Sunday, December 31, 2017


I love this deep midwinter season - short, bright days and long, cold nights.  Hand quilting is so perfect for this time of the year.
I love make little gift bags and zippered pouches, and I'm so thankful for guild friends who share their expertise and cleverness with me.
Because I go through so many zippers, I bought my first roll of zipper tape with lots of pulls.  After frustration I finally googled how to use zipper tape.  And sure enough, the answer was there.  You're looking at it:  a 1/4" offset of two sides.

 One of my favorite gifts is from quilty buddy Beth.  Whether she chose this pattern for the color scheme or for the lamb on it, I love it.  I followed this tutorial for finishing and mitering the corners.  In 365 days it will be a lovely usable kitchen towel.  Right now it's hanging on the kitchen door.
The November Chicago Modern Quilt Guild meeting was about UFO's.  And although I missed the meeting, just thinking about Debbie's topic spurred me onto using things I've started.  The above Fence Rail is a kit leftover from a class I taught years ago   Long-time neighbors Pam and Jon are about to be grandparents for the first time.  This baby quilt is for the grandparents - we celebrate their joy!

My sister's grandchildren love The Hungry Caterpillar.  These two panels will be turned into a queen-size quilt and a crib quilt.  Both of these are finished and ready for their car ride to the Long Armer Frank. 

 This jazz t-shirt quilt is for one of John's Jazz Cruise buddies Gwen.  I did one for her husband Winnie years ago, and not it's her turn.  Currently this quilt is in three big pieces, so it too is almost ready for the Long Armer, 

Time in the studio is joyous.  It is here that I try to balance the dark tone that American politics has taken , a tone that favors conservative thinking, small government,  and corporate wealth.  2017 has been an enormous year for my productivity.  While I am personally joyful, I am not optimistic for 2018.  I remain thankful for supportive family, good friends, and my quilting community. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

I Can't Word

A little drawstring bag for Henry and a doll quilt for Eloise, my sister's grandchildren
A Tudor Tote for my travel agent client from a t-shirt
The reverse of the above tote, plus a pillow for her granddaughter.

Another Benton Avenue grandchild is coming

My doctor (whom I love) is having her first baby this spring and likes green.
And of course a couple of zippered totes.  Just because...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Lots o' Pictures

This cute little baby quilt is ready for gifting to a Benton Avenue grandchild.

Scraps were used for the back.  All from Zen Chic's Fragile collection.

 The Sloan Travel Bag, pattern by Sew Sweetness, is finished.  For each outer part, there is an inner part.  Pockets, straps, zippers, lining - preparation is sometimes laborious.  But I do love this pattern, and it is my travel bag of choice.
While it is a complicated bag, I do love Sara Lawson's patterns.  Her directions are thorough and illustrated with tons of pictures.  Fellow bag maker Sally said her secret is that she's good at following directions.  And that certainly has become a strength of mine.  At Patty's request I included a detachable cross-body strap.  This bag has one outer pocket, two small outer pockets on the sides with magnetic flap closures, a zippered top closure, two inner side pockets, and two inner zippered pockets. 

The finished Sloan Travel Bag

I spent a quick weekend in Santa Fe with some local quilters, and this project is what we worked on - Sugar Skull Art.  Mine turned into a self portrait at various stages of life - acne, braces, glasses, hair.  I'm still working on adding some fabric details.  I think perhaps some hand quilting before the machine quilting, too. 

My travel agent client - you'll never guess when and where she went to high school - wanted pillows from these two t-shirts.  One of for her - the other is a Christmas present for a classmate.  I used 16" pillow forms. 

Finishing up projects means I can put away patterns and pieces and various piles of fabrics.  And that's what I did.  But in between putting things away and vacuuming, this baby/napping quilt happened.  These fabrics were leftover from quilts I did for Virginia and my sister-in-law Pam.  It's going to be 55" x 70".  And despite the various unfinished hand projects, I think I want to hand quilt this one.  Just because. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Travel Agent's T-Shirt Quilt

 Judy is a travel agent who has been collecting t-shirst for quite a while.  Several years ago she talked about wanting a t-shirt quilt.  Last year she sent me an e-mail, just checking in.  This fall her emails took on a serious tone - I could tell she was committed.  She came to the studio with all her t-shirts and a good friend and began to make some basic decisions.  And the above is the result of our collaboration.  The quilt grew bigger and bigger - it is 90" x 108" - and my favorite longarmers, Terri and Frank, did the quilting, quite spectacularly, I must say.  Today I bound it, and Judy will pick it up tomorrow.  My project queue is longer than I'd like it to be, but I bumped this project to the top of the list when Judy told me her daughter expressed doubt whether this quilt would actually get done.  Guess we showed her!

This is a baby quilt in process.  Both John and my sister looked at it and kind of hrumpphed about it not looking like a baby quilt.  But I love this.  I don't know the parents-to-be well, but I can't imagine them being anything less than very happy with this quilt.  As soon as I can clear off the work tables, this is ready for basting.  The backing was made from strips leftover from the front.  These fabrics are all from Zen Chic's Fragile collection.  The white-on-white in the background is a Carolyn Friedlander fabric.  The quilting will be simple and straight.  Quilting a baby quilt is one of my favorite things to do. 

