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Stitch the Sketch

A Picture of Haidhausen

Inspired by Clara Nartey’s challenge to stitch the sketch I had been looking for something to stitch for a while.  The problem is that I really can’t draw.  But I do love to stitch.  I had previously made the rainbow fish – I drew the outline and stitched the rest with the details just coming to mind as I went.

But when local artist Michael Ried stopped by the store one day and started to show me his sketchbook I commented that I would love to embroider his picture.  He just tore the drawing out of his notebook and gave it to me.  So the challenge was on.

It took a while for me to finally sit down and stitch the sketch – pictured here is the fountain at Weissenberger Platz – right around the corner from the store.  And when I did I found it challenging to follow his lines – there’s a lot of skipping around.  But I’m quite pleased with the results.

What do you think?

Hier das Original / Here’s the original drawing :

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Memories of Berlin

Finally!  That’s about all I can say.  I was finally able to realize my vision from 14 years ago – to make a quilt that would memorialize our time in Berlin – and all the films we saw then.  In those days I worked at Columbia TriStar Film GmbH at the Sony Center on Potsdamer Platz.  It was a great job and I had wonderful co-workers.  Plus, it was a time full of films for my husband and me.  We saw many films at our neighborhood theater and also were able to attend a number of film premieres.

But how do those times turn into a quilt?  It’s simple.  Every film has a number of different promotional give-away products.  A lot of times that includes a t-shirt.  During the 5 years that I worked for CTS that became a large number of t-shirts.  And we were proud to wear them.   But sooner or later you stop wearing them – maybe they no longer fit, don’t look so good any more or just aren’t the style we’re looking for.  So what then?  Keep them!

Then the idea hit me – it’s almost too easy.  A quilt!  But it took me a very long time to realize my project.  For various reasons – not enough time, not enough peace and quiet, too much work.  But then I found this great Hollywood fabric and I knew it was time.  I had the inspiration to find the time and turn my vision into reality.

While I was working I also realized that the other cities on the fabric were also in various films.  And so the back of the quilt also took on form.

Now the quilt was finished but I still had to wait for my husband’s birthday.  After all it was supposed to be his quilt.  And finally that day came, too.  Now I can finally show everyone the quilt and tell the story.

CTS Filme

But the best thing was my husband’s reaction.  Not only did he wish for a quilt (how could he not?), he said that when he saw the various t-shirts different memories of our time in Berlin kept popping up.  I wore the Erin Brockovich t-shirt when we attended the Love Parade in Berlin.  He and I had attended the premiere of Godzilla together.  Etc., etc.

And then there’s the quiz for the back:  Which cities are these and what films can you name that were set there?  Do you know the answer?

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A poppy by any other name….

For my How to Sell You Art Online course at The Abundant Artist I was set the task of making a piece of art in one hour and then journaling about it.  Here the result.


The how is easy – a piece of fabric and a piece of stabilizer and lots of thread. I window-boxed my fabric and traced the flower I wanted to embroider. Then I started embroidering – outside edges first, filling in, then inside petals after changing colors. I realized I should have used a hoop from the beginning – my fabric was bunching up, so I hooped the piece. Added white satin stitches and yellow stamens on the flower. More red and done (my hour was up). This might be a prototype to become a pillow or a pocket on a bag.



I sat down to dinner and said to my husband ‘I need to make a piece of art.’. That was about all, but by the next day I had decided and asked him for a photo of the poppy that had just bloomed in our garden and been ruined by the rain. The flower, the color, the prominence of this plant. All of these things made me decide to make this piece for this class. Usually I think pictures of flowers are mundane.

But I really like to sew and to decorate textiles. Basically, I’ve been sewing since I can remember, but in the beginning it was just something to do. Then it became a way to make clothes that I couldn’t otherwise have – things that didn’t exist and, of course, to save money.

After a break from clothes sewing I moved on to baby quilts – it was that time of life and I gave quilts to my friends. For myself and my own kids I started to do machine embroidery in the hoop. This was fun for me and there were so many possibilities! I bought designs, downloaded free designs, changed them or started making my own designs. There were lots of t-shirts and towels. But after a few years I began to feel limited by the hoop and the ‘cuteness’ of the designs. I did discover other suppliers that weren’t so cute, but haven’t found something that really expressed what I am looking for. Perhaps that is because I don’t really know what I’m looking for. So I took an online course about design and my challenge was to create a way to embellish a t-shirt that went beyond the hoop. I started thinking about combining painting with my embroidery. But within the class I started more applique and reverse applique on my hooped design.

Talking about that makes me realize that I should continue to explore it.

But at the same time, I continue to quilt. Here there are lots of factors that influence me. I think you can never have too many blankets. I want people to use my art – to snuggle on the couch in front of the tv with their family, to make a cave with it, to put their baby on it. So one of the quilts I’ve recently made and that I quite like is a t-shirt quilt. This is a great way to capture memories, reuse material and make something that will last a lifetime. While I was making a t-shirt quilt for my husband I was approached by a lady who wanted a memory quilt for her son who is graduating from high school. I was able to show her what I had accomplished so far and got the commission. There is a lot of educating that needs to go into that – people have no idea what fabric costs or what the process of making a quilt is. How much time it actually requires. But I was able to make the quilt and she saw it at a few different stages and is pleased with the result.  However, at present both of these quilts are still top secret, since they have not yet been gifted to their respective recipients.

