Friday, December 21, 2007

Holiday Table

Last spring I blogged about how I couldn't do what I do if it weren't for John. Look at this holiday table that he just set - it's beautiful! Tonight John's sister Chris and her husband are coming for dinner - it's Chris's last day of school and the beginning of her Winter Vacation. Joining us are Laurel and Richard from Western Springs. They gave us some 25th Anniversary tchochkes, I think as a lark. But here's the real lark. John likes using them, and I am beginning to think they are pretty. Uh oh, what's happening here?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Quilts, Death, and Math

My college buddy Dodie - Dora Mae Hansen Wallace - died December, 17, 2006 after a 2-year battle with lung cancer. She was 57. I turned 58 in October and thought, "Dodie never got to see this age - how blessed am I." This blog opened with thoughts of Dodie, and here it is a year later.

In September 2005 I was with Dodie for a long week's worth of treatment and took a hand project with me. I made tumbling blocks which then turned into a quilt for Dodie. She had the quilt hung in the Anderson entryway, and it looked fabulous there. Furman recently told me that he took it down and has been using it, which pleases me immensely. I used a lot of neutral tumbling blocks to calm the effect of the quilt down. And I have a lot of beautiful tumbling blocks leftovers. Teaching the Reversible Quilt process (Quilt-As-You-Go) is something I love doing, and I'm always creating new sample pieces.

So, using the Tumbling Blocks and the Reversible Technique, I began to play. And there are no directions for this project. I do quite nicely right angles; most quilters do. But these tumbling blocks are 60 degree angles. I figured a way to join these blocks so I could use straight diagonal seams to connect the rows, and the resulting shape is an arrow. But really, an arrow-shaped quilt? I don't think so.

With my limited math skills, I have cut a top, batting, and backing the width of the quilt (37") by the height of the arrow tip (11"). As soon as I quilt this section, then I will cut it into 3 pieces that I'm hoping will fill in the top of the arrow as well as that bottom portion. It ought to work!

To honor Dodie's life and commemorate the end of this first year, her daughter Virginia and I are going to the Red Light on West Randolph and having the tasting menu - Dodie would have approved. I think Gin and I are both looking forward to this celebration in an odd sort of way.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Pillow Gift

There are some wonderful leftovers from Cecilia's new bed quilt. including the fabric used for the border. And her bedroom is the perfect backdrop for decorator pillows. I think there will be some pillows yet-to-come. Here is the first, just in time for Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Fun in the Land o'Quilts

I found some pretty cute presents for my quilting friends - Susan, Midge, and Terry. And it's a project. They make mini-quilts which are wrapped around a big cup and sealed in plastic. Terry couldn't come over and play today, but Susan and Midge did. And of course I bought myself one, too. It took us about 2 hours, and it was fun to see how each of us work. Susan has suggested making seasonal mini-quilts and then swapping them out. Hmmm...

Monday, December 3, 2007

Perfecting the Pillsbury Dough Boy Look

I have always known how to make clothes, but that has held no interest for me - probably because of my not-so-great body shape. Quilting has been so perfect because there's no need to fit flat fabric to curves and bumps. Still, I cannot resist doing what so many other quilters have done: making quilted clothing.

Neighbor Susan and I took a class two years ago and made fabulous jackets. While she has worn hers alot, I have just recently started wearing mine (thanks to the latest 10-pound drop at WW). Still, I always feel like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Picture Ralphie's little brother from "The Christmas Story" when he has on his snow suit, falls, and really can't get up.

Despite this feeling, I have forged ahead and made another quilted jacket, pictured here. I think the colors and pattern are so striking. It was foundation-pieced onto a cut-apart sweatshirt. My dream is to have a wardrobe of black slacks and black t-shirts and a variety of fabulous jackets to wear over them.

The image here is the sheet of fabric I made from various fabric strips.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Burst of Energy

The past three years of quilting have developed a rhythm, which isn't quite cyclical but certainly repetitive. I'm coming out of a busy time that's been punctuated by holidays and vacations. ADD quilting periods are followed by those wonderful times when several projects get completed within the same week. And that sense of completion allows me then to concentrate on a project I've been putting off. And then? start those things I've been wanting to start. The Foundation-Pieced Reversible Quilt is a model for a workshop at SusanMarie's in February. The Attic Windows pattern on the front and the lovely Asian purples on the back have made this one of my artier quilts.

