Category Archives: Fabric and Fabric Collage

What is Home? Four

As I am preparing for our move to a new house, here are more houses and buildings from my past work.

Home means something different to each person – we all have different physical locations, memories, structures for our homes – and yet I think it is one of the most important concepts there is in our society. I know that my home, not just my house, but my home, means everything to me.

Here are some miscellaneous portraits in fabric. If you want details of their construction, look here.


This portrait, of an ornate greenhouse that at the time was used by Robertson’s Florists in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA, was a sample I made for the gift shop from which I received commissions. I went all out on this one. It’s hand applique with hand embroidery, with the greenhouse made of (I think) taffeta over other fabrics. I pieced the border with floral fabrics and quilted it.

I don’t remember what happened to this hanging, I guess eventually I sold it.


I made this portrait of the Valley Green Inn, a local historic spot and restaurant, as a sample for the shop, which was located in the same neighborhood. It was sold from the shop.

A customer saw it and commissioned me to do a fall-themed version of it. The Inn was to be the site of her sister’s wedding reception and she wanted to give it to her as a gift. Here is that version. And if you say to yourself, well, they look kind of … the same…you would be right. I used the same pattern drawing to make both of them.


These two house portraits were made for a book. I chose local houses that would work well in showing a straight-on portrait and an angled view. I described the book production process in this post – take a look especially if you are interested in how a project like this gets turned into book material.

OK, that’s it for now. More later!

What is Home? Three

As I am preparing for our move to a new house, here are more houses from my past work.

Home means something different to each person – we all have different physical locations, memories, structures for our homes – and yet I think it is one of the most important concepts there is in our society. I know that my home, not just my house, but my home, means everything to me.

More house portraits in fabric. If you want details of their construction, look here.


This portrait is of a house in Wyoming. A friend commissioned me to do this picture, which was of her sister’s house. The white tree in front has a hand-embroidered trunk done with lines of thread, and hand-embroidered branches. I enjoyed working in a snow scene for a change. The yard swing was a detail requested by the commissioner.


I received the commission for this house in Nazareth, PA, at a show in Bethlehem, PA, I think. Other than that, I don’t know anything about the house at all, but I do remember how difficult it was to manage the details of what turned out to be a large hanging.


This house portrait was another commission, from what source, I don’t remember, but I believe it was made as a gift, and I do recall corresponding with the buyer about what details to include – the skis leaning on the house, the chimney with smoke rising from it, and the autumn colors. I found a fishing oriented fabric to use for the border to fit in with the outdoors theme of the picture. The house itself was in Vermont.


This house was in Elkins Park, PA. It was a pale stucco house set in a large yard. I was quite happy with the little dogwood tree and the shapes of the two large trees to each side.

I had more freedom to create an image by the time I made this one because of the sewing techniques I used. You may be able to see that this portrait was done by machine stitching using free motion raw-edge applique rather than the hand work I had been doing. I made only a few portraits in this method as I stopped doing them to spend more time on the other subjects I was increasingly selling at art shows and fairs. This example was not quilted but merely given a backing and hanging sleeve.


This picture shows the the last fabric house portrait I made, I believe. It was done for our next-door neighbors, so I had a personal connection. The real-life house was next door to the first house we lived in in Wyncote, PA, and was the pride and joy of its owners. Many pleasant memories come up for me as I look at the photo of the hanging. The owners displayed it in their front hall for some years until they sold the house and moved away, so I saw it often.

It was also done with machine applique techniques.

OK, that’s it for now. More later!

What is Home? Two

As I am preparing for our move to a new house, here are more houses from my past work.

Home means something different to each person – we all have different physical locations, memories, structures for our homes – and yet I think it is one of the most important concepts there is in our society. I know that my home, not just my house, but my home, means everything to me.

More house portraits in fabric. If you want details of their construction, look here.


This house was in Maryland. I believe the buyer got in touch with me via my website and supplied the photos for me to work from. The bordering fabric was a nice rose pattern in peachy pink, which he requested. The hanging was to be a gift for his wife, I think.


This house was in Elkins Park, PA. It’s very washed out this miserable photo; in real life the house was stucco tan on the upper levels and I used a batik-like gray for the stone work. The buyer saw me at a local art fair. I did enjoy depicting the beam structure in the upper level.


