Claim to Fame Part Deux

by Mary Boalt

The time has come for another major house purging. It gets to feeling claustrophobic when the closets begin to regurgitate their contents. Or the drawers won’t close. Although we can still park our cars in the garage, staging for this garage sale may change all of that as the boxes of discard items placed in the narrow strip between the two cars continues to grow. Soon the only way to exit the cars will be through the sunroofs.

I sew….a lot! What does one do with all these clothes? The Kon Mari method of clearing out clutter asks you if the item “sparks joy”? Most of my stuff sparks emotions but joy is not one of them. When I clean out my closets I ask questions like, ” Really? What was I thinking? Will I ever wear this again, if I ever wore it at all?”  All of this brings me to “The Vest”.

“The Vest” was a joint effort with my sister. It was at her insistence, uh, encouragement, that we entered this into the newly launched Belle Armoire magazine in 2001. They were requesting submissions and she though it would be fun. I admit it was. We had just started to get interested in fabric painting. The results were not what we planned or expected but we entered it anyway. Patty did the painting and I did the sewing. It’s made from black silk matka with black cotton lining. The lining is also painted using stamps.

Some close up views of the paint, stitching and beading.

Asian coins and loops were used for closures on the sides.

So, this is my second claim to fame. Last month I blogged about my self portrait published in Quilting Arts Magazine. Thanks, Patty, for pushing me to do this with you. It was fun. But  that was fifteen years ago and it remains in my closet. I think “The Vest” would enjoy some time in your closet!

I’m happy to show pictures of some finished painted canvas bags. These women took my class at last year’s Zephyr Retreat. Their bags show how these canvasses take on a new life when they are cut up and sewn back together. They look totally different and so cute. Thank you, Lynda and Kari for sharing these. I love them. Here are the befores and afters.

I still have one more opening in my class this September. A great group of women have signed up and I know you would enjoy yourself. In the meantime, I hope you are all having a wonderful summer traveling, vacationing, relaxing, creating and enjoying family and friends. Or having a giant garage sale as I am.

Claim to Fame

by Mary Boalt

It is a privilege and an honor to work alongside Christine, Sandra and Heidi. They are incredibly talented women with many outstanding accomplishments to their resumes. These are women I would normally consider intimidating. Yet they are among the nicest, most kind and helpful women I’ve met. They’ve written articles for popular textile magazines, owned a fabric store, have lines of patterns and books and can boast over award winning quilts. Me? Not so much. I got nuthin’.

Sandra mentioned recently that one of her beautiful quilts, Zahra, will be touring. Isn’t she striking? What beautiful, intricate details. And to think of the days of painstaking work that went into creating just those eyes!

That’s when I  remembered that I do, indeed, have an accomplishment.  It, too, toured for about a year along with many others. It measures 8 1/2 X 11.  INCHES!  Tiny. Minuscule. Hardly worth mentioning. And since I know nothing about quilting, I was shocked when it was accepted. Actually, I shocked myself by participating. The challenge of a self portrait got me out of bed and working on it at 2:00 a.m. Not because I knew what I was doing, but because I had a story to tell.

Unlike the beauty and soulfulness seen in Zahra’s eyes, mine just has the look of a crazed lunatic in need of a straight jacket. Side by side, you can begin to understand why I feel I am not worthy to be among these women!  Oy! The woefully lacking skill level! But I had fun making it. And it’s 3D. Are there extra points for that? The story below explains the fish Afro.

The fish stamp is still in my collection.

And somewhere along the way she has lost part of her earring. But I am grateful to Quilting Arts magazine for having accepted my mini self portrait and for taking it on tour.

But wait! There’s more to the story. Sometime after shipping this off to Quilting Arts, a raccoon came to visit my outdoor water garden/fish pond. All that remained the next morning were a lot of fish scales drying on the deck and some crunched up blue shells. And the pump, aimlessly spewing water. To this day I remain angry with the raccoon but grateful to the fish for their inspiration and an opportunity to be published.

A Good Time to Start…….

by Heidi Emmett

A Good Time to Start, what? How about feeling better so you have more energy to get your creative going. I had a Sciatica bout 1 1/2 weeks ago. So painful. This is what my chiropractor told me: “You got this because, you don’t stand up straight, you sit waaaay to much and you slouch while you do sit. You haven’t been walking much either (I guess my strolls with mom didn’t count at all, rats).” All rightie then. How did he know all this about me? Duh, Heidi, he said much of his practice is Sciatica related. All that I was doing or not doing can apply to all of us at ANY time of life.