This Christmas Quilt was begun as a model for the Lawndale Christian Quilters. I finished it, intending to donate it to a fund raiser. Perhaps it will be used for a future donation/fund raiser. Its binding was part of a demonstration on binding. Notice the gold corners? Ran out of the green for the outer border and had to do some improvising.

The scalloped edges on this quilt restoration for Laurel were something I've been putting off. I usually don't work with bias bindings and haven't done scalloped edges before. Reading directions and practicing are two things I prefer not to do. But I finally did tackle this project, and it wasn't that difficult. This quilt top is a Double Wedding Ring. Most are done on white backgrounds. It's rare to see a pastel or colored background. And this one uses striped feed/flour sacks as its background. My conclusion is that the piecer of this top often had to "make do" with what was available. There's a lot of hand work in this quilt top. I used Warm N'Natural batting and a muslin backing. This once-flimsy top now has a sturdiness to it.

Now that my project list has become manageable, I'm devoting all efforts during the next two weeks to working on Greg and Dorothy's Jazz Bed Quilt.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cecilia's Quilt

Cecilia's fabulous fabric sections and design decisions, my piecing, and Debbie's long-arm quilting have produced this lovely bed quilt for Cecilia's master bedroom. Debbie chose to do all quilting with a complementary variegated thread. The batik backing and the outer borders really showcase the quilting, which so gently blends into the body of the quilt. A hi-loft polyester batt gives this quilt a puffy airiness and is a wonderful weight for sleeping. The quilting may have taken up a few inches of the original size of 100" x 118"; still, this quilt is huge.

I pretty much sew using a tip from Lady Macbeth's book: I'm bloody, bold, and resolute. I tend to make decisions quickly and then of course never look back. So, collaborating with someone like Cecilia who is thoughtful and deliberate with design and color decisions stretches my patience. Debbie the Long-Arm Quilter knew exactly what thread she wanted to use and suggested the hi-loft rather than thinner batt but she too was deliberate with the quilting, letting the quilt design guide her work. This creative process meant that this quilt was five months in the planning and making. But the result was definitely worth the wait.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Reversible Quilts at SusanMarie's in Palos

Today was the third and final session of a 3-part workshop in Reversible Quilts at SusanMarie's in Palos Heights. Terry, Donna, Linda, Sharon, and Vivian worked on some lovely pieces. Teacher's Pet Award goes to Vivian because she finished her quilt first (although it wasn't a content). Terry, Donna, and Linda are pictured here with their quilts. Each quilt is folded so that both sides can be seen. Nicely done, ladies!

Sunday afternoons in February, 2008, we'll be doing some foundation piecing as the basis for the next reversible quilt.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Attention Deficit Disorder Quilting

or What Exactly Have I Been Doing? I have various piles and quilts all over the studio. Really, it's getting bad. I have so many things I want to try and techniques I want to perfect. Of course I need to finish each one of these piles. But there's a great reason why each one is there. First is the reversible quilt. This quilt is just lovely - the borders were quilted and then added. Now it's waiting for the binding. But that's part of a workshop on November 18, so it must remain in its unfinished state.

Friend Laurel picked up this Double Wedding Ring quilt make entirely from feed sacks. Not only has it not been quilted, a couple of the blocks are fraying and need to be repaired. I've been avoiding this because this will be my first quilt with a scalloped binding, and I must use a bias binding. I can do this - just haven't.

Look at this fabulous set of fabrics. It's one of 4 fabric sheets I created for a jacket. Buddy Marge Hughes is making one of these jackets, too. Meanwhile, this sheet is leftover. It's going to make a lovely bargello wall hanging with its rich autumn colors. Since I don't know what fabrics I'll want to use in the border, this sheet and its accompanying pile must remain.

Here's a pile of hockey jerseys. A Westchester mom wants a quilt for her son's 18th birthday that will use all the hockey jerseys her son has had over the years. Unfortunately, this kids's birthday isn't until next June. I am motivated by deadlines, so this pile will be with me for quite a while.

And this is a pile of black jazz -shirts that will eventually be a queen-size bed quilt. What am I waiting for? I'll get to it...

