Bird-Brained & Buttoned-Up

Bird fabric, Gift from Dot

A small sample of the amazingly beautiful fabric Dot gave me. Designed by Rosemary Millette, ©Wild Wings, LLC.

See?. . . See? . . . I told you it was wonderful! Since most of you are familiar with my work, you can now see why the fabric Dot gave me isn’t really usable—unless I cut it into tiny pieces—and it’s far too pretty for that kind of nonsense. I know. I know. There are a lot of wonderful things I could do with it, but I don’t want to change my style of quilting to accommodate a fabric. (Although, this one is very tempting.)

But . . . But . . .Wait. I can hear you saying . . . “Don’t you like birds?” Of course I do. Then you’ll say . . .“I think I’ve seen a few of your quilts with birds on them? Why, oh why, can’t you make it work somehow?” Then I’ll say . . .”Get a grip. It’s a beautiful piece of fabric, but it just doesn’t work, and if you persist with this line of questioning, I’ll have to call security.”

So, in spite of the obvious style conflict, I think this fabric is very inspiring on many levels. The use of color alone almost made me buy it. And don’t even get me started on how sophisticated the value placement is. No. . . No . . . No, you don’t. Don’t get me started.

There are a lot of things we can learn from this beautifully designed piece of fabric, and I plan to discuss them in greater detail later, but for now, I just want to share my gift.

Bird Watching In case you decide to go looking for this fabric, I thought it would be helpful if you had the details. This fabric is named Bird Sanctuary. It is designed by Rosemary Millette at Wild Wings, LLC and produced by Springs Creative Products Group. I have not heard of these companies, but if this is the type of fabric they are creating, it won’t be long before everyone knows who they are.

Gadget Gathering In yesterday’s post I mentioned that I don’t usually go to quilt shows for the shopping. I know you are gasping at the thought (Someone please help Debbie find a chair, she looks like she might faint.), but I make time for shopping after I’ve had a chance to see the quilts.

For some reason, I usually find a LOT of my friends in the vendor area. It must be because the vendors are so friendly and many of them provide mints and small chocolates for their customers. (Yes, that must be it…mints and chocolate.) In between visits I look for whatever is on my list. If I don’t have a list, I usually keep browsing until something catches my eye.

Tool Trekking I have always been a gadget guy. I love a cool tool, and am always on the hunt for a new one that offers the possibility of making one of my processes easier, faster or better. (I’ve also been known to buy a tool because it’s pretty.)

As you know, I love buttons and use them on everything. I try to come up with ways to make an ordinary button look special. So, if there is any way to make a button special, I want to know about it.

The gadget I am currently interested in is a custom button maker. I never seriously considered creating custom buttons until I saw this tool. I know there are button makers out there, but none of them appealed to me for a variety of reasons, which I won’t go into now.

On the Button While surfing the internet, I did a quick cutback and landed on the Moda/United Notions web site. Guess what I saw there? A NEW button maker. I almost had a wipeout reading about it. I knew immediately that I had to have it. (reference surfer lingo for clarification, if necessary.)

i•top Button Maker

Button Whole Here’s an overview of the things I liked about it. First off, this tool appears to be very easy to use. (If you click on the above photo, it will take you to a YouTube video, so you can see it for yourself.) The second thing I liked about the tool is that you can make buttons in three different sizes, 16mm, 22mm and 28mm. The third thing I LOVE about this tool, is that not only can you make buttons in three different sizes, you also have a choice of backing styles. This lack of backing choices has been one of the reasons I wasn’t interested in making buttons previously. Look at these options . . . How fantastic is this?

i•top Button Maker backing style options

But-Tom I know. Your next question is . . .“Did you find it?” Sadly, no. Dot helped me search for it while we were at the show, but alas, it was not to be found. No vendor had it in stock. (I must see it and touch it before I buy it.) This problem may be because it is so new (visualize sad expression). There were wonderful tools to be had, but nothing had the alluring beauty of this button maker. (Like a Siren’s song . . . it calls to me.)

