Monday, July 31, 2017

A Second Tribute to Things 8.5" x 11"

And of course by things I mean paper.  My life as a student and as a teacher, a total of 51 years, was controlled by notebook paper.  I always found the margins and the lines comforting.  I liked that there wasn't a strict right-hand margin - one must have a wee bit of freedom, eh? So when Heather Givens released her line of Paper Obsessed fabrics, I bought several fabrics and immediately thought of using them as 8.5" x 11" blocks.  The quilt in my dining room is my first fabric ode to notebook paper.  I even quilted in the red margin lines and the top turquoise line that is 1.25" down from the top of the paper.  And then I handquilted in the 3-ring punch lines.  Clever, eh?  So this quilt is made up of extras from that project.  I made all six rows and then put it away in March.  And guess what I just found!

A close-up of one of the blocks featuring the simple quilting.

Another block featuring one of the very clever fabrics.

This quilt is a napping size, 60" x 80", and perfect for an air-conditioned hot Michigan summer day, one of those cool spring or fall evenings or a wonderfully cold winter day.  The backing is an Art Gallery fabric, which means it's cotton and shiny and soft.  This glimpse of the back of the quilt shows the margin quilting.  Paula told me 2-year old Eloise just last week tinkled on the  house baby quilt I made when 4-year old Henry was born.  Well, here's another house quilt ready for whatever body fluids the kids come up with.  And the beauty of quilts?  They are meant to be washed - and even get prettier and softer with each washing.  Paula and Den are fabulous grandparents, and they are fabulous siblings.  So many times in the past two years they have given me their professional medical guidance.  Surely that's worth a quilt.  Or two. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Do you have any quilting needs?

This is the question I have often asked my two grandsons, and they always answer with a sly smile and a no.  Last weekend granddaughter Natalie, a senior at Crystal Lake Central HS, said she needed a quilt and would I be willing to make her one.  Would I?
WOULD I?  OMG, this is what I live for!  Nat showed me her newly-painted bedroom.  We talked about design, and she wants something low volume.  So I went home, searched through some on my on-line stores, and ordered what you see on the left.  This background?  I love.  But I don't know if Natalie will. The background is faded bits of maps and texts.

But now to complicate things, look what I found in my stash - darker shades of the colors in Nat's bedroom and a different background.  I'm not quilt sure how to describe it except it's neutral and low volume.  I would prefer to not work with a solid light background, and I need to see if Nat is ok with this.

So here are all the possibilities for this quilt.  Natalie, which background do you prefer?  And do you want just the fabrics I initially ordered - the ones that closest match your bedroom?  Or may I just some of the darker shades - in a minimal fashion - in the quilt?  This quilt is all about you! So get back to me on these two issues, and then I can get started.  And you can stop reading now because what follows is just some studio babblings.  I just finished two big quilts - Cristina's and Julie's (which is so big I took it to Terri and Frank for longarming).  And the studio is out of control.  So yesterday I looked at piles, some various UFO's, and am in the middle of a clean- up.

For instance, I found this nappping quilt.  I had done all the rows but they weren't sewn together.  So I sewed them.  This will be 60"ish by 80"ish.  I'm deciding whether to use the paper airplane fabric or the notebook paper fabric for an outer border. Look at  Paper Obsessed, a line of fabrics that I love.  The blocks on this quilt are all 8.5" by 11".  And each block has something to do with notebooks or writing or computer or text.  Because this quilt is smallish, I am going to quilt it and gift it to my sister - it will be perfect for her grandchildren.
The pile on the card table

The piles on the cutting table.  I gave away a Tudor Bag that I love, so I am going to make another.

 July was going to be my month to sew for Sew Powerful and make "period purses" for young ladies in Zambia.  But shingles threw my rhythm off.  I will do some purses but perhaps not until late August or September.  Guildster Danni was cleaning out her stash and wanted to get rid of cotton webbing, which I think is perfect for these purses.  But now - where to store this?  Meanwhile, I'm happy to be sewing and feeling good.  As my friend Bill Stearman often says, "Life is good." 
My scraps have scraps.

