Thursday, December 31, 2015


Petite Stitched Purse by Indygo Junction

I'm so thankful for so much - my husband, my family, my
friends (even those who don't quilt), my Chicago Modern Quilt Guild, and loving what I do so much that I can't wait to get out of bed each morning.  I'm so thankful for my health and am realizing more than ever what a great gift it is.   I am indeed a lucky and blessed woman.  (One of my first projects of 2016 will be figuring out what to use these three new fabrics for, and I'm already smiling at the possibilities!)

Three fabrics from Carolyn Friedlander's new Carkai collection

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

End of the Year Odds and Ends

Out of the pile of fabrics I had to touch last week, one fabric called loudly.  And so I turned it into a tote.  But wait - it gets better.  This is the tote that turns into a duffel bag.
Here's the first one I made.  Then I made one for Emily B's birthday.  A few weeks later Jen B, Sarah E, and Melissa came over for a playdate, and we made more. And the following summer I made three more for commission.  This is a clever pattern.  And for this bag it's perfect because the fabric was too pretty to cut up into pieces. In the top picture the tote is holding six purse kits, all ready for January sewing - 5 Trail Totes by Noodlehead and a Sloan (Sew Sweetness) bag.

Guildster Beth gave me a 2016 Calendar Tea Towel, unfinished, along with a link to a tutorial about mitering corners.  Excellent tutorial.   Now it is finished, just in time to ring in 2016. 
Finally, I finished the backing for Julie's quilt.  So as soon as Frank and Terri are finished with my current quilt, this one is ready for longarming.  It snowed this week.  Nothing better for sewing than snow!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holiday Distraction

It's not that I'm distracted by the holidays.  Rather, I am distracted by the studio.  Instead of finishing a quilt top, I start finding fabrics that I have to touch and iron and think about what I want to do with them.  Clearly, they don't belong together.  So, how can each be featured best? Since I've been working big, I'm ready to do small.  Purses, totes, bags...   Nice.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Wonderful Christmas Present

My involvement with the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild has created some wonderful and deep friendships.  One of my newer friends, Mary R, knits ( a real Renaissance woman who knits, quilts, sews, cooks, has multiple degrees).  And she gave me a beautiful pair of socks, complete with washing instructions.  Am I worthy of handmade socks?  All I know is that I am very pleased, and these socks rank among the very nicest of presents I have ever received!

After yesterday's blog post, I received two emails from the Modern Quilt Guild.  Neither of my quilts was accepted into QuiltCon 2016.  A part of me is disappointed, but the better part of me is relieved that I don't have to scramble to get tickets to Pasadena, CA, where the conference is and that I don't have to sew sleeves on these quilts! 

Also pictured above is a little kit from guildster Robbi who seems determined to get me into hexies and a hexie packet from guildster Holly, who shares this determination.  I may be the last of my quilty group to get into hexies, but I am learning to never say never.  I shall - at some point - give it a go!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Trying to be patient...

Like so many of my Chicago Modern Quilt Guildsters, I submitted 2 quilts for QuiltCon 2016 in Sacramento. Under the "group" category is the quilt my quilty buddies made in honor of my mom after she died.   The second quilt is the Elongated Drunkard's Path that I finished the month after my mom died.  These hand stitches represent some very soothing grief work.  But now as children wait for Santa, I need to wait until Dec 30 to find out whether either of these made the cut. 
I am also waiting to see how this quilt turns out. This quilt is now floating on more of the fabric used in the backgroud. It is at Terri and Frank Karls's house waiting to be longarmed. This will be the first of my quilts to have custom long-arm quilting. And of course I can't wait. Just one more thing to be patient about.
Meanwhile I'm working on this quilt for my stepdaughter who turns 50 in January.  It's not so much of a birthday present as it is an "omg, what happened to this quilt?' present.  I slept at her house for a few nights with my grandson while she was out of town.  And as I climbed into her bed, I noticed her quilt, one I made 10 years ago or so, was shredding!  The backing was fine - so was the batting.  But one of the fabrics on the front was just shredding.  I thought about repairing this quilt - I still may - but then decided she deserves a new quilt.  Julie's color choices are rich and warm.  I loved then fabrics when I bought then and knew what design I wanted to use.  But as I started making these big blocks, I became pretty disenchanted with both the fabrics and the design.  One day I had to stop work and leave the studio.  Luckily my neighbor Cristina had some work to do in the studio, saw this quilt, and said it looks like a sunset.  Perfect for Julie.  Once my quilt is ready for pick up at Terri and Frank's, I'll have them do Julie's quilt.
This quilt will be 96 x 112" and will have a final border of that wonder merlot-colored fabric. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