Cute as a Button Oh, one more thing. Did I happen to mention that it is PINK? Seriously. Pink! It will go with EVERYTHING! This tool  is more than just a pretty face. It has substance. I NEED this tool! I love it so much I might have to marry it. (I think I have a crush. The first one in a long time.)

Okay, now you know I’m on the lookout for this tool. If you find it, let me know, but don’t buy it for yourself. You can buy it after I have one. (You see, I don’t like people who buy my stuff before I can.) If you happen to buy it before I do . . . (my defense attorney says to stop now.)

Now where was I? I’ve had a lot of excitement over the last few days and now that the show is over, it’s time to get back to business. I’ll pick back up with my scrappy project next. We just got started and I know you’re curious about what happens next. (I’ve read it. You can’t hide things you post on the internet.)

Where am I going? You’ll either be inspired by what I’ve started or question my sanity. It’s gonna be one or the other. Whatever decision you come to will be fun for me to hear.

Don’t be shy. As Madonna says . . . express yourself!


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26 Responses to “Bird-Brained & Buttoned-Up”

  1. Jim Gatling Says:

    As a member of the Arkansas Button Project I am thrilled to see the new button maker. I love the choice of shanks & backings. Thanks for sharing. I make buttons out of tie silks, and different a variety of fabrics. But beading fabric covered buttons is a lot of fun. I learned from Pat and love Brenda’s & Sherry’s totally beaded creations.

  2. Patricia Eaton Says:

    Tom, I agree….your ‘bird fabric’ is beyond gorgeous. I’m lusting after it myself. And, yes, it would be hard to cut it up in small pieces. I could do it…but only if I had enough of it to ‘save’ a larger piece for my future enjoyment. I have no problem with owning fabric that never gets used except as a ‘source of inspiration’ and this fabric would certainly fit the bill. By the way….I found your button maker at late last night and ordered it.
    And, as I told you….reading your blog may keep me in trouble! I sure am enjoying though.
    Have a wonderful day…..pat

  3. Brenda Wall Says:

    Tom, what beautiful fabric. No wonder you fell in love it and being a bird lover I must find some too. Have you thought about framing it so you can enjoy it like a picture on your wall? I am really enjoying your blogging.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Brenda,

      It is a wonderful piece of fabric. I hadn’t thought about framing it. It’s a good idea. Currently it’s pinned to my design wall, so I can look at it when I come in the studio. Glad you like my blog. It’s been a lot of fun so far and I’m really enjoying what people have to say. Thanks from keeping the conversations going.

  4. Brenda Wall Says:

    Oh Pat, didn’t you see Tom said no one was to buy it first or there might be consequences???? LOL Of course he will forgive you.

  5. Mary Ann Says:

    Tom…I just found your blog and I love it! I love that button maker too….eeek…and it’s pink:)

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Yes, it’s PINK. How absolutely cool is that. I hope they make another one for square buttons, so it can have purple handles. Then they can make one for oval buttons and it can have lime green handles. Then they can make . . . see, I get carried away, way too easily.

  6. Nicki Lee Says:

    That bird fabric is gorgeous! In fact, I am currently involved in a Crazy Quilt RR with the CQI Group and one of the themes we are doing is birds. I just received and worked on a block from a lady who used this very fabric. It is simply beautiful. I can only imagine how you would use it in one of your creations.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      I agree. It’s a wonderful piece of fabric and perfect for crazy quilting. I can see it so easily. A crazy quilt that incorporates this fabric is going to be stunning. I hope you will get the lady to share her quilt, when it’s finished. I would love to see it.

  7. Annette Winston Says:

    Hi, Tom! How are you? I can see you are still creating beautiful things; just had no idea you were doing so in Texas. How great to see your face. Hope all is well with you.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Well, hi there, and what a surprise. Yes, I’m in Texas and doing well. I’ve been here for the past five years and am really enjoying it. What I really love about the move is that flip flops are considered year-round attire. I can’t tell you how happy that very small thing makes me. Thanks for dropping in to say hello.

