Thursday, December 25, 2008

Phenomenal Woman (Christmas Present #2)

Well, last night while I was working on labels, the right name for this piece hit me... Phenomenal Woman. Once I said it, I new all the other names were wrong.

It hit me, just as my sister did when she opened her present today. She was so full of joy, she just hit me across the arm (a tap really, one of those spontaneous reactions). It was great to see. Unfortunately though, it meant I didn't get a photo of her reaction, or of her opening the box. Hopefully someone else in the family did.

Anyway, here she is, all ready to go..... I am also including a few close up shots, as I kept coming back to my friends in blog land for help on how to quilt it. Thanks for the suggestions.....

Full wallhanging (30 1/2" x 37 1/2"):
Her left shoulder, all posed with attitude. As you can see, I finally decided to do a sort of free hand shape quilting on the arms, trying to give it a feeling of strength. I think it is easier to see in person, rather than in the photo.

Her neck was a little trickier, as I had to deal with the necessary movement in two different sections. So I tried to accent the long strong neck, with straight lines that curved at the neckline of her dress.

I knew what I was doing with her hair right away. I wanted to make it look like she had corn-rolls or braids. I used the feather stitch on my machine to create the rows of braids. I am really pleased with the results, as the quilting truly does look like braids and it gives the viewer a perspective on the tight braids coming from the scalp.

I kept up the feather stitch on the braids, which gave them the same texture as the rest of her hair.

Then in the background I used a free flowing loop, that creates motion throughout the piece. I had originally decided on using African symbols on the background, but I found them too angular in shape, which didn't give the effect I was looking for. So I ripped out the first pattern or two and went with this.

I still need to work on the mouth. I ripped out the original outline I had used in red, but haven't replaced it yet, as I ran out of time. So, I told my sister that I needed to take it back after the holidays, to make a few adjustments. She doesn't know I had planned on adding feathers around the neckline. But I couldn't find the right type in time, so I will have to hunt for them while on vacation the next week and a half.

Well, at least I know my sister was thrilled. I even got a hug, kiss and a smile, once she realized she had thanked me by hitting me. Well, what do you expect out of sisters!

Update: I forgot to give credit to the artist in my post. The image I adapted was from a print by Isabelle Vital.

Generation V: Six Generations of Valdes's (Christmas Present #1)

Here is the quilt I was making for my sister-in-law (my husband's sister) for Christmas. It starts with her grandparents and has six generations that end with her grandchildren. Unfortunately, she hasn't seen it yet, because she lost her husband yesterday (Christmas Eve) to pneumonia.

I will post a picture of the label later, as I forgot to take a photo before I wrapped it. The label has a key for the pictures, with everyone's name that is pictured in the quilt. I also left open spaces on the bottom of the quilt, just in case she has a few favorite pictures of her own, that she would like included. That is why I appliqued the photos blocks on, instead of piecing them in.

I hope she likes it.

UPDATE: 12/28/07
After the wake for my BIL, my husband suggested that we give the family their presents. The girls and grandchildren opened theirs and while my SIL really didn't want to, she set about ripping the paper. Her daughters, who knew what was in the box, stood up to get closer. I had folded the quilt so that the squares with her mother and father were on top. As she pushed back the tissue paper, she burst into tears, picked up the quilt and buried her face in it. I quess I now know that the photo transfer ink had indeed set completely, because she cried in the quilt for a few minutes.

The next day when we arrived back at the house from the funeral, family members gathered around, as my nieces had hung the quilt in the living room. I was in the kitchen warming food, so I didn't get to observe the reactions first hand, but my DH said everyone was amazed. Some kept asking, but how did she get the photos on fabric, others amazed at photos of their grandparents, aunts, uncles, neices and nephews, etc....

I am glad my husband suggested the idea. Thanks. Bob!

Merry Christmas

Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas from the Valdes family, or as we are better known... the 4R's. Here is a picture from a little earlier today. Left to right: Raven (my daughter), Me, Robert (my husband), and Roberto (my son).

You can see a piece of a Nativity quilt I made years ago hanging over the mantle. It is made using the stain glass method, with the pre-made bias iron on strips.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Traditions

One of my most cherished Christmas traditions, is the making of Pastelles. What are Pastelles? It is a Puerto Rican dish made mostly of pork, green banana's, and a variety of root vegetables and herbs. While there are many variations, these stables have been used for generations.

My earliest Patelle memory is of my paternal grandmother, Pura. As petite as she was, Pura was a strong force in the kitchen. I was never part of her Pastelle brigade, but I enjoyed the aroma and the taste. Still young, I remember being able to help as my mother and father made Pastelles at our house. First being allowed to cut the string at just the right length to tie the bundles, and then as I grew older, being allowed to help tie. It was an entire days' project, but at the end of the day, the entire family sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labor. I loved the fact that everybody came over for Pastelles.

My parents stopped making Pastelles while I was still in high school, although I never knew why.
So it was a big surprise to not only my new husband, but my family as well, when only married for two weeks I announced that I was making Pastelles for the holidays. Pura was no longer with us, so I called my Mom and asked for the recipe. Of course, it wasn't written down, so she gave me as much as she remembered, and with the help of my sister, I made 75 Pastelles, the week before Christmas in 1982.

They weren't the best, obviously my Mom had the proportions off, but no one really cared. We were together for Pastelles at Christmas. My husband was so proud. Being Puerto Rican himself, he knew the labor that went into making them and only 'real' Puerto Ricans made Pastelles (I am only half Puerto Rican). Of all his siblings and cousins, only his sister kept the tradition going in his family. So we were both thrilled when my entire family came over and in our little apartment it was Christmas. Oh one correction, no one cared that they weren't the best, except my mother-in-law that is. Known in my husbands family as the Pastelle queen, she said she would teach me how to really make Pastelles. Over the next five or so years, we learned to blend my grandma's recipe with my MIL's. Every year, on the Saturday before Christmas we would get together at my house and make Pastelles.

The tradition is one I hold dearly. Nothing has changed in the last 26 years. We still make Pastelles on the Saturday before Christmas. Now, I have the help of my children, my husband, one of my sisters and one of her daughters. Even my neighbor comes over to help because she loves them so much. Sadly, my MIL is no longer with us, and my Dad who used to help, has passed away as well. We now make about 225.

