Monday, August 21, 2017

One more SewPowerful Purse and a Tudor Tote



Here's one more purse for Sew Powerful in Zambia.  It will join the other five and be mailed for the fall deadline.  The next deadline is in early February - we'll see what life's rhythm allows for that deadline.    And I got this Tudor tote out of my system.    I love the size and security of this pattern - outer zippered pocket and a top zipper.  These fabrics are from QuiltCon 2016, I think.  There are four more in the works, but now?  I'm ready to go back to Natalie's quilt!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

An Evolving Quilt

There is still another round of a darker grey and a darker lilac to add before making any further decisions.  I love that Natalie trusts me to do what I want.  But sometimes it takes a while to decide what direction I want to take a quilt in.  And while I'm thinking, maybe I could turn one of the following piles into a tote bag.








Aren't some of the above terrific combinations?And I know the tote pattern I want to use - Sara Lawson's Tudor Bag.  While I was thinking last week, I made these little zip pouches.  Each one has tight little pockets on one side, perfect for a license or a credit card.

Originally for Natalie's quilt, I envisioned a quadrant being just plain fabric.  While I think that might have worked, I like the direction what's on the design wall is taking...  Just needs more time to percolate.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Sew Powerful Initiative

How I have grown in my understanding and support of the Sew Powerful Initiative.  And Sew Powerful is expanding its efforts, too.  "Teach a person to fish" is the philosophy behind Sew Powerful.  There is a farming initiative, there is a sewing cooperative for school uniforms and menstrual pads, there is menstrual hygiene eduation, and soon there will be a soap cooperative.  In the latest visit to Zambia by Jason and Cinnamon Miles, Sew Powerful's founders, they discovered that the soap supplied in the purses along with the reusable pads was just enough for one month.  And through serendipity - or more more probable the hand of God - there is the beginning of a soap initiative that will provide work as well as soap.

The first time I sent purses - there were 11 in early 2016 - I remember ratch-a-fratching about the requested $5 per purse to cover shipping costs from Washington State to Zambia.  And of course that didn't include what I paid for shipping from Chicago to Washington.  But then, as I read more about the Sew Powerful Initiative, I began to understand why helping to cover these costs is so important.

In June/July/early August of 2016, I sent off 24 purses.  Check the blog index under SewPowerful purses for the various entries of these purses in process.

By January 2017 there were another set of purses to ship - this time 13 - to Washington State.  This was the point at which I needed to sponsor Sew Powerful financially as well.  Through Paypay I make an automatic monthly contribution.

This summer I have made the above five purses.  There may be more for the October deadline, but not until I pay some attention to the house and do a quilt for granddaughter Natalie.  While some purses makers are cranking out over 50 purses for this deadline, some of us are doing way fewer.  We each need to be reassured that we do what we can when we can.


Meanwhile, I am happy to be alive.  I am happy that my POEM procedure was successful, and I am very happy that the nerve burning from my shingle episode is quieting down.  I loved baking my grandson a coconut layer cake for his birthday.  I am looking forward to baking bread and a couple of lambs for a farewell party for Julie who is moving out of state.

I want to make a couple of big money decisions about how to further support Sew Powerful.  My buddy Carol has told me about a rock-solid woman in Oak Lawn who is selflessly working on an initiative for the homeless and those in need.  I'd post a link but I'm still investigating.  My point?  So many are in need, and how fortunate are so many of us to be able to help financially.  Happy Monday!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Busy Performing Miracles

Last week I posted this picture as one of the piles I needed to sort through and put away
These scraps are now 4 SewPowerful purse kits, and I know have enough to kit maybe 5 or 6 more.  If you are thinking this isn't much of a miracle, each purse has 11 pattern pieces, all of which are interfaced.  So even though these are not yet purses, the miracle has indeed been worked.  Stay tuned for progress next week!

My second miracle involves the "going away" quilt for daughter Julie who is moving to Atlanta.  Not only did I get this quilt finished, I just picked it up yesterday from my favorite long-armer Frank Karls AND just finished binding it.
This quilt is 95" x 114" - large enough to think it has five sides while binding.  And large enough that I can't get a good picture of the whole thing.
These fabrics are Zen Chic's Modern Background Luster.  I bought two jelly rolls and love how these fabrics play with one another.  Can you see the detail of Frank's "BasketWeave" pantograph quilting?  It's beautiful.  The back is a pure white.  
Just one more detail shot because this quilt is so beautiful.  We are telling ourselves that Julie is only a plan-ride away, but it's going to be incredibly difficult, especially for her father, to say goodby to her.  And her quilt!  At least we'll be able to sleep under it when we visit. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Second Tribute to Things 8.5" x 11"

And of course by things I mean paper.  My life as a student and as a teacher, a total of 51 years, was controlled by notebook paper.  I always found the margins and the lines comforting.  I liked that there wasn't a strict right-hand margin - one must have a wee bit of freedom, eh? So when Heather Givens released her line of Paper Obsessed fabrics, I bought several fabrics and immediately thought of using them as 8.5" x 11" blocks.  The quilt in my dining room is my first fabric ode to notebook paper.  I even quilted in the red margin lines and the top turquoise line that is 1.25" down from the top of the paper.  And then I handquilted in the 3-ring punch lines.  Clever, eh?  So this quilt is made up of extras from that project.  I made all six rows and then put it away in March.  And guess what I just found!