This house was in Jeffersonville, PA. I’m not sure where I got the commission, but the buyer supplied the photos and had a couple of requests – the flowering trees in the yard, and could I include their dog? Yes, I could. I wish I had taken close-ups of the dog and the cat in the window as it looks like I did a pretty good job with them. I enjoyed doing this happy little house especially because the owners were so proud of it – it was their first house.


This house was in Lansdale, PA. I received the commission at a local art fair. It’s hard to see but the roof is a plaid fabric – I was very happy with how that turned out. As I did with other frame houses (see the Maryland house above) I made the siding out of individual folded strips of fabric which gave dimensionality to the facade.


I bought most of my fabrics at Granny’s Sewing Den in Glenside, PA, a shop owned by a mother-daughter team. I became good friends with them and even taught classes at the shop. This portrait was commissioned by the mother for her daughter. I took especial care with this one because of the personal connection and, as you may imagine, because the two women were so skilled, I didn’t want to disappoint! The daughter was thrilled with the result and I think it is one of my best efforts.

OK, that’s it for now. More later!

What is Home? One

I have some news: my husband and I are moving – after twenty years in our current house, thirty+ in our current town, and for my husband, his whole life in this immediate area – to a new home about fifty miles away and located in another state. We will be leaving our house in about ten days. We are really looking forward to the change and the new experiences we will have in our new home while reflecting on all the memories we have made here.

So, as you might imagine, my time for art activities has been cut to nothing right now. I figured I might fill in the gap a little bit with some home-themed art from my past. I’ll be doing a short series of posts on this topic.

As I looked over the images, some from quite some time ago, I am struck by how home means something different to each person – we all have different physical locations, memories, structures for our homes – and yet I think it is one of the most important concepts there is in our society. I know that my home, not just my house, but my home, means everything to me.

In my earliest years of doing art, I made a lot of house portraits in fabric. I wrote a general post on this topic about three years ago in which I focused on a couple of pieces I did for a book, including my role in the production process. Now I will give you more detail on individual portraits, as I remember them.

Almost all of them were done as commissions, either through a local shop or through my own booth at art fairs.

I worked from a photo supplied by the buyer or taken by me, and in the beginning I followed the construction methods you see in these: I would seam together “grass” and “sky”, and then, following the pattern I drew on gridded paper from the photo, I constructed the house with hand applique. I then added a border, quilted it, and applied a binding and a hanging sleeve.

Later on, I did a few using machine applique techniques – I’ll mention those as they come up.

Size-wise, I can’t tell you exactly, but the pieces are all around 18″ to 2 feet wide by say 15″ to 2 feet high. It depended on the house size and shape.

I apologize for the photo quality in so many cases – these pictures were done in the 1990’s before I had a digital camera. I wish I had taken photos of details, but – film photography was expensive and I felt lucky to get even these shots.

Let’s begin.


I did this portrait as a commission from my son’s kindergarten teacher – it was of her parents’ house and meant for an anniversary gift, I think. (As a note, my son is now 35 years old, so this was a long time ago!). I was quite proud of the porch awning and the small tree on the right, where I applied netting over cut-up fabrics to make the foliage.


This house was a large stone home in Lansdale, PA, commissioned by a couple. The husband liked it but I don’t think the wife was as pleased. I also think no matter what, she was always going to be disappointed. In the end they paid me. I took that as good enough.


I have recorded the address of this house as being on Claudia Way, Lower Gwynedd. I looked it up and yes, that is correct. I remember at the time enjoying the coincidence of Claudia depicting another Claudia.


This house was in Wyndmoor, PA. I remember that in real life, it had a mass of rhododendrons in front that almost obscured the facade. I knew I would need to do some yard work or the picture would be of a big green blob. I took the photos of this house myself, as it was a commission from the shop, and I remember working hard to get some idea of what was behind that mega-vegetation (in fact I think I might have gone right up to the house and squeezed behind the bushes).


I did this portrait as a commission from a friend who wanted to commemorate her friend’s wedding. I think she may have been a bridesmaid. Anyway, this house is in Georgia. Those pine trees in the back almost drove me crazy but in the end they sufficed. The border fabric was a home furnishing fabric; I could not find cotton fabrics with a pattern and colors that met the color and design specifications.

OK, that’s it for now. More later!

Fabric memories 2

I’ll continue with recounting a few memories associated with photos I found in my archives a little while ago.

These pictures show me at the Lansdale Festival of the Arts in 1998.

This festival is one that I have done since 1996. I attended 2022’s version this past August (below).

