What does it look like to pursue a dream (or follow a hunch)?

I got to do something pretty sweet this past weekend: hang out with Leslie Jenison and meet Tim Jenison of “Tim’s Vermeer” fame:

Leslie Tim Pokey

For those who don’t know,  art quilter Leslie Jenison is married to Tim Jenison, an incredibly gifted and talented inventor who took a sabbatical from his company, NewTek, to take it easy and relax (::::cough::::):  and attempt to paint Vermeer’s “The Music Lesson.”


The original Vermeer painting resides in Buckingham Palace. After some cajoling, Tim was able to go inside the palace and have a 30-minute audience with the painting (no camera equipment allowed).


Never having painted before, Tim had a theory about how the 17th century Dutch Master was able to paint such photorealistic paintings, and surmised that Vermeer used optical lenses and mirrors–technical aids–to help create his masterpieces.

The documentary chronicles Tim’s journey to recreate a Vermeer in the exact conditions Vermeer painted: everything from constructing the actual room in “The Music Lesson” (from scratch) in a warehouse in San Antonio; mixing pigments (only pigments that were available to Vermeer); creating lenses using 17th century technology and tools; carving furniture (which Tim had never done before); making the windows (never did that either)…everything.

In the documentary, Tim’s first attempt to test his theory was by painting a picture of his father-in-law, and angling a mirror in such a way on the canvas, that he could essentially match the tone of the paint to the photograph, and recreate an image.  When the edge of the mirror seamlessly blended with the color of the paint on the canvas, then he knew he had a perfect tone, and that’s how he painted. (Go see the documentary…he explains it much better than I am trying to!)

Leslie's Dad

It took Tim seven months to finish his Vermeer masterpiece, but in total–including building the actual room–Tim’s Vermeer took five years.



Above: Bizzi the schnauzer guards Tim’s Vermeer.


And the painting now resides in his bedroom.


It was incredible having the chance to see the painting in person!



And of course I loved the quilt on the bed. Leslie shared with me that she purchased an antique quilt top (a grandmother’s flower garden pattern), then had a friend free-motion quilt it with black thread in whimsical designs.




It was a memorable experience, too, seeing the documentary in San Antonio not only with the Jenisons, but with one of my very favorite artists, Jane Dunnewold.

Leslie Jane

All in all, an incredibly inspiring weekend, and one of those experiences that makes you do a life inventory. Any quilter or creative person reading this post, I highly recommend seeing this documentary.

Trust me, you will come away changed.

What do fabric flowers have to do with selfies?

Yesterday afternoon, a few of us in the office got together to try Alisa Burke’s tutorial for making dimensional fabric flowers for wreaths for our Community Garden at Quilt! Knit! Stitch!  Here’s just a small sampling of what we made:

fabric flowers staff



Seeing my colleagues having a good time together around the crafting table, I was reminded of a picture that I thought would be fun to replicate:

Oscars selfie

Photo Credit: Ellen Degeneres (…but you knew that already)


So we each posed with a fabric flower:better selfie


The above picture is lovely, but one of our very hip, social-media savvy co-workers Carmen Beck pointed out that in order to be an authentic selfie, we needed to take it ourselves. So we tried. First shot didn’t work out so well…

bad selfie


But we got it on take two!

Quilts Selfie

(And if you are wondering why Kim is wearing Blues Brothers glasses, he is recovering from cataract surgery.)

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Flower Tutorial #2 for Our Community Garden at Quilt! Knit! Stitch!






Fiber artist Julie Creus at La Todera generously offered  me the opportunity to re-post her tutorial for making a sakura brooch as a  project idea for our Community Garden for Quilt! Knit! Stitch! (Thanks, Julie!)

I have gotten some questions about whether the fabric flowers for our community garden need to have stems, and the answer is no, they do not. We plan to not just “plant” fabric flowers but also to hang them from lattice work that will be the backdrop to the garden. Also, we welcome all types and kinds of flowers made from knitting, crochet, quilting, and mixed media (yes, we welcome paper flowers, too!)