So put your “Fit Bit” on and set the alarm so that you get up after 15 minutes of sitting. Buy some really good walking shoes. I love my Skechers with memory foam insoles (like walking on pillows).And start walking, just good, fairly brisk, walking. It doesn’t have to be much, even 50 yards. And stand up straight and tall while you walk.



Drink a glass of water (8 oz.) after you wake up. You have just broken a fast of not drinking any liquids for about 8 hours. No, coffee or tea doesn’t count. Think of bathing all your cells to get them revved up for your day. I could not understand why I was light headed by 10 or 11 in the a.m. Started drinking that one glass before breakfast and voila, light head — gone!

Read labels. Avoid hidden sugars. Limit sugar to real sugar (nothing fake) and try to only eat something sugary,once a day. For me, my sugar is a glass of wine.

The rest of the pictures are pretty flowers (check out the Genesta-the yellow flowers) and happy brother cats




and an upcycling project I am working on. If you go over to you will read more about the project.


Sign up for my workshop—-“Pick A Pattern” There is still room. I promise you will have fun and maybe even get to wear what you have created home!


How fun is that! Have a wonderful, creative, filled with lots of fresh air walks, Memorial weekend. And a HUGE THANK YOU to all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have in our great America!

Hugs, Heidi






The Evolution of a Reluctant Painter

by Mary Boalt

I never set out to be a painter. I can’t draw. It just sort of crept up on me the way extra calories do. I think it started when my sister, a paper artist, started sending me unsolicited rubber stamps. “No!” I complained. “I don’t want a new hobby.” “I have enough craft supplies already!” “Where am I going to put this stuff?” After attending three Design Outside the Lines retreats sponsored by Marcy Tilton and Diane Ericson, I started investing in stencils, silk screens and paint. All of these supplies could still fit in a drawer. I was safe. It was still manageable. Under control.

Then I was asked to teach painting on steam a seam at a fiber artists/quilters dream store in Sacramento. And to keep the “beast” well fed, they sold Diane’s stencils, Lois Ericson’s stamps and Jacquard paints. Right in the store! Right under my nose! In mass quantities! These new tools were taunting me and whispering  in my ear, “You need me. Take me home. Think of what cute things you could do with me!”

Soon Rubbermaid totes full of supplies were being wheeled into the classroom on a dolly. I sincerely believed that my students deserved to have plenty of supplies to work with. Heaven forbid they should get bored with a stale assortment of toys to play with.

But the turning point came when Gayle Ortiz of taught me how to paint graffiti style on canvas, cut it up and sew it into purses. OMG! The heavens opened up and a blinding light struck me. This was way too much fun. The ability to design ones own fabric! And no “mistakes” can be made when it’s graffiti style.

Christine, Heidi and Sandra saw what I was doing and must have thought that I knew how to paint. So now here I am having the best time exploring new ways to put paint to canvas and showing others what I’ve learned. I now own:

80 stencils

55 foam and rubber stamps

3 sets of alphabet stencils

8 Diane Ericson stencils

20 silkscreens

21 texture plates

5 Gelli plates

6 sets of foam alphabet stamps in different fonts

a large assortment of pool noodles, furniture feet and other found objects for stamping

several roller graphs and GALLONS OF PAINT

So in preparation for the Pine Tree Quilt Show I have been painting up a storm. My contribution to the booth will be large canvasses ( enough for two totes ), half canvasses, purses and patterns. Enjoy the photos.  And please stop by our booth May 6 and 7 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds to say hi and to see what new treasures Heidi and Sandra will have.

I still have just a couple of spaces left in my retreat class. So if this looks interesting and you would like to let loose your inner painter, we would love to have you join us. I have plenty of toys for you to play with!

I Don’t Lie, I Embellish!

by Mary Boalt

Do you get excited by the unexpected addition of hardware on clothing? Perhaps something unusual for closures? Or something ordinary used in an unordinary way?  I’m a sucker for all of it. The weirder the better. I love those clever details that make a garment unique.

Let’s start with some images from Pinterest and go from there. I’d love to know what kind of staples these are. I would definitely start stapling my clothes together.

Or these! What cool buckle/clips!

And now let’s move on to grommets with a kind of jump ring to connect the pieces. Or not.

Or laces.

And this from Diane Ericson. I’ve used grommets before but not quite like this. This darling idea is going on the list of things to try very soon. This type of grommet is extremely easy to install. You can find them in the drapery section at Joann.

And now for things that I have tried. These parachute clips will be revisited on another garment. They were easy to add and I like the way they work.

This is Butterick 6381. I added the hanging pocket.

This one keeps the hanging pocket closed.

This is a Marcy Tilton pattern from Vogue. #8934.  It’s a preprinted stretch denim that I found at an outlet store in San Francisco a few years ago. The idea to use carabiner clips came from my friend Helen. She has been known to sew door hinges onto her garments!

