Monday, February 11, 2019

Quiet winter days

I'm loving the colors and design of this faux-hexie quilt.  It really is all I want to work on.  The row-by-row assembly is the current task.  This project has been my reward for working on another four purses for Sew Powerful.  After doing certain steps with the purses, only then could I work on the above.  Now I can concentrate on just this quilt since I finished these:
At the last Chicago Modern Quilt Guild retreat last fall there was a scrap table.  I usually keep far away since I have so many of my own scraps.  But as I walked by, there was this bit of a wildly-colored fabric.  Seriously, 5" by 20" or so.  I later found out it was from Debi W.  The Sew Powerful nation-wide group I belong to has suggested a challenge of four purses per month.  I'm going to try to 8 a month.  January?  check...  February ...only four more to go.  How about these fabrics?
Of course the striped fabric has to be the front flap!
The Chicago Modern Quilt Guild is participating in Project Night Night.  I spent a fun afternoon with Sarah S at the stash of donated fabrics and made quit kits.  There are 3 Baby Trip Around the World kits and one Fence Rail kit.  I sincerely hope there are guildsters who want to do these.  I like both  patterns and fabrics well enough that I would happily do any of these.  

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Sew Powerful

The SewPowerful purse goal for 2018 was 8,000 purses.  Thanks to the leadership of Jason and Cinnamon Miles and a team of sewists from every continent except Antartica, over 8,000 purses for Menstrual Hygiene Education for Lusaka, Zambia were collected!  The goal for 2019 is even greater.
This means two things.  First I am stepping up my purse commitment.  In November I sent in 34 purses.  Members of this purse-making community are suggesting 4 purses a month.  I started out this month with 4 purses so bright I needed sunglasses to make.
  I'm ending the month with 4 more, all made from a layer cake (10" squares of coordinated fabrics).
This morning I received from Sew Powerful a statement of my giving in 2018.  Here's their blog post about their state of financial affairs, and it's a powerful statement.  Sew Powerful is the "perfect storm" of identifying local needs, financing, education, cooperative work, and international sewists that will impact the future.  So the second thing?  I'm upping my monthly financial commitment and will continue to work on purses. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Yoshiko Jinzenji* and Carolyn Friedlander* Walk Into a Bar and Meet Marcia Derse* and Maura Ambrose**

 Several Chicago Modern Quilt Guild buddies and I went to Camp Stitchalot in November 2016.  Carolyn Friedlander, quilter/fabric designer/architect taught a workshop in needle-turn applique.  I brought along some of my favorite fabrics and found some plain open-weave fabric to work on.  Actually I cut the fabric from a panel of Yoshiko Jinzenji fabric.  I am proud of trying needle-turn applique, I'm glad I know what it is, and I also know I will not do it again.  However, I do love these circles.

 After finishing the applique I sewed these panels back into the fabric from which it was cut.  Yoshiko Jinzenji is a Japanese quilter/fabric designer whose aesthetic resonates with me.  The minimalism and whimsey?  Yes, please.  And then some more!  Google her - she does fascinating work.  I was lucky enough to take a workshop with here at QuiltCon 2015.  Read about it here. 
At this same QuiltCon I took a class from Maura Ambrose in sashiko techniques.  And now it's the only kind of quilting I do.  This wall-hanging needed something more, and the circular stitching is perfect, IMHO.
What to back this with? Another favorite fabric - one by Marcia Derse. This fabric has remained one of my all-time favorites.
With this new piece hanging above my sewing machine, I had to find a new home for "CandyLand." It's at the base of the studio stairs. What a cheery piece to see every time I come down the stairs. (and yes, the bottom of the stairs is storage for all kind of stuff...)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Three Projects in Process

By in process I mean the ones that are actually started and not just ones that are in fabric piles on the studio floor - more on those in the next post.  You know I'm a sucker for jelly rolls and layer cakes.  I saw this line Thrive by Natalia and Kathleen and loved the gentle graphics and color.  Against this background of a dark cool grey?  I'm in love.  As I put these shapes and colors together, I kept thinking of how I want to hand-quilt this.  So I made nine 29" blocks.  Each center is a 10" square from the line.  There are 5" squares and 2.5" squares.  Circular quilting?  Yes!  But circles are easier to do in small bits, not as a large quilt.  So I have batted each one of these 9 blocks with wool and an Art Gallery fabric backing.  They are pinned and edges have have been zigzagged.  Voila - my next hand project.  Still looking for an 18" template.  And then I will join these blocks in my reversible fashion. 

Another project in process is this grey-black-white log cabin.  So far there are forty-two 14" blocks.This layout of diagonal furrows pleases me, but these blocks are set aside for a day when I'll try another layout.  It's nice to have all the black and white and grey logs put away for a while.

And the last project I just started this morning.  I have loved working with peppered shot cottons - I started accumulating them 4 years ago.  This morning I was trying to explain to John what these shot cottons are and realized that I have three projects in the living room that are all made from shot cottons - see the end of this post.  The pile is dwindling but still sizeable.  I have been thinking about a Rail Fence design.  You can see below what I have so far.  Each block is 10.5".  It's pretty in-your-face - does it need toning down?  All I know is that I am going to keep making blocks! 