A lot of things are the same in these pictures. I am still using the same racks today, but I have replaced the rack covers since 1998, and I have a different tent, though in the same style.

And I still set up the racks in the same configuration, a U-shape – I’ve tried others over the years but in the end, I always come back to this one, because it allows a nice open view of the work.

The park in which this fair is held looks very much the same now as it did 25 years ago, and that many of the same people who organized the show back then are still doing it today.

I love this show and it has a special place in my heart. I won my very first prize ever here in 1996 (I broke down in tears when they brought me the ribbon). And without fail I have always had a wonderful welcome from organizers and patrons alike.

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All right, here is another picture from the same show, Lansdale, but a different year, 1999. This piece, “Along the Beach Road”, was done in raw edge applique with machine free-motion stitching and it won Best of Show.

Well, thank you for going along with me on this little trip back into the past. These photos have reminded me of how much I have enjoyed doing shows and how much the art world has given to me – not just the artwork and awards/recognition, but the friends and interesting times along the way. Thank you to everyone who has been with me on this road.

Fabric memories 1

I was going through some old photos a little while ago and came upon a grouping from several shows I did back in the 1990’s. They feature my fabric work, which was the first medium I exhibited.

As background, I started making fabric wall hangings in 1994 or so, and at first, I concentrated on making house portraits. I built up a little business doing portraits on a commission basis and also sold them through a local shop, along with some items on spec.

In the beginning, I worked totally in hand applique with edges turned under. Later on, I learned to do free-motion machine applique and I then switched to raw edge applique.

These first pictures are from a show at New Hope, PA, probably in fall 1997. I date it this way because most of my work here is still hand applique. Also, I am no longer using my homemade display set up; I have the professional racks, but no tent.

Next, here I am in May, 1998, at the Roxborough (Philadelphia, PA) Festival of the Arts. I can date these photos because I won Juror’s Choice at this show. I was thrilled at the recognition and also flabbergasted at the size of the prize, which helped me buy my tent with money left over.

Here you can see that almost all the works are raw edge applique done with the machine.

I was also amused to see the sign on my display signifying that I accepted credit cards. Back at that time it was costly and work intensive to do so, but I remember that at a show the year before, I had almost missed a sale because I didn’t take cards and the buyer didn’t have enough cash (we figured things out, thank goodness).

So I had moved up in the art show business world with this step. To remind you how things were, I used paper receipts and a “knuckle-buster” machine, and after the show I had to take the slips to the bank and deposit them to get credit.

I’ve got a few more reminiscences that I’ll share in another post!

Fabric Explorations

Over the past few months I have been feeling like doing some sewing, but I couldn’t get a good fix on just what that might entail.

Functional sewing, such as shirts or other clothing? Pieced quilts? Applique? Painted fabric/stitching wall hangings? I could not focus.

So, I spent some time just looking at fabric work in books and online. I learned some great techniques for making a T-shirt pattern based on your own shirts (I may still try that). I reviewed my ideas about quilting and tried out some things and realized I still don’t like piecing fabric. Along those lines, I read about improvisational art quilting which, to be honest, still sounded like too much planning for me.

I enjoyed reading about making clothes without a paper pattern (reminded me of how my mother made me some gathered skirts in junior high requiring a length of cloth and a waistband; I loved them). But I don’t really need a gathered skirt or even any other kinds of clothing.

I even read up on making drapes and shades though I have no intention of ever making window coverings again (in a previous house, a Victorian with tons of windows, I made curtains for 53, yes, 53, separate windows. Enough.)

In the end, I was back where I started from. Really, I just like to slap down some fabric on a backing, run a lot of machine stitching over it, and then see if I can make it into some kind of imagery. I really enjoy just humming along with the stitches reeling out. I especially like free-motion stitching. I like drawing with the lines of stitching. I like tiny pieces of fabric and sticking them on to other pieces of fabric. I don’t like making large things, I like making small pictures. I like painting on fabric and then stitching to go along with it. Or over it.

So I’m just going to stick with this stitching idea and see where it goes.

Here are a couple of little guys I made in August 2022. Maybe they are pointing the way for me.

Good-Bye, Old Friend

Not too long ago I bought a new sewing machine to replace my old one. At the age of 24 years, its motor finally had given out.

That machine, a Babylock 6600, was purchased in 1997 from Granny’s Sewing Den in Glenside, PA, which was also my primary place to buy fabric for many years. Granny’s has been closed for some time; it was owned by two women, mother and daughter, the mother now deceased, the daughter retired. Both of them were friends to me.

