Monday, November 23, 2009

An Amazing Technicolor Scrap Tote

Time to change gears. Tomorrow I'm starting a series of grief quilts which have a Christmas deadline. This project is a sad one because the life being celebrated is that of a 31-year old young man. It's also difficult to put away all the bright fabrics I've been using. As I was cleaning up the studio, I used some of the scraps and made one final quilted tote. The effect of these scraps is terrific - I need to go off script more often!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Keeping Surprises - or not...

My sister Paula's birthday is December 1. Yes, I know there are still 2 weeks until her birthday. But considering I made her present almost 3 weeks ago, I think I've done a great job of keeping the surprise as long as I did! This bag is similar in size to the ones I've been making. But what sets this apart are the fabrics - all of them are batiks. These batiks were pieced onto a piece of muslin. The first trickier and similar bag to this one was pieced on paper. I like the muslin piecing better because the muslin becomes a part of the bag's foundation. Now as Paula struts down the street she can sing the chorus from J-J-J-Joseph: I am handsome, I am smart, I am a walking work of art! How I love my tote of many colors...

Happy Be-earlied Birthday, Paula!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Roy G. Biv and the Spectrum

Here are 14 Amazing Technicolor Dream Totes for my sister, ready to go to her on Thanksgiving with my parents. Some are the basic colors of the spectrum with colors repeated as they go around the bag. Some of them include the expanded spectrum with no color repeats. All are quilted with a sturdy boxed bottom (stiff needlepoint plastic canvas - who knew?), have a lining that matches the one horizonal band of color, and have a deep pocket on the inside. Merry Christmas to LMSSAC from one of Santa's bigger elves!
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Niece, Altruism, Scraps and a Reversible Quilt

When my brothers' daughters were little, they were part of Camp Quilt for three summers. My mother and their mothers would pitch in, as would Uncle John, and the result was that Laura, Candace, Leslie, and Ali all made quilts, pretty much by themselves. Of course the Good Quilting Fairy was a part of this process. The first summer each girl kept their quilts. The second and third summers I suggested that they make quilts for the church nursery or someone else. My recollection is that they didn't (maybe Candace gave one to her Grandma Miller and maybe Ali gave one to a friend) and that there was eye-rolling at the suggestion. The winter of my niece Leslie's senior year of high school, she asked if she could make a quilt for a friend of hers who was going away. Aha! She above all got it: that quilts were meant to be given away. (Leslie also enlisted my help in making her parents a Christmas photo quilt but that's a separate blog entry).

So when Leslie was her working on her 4th quilt, we decided it was time she learned how to use the rotary cutter. My teaching style is to give some basic directions and then try not to hover. Leslie had her fabrics, knew what to do, and was just cutting away. She asked at one part, pretty far into the process, "Should I be starting at the 0 instead of the 1?" She had cut quite a bit of fabric 1" short. I remember scooping up the miscut pieces and telling Les it was no big deal, and she continued her cutting, this time using the correct measurements by starting at 0.
I saved these scrap pieces, and they became part of a demonstration in foundation piecing for a reversible quilt class that I was teaching. The quilt pictured here has 48 blocks. One side's blocks are all half-square triangles using fabrics from Leslie's quilts. The other side are scrap strips from various projects. Look at the February 6, 2008 blog entry when the body of this quilt was originally done. It's just been sitting, waiting to be completed.

My friend Cathy is on the committee to find a suitable going-away present for her long-time minister Laura at the Downers Grove United Church of Christ and asked if I had any quilts just hanging around. Cathy spotted this scrap quilt. So I finished it, giving a bit of unity by using the same border on the front and the back. Even the binding uses scraps of bindings from various quilts. Reverend Laura is a wonderful woman who has a great ability to bring various personalities together into a unified whole. This quilt is symbolic in some ways of Laura's talent and ministry. That this quilt started with my niece Leslie's altruism makes it even more special. 58" x 74"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chaos vs. Productivity

It sometimes scares me how efficiently I can operate in chaos. All my Reds, Orange, Yellows, Green, Blue, and Indigo/Violets are strewn about the studio, which is where I need to have them. Could I close any of the fabric doors? Apparently not. For the past week I've been sewing, almost maniacally.

The Jinny Beyer fabric here is one that's almost 15 years old and just needs to be used. So I made a couple of boxed Mors bags, and John gave them away at Autumn Green's November FM Jazz session before I could photograph them. I still have enough fabric left for a few more.

What I am loving working on are the totes of many colors. I'm learning to match the bottom horizontal stripe with the lining of the bag. I'm about to finish 2 that have a snappy yellow-orange band and a great lining.

My neighbor Pam visited the studio to see what I was doing and noticed a pile of scraps. And she wants a tote from all the scraps. A Scrappy Amazing Technicolor Dream Tote. I like it!