Thursday, July 22, 2021

Makers Gotta Make

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe (not really - she lived in a quilting studio)

She had so many children she didn't know what to do.  (Well, not children.  Just quilts.  And more quilts.  And then even more quilts.)

In preparing for a move out of our current house, we took down ALL the quilts.  And I'm not sure we will rehang them.  Mostly because I keep making more quilts.  So I am destashing my quilts.  If you see a wall hanging or a quilt you would like in your house, make a donation to Sew Powerful and the quilt is yours.  Ready?  Here goes....

Wintersection.  34" x 32" x 42"  This is my only piece which doesn't have four 90 degree angles.  

SOLD to Brenda Rowley Grey, Ann Arbor.   Needle-turned appliqué on Yoshiko Jinzenji fabric with sashiko stitching.  43" x 44"

                      SOLD to Carol Conway             CandyLand.  32" x 48"

                SOLD to Linda Bushkofsy.        CityScape.   39" x 41" Hand-quilted on peppered shot cottons

                                               Relative Moons.  37" x 48"

            SOLD to Catrina Dorsey        Study in Black, Gold, Grey, and Silver. 88" x 88"

     SOLD  to Jennifer Benoit Bryan Glamorous Clamshells. 88" x 88"  Hand-quilted peppered shot cottons

        SOLD to Carol Conway.  Elliptical Drunkard's Path. 72" x 70". Hand-quilted peppered shot cottons


                            Circles in Squares.  Hand-quilted. 88" x 88". see back of quilt below

                          Study in Blacks and Whites. 95" x 114". Half-square triangles set on point.

 SOLD  to Chris Hicks.    Homage to 8 1/2 " x 11" with text prints.  74" x 61"

              SOLD to Beth Kovacic.   Piano Tuner's Daughter.  58" x 70" Forks made by members of my 
                                                           #ChiModBee. Hand-quilted

                                                      Back of Piano Tuner's Daughter

                                                        Christmas Bargello.  40" x 46"

                           A wonderfully odd napping quilt - 60" x 75" - with lots of hand-quilting.

             SOLD  to Carla Ray Hensen           Experiment in source of light.  38" x 32"

                   SOLD to Paula Thompson.   Storm at Sea - 35" x 44", couching with decorative yarns

                                        SOLD  to Carla Ray Hensen  Scrappy String Piecing, 30" x 46"

Not posted here but on Instragram are Interwoven (sold to Julia Wylie Bryant) and Interwoven Scraps (sold to Jennifer Peters, Ann Arbor.)  

Thanks to my husband and neighbor Sam for their quilt holding!

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Sewing to keep calm…

 Moving is stressful.  Leaving a house after 35 years is stressful.  The actual moving process is stressful.  Lining up proper documentation is stressful.  None of this is distress - it’s all eustress.  Nevertheless it’s stress.  So of course I have to sew.

The fabrics from Ben's quilt - Japanese linen canvas - do not play well with other cottons, so these are the leftovers.  This Trip around the World pattern is one of my favorites and one I do on automatic pilot.  It’s hard to see the middle navy border next to the brown, but you work with what you have, right? 

I started this yesterday with a group of fabrics that belong together, leftover from other projects.  I’ll have to see what I have left for the borders.  Normally these small blocks are made from 5.5” strips.  But this quilt will be smaller.  I was working with fat quarters and had to drop down to 5” strips.

The top quilt is on the basting tables.  And I’ll put borders in this today.  

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Announcing a Really Big Adventure for the Studio - And for us...!

 After 35 years in this stucco bungalow in LaGrange and 15 years in this lovely studio, we are moving.  We bought a condo in OakBrook (we thought it was in Westmont) and this house is on the market as of this afternoon.  The past few weeks have been busy, but of course I've been sewing with a deep appreciation of what I've had for the past years.  These final days in this studio are sweet ones.

I have always loved log cabins, and this bundle of Japanese canvas linens seems perfect for this block.  I’m making this quilt for grandson Ben.  I think I may want to hand quilt it.  Since I have no deadline with this quilt, it can just stay all basted and wait for the winter weather.  I hope our nee place is as cold as this house - perfect for winter quilting.  This is not what John is hoping for at all.

Niece Laura is having her fifth baby and her first boy this fall.  That’s who this quilt is for.  That crooked vertical line represents a the path this little guy is going to have to walk among his 4 sisters!  His oldest sister will be a sophomore in hs.  That’s the same age I was when my little brother Doug was born!  I may have to baste this one with actual thread since all my pins are in other projects.  I’d like to have this hand quilted by September, but who knows?  I think things might get busy…

Saturday, June 12, 2021

A Most Special Baby Quilt


I know, I know. All babies are special.  But this baby really is.  Cristina learned to quilt with me when she was in 7th grade.  She is now 30 and having her first baby.  Significant facts:

1.  In exchange for studio space above her parents' garage when we were popping the top of our house, I gave Cris 40 of her 50 behind-the-wheel hours.

2.  Sunday afternoons when she was in high school she would come here to work on essays.  That's where she learned some terrific vocabulary while John was watching the Bears.  