What would I be doing if I weren’t making art?

Working as a secretary, a translator, teaching English. I don’t know. Right now this is what I do. If I get to the point where I decide not to do it, life will take over and I’ll find a job. I’m flexible.

What made me choose fabric as a medium?

Quilts and textiles are everywhere in my life. I find other people’s homes look naked. And they don’t have any personality. I love it when I go someplace and see something personal that is different from what everybody has. We have photos my husband took on the wall and pieces he has welded standing around. Plus, tons of stuff the kids have created. We have a bunch of different rocks and pieces of wood we collected on our various vacations. But for me there was never any other choice. I have collected so much experience and knowledge. Not to say I know it all, but it is what I want to do. Funnily enough my husband and I recently took a pottery class using a wheel. We had fun, we learned a lot, we made some great things. But I realized that I never wanted to be a potter! I don’t like being wet, I don’t have the strength to manuveur a large amount of clay, I find it a bit limited in terms of what you can make. I just love fabric. Sewing reminds me of my mom, my grandmother, my aunt and my best friend’s mom. All of whom have influenced my choice for fabric and sewing and quilting.

What are the mediums that I am exploring now?

I took an online Sulky certifcation course and did my first real free-motion embroidery. That was fun! At first I was really hesitant, but then I got into it. So in the meantime I’ve made a fish. That was a big step for me and I would love to do more. I painted a bag as a result of a Craftsy course and it looks like the ocean. Hence the fish.

Plus, I recently got a chance to use a punching machine (that means felting with a machine that looks like a sewing machine, but isn’t). WOW! That was fun and opens up a lot more possibilities. That is something I would love to explore.

What do I want for myself as an artist?

That’s a hard one. I want to continue to grow. And I want to find an audience. Online I have been able to connect with people who do things that are similar to what I do. But I would love to get paid for what I do.  I guess that means finding an audience of people who can’t do what I do, but like what I do.

I would also like to get better. I feel that my work is primitive. I would like for it to get more complex. I’m not sure if that means a more exact representation of the object (for example the fish) or perhaps a more abstract representation of the object. I can’t decide.

What kind of success would you like to have?

Hmm. Does it sound shallow to say ‘monetary’ success? I have been in my store for 5 years. I started with a certain amount of money and thought I would keep going as long as it lasts. It is still lasting, but I would really like a salary or a bonus or something! Because right now I feel like I am working for free and if that is the case then maybe I should be doing something that helps someone else – like working with the refugees here in Munich.

What would the ideal reaction be to your art?

‘Wow! I want that!’ I go to different textile events and every once in a while this happens to me. I bought a hat for Euro 120. I LOVE that hat. In the winter I wear it alllllll the time. It keeps me warm, it looks great, it makes me happy. I met a lady and bought 2 of her dresses – they’re unique, I love the way they look, they look great on me – they make me happy. So I want to make people feel happy about something they own.

What is your biggest obstacle in making art?

Probably my own limited vision. It is much easier for me to make something if someone says to me ‘I wish…’ and shows me a certain fabric. I can usually envision an answer. A quilt, a bag, a something. Perhaps that’s another limitation – I really want most of my stuff to be useful. I’m not into ‘dust collectors’ – things that stand around and gather dust. And I tend to keep it simple – perhaps too simple. I think I need to start adding more layers to my work. But I often feel that something is finished and don’t want to ruin it.

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Vacation Time

On vacation you have time to try new things – and in this case I also had the right weather to try it!  I’ve been waiting for a long time (over a year) to try and discharge some t-shirts with bleach.  It was really simple and I’m very proud whenever I wear my new t-shirt.

(I used the method I found described on the Threads website with a spray bottle and a 2:1 mix of water:bleach.)

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Rainbow Fish

I’m actually very proud of my first big project with freehand machine embroidery – a fish on a bag that I painted myself.  I did the painting after taking a Craftsy class.  Then I asked my daughter what I should put on the bag.  She replied that it looked like the ocean and therefore a fish was required.  Well, this is what popped into my head and here are the results!  What do you think?

About halfway through I realized I probably should have either used some stabilizer or hooped the project or both.  But live and learn (or in this case sew and learn).  Then I was watching another Craftsy class on machine embroidery and was inspired to try free-hand satin stitch for the eye.  That was new, too.

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July in April?

I’ve heard of Christmas in July – but I never thought about July in April until now.  I am using lots of my Aunt’s 4th of July fabrics to create pillows and a fun table runner and maybe a few other things.  Now is a good time for me to sew them – no pressure to get them done, which helps me get them done.  Isn’t that ironic?  Sometimes it’s great to have as much time as you need.

What are you working on in April?

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Clover Clips!

Santa was good to me this last Christmas and brought me some new Clover Clips.  I had been wanting some for a while – at first I thought they might be useful for my Garden Quilt – but then I was shown a way to baste the hexagons without any clips.  But I knew it was only a question of time and I would find something else that they would be good for.

So now that time has finally come!  I’ve been making potholders from old jeans and I have to say it is much easier to clip the binding than pin it.  What a time saver!  And a finger saver, too!  Thank you Santa!