My trip to Prague – Antique block prints for printing fabric and wallpaper

I just returned from a vacation to a fabulous city – Prague in the Czech Republic.  It is one of the most beautiuful cities that I’ve visited. You can walk just about everywhere, it is very clean, the buildings are beautiful and colorful and the Czech people are very friendly. Everyone I met spoke excellent English. As an added bonus, the weather was perfect during our visit.

Prague is romantic and colorful Bohemia. It is a city filled with Art Nouveau everywhere from the design of the buildings, doors, decorative trim to the Alphonse Mucha Museum.  I will show pictures from my trip in several blog sessions. Prague is so beautiful – I couldn’t stop taking pictures.

Our hotel was in the old town part of Prague, close to everything. After arriving around mid-day, we strolled around the area of the hotel to get our bearings. traditional-store.jpgA store window close to the hotel caught my attention and I had to go in. Since I have a love of fabrics and design, I was fascinated with this store, Traditional.  The walls were filled with hand carved wood blocks for hand printing fabric and wallpaper. These blocks were from the mid-19th century and were part of a rare horde of wooden printing blocks recently uncovered in an old factory.print-blocks.jpg The blocks, called Modro Tisk, are ornately carved with motifs. My photo’s don’t do justice to them. Samples of some of the prints from a few of the blocks were framed and were really gorgeous.printed-designs.jpg In addition to the printing blocks, they had fabrics that were printed in the blue print style that is traditional Czech designs.traditonal-czech-prints.jpg They also were really beautiful. Before I left, I took a picture of Bozhena, the manager of Traditional, who was very friendly and knowledgable in giving me the information about the blocks and textiles. It is a wonderful store and easy to find if you visit Prague.bozhena-in-traditional.jpg

Please revisit my blog for pictures of the very beautiful Prague.

Daily life in my studio

Recently, an email group that I’m a member of has been having a lot of discussion on our studios.  The members of this email group are all professional designers and artists, so our studios represent were we work. In other words, a major portion of our lives – almost all of our waking hours, is spend in this one room, our studio. As most of us work in multiple mediums, its very important that our supplies and materials are all organized which, of course, helps us be more organized in our work. 

However, in these discussions, I have found that most of us “right” brainers are not always organized with neat studios. As a result, we’ve had a lot of email discussions on organizational techniques.  And one artist is even hosting a “messy studio” contest. 

The state of my studio varies depending on what I am working on and my time limitations. Things can get piled up and disorganized (although I know where everything is in the disorganization).  Then between jobs, I “try” to get things back in order for it to get all messed up again with the next job. 

Phyllis Dobbs artist studioSince I spend most of my waking hours in my studio, I thought I would give you a peep, especially while its currently in an organized mode. I spend the majority of my time at my computer work station. All of my work seems to start and end here, with side trips to my drawing tables or sewing area.studio-drawing-tables.jpg I don’t have a picture of my sewing area as I just rearranged it to make it more effecient. Actually, I love to rearrange and do this frequently.  I call it making making my studio more efficient, or maybe its just to confuse my cat. My favorite part of my studio is the windows.studio-view.jpg Since my studio is upstairs, I have a great view of the trees behind my house. Sometimes I wish I could be like Tarzan, or maybe Jane, and swing through them.

Heat Wave and Keeping Flowers Alive

I love flowers.  But I am also in a part of the country that is having a prolonged heat wave – with temps over 100 daily for almost 2 weeks and counting.  To add to that, we are in a severe drought area.  We’ve had very little rain this summer and none in the past 3 weeks. As a result, we are in a tight restricted use of water.