My children know the story. They used to laugh at my MIL and I, as we debated the recipe. They grew up the same way as I, first cutting the string, then being allowed to tie, and now actually making the individual pastelles. Because we make so many, we now start Friday evening after dinner. First we make the 'masa'... the 'dough' made out of the root vegetables. This requires grating 40 lbs of green banana's, 3 lbs of yautea, 2 lbs of calabasa and a couple of green plantains. While they grate, I cut up 5 Pork Shoulders, into small 1" cubes. Both get seasoned and put in the fridge until the morning. Tomorrow, I will refine the masa, making sure that there are no lumbs, adding the rest of the ingredients, cook the meat and then the assembly line begins. We will finish our day around 6pm, with a clean kitchen, some Pastelles, Arroz con Gondules, Avocado and a house full of family.

My daughter has already said that no matter where she ends up living, she knows she will always come home the Saturday before Christmas to help me make Pastelles. We kid with my son, that we expect his wife to join us as well. And why not? That is how traditions are made... and kept, one generation after another.

So now it is time for me to get some sleep. The cooking starts tomorrow at 8am.

I hope you all have a Christmas Tradition that brings a smile to your face and warms your heart.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Are you listed??

I noticed a recent spike in visitors to my blog, and when I took a good look at where they were coming from, I found out why.

A few weeks ago, I added my blog's url to two sites: and Now whenever I add a new post on my site, it gets posted on The result, whenever someone visits they see my post and by clicking on my blog name they are brought to my page. If they click on the label on my post, they get to see all of my posts that have the same label. If they go to they see a long list of quilt blogs, that they can click on and are brought right to the blog.

How cool is that!

I had listed my blog on these two sites, but never really spent time going thru them, until last night. There are some amazing quilters out there!

Take a look (I've added a link from my blog listings)... and if you aren't list, add your blog to both sites. It is really cool.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Getting there... but just how to finish it???

Ok, so I really like Xmas present #2. It is my 'royalty' or 'sophisticated mama' or '????" quilt I am making as a present. As I mentioned yesterday the sandwhich is done (I use 505 basting spray), so tonight I started the quilting. I am just about done with the outline quilting. All the interior sections are done and I just have to outline the hair of my mama.

Take a look....

So, now the question, how do I quilt it? I know I am going to do an all over pattern on the beige marbled background. But I want the eye to be drawn to the applique. I always love the wonderful detail quilting some of the art quilters do on bodies..... you can just see the muscles move, just looking at it.... you know which way they are leaning, and their body tells a story.

I want to create that same story with my piece. But how do I begin? I can chicken out and just quilt the garment, but I don't want to do that. Suggestions or tips anyone? Can you point me to a piece for inspiration?

Please!!!! I am begging for help. I want this to more than just a nice picture, I just need the guiding hand on how to make it so.

Now, click on 'Post a Comment' and share the love.... PLEASEEEEEE Just 10 days left to Xmas!!

Progress Report #2

So, Generation Patchwork is all quilted and squared up! Finally.... but I ran out of background fabric and I want to use the same fabric for the boarder (I used more pics than expected, so the piece is larger than I thought it would be). So I will have to wait until Thurs/Fri when I can get to the store to get fabric for the binding.

In the meantime, I have Royalty, aka Sophisticated Mama, aka... ??? all basted and ready to be quilted. I found a great African print in my stash that has all the right colors for the back. I have had the piece for over 5 years... it must have been waiting for the right quilt!

So this week I plan to get it quilted and bound, so that next week all I have to do is bind Generation Patchwork.

Whew... guess I am cutting it close, but I have completed all my Xmas shopping except for one gift and they all are wrapped, so I think I am ok. Plus, I am on vacation starting Friday. Yippee!

Ok, gonna get some sleep. I have my first conference call at 7am tomorrow....


Monday, December 8, 2008

Progress Report

So, I have made progress on both of my Xmas presents. My nieces have come through on the remaining photos for Generation Patchwork. I have the last four 4 photos printed and two of them framed. Two more to go and then hopefully by Saturday, I will have the background done. Now that I have the photos, I can figure out the right size.

Royalty (or maybe Sophisticated Mama or Lady Attitudinal, or.... yes, names are floating around in my head) is all appliqued. I forgot how much I dislike doing the satin stitch on circles. I can never get the satin stitch perfectly circular, at the right angle on small circles. But otherwise, I really like the progress. I also brought some yarns, ribbon and beads for embellishments this weekend at the Country Quilter Holiday Sale (a pack of yarns, threads and beads for only $5 in all the right colors... just what the doctor ordered).

So I think I am in good shape... make the background for the patchwork piece and then quilt both pieces and I still have 17 days left. I will make it... I HOPE :-)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Xmas present #2: Royalty (I will have to think or a better name)

So my family continues to ask when they are getting another one of my quilts. I was asked this over and over Thanksgiving evening. Yes, it makes me feel good, especially that folks value my handmade gifts... but of course I want it to be a surprise, so someone else besides my SIL will be getting a present from the studio this year.

It all started with this sketch, inspired by a sculpture I saw in
Phili at a gallery and then a photo on the web of a different African woman. Well of course, not this sketch, but here's the sketch after a few changes and some colored pencils. I will have to call the gallery to get the name of the artist and find my bookmark of the photo to give credit on the label... (memo to self).

But I just loved the hair, it is what caught my eye. The rest is just window dressing. One must have confidence to walk around with braids all over the place. It is a confidence I think many of us lack. Anyway, back to the quilt. So off I went to Kinko/Fedex with my sketch and after blowing it up to 24"x36", I had my pattern.

I spent last night digging out the right fabrics from the stash, and tracing all the fusable web pieces and ironing them on to the fabric.

Tonight I put it all together.... giving me this:

It is all fused together and ironed on the background. The next couple of days I will spend appliqueing it on by machine. I think this piece warrants satin stitching vs a zig-zag, so it will take a while. I can't wait until I get to the accents. I think I am going to add small off-white feathers around the neck to add some flare to her garment, and maybe some jewels hanging from the gold underlayment. Hmpphhh... this is the part I love. How to make it special....

Well definitely something to sleep on.

Good-night all.....

Progress on Xmas present #1: Generation Patchwork..

Well in-between the holiday and the kids being home, I did get some quilting done.

