Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Those All-So Useful Sew-a-Longs

Look at the hashtag #100dayproject.  Or #100blocks100days.  Or in the case of this quilt #52blocks52weeks. A quilter who has lost her mojo finds these useful - just something every day or every week to get things going.

The Canadian Quilters Association began this sew-a-long in January 2019, and I learned of this through one of my Canadian quilter friends.  Each Tuesday of the year directions for a 6.5" block were released and shown in grey scale, one of my favorite palettes.  Looking at my immense scrap collection, I thought it would be fun to work on this project, using only scraps.

By using 3" sashing, this quilt is a useable size 65" x 75".   It just needs quilting!  I auditioned a lighter background for these blocks but am happier with the darker background.





I enjoyed this little project and it's fun to have an almost-finished project.  The overall look is one I don't treasure despite all my favorite little bits of grey and backs.  This quilt will start looking for its owner soon.  

One note:  a friend pointed out to me that one of the blocks had a definite Swastika look.  That block was immediately removed and replaced with one of my own invention. 

Another note:  Having two hands is terrific. The stitches come out today from the pin removal two weeks ago. Then real rehab begin to restore wrist flexion.  My hand is sore - parts of it are waking up and all soft tissue needs intense stretching as the muscles develop.  But I'm so happy to have both hands again!

Monday, May 25, 2020

Mask-Making Guilt and Mother's Day



 Just as I was getting into my whole one-handed, broken-waisted rhythm of physical therapy and figuring out what sewing tasks I could do, the Covid-19 virus hit.  "Lockdown" started March 21.  And cottage-industries of mask-making began.  If there is one glittering generality about quilters  it is that they are very quick to respond to a need they can fulfill.

The Internet was immediately full of mask patterns.  Some of my Quilty friends have made hundreds.  HUNDREDS!
I had elastic, I had fabric, and I could handle a rotary cutter with my left hand (well, I am left-handed...).  So I tried making masks.


 And I could sort of do it.  But it hurt and took me all morning to make one. Kind of like trying to find an iron that is the hottest and steamiest, I was looking for mask patterns that were easier than the one I am wearing here.



I did find ones that were easier to cut.  But then they had to be pleated, a manipulation that was almost beyond me.






Like so many others, I ran out of elastic. Everything was on backorder.  So I found and tried this pattern.  It was fairly easy.
Here my friend Cecilia models hers.  But personally, I don't like to tie things behind my head - it's a hair thing.

My shipment of elastic came in just as I realized that mask-making just wasn't something I could do.  And of course I felt a bit guilty,

But then something happened to assuage my guilt.



About this time my friend Jenny and I were out walking, with our masks on, when she mentioned she was thinking about a sewing machine so that she could make masks but the time just wasn't right to buy one. I offered her the most reliable and lendable machine I have - my mom's 1948 Singer Featherweight.  I also sent over fabrics I new I would never us.    And Jenny has gone to town making masks. She is one of the 400+ makers. I loaned her a second machine, a White/Singer that John's mom bought for me in 1982. A friend of the family's is working with Jenny making masks. They have even made masks for children!  Here's Jenny's grandson modeling his.





Normally I spend Mother's Day sewing on  my mom's Featherweight.  This year my mom, and John's as well, spent the day in the most noble of  company.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

An Unmetered Ode to PreCuts


I love PreCuts.  I LOVE them.  Buying fabric is expensive.  Finding a fabric line by a designer might mean hundreds of dollars.  But what if you really love the designer and the fabric line?  Then PreCuts are the answer.  There are Layer Cakes - a stack of forty 10" x 10" fabrics from the same collection - see above left, Chalk & Charcoal by Jennifer Sampou for Robert Kaufman.  There are Charm Packs, a stack of forty 5" squares - see above bottom right, Modern Backgrounds More Paper by Zen Chic.  There are even MiniCharm Packs, forty 2.5" squares.  Hiding in the upper right corner is. Jelly Roll, 42 fabrics that are 2.5" x 42".  I love Janet Clare's aesthetic and her fabric collections. This one is Weather Permitting.  

