Dec 28, 2017

new 2018 art quilt idea

I made this zebra art quilt about two years ago and I love it.

This quilt is based on a photo I took when my husband and I made a photo safari trip to Tanzania a while bag. The quilt hangs in our home next to a black and white cow quilt I also made. Clearly, I am attracted to black and white. 


Today, I saw this photo below from the extremely talented photographer Joel Sartore. I love the unconventional pose, the lighting, the limited color pallette, everything about it!

I sought and have been granted permission to base a new art quilt on this image. I think I have just figured out what I will be working on in 2018! Funny, my plate is completely full next year. I have several big projects and commitments already. But sometimes, when the creative spirit moves us... there is no other choice but to comply! Just do it.... I can't wait to get started.

Dec 23, 2017

studio redo, a new Bernina serger, & new DIY large cone thread rack

Sometimes I spend as much time organizing my studio space as I do sewing in it. 


My husband --- the hardest working man in my studio --- moves so fast he shows up twice! 

My studio is large and I am very fortunate to have such a big space. Its home to my computer and author research station, plus my quilting Bernina 820, a heavy duty leather sewing machine, way too much fabric, and all the other stuff.

Then I bought a new Bernina 450 serger and it just arrived a week ago.To give it a proper space, I had to make room for it in my studio. So... we moved everything around.
I found this great sewing table for it. Only $87 on Amazon. Small, has wheels, side storage and the end folds down. Good product for a great price.


You do have to put the table together yourself... or if you're lucky like me, your husband does it. The dog is only mildly interested in the whole process.....

Besides the serger, over the past year, I've acquired a bunch of big, beautiful cones of Superior Thread. These are bonded nylon that I use for sewing leather. I needed a way to store these and kept struggling with what to do....

I used these metal gym locker baskets for a while. But they are heavy and unwieldy. 

I purchased a rack online that was supposed to be designed for large cones, but it was a piece of junk and I sent it back. Then I was flipping around the web and saw cones on a peg board.... duh! I LOVE pegboards. And I had an extra one sitting in my studio closet.  Thanks to my nice husband, problem solved! I purchased 6 inch metal peg board hooks and they work perfectly. Plus I love the way it looks.


I'm a big fan of peg boards. I have another one I use constantly, so I took advantage of the studio redo to organize it better. Here's before and after....




Looking at the photos, I'm not sure if the peg boards looks better before or after....? But anyways, it is better organized.

Here's the finished studio.

All ready for the New Year! Thank you to all of you who occasionally read my blog. I am so grateful to have this place to share my love of sewing and quilting.


Dec 12, 2017

channeling Yayoi Kusama with a Japanese sewing pattern

If you can sew a quilt, you can sew clothes. And lately, I have been expanding my sewing skills to make garments.

Not just any garment... but tops from Japanese sewing books. These oversized fashion designs are super easy to construct, fun to make, and best of all, easy to wear.

For the latest top, I've channeled the famed Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.


Kusama's art is scattered all over the world. She is world famous for her huge pumpkin sculptures covered in dots, her infinity rooms, and a bunch of other colorful and interesting motifs. There are so few famous women artists that people can actually recognize, and she is one of them... so I love that about her.



I visited one of her pumpkins at Naoshima Island earlier this year! And here's my top. Its 100% linen.



One dot on the back, just because. (geez, I need a haircut!!!)

I took this photo while making the top. My red stool popped into the photo and somehow fits right in.... 




The instructions are all in Japanese. I do not read or speak Japanese, but I can follow pictures. I am certain that there are details that are lost on me, but the tops I've made have all turned out great.

And if you are interested... yes, I will make one of these for you! $168.00

I am adding handmade tops to my "mariejay" website (where I sell my handmade leather bags). This particular top comes in 2 sizes, regular (or medium) and large. Keep in mind, it is meant to fit very loose and baggy. I can make this top similar to the one I am wearing in linen, or with other colors. BUT... I am also getting a new shipment of imported Japanese fabric very soon! New designs by Japanese quilter and fabric designer Yoshiko Jinzenji - all in 100% linen. So I will be making this top in her designs soon.

Just email me or leave a comment if you're interested in an original, handmade top!

Dec 11, 2017

check out my interview with Ricky Tims on The Quilt Show


It was such a thrill to be asked to be interviewed for The Quilt Show.

This "mini" interview was conducted at International Quilt Festival and when I did the interview, I was so excited that I forgot to even take a photo. So here's a screen shot from the post on The Quilt Show blog / newsletter.

See the interview here:  The Quilt Show

So cool that we have quilt media that takes in interest in such a wide variety of quilt things.

Thanks to Ricky Tims, Lilo Bowman and everyone else who took interest in my books and made this interview happen.


Dec 4, 2017

when the Associated Press asks for an interview, you say yes

You can't make a living writing nonfiction, art history books. But sometimes, you can get your 15 minutes of fame.


This week I was asked by the Associated Press to be interviewed for an article on indigo in Japan. As a researcher who is always asking people to let me interview them, it was very surreal to have the tables turned.

The AP writer had just returned from Japan where she participated in an indigo dyeing class and wanted to talk to an expert about the history of indigo in Japan.

We talked on the phone for half an hour. The great thing about working from home is you can wear whatever you want - no makeup required! Then, much to my surprise, my husband sneaked in during the interview and snapped these photos!

Not sure I look the part of an "expert," but it was an interesting interview.

Any talk of indigo always leads to talk of cotton, and that is where I really get excited. These two plants are simply epic.

I'll share a link to the AP article when it is published.