Monday, September 30, 2013

Sew Selfish

I promised myself to honor this week as one where I join the SELFISH SEWING WEEK, even though it was scheduled last week during a real rush to ready and ship out seven quilts. 

I've got a pretty good size container of 2.5" strips and think I will make a large one-block Log Cabin quilt in the same way I made a comfort quilt for my Niece Manda before she surrendered to leukemia. You can see how I took special care to use the light and dark of each color around the center. It has a very interesting diagonal line through it. For mine, I want to make it a bit more random using any light and dark. However much that gets done on this will be fine. It will be a WIP (work in process) for the next SELFISH SEWING WEEK  maybe in November.

This morning I went back to the floral material I culled from my stash for the Row of the Month quilt. This reflects a separating by light, medium, and dark florals. I was quite surprised with so many pieces of dark.

Then I pulled the dark pile out to see the colors and it got more interesting to me because of the reds.

The mediums held golds and some other odd color entries. Thing is that once the fabrics get cut and combined, they will change energy and fit together in very different ways. 

My decision is to purchase some light florals, and perhaps look for some that are brighter to add to the mix.

Every time I re-group the stash that is stored in my closets, its like stepping into a new environment of my own making. I realize that its my responsibility to make something with what has been given me. And when I see that what I have to work with is not quite within my vision, then I can bring more of what I need or want to me.

I could have just said that I missed the SELFISH SEWING WEEK last week and not done it. However, it is a good thing to do something-anything that is just for me. It is a responsible thing to do and I am quite excited to start it this morning!  

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Little Small Things

I cut two Mug Rugs out yesterday and am still waiting to learn who my partner for the MugRug Swap will be. Hopefully notifications go out by the day's end. The 10x6 dimensions for them are more of a challenge when working with actual patterns. I've found a few 6" block patterns and settled on one for this, however, depending upon my Swap Partner, either this will work or I will find something different. Either way, I am getting good practice at working with those 'little small things'.

That phrase makes me smile and, for me, comes from the movie "Nanny McPhee", a 2005 British film starring Emma Thompson. The first of that series is the only one worth seeing, has a brilliant use of color, and is extraordinarily funny with an amazing story to tell.

Yesterday, I also finished piecing #4 of the BOM I am quilting with my local friend. As I mentioned before, we are using the same pattern from one of the endless online sources for free quilt patterns. It was our plan to learn these different techniques and come up with a scrappy sampler type quilt. I am working with the smaller lap size. This block pattern is called the Rail Fence, and I've used it for the "Halloween" quilt I just shipped out. 

As I have mentioned, a number of my friends have gifted me with various fabrics in the last few years, and so with several containers of STASH, I pulled them out, and sorted fabrics with a new eye on what kind of look I want for the next quilt.

I have it in my head to do a Row of the Month quilt. I haven't got a pattern, but have been looking online at different images  that other quilters have done. 

Like the Block of the Month, these quilts can be done as a sort of sampler, which means the quilter gets to practice a block repeatedly in a horizontal fashion. 

My next sorting was to pull out all the florals in my stash.

They are just piled up here on my floor. As soon as there is enough light in the room, I will separate them into light-medium-dark values in the colorways. My plan is to make these the primary foundation of fabrics, so after sorting, the next decision is to see what I need to purchase to help tie what is here together.

One of the stores in town has the most beautiful floral fabrics and has a basket of 1/8th yard pieces that I may look at and select a few to bring home. 

The hardest thing about scrap quilting is not knowing fabric amounts to purchase so you have enough. Here is a link to one row of the month example, by Davina Thomas and was recently in a year's worth of articles in the magazine Popular Patchwork

While I like this example and others I saw, I would like to develop my own skills at creating a quilt with this ROW system on my own. 

I enjoyed making the house blocks on two other quilts, and I love many of the example rows show above, some of which repeat blocks.  I haven't created many of these blocks, so it will certainly stretch my skills and ability to work with traditional quilting. 

Everyone gets to say what skill level they are on, and with almost four years of working with this fabric art, I consider myself an Intermediate Beginner. That means being still in the Beginner phase but stepping out and taking more risks.

As you can see, there is no right or wrong way to construct this Row of the Month quilt. It looks like my first step is sorting all the fabrics I have, and then being willing to take a chance on myself.

When I assess what I see above, it seems to me that there are simple rows and there are complex rows. It will be interesting to see how that plays out over the next year as a metaphor for each month. 

We never know what any day will bring us, from boundless joy to deepest anxiety. Its important for me to see the greater plan, and then to be willing to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. Having a Plan B has always worked for me.

This plan is to start with the more simple blocks for the first rows, get a feel for how long to make them, and start doing the math. Maybe some quilters with more skill would write a pattern and know how wide and long each row needs to be. Perhaps when I graduate myself to Advanced Beginner or step into the next level of Intermediate Quilter, I will have a better idea of how to do that.

In October, I plan to join the local quilter's guild in town, and also as part of it, join the Comfort Quilt group that is an off-shoot. Both groups offer more classes and opportunities to learn from the more seasoned quilters.

