Sunday, November 28, 2010

Working Towards Christmas

Purse? Not now. Work on one of the three quilts with Christmas deadlines? I'll save that for tomorrow. What I can do is make some Mors bags - simple and necessary. These bags are made with fabric I bought in Arhaus, Denmark over 10 years ago. Everyone else went to see some mummified remains (The Tollund Man), but I spotted a fabric store and just had to get a couple of meters of fabric. I loved the gold on burgundy. But the fabric was thicker than a quilting cotton, more like a home dec fabric. So it never made it into a quilt, but is perfect for festive shopping bags!
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Today's Letter is P!

This holiday weekend has been so nicely productive. Today I worked on two purses and a pillow. The purses are ones I started Thanksgiving morning (note to self: not entertaining is a good thing!), did the handwork last night, and finished up today with velcro and magnetic closures.  The one of the left is a 90th present for Aunt Marge.  The middle envelope pocket has a couple of cards and a pen/flashlight - she's always been one to write notes.

The pillow is made from the cuffs of Bradley's shirts.  I had to do some quilting to keep the layers of cuffs in place and to try to make the best display of some lovely pearlized snaps.  The design is loosely based on the Courthouse Steps variation of the Log Cabin.  18" x 18"

Friday, November 26, 2010

Starry Starry Night

Have you ever met someone whom you've immediately liked and admired?  That happened to me last month when I crossed paths with Angie McMahon through the Rally to Restore Sanity, Chicago.  I was so impressed with how she saw a void, stepped into it and organized this Chicago event, which raised over $7,000 for the Chicago Public Schools. Angie and other Rally members affirmed my belief that  many people are civic-minded and want the best for our society. 
Angie worked hard to pull the above off and did this all during the 6th month of her pregnancy.  So here's a baby quilt for her new little one although I think Angie's six-year old needs to break this quilt in for her new sibling.

This quilt has been an UFO that I started 2 years when I was teaching a class in Reversible Quilting.  My best teaching method is modeling, and this quilt was my model.  All the fabrics on both the front and the back have stars.  And almost all of these fabrics were scraps from various other projects. I've been waiting for a good reason to finish this quilt and am glad to have finally found it.

My quilt buddy Wayne talks about 2 kinds of quilts - hangers and draggers.  This quilt?  Definitely a dragger.  It needs to be used and washed and then used some more and washed some more.  48" x 60"

A final note: I love working on quilts that celebrate a life no longer with us, like the quilts for Christopher's brother Bradley. But these "life celebration" quilts take their emotional toll. The solution? Baby quilts, like this one.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

From Deconsruction to Construction

What a difference a day makes.  Yesterday morning these two quilts were in 120 pieces.  Today one quilt (56 blocks plus 4 border strips) is ready to be quilted - the backing fabrics for both quilts have been washed and are now being dried.  The other quilt is in 11 pieces - 7 rows plus 4 border strips. So the next step will be to sew these 7 rows together and add the borders.  The missing column to the left?  On the ironing board...

Quilting is all about sewing through layers.  And it's crucial to keep the bulk at seams reduced as much as possible.  For every seam sewn, the trusty iron is sure to follow.  A general rule is to press seams open whenever possible.  And this is easier than it sounds - just keep the tip on the iron in the seam and the fabrics almost automatically fall open.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Deconstructing Men's Shirts - Part 2

After looking at a tentative layout of the 9" blocks from Bradley's shirts, Christopher came over this morning and worked on the layout of his mother's and sister's quilts.  These quilts will be Christmas presents and a way for the LaGrand family to mourn Bradley's death and still celebrate Christmas. Christopher is good with layouts.  In less than two hours and using one additional shirt, he created two distinct layouts.  The one to the left is for his mother.  The second one is for his sister. Both quilts will have a narrow navy border and will be backed with a dark blue fabric. 

It's always easier to work on commissioned quilts when I know I'm doing exactly what is wanted.  From a design viewpoint, the morning with Christopher was invaluable.  From a grief viewpoint, I think Chris did some important work for his mother and his sister.  As for me, I like working with Christopher because he's nice and he smells good!