  8. Sherry Ford Says:

    That is a lovely piece of fabric, Tom. It appeals to me, too, because I think that each birdie shown has been at my feeder this past week. Like Pat, I never try to justify owning any particular fabric. If I ever felt that way, I’m sure it was Debbie who cured me of it. If you have trouble converting to this frame of mind, perhaps we could arrange an intervention. An exorcism of sorts, getting rid of those demonic feelings of guilt or practicality that may be holding your spirit hostage. You’ll feel much better afterward.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      You’re lucky to be surrounded by so many feathered friends. Birds are so much fun to watch. Who knows, I may need an intervention. On TV they never tell the person what’s about to happen, they just surprise them with it. I’m going to be on the lookout for signs of an intervention from here on out. Maybe it will be a trip to a fabric store I’ve never heard of, or a quilt show that hasn’t been promoted, could be a surprise sew-in at a strangers house. Yep, I’m going to keep my eyes WIDE open from this day forward.

  9. Jayardi Says:

    ••• I think that fabric would make a great Convergence quilt. Other than that, I too, would have no use for it.

    Good Luck with your search on the button maker.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Yes a convergence quilt could use it, but then I’d still have to cut it up quite a bit. Nicki mentioned using it in a crazy quilt. Boy, I can see that immediately. It would be so easy to add beads and sequins to it. My friend Dot Collins also has a great pattern for using panel or these large print fabrics. So many ideas, so little time.

  10. tammy Says:

    I found one on Amazon! Have had it a little while and if you let me know if you are going to be at Applique Society meeting on the 26th, I can bring it with me.
    It is very easy to use, but takes a bit to get the hang of it.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Tammy. Thanks for the offer, but I am no longer a member of the Applique Society, so I won’t be at the meeting. I figured it takes a little practice to get the hang of it, but once you’ve got it, it’s easy to use. Thanks for confirming my assumption.

  11. fiberdoodles Says:

    I absolutely love this fabric! The birds, the colors, oh my it is great! You know, some fabric is just not meant to be cut up in my book. I have a piece I found, who knows where and I framed it. It alone was a piece of art and I so enjoy looking at it. Thanks for sharing your new eye candy!!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Yes, it is beautiful and so inspiring. I hadn’t thought about framing it. What a great idea! Thanks for suggesting it. Hmmm, I wonder if I have an extra frame laying around?

  12. Bonnie Nyquist Says:

    Tom,in case you didn’t see the I Top tool discusssed by the Fig
    tree lady,here is that link She says they are coming out with a new model in late spring, probably why they are so scarce.I did find one now on Amazon just now. It is a scrapbooking item,been around over a year at least, from Wasn’t sure if you actually hve one or not.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Bonnie, Thanks for the link. I’ll check them out. That’s wonderful news. A new model coming late Spring. I can’t wait to see it. I only go through the scrapbooking section of a store when I’m looking for small rick rack. Hobby Lobby carries all these small and colorful rick racks in their scrapbooking section that aren’t in the fabric department. Other than dropping by that display, I don’t look at much else. Thanks for opening my eyes to the additional quilting items hidden there.

      Nope, don’t have one yet. I’m gonna get one though. Thanks from dropping by. Hope you come back again.

  13. Bonnie Nyquist Says:

    Tom, I know the excitment of a new tool! Here is another link with a little more info,

    They use a punch or template for the notched shape of the paper.fabric, but I don’t think Joanna(Fig Tree lady) did that. Hopefully, the new model coming out wil be more specific for buttons,not brads,as was the original intenion. Perhaps the manufacturer could tell you what changes are being made. It is usually sold in specific scrapbook stores, the usual Joann,Hobby Lobby does not have them. Google it,they are all over the place. You Tube videos around too…covered buttons are beautiful!

  14. Tom Russell Says:

    Thanks Bonnie. I’ll check out the blog and spend a little time on youtube.

  15. Bonnie Nyquist Says:

    Tom, here is a video of the lady making a button

    I can see a person could whip them out real nice
    and fast.

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