family—in booths 1328 and 1329.

Line Marking Techniques

Line marking technique used by Pepper on this quilt.

The quilt was pieced from 44 different colors (plus white) of the Peppered Cottons line of Shot Cottons from StudioE Fabrics cut into 3″ squares. The threads used to Big Stitch were varying colors of Size 8 Perle cotton by Presencia (found here).  For the hand stitching I used the largest needle from the Big Stitch sampler pack by Colonial Needle (found here). I marked the lines to follow with stitches by using a big fat tapestry needle (their tips are not sharp) and scoring the fabric alongside a ruler.

The quilting covers the quilt in a plaid of different colors of stitching—just the thing for those of us who love to quilt but bore easily when the work is too much the same.

Big Stitch Quilt

Pepper’s Finished Big Stitch Quilt

More Spring Quilt Market Classes

Judy Moore Pullen’s Quilt Market Class

Applique and All!

Judy Moore Pullen

Judy Moore Pullen

Just when you thought that all forms of quilting have been learned and revisited, yet another tide of applique interest rolls in! We’re lucky at Colonial that we have an applique’ expert on staff. Judy Moore Pullen, a public school teacher for many years, turned her talents to quilting after she retired. Her special love is applique’ and she uses all sorts of fabrics and threads in her work.

 

 

Wool Applique

At the upcoming Spring Quilt Market in St. Louis, Judy is presenting two Take & Teach sessions for Colonial Needle. The first is class #308 called Wool Appliqué–Beginning to Advanced taking place Friday May 18th from 8-9:30 AM (before Market opens). The second is the next day (Saturday the 19th, 8-9:30 AM) and is #408 called Hand Applique’-Tips, Tricks, Tools, and Techniques.

Wool Applique

Photos from Judy’s recent Wool Applique Class

Judy will educate you in a knowledgeable and gentle manner and answer your questions patiently. She is simply an excellent teacher. When you come to Market, you might as well learn from the best!

Nothing written about Judy is quite complete without a mention of her beloved pup Sable.

Sable

Judy’s pup, Sable!