I think this brooch would be cute to make with polka dot fabrics:



  • 1 fat quarter of pink fabric
  • 1 fat quarter green fabric
  • 1 fat quarter yellow fabric
  • Thread
  • 3 small pearl-like beads
  • Poly-fil stuffing
  • Embroidery floss: dark yellow
  • 1 sheet crafts felt: green
  • 1 pin back (1-1/4″ long)
  • Long hand-sewing needle (that will fit through your pearl-like beads)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Pinking shears

Finished brooch: 4-1/2″

Cut Fabric:

Click this link to download the pattern templates in a PDF.

From pink fabric, cut:

  • 5 pattern A

From green fabric, cut:

  • 5 of pattern B

From yellow fabric, cut:

  • 1 of pattern C

From green felt, cut:

  • 1 of patterns D and E

**Note: After cutting the green felt circles, cut around them again with pinking shears for a decorative edge.

Assemble the Brooch:

flower brooch

1. Fold pink shapes in half lengthwise with right sides out; press. Fold green circles in quarters with right sides out; press.

flower brooch

2. Thread needle with 20″ strong thread. Sew a 3⁄8″ running stitch 1⁄8” from raw edge of one pink shape. Begin and end sewing on top side of work. Do not backstitch or cut thread.

flower brooch

3. Continue with one green shape. Stitch three in-and-out stitches as shown and leave it on the thread next to the large pink petal.

flower brooch

4. Add the rest of the pink and green shapes in the same manner, alternating between the two. You should have a total of 5 large and 5 small petals on the thread.

flower brooch

5. Gather the 10 petals to the center of the thread. Scrunch them together as closely as possible. Tie ends of thread together so that petals form a donut shape. The ‘hole’ of the donut should be as small as you can make it (around 3/4″ across); clip threads. Find right side of flower. Pull small green petals up and away from larger ones. Manipulate large pink petals into spoon shapes by pushing your thumb into the center of each petal.

flower brooch

6. Stitch 1/8″ away from the raw edge of the yellow circle using 1/4″ stitch length. Stitch all around the circumference, starting and ending on the right side of the fabric.

flower brooch    flower brooch

7. Gather the circle up into a cup shape, insert a tiny amount of stuffing, and pull thread tight to close the circle. Tie off and trim thread. Press to flatten puff.

flower brooch    flower brooch

8. Use three strands of embroidery floss about 20″ and tie large knot at end. Starting from the backside of puff, bring needle up 1/4″ in from edge. Wrap thread around to the back side of the puff and bring needle up through the same hole. Again wrap thread around to the back side of the puff and bring needle up through same hole. Pull tight. Now bring needle back down so that floss is now on back side. Bring needle up about 1/4″ over from first stitches, 1/4″ in from edge. Repeat wrap stitches until you have 5 ‘dents’ around perimeter of puff.

flower brooch    flower brooch

9. Use sewing thread that matches the beads and make a large knot at the end of the thread. Bring thread up at edge of a floss line. Thread a bead on, and stitch back down through the center. Repeat with the two remaining beads. Tie off in back and clip threads.

flower brooch

10. Apply small amount of hot glue to inner ring of petal ring. Apply center puff, covering the hole.

flower brooch

11. Apply hot glue to larger circle of felt and center over opening on back of flower. Glue pin on center of felt. Apply glue to small felt circle and apply over pin as shown.

To see more ideas, check out Julie’s blog!

Wanted: Fabric Flowers for Our Community Garden at Quilt! Knit! Stitch!


The Iceman Cometh…now please go-eth!


Since many of us can’t garden quite yet thanks to Father Winter, I thought to share with you a blooming opportunity debuting at Quilt! Knit! Stitch! this summer:

 The Community Garden 

The Community Garden will (literally) be a growing fiber art installation at Quilt! Knit! Stitch! on the show floor in Portland, August 14-16, 2014 at the Oregon Convention Center. We invite everyone to craft flora and fauna out of fabric, thread, and yarn that we will then plant in our verdant installation. During the course of the show, we will delight in the garden blossoming and becoming more lush with various interpretations of flowers created with stitch, quilting, knit, and crochet.  We are seeking flowers in advance so that we have a starting garden at the opening of the show, and we also invite all attendees to bring floral fiber art to the show to plant. 

To get us started, I thought I’d share a how-to for making fabric flowers, and since Portland is The City of Roses, it seemed appropriate to start with a rose tutorial.