This pile of fabrics is from the reversible placement kits that the Lawndale Quilters and I worked on. And this final picture is the scraps from Cecilia's bed quilt (still at the long-arm quilter's) and will eventually be some decorative pillows.

How lucky am I to have so many projects from which to choose to work on. And I didn't even include Rachel's Zen Dining Room Wall Hanging - that's also in a stage in completion. I'm a happy girl.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fodder for Landscape Quilts

Bar Harbor, Quebec, Cornerbook in Newfoundland - what lovely places these are in the fall. The 10-day cruise was wonderful, and I'm all fired up again to work with a landscape quilt. Meanwhile, I'm working on a jacket with 12 fabrics. Reviewing my photos helped me with the Autumn Palette - rich reds and fabulous purples.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Reversible Workshop at The Sewing Room

Today was the 4th and final session of the Reversible Quilt workshop at The Sewing Room in Lombard, and it has happened again: I learned something from each one of the women. From Dottie I learned to use transparent scotch tape to label the rows of my reversible quilts. From Ginger I learned about bias binding and free-motion stippling. And Sue so graciously shared the pattern for a strip-pieced sweatshirt jacket. Kim wasn't with us today, but the other three finished their quilts, which was their reward for so diligently doing all homework assignments. These quilts are gorgeous, and the past four Tuesday afternoons have been rewarding! Ginger's quilt is a study in wintry blues. Keep checking back for pictures of completed projects.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Celebrating the Weather

For the most part weather doesn't matter much to me. Quilting is, after all, an indoor sport. But yesterday was one of those glorious days that I would love to bottle. And as luck would have it, John and I had planned a Segway tour of Chicago's lakefront to celebrate our October birthdays. We had a wonderful time going through Grant Park and the Museum Campus. I had never been to Soldier Field, so it was very special to not only be there but to see the memorial to the various armed forces. Mastering the Segway wasn't difficult and provided a unique way to get around. What a great way to spend three hours!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Jim Dandy Project

The Jim Dandy quilt is ready to be mailed to Fran Dunn in Spartanburg, South Carolina. From there it will go to the beach house in Litchfield, just south of Myrtle Beach. Fran and Jim were so generous to Mani as we celebrated Dodie's 58th birthday in July. Our use of beach house helped to make a difficult week a bit easier. This quilt is for the master bedroom - I hope to see this quilt in its home someday.

Here's What I Learned at Camp!

The Quilting Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, was so much fun. Neighbor/sewing partner Susan and I immersed ourselves totally in the culture of the convention, attending lectures, participating in hands-on workshops,listening to the "keynote" speakers, and supporting the vendors at the show.

This convergence piece is from one of my workshops. "Converge" means to mix and remix fabric. In this case it was a piece of hand-dyed fabric. The woman who shared my table and I swapped quarter-pieces of our hand-dyes. That's why there's a bit of green in mine. This morning I finished the top and am auditioning borders - this is a tricky piece. And I'm hoping to machine-quilt it without using any straight lines. We'll see...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Field Trip!

Tonight neighbor/sewing buddy/fellow WW Susan and I are driving to Madison and participating in a 3-day conference dedicated to all things quilting. There were over 200 various lectures/hands-on workshops/demos/guest speakers from which to choose, and there's a huge exposition center of award-winning quilts and merchants/vendors. We were lucky enough to get a room at the Clarion, right next to the Alliant Center where everything is being held.

I been wanting to participate in something like this for a couple of years and think it's going to be great fun. I hope my brain doesn't - like it has at various education conferences - get full and shut down. I'm going to be learning about convergence quilting, embellishing quilts with beads, using paint sticks as a quilting tool, the variety of threads available to quilters, and "sketching" with thread.

My first workshop at went very well. And so far the reversible quilting class in Lombard is fabulous (the other class was cancelled). I think this emphasis on learning and the field trip fits in great with the teaching I've begun to do. (And, of course, John is being a great sport about my going to Madison.)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Summer Vacation is Over!

Well, this is my third fall that I've been retired. My third fall that I've been able to watch others go back to school. But it's my first peaceful Labor Day. Two years ago I was in Indianapolis with Dodie as she was doing her first round of chemo and radiation. Last year at this time her days were numbered. This year, with her death none months ago, I'm at peace. The current quilt I'm working on is the for Mrytle Beach beachhouse that John and I stayed at this summer when we went to be with Dodie's family at what would have been her 58th birthday. It's a lovely piece with a familiar process, and I'm enjoying doing it.