Anyway, this machine was responsible for my success in the fabric part of my art career and without it, I do not think I would have gone on to to work in paper collage, or to paint. Or all the other art things I now do. I do not think my work would have progressed enough for me to make those leaps without the techniques this machine allowed me to master so that I became able to express in fabric my visions.

Here is an example of a fabric wall hanging I made with this machine. It’s called “Garden in the City”, was made in 2000, and was displayed in Philadelphia’s City Hall in an exhibit devoted to community gardens. I still have the piece.

I also made many garments for my family with this faithful friend, as well as home decor items, tote bags, dolls and toys…you get the idea. This machine worked HARD for me and never once did it let me down.

Well, after I bought the new machine (another Babylock, the Jubilant model, which is very similar to its predecessor in my sewing life), I kept this one for a while. Finally I decided that since it could not be repaired, there was no reason to keep it around.

We decided to dismantle it. Maybe I could use its parts in some of my hanging metal sculptures. I hated just to throw it out. My husband spent two or so hours taking it apart. Sure enough, I now have a box of parts for a future project.

But I am saving some just for a keepsake. Here is the assortment:

What’s in the photo? First of all, you see a tag for a cleaning; my name is written in the handwriting of one of the women at Granny’s Sewing Den. I kept it on the machine’s storage box all these years for sentiment’s sake, I guess.

You also see two feet from the machine – the metal one (with grooves worn on the bottom side from pins and the like passing under it) – and the purple plastic one. I used a lot of free motion stitching in my fabric work and this foot was purchased separately – the machine at that time did not have its own proprietary one. I do remember it was called the Big Foot.

Here is the throat plate. This is the part of the machine that lies under the needle and it’s what I looked at the most in all those years of using the machine.

And here is the plastic plate that I used as part of free motion stitching. To do free motion work, you need to disengage the feed dogs, the part of the machine under the throat plate, that move the fabric along. This machine did not allow for the feed dogs to be dropped; they needed to be covered instead. Hence this plate.

It snapped on over the open section at the top of the throat plate, where the feed dogs would have been. I could never remember in which direction to orient the plate. Usually I realized I had set it in wrong and fixed it before I started stitching. But…sometimes I didn’t. That is why you see the holes in the plate. The needle punched right through it.

I am getting older now and can look back on a lot of years that I have been doing this thing or that thing. Sewing is one of those activities that in my life extends back decades; my mother taught me to sew about 55 years ago on a totally mechanical Necchi machine that she kept until the end of her life.

I’m not a great seamstress but I was able to take my sewing skills and use them to make art, something I never would have thought of in my childhood lessons. Trial and error and experimentation and a lot of enjoyment is what got me along the path. That, and this machine.

Thank you and Good-bye, old friend.

Small Fabric Pieces: Six

You may remember the small fabric pieces I showed you pretty recently. (look here). I have a few more to show you – these were made in September/October 2021. I used the technique I followed for much of the time I made fabric art for sale back inthe 1990’s and early 2000’s. For a full explanation, look here at this post I wrote about a large hanging I created not too long ago.

Short version: I adhere pieces of fabric to a canvas fabric background using stitching, either regular stitching with the machine or free-motion machine stitching. That’s it!

Both of these are about 6″ x 6″. And there is a lot of blue in them. And that’s pretty much the whole story!

Small Fabric Pieces: Five

You may remember the small fabric pieces I showed you not long ago (look here). I have a few more to show you – these were made in September/October 2021. I used the technique I followed for much of the time I made fabric art for sale back inthe 1990’s and early 2000’s. For a full explanation, look here at this post I wrote about a large hanging I created not too long ago.

Short version: I adhere pieces of fabric to a canvas fabric background using stitching, either regular stitching with the machine or free-motion machine stitching. That’s it!

The first one is 6″ x 6″, more or less, and the second one is smaller, I think because I must have not liked the side of it and cut it off. Maybe that’s the reason, and maybe not. I admit to not being able to remember.

Did I mention that I bought a new sewing machine? Yes, I did do this, back in September. My old machine, a veteran of 24 years of very hard use, finally showed signs of giving up the ghost. Rather than repair it, I opted to get a new one.

I reflected on the idea that if this new machine lasted 24 years, I would be 87 years old. And that when I got my previous machine I was 39 years old. Well. This is something to think about, right?