For last winter's retreat I grabbed my charm packs of red, greys, and blacks, thinking that to make half-square triangle blocks would be some nice simple sewing, a necessaty for retreats.   And typical of returning home from a retreat, I tucked this bundle away.  Late February and early March, as I was beginning to heal from my broken wrist, when standing at a design wall was all I could handle, I got out these blocks and began to play on the design wall. Some of my Quilty friends have made wonderful projects out of HST's!

But this layout wasn't anything I remotely liked.  And sometime in the past few months I began to realize this quilt would be for grandson Jack Mo, now a senior at U of I.  So I had to find something I would like working on and be proud to give.


I then started to play with making blocks from the various half-square triangles.  Very traditional but my eye was liking this much better.  And then the brainstorm struck:  put these blocks on point and think about adding sashing:



I found the perfect background for these blocks, this terrific deep red from the first fabric collection mentioned in this post. Jack's quilt will be 89" x 112" - he's a tall guy so this size will be perfect for him. It is currently in my long-armer's queue.  

All because of these wonderful simple PreCuts.  

Note:  my favorite PreCut enabler is Green Fairy Quilts.  

Friday, May 22, 2020

Sewing Disconnect

I define myself, especially since my retirement from teaching in 2005, as a quilter, a sewist, a sewer.  Sewing is what I do.  Sewing is why we used the entire upstairs space as my studio.  This is where I work daily.  Daily.  DAILY.

For 2 weeks after the February 18 surgery, I had to wear leg pumps full time for two weeks (it's for the blood-clotting disorder I have).  That meant house-lockdown.  In early March I started Occupational Therapy 3 times a week.  I learned I could drive one-handed and would hit the local grocery in the same strip mall as my therapy.  I still couldn't cook, but we did have our grandsons over for dinner on March 17.  And then Illinois went on lockdown March 21.

This sheltering-in-place has not been about the virus for me.  It's been about my wrist and my inability to use two hands.  Having to shelter in my home is a quilter's dream come true - if she can sew.  But I did learn that I could do minor sewing, thanks to a machine with a knee-life and automatic scissors.  One of the first things I did were these kiss blocks a guild sister was collecting for a charity project.  How satisfying to make something!  I also learned I couldn't hand-quilt.  I kept picking up the project only to discover that it just hurt too much.


Being in the studio allows John to do what he wants and explore his music.  When I'm on the first floor, that doesn't happen.   My being in the studio restores balance to the house.  And it's only recently that I've been here for more than an hour or two and that I can hand-quilt for an hour or so.

Someone suggested to me in early March that this might be a good time to explore things I might do instead of sewing.  Uh, no.  Just no.  There may be a point when I can't sew.  I talked with a dear cousin of John's who has lost her ability to do handwork because of Parkinson's.  I'm sad for her - she too is sad but has come to grips with its. Putting eggs into one basket is danger, but...that's what I do.

Daily I am able to do more - in the kitchen, in the studio, in the bathroom.  Even blogging and using two hands? ah.......   slouching towards normalcy.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Happy and Cheery!




I know I'm getting better.  I am in love with my current project.  Since it requires minimal cutting and simple sewing, I can do it.  Throughout the years I've seen various posts/projects using the selvages of fabrics.  They are interesting, tightly bound, and provide info for reordering.  One of my Sew Powerful buddies, Shirley Utz,  posted a picture of making fabric from selvages just I was cutting selvages to make a quilt backing.  So I've been going through my stash - under the guise of reorganizagting - and cutting off the selvages.  This picture shows the 12" blocks jammed up next to one another.  But I think I'll space them out.  To be determined...    I will finish the remaining blocks and then go back to the simpler projects I need to be working on.

I'm sure I'll go back to some whining with tomorrow's post.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Missing Quilt Con











The only ones who felt worse that I did about missing QuiltCon were my Chicago Modern Quilt Guild buddies.  a some of them came to visit after QuiltCon and bought me some goodies.  That rolled-up set is one of the things that I've been petting.  While I was so sad and drugged as QuiltCon began, I kept it together until...












My guild mates posed in Austin with our charity quit.  This picture undid me.

This one had me shedding tears - my quilties at Midway on their way to Austin, February 20.

