Monday, June 27, 2011

Rules - Follow? Break? Discuss...

I've been thinking a lot about rules and quilting and guilds and have been aware of the disdain from traditionalists for "modern quilting."  And I've wondered why anyone would impose their quilting rules on anyone else.  The word "modern" implies to some a haphazard approach of mixing anything together and careless workmanship.  And that is so not true. 

I'm crazy about my Chicago Modern Quilt Guild and what I'm learning from these women. I'm learning I can be as precise - or as wonky - as I want to be.  I'm learning to appreciate different color and design esthetics.  I'm learning I can work large or small.  And I'm still learning when rules need to be followed and when they need to be broken.   I'm learning to take some risks and work outside of my safe zone.  Most of all, I love sharing this passion for quilting with them.  There's a palpable energy at our meetings.

We are currently doing an informal "mug rug" swap, thanks to that cute little Ebony Love.  Fun, eh?  Small little doable projects, June 30 deadline, and I am only making two.  Despite telling myself that this exercise isn't a competition, I did think about the women in the group who often work small - I mean teensy tiny - and those who have an eye for design and those who have a sense of the organic.  And the pressure was on. 

I started with a charm packet and loved what I was doing but not for the mug rugs.  Former CMQG treasurer and current program committee member Sue has a thing for fish, and a couple of these fabrics feature fish, especially the eyes.  And I decided I would create something for her.  Sue has a great sense of whimsy and is a spontaneous quilter.  Knowing I was creating for Sue allowed me to play.  I used one of the pretty stitches on my machine.  I found my couching foot and gimping thread and played with that.  And best of all?  I tried the rat tail binding that I saw demoed in a you tube video  Thank you, Carolann Waugh!  This technique is a keeper.  These squares are 8" x 8". 
Then I moved on to Wayne's beautiful batik scraps and began to play with couching, stippling, and a fusible metallic bias tape.  Check out the rat tail binding - again it worked!  But these look puny.  They are only 5" x 8".  And while I was working I thought about one of my favorite designs - Trip Around the World.  And I spotted my stack of beautiful fabrics with metallics. 

So I cut two 1.25" strips from each fabric and went to work.  This picture above has both the right side and the wrong side.  My piecing, while not perfect, isn't bad.  But here's a great example of a time when a rule is meant to be broken. For the most part I've been ironing all my seams open.  And for the majority of what I do, this change from pressing seams to one side has made better quilts.  BUT not with this pattern.  The success of lining things up depends on wiggle-matching seams.  Next time I do a Trip I'll remember to break the "pressing rule." 
Here are my two finished mug rugs.  They are a bit bigger than I would like (it's always something), but I honored my instincts by not trimming and disturbing the pattern.  Also the rat tail binding wouldn't work for these - too many seams around the edges.  Besides, I had two wonderful already-made bindings from others projects.
My Trip Around the World mug rugs are ready for the mail.  This is an American design made with fabrics that read Asian, and backed with a white that features a metallic map of Africa. 

The best part?  I received a mug rug today from Elaine, who took the time to look at my blog to make me something I would like.  And she used a Trip Around the World design.  Thoughtful - perfect - modern.

I love my quilt guild girls and that I'm learning new things about rules.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Nathan's Quilt

Here's my mom helping to hold Nathan's quilt. We talked - several times - about this quilt being the last of the high school graduation quilts for my nieces/nephews and thus my mom's last grandchild to graduate from high school. My dad is hiding behind the quilt. Mom seem pleased to be able to help hold this quilt.

This look at the back of the quilt shows not only the quilting but also the tidy binding, done with just one machine pass around the whole quilt - the method explained in Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr's books.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Trying not to get chocolate on...

Tomorrow is my dad's 86th birthday, and he's requested a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I love to bake. I love to taste. And I tried very hard - and succeeded in not getting chocolate on my new fabric. Friends gave me a gift certificate to It's a site where you can design your own fabric. That something I thought I always wanted to do until I began working at this site. It's hard! and overwhelming. Instead I looked at fabrics that others have designed, and here's what came in the mail. At $18/yard I won't use this site often, but it's fun to know it exists.

I also didn't get chocolate on the binding for Nathan's quilt, which I picked up from T and F Quilting today. This quilt is big - 82" by 102". That means 12 strips of 2" fabric that needed to be joined, run through the bias tape maker, and then ironed in half. Thanks to QFF Ebony I now know to wind the binding on an empty roll of toilet paper - so much easier to use and keep track of.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Day Without Eletricity...

How dependent we are on electricity. Storms came through the Midwest Tuesday night. We, along with thousands of others in Cook and DuPage Country, lost our power. Our cellphones were sort of charged, and we do have one phone in the house that is hard-wired. John did some reading on my Kindle (Les Mis) with its handy-dandy night light, and my iPad was freshly charged so I was happy to continue with my reading. And clever John not only knew where the flashlights were but also knew where the extra batteries were. Our stove has electronic ignition, but I was able to light a burner and make coffee the next morning - of course I now have no hair on the knuckles of that hand. Because I had no Internet access that morning, I headed to the studio where - of course - I couldn't sew or iron. Instead I did some organizing and putting away and planning. John was able to get both cars out of the garage. The LaGrange Library was jammed with people like me using their wireless network. I also heard that local Starbucks were jammed for the same reason. Despite hearing we'd be out of power for days, it was restored late the next afternoon.