These projects will be the focus of my work this week.  And I'm eager to get both these quilts together!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Back to some Mors Bags

A cousin of John's is hooking me up with a box of fabrics.  The least I can do for Sharon is to make for her and the fabric donor some Mors bags.  Using a tip from my quilter buddy Wayne, I actually used cotton mesh handles instead of making my own handles out of fabric and batting.  Talk about a time saver!  (If you're wondering why the handles are different lengths, so I am.  I must have cut one pair 28" instead of 18". )

 And since I'm at a welcome standstill with the quilts from Bradley's shirts, I began a T-Shirt Quilt project, using 18 t-shirts from an atheletic young man who graduated from York High School.  This project also has a Christmas deadline.  It's nice to feel like things are under control.  And to perhaps even think about making Mors bags for Christmas presents!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Deconstructing Men's Shirts

Bradley died suddenly in August.  His brother Christopher faces a Christmas of concern for his mother and his sister.  Christopher gathered all of Brad's shirts and is having two memory quilts made for them. 

Bradley wore dark colors, mostly navy and greys.  These blocks are 9.5" squares, and the quilt should finish at 63" X 72". Blocks were made from the sleeves, the yoke, front placket, and the shirt backs.

Christopher is coming over this weekend to work on the layout with me, and I welcome his input.  I also have all of the cuffs from the shirts and am trying to figure out how I can incorporate them into these quilts. 

To be continued...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Still Learning...Binding, of all things!

 A few weeks ago my meeting of the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild featured a lecture/trunk show by Oak Park quilters Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr.  It was so much fun to hear their approach to quilt design and quilting and very affirming of the work that I do.   Every step of their quilting is carefully thought out.  So when they talked about their binding method, my ears perked up - and I paid attention.  This illustration is from their 2007 book The Modern Quilt Workshop.  

Using 2" strips of fabrics (NOT cut on the bias) and a 25 mm bias tape maker (from Joann's for $7) and following these directions,  I'm now binding quilts even neater and faster than I was before.  And the look is tidy and sturdy from both sides. Following are pictures that illustrate each step of this binding process.

Weeks and Bill's new book Quilting Made Modern is just being released.  I'm sure I will have to buy it.

This little bias tape maker is such a simple tool.  Feeding a 2" strip through it starts with a diagonal cut.  The little handle?  Using your left hand to pull the tape maker, you hold your iron in your right hand.  Very very clever.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Three Finished Projects

Time to reorganize and take a deep breath.  This first quilt is one made by blogger friend Josie - I just tied it.  Tying makes for a very soft airy comfortable quilt.  It's in the mail back to its home in Maryland.

This quilt is one of two for former Kennedy colleague Sheila.  Sheila was the first person I ever did a memory quilt for under the saddest of circumstances.  She chose to do a couple of "living" quilts from relatives' clothing for her daughter and for her mother-in-law.  The blue one is for Mrs. Hughes and contains baby clothes from her grandchildren and shirts from her sons.

  This last quilt is for Sheila's daughter Ella.  Ella is a toddler, and when she moves to her first big girl bed, this will be her quilt.  It's full of memories from both her parents, her cousins, her aunts and uncles, and her grandparents.  One of Ella's aunts wrote a little note about the clothing she was sending - these notes have been transferred onto the clothes with the originals tucked into the pocket of her grandfather's workshirt.  What a great idea this quilt is. .

When I return from the Jazz Cruise, I will work on three quilts with Christmas deadlines - 2 memory quilts from the shirts of Bradley and a t-shirt quilt from a young man who graduated from York High School. And I'm sure on the cruise I will doodle out a list of all the things I need to finish and quilts/purses I want to do. It's nice to have this break.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Finishing the ...

I've talked about Stephen Sondheim and his lyrics before.  I have to go back to Sunday in the Park with George but this time to the lyrics of the song Finishing the Hat.    In this musical the French Impressionist artist George Seurat is working on his large painting "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" but his girl friend Dot want to go out. He just can't tear himself away from his work.   The fictional Seurat sings "more red, more blue blue blue - finishing the hat."  We've leaving town for a week, and I'm frantic to "finish my hats."  Only it's quilts - and purses.

The quilts for Sheila are finished.  I'm hoping to photo and blog about them before Saturday.  The shirts to the left all belong to Bradley - they were given to me by his brother Christopher and will be quilts for Bradley's mother and sister.

And there are always the purses.  Finishing the purse.  And starting a new one.  And finishing that one.  And on to the next one...

Update 11/4/10 Gave my sister Paula a purse fashion show this morning and she chose this one. Perfect! Happy Be-earlied Birthday!