Thursday, September 25, 2014

Little pale zippers and scraps

My sister-in-law Kim is teaching her granddaughters, my great-nieces, to play jacks and requested little zip bags for these little pieces.  These bags are 3.5" by 4" and 4" x 4".  I'm afraid they might be too small - I haven't played with jacks in over - well, my math isn't that good but to say 55 years would not be inaccurate.  This is a perfect way to use those little pale zippers that seem to accumulate in my zipper stash.  While I'm working away on things that I either cannot post about yet or getting ready for the big Purse Palooza 2014 blog post (this link is for Purse Palooza 2013), I've been working my way through scraps - perhaps for a scrappy log cabin?   

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Cute Bag - and New Eyes

Lynn, who does my cosmetic tattooing, saw my Cute Bag by Wonder Woman and requested one in black and brown. The design is made for three fabrics, but the two  worked out just fine. The appeal of this bag?  Pockets on both sides, zippered pockets on both sides, and a middle pocket with a terrific magnet at the top as well as little pockets on the inside.  The only downside to this pattern is that there are a lot of thicknesses , and I must use my mechanical machine to get through all the layers. 
Lynn also liked the little zip insert I made for my Cute Bag, one that holds credit cards and cash and has a little pocket on one side for something like a Starbucks card and a bigger pocket on the other side for perhaps cash. So I made her one of those. As I have greyed, my eyebrows and eyes have disappeared. Lynn's cosmetic pigmentation technique lets me find myself in a mirror.
And now? Back to a new baby quilt. The grandmother-to-be selected and bought the fabrics. I think I have finally decided what I want to do. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Practice does make perfect Zippered Pouches

This past Labor Day Weekend was a food one - canning giardeniera and making cinnamon rolls. But I did manage to crank out 4 zippered pouches. Guildster Emily B turned me on to this great tutorial by Sew Minty for zippered pouches. And Emily L pointed out this tutorial for perfect zipper tabs by Erin at Dog Under My Desk. There's a wonderful spirit of generosity among quilters. Nice.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Special People

I have so many quality people in my life. One of them is Sue Ryan, the first treasurer of the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild. Her current employer is my former employer - The Chicago Public Schools. Sue is a kindergarten teacher who has a wonderful sense of whimsy and color and a love affair with fish. Here is her back-to-school present - a shark pencil case. And here's the link to the tutorial from Patchwork Posse. Notice my shark's top fin is backwards - chalk it up to dyslexia. Sue will understand.
Another person is my husband's sister Terry who is 79 this month. Here is an Arabesque bag for her - a free download from Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness. Sara is hosting her Purse Palooza 2014 in October, and I'm excited about being a guest blogger for this event. I'll be blogging about the Runaround Bag on October 15. Sometimes I get so excited about something I've made that I forget to photo and document it. Last night we had John's cousin Marian for dinner. It was her 80th birthday. Using a pair of John's old jeans, I made her a shopping bag, which she loved. Three special people who deserve special gifts!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Perils and Joys of Baby Quilts

Baby Quilts are fun for several reasons.  Their size is perfect, and I can easily do my own quilting.  And the whole design and color process allows me to be creative.  However, because of their size, I use straight pins for basting.  Each one of my baby quilts has several bits of blood - that's just the way I roll.  Since I wash the quilt after quilting, it doesn't affect the quilt - just my arms and legs.  As I have told my grandsons, quilting is a sport, complete with injuries.  On a rainy day like today, baby quilts tease thought - especially about the passage of time.  How can my oldest grandson be a sophomore in college?  How can my NYC niece be having her second baby (oh boy oh boy another baby quilt!!!)?  Working on baby quilts is joyful.  Two of my friends are about to be grandmothers.  One is expecting her 5th and 6th grandchildren in September.  One is becoming a first-time grandmother in October.  Their joy makes me relive those wonderful days when John's kids were having their babies.  It's a sweet time of life.  Working on baby quilts keeps life in perspective, especially after my dad's death and my mom's steady decline.  Might be time to watch Lion King and sing along with all those wonderful songs.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mama's Got a Brand New Bag - or two...

This past weekend I worked on two new bag patterns. This first one is A Cute Bag by WonderWoman. It has a zipper and a deep curved pocket on both sides of the bag. The middle section is deep, has two interior pockets, and a snap closure. The strap is substantial and adjustable. I made the almost fatal error of putting both D-ring straps on the same side of the bag. Bu I stepped away from the bag for 24 hours and figured out a work-around. I also didn't take into account the directionality of the outer zippers, but it's ok. This is indeed an aptly-named pattern, and I'll do another one of these.
Here's the other project - Grids and Grommets by Indygo Junction.  I bought this pattern last year at QuiltCon.  What appeals to me most is the grid pattern of the fabric.   The installation of the grommets was a bit tricky, perhaps because I went rogue on the directions.  Instead of a double layer of fleece batting, I used Soft and Stable, and it worked brilliantly.  The bag stands on its own nicely. 
I like the interior of the bag, too, with its pockets. There is a bottom insert of a double layer of Peltex in a fabric envelope. It's always great fun to try something new. My fun news is that I have been asked to participate in Purse Palooza 2014.  Sara Lawson is the organizer and host of this purse blow-out.  On October 15 I'll be blogging about the RunAround Bag by LazyGirl Designs.  Here's the link to the pattern. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

We Can Eat Dinner Again!