I am working on a present for my SIL for Xmas at my husband's request. He saw a quilt with old photos on it at a shop in Savannah this summer and asked me to make one for his sister. Well that one had 4 pictures, but with a family his size, how do you get away with just FOUR pictures.... so I have 15 done, and 4 more to go. Unfortunately, it has been so hard getting good facial photos of everyone I want to include, those that are important to his sister. So, I am waiting for them to come in the mail... either email or snail mail. I have asked a few family members and I am praying they come in soon. Here are just 2 of the 15... my SIL as a young girl and their father....
I have framed each photo with white and black fabric. They will be sqaured up and added to a patchwork/weaved background of various greys and grey/greens. The photos will be appliqued onto the background. Well at least that is the idea as it stands now.

Hopefully the other photos get here soon, so I can get this finished... My DH says, just go with what you have, but how do you leave out her aunts on one side of the family, when you have the aunts on the other, or 1 of 5 neices/nephews. IMHO, you don't... so I will wait, and probably be sitting up at all hours of the night trying to get it finished in time.

Well, in the meantime, I will work on another present. All about that in the next post.


I'm still here...

Ok, so I keep getting asked... no new blogging lately. Sorry... life just seemed to get in the way. First we spent two weekend's painting the dining and living room. It is bad enough that the living room has lots of trim, including three french doors that need painting, but my husband got the walls 90% done when I realized something was wrong with the color. It didn't really match the dining room, or the 1/2 living room wall that was done with the first gallon of paint. The numbers on the can matched, but the paint was definitely a different color. So back to the paint store I went only to find that they used the wrong base on one of the gallons, of course that is the one my husband had used. Boy was he upset that he had to paint the room again!

Then the kids came home for Thanksgiving break. It was great having them home, so I couldn't just sit on the computer... I did slip in some quilting time... well what's a mother to do??? And of course I had 15 for Thanksgiving dinner, so all the prep and left-over's... and then saying goodbye to the kids... whew, exhausting.

Anyway... I have managed to get some quilting done. I will post pictures in a bit.

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 17, 2008

The Road of Life: Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative

One day when researching Alzheimer's, I stumbled across the Alzheimers Art Quilt Initiative. A project to raise money for Alzheimer's Research, that takes donations of small quilts for an online auction. So, I made a Priority Quilt (no bigger than 9" x 12") to donate.

This is my piece entitled "The Road of Life: Sometimes Straight, Sometimes Circular, but always in my Heart". The piece is dedicated to my Mom, who had just been diagnosed with Dementia.

Now to get it registered and in the mail.

A new addition...

I have been taking a class at The Country Quilter this month, based on the fabric weaving technique of Anna Faustino. We have had two classes. The first taught us how to weave the fabric and the second talked about quilting techniques, including the use of toule over the weaved fabric to simplify the required quilting. I liked this idea, so I used red toule... it really enhanced my bright colored background. This allowed me to use a straight stitch to quilt the piece with the back on, all in one step. We were free to applique whatever we wanted on our piece, so I decided to add silhouettes of dancers. I took the general shapes from a piece of African fabric that I had by Jordan Morris, for Michael Miller Fabrics. I modified the shapes for my purposes and then did some thread painting on the black silhouette to add the clothes, bangles and shakers. I really enjoyed the thread painting. I didn't want to do it as part of the quilting, so I outlined the shapes on the black fabric, then did the painting using different thread on each shape. I then fused them onto Wonder Under, cut them out and fused on to the already quilted background. Then I used free-motion quilting to outline quilt the shapes on the piece.

This is a really simple technique. I will definitely use weaved backgrounds again. The only thing I will do differently next time is to use the pillow-case technique, as the binding isn't as bold as the rest of the background fabric becuase it doesn't have the red toule over it.

Actually, I just had a thought... maybe I will fold the binding over onto the back, making a facing finish vs the binding, so the binding fabric doesn't show.

Oh well... it is an idea. Hope you like the piece.


First peek...

If you remember, the Pelham Quilters have started a Round Robin project. I thought I would share our progress on two centers with the first round of boarders (ok, one has the beginning of the second round, as we forgot to get a picture... sorry). But anyway, here they are.

This first one, has the center I made, which ends with the white fabric. Doris Green took the center and added everything from the tiny pink sashing, up to the orange half square triangles. What a nice zing this added to my paper pieced center. Catherine Johnston has it now and so far she has added the last black boarder.

The second center was made by Pat Julian. It is beautifully hand appliqued. Jean Moccio added the green sashing and the zigzag boarder. Notice how she pulls out the purple and yellow from Anne's flowers into her boarder. Nice job Jean! Now it is with Teri Lucas to work her magic.

I can't wait to see what they look like at our December meeting. Ladies work your magic!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Won a Ribbon!

Ok, I am soo excited! I got a call last night from the Village Square Quilter's, that my Dazzling Geese quilt won a ribbon @ Quilt Celebrations X! I guess you call it a Viewers Choice Award, (I don't have all the details). But folks visiting the show voted my quilt as their favorite in the Basic Quilter's Wallhanging Category. (Basic = non professional quilter :-) ).

This is my first ribbon and I owe it all to my friend Teri, who kept bugging me to enter it into the show.

If you remember, Dazzling Geese is my original design, using Paula Nadelstern's Mega Marble's fabric as the focus, and her Classic Stripe from the Opulance line for the piping and binding. I loved this fabric from the moment I saw it, and just couldn't but it in a square. As soon as I learned how to draft circular flying geese, I knew what I had to do, and so Dazzling Geese was born.

I want to thank all of you out there that voted for Dazzling Geese! It was a joy to make and has inspired me to do more original work.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Project Linus StarBaby Quilt

On Saturday morning I will be joining the other local blanketeers to sew labels onto quilts donated to Project Linus at The Quilt Cottage in Mamoraneck, NY. So since I am still in the design phase of my medallion quilt, last night I decided to make a quilt to take with me and donate. Nothing fancy or special, but I hope a child somewhere gets a little bit of comfort from it.

I used an alphabet panel I had brought a few years ago and
added black & bright print fabrics from my stash. Including ones with stars to match the stars on the panel. I remember when I first brought the fabric I was going to make the Laurel Birch 'Animal Fantasy' quilt, so I made a smaller modified version, in which I included some Laurel Birch fabric.

