Friday, October 23, 2020

My Guest Appearance on the Sew Powerful Podcast

In 2015 I made a couple of Sew Powerful purses.  The mission of resonated with me then and has continued to impress and inspire me.  The Sew Powerful initiative focuses on menstrual hygiene to promote the education of junior high girls in Lusaka, Zambia.  This initiative is community-driven and also features a sewing cooperative, a farming effort, and a soap initiative.  

These purses are very specific, and the pattern confused me - and I'm an experienced bag maker!  I made a couple in 2015.  I made some more in 2016.  And then by 2017 I  was cranking these purses out by the batch.  My commitment has grown over the years with both financial support and well as making purses and writing notes that go in each purse.  I think I have made more than 150 but under 200.  Despite the 2020 broken bones, I have done 31 and plan to do another set of 31 in December - a purse a day.  

In March 2019 I worked at the Sew Powerful booth, looking for purse makers, and met Jason and Cinnamon Miles (pictured here with Indianapolis purselike Kathleen Broadfoot.  Meeting Jason and Cinnamon has deepened my respect for them and for Sew Powerful.

There is a wonderfully supportive Facebook Group of Sew Powerful Purse Makers - Sew Powerful Purse  Project.  This group is international and features so many creative sewists.  We try hard not to compare ourselves to one another. We take turns at being prolific and encouraging.  And get this:  no one mentions politics!  

On this Facebook group name recognition happens - I'll see the same names again and again. And we purse makers kind of get to know one another.  This week I was a guest on the Sew Powerful weekly podcast, hosted by Jan Cancila.  The Sew Powerful podcast can be found of almost all podcast platforms.  Each is 30 minutes long and so interesting.  The first three, which were in June 2020, feature Jason and Cinnamon and the short history of Sew Powerful.  Cinnamon is a pattern designer for doll clothes, and the Sew Powerful purse is actually an adaptation of a purse for the American Girl dolls.  These podcasts are a joy to listen to - information, uplifting, and usually tear-jerking.  Jan made the interview process easy, and we discovered so many similarities in our lives - graduated from high school in the same year, went to small colleges, busier in retirement than ever, and utterly devoted to Sew Powerful.  


These Sew Powerful books are available at Amazon.  There is a second edition of We Are Sew Powerful, but I cannot locate it.  See the end of this post for my story which appears in it;

A funny thing happened during my interview with Jan as she focused on other charitable sewing efforts I've been involved in:  it became a history of my involvement with my Chicago Modern Quilt Guilt.  Jan wanted to know about the Mors bags and the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the Road Home quilts, the Teen Living quilts, zippered pouches for Sarah's Inn, and others.  And although I knew this already, it is so obvious that this guild has changed my life and my guild friends are among the most valuable.  

The most embarrassing fact revealed in the podcast I did was that I actually took a sewing machine to college with me.  That was the 60's for you!  Sewing is an integral part of my life, and I'm proud of this.  



(from the 2nd edition of We Are Soo Powerful)

So Fiddly but Perhaps Worth It

Donna Moscinski

Chicago, IL

After 34 years of teaching high school English in Chicago Public Schools, I embraced retirement at 55. In these past 15 years, I have been thrilled to describe myself as a quilter. And that is still the title I use to define myself.

But I knew back in 2005 that quilting alone wasn’t going to satisfy me. I needed to find charitable outlets for my sewing. The first project I embraced was Mors bags. These are simple, pretty reusable fabric grocery bags. Give people a Mors Bag and ask them to use it instead of accepting a plastic bag from the store. Pretty soon everyone in my family, all of my friends, my doctors, and their staffs, and even random strangers had at least one Mors bag.

Every year my guild, The Chicago Modern Quilt Guild, has a designated charity— Mors bags for the Chicago Greater Food Depository, quilts for the children of homeless women through Project NightNight, toiletry bags for victims of domestic violence through Sarah’s Home, quilts for teens graduating from foster care to independent living through Teen Living, quilts for veterans through the Road Home Project. Each project is so satisfying. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, an honored poet from Ohio, has said:

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.

Sew Powerful, through Jason and Cinnamon Miles, has made the girls in the Ngombe compound in Lusaka, Zambia, within my reach. I first learned about Sew Powerful through my quilter buddy Wayne, the same guy who started me in on Mors bags. Wayne learned of Sew Powerful and decided he didn’t want to do it but perhaps I might. Why, yes, I was highly interested and had flashbacks to my early teenage years and coping with “womanhood.” I vividly remembered the horrors of trying to get through a school day in a large high school without a visible accident. And this is a first-world country! My heart aches for those who cannot maintain normalcy during menstruation.