Speaking of baby quilts, my sister wants a Hungry Caterpillar baby quilt and a matching queen-size bedspread.  She's ordered the fabrics, and they are here, neatly stacked and waiting for a cold, snowy January day!

This is the wrong side of the backing.  I'm ready to lay to batting and top on it. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Glampalot UFO: DONE!

June 2016 five of my Chicago guildsters and I went to Ann Arbor MI for Glampalot.  You might remember that I went to Camp Stitchalot  November 2014.  Glampalot was Stitchalot on steroids.  We had 6 teachers, 6 sessions, and started various parts of what could be a row quilt.  Here's the blog entry I wrote shortly after the weekend.  Once I got home, I worked a bit on these parts. 
Here's what I had by mid-June 2016
Mid-July 2016
Mid-August 2016
And then I put this project away.  I wasn't happy with the row-by-row arrangement.  And my color choices seem garish.  I wanted some sort of unity or story, and nothing seemed right. 

But I don't like seeing something not be used.  So this past week, spurred on by my Chicago Modern Quilt Guild's November topic of UnFinished Objects, I got this project out. 
I tried to break up the rows.

This quilt top is now 70" x 87."  I don't love it, but somebody will.  It's ready for quilting, but I think I'll try to tackle one more UFO...

Like the Medallion quilt...

Or perhaps start a baby quilt from Zen Chic's Fragile collection!

Friday, November 3, 2017

On The Road and UFO's

We took a quick trip to Atlanta to visit John's daughter Julie.  It's a 750-mile drive, most of which I traveled  in my commute from Chicago to East Tennessee to go to Milligan College in the last 60's and early 70's.  We listened to Catch-22  (well, 15 out of the 17 disks ), a favorite of John.  I'd never read it.  I'm glad to say I finally know the book, but I wasn't crazy about it.  In Atlanta we visited the Jimmy Carter Center Presidential Museum.  What a fabulous man. 

Of course I made a MORS bag for Julie's new apartment.
But after a week away from home, I get itchy.  So many things in the studio I want to finish and new projects to begin.

Like these little RunArounds for Oralee's 4 granddaughters.

Like these Tudor bags...

Like these bits from Glampalot 2016. 

Taking shape  - stay posted...
Like getting back to these scrap blocks from last month...

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Scraps and Substrates

Do you know this picture that hangs at the Art Institute - Chicago?  It is That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do (The Door) by Ivan Albright.  It was in the World Literature book I taught from for many years, and it has intrigued me.  It was in the Human Nature and Justice portion of the book. 

I should be working on commissioned projects.  Yet, today I want to play with my scraps.  My scraps are having scraps.  And honestly?  Many of my scraps are from fabrics that I just love. 

Victoria Finlay Wolfe wrote a book Fifteen Minutes of Play and suggested just playing with fabrics in an improv manner daily or when blocked.  I did this yesterday when I finished the top of the t-shirt quilt I'm working on . 

I picked out all my grey, black and white bits from the current scraps pile.  And then I remembered to take the lid off this "scrap pile" and of course found more bits.  And then I remembered the bin of grey, black, white and red fabrics for one of my many unfinished projects.   And now I'm playing. 

I am not working on the several almost finished Tudor bags.  I am not working on the 4 cute little RunAround bags due Thanksgiving.  I am not working on the t-shirt quilt (truly I'm waiting for its owner to make a decision about the outer border).  I am not working on the Sloan bag which I am really eager to start. 

Before I get back to work, I must discuss substrates, a word I never used or heard in connection to sewing/quilting until Sunday, when three guildsters and I did a little presentation on bag-making.  Betty Lou from North Texas, this next part is for you!

It's frustrating to spend time making something out of quilting cottons, knowing that cottons don't last forever.  Face it, we aren't working with concrete or wood.  But quilts, even ones that are used a lot, last fairly long because the layers - the top, batting, and backing -  give strength.  Apply this same principal to bag making.  The longer you want something to last, the more you need to pay attention to the substrate(s) used.  Here are my two favorite substrates for bag-making:

Shape Flex 101, a fusible midweight interfacing.  It comes in white AND black.

My 60" x  I-dion't-know-how-many-yards of Soft and Stable.  Think thin foam that you can sew and quilt on.

The purse I carry daily and my matching travel bag are holding up beautifully.  I interfaced each purse/bag piece with ShapeFlex 101 and then quilted it onto Soft and Stable.  And here's the result:

For simple bags, like Morsbags, the only part I will use a "substate" on are the handles, if I make them.  More and more, I am using cotton webbing/strapping for the handles.  My husband will take one and jam it into his back pocket before he walks to Trader Joe's.  In fact, for him, I will make Mors bag out of a batik, because it's more tightly woven than most others cottons, and not even line it.  Perfect for jamming into a pocket. 

To get back to "That Which I Should Have Done But Did Not Do", when I am stuck on a project or when I'm not sure which of the several projects in front of me to work on, I will often make a Mors bag, just because I know in 45 minutes I will have something that is completed.

For now, I'm going back to scraps!  check out the last picture for the direction my scraps are headed in.

Scraps on the table

Scraps on the work table

Scraps on top of the scrap "basket"

The inside of the scrap "basket"

T-shirt Quilt waiting for a border decision

12.5" blocks