I made the top last night and quilted it tonight. Making quilts for Project Linus always puts a smile on my face.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

OK... I think I have made all my decisions

Ok, thanks to all the input from Teri, Jeanne and Mary Anne... and of course my DH.

I have decided on scrolls instead of feathers, although I changed the ones I had experimented with. I realized two things. First, I was shying away from the scrolls, because they meant more tedious applique, but then that is what makes the quilt more interesting. Second, the experimental scroll was too thin and too short to fill the space. So I enlarged them and changed the direction of the points, so that it flows better in the shape.

The scroll samples made out of the white paper are the final shapes and sizes. I will use the blue/shrimp batik for the smaller applique and the gold/shrimp batik for the larger outer applique. I have also decided on the thread and the stitch.

So now with all my decisions made. Now I have to cut out all the shapes to prepare the applique.

Whew.... now to the real work.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Well one decision made...

So I decided tonight while watching the World Series... wait a minute... it was a busy night. 5pm Mass, dinner, "The Secret Life of Bees" movie (definitely worth going to see), home to watch the World Series (thanks to the rain delay), but ended up quilting my Alzheimer's Art Quilt.... more on that in a sec.

Anyway, while listening to the Phillies vs Rays game, I played with the applique fabrics for my medallion quilt. I was so happy to see that if I used blue thread, the shrimp/blue fabric does indeed stand out enough to use on the shrimp fabric. I am happy, because it is the shrimp/blue batik that first caught my eye, and caused me to buy the other Moda Marbles fabric to complement it. It would have been a shame if I couldn't use it.

But which applique to use on the blue fabric is still a mystery. I am leaning to the feather for the symplicity. My DH likes the scroll, since it is more 'airy'.... ughh decisions.

All comments, suggestions are welcome. We can make this a blogger design conversation.

Please help!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Decisions, decisions....

Ok, I am back to my medallion quilt that I started at retreat. I decided at the time that I had to put the top together before I choose the applique designs and fabric, because I needed to see what the pieces looked like relative to the space and colors. Not sure that is the right way to go about it, but it seems to work for me. I also decided that I wanted to leave space to work on my quilting, getting comfortable with small/dense free motion around a motif, so that the motif almost looks raised. Not quite ready for trupunto, but getting there.

Well, I love my medallion center applique design. I created it using the old paper doll method.

I think I am going to leave the gold round without applique so that I can practice that quilting. I would love to have areas that look like applique swirls, but are just outline quilted, with dense free motion quilting around them.

For the bright shrimp color round I have played with two different applique patterns, one made out of the same fabric as the center applique. And another as you see below.

I like these feathers best, but I am not sure of the fabric. So I will have to let it sit for awhile to decide.

The next decision is how to treat the blue round. I am still auditioning the applique shape, and then I will have to audition the fabric. I am using plan paper for the evening to decide which I like best. I'll go back at it tomorrow night and hopefully one will jump out at me then. For now, I like the feather on the left, better than the scroll on the right...

I do like them both.... so how is a girl to decide ?? decisions, decisions !! Well, I guess it will have to sit for a little bit. I am sure it will come to me.

See ya later!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Binding on the road!

Well I am home from Orlando, Florida for work and visiting RPI and my son, for Family Weekend. I have been itching to quilt again, but at least I was able to put the binding and finishing touches on two quilts!

I finished Carnivale! while flying back and forth to Florida.
I didn't do a traditional binding, as I didn't think this quilt called for real binding. Instead I faced it, like you would do while making clothing. I attached a narrow binding like normal, then trim/graded the seam allowance and batting, leaving just one layer of the fabric. I then topstitched the binding and turned it toward the back. When garment sewing they teach you that topstitching helps the facing/binding lay flat.

If you remember, I wasn't sure the color choices would work. But even after many discussions on color theory and why the flying geese wouldn't look as if they were on top of the ribbons, I decided to make it my way.

Well I think it worked. I have another variation that I will try with more somber colors as a background, but that will have to wait until I finish the current projects on the cutting table.

Next as Bob, Raven, my mom, my sister Irene and her husband and I all drove up to Troy, NY for RPI Family Weekend to vist Robert and watch some football, I took Hugs with me. I got all the handwork done, and am ready to take it with me to Vegas next week, to give it to my friend. I hope she likes it.....
Ok, next to a christmas present for my sister-inlaw.. a small family tree showing four generations and a medallion quilt I have been itching to make since the Northern Stars Quilt Show last May.

But before I leave... here is a picture of Robert in the game this Sunday.
Robert is #68 in white/red. He is fighting off #77 in green... all 340 lbs! Unfortunately, the JV team lost to HVCC. On Saturday, the Varsity team beat Susquahanna, making them 5-0 on the season.

We had a good time albeit a little chilly... but that is football in upstate NY. OK... that's it.

Until next time.

Cheers! Renee

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I am itching to quilt!

OK, I have been on the road all week, no where near my machine, and won't be able to quilt until mid-next week... ughh!

Thanks to Mary Ann and Teri for keeping me inspired by showing their beautiful Silver Challenge quilts for Village Square Quilters! Both are absolutely beautiful!

At least on the plane rides I have been able to work on binding Carnivale! I will post the final picture when I get home next week.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Finally it is off the rack!

Have you ever had an inspiration for a quilt, made the top and then just couldn't find the right back material, the right thread, or the quilt design just didn't seem to work, so the quilt top just hung around your quilting space?

Well, that is "Hugs". I have a friend at work, who whenever I see her (which is usually once a year, since she lives in California), that just screams Blue and White quilt to me. I often just want to walk up to her and wrap a blue and white quilt around her shoulders. She is just the most wonderful person, so for years I have been thinking about making her a quilt.... why when she lives in warm and sunny San Jose, I don't know.... but I have. So finally this year, I decided to do it. We will see each other at the end of the month at a business conference, so I even have the opportunity to give it to her in person. Great, this summer I finally put the top together.

I wanted it to be simple, because she is a simple, yet eloquent type of person. I wanted the quilting to be an integral part of the design, because she is many faceted and I felt it was a way of adding dimension to the simple design. So great, I made the top... now what, it just sat there. I couldn't find a simple blue and white back, that was either in the right shade of blue, or not over powering.

Finally almost 5 months later, I found a simple blue and white poker-dot and began quilting it.

I think the simple poker dot is just right, and if you look closely, the thread adds a touch of purple (the blue has a hint of purple) and a touch of lime green, just to punch it up a bit.