A close-up of one of the blocks featuring the simple quilting.



Another block featuring one of the very clever fabrics.


This quilt is a napping size, 60" x 80", and perfect for an air-conditioned hot Michigan summer day, one of those cool spring or fall evenings or a wonderfully cold winter day.  The backing is an Art Gallery fabric, which means it's cotton and shiny and soft.  This glimpse of the back of the quilt shows the margin quilting.  Paula told me 2-year old Eloise just last week tinkled on the  house baby quilt I made when 4-year old Henry was born.  Well, here's another house quilt ready for whatever body fluids the kids come up with.  And the beauty of quilts?  They are meant to be washed - and even get prettier and softer with each washing.  Paula and Den are fabulous grandparents, and they are fabulous siblings.  So many times in the past two years they have given me their professional medical guidance.  Surely that's worth a quilt.  Or two. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Do you have any quilting needs?

This is the question I have often asked my two grandsons, and they always answer with a sly smile and a no.  Last weekend granddaughter Natalie, a senior at Crystal Lake Central HS, said she needed a quilt and would I be willing to make her one.  Would I?
WOULD I?  OMG, this is what I live for!  Nat showed me her newly-painted bedroom.  We talked about design, and she wants something low volume.  So I went home, searched through some on my on-line stores, and ordered what you see on the left.  This background?  I love.  But I don't know if Natalie will. The background is faded bits of maps and texts.



But now to complicate things, look what I found in my stash - darker shades of the colors in Nat's bedroom and a different background.  I'm not quilt sure how to describe it except it's neutral and low volume.  I would prefer to not work with a solid light background, and I need to see if Nat is ok with this.






So here are all the possibilities for this quilt.  Natalie, which background do you prefer?  And do you want just the fabrics I initially ordered - the ones that closest match your bedroom?  Or may I just some of the darker shades - in a minimal fashion - in the quilt?  This quilt is all about you! So get back to me on these two issues, and then I can get started.  And you can stop reading now because what follows is just some studio babblings.  I just finished two big quilts - Cristina's and Julie's (which is so big I took it to Terri and Frank for longarming).  And the studio is out of control.  So yesterday I looked at piles, some various UFO's, and am in the middle of a clean- up.

For instance, I found this nappping quilt.  I had done all the rows but they weren't sewn together.  So I sewed them.  This will be 60"ish by 80"ish.  I'm deciding whether to use the paper airplane fabric or the notebook paper fabric for an outer border. Look at  Paper Obsessed, a line of fabrics that I love.  The blocks on this quilt are all 8.5" by 11".  And each block has something to do with notebooks or writing or computer or text.  Because this quilt is smallish, I am going to quilt it and gift it to my sister - it will be perfect for her grandchildren.
The pile on the card table

The piles on the cutting table.  I gave away a Tudor Bag that I love, so I am going to make another.

 July was going to be my month to sew for Sew Powerful and make "period purses" for young ladies in Zambia.  But shingles threw my rhythm off.  I will do some purses but perhaps not until late August or September.  Guildster Danni was cleaning out her stash and wanted to get rid of cotton webbing, which I think is perfect for these purses.  But now - where to store this?  Meanwhile, I'm happy to be sewing and feeling good.  As my friend Bill Stearman often says, "Life is good." 
My scraps have scraps.

And here's that lovely pile of fabrics that Mimi gave me in April.

Yes, another pile.

Friday, July 21, 2017

A Quilt For Cristina

"She smote the ground and a quilt appeared." No, of course that's not how it happens. There is so much thought that goes into the design and execution of any creative project. And when that project is for someone special, every part of the creative process becomes even more deliberate. For years I have coached my little neighbor Cristina in quilting. She started as a 7th grader and knocked out her first quilt. She had the knack of going to my fabric cabinets and sniffing out my best and most prized fabrics. But then she would do such neat things with them! Check out the index of my blog under "Cristina" for various bits of history. One summer during high school she came down and helped me with a little workshop for my granddaughter and one of her friends. During Cris's senior year of high school she and her friend Katia both made Trips Around the World. Cristina now has a degree in fine arts from Iowa State and also has a certificate in Graphic Design. Her eye has always scared me a bit because mine is so unsophisticated. While she was getting her Graphic Arts certificate, she lived at her parents' home and came down here to make a couple of quilts. One of the quilts she did had this Moroccan Tile vibe, and I could tell she really liked this sort of aesthetic.