I made my first Sew Powerful purse in late 2015 and whined about every single step. I concluded it might just be easier to send money to Sew Powerful. But I stuck with it and did nine by the February 2016 deadline. And then? Hmm, I just took a break. What ended my break was a Facebook sew-a-long hosted by Louise Ambrosi from the UK in the summer of 2016. Since then, I have been cranking out purses, doing what I can when I can, and sharing the Sew Powerful mission.

We live in such uneasy and violent times, and I have never been more politically distressed. My solace is my faith and my sewing. This is a perfect time for me to be working on purses for Sew Powerful. We all sleep under the same stars.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

On Its Way to Oregon

 


Look how nicely this quilt turned out!  Quilty Eileen made a quilt from this pattern years ago - it's a clever way to make hexies without using Y seams.  I had a Layer Cake of the Moda Thrive fabrics and think it creates a pretty palette.  I didn't have quite enough but was able to fill with with fabrics from my stash.  As I made this quilt top, I loved it.  But then I fell out of love.  You know, one of those "Somebody's gonna love this quilt - it just won't be me."  

Because I no longer loved the quilt top, I wasn't going to bat it with wool. I used the Warm and Natural batting, perfectly fine - its just heavy.  I even tried to hand quilt it - after one vertical zig zag row I knew that was wrong.  So then I tried to machine-quilt the zig zag lines. Again, wrong.  So I just put it away.  

Fellow guild mate Susan Elster-Jones knows people in Oregon who lost everything in the September fires and put out a call for quilts.  And I volunteered this one.  Just simple straight-line quilting.  And check out the backing - I love it.

 That Susan is collecting and shipping quilts is so fabulous. I'm happy that this quilt will find an appreciative home.  Between finishing this quilt and shipping off 32 purses to Sew Powerful, I feel like I've removed two monkeys from my back.  On to a few more masks and then ? - see the previous post!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Project Dreams


I’m in the best space - purses are done for the time being, I just made a pile of masks, the studio is clean, I’m finishing a hand project and happy to be starting a new one, and I have several projects I’m excited to start.  






        This pattern caught my eye.  It’s similar to Interwoven, one that I made last year.  This pattern uses 2.5” strips instead of 1.5” strips.  It ought to go together nicely.  Below are the fabrics I want to use



The above jelly rolls are going to be a chevron quilt.  Eileen gave me the idea and shared her Mr. Domestic chevron design.  And then I found the picture here.  This design spreads the chevrons out, and I think that’s what I want.
This backpack design intrigues me.  I don’t need another backpack, but they are great for sewing that demands a lot of concentration, a perfect diversion from the current political scene.  I’m appalled by Trump and his GOP Enablers. See?  time for a back pack.

Last - and this is sad - I have a pattern for a Retreat Bag.  Even though there are no retreats scheduled.  But a girl can dream, right?

As I’ve said before, I have never been personally happier and never more unhappy politically.  These days leading up to the election will be very productive for me. 


Monday, September 28, 2020

Scrap Control


 Ok, ok - this doesn’t look horrible.  However, there’s a big basket of scraps in my bathroom and a huge pile that didn’t even make it into any of these containers.   In preparation for a scrap workshop last week, I started going through scraps, some of which are from the late 80’s.  I ironed them,  cut them into useable strips,     and sorted into reds, oranges, yellows, greens, teals, blues, indigo-violets, whites, grey, blacks, and a pile of wacko - fabrics that don’t fit into any of the above.  







My sorting table looked something like this, with one group crashing into another.  But the realization of what to do with this scrappy hoard hit me.  How can I get these out of the way and still honor all the work I did to sort and organize.  






I found a 10-drawer rolling cart which slide-out drawers.  It is perfect for all the smaller bits.  The larger bits are folded and in two baskets, arranged so I can see everything at a glance.  