3. She earned a degree in Fine Art at Iowa State and has a certificate in Graphic Design from College of DuPage. 

4.  She met and married Joe.  I wasn't sure he was good enough for her.  One night John and I along with Cristina and Joe went to a Moth story-telling competition at which we were judges.  That night changed my mind.  I love him ALMOST as much as I love Cristina.

5.  Cristina started a new job - art director at FCB Global, and Joe is in nursing school at Rush.  

6.  Their first child, a boy, is coming soon!

I don't normally hand-quilt baby quilts because I'm not sure how the stitches will hold up over time, especially for a baby quilt to be used the way it should be.  But I just had to quilt this with unorganized straight lines.  The backing is a wonderful piece of Art Gallery cotton (think silky smooth) that wasn't quite big enough.  It is batted with wool.

And how does one wrap a baby quilt?  Well, one simply makes a matching tote bag with zippered pockets to hold little baby things!

           Cristina and Joe's baby will achieve Dickensian status in no time by being a remarkable boy.  In fact, I'm sure he already is remarkable!

Cristina's mom requested a book, even one gently used.  But I couldn't just settle on one book.  The upper left hand corner book is a series of short Turkish tales/parables.  I think they are perfect reading for the little guy right now.  "The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt" is whimsical and pretty and nails the nature of quilts. "Woodland Christmas" is a charming little pop-up book with hidden images.  And of course Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, a great little rhythmical ABC book.  

I could never decide whether Cristina was an honorary daughter, granddaughter, niece, sister, cousin, or friend.  I'm just happy to know her and excited for this new Mom chapter of her life.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Procrastination Sewing: A Kimono

 After 35 years in our house and 15 years in my fabulous studio, we are getting ready to move.  The market for selling is hot.  And the market for buying is even hotter.  As soon as we can identify a place we both want to bid on, we will list our house.  And we are almost ready to go!  Between the pandemic and being in the studio for 15 years, there has been a lot to sort through.  I will freely admit to tossing a couple of UFO’s - the kind that fall into the “What was I thinking?” category.  This Swedish Death Cleaning approach has been very cathartic!

I was surprised and happy to come across three yards of a 54” knit by Sara Lawson from her Jungle Avenue line for Art Gallery Fabrics.   This was from maybe 12 years ago.  What was I thinking? An outfit? (It’s entirely appropriate to roll your eyes here…)   I just couldn’t put this fabric into a Goodwill bag.  And my skills at working with knits have never been good.  But…  I found a pretty simple pattern for a kimono of sorts.  Fold the fabric in half, cut our the sides, cut up the middle of one side along with a neck hole.  I found some black bias tape which is used to edge the center seam and neckline.  And then I turned that under and top stitched.

I did a similar thing on the sleeves and on the hem with some grey peppered shot cotton.  After washing it, the hem was kind of kershimmelled.  So I quilted it!  Now it’s fine.  And then I remembered I would need a loop for hanging this on the back of bathroom door.  And a pocket!  Of course I need a pocket.  So I added one of those.  

I got happily lost in this project because I wasn’t obsessing over how much fsbric I have and all the projects I want to do and how small my new sewing space will be wherever we move to. And should we ever have chilly mornings again, I’m all set.   

The hanging hook

The quilted hem

Monday, May 10, 2021

Piano Tuner's Daughter: The Most Satisfying Project Ever

Piano Tuner's Daughter - 58" x 71"

Part 1:  When I was little, my parents lived at 64th and Stewart.  My dad tuned factory pianos for the Kimball Piano Factory at 26th and California.  But when they bought their house in Western Springs in 1956, my dad became an independent piano tuner working with my mom, who made his appointments and kept his books.  My dad was a musician, an accordionist/entertainer who knew he would always have to supplement his income with tuning.  As he build his tuning business, his regular gig was at the Edgewater Beach Hotel, a drive he made from Western Springs 6 days a week.  Eventually, with the help from agents, he was able to cut back from tuning and focus on gigs.  But the tunings were his financial ace.  Just as I would open his accordion case and sniff how horrible it smelled of smoke, I would look at his tuning case and sometimes play with his tuning fork.  

 Part 2: I love my Chicago Modern Quilt Guild and always want to be a team player for whatever activities suggested.  Although I am an independent sewist, the group activities I've been involved in have always been fun and taught me things.  With this spirit I joined a quilting bee, headed by Bill Keller @kiltedquilter67 .  There are 9 of us in this bee - Bill, Amy Struckmeyer, Debbie Pine, Natalie Holtz, Jenny Grover, Laura Hartrich, Adamandia Kapsalis, Jennifer Quick, and me.  We have taken turns asking bee mates to make blocks for one another.  Adamandia has finished hers, and its' wonderful.  Check out the hashtag #chimodbee for examples of blocks and completed projects.  

I asked bee mates for forks  5.5" or 10.5" wide, and any length, with dark forks and a low volume background.

I was very happy with what I received although a couple of mates tested me.  Amy gave me that big green fork (which I now love), and Laura gave me a couple of forks that were 2.5" wide.  I also love those.  The idea for this quilt came from Heather Pregger @heapregger who has a whole series of tuning fork quilts.  I understand why - its a great motif.  