And here's that lovely pile of fabrics that Mimi gave me in April.

Yes, another pile.

Friday, July 21, 2017

A Quilt For Cristina

"She smote the ground and a quilt appeared." No, of course that's not how it happens. There is so much thought that goes into the design and execution of any creative project. And when that project is for someone special, every part of the creative process becomes even more deliberate. For years I have coached my little neighbor Cristina in quilting. She started as a 7th grader and knocked out her first quilt. She had the knack of going to my fabric cabinets and sniffing out my best and most prized fabrics. But then she would do such neat things with them! Check out the index of my blog under "Cristina" for various bits of history. One summer during high school she came down and helped me with a little workshop for my granddaughter and one of her friends. During Cris's senior year of high school she and her friend Katia both made Trips Around the World. Cristina now has a degree in fine arts from Iowa State and also has a certificate in Graphic Design. Her eye has always scared me a bit because mine is so unsophisticated. While she was getting her Graphic Arts certificate, she lived at her parents' home and came down here to make a couple of quilts. One of the quilts she did had this Moroccan Tile vibe, and I could tell she really liked this sort of aesthetic.

Janet Clare designed Aubade:  A Song to the Dawn, a beautiful line of fabrics.  And I was in love.  I bought a jelly roll and a mini-charm pack.  Along with a neutral background and a darker background, I knew I wanted to use these in a quilt for Cristina.  But here's where it gets tricky.  For years I've been suggesting Cristina go improv and do interesting things - things like negative space and varying scale.  So I knew I couldn't do just any old thing for Cristina's quilt.  While I have coached her with her quilt-making and maybe helped finish a quilt or two and have made her various little bags and totes, I have never - in our 15-year friendship - made her a quilt.

This was the first designs. I like how the blocks are of varying scale and thought that a navy might make a great sashing.  But not for Cris - she has a lighter eye.  And despite the varying scale, this design left me cold.

And then I remembered a picture I cut out from the Keepsake Quilting catalogue.  I like the visual interest of connecting blocks to one another, almost like game pieces.  And the design for Cristina's quilt began to take shape.  I didn't want it to be matchy-matchy, and I think the varying scale of the blocks and the little connector bits helped with that.
The back of the quilt
Cristina is a ditherer. Wait - there's a better way to say that: she is deliberate. I am not. I have my mother's subway efficiency - I get things done but they may not always be the most attractive. As Cristina was "dithering" over some part of the design process, I would be on the other side of the studio muttering things like: Just get it done! Be bloody, bold, and resolute.And so now I had to take my own advice.  The front of the quilt is pretty tame - I love it and I think Cristina's will, too.  But it's tame.  So I wanted the back to be improv-ish.  And I love how it turned out. 
The quilt and its various layers on the basting table.

The quilting is all straight-line with a walking foot.  This part of the process is one I find very satisfying.  Every line of stitching is soothing.
Despite our 41-year age difference, we both enjoy our friendship with one another.  Her move out of the neighborhood to Pilsen marks a definite change and end of an era.  She has her own studio and workspace (really, her loft is terrific), she has a big-girl job, and she has a rock-solid boyfriend.  This quilt celebrates Cristina's full entry into adulthood and marks the end of a very special time in our lives.  There are very few people I love more than Cristina.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Picture, Just Pictures

A Quilt of Bicycling T-Shirts representing lots of miles and a couple of injuries and a lot of fun

The Quilt I've been working on for Cristina is finally basted and ready for quilting, a process I enjoy despite the size of this quilt.  All the quilt wrestling will pay off.  I'll post this quilt when it's finished along with the story behind it.

These fabrics just joined the others.  No specific plans, but I sure do like them.

Little neighbor Kate is working on this for her father.  These are blocks her grandmother did, probably in the 70's or 80's.  Her dad found them after his mother died.  Kate took them and said, "I bet Donna would like these."  Her dad agreed.  But Kate instead is working on this for him.  The four corners will be filled in by some crazy-pieced blocks.  See below.

Medical note: my shingles are gone but the nerve pain/burning continues. Pretty annoying but not debilitating. Glad to be sewing again!