Cock’s Comb.jpgCock’s Comb plants grow in front of my house each year from seeds from the prior year. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately because of the water shortage, most of the small plants were accidentally killed with week killer this spring.  I love the Cock’s Comb plants because of their gorgeous colors and the size of the blooms.  The blooms last all summer and just keep growing, getting bigger and bigger.  Last year, I had one that was 12″ wide.  They also dry extremely well and keep their color  Close up of Cock’s Comb bloom 

With the water shortage, keeping my flowers alive and blooming takes being creative. I conserve water inside the house and use for watering the plants. We have bowls in sinks to catch the water that is running.  Its amazing how much water is used just to wash hands or while waiting for it to heat up.

Another favorite flower of mine is the Hibiscus.  They are just so pretty with so many large colorful blooms. Hibiscus Bloom I just wish the blooms lasted more than a day. Unfortunately, it gets too cold in the winter here for Hibuscus, so they have to be planted in pots brought in when it gets cold.

Recently while plant shopping, I found some “vintage” Hibiscus. The blooms reach up to 8 or 9 inches across.  I have plenty of buds, but didn’t have any blooms today while I was taking pictures.  They are amazing in their size and beauty.

I didn’t plant many flowers this spring due to lengthy cold spring. Even though I miss them, I guess its a good thing due to the watering restrictions. I don’t wash my hands enough to keep several flower beds watered!

Classes with Elvis Fabrics at Graceland during Elvis Week

I had such an awesome time on my trip to Memphis. Elvis Week started Saturday. August 11 and continues all week to honor the 30th anniversary of his passing.  People were there from all over the US and the world for events planned throughout the city each day.

I taught 2 classes on Saturday, but started the day with a tour of Graceland.  It is currently extremely hot throughout the south and more so in Memphis. The temperatures were in excess of 100 F with no clouds to block the sun. We waited in line for the tour, but the line wasn’t as long as I expected. They are very organized with the tours, picking everyone up in buses across the street then driving up the driveway to the entrance to Graceland.  People lined up to enter GracelandWe did get to wait a few minutes in the air conditioned bus before we had to get off and wait in line (in the sun).  Most of the wait time was waiting to get on the bus initially but fortunately, it was in the shade.Us girls waiting to tour Graceland This is Donna (left) and Jodi (right) from Cranston with me waiting out front.

This was my first tour of Graceland and it was very impressive, to say the least.  Just being in the Mansion after years of hearing about it and seeing where Elvis lived was remarkable.  Throughout the Mansion were TV sets showing Elvis in various concerts as well as home movies taken at Graceland. Its also a reminder of how fast time flies.Horses at Graceland

The mansion sits on 14 acres.  This shot is the grounds behind Graceland. If you look close,  there are 2 horses grazing.

Walkway to Serenity Gardens at GracelandThe last stop on the Graceland Mansion tour was the Serenity Gardens.  This is the walkway to the Gardens.

This photo shows just a small sampling of floral arrangements that were sent from all over the world. Floral displays sent during Elvis Week at GracelandÂ

Later that afternoon, we toured Elvis’ jet, the Lisa Marie, as well as “Elvis After Dark” and the auto museum featuring his cars and motorcycles.  My favorite car was the Pink Cadillac, which I was thrilled to see.

After the Mansion tour, it was time for the first class to begin.  The Elvis fabrics are really gorgeous and unique.  New fabrics have also been added this week, although I don’t know when these will be available online for viewing.  You can see the Elvis fabrics as well as buy some online at Shop Elvis.

The class was a “Make and Take” class creating an Elvis fabric frame.  Elvis fabric frame and pocketsThe finished frame is hanging on the right.  The panel with 3 pockets is from the “Jailhouse” blocks.

These other models were shown to illustrate the a few of the many items that can be created with Elvis fabrics, Sundress made with Elvis Fabricsuch as a sundress, vest and pillowcase. Elvis fabric vest and pillowcase

Althought I am back home, I can still hear the Elvis songs that were played everywhere throughout the day. And with all the songs he recorded, there’s no way to pick just one favorite…they all are.

Class at Graceland with Elvis Fabrics

I have taken a blog break.  Not long after starting my blog, I had several design deadlines and had to work on getting these finished.  Its great that I love my “job”.

