Thursday, October 19, 2017

Scraps and Substrates

Do you know this picture that hangs at the Art Institute - Chicago?  It is That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do (The Door) by Ivan Albright.  It was in the World Literature book I taught from for many years, and it has intrigued me.  It was in the Human Nature and Justice portion of the book. 

I should be working on commissioned projects.  Yet, today I want to play with my scraps.  My scraps are having scraps.  And honestly?  Many of my scraps are from fabrics that I just love. 

Victoria Finlay Wolfe wrote a book Fifteen Minutes of Play and suggested just playing with fabrics in an improv manner daily or when blocked.  I did this yesterday when I finished the top of the t-shirt quilt I'm working on . 

I picked out all my grey, black and white bits from the current scraps pile.  And then I remembered to take the lid off this "scrap pile" and of course found more bits.  And then I remembered the bin of grey, black, white and red fabrics for one of my many unfinished projects.   And now I'm playing. 

I am not working on the several almost finished Tudor bags.  I am not working on the 4 cute little RunAround bags due Thanksgiving.  I am not working on the t-shirt quilt (truly I'm waiting for its owner to make a decision about the outer border).  I am not working on the Sloan bag which I am really eager to start. 

Before I get back to work, I must discuss substrates, a word I never used or heard in connection to sewing/quilting until Sunday, when three guildsters and I did a little presentation on bag-making.  Betty Lou from North Texas, this next part is for you!

It's frustrating to spend time making something out of quilting cottons, knowing that cottons don't last forever.  Face it, we aren't working with concrete or wood.  But quilts, even ones that are used a lot, last fairly long because the layers - the top, batting, and backing -  give strength.  Apply this same principal to bag making.  The longer you want something to last, the more you need to pay attention to the substrate(s) used.  Here are my two favorite substrates for bag-making:

Shape Flex 101, a fusible midweight interfacing.  It comes in white AND black.

My 60" x  I-dion't-know-how-many-yards of Soft and Stable.  Think thin foam that you can sew and quilt on.

The purse I carry daily and my matching travel bag are holding up beautifully.  I interfaced each purse/bag piece with ShapeFlex 101 and then quilted it onto Soft and Stable.  And here's the result:

For simple bags, like Morsbags, the only part I will use a "substate" on are the handles, if I make them.  More and more, I am using cotton webbing/strapping for the handles.  My husband will take one and jam it into his back pocket before he walks to Trader Joe's.  In fact, for him, I will make Mors bag out of a batik, because it's more tightly woven than most others cottons, and not even line it.  Perfect for jamming into a pocket. 

To get back to "That Which I Should Have Done But Did Not Do", when I am stuck on a project or when I'm not sure which of the several projects in front of me to work on, I will often make a Mors bag, just because I know in 45 minutes I will have something that is completed.

For now, I'm going back to scraps!  check out the last picture for the direction my scraps are headed in.

Scraps on the table

Scraps on the work table

Scraps on top of the scrap "basket"

The inside of the scrap "basket"

T-shirt Quilt waiting for a border decision

12.5" blocks

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday's Projects

Travel Agent's T-shirt Quilt in process -
Four Tudors almost completed + two finished ones, three of them sold, and one for Wayne's daughter!

Four RunArounds will come from these fabrics. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Special Month - part 2

Last year I learned that the average age of  Nobel winner is 67.  A year ago that seemed such an optimistic fact.  Well, today I am 68.  So it goes.  No prize for me.  We are in San Francisco and coming home tomorrow.  We celebrated John's 78th birthday Thursday in northern California.  We may not be Nobel winners, but we are keenly aware that every day is big prize.  We are so thankful for our health and our mental acuity  ***knocking wood*** 

I'm doing a short demo on bag making at my guild meeting next Sunday.  And then I am making a Sloan Bag, one of my favorite patterns, for a friend.  She has chosen the feature fabric on the left of the above picture.  And then?  Back to SewPowerful purses.  I only sent in 6 for the October deadline.  The next deadline in February.  I hope to certainly double and perhaps triple that number. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Significant Month

 I'm about to have a 10-year studio anniversary.  As my studio was being constructed, my college roommate Dodie was dying.  The day of her memorial service in December 2016 was the first day that I was able to shower in the studio bathroom.  And I started my blog in January 2017 - those early blog entries were often about Dodie.  And almost10 years later?  I'm still blogging about her.

Dodie had three children - Mani and twins Paul and Virginia.  I watched these three grow. I made quilts for their high school graduations.  After Dodie died, Mani and Virginia gave me all of Dodie's flannel nightgowns, and I made quilts for the three grandchildren.  Then I made a quilt for Virginia.  And then a quilt for Mani.  But never for Paul.  So this quilt?  It's being mailed to Portland, OR, where he lives. 
Years ago there was a quilt exhibit in Indianapolis, and Dodie invited me down and suggested we go to it.  After being there about 30 minutes, she said she couldn't look at one more quilt because they were making her dizzy and nauseous.   This quilt back?  It has that effect.  I understand exactly what Dodie meant then and thought of her as I was creating this quilt backing. 

Grief is a process, and I am still grieving Dodie.  That's true of grief.  Oddly enough, it's a life-long process.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Past Week in Pictures

The bag bug has hit:  a Mors bag  and an Arabesque
Another Mors bag honoring a friend from Jordan
Several piles of Tudor bags in various stages of construction
The quilt I gave my sister - here it is in situ
Quilting a 70" by 70" black and white quilt...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Natalie's Quilt - Finally...

Natalie, a hs senior, showed me her newly-painted bedroom in July.  She chose two soft shades of grey and purple and gave me permission to do whatever I wanted as long as the new quilt had the texture of her old quilt, which I made for her when she was 5.   She sleeps with it every night.  At that time of my quilting, I was batting everything with Warm And Natural.  So that's what I batted this quilt with. 

I'm not quite sure why I went asymmetrical - there is nothing asymmetrical about Natalie.  She's very smart, very sociable, very very pretty, and very hard working.  It's a joy to create and work on a quilt for someone I love so much.  I do hope she understands that this new quilt, backed in the softest white cotton, will need to be washed at least a dozen times before it even begins to feel like her old quilt.  I have washed this new one once and just love the texture.

The quilting is simple with (mostly) straight lines.  This new quilt is 74" x 90".  The background fabric is Basic Grey by Moda, maps white.  There's a very quiet design that is just perfect for this quilt.  Here's a close-up of it.


Natalie turned 17 on August 8 - I thought maybe this quilt might be a birthday present. Then I thought, "Maybe it can be her back to school quilt!" And obviously that didn't happen. So, Happy September, Natalie! The next quilt in queue is for her big sister Nikki, a junior at IU. Nikki wants a quilt inspired by the NYC skyline. Hmmmm, ok - officially thinking about it!

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.