This whole experience took me back to Kathmandu and parts of Kenya where electricity is on for only four or eight hours a day. In Kathmandu we saw a student revolution protesting the ruling Communist party policy of 4 hours of eletricity a day. The hotel we stayed in had its own generator. That was also the case on a couple of the nature conservancies we stayed at in Kenya - places that had their own generators and posted hours when electricity would be available.

As Americans we are terribly spoiled. And our dependency is a bit scary...

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Monday, June 20, 2011

A Play Day

There have been a couple of things I've been wanting to play with, and today was my play day! There was a charm packet of Asian fabrics from Moda, including some fish fabric. The rest is all from scraps from my QFF Wayne. He was working on this quilt and packaged up his leftovers. Somehow I talked him into giving me these, and today I joined them together. Here is a Mors bag on its way to a blogger friend in Florida, and I have enough fabric left to make a second bag. I think there are also the beginnings of a couple of mug rugs here, part of an informal swap in my Chicago Modern Quilt Guild. I'm still deciding what I want to do. What a luxury to have a day to experiment and play!
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Sunday, June 19, 2011

For a friend of a friend of a ...

When nephew Chris lived in Chicago, he dated Payal, who made her first t-shirt quilt with me. Payal works out with Jason, who saw her quilt. Jason wanted something similar done with his baseball shirts from high school and college. And here it is! 53" x 60"
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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Top 10 Reasons to Finish Nathan's Quilt

10.  He's my youngest nephew.
9.  He did graduate a month ago.
8.  He lives in Indiana.
7.  I love his parents.
6.  He has the straightest hair of all my nephews.
5.  I love him.
4.  I haven't made him a quilt since he was really little.
3.  He's tall.
2.  I need to move on to other projects.
1.  If his quilt was all in one piece, I could use the ceiling fan without disturbing what's on the design wall - er, floor.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Request and an Opportunity

I'm usually not able to see how a quilt of mine wears or how a purse holds up to daily use.  Last year when I was in physical therapy I made a purse/laptop carrier for my PT Chandra's daughter.  Recently Chandra asked if I would "rehandle" this bag.  Lavina has used it daily for almost a year.  So what an opportunity to see how one of my pieces has held up.  Except for the handles/straps, it looks pretty good.  But then the riddle:  if the straps are done during construction of the bag, how can I replace them without deconstructing the bag.

When I was making a bag for my sister Paula, I learned how to use D-rings. And these became the way to provide new straps for this purse without taking it apart. Voila!

The quilt for my nephew Nathan is coming along. Of course this is the part of the project when my OCD kicks in, exclusively centered around whether these fabrics are right for him. The pattern/design I'm confident about - in fact I love how it's turning out. But the one batik - the main one - is reading almost more coral than pumpkin. I keep telling myself that this fabric is the color of a sunset. But then I see that coral color and fret. These are some of the blocks on the floor - they still need to be assembled.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Big Day!

My Husqvarna Sapphire 730 returned from its month-long stay at the Spa. And to welcome it home, I moved my sewing tables. Instead of looking out the window, the window is now on my right. See the Friday the 13th blog entry to compare before and after. Luckily my Husqvarna Computer 500 has been a terrific back-up, but I'm thrilled to have my machine back.
This are the first bits of nephew Nathan's graduation quilt. I think this is a bold and graphic pattern and very manly with these batiks. Can't wait to see how this is going to come together.

Monday, June 6, 2011

All in the Family

My cousin Jerry's daughter Erin is getting married this summer, and of course there will be a shower for her. My mom and I can't go to Kansas City for this shower, but we are sending this casserole carrier as our present. Jerry's a woodworker who made this fabulous spoon for this project. Should I sign Jerry's name to this present?
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Friday, June 3, 2011

June Graduation

Jimmy Shimizu has graduated from Naz and is on his way to the University of Dayton. He helped his mom Joanne chose which of his hockey jerseys and t-shirts to use in his graduation quilt. What a way to recap a hockey career! He just received this quilt and is pleased.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

All scenes as landscape quilts...

Every thing I saw in the past two weeks became a possible landscape quilt, whether it was the wide expanse of the Grand Canyon or the gentle reddish tones of the underbrush or the sharp snowy peaks of the Tetons.
Perhaps in 7 or 8 months we'll have a monster snow and be snowed in and I won't have anything to do and I can work on some of these landscapes.  Perhaps...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Anniversary in the Great West

What a great trip to the West!  We began in Santa Fe.  And then we hit five of the parks, beginning with the Grand Canyon.  Words cannot describe the majesty.

We also went to Zion, Bryce, the Tetons, and Yellowstone national parks. 

The sunset over the Grand Canyon was as enthralling as the helicopter ride in the canyon. 

We know we are privileged to experience the beauty and diversity of our country.  Perhaps - perhaps - in another life we could have been cowboys.

The most amazing thing about this picture taken at the Tetons on our anniversary is the snow. 

Our adventure to the West is over.  Now it's back to the studio.  One of the women on our trip saw my jacket and loved it - she's ordered one in "Grand Canyon" colors.  While this project is at the bottom on my list of 7 projects, it is of course the one I want to do the most!

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