Over the years, my career as a designer for needlework, quilting and textiles has offered some fantastic work opportunities that I call “perks”. They are jobs, but fun and unusual jobs that just don’t occur every day.

Tomorrow, I’m going to Memphis, TN, and more specifically, to Graceland to teach a class. This month is the 30th anniversary of Elvis’ passing. How time flies – I still remember where I was and the time of day when I heard the news about Elvis. August 11 starts Elvis Week in Memphis. They have a full week of activities planned. Check this website for the activities.

The class I’m teaching is a “Make and Take” workshop by Cranston Fabrics. I will be teaching a no-sew project, a photo frame, using some wonderful new Elvis fabrics. elvis-photo-frame.jpg You can use it to frame your favorite photo of your trip. If you are in Memphis Saturday, I hope you sign up for the class. I would love to meet you.

Cranston has some fabulous Elvis fabrics. So all of you sewers and quilters who are Elvis fans, you can make a wonderful quilt or other sewing item.

As I said, some of my jobs are “perks” and I consider this one of them – I’m very excited.  I will take photos and post them next week after I return.  And…..I hope to meet some of you.

Visit to New York during the Surtex show and a visit to The City Quilter

I love to visit NYC.  There is so much to see and do. I also enjoyed seeing friends and meeting “online” friends face to face, while I was exhibiting at the SURTEX Show (Surface and Textile Design) held in NY in connection with the National Stationery Show

As soon as I tossed my suitcase in my room, I headed to Chinatown and Little Italy.  I love to go to Pearl Paint, a great art supply store on Canal Street, just off the subway in Chinatown.  My next stop was Little Italy, a couple of blocks walk, to eat Italian. Mulberry Street in Little Italy This is a view looking down Mulberry Street in Little Italy. The Empire State Building is in the background, which I didn’t notice when I took the picture. It looks close but is over 35 blocks away. 

I love to visit quilt shops, and NY is no exception.  I visited with Cathy Izzo at The City Quilter.   Phyllis with Cathy

The City Quilter is a fabulous quilt shop that is well established after being in business over 10 years.  Its located at 133 West 25th Street in the Chelsea area and is very easy to locate (its not far from Macy’s.)  Fabrics in the City Quilter quilt shop.Cathy keeps the store stocked and up to date with the latest fabrics. City Quiilter Store

This charming shop is also filled with all the quilting supplies you might need. I was also impressed with the number of classes that they offer – 100 different classes. Just look down the street for the red awning that marks the spot for The City Quilter.City Quilter

Thanks for visiting with me.  I will add more of my NY adventures soon.

Pink Sweetheart Ballerina fabrics

Today I’m sitting in my studio working on my next fabric collection for Quilting Treasures.  I can’t say much about the next collection yet, but it will be really fabulous and in wonderful colors and will be out at the end of the year. 

I wanted to show you my newly released Sweetheart Ballerinas fabrics  in the pink color range since my previous postings had shown a lot of the aqua colors.  The fabrics come in a lot more colors for the coordinating fabrics.  Sweetheart Ballerinas fabric from Quilting Treasures by Phyllis Dobbs I made a rollup-naptime for children to use for their naps from this fabric.  In the filming last week for Martha Pullen’s TV show Martha’s Sewing Room, I showed how to make it. I’m showing the top half.  The bottom is made the same but is reversed in sewing the borders.Sweetheart Ballerinas fabric from Quilting Treasures by Phyllis Dobbs 

My time for writing is short today as I’m also getting ready to leave for New York.  I am exhibiting in a surface and textile design show (SURTEX), where manufacturers come to find art images to use for their product design. Wish me luck!

I love New York and will post some photos from there.  Its a fabulous place for spotting trends and sparking unique ideas.  I have my favorite places that I go each trip for that….stay tuned!!!  Of course, I have to throw in a little shopping! What fun would it be if I couldn’t do that?? My husband Danny would think something was wrong with me if I didn’t come back with my suitcase stuffed to the max with my finds.