The back features a giant “snack pocket” with the upper flap piped with zipper teeth.

And speaking of zippers…..I found these zippers at the same place I bought this fabric. My sister, who lives near Phoenix, takes me to SAS fabric warehouse. We humorously refer to it as the Topless Bar Fabric store since it is around the corner from….you guessed it, a topless bar. But hey! Fabric can be purchased by the pound there! What’s not to like about that?

Zippers closed.

Zippers open.

Again, zippers used as trim on the outside of the pocket opening.

I bought this bicycle panel from Diane Ericson and then went to work adding the hardware; zippers, brass jumbo hook and eye tape and iron on metal dots.

This is the zipper that goes to no where. It’s just trim.

This is jumbo hook and eye tape. And a shirt “borrowed” from my husband.

Grommet tape down the sleeve.

No piece of zipper goes to waste. This extension is inserted in the collar and wraps around and snaps in place to keep the collar closed.

This is The Peony Vest from The Sewing Workshop.

Interesting button found at Ben Franklin in Grass Valley. It’s layered with a copper button that was gifted to me.

And the addition of grommet tape with jump rings. This comes in black or white at Sugar Pine Quilt Shop in Grass Valley.

Here’s another of Diane Ericson’s fabric panels. This time the Snap To It Jacket pattern from Louise Cutting was used. Along with lots of snap tape and the addition of another hanging pocket. Yup! Gotta love those hanging pockets… idea gleaned from a Diane Ericson pattern. Can you say “groupie”?

Snap tape in the split cuff.

One more. And yes, it’s another Diane Ericson jacket. The Ventana. I used cafe rings and clips for the front closures as well as for the side flaps that wrap around to the front. It’s a very interesting pattern that just screams for cool hardware.

Have you been inspired to put some hardware in your next garment? Use zipper teeth as piping? How about some drapery hooks or grommets. Although I can’t quite bring myself to use door hinges, there is some garter tape in my stash that’s calling my name.


FASHION QUILTED ACCESSORIES-A Book by Heidi Emmett & Leisure Arts


My new book, Fashion Quilted Accessories, is for anyone who enjoys sewing, quilting, and creating something new and different. Each project is geared toward my motto: “Make it up, make it fun, and get it done! I hope this book will inspire you to want to take my workshop, “Pick a Pattern.” It doesn’t have to be clothing. Pick several of the projects in my NEW book.

I’d love to tell you what inspired me to create the projects for this book.

The cover of the book shows Simply Super Quilted Vest. With a cityscape panel as the centerpiece, I auditioned other fabrics around it. A textured home decorating fabric that has a quilted ‘look and feel’ became the foundation of the vest. Panel pieces are really popular. Whatever panel you choose, use this vest pattern to create your own-one-of-a-kind Art-to-Wear piece.

I have really enjoyed the “big” necklaces that are out there. I own a couple. By the end of the day, my neck is so tired by the weight of all those ‘jewels’! I was sitting at my sewing machine and looking at a scrap of heavily machine quilted fabric. The colors of the fabric and stitching reminded me of faceted jewels. What if…… and yes, the “Colorful Circles Necklace and Earrings” project was born. Fun to make and light as a feather, you won’t want to stop at just one set!

I knew I wanted to create a really different scarf and make a headband (or hat band) to match. I started walking the isles of Joann’s. The allover butterflies in the quilting fabric section caught my eye. I carried that bolt over to the home decorating fabric department. I needed a “sheer” fabric that had some texture to hold the scarf knot in place and be easy to sew on. Use Terial Magic and an easy method to stitch down the motifs. What a chic and easy project to create.

Check out the picture of the 1960’s tote from South America. I had to bring it home from the thrift shop. It was so different from anything I had seen. As I looked at it more closely, it reminded me of saddlebags used by the Pony Express riders. I added the unusual idea of using a belt as the handle for this tote. I like being able to make the handle shorter or longer. Use all your favorite quilting fabrics in this one.

From this to to what is below. Only I could take that leap! Ha, ha.


I have a little draw-string jewelry holder which I use when I travel. I love how it almost opens flat, so I can find all the jewelry pieces that are stored inside.  I took the same circle and drawstring idea and blew it waaay up. The large circle I made needed to be a fun design in itself. Pinwheels are so interesting to look at, so that’s what I did. Use four of your favorite colors together in this Pinwheel purse.