I like the dimension the quilting adds. This is the first time I am using the Bamboo batting made by Fairfield. I won it at retreat two weeks ago :-) It is supposed to be light and natural, so I figured it would be good for use in the California climate, and it is naturally anti-bactorial as well.

You can see the slight rounding of the top by the stitching...

I am about a third of the way done (it is 58"w x 78"l). Have to get the quilting done this week, as I will be on the road next week. This will give me a week at home to bind it before heading to Vegas for the convention.

I can do it, just need to focus! I will just have to keep the large medallion quilt I started at retreat and the rhapsody I have been dying to get started on hold for a bit!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My Favorite Quilt Shops

This post has been updated:
3/18/09: added Arizona. Commented on the closing of The Country Quilter, in Somers, NY.

So you all know that I travel alot. Well I decided to share my list of some of my favorite shops. If they made my list, then I have been there and have returned at least once or would return if I was back in the area. See the links to the left.

Here is the list, by state, to make it easier to find one if you are heading there..

Quilt Shop & Gallery
Sedona... I loved the way this shop was laid out. A section for batiks, a section for southwesterns, one for holiday fabric, one for books, etc... they even carried quilting puzzles. It was like anyone could walk into the store and go right to what they were looking for. I also liked it because they catered to quilters who like brights as well as contemporary quilting, less so to the traditional quilter.... which meant it fit my style well. BUT they also carried traditional fabric, patterns and books, just less of it, so no one was left out. The shop has a separate building which host a gallery of quilts for sale by local quilters. I thought this was a real nice touch! The staff was really friendly... didn't bother you as you walked around, but was there to help if you needed it.
Quiltz, Phoenix.... Nice large shop, with one of the largest classrooms I have ever seen. Even my husband commented on the classroom size! The shop had a nice layout, with many batiks, brights, florals and children's fabrics. Patterns, quilts and gift ideas were displayed in each section that related nicely to the fabric in the area. They carry a large selection of books, which are always 20% off! The staff was really good at helping me to find exactly what I was looking for.

Rosie’s Calico Cupboard, San Diego... This shop has something for everyone. Loads of fabric…. always check the website for coupons and check out their sale room. I always come home with a ton of fabric, although it has been a year or so since I have been there. For a long time this was probably one of my favorite quilt shops. It still remains on my top 10 list.
The Cotton Patch, The shop is owned by Carolie Hensley - Co-Founder of C&T Publishing. Lots of variety and they have a frequent buyers program.
The Quilters Nest
Eddie’s Quilting Bee, In Sunnyvale, not far from San Jose. I try to make a stop by everytime I am in the area. The staff is really great.
The Granary, Sunnyvale

New York:
The Country Quilter, Somers, NY... this is what I call my 'local quilt shop'. I take all of my quilting classes here. You have read my posts about them before.. I go on their retreats, the owner Claire is a wonderful person, her daughter Jane, is a fabulous art quilter. Visit whenever you are in the area! On my top 10 list! Unfortunately, the owner of this shop is retiring after almost 20 years in the business, and the shop will be closed as of 3/31/09. We all wish Claire the best in the next stage of her life as she relaxes in the Adirondeck mountains.
Quilt Cottage, Mamaronect, NY... this is one of the newest shops in the area. The owner Nancy, is fabulous. she has been in the fabric business for years before she opened up the shop. Besides quilting fabric, notions and patterns, she also carries a large selection of yarn. On my top 10 list!
The City Quilter, New York, NY... featured in Quilt Shop Sampler and APQS Magazine. Recently relocated to a larger space. Great shop and wonderful class selection even though I find it hard to get there for classes.
Woodstock Quilt Supply, Woodstock... owned by two men! Real distinct persona, fabulous fabrics, not your average quilt shop. I like reading their newsletters... they have good sales as well.

Fabric Boutique, Las Vegas, NV... large selection of fabric. They carry just about the entire selection of Moda Marbles. Every month, a different color is 'featured' and any fabric with that color in it (even a dot!) is 20% off. They have a large classroom and traveling quilters are welcome to call ahead to see if the room is available for drop in quilting. No charge, and leave your mats, and scissors at home. They really make it comfy for conventioners who have down time, or wifes traveling with husbands who don't quite like spending as much time in the casinos as their husbands do. One of my top 10 list!
Nancy’s Quilt Shop, Las Vegas, NV.... batik heaven, even batik like flannel fabric. They have the largest selection of flannel that I have ever seen.
The Christmas Goose Quilt Shop, Las Vegas, NV

Great American Quilt Factory, this is owned by the owners of Possibilities, the publishing company.... wonderful shop, full of brights which is me all over. The shop is organized by project, with samples lining the walls, and fabrics and kits under the sample. On my top 10 list!

South Carolina:
People, Places & Quilts, Summerville & Charlston. On my top 10 list... both locations. Diane the owner is usually in the Charlston shop which is right in downtown Old Charlston. Loved the staff!
Island Thread Quilt Shop, Pawley Island
Pieces and Places
Sew Many Common Threads
Cross Stitch Junction and Quilts Too!, One of my top 10! Lot's of batiks and brights, and lots of blenders to go inbetween!
Quilting in The Carolinas,
Quilters Cottage, Hwy 17, Murrells Inlet, SC. No website
Sea Side Stitching, Hwy 17, Surfside Beach, SC No website

Mardens Surplus, Sandford store only. This is an Army Surplus Store, which carry's manufacters left overs and buys-out stores stocks when they close. All carry fabric, but Sandford is the best for quilting fabric. These are not seconds... they are just surplus... prices are between $3-$4 a yd, including batiks!
Knights, York. Great shop, more for the traditional quilter than bright/batik person like me, but they always seem to have something I can use :-)
Mariners Compass Quilt Shop

Fabric Corner, Arlington and Falmouth... I have only been to the Arlington store, which is almost all batiks and blenders. Great store, was just there last week. Will definitely be going back and might make it onto my top 10 list... too soon to tell, but I will keep you posted.
Cambridge Quilt Shop, Cambridge... nice shop... not too large, but a nice selection of fabric.

New Hampshire:
Portsmouth Fabric Shop, Portsmouth... right on the boarder between New Hampshire and Maine. Great batik shop. I have only been there once, but it was packed to the rafters. Would probably make my top 10 if I could get back there often.
Quilt Beginnings, Dublin/Columbus area... there were many shops in the area, unfortunately I don't remember them all !