I need a better picture, but the last thing I want to say is that I faced this quilt, rather than to bind it.  The front design just runs right off the edges without a binding to interfere with that line.  I do like this facing technique that I used - 

Such a fun and meaningful project!  Thanks, Bill and bee mates! 

Part IV:  I love this quilt because it makes me think of my dad and his work ethic.  I'm amazed that he and Mom were able to pay for half of my college.  I still borrowed a sizable amount and didn't pay it all back until I was 32.   After I had taught for a year, my dad helped me with my taxes.  I made more money my first year teaching than my dad did.  So this quilt reminds me of my parents' financial brilliance as well as their work ethic.  Such a good visual memory.  

Sunday, May 2, 2021

An odd week with very little studio sewing

 John was in the hospital for 4 days with internal bleeding,  Our trusty GI's were on the case, gave him blood, cleaned him out, and all is well.  Amazing place - LaGrange Hospital!  and of course this week was all about John rather than the studio.  I've been trying to get to some blocks for a really special baby quilt, and here are the blocks.  Tomorrow I'll play around with layout.  Each block is 14"x18"   I'm thinking I may put each block into an offset square.  But that's for tomorrow. 

During the week I was thankful that I have a to-go quilt kit packed.  I made 35 12" blocks of mostly selvege edges and have each one basted with wool batting and a backing.  So these five blocks are what I did in the hospital.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Catching up on this, that, and the other

 My tuning fork quilt is coming along nicely with some horizontal quilting and quilting in the bigger forks.  Once it's finished, I plan to face this rather than bind it.  It will be my first time for facing.

In the studio I've been working on bringing things to completion.  This "Get Happy!" quilt for my doctor which has been finished since late March now has a label and is wrapped.  I just need now to get it over to her office.

But mostly the studio has been all about purses - Sew Powerful.  I'm working on a PowerPoint for my guild about the actual construction of these purses and have been doing a lot of photographing for step-outs.

I like to group my purses by straps and flaps.  And then I can fill in the rest - body, lining, and pockets.

Here's are all the parts for five purses.  From the bottom up: lining, front body, and back body,  These purses may only be 7" x 9", but there are several pieces to the pattern, most of which are interfaced.

These purses are based on flaps made from scraps of a project for a guild mate.  Rather than try to organize the leftover strips, I just improved them together.  Along with an orange body, some fun living, and a blue strap, I think these are great.  We pursemakers hear over and over that the girls in Zambia love orange.  

But before mailing, each purse needs a note to the young girl.  In exchange for the purse which contains underwear, reusable pads, and soap, girls pledge to stay in school and do their best.  In addition to hearing that the young ladies love orange, we also hear how much they treasure these cards.  The cards are my least favorite part of the process.  But I'm learning to use graphics and washi tape to make them attractive.  

I'm also learning to keep my messages short and sweet.  All the girls read and speak English, but they do no read cursive.  So this is a task I have to take my time with. 

Since I'm so eager to get this batch posted to Washington state, I'l get them done very soon,

Now I'm getting back to a baby quilt that's in process and solidifying a plan for the youngest grandson's (he's 19 - it'll be his 3rd) quilt.  

Saturday, April 17, 2021

An Early and Deep Grief


In 1991 I was transferred from Hyde Park High School to Kennedy High School - a welcome change since Kennedy was a much shorter commute.  But it was the first time I ever had white and Latinx students - and this led me to another MA, this one in Multicultural Eduction.  But as is true with every group of students I have ever had, I connected deeply with several despite the change in demographics.  

In order to teach Jane Eyre, which was part of the Brit Lit curriculum with juniors, I piloted a unit using Warrior Woman (Kingston), Caged Bird (Angelou),  Learning Tree (Parks), House on Mango Street - (Cisneros)  and Lakota Woman (Mary Ellen Brave Bird) as small group reading before we all read Jane Eyre.  The culminating activity was for each student to examine the three strongest influences on their personality development, making references to our readings.   I recall this unit being successful, and the juniors did some great introspection based on issues that come up in these coming-of-age novels.  

Shortly after the unit was completed, one of the counselors came to our classroom to make an announcement to us all.  One of our classsmates died the night before in a horrible choking incident at North Riverside Mall.  Jennifer worked at Arby's and was taking a break.  She was eating and started to choke and ran to the bathroom.  It was there she died.  Jennifer had a delightful sense of humor, a great work ethic, perfect attendance - and I loved her.  Her funeral was the first eulogy I ever delivered.  Jen's essay for this unit was a tribute to her parents, her faith, and - I don't remember the third point.  I graded this after her death, and the only thing I could do was give it to her parents.  

About six weeks later I was at an in-service at Kenwood High School and could not stop the tears.  Delayed grief?  Yes.  When I got home, I hit my fabrics.  And this is what I created.  The spot of brightness is Jennifer.  I delivered this to her mom - many tears were shed.  

I just came across this Polaroid, which is why the quality of this picture is so poor.  What a sad memory of  good grief.