There are so many beautiful scarf weight fabrics out there. Some are silk, rayon, or polyesters. I was looking at a printed piece that I had and doubled it in my hands and looked again. I loved the way the print showed through so subtly. The design had to be simple and easier to sew (very few seams) because of the slippery nature of the fabric. I had been looking through a design book by the great designer of the early 20th century, Erte’. His designs, while very intricate in nature, inspired me to go in reverse with my thinking. I started sketching what design would add a slimming silhouette while showing off a doubled sheer fabric to its best advantage. This vest will be a sensational piece to add to your wardrobe!


I think I have succeeded in creating accessories that fit all levels of sewing skills from beginner to advanced. I want you to take your quilting to another level with these eye-catching fashions that show off your passion for beautiful fabrics!

Thanks so much for visiting with me today. Also, visit my own blog to see what other fun projects I’m working on now: Buy this book at Amazon (and leave a comment pretty please? help boost me in my Amazon #’s). Hugs, Heidi

Uncommon Sources

by Mary Boalt

As a lover of textiles and all things fabric, I find inspiration in all sorts of places. You probably do too. When I was introduced to piecing garments together, it opened up a whole new world to me. Fabric didn’t have to come by the yard from the fabric store. Cost Plus World Market and it’s beautiful array of cloth napkins became a primary source of a new kind of fabric hoarding. I still check them out from time to time. And I never leave a thrift store without checking out the men’s ties. Especially Jerry Garcia ties. Already cut on the bias, they make great piping, cording or just flat bias tape which can be used in a Koos Van Den Akker style. And of course, we’ve all been tempted by upholstery  fabric. Sometimes with more success than other times.

I thought  I’d share a few of my garments incorporating fabric from uncommon sources. First, IKEA. This is a linen drapery panel with a wild contemporary print. This Vogue pattern has been used many MANY times over the years. Added to it are some plain and striped t shirt knits for the pockets, sleeve interest and back flap definition.img_3468img_3467img_3499Sticking to the drapery panel theme, let’s drive over to Cost Plus World Market. This is a skirt that was blogged about last summer. The perfect summer lightweight cotton crinkle skirt. They are still being sold and come in a cute little matching bag. No need for a pattern with this skirt. Just cut two rectangles, sew together and insert elastic around the waist. And no need to hem. Just use the one provided.img_3474img_3475

And now over in the accessories department we find kantha scarves. Two of them made this summer weight vest. The pattern is now available in a downloadable version. Is downloadable a word? As I’m writing this it just doesn’t sound quite right. img_3476

There was just enough left to make a small pocket. The armhole edges and neck were finished with purchased bias tape.


Down the street is Target. This piece, also previously blogged about, came about from a “challenge” our local sewing group initiated. Could we make something  from dish towels? YES! Target had these adorable soft cotton dish towels. After stocking up with five towels, the hems were removed and there was enough fabric to accommodate the pattern pieces.img_3469img_3464

This next one is really scraping the bottom of the barrel. You know how wallpaper books come with matching fabric samples in them? This was just the fabric samples. I found this discarded book with a beautiful cover at a recycling store. The samples inside were beautiful, all coordinating. They got mixed with some dupioni silk scraps, hand stitching and a butter soft suede cloth.img_3479img_3481img_3483img_3484

The next two garments come from my desire to be Diane Ericson in my next life. Made from a textured suede cloth, my bar stools were once covered in this fabric.img_3488img_3489img_3490img_3485

These stencils are available to be used when you attend my Zephyr Retreat classes. Along with about fifty others.


Here’s another idea from Diane; using socks as a collar. Well, these aren’t socks but they looked like socks when I saw them. On sale at a local boutique, these are fingerless gloves. Along with some scraps from my sister, these gloves found their home in this jacket.img_2516img_2517img_3493img_3498img_3492img_3494

Because I regularly thin my closet, I no longer have the dresses I’ve made from bed sheets and cotton shower curtains or the jackets from Kantha bedspreads….Sandra now owns the “bird” shower curtain dress, also from Cost Plus World Market.  Ask to see it sometime.  While reviewing these uncommon sources of fabric, I realized almost all of my wardrobe has a “story”. The next blog will be about the uncommon hardware and trims used in some of the pieces. What unusual things have you been able to sew into your clothes? Do they bring you joy? Are you proud of your resourcefulness and the ability to make your clothes unique? I hope you are and continue to look in unlikely places for inspiration. But please share! I want to know your sources!

I want to give a huge shout out and a hearty congratulations to Heidi Emmett on her newly published book Fashion Quilted Accessories. If you’d like to pick up your copy and have Heidi sign it, there will be a book signing at Sugar Pine Quilt shop in Grass Valley on Saturday March 11 from 11:00-1:00. I can’t wait to get mine to see all the goodies she’s been keeping secret these past many months. Way to go Heidi!!!!