Its the 'little small things' or steps we take that keep us on our path of evolution in body, mind and spirit.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Cut, cut, cutting

My early morning was spent sorting and cutting fabric for the next three projects, two of which are Block of the Month: The Calendar block exchange, and the BOM quilt I am making along-side a local quilter. The other is my first patterned Mug Rug, which only means I am making it with a pattern rather than random piecing like I did the first four.

Quilting reminds me of when I went parachuting in Minnesota, during the old days when you packed your own chute, jumped out of the plane on your own (without being in tandem) with it on your back, controlled the ropes and landed in a safe place. The instructors always said that if you died or got hurt, it was your own fault. You packed the chute to open correctly, you did the training to learn how to run the ropes AND fall correctly so you didn't get hurt.

Other people used to say, "Are you crazy to jump out of a perfectly good plane?"

Quilters buy a beautiful piece of fabric and the next thing, we cut it to pieces! Are we crazy??? We love our fabric to pieces!

Usually the act of cutting finishes a thing. We cut our food into  bite-sizes; we cut grass and flowers at their peak; we even cut our losses in dysfunctional relationships.

However, in quilting, the act of cutting is almost the beginning of something new and exciting.

It takes time to cut fabric to the sizes we need. The small blocks and mini quilts I began today have tiny pieces and with the best of luck, they will go together, somewhat miraculously, and form a new creation, a new interpretation of the original fabric and even the original pattern.

What each quilter does every day is birth anew. It is no wonder that many of us hold onto what we make. We put countless hours into the multiple steps it takes to learn this art, to practice this art, to feel confidence in it.

And for the next few hours, on this very cold morning, I am off to the local airport to watch some WWII birds land and take off, circle and return. No one jumps out of these planes. I know we are lucky to see the ones that didn't get shot out of the sky back in the WWII. There will be stories to hear, history to learn, and that thrills me too.

Pieces and patterns wait for me here, and one by one, they will become some fun parts of quilts to to follow after they are swapped!

The fun stories were told by these old guys who have worked around planes since they were kids. I sat on the other side of the table, just listening to all the techy talk.  And now, home again, I start with my own work.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Bye-bye babies, bye-bye

Yesterday was more than I expected. "Winter is Coming" was finished, checked and wrapped. Part of the final check on all of them was on the binding corners. A number of other quilters I know say they do the same re-inforcing. Each one was wrapped in tissue (loosely) with a ribbon tied around them so I could cut it and send it off 'with no strings attached'.

Seven quilts shipped out this morning.  FedX charges were about $88 for weight and required signatures. I understand the places where quilts go missing is during shipping, so I put an extra energetic protection on each one.

Its funny when the clerk asked for a declared value because art by those of us unknown is rarely valued for its real worth. 

One of my teachers in town says that you can take the cost of all your materials and then add a zero. I just spent $10.64 at her store this morning. When I finish with the two Mug Rugs I plan to make from it, by that calculation, they would price out at more than $106.40 because it takes thread and batting to finish them. NO ONE, including me would buy a single Mug Rug for $55. 

An artist who does understand the value of their work and does put such a fair price, sometimes sees people walk on by. They know the person loves it, wants it, but often cannot afford it. The risk is in holding firm with the price and not taking the walk-on-by personally.

I am seeing a huge drop in the online class registrations this fall. Its very unsettling because I know the lineup is good...great even. 

I think people get caught up in negative thinking about their resources and then run away in fear and avoid spending anything on what might improve their well-being.

The kind of person I want to be and hope I am, is the kind of person who believes today is my lucky day. Today I walk with confidence, moving from my center and walking with an open heart. Long ago, I learned that life is too short not to be in love with myself. And that simply means drawing others to me who can also love their selves. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Its a Wrap!

Today will be spent finishing up, checking for loose threads, and just being sure the quilts going out tomorrow are securely stitched. I've been showing the progress all along except for these two. As you know, I have been gifted with fabrics through friends, and wanted to make use of them before buying others. This one is made from flannel scraps and is a simple 4-patch with 4 borders and then the binding.

Without buying more fabric, I created a simple 4-patch block for the back with larger pieces cut to fit with the join in the center. I tried to come up with a quilt name while I was basting it. The colors are those used in my younger Son's home and I realized how warm it was going to be when I took it off the tables and suddenly decided to name it "Winter is Coming" as a nod to the books and HBO Series Game of Thrones.

This second quilt fabric comes from the Alexander Henry House collection of the Ghastlies Fabrics. (follow the link to see more of it) I bought this fabric and the quilt pattern on a trip back to MN a couple of years ago. I bought it. 

Its become a sweet personal lap size quilt to wrap up in while watching movies on the couch at night. I really did not want to cut into the fabric and like this paneled effect. Its pretty simple and went together quite easily. I did a very basic echo stitch around the characters on the front for the quilting.

I've learned that for me to live a creative life, I must release my need to be perfect, and to allow the creative energy that exists in the universe to simply flow. Because quilting has become a passion in my life, I realize too that I've stepped into a pool of creators who bring all sorts of ideas to it. My biggest fear comes about when I start comparing myself to others. Each of us has a reason for quilting. Each of us finds the resources to perform this art, and each of us have our own abilities. 

So much comes into play for quilting that is sensual: Color choices, texture; the ability to see and do accurate piecing; having the body flexibility and stamina. 

It seems that this is a vital