Easy Fabric Roses


• Fabric

• Scissors

• Thread and hand embroidery needle

• Fabric Stiffener (such as Stiffy) or  watered down glue (1:1 white glue/water ratio)

• Craft paintbrush

• Parchment paper

• Sewing machine with zigzag stitch capabilities

• Glue for attaching the stem

• Fabric coloring agents (optional)

rose on fabric2

1. For each petal, fold your fabric in half, wrong sides together.


flower petal pattern

2. Trace a petal onto the folded fabric.  (I created a paper rose petal motif.)


zigzag stitch

3. Carefully cut out so you have two petal pieces from the fabric, right sides facing out for each two-sided petal. Take each two-sided petal to your sewing machine and zigzag stitch all the way around the edges so they are closed.



3. Place your petals on parchment paper. Using your craft paintbrush, paint the fabric stiffener (or watered-down glue) onto each petal. I recommend only painting one side; otherwise the petal will be so stiff, it will be difficult to stitch with a hand needle. After you have saturated each petal with the solution on one side, gently scrunch the petals so that they have some dimension.


Colored petals

4. Take one of the petals and roll it so that it becomes a tight bud for the center of the rose. (Above I also colored each petal for added interest.) Allow the petals to dry thoroughly (usually overnight).



5. When the petals are dry, take a hand needle–and beginning with the petal that is rolled into a tight bud– start adding petals to the bottom by using tiny stab stitches. I used about 7 petals to create this rose bud. Lastly, take a twig (real or faux) and glue to the bottom of the rose.

Want to help us grow our garden?

In a padded envelope, please mail your fabric flower (no stem required) and send to:

Quilts, Inc.

Attn: Pokey Bolton/Community Garden

7660 Woodway, Suite 550

Houston, TX 77063

All flowers must be received by August 1, 2014 to be a part of the garden. I hope that you will send some in!

Wanted! Open Studios & Make It University!(TM) Artists for Chicago Quilt Festival!

Catherine Redford

Above: Catherine Redford demonstrating how she makes colorful fabric bowls and table runners using scraps of brightly hued batik fabrics.


We’ve begin the application process seeking artists wanting to demonstrate in Open Studios and or wanting to teach an hour-long workshop at Make It University!(TM) at our Chicago Quilt Festival, June 19-21, 2014!  If you are interested in either of these opportunities, you can learn more by clicking each of the links in the sidebar to the right. (For those reading this post on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom and you will see the two links.)

Simply click the links, print the PDF files, enter your Open Studios or Make It University!(TM)  ideas, and send them back to me per the instructions. Deadline for both applications is April 7, 2014.


Cheryl Sleboda

Above! Cheryl Sleboda delighting attendees with her LED-lit art quilts.

Happy Monday, everyone!

What does a case of Aurifil thread have to do with Superbowl Sunday? Why, a giveaway of course!


BLOG UPDATE: February 3, 2014

Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks and to Kathy Aho in Minnesota. Please email me your address at pokeybATquilts.com so I can ship you the case of Aurifil thread! Congratulations!

With Superbowl Sunday fast approaching, I’m gathering all of my materials for a day filled with quilting whilst munching on fattening football fare. I had hoped it would be a San Francisco 49ers vs. New England Patriots matchup, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be, but there’s always next year! In the meantime, I am rooting for the Seahawks, simply because of this guy:


Fellow San Francisco native, Pete Carroll, former coach of the New England Patriots and an all-around good guy.

I thought it would be fun to do a little giveaway before the Big Game, with swag that Aurifil generously gave me over the holidays:


Check out what’s inside!


Here is how this giveaway will work:

1. In the comments area tell me which team you think will win on Sunday.

2. Then I will take those who accurately predicted the winning team, and randomly select a winner on Monday.

So…who do you think will win the Superbowl?

Quilt!Knit!Stitch! Call for Entries Announced!

It’s certainly freezing outside for much of the country, Houston included, which means there is no better reason to stay home and quilt…or knit/crochet!

We have a couple of exhibit opportunities we recently announced for our premier edition of Quilt!Knit!Stitch! in Portland, OR, August 14-16, 2014 that I wanted to point out in my blog (click the links below for all the details):

1. Coming Up Roses!

“Roses have deep and various meanings in our culture. Some would say they represent innocence, beauty, and/or love. Some would say they are symbolic of the Virgin Mary or that they are the national flower of England. Some roses are red, some roses are yellow, some have thorns, and some have none. The different types of roses, when gifted, hold different meanings to the recipient. The smell of a rose can spark different feelings and memories in a person. What do you think of when you think of roses? How do they make you feel? What does a rose symbolize to you?”