As I worked on the Rail Fence, I realized I have almost enough for a full-size Trip Around the World.  So the strips are cut, just waiting to be sewn.

Here's the thing about these meaty peppered shot cottons - they feel great and have a nice weight.  They are a dream to quilt because their weave is very open and looks good with my primitive sashiko quilting.  I know I want to hand-quilt this Trip.  I'm not sure about the Rail Fence.
This was from a jelly roll of shot cottons. 

This Glam Clam was hand-pieced and hand-quilted.  These curves almost made themselves. 
The quilt that started my love affair with peppered shot cottons. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

First Quilt Finish of 2019

It's a good thing that projects started don't have an expiration date.  This quilt was begun exactly a year ago with leftovers from a quilt I did for Cristina.  Here's the quilt.  And here are the leftovers I started to work with.  You can read about the evolution of this quilt in this June 2018 post.  At this point I put it away with backing fabric. 

After years of asking my mom to do handwork for me - which she enjoyed and I did not - I have finally discovered what she knew all along:  that handwork is purposeful and soothing.  My friend Mimi also had an impact on my hand-quilting.  She taught me the value of it and shared with me this YouTube video - it's only 5 minutes - of Renate Hiller demonstrating the importance of Handwork.   My class in Sashiko with Maura Ambrose at QuiltCon 2014 gave me the basic tools.
My mom died December 22, 2014 - six months after my dad died.  And for those first weeks after her death and memorial service, I quilted.  Now every winter, starting right before Christmas, I have to have a project to quilt.

So here it is - December 22, 2018.  And I need to quilt.  But what?  And then I remembered the box with the leftovers from Cristina's quilt.   I stitched together some pieces of wool batting and pin-basted this quilt.  It's 72" x 72". 
The back of the quilt

This holiday was a quiet one, and John does so much of the preparation.  And me?  I was free to quilt.  So I started this on the 22nd.  I used two balls of No 8 Perle cotton.   It's just been washed.  The wool batting gives an extra texture dimension to quilting.  This quilt is a big, soft hug to one of my favorite people.  There's no one more worthy of a quilt than a quilter, and Cristina began quilting with me when she was a 7th grader.  She's 28 now and especially quilt-worthy.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Wrapping Up the Christmas Projects

 Grandson Sam Mo gets a quilt this year.  He's is Marquette MI at Northern Michigan State.  I thought this quilt was finished last January, but then I started to add some hand-quilting to it and couldn't stop.  I love these fabrics and of course this Trip Around the World design.  Sam's dad Mark has a similar quilt.  And you know what?  I'm not finished with these fabrics.  Here's what I have left - and whether I make another trip or do something else, I am eager to finish off this group of fabrics. And keep whatever I make!

This has also been the season of the Hampton Weeked Bag by V and Co. I love its over-the-shoulder or cross-body feature, thanks to the adjustable strap.  I just heard last night from niece Molly about how much she loves her.  And that's how I feel about mine.  The zippered pocket as well as the magnetic closures are great features, too.  I just have two more to complete before Christmas, and they are almost finished. 

My doctor had her first baby almost 8 months ago,and her husband has fallen in love with the baby quilt I made for little Veer.  He asked her to ask me to make a second quilt, a bit bigger in greys, navy, and white (omg, I love this palette so much).  She told him I was sick and probably didn't have time.  But of course this is all part of the surprise as she commissioned this quilt and was delighted that I got it to her before the holidays. 

  What I have made the most of this year has been microwave cozies.  I made some at the Fall Retreat in Racine.  When I actually began to use the ones I made, I realized how very useful they are.  When I finally washed the ones I made, I realized they needed more quilting than I was doing.  So I have modified this pattern to suit my way of sewing and my way of using them.  Currently I am trying to modify this pattern to use for serving bowls and am also experimenting with using Insul-Brite instead of cotton or wool batting. 

No talk of future sewing plans today.  However, my studio floor is covered with piles of greys in all hues.  With one deep red added.  2018 hasn't been a blogging year, but it's been a sewing year.  I'm eager to lay out the various projects for 2019 and get busy on them.  And my table of  SewPowerful fabrics is begging for some attention.  But now?  It's time to enjoy the beauty of the season. 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

A Surprise and Two Trips Around the World

 What a great feeling to pull off a surprise that delights the recipient.  One of the quilties is turning 40 on the last day of 2018.  To honor her end of her old age of youth and her entry into the youth of old age, we did low-volume stars and snowflakes.  These blocks were pretty enough, but the quilt came to life with Sarah E's impeccable quilting.  This is one of those quilts, like all others, that needs to be touched and stroked.   Jennifer was beyond pleased, in her own quiet understated way.  What a privilege to be a part of this group of women.

My doctor had her first baby 7 months ago, and of course I made her a quilt - here it is. Her husband loves this quilt, has washed it a lot, and has asked her to ask me for a second quilt to keep in rotation, maybe a bit bigger.  While she has told him I'm too busy, she has told me to use navy, greys, and whites.  And I'm happily quilting this one.  I will get this commission to her in plenty of time for the holiday and do a proper picture when it's finished.  Do I need to say how much I love this pattern and these fabrics?

