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.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

"Modern in the City" Exhibit

The International Quilt Festival was in Chicago last weekend. They invited my Chicago Modern Quilt Guild along with the Naperville Modern Quilt Guild to participate in a Modern in the City challenge. I was so impressed with what my fellow guildsters did and want to give you an opportunity to see these amazing pieces. So, sit back...
City Links by Sarah Shulman
Where the Heart Is by Nicole Weldon
Bright Lights by Amy Strunkmeyer
Picasso in Piecing by Judy Tucker
Six Corners:  Milwaukee Damen & North by Jennifer Benoit Bryan
Chicago (by train) by Erin Davis
Somewhere in the City by Laura Hartrich
View Below by M A Cramer
Windows by Eileen O'Regan
Bean in the City by Shannon Dangerfield
Emily Lang
Two Cities: One Heart by Peta Minerof-Bartos
City Block by Ruth Hild, Naperville IL

Rush Hour by Anita Marsh, Oswego, IL
 I was called away from IQF with a situation regarding my father, who is at the end stages of his life. He has been a musician and piano tuner, and I thought this piece entitled "Tuning Fork  #11" by Heather Pregger of Texas was appropriately the last picture I took that afternoon:
Tuning Fork #11 by Heather Pregger, Texas

I was pretty pleased to have "City Spokes" in such fabulous company

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Just catching my breath...

All deadlines have been met, my hand project is coming along ever-so-slowly, and I'm getting ready to dive into that big pile of Pepper Cory shot cottons. So in this wonderful breathing space, I've been doing little things. Like these zippered pouches.  And then I found this little free down for a Reversible Box Tote by  It's deep, it stands alone (especially with Soft and Stable in it), and is perfect for keeping my new car - Tuxedo Black 2013 Ford C-Max - organized. 
And occasionally I whittle away at my stack of batiks by making some unlined Mors bags.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sewing in a different space

Guild buddy Emily B invited me over for a sew date, and we made these fabulous Molly Market Totes.  A day with a friend (who is 40 years younger than I.  Whatever...) plus a completed project?  Who can ask for anything more...
And a picture of the progress on my hand project...

Friday, June 6, 2014

From a Vest to a Tote

I keep thinking that I'm able to make clothing. I made this vest. And even though I didn't wear it, I started on a new one from some fabulous fabrics. Both vests have been sitting in my closet for three years. Vests just are not a good look for me.  And now? This vest is a tote. Much better...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Design Floor Wednesday

The Design Wall is already occupied

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ready for a Sew-in

with great thanks to the Good Organizational Fairy Cristina...

Sunday, June 1, 2014

When Quilting Makes the Quilt...

 This simple napping quilt (65" x 85") is a basic design with quiet colors - the bride's request was a palette of white, blush, and tan.  Using 4.5" x 8.5 bricks in a herringbone design with these fabrics created a very plain quilt top.  But then Frank from T and F Quilting Studio worked his magic, and the quilt is now something that I am proud to give to my cousin Jerry White's daughter as her wedding present.  Best wishes to them as they start their lives together!
The back is even simpler than the front

 When Natalie's older sister Erin was married, I used the same size bricks for her quilt.  Natalie's quilt has some of the same fabrics that I used in Erin's quilt.  
This last shot is significant because my cousin Jerry has the same carpeting - a brownish/pinkish woodrose - in his house. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Anwer: Simple Tote, Sports Quilt, and Placemats

 Question:  What's been happening in the Studio this week?  First, this sweet little tote made from a bright batik is a little retirement present for my SIL who is finally graduating from Hinsdale Central after 37 years in the classroom.  Hooray!  Chris loves bright colors and corals and pinks, so I think she will LOVE this handy summer tote.  This is the Arabesque pattern from Sew Sweetness and is a free download. 
Just two little pockets on the inside and a zip top

The graduation quilt for Shari B is completed and spectacular, thanks to Frank at T and F Quilting. Shari's son is going to a college whose colors are grey, black, and royal blue. Dom's quilt is 60" by 80" and has a pillow made from a leftover baseball jersey.  From thin baseball jerseys to thick hockey jerseys,  Frank Karls and his longarming skills handles them all.  This quilt is absolutely useable and washable and will showcase some high school memories for years to come.
So far 4 of my 16 placemats are almost done.  These plain outer borders are crying for some quilting.  This is a great opportunity for some threadplay!

It's Thursday.  Off to my parents with some shrimp and grits and my handsewing, all nestled into this nifty little tri-zippered pouch from my guild buddy Sarah E. Having made a couple of these, I know how special these are and love that Sarah made this for me.  What a spirit-lifting gesture! 

In my favorite colors

Loaded and ready to go! (and check out the little pin cushion in the top of the bag!!!)