Janet Clare designed Aubade:  A Song to the Dawn, a beautiful line of fabrics.  And I was in love.  I bought a jelly roll and a mini-charm pack.  Along with a neutral background and a darker background, I knew I wanted to use these in a quilt for Cristina.  But here's where it gets tricky.  For years I've been suggesting Cristina go improv and do interesting things - things like negative space and varying scale.  So I knew I couldn't do just any old thing for Cristina's quilt.  While I have coached her with her quilt-making and maybe helped finish a quilt or two and have made her various little bags and totes, I have never - in our 15-year friendship - made her a quilt.

This was the first designs. I like how the blocks are of varying scale and thought that a navy might make a great sashing.  But not for Cris - she has a lighter eye.  And despite the varying scale, this design left me cold.


And then I remembered a picture I cut out from the Keepsake Quilting catalogue.  I like the visual interest of connecting blocks to one another, almost like game pieces.  And the design for Cristina's quilt began to take shape.  I didn't want it to be matchy-matchy, and I think the varying scale of the blocks and the little connector bits helped with that.
The back of the quilt
Cristina is a ditherer. Wait - there's a better way to say that: she is deliberate. I am not. I have my mother's subway efficiency - I get things done but they may not always be the most attractive. As Cristina was "dithering" over some part of the design process, I would be on the other side of the studio muttering things like: Just get it done! Be bloody, bold, and resolute.And so now I had to take my own advice.  The front of the quilt is pretty tame - I love it and I think Cristina's will, too.  But it's tame.  So I wanted the back to be improv-ish.  And I love how it turned out. 
The quilt and its various layers on the basting table.

The quilting is all straight-line with a walking foot.  This part of the process is one I find very satisfying.  Every line of stitching is soothing.
Despite our 41-year age difference, we both enjoy our friendship with one another.  Her move out of the neighborhood to Pilsen marks a definite change and end of an era.  She has her own studio and workspace (really, her loft is terrific), she has a big-girl job, and she has a rock-solid boyfriend.  This quilt celebrates Cristina's full entry into adulthood and marks the end of a very special time in our lives.  There are very few people I love more than Cristina.





Thursday, July 13, 2017

Picture, Just Pictures


A Quilt of Bicycling T-Shirts representing lots of miles and a couple of injuries and a lot of fun


The Quilt I've been working on for Cristina is finally basted and ready for quilting, a process I enjoy despite the size of this quilt.  All the quilt wrestling will pay off.  I'll post this quilt when it's finished along with the story behind it.




These fabrics just joined the others.  No specific plans, but I sure do like them.

Little neighbor Kate is working on this for her father.  These are blocks her grandmother did, probably in the 70's or 80's.  Her dad found them after his mother died.  Kate took them and said, "I bet Donna would like these."  Her dad agreed.  But Kate instead is working on this for him.  The four corners will be filled in by some crazy-pieced blocks.  See below.



Medical note: my shingles are gone but the nerve pain/burning continues. Pretty annoying but not debilitating. Glad to be sewing again!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A June Blur

What happened to the month?  Seriously, it's almost over!  The month started with a liquid diet after my esophagael POEM procedure.  Then I graduated to a full-liquid diet.  And before I could get back to the doctor for my post-op appointment, I developed Shingles (yes, I had the vaccine).  So my best-laid sewing plans have been derailed.  Today has been my first "normal" day in two weeks - and I must quickly add I am still on drugs.  These little lightning shots coursing through my abdomen are more than annoying.  Did you know I used to quilt?  So here's a little bit of eye candy for June, starting with the two graduation quilt recipients.  Thanks to mom Janice!

The HS graduation quilt
The June college graduation quilt. 

I was all set to turn this into a duffel bag but wanted to change the dimensions of an existing pattern.  Quilty Holly pointed out that doing this sort of thing on drugs might not be the best idea.  
These fabrics are the backing for...

this quilt.  It's for Cristina.
Tools of the trade - gloves, safety pins, grapefruit spoon.  It's what works.

This t-shirt quilt is all pin-basted and ready to quilt
Julie's "going-away" quilt - the batting is even acclimating.  Just have to quilt it...    

July was going to be my sew-for-charity month - for SewPowerful.Org.  It still will be.  But I may not get started until mid-month...  Life is a constant readjustment.  Let me end with some gratitude:

  • I'm thankful my shingles weren't in my eyes.  That really looks uncomfortable.
  • I'm thankful for the LaGrange Hospital Emergency Room - I was in and out Monday, June 12, in less than 3 hours, complete with antivirals, opioids, and steroids.  
  • I'm thankful for John - he continues to be attentive to every need.
  • I'm thankful for the medical expertise of my sister and brother-in-law - they again were there with their support the past few weeks.
  • I'm thankful for my GI surgeon - this POEM procedure seems to be successful!
  • I'm thankful that I feel like sewing and doing something other than sitting!  
Here's to a normal July!