Doing the binding on the surprise quilt took several evenings, and now I'm finishing a Christmas present for grandson Sam. He goes to school at Northern Michigan State in Marquette, Michigan - average snowfall is 300 inches. I thought I was finished with it last February, but I keep adding more stitches. It's a great combination of machine and hand quilting, an effect I really like.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Gift Bags for Quilties

Every holiday my quilty friends do such clever things for one another.  I tell myself that I'm not a fitsy-fartsy sewer - with the exception being the Sew Powerful period purse project I'm so engaged with.  But this summer I came across this Suzy's Sack pattern and bought it.  Armed with my rolls of zipper tape, some small lobster claws, and the perfect fabric that says "cut sew repeat" I made these bags in November.  The two pink ones are for the daughters of Quilty Beth.  One of the girls has worn her bag to dinner already.  Quilty Melissa filled each bag with a small jar of New Mexican honey.  The perfect quilty gift.

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Only Post for November!

 November was a month of constant sewing, most of which I haven't been able to blog about without ruining surprises.  I travelled to New Mexico with a quilty and made three of these bags, The Hampton Weekend Bag from V and Co., for the household I visited.   It's a great pattern - think shopping bag that can be worn over the shoulder or cross-body style.  I carried 5 butternut squash from from the final Farmer's Market of the season easily!

We drove to Orlando for Thanksgiving, and these bags were hostess present for my SIL Chris and my friend Dorothy, who moved to The Villages.  We also spent a lot of time visiting with niece Molly.  So everyone got a shopping bag AND microwave cozies, which have been quite the hit!

(A big insult on the day we arrived home - the driveway had been plowed, but the back door was frozen shut...)

In keeping with my year-long goal of working on all my UFO's, I came across this Christmas Advent calendar.  It's a very clever panel of fabric that had all the daily pockets included.  It is just a matter of cutting them out, doing a big of ironing and top stitching - and of course the quilting and the binding.  One of my new quilty friends has three small children, and I wondered whether this might be appropriate for her.  My inner voice told me it was.  And shortly after she received it, she sent me a picture of it with all the pockets filled.  That inner voice is sometimes right on target!

This project was a constant nightly companion for almost a month.  But it's not really mine to blog about.  My Chicago Modern Quilt Guild is, as it does yearly, contributing a charity quilt that will be displayed at QuiltCon 2019 in Nashville.  This quilt is the brainstorm of Heidi Parkes and Heather Kinion.  Each square of tiny piecing represent something about a hospital bed.  I'm amazed at the depth of emotion in many of these blocks.  And it is being hand quilted in a sashiko big stitch.  I was very happy working on this, although it is a beast to sew through.  I became very creative with my finger gear!

I've done so much more but can't blog about just yet.  Stay tuned! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Projects: Past, Present, and Future

 Back in 2007 I was teaching a Quilt-As-You-Go technique by Sharon Pederson, which she calls Reversible Quilting.  Each one of these hexagons was hand-pieced, worked on while sitting with my college roommate Dodie as she was being treated for her Stage 4 Lung Cancer.  Here's a link showing the quilt I made for her.  And these blocks were left over.  To prove to the class I was teaching that reversible quilting can be used with any shape, I worked on this quilt.

Fast forward 10 years.  Why did I put this away for so long when it was almost completed?  Who knows.  I probably saw something shinier and brighter.

And guildster Debbie Pine's meeting last year about UFO's has spurred me on, too.  (Thank you, Deb - next up is that damn medallion quilt...)

So what to do with this quilt?  It's an odd size - 48" x 70".  And as pretty as it is on both sides, you can't see both sides at once.  But still.  It needs a home. 

In the mid-80's when I was teaching at Hyde Park HS, I had some terrific students.  One of them was Bridgette.  We have become FB friends for several years, and it's been a joy to see her no longer as a bright-shiny teenager but as a woman full of grace, wisdom, and generosity.  She had some terrific damage from one of the recent hurricanes on the East Coast and lost a lot.  When she said she was interested in this quilt, I was thrilled.  It will be on its way to her as soon as her home repairs are complete.   Because these blocks are connected to Dodie, it is special.  And I can't think of someone more special than B to share this with. 
The quilted back of a block

The hand-pieced and machine-quilted front of the same block.

Quilted border, done by me, added after the body was together

Quilting done by me using quilting paper

Meanwhile, I have also been working on more shopping bags.  This pattern, Hampton Weekend Bag, is basically the size of a Mors Bag. But:
  • it has an adjustable strap that can be worn cross-body
  • there is one layer of interfacing
  • there is a zippered pocket inside. 
I'm heading for a few days with a quilty and then J and I are travelling to Orlando for Thanksgiving.  These bags?  Good for hostess gifts - even though one household has said they need no more bags.  Wait until they see this one!

This table of fabrics represent projects of the sewing future.  These are all for Sew Powerful.  The hope is that there will be over 8000 purses unboxed in November.  I sent off my box last week, and I already have six completed for the next deadline.  I am hoping to top what I sent off.

Busy hands, happy hands - past, present, and future.