We have a small house which has one table at which to eat - the dining room table. That table becomes the office table and the laundry table as well as the dining room table. Daily we use placemats. After announcing to John that I would make new placemats because we couldn't find anything we wanted in the stores and throwing away the old placemats, I began this 16-placemat project. I did four of them two months ago. And now four more are complete. That dinner party for 16 will just have to wait a few more weeks. This particular set of four are my Debbie Bookman Memorial Placemats - she was the one to turn me on to the fabric in the center of these mats and may have even given me this fabric. Deb is moving to Florida where she will be a part of their Modern Quilt scene! And speaking of guildsters current CMQG president Sarah S has been particularly tender with me in the past few weeks. She gave me a new bag pattern - "A Cute Bag" by Wonder Woman Quilts. And I cannot wait to start this bag. However, I do have projects with a deadline. I have been critical of bloggers who say they can't post what they are working on. And here I go: I can't post what I am working on for a few more months. But work is going on.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Quilty Sympathy

So many friends have sent such lovely cards and notes to me, each one very special. But these two are extraordinary. My cousin Barbara Long Bailey found this embroidery that was made into a card. And my quilty guild buddies made this hexie rug in my favorite colors. Not only did my quilt besties sign it, one of them (Holly? Sarah E?) free-motioned quilted "Donna, you are sew loved." Deep pieceful thanks.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Pause in Life's Rhythm

July has been a difficult month. My father received at-home hospice services and died in my brother's Lombard house peacefully on July 13th, just three days after his 66th wedding anniversary. My brother and sister-in-law were with him - so was my mom. My minister brother did a wonderful memorial service on the 19th. Dad played to his final packed house that day. And we are all at peace. This blog started in 2007 with the death of my college roommate and dear friend Dodie.  And now this is another life's milestone.  And of course my sewing has been impacted.  My quilting adventures of late have been "by hand" since I have spent so little time in the studio. This block is a sample from the quilt pictured below.  I made 48 nine-patches by hand and sashed them with a wonderful fabric my guild buddy Mimi gave me.  The quilt assembly was completed just as my dad went into hospice (is anyone else thinking "The Last Leaf" by O Henry?).    Mimi does handwork and turned me on to quilter Renate Hiller and her philosophy on handwork.  So this quilt - 68" x 86" - will be quilted by hand. 

Even I know enough by now to do a bit a practice before starting anything.  And I am intrigued by the application of Japanese Sashiko to quilting.  So much so that I am taking a class about this topic in Austin next February at QuiltCon 2015.  So I made a 49th block, batted and backed it, and am experimenting with thread and embroidery needles.  I like the primitive look of my stitches.  The batting for the sample and big quilt is wool (which I love), so there will be a wonderful lofty and airy look to this quilt.  The white thread blends in the best, but I do love how the red and black thread look.  This sampler will allow me to figure out what is best for this big quilt.
People do goofy things under duress. One of my many in the past few weeks was to decide I needed to make clothes. Chicago fabric designer Sara Lawson put out a new line of quilting fabrics, two of which have been issued in a knit. I fell in love with this one and bought three yards. So I spent time with pattern books and bought several patterns, which you'll see strewn about in the pictures below.  So what did I think?  that I would whip up an outfit for my father's funeral? 
But I also did some sane things in the past month, like continuing to walk daily. My respect for my Lombard brother Doug and his wife Kim has increased, if that's possible. My brother Al made my father's funeral an absolute celebration, and of course my husband John has kept the house going so I can do what I do. The administrative wrapping up with take another couple of weeks, but it's all sort of under control. (One little coincidence: I turn 65 in October and am filing for Medicare benefits through John - CPS does not pay into SSA. So while I was at the offices last week, I was also able to report my father's death. Tomorrow I have to go back with additional documentation for both me and transfer my father's benefits to my mom. I am taking with me their original marriage license from July 10, 1948.) If I could just say the same about the studio...
My dad was a remarkable man, something I lost sight of in the past few years. His funeral celebrated the impact he had on so many. I look at my life - my education, my intellectual curiosity, my humor, my creativity - and know that he and Mom are at the source of this all. I am looking forward to reestablishing some sort of rhythm in my studio and continuing my quilting adventures, being so at peace.