But here is when I absolutely lost it.  I had been hoping to do a repeat trip to the Salt Lick BBQ outside of Austin.  Melissa, when she arrived in Austin, ordered this at the airport and shipped it here.  When I opened it, I cried.  I cried for the deliciousness that was to be.  I cried for the lovely memory of being their during the first QuiltCon.  I cried for the one-handed and drugged state I was in.
So I've been mourning.  And I'm just about over it!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

What Happened?

Seriously.  How can it be almost the end of May?  I was shoveling snow February 13 and broke my distal radius.  A three-hour plus operation on February 18 fixed it with a place, screws, and internal pins.  For almost 90 days John has done everything from shoe-tying to meal prep and cleanup.

Staying in place?  Absolutely.  But it's been all about the wrist, not about Covid-19.  I've done some minor sewing, thanks to a machine with a knee-lift and automatic scissors.  Mostly I've been sad because I haven't been able to sew.  I missed QuiltCon in  Austin and was very sulky about that.  Because I couldn't sew, I avoided FB and Instagram and quilt magazines.

Now?  I will resume PT as soon as I heal from last week's surgery to remove the pins.  For the first time in three months I can type with 2 hands.  I am seeing a light at the end of this odd tunnel.  And - best progress of all - I have a list of things I want to say.  Maybe I'll try for an entry a day...  Wow, this is the most chipper I've been in 3 months!

February 20, 2020

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

A Finished UFO: A Deconstruction

In trying to make room in my cabinets for piles on the floor, I found this sort of completed quilt. It's from my Jinny Beyer/batik period, probably 2012-ish. Jinny Beyer is a genius with texture, color, and light; I have learned much from her. But then I get cheap about buying kits for patterns. So this quilt is her pattern but from my stash. And I love it. But as I was quilting it, frustration set in. Let me sing this quilt's praises but also point out its issues and what I intend to do.    
I practiced my stippling technique, working with thread color that blended right in.


But since I quit stippling, this quilt still needed quilting.  So I got out my No 5 Milliner's needles and my No 8 Perle cotton

The stippling and machine quilting look great from the front.
But look at the back.  I don't mind the stippling but the tension for my straight-line quilting was obviously off.

So the stippling and hand stitched will live side by side.

Should I take out these icky stitches or just call it finished?  All I know is that its out of the cabinet and looking for an owner.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Baby Quilts: Get Happy! and Two Little Koalas and Bright and Sunny




Baby quilts are one of my favorite things to do.  They are small, fairly easy to quilt, and - most importantly - keep me focused on possibilities of the future. My nephew Chris and his wife are having a little girl pretty soon.  Pink was the color of choice.  Guildmate and current Chicago Modern Quilt Guilt president Laura McDowell Hopper posted this quilt, "Get Happy!" on the We All Sew website.  There's a second Get Happy! quilt in the works for my niece who is having her baby a month later!




Two Koalas, an Elizabeth Hartman pattern, is complete.  I struggled with how to quilt this and finally took a tip from Lady Macbeth:  be bloody, bold, and resolute.  I dropped the feed dogs and free motioned the background.  And I must say it is spectacular.  The wool batting makes the quilting pop.  A word about Elizabeth Hartman patterns:  they are terrific.  I was a bit taken aback when friends with a pregnant daughter in Perth, Australia, asked for a quilt with an animal on it.  I wanted to say, "Wait, I don't do cute."  But then I found this pattern and have fallen in love with the cuteness.  So I guess I do do cute!








Evenings I am working on this beautiful log cabin.

And another baby quilt!  I'm quilting it right now - it will be for Helios's new little sibling.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Three in Process and One Actual Finish!

These peppered shot cottons are so gorgeous.  They will be a special quilt for my little Cristina.  I am finally deciding - I think - to do 12" clams.  This project won't be a quick one...

Cristina's little nephew Helios is getting a new sibling soon.  Helios's baby quilt is pictured here .  His parents seemed to like these fabrics, and I just happen to have more!
This baby quilt for my nephew and his wife just needs binding - I'll do an official post soon.  

Last, every year quilty Beth find a linen calendar for her friends.  Every year I come home and hem this tea towel.  They then are mounted on the kitchen door.  I was a bit slow on the draw this year, and John had to ask me twice to get this done.  I think he really likes this year's calendar.  I do, too.