My Third Hand-Quilted Finish

This napping quilt is 60" x 70", and I've been puttering away at it for a few months.  Let me define what hand-quilting is for me:  it's using a 8 weight Perle cotton and using a Sashiko technique of "little stabs."  This primitive look suits me, my hands, my eyes, and my projects.  The first one was the quilt I hand-pieced and hand-quilted while sitting with my parents.  The second one was what I worked on after my mom died - it's the lovely colorful elongated Drunkard's Path.  This third quilt?  No grief associated with it.  Just some quality time with my
quilt and my threads.  These are mostly Marcia Derse fabrics, and the batting is wool.  The backing is an Art Gallery fabric from the REcollection line.  I haven't washed it yet, so there may be one more picture coming later.  There is another hand project in the queue - one that combined Carolyn Friedlander and Yoshiko Jinzenji and some sashiko! 

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Chicago MQG Holiday Gift Swap

The Chicago Modern Quilt Guild holiday gift-swap party was yesterday, and I didn't go. My cold and germs just did not need to be a part of the holiday spirit. Using a set of Japanese fabrics I received last month at the meeting, I sent  five bags for the Greater Chicago Food Depository.  Thanks to current CMQG president Sarah Evans for collecting these bags and delivering them! Guildster Mary R received a special gift.  A few weeks ago she "gifted" me with a set of fabrics and a pattern for a tote which she knew she would never do.  So I did it for her, sort of.  In keeping with my style, I didn't follow the directions that came with the set of fabrics.  But she was pleased.

For my gift swap I of course made a Mors bag, not bothering the follow my own directions.  But the sparkly holiday fabrics outshine any issue in workmanship.

And speaking of workmanship, I had a team of handymen come to the house.  The picture below shows the new stabilizing trim they added to the bannister coming up to the studio, the hanging of Wintersection, and the hanging of the swap quilt from the Ann Arbor/Chicago MQGs exchange.  I love this quilt for its simplicity and its appeal to help and aid.  The men also secured my design wall to the wall!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Getting Ready for Studio Guests

This quilt is too big for the design wall, so it's on the floor as I connect the various blocks and rows.  But I'm short of background fabric and must wait for the rest to come in.  Don't get me started on the math issues I had, which account for the middle row being wider than the others.   I am hoping it won't be THAT noticeable.  
The design wall holds several pieces that I want hung on the walls of the staircase coming up to the studio.   That's something John and I can't handle so handymen are coming over Tuesday to do this. 

Another Sew Powerful purse using some special metallic fabrics.  I think I'll do one or two more from these fabrics before putting them away for a few days.  So far I have made 4, have 2 more prepped, and want to have a dozen by 2/1/2016.
My Oliso iron has been acting goofy, like it gets too hot and needs to be unplugged for a while.  Which is very inconvenient for quilters.  And I love my Oliso.  But I fired up my old Rowenta, which created a huge problem:   I kept forgetting to turn it up (something you don't have to do with an Oliso - it automatically pops up).  To avoid burning down the house, I decided it was time for a new Oliso, which just happened to be on sale for a terrific price at Joann's.  My old Oliso will now be my travel iron. 
I love having playdates with my quilty friends, whether we are doing parallel play or working on the same projects.  I love that I must pick up and clean and make way for guests.  Now, what healthy lunch can I made.  Preferably something without turkey...

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Two Items Leaving the Studio

My super-duper extra-special sister will be 63 soon, and I am giving her her choice of bags.  She has agreed to test this one out and see how the vinyl on the bottom works - she thinks the vinyl is a good idea!  And the wedding quilt for my cousin Kathy's daughter Amber is finished.  It's double sided (see below), and I'm hoping at least one of the sides will be something Amber and Derek like.  It's always difficult creating for someone you don't know well.  On the label I included my Grandma Eloise White, my Aunt Jean White, and my mom Joanne White.  These three were the ones who taught me and encouraged me to sew.  I also felt the presence of my Uncle Leonard, Amber's grandfather and my dad's younger brother who died in 2003.  And really, it's all about generations of family. 
One side, with Marcia Derse fabrics.  Special thanks to T and F Quilting for their basket weave quilting. 