Virginia :
Quilt Patch, Virginia Beach area.

OK, let's it for now... hope you get to visit some of them!


Monday, September 29, 2008

Retreat Gallery

Hi everyone... as promised, here are some of the photos I took at retreat. My apologies to my gang, but unfortunately I did not get photos of our table showing off their projects since I was up front with you. :-(

This is a family tree one of the retreat ladies made for their family. Each leaf is signed by a member of the family. I wonder who gets to keep it. I love the idea!

Recognize this pattern? It has graced the pages of many of the popular quilt magazines. But I love it in pink and white. I think I am going to make it in teals and browns... what do you think? Oh yeah, mine definitely won't be KING size!

There were quite a few of this quilt at the retreat. The class had been taught this summer by the owner of the Country Quilter, Claire Oehler. If you ever get a chance to take a class with Claire, gab it, she is a great teacher. Great job Barbara!

As always large paper pieced flower quilts are stunning. I love this piece, almost as much as I loved the Poppy piece she did last year in burgandies...

Fall is upon us and this wonderful pumpkin piece is just darling. It captures the spirit of both Halloween and Thanskgiving at once. This is a commercial applique pattern, so I think many of the group will be buying it soon,

I missed the commentary on this piece, but it is a pre-printed panel that I believe was made for a young member of the family.

Hand applique is always stunning. But when we work in reproduction fabric, to me it is almost nostalgic. I love the way the flowers danced across the piece.

I took many more pictures, but I need to clean them up before I post them. Many of the quilters were a little too fast for me, so I will need to try and crop the photo so you see the quilt and not all the tables.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy pictures of our Saturday night Show and Tell!

What a weekend!

What a weekend I had. As always Quilt Escape weekend was fantastic. The gang was all there.. 46 strong this fall and our small group (7) had a great time quilting, chatting, laughing and yes eating!

I worked mostly on a piece that came to me one day during my morning walk. It is all based on curved flying geese (yes I am sort of fixated on them right now :-) ). From the flying geese shape came the triangular shape of the small wallhanging and of course a bright background is a must for almost any piece I do.

As a result, here is the top I created... the flying geese shape took the entire day Saturday, and then Saturday evening I appliqued the bright ribbons on the background and used the blind hem stitch to attach my geese, or as some in the room called them the ram horns. While sharing with the ladies, many thought it reminded them of an African mask, others of Madi-Gra and so I think it will be named 'Carnivale'. What do you think?

I don't really like where the right curve ends, since it is blue on blue and the point gets lost, so before I quilt it, I might think about slicing the background and weaving in another ribbon to enhance the visual effect. In fact there was quite a bit of dialogue Friday night on the piece as we discussed the impact the brights in the background might have on the pink/orange geese. Would they just fade into the background, will the bright yellow take over, will the geese really look like the are on top??? All questions we pondered and even took out colored pencils to explore. It sort of became a lesson in color theory. In the end I decided to make the piece as was my original design, and then create another similar in concept but with more muted colors in the background to see which works best to achieve the feel that the geese are on top of the background. I think both work visually, the question which works best from the standpoint of what I was originally trying to achieve.

To be honest I hadn't really thought that far until I was discussing the piece and the colors with Jane Davila, one of our hosts for the weekend. She is a phenomenal fiber artist and provided me quite a bit of guidance during the weekend. Thanks Jane!

Anyway, I will create a gallery of photos from the weekend and a vew of the other piece I started, but I want to share with you, one of the projects Evelyn Moccia worked on while we were there. Last spring, Elizabeth Rosenberg, another fantastic fiber artist taught a workshop for the Pelham Quilters. The subject was Finding your Inner Goddess and we began work creating original quilts that expressed who we were. Evelyn brought her goddess with her to finish this weekend and here she is... the goddess and its maker.... Doesn't she Look Beautiful!

So, that was my weekend. Hope yours was as enjoyable! Looking forward to April 17th, 2009 and Quilt Escape Spring 2009!!

Cheers, Renee.....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Going on Retreat this weekend!

Can't wait! Six of my quilting friends and I are going on retreat this weekend, and I can't wait! The retreat is at the Interlaken Inn in Lakeville, Ct. and is sponsored by The Country Quilter. We will be joined with about 45 other quilters... what a hoot! All we do is quilt, laugh, eat and maybe a little sleep!

Can't wait... I plan to work on two pieces that I have sketched out... one is a triangle piece that sits on it's point. It has ribbons of red, yellow and green applique against a dark blue background, with two swirling flying geese pieces coming out of the bottom point. The second is a 48x48" medallion guilt that I have been playing with on paper. I had both enlarged at Kinko's today, and my fabric selection is all ready to go.

But of course tonight, I worked on a third piece that just makes my heart sing. It is a Rhapsody quilt, and if I can get it enlarged before I leave and figure out the fabric, I think I might just bring it along with me. Oh well... guess the pressure is on.

I will post pictures when I get back next week (probably during the week, as I will be on the road for work, spending my nights in a hotel... always a good time to blog :-) )


Monday, September 22, 2008

Round Robin Medallion

While snooping around trying to learn how to draft, I saw many entries on Round Robin quilts and Center Medallions. So I asked my guild if they were interested in starting a Round Robin project. As a result, 8 quilters including myself have signed up... with two of us making a center medallion square as the beginning.

Here is my Center Medallion....

and yes, I used my new drafting skills to create it. :-)


Dazzling Geese

Ok, sorry I didn't post this during the weekend, but we ended up in Troy to watch Robert's first football game.

Here is my finished baby..... I echo quilted each element, as well as around each flying geese and NY beauty point. The cutouts were also outlined quilted. Everything was done free motion, no walking foot, on my Viking Lily. My echo quilting isn't perfect, but I am getting there (smile). I used Superior Threads Rainbow on the top and bottom.

I really like the un-even wavy bottom.... I didn't put binding on the bottom, in an attempt to give the illusion of it continuing. Instead, I sewed the batting/backing on along the bottom, flipped it over and then basted and quilted. I used the same striped fabric from the piping around all the circles as the binding. I think it gives it a nice finish.