I have been having a hard time getting back to a regular schedule. And what's really motivated me to work on the Jim Dandy wall hanging is wanting to put away the piles of greens, purples, and neutrals. Also yesterday Cecilia and I made some final design decisions about her quilt, and it's ready to be finished and then off to the long-arm quilter.

Already there's a glitch in the teaching schedule. The Saturday workshop is a no-go. And I'm not terribly disappointed because the Tuesday workshop is off to a great start and is a technique that I'm much more enthused about. I have been wanting to experiment with some new techniques and of course actually do something about the landscape quilt I want to try. It feels good to get back to the work I want to do. There's something about "vacation mentality" even though I am retired and no longer am a part of an organized work cycle. Yes, summer vacation is over!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Busy Hands, Happy Hands

For the past few years I have said that I'd like to be teaching quilting. That is definitely happening this fall. Here's my teaching schedule:

Tuesdays in September at The Sewing Room in Lombard, 1:00 - 3:00 - Reversible Baby Quilt

Saturdays, Sept 8, 22, 29, at The Sewing Room, 10 - 12 - Baby Fence Rail (oops, this one was cancelled - maybe later...)

Sunday, Sept 9 - 1 - 3 at in Willowbrook - "Make and Take" Reversible Holiday Place Mat

Sunday, Oct 27, and Sunday, Nov 4, at SusanMarie's - 135th and Ridgeland - Reversible BabyQuilt

These three shops are very different from one another, and it's going to be interesting and fun to get to know each of these shops better. I haven't figured out yet whether this kind of teaching will be financially worthwhile. But I do already know that I'm excited about each one of these workshops and look forward to each experience.

Meanwhile, I'm still plugging away on Cecilia's quilt, thinking about the quilt for the Jim Dandy, and wanting to make up more reversible quilts just because they are fun. There are a couple of new techniques that I want to experiment with. And neighbor Susan and I are going to a quilt expo in Madison, WI, to participate in some hands-on workshops and attend some lecture/demonstrations.

Words I couldn't say for a long time: I really love August and September!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

When Quilting isn't Quilting

I've been doing quilting "tasks" but not necessarily with my sewing machine.

In preparation for doing a sampler of the "make-and-take" placement using the reversible technique, I discovered it's not that much more effort to make kits of all materials needed for this placement - the 12 fabric squares and coordinating sashings for the front and back, the batting, and the binding. It's a bit labor-intensive - the cutting, ironing the binding and sashing, the collation. But now I have 10 fabric kits which I'm selling for $20 each for the Sept 9th class at in Willowbrook. This kind of preparation is a much different way of spending time in my studio! Also, creating an accurate supply list and tweaking the directions have required some computer time.

Neighbor Susan of "Thursday Night Sewing" and I are planning to go to a Quilt exposition in Madison, WI, next month. Registering for various workshops and lectures required quite a bit of study and concentration. Really! That is finally in the mail.

My new summer quilt, a bigger version of what I made for Mani, needed to go to Debbie, the Long-Arm Quilter. So I took a morning drive to Tinley Park for a drop-off yesterday. When I pick up that quilt in five week, I'm hoping to have Cecilia's King Quilt ready to take. This quilt is in big pieces but we're still making decisions about some of the fabrics.

Meanwhile, I still have the fabrics out for the Jim Dandy project, and they are demanding some attention. Also I do want to do another sample of a reversible baby quilt. And if nothing else, I could certainly spend several hours putting away and organizing my sash. With our Wisconsin Dells vacation over, I think I'm reading to get back into a sewing groove.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My turbinates for a quilt, Part II

My sister and her husband are the soul of generosity. Really, look up that word in the dictionary, and there the two of them are. In my previous entry (see May 1, 2007)) I mentioned that Dr. Den did some work in my throat (Pillar implants) and nose (turbinates) to help my snoring issue. They are both nurturers and encouragers of everyone else in their lives - their children, their siblings, their parents, their church, their office staff, their friends. They share their time, talents, and goods freely and willingly. So it's nice to be able to do something for them. This quilt is for their audiologist's office and made from the scraps of the quilt that hangs in the Main Office.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Getting It Right

It's really fascinating to work on a project for someone else. Individual taste varies so much. Good and necessary friend Cecilia is having a quilt made for her bedroom. We have the palette right. But now it's a matter of getting the design, proportions, and distribution of the fabrics right. It's one thing to see products in a store and decide which one you want. It's entirely different when you can design each aspect of something like a quilt.