The reverse side, with several shades of grey and black batiks

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Today in the Studio

 I finished two more of these purses for Sew Powerful.  And now that I get how the pattern works, I am getting fonder of it and the variations that can be achieved with different fabrics.  What is so clever about this purse are the three pockets - one on the front flap of the purse, another pocket under the flap (see the pen sticking out?) and then the actual purse interior.  While I have already identified fabrics for the next set of purses, I need to put these away for a few days.
 I had a ton of red/black/grey leftovers from the project on the design wall and decided to use them to test a product that is new to me - iron-on vinyl.  It is just on the bottom of the bag, the part that's on the floor.  I made one bag for Chandra's daughter using this product, but I need to know how it wears. 

I have plans to enter my elliptical drunkard's path into QuiltCon2016 and the 2016 International Quilt Festival, but the only picture I have of it is not a great one. So I need to carefully take down what's on the design wall in order to hang this quilt and work on a good photograph.  I know this doesn't sound like much.  But it will take a good hour to do this.
This quilt needs binding.  I picked it up from T and F Quilting Studio Monday.  The bride - my White cousin's daughter - was married in October, and I am eager to get this in the mail before too much longer. 

And then?  I want to put together the quilt that's been carefully and systematically removed from the design wall, start a couple more bags, work on a couple of big quilts - wait, you already know this part of the story.  Sorry...

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sew Powerful  Just go there. 
Two more in process

Saturday, November 14, 2015

So Fiddly...But Perhaps Worth It

 This cross-body purse has 10 pattern pieces.  And I didn't have a finished product in front of me.  So it's been a frustrating day of sewing.  QFF Wayne told me about the Sew Powerful Purse Project.  This organization solicits purses made from this pattern that "are used in local schools and clinics in Lusaka, Zambia as part of Menstration Hygiene Management (MHM) programs. This simple gift – combined with re-usable sanitary pads and health information can make a tremendous difference in the lives of adolescent girls...  Our ministry partners work hard to educate and inform the girls in their community so that they stay in school and grow in confidence and self-esteem. It really is sew powerful!"  I do love making purses, and he thought this would be right up my alley.  But after downloading the pattern and seeing the degree of difficulty and fiddliness, I thought perhaps I could send one of my own purses.  But this organization is pretty specific and wants only this pattern.  So I wanted to make at least one and see whether I want to do more - or strongarm any of my guildsters - into doing more of these.

There's a long front flap that covers the entire purse.  This front flap has a small pouch on the out side.  Lift up the big flap, and there's another pocket.  You can see my pin cushion tucked into this pocket.  And then there's the interior of the purse.  There's a long strap securely attached.  I may have to make one more of these before I make a final judgment.  And I'm not even going to mention the number of seams that had to be unsewed.  Perhaps it might be easier to donate money to this organization...

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Whole Lot of Sewin' Goin' On...

Using scraps for a tote bag, I am testing out some vinyl covered fabric.  I used this vinyl previously but gave the bag away and I need to see how this product actually wears.

The pattern for this bag is the one I'm using for the bag above.  I made this bag before but created by own color palette.  And clearly this was before I discovered my deep and abiding love for Soft and Stable.  So this kit will allow me to make the bag properly.  Besides the kit was on sale.  Magic words...
This is a free download pattern for a cross-body purse.  Go to Sew Powerful.  This organization's goal is to provide purses for young African girls so that they don't have to miss a week of school each month.  What a great idea!  However, this purse pattern looks fiddly.  So I want to do one before I start to strongarm some of my fellow guildsters.  Here's a better picture of the final product.

Two totes from one set of sale fabric.  I made some modifications on the left one, including a too-short purse zipper, side pockets, and zipper tabs.  I like these bags, but the size is wrong - just a bit too small for what I was intending to make.

This kit is calling out to me gently.  Maybe Saturday...

Meanwhile I am sashiko-ing this quilt of Marcia Derse fabrics on the front and a fabulous Art Gallery backing AND - wait it get even better - wool batting.  Can you tell from the picture below that about 3/4's of the quilt has been quilted?

And of course the Molly Market tote.  I definitely want to crank a couple of these out.

The backing fabric came in for what's on the design wall.
And of course key wristlets.  

I blog for many reasons.  The prime one is usually just to get out of my head what I need to without annoying my husband.  He's good for listening but only for so long.  A great secondary reason is that I have a record of what I have done over the years.  But the most immediate reason today is that when I am in a frenetic sewing stage, getting projects down on e-paper helps me priortize and calms me down.

Much better.  We are heading to my aunt Marjorie Long's funeral.  She's the reason I went to college and into teaching.  What a great role model.  John and I would run into her at the Goodman Theatre until she stopped going, maybe 6 years ago.  And I just had a flashback of her reupholstering her furniture.  Like my parents' deaths, Marge's was peaceful.  I hope her children are as at peace as my sibs and I are.