This is the center flying geese circle with the fabric that was the inspiration that started it all. From an earlier post you will remember that I actually drafted all the geese and beauty points. (My first attempt at drafting!) If you can zoom in, you will see that I quilted within the star. It really came out nice, as the various sections of the star, actually pop out.... as if they were raised in some way. Sorry you can't actually touch it, but I love the look.

This is one of the smaller stars from the fabric. I actually fussy cut it out and appliqued it on the black background and then sewed it into the NY Beauty circle. Then I outline quilted the various stars within the star.... again using freemotion quilting. On this picture you can get a good look at the piping I placed around each circle.

This is one of the cut outs from the larger star circles. The panel had 4 different star patterns and I tried to use at least two pieces from each. I outline quilted these as well, as well as within the star, to give it some definition.

I am so pleased with the fact that the fabric inspired me to learn how to draft. Now to send the photos to Diane, the owner of People, Places & Quilts in Charleston and Summerville, SC, where I brought the fabric last year. She was such a pleasure to chat with, in fact, she and my husband had a real long chat while I browsed and shopped.

Hope you enjoy as much as I do!


Friday, September 19, 2008

I have a new baby

Ok, so it is not a real child, but it is my true baby. An original design, done all by myself. Even the drafting. That is right, the quilt I started a few weeks ago, with the star fabric that kept calling for the right pattern, and those circular flying geese that I wanted to learn how to make. Well it is done, pieced/appliqued, basted, quilted, bound, sleeve and label! I will take a picture tomorrow, (once I get back from Crafts at Lyndhurst) and post, but I just wanted to say, that I love the creative process.

My quilting isn't going to win any awards, but I am personally thrilled, that I have created such a complex piece all on my own... well complex for me.

Until tomorrow... Cheers!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Quilt Shop visits in Hilton Head, SC


I have been meaning to post some info on my latest shop hop from our trip to Hilton Head, SC and Savannah, Ga, so here it goes.

I left here with copies of the pages from my 2004/6 Quilters Companion for both areas, knowing that if I found one store open, they would let me know where other shops were within driving distance. Well, just like last years haunt to Myrtle Beach and Charleston, SC, both hubby and I found some great stores. Unfortunately, this year with the Hurricane Trifecta (Gustav, Ike and Josephine) in the area, fishing boats weren't going out, so poor Bob did more than just one day of hopping with me. Of course, I tried not to wear him out... but like the trooper he is, he was a good sport about it.

First stop was to Beaufort, SC to a shop called Creative Stitches (60 B Robert Smalls Pkwy). The shop was behind another building and not visible from the road, but they did have a sign. The owner and workers were very friendly and if you are a Brother machine person, they are the shop for you. They had every Brother quizmo under the sun. In fact, they were working on applique Christmas ornaments in silver and gold metallic thread... they were beautiful! The ad in the Quilter's Companion says 1,500 bolts of fabric, but since I am a bright and batik person, only a small portion of their fabric fit my taste. They did have some absolutely wonderful art quilts on display for classes, that were designed by one of the women who work in the shop. I asked if they sold patterns for them, but unfortunately she hasn't produced patterns yet. Definitely worth a stop if you are in the area... great shop for ideas... about an hours drive from Hilton Head.

Heading back towards Hilton Head, we stopped at a new shop called Grannie's Attic. It is off of Rte 170 (Robert Smalls Parkway) on a new road (there is a sign for new traffic light), which intersects with I-95, and has a Walmart at its end. The shop has only been open for 6 months and isn't listed in the Quilters Companion yet. But, if you are in to non-traditional fabric, it is a great little shop. They had a nice section of batiks, moda's and brights. Of course they had, Hauffman, Thimbleberries, Blank and Timeless Treasures as well as many more traditional fabric, but I went straight to the batiks :-). The hardest part will be finding the place, as of last week, they didn't have a sign at the curb or on the front of the store, just a small wall hanging in the window. If you do find the road, look for the large white colonial building on the left hand side, that has a sign for an eatery... Grannies Attic is in the same little strip mall, right before the golf cart shop.

Continuing our journey back to Hilton Head, our next stop was to Cross Stitch Junction. I know, doesn't sound like a quilt shop, but it is. It was originally located in the Belfair Town Village in Bluffton, SC, where it was 50/50 Cross Stitch/Quilting. But 3 years ago, it moved onto the Island on Office Park Road, in the Park Plaza Shopping Center and is now called Cross Stitch Junction and Quilts Too! Well, it is now 80/20, Quilting/Cross Stitch and a fabulous shop for my quilting style. Lots of batiks, and the modas are marked by number with a color chart right next to them, so you know exactly what they have. Their fat qtr section is arranged by theme and color... so you will see a section for 'sky and water/blues' vs 'sky and clouds/whites'. Really neat and easy to find exactly what you are looking for. They have lots of original patterns, with kits in clear zipper project bags, perfect for retreat or just keeping your stash/projects organized. I really liked this shop and left quite a bit of cash in Hilton Head :-)!

The last day of our trip we spent in Savannah, Ga, so of course I had to find a shop there as well. I opted out of visiting Colonial Quilts in Savannah, as I had been advised that it carried mostly traditional fabrics, and choose instead to visit Lets Sew (also in Savannah proper). Lets Sew is a small shop with less fabric, but it had a decent stock of batiks in a separate room. Again, this shop had a nice selection of quilts on display for their classes... there was something there for every quilting taste. I really liked their original block of the month for Christmas 2008. It was really spectacular!

We never made Sew Much More in Garden City, which is about 15 minutes out of Savannah. Oh well, there is always next time!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Two Great Quilting Reads

Hi everyone. I have been on the road alot over the last month or so, and as usual, I like to find a good quilting book to take with me. Well, I must say I found TWO!

The first is Karen K. Stone's book entitled... "Quilts", 2004. It is not the typical quilting book focused on how to make a particular pattern, instead it is a journey through her quilting process, in an interview format. As she helps the interviewer and her readers understand how she approaches quilting, including color and fabric selection, she uses 13 of her quilts as examples. Patterns for all 13 are included in the book as well, including my favorite "Cinco de Mayo". Karen uses wonderful colors and sometimes as many as 100 fabrics in her quilts. Take a look, you won't be disappointed!