The Zoom workshop was lead by Carole Lyles Shaw.  Although she is a maximalist and my aesthetic tends  more towards Minimalism, I was able to work with her instructions and pattern by staying monochromatic.  These blocks are big, 26” x 21”. I started with orange because that’s where my stash is weakest.  Then I moved to black and white.  While I was sorting I realized I had a whole bunch of fabric with gold in them.  So that was my third block.  I’m not sure what I will do with these blocks, and I do intend to make more.  True confession: I realized I had a lot of browns and no drawer for them.  So they are at the bottom of the new scrap basket I’m starting!

Friday, September 18, 2020

A Completed Quilt

 


It’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to say or write these words.  This bed-size quilt is almost a square and was tailor-made for grandson #4.  His bedroom is often too hot, so this quilt is as lightweight as I could get it.  There’s a blue Art Gallery backing, important because the feel is so smooth.  You can see the quilting is simple.  I tried my hand at outdoor photography - that I was able to throw this quilt around by myself is huge.  



Thanks to Holly, Melissa, and Sarah S for the 10 fat quarters that make up this quilt.  Thanks to non-quilty friend Cecilia who CUT THE FABRIC for the sashing and black shadows - back in the spring I could sew but couldn’t do any cutting or use scissors.  So I do take enormous pleasure is bringing this quilt to completion.  And of course credit to my physical therapists. It’s good and almost easy to work on a project when you are crazy about the recipient!


Saturday, September 12, 2020

19 Years after 9/11


So hard to believe that 9/11 was nineteen years ago.  

I still haven't gotten started on the notecards for each purse, but I do have a plan! 

And I have been working in the studio happily,  Having both hands and arms is huge!  I cleaned up from all the purses and started in on organizing and going through scraps. 

I'm quilting by machine a grandson's quilt, and it feels good to machine quilt.  He wants a light weight quilt.  So, Mountain Mist poly batt and an Art Gallery backing.  I love the texture of this quilt.  
My Chicago MQG is doing a charity quilt for QuiltCon 2021 based on Chicago music.  Below is my block.  Guess whose music I chose?  



Reorganizing and cleaning the studio after the 31 purses was productive.  And to further the carthasis, I started going through all my scraps - ironing, cutting most into 2.5" strips, sorting by color, and making one wacko pile.
                                




 My scraps have scraps.  Some of my scraps are 20 years old.  Some of my scraps I look at and still love and remember exactly what I did with them.  Quilters are like that.  This final picture has things organized on a table, but that's not a great permanent storage place.  I'm doing a workshop in a week about scraps and improv quilting.  I will have a lot to choose from.  

The studio?  A happy and productive place.  And yes, I'm working on those notecards!

Monday, August 31, 2020

Mission Accomplished

      The last purses for this month are finished!  I bought this fabric for a tote that never got made, and it's perfect for these purses. Now? Time to clean the studio and work on some quilts.  But I will leave the design wall the way it is for a few more days.  It's just too thought-provoking to think about some young adolescent girl in Zambia receiving one of the Sew Powerful purses - stocked with panties, reusable pads and soap - and her being uplifted by it all, especially by the encouragement notes we write and put into each purse.  Notes are up next...

Lined up along the bottom of the design wall below are six purses that were packed to go to Austin with me for QuiltCon and the Sew Powerful booth.  But then...the February wrist thing...so these six will be a part of the delivery well ahead of Sew Powerful Unboxing Day.

 It's been a good and productive month.   But now onto the notes.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Five Purple Sister/Purses


                                             Big graphic prints work well for the flaps of these cross-body bags.  And under each flap there's a surprise fabric,  And in each purse there's a surprise pocket.

The past of this process that slows me down are the notecards that go into each purse.  We purse makers hear that the girls treasure these cards as much as the purses and the contents.  That puts a special pressure on the notecards.

So I am working my way through, thanks to some fellow purse makers in the Sew Powerful Facebook page, creating some meaningful cards.  More on that later...



 

I included this last picture just to give an idea that these purses don't just spring up.  There are a lot of parts, most of which are interfaced.  These truly are a labor of love, and those who make them know their time is well-spent.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

August 17 and right on my purse target!

 After months of limited sewing, it feels so good to be productive.  July for the past couple of years has been a purse a day.  But this year I needed to wait until August.  So far, so good.  The latest set of five features this whimsical yet motivational fabric “I can and I will.” 

                              And here's m progress so far.  I love my design wall as it fills up.  
                                                    Next up?  Purples and Rainbow colors.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Finding my Purse Mojo

 




                          Purse Mojo is back.  But Blogger is weird.  hmmmm