Thanks for visiting.

On the set with Martha Pullen

One of the perks of my career as a professional designer is occasionally being on television.  Last week, I taped two segments sponsored  by the Warm Company (fabulous batting!) on “Martha’s Sewing Room” for PBS.  This show is hosted by Martha Pullen and demonstrates all kinds of sewing techniques – from hand sewing to machine sewing as well as embroidery and incredible hand sewn heirloom items. The show is filmed at the University of Alabama, my alma Martha’s Sewing Room set mater.

I find all the behind-the-scenes interesting and wanted to share it with you.  Some of the photos are dark, but even with the lighting on, its not very bright in the studio.

Maratha Pullen and Phyllis Dobbs on setThat’s me on the right, sitting on the set with Martha, a truly warm and charming lady.

What’s a TV show without bloopers! My blooper happened when I started to sew.  I reached for the pressure foot lever to lower the pressure foot and could not find it.  My hand was groping all around trying to find the lever when I hit the snap-on pressure foot and knocked it off. Of course, it turned out that the pressure foot lever was there all along, it was just higher up on the back.

I used my new fabrics, Sweetheart Ballerinas by Quilting Treasures for the items I created for the show.  Window Curtain Panel made with Sweetheart Ballerinas fabric by Phyllis Dobbs for Quilting TreasuresThis window curtain is quilted (using batting from Warm Company) to hang over the window by the tabs at the top.  Creating a window treatment is an additional way to use your quilting skills and this one is easy.

Outside the set, all the projects for the segments being taped are lined up. Projects lined up for taping on Martha’s Sewing Room for PBSThe 2nd segment that I was on featured a naptime roll-up mat for children to use for their afternoon naps.  It was made with the pink colors of Sweetheart BallerinasI also made the aqua pillowcase.

A huge workroom is needed to coordinate everything for the show. Martha’s Sewing Room For PBS workroomEveryone is working away on their laptops.  Martha’s producer, Charlotte Potter, is in the center. It was a very pleasant and fun day.

I hope you will watch for me on the shows on PBS, in addition to becoming a regular viewer of Martha’s Sewing Room.  One show will be shown after August 2007 and the other one will be shown after Christmas.

New Fabrics

Hi, welcome to my blog and my first entry. To introduce myself, I am a mother, wife, and pet owner. I spend my days being creative as a professional artist and designer in textile and surface design (that’s basically anything you can put a design on). I have also designed mountains of needlework and quilts and have written quilt books. 

My latest design venture was creating a fabric collection of 20 fabrics, Sweetheart Ballerinas with Quilting Treasures. These fabrics debuted last week at the International Quilt Market in Salt Lake City and had me floating above the ground for several days.  Phyllis Dobbs with a quilt made of Sweetheart Ballerina FabircThat’s me in the Quilting Treasures booth standing in front of a quilt designed with Sweetheart Ballerinas.  It is such fun to me, designing, sewing and quilting items with my fabrics, although I didn’t  design the one above. 

This is a snapshot of part of the Sweetheart Ballerinas fabric collection. The entire collection can be viewed on my websitePhyllis Dobbs Sweetheart Ballerinas fabric stash

I love creating things to use in home decor, especially with fabrics and a sewing machine.  My  home is always a work in progress as I am always changing things.  There’s nothing like a new color paint to completely change the way a room looks. Add some great fabrics and you’ve redecorated so easily with such things as window swags or throw pillows. I have so many pillows that they have to be moved before you can sit or sleep. I don’t know what it is about pillows, but I just love them.  Sweetheart Ballerinas PillowcaseThis pillow is for sleeping, covered with a pillowcase I made with the aqua colors of the Sweetheart Ballerinas. 

I guess its time for me to quit writing as Kitty Kat is sitting in my lap wanting to help me type. Thank you for joining me and  I hope you are back again very soon!

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