2. Grandmother’s Purls 

“Grandmother’s Purls will be the showcase for contemporary international knit and crochet pieces that feature a modern spin on vintage patterns or techniques. This year’s exhibit will interpret the “feather and fan” pattern.”

I hope you will consider entering and will help me spread the word!

Also, congratulations to Christina Keys for winning the skeins of threads from last week’s post. Please email me at pokeybATquilts.com and I’ll post these in the mail to you ASAP!

In honor of TGIF, I’m giving away free skeins!

It’s been a long week, but I am thankful three fantastic things happened in the last few days:

1. Bruce Springsteen released his latest album, “High Hopes!”

2. Virginia Spiegel demonstrated her fundraising prowess yet again, and with the help of fiber artists, exceeded her goal for Fiberart for a Cause and raised more than $5500!

3. And the best news all week? LIBBY LEHMAN GOT TO GO HOME! Read all about it here!

In celebration of the above events, I thought to do a little Friday giveaway, this time a sampling of Painter’s Palette yarn from Koigu that they generously gave me at TNNA this past weekend. Yarn lovers know these skeins offered in sumptuous colors are fantastic for garments, but they work well for hand stitching, too.

Koigu Yarn


Answer the following in the comments area, and I’ll choose a winner on Tuesday. My question is one you’d expect on a Friday afternoon:  What kind of stitching or surface design trouble do you plan to engage in over the weekend?

Me? I’m leaving on a jet plane in the morning so I am packing a small plastic bag with my English paper-piecing project.




Starting 2014 Strong: Fiberart For a Cause and Shining Lights

I was watching The Today Show yesterday morning where they were launching their “Shine a Light” program, a year-long initiative focused on service and giving back to communities in need. Each co-anchor is choosing a worthy cause to support throughout the year, and this week they’ve been unveiling those causes. Al Roker is joining a U.S.O. tour to entertain our troops overseas, Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie are building playgrounds, and Natalie Morales is running the Boston Marathon to raise money for last year’s bombing victims.

Well! Fiber artists and quilters are not to be left out of the running, so to speak. Virginia Spiegel, fundraiser extraordinaire, is yet again launching a campaign, this time a virtual race to to the finish line, a 5K-race to raise $5000 January 15th for Fiber Art For a Cause to benefit the American Cancer Society.


As this is a virtual race, you can give your knees and achy joints a break! All you need to do is mark your calendars for the 15th to be in the running for some pretty fabulous fiber and quilting prizes and donate money to the American Cancer Society.


And if you leave a comment below (by this Sunday, January 12th at midnight EST)  letting me know what other good deed(s) you are doing this year to help someone, volunteer, raise money, etc., I’ll match each comment (one per person) with a $1 donation for the American Cancer Society. So mark your calendars for January 15th, and let the comments and good deeds commence!

In Honor of 2014, My New Year’s “Word of the Year”

Some people have New Year’s Resolutions, some have anti-resolutions (i.e. “I refuse to diet this year!”)…and some simply find one word they hope will guide them through the next 365 days.

While on my last 2013 run yesterday morning–and realizing as I get older I’m not as spritely a runner as I used to be–my word came to me.  I thought about how I could best illustrate this word in a blog entry, and one of my very favorite children’s book came to mind. Remember Charlotte, the little arachnid, who, through her love of linguistics and weaving webs, saved a pig’s life?


Channeling my inner Charlotte, here’s my word:


Acceptance is understanding where you are in your life…and you Accept. To me, Acceptance is celebrating your achievements, taking stock of your life, and accepting your disappointments and mistakes along the way. With Acceptance, you don’t capitulate, you Accept, and if necessary, you recalibrate. And you learn to take one step in front of the other with grace and humor.

My New Year’s wish to all is to Accept where you are in your life, to recalibrate if needed, do what you love–and to make sure above all else–to surround yourselves with the people you love. Accept nothing less!

Wishing all a fulfilling, accepting, (and of course a stitch-filled) 2014!



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