The second book was another one that has been around for awhile. Gail Garber's, "Stellar Journey", published in 2001. I thought it was a new book, since I had a hard time finding it in quilt stores. But I finally found it on the APQS website. Later I realized, I could have just purchased it off of Gail's website, but oh well. I was introduced to the book via Gail's site, while googling how to draft circular flying geese. As you look at the site, you will see why I just had to have the book. Oh yeah, I brought the compass as well. Anyway, the book! I loved the way Gail made learning the basics of drafting soooo easy. She didn't tackle it, as if she was writing a book for engineering students (notice how many great quilt designers are either trained in art or engineering???). Well I am just a lonely software salesperson, and I don't understand all the mumble jumble many sites went into while I was poking around on the web. Gail's book also uses some of her students quilts to help make the process easier to understand. I am going to use some of her techniques to draft a center medallion for a round robin quilt project my guild just started.

OK... hope you enjoy the books, they are definitely worth the investment and are books I am sure you will pull out over and over again in your quilt designing.

BTW.. notice how both of these books use paper piecing to create great points... oh yeah, exactly the technique I use to create crisp points!


Sunday, September 7, 2008

I've been tagged by Mary Anne

Just got back from vacation in Hilton Head, SC and Savannah, GA (more on vaca and my quilt shop hops in another post) and was catching up on my blog reading. I have been tagged by Mary Anne, so I decided to respond, because I always like trips down memory lane. So here goes...

What I was doing 10 years ago:
As with most Septembers for the past 15 years until this year, September means getting the kids back in school. It was the second year in St. Pius X, and they had adjusted nicely. So I must have been busy making sure their school uniforms were all set, busy getting my Girls Scouts off to a fast start and beginning the soccer season with my son.

5 snacks that I enjoy (none of these are healthy, but I like them anyway :-)):
  • Pecan Turtles
  • Malted Milk Balls
  • Snickers
  • Home made apple pie
  • German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream from Baskin Robbins

5 Things on my to-do list today:
  • unpack from vacation (doubt it will get done :-))
  • Cook dinner for my mom, sister and nieces
  • fix the quilting on a piece that I finished in August, but didn't realize until I was attaching the sleeve that some of the quilting isn't right on the back
  • prepare the back for my star and circle quilt that I finished the top for before vaca (no name yet)
  • catch up on sleep!
4 things I would do if I were a billionaire:
  • Open a quilt shop
  • Have my son design a home, that included a quilting studio, a pool, a relaxation garden and a separate wing for my Mom
  • Buy a plot of land that was large enough to hold my new house, one for my son and one for my daughter
  • Buy my husband a fishing boat
5 Jobs that I have had
  • Knit/Crochet teacher (in 8th grade)
  • Tutor (in 8th grade)
  • Camp Counselor during high school
  • Cashier during high school
  • Many roles at IBM (my only real job)
5 bad habits I have
  • expect others to have the same standards I have
  • procrastinate on the little things, until they become big things
  • buying fabric because it makes my heart sing
  • spending too much money on flowers
  • over-eating (even though I am working hard on this one now)
4 places I have lived
  • Mt. Vernon, NY for all but 5 years on my life
  • New Rochelle, NY for my first 5 years of marriage
  • ok... so I am boring... I stay close to home and family
Five People I Want to Get to Know Better: Hint.... “Tag. You’re it!”
  • Mary Anne
  • Teri
  • Jeanne Moccio
  • Giovanna
  • other art quilters, so I can grow my quilting horizon
6 Random Things
  1. One of my favorite memories is fishing with my dad. One year for my b'day I got my first fishing rod and that summer while fishing for black fish, I hooked into a fish and it took my line under the boat. Dad had to manuvuer the boat, and grab my rod on the other side of the boat so I could bring in the fish! I don't know if the fish was so big, or my rod was just sooo thin, but either way it made for an exciting day and a wonderful memory.
  2. When I was younger, I really enjoyed camping. My longest and bff and I went camping with another friend. We drove to Lake George in her Nova, getting to the camp ground after dark. Unfortunately, the storm that was forecasted wouldn't wait for us to set up camp. The wind was so strong, that we gave up on setting up the tent that evening and bunkered down in the Nova. Well, just as we got ourselves settled in, flashlights and all, along came the ranger, who without even knocking on the car door first, set up our tent, so we could get comfortable. I'll never forget how grateful we were that night!
  3. I don't know if I will live long enough, but I have so many ideas for quilts in my head that I wonder if my life could possibly be long enough. My only hope is that Raven will pass on my quilting supplies to someone who will cherish them as much as I do.... just as my bff did when her mother, my quilting inspiration, passed on.
  4. My youngest child, Robert, is a freshman in college this year. He is attending RPI, studying Civil Engineering. He is also playing football. Secretly, (well maybe not so secretly anymore) I pray daily that he doesn't get hurt playing ball, so he can excel in his studies. Deep in my heart I feel both my children will leave a significant imprint on society, Raven through her HUGE heart, and Robert with his ingenuity. He loved his internship this summer so much, that I hope that he has an opportunity to put his ingenuity and his engineering education together to create something wonderful for society.
  5. I wish I had a GEORGE! My husband says I talk so much about it, that he doesn't doubt I will buy one soon... but I have to stay level headed and wait until the time is right. But of course, I want it NOW.

Monday, September 1, 2008

I am sooo thrilled!

In my last post, I commented on the thing I have going with circles... and that I was working on one that was alot more complex.... Well take a look...

Don't mind the striped background, that is just my ironing board cover :-).... but I fell in love with this fabric when I brought it last year in Charleston, SC. At the time I had no idea what I was going to do with it. At one point, I was going to use the Big Square pattern. Then I was going to use the Big Square 2 pattern. But each time I was sure that it wasn't really what the fabric was meant for.... so back it went into my stash.

For those of you who know me, you know I love flying geese. After seeing Mary Anne's Flying Geese Color Wheel, I knew what I wanted to do. Combine them both.... so here it is... the quilt top is done.....

I tried my hand at drafting for the first time and combined drafting circular flying geese and points in the round. I added thin piping around each circle and created what I thought was a great design. Until I stood back and took a good look.... it was crying for something more.... too much negative space.

So back to the fabric I went and decided to fussy cut some of the stars out of the circles and add them around the larger circles to create a galaxy.

Now, I just have to figure out how I am going to quilt it. I want to do echo quilting around the circles, but I have to decide if I will echo the stars, or just treat them as part of the background fabric. Oh well, just another design decision to make while I am on vacation this week...