My design wall (i.e., my floor) has the body of Cecilia's quilt on it. We know the big pieces. And we're now trying to make decisions on some of the details. At this point I need to be quiet because I'm really to move full speed ahead. But I need to wait and let the process take its own time. Also, I realized today that making decisions based on what we see on the design floor is wrong because the quilt needs to be in its permanent home. So I'll get the bigger bits together and then relay everything out on her bed. Then perhaps the decision-making will be a bit easier.

But let me quickly say that this quilt is going to be stunning. It may take until October to get it all right, but it's going to be fabulous.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Wall Quilt for the Jim Dandy

Using the iris colors from the master bedroom of the Jim Dandy in Litchfield, South Carolina, this project has started. Here's the palette, but I don't know yet what design to use. I love doing little log cabins (see previous project) and may have to use that pattern again. Fran Dunn, one of home's owners, seemed genuinely pleased with this offer. That she knew Dodie will make this another one of my grief quilts. That's a good thing.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Back to Business

We are home from Myrtle Beach. It was a lovely week with fabulous weather and good company. Of course, that Dodie was not there was at the forefront of everything. But being with her family was important - it is all part of moving the grieving process along.

So now, back to business. Cecilia's quilt is on the table although I am still waiting to hear from the Kings Road fabric manufacturer if he can get me a bolt of the critical greenish black fabric that will generously frame the body of the quilt. I'm doing a twin of the quilt that I made for Mani, Dodie's daughter. The colors are perfect for my bedroom, and this will become our new summer quilt.

The house we had in Myrtle Beach is owned by friends of Mani's. John and I stayed in the master bedroom of the Jim Dandy (people in the low country of South Carolina name their houses). This master bedroom has an iris theme, and there's am empty wall just begging for a wall hanging. Should I just make something and send it or should I actually talk to Fran, the home's owner. Hmmm....

Vacation's over - time to get cracking again!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Decorative Touch

I see Janet Sylkatis ( once every three weeks to work on various body issues. Jan is a massage therapist who specializes in Ortho-bionomy. Several foot and knee surgeries plus a lifetime of inactivity have led me to Janet. By working with her I have developed a fairly normal walking gait and a sense of physical awareness formerly lacking. Some of my issues are occupational ones. Despite paying great attention to the ergonomics of my quilting, spending six to eight hours a day at a sewing machine creates certain issues. And Janet helps me work through each one.

Janet just moved into a new office in Hinsdale. It's quiet and airy and like being in a tree house. I needed to do one more demo piece for my Lawndale Log Cabin workshop and choose this palette of greens and whites with Janet's new office in mind. Shortly before I offered this piece to Janet, friends of hers had told her that all her office needed for completion was a quilted wall hanging. Great minds DO think alike! Click on the quilt to see some of the quilting in gold thread. This wall hanging is my contribution to the sense of peace within the office and within me.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Reversible Model #1

I love what I am doing in the Studio, but I think I need to be doing some teaching as well. The Lawndale Ladies are fun and rewarding, but it's not enough. So I am going to see if I can teach the reversible technique at in Willowbrook and SusanMarie's at 135th and Ridgeland. There must be a model to hang in each store as an example of the technique. I did recently complete one in those lovely greys and ethnic fabrics, but it's bigger than what I propose to teach. So I stole the combination of batik fabrics that Cristina used for her aunt's Barcelona quilt on one side and the other side has fabrics that all have gold in them. The result is stunning. Now I need to make a second one, and I think it will have to copy this one. I'm learning so much by doing this technique again and again and am eager to teach it.

Cristina left for Barcelona earlier this week. Before she left she came over with an envelope. It was $100 gift certificate from from the entire family. Woo Hoo! I know I'll spend it all on more batiks. I am already missing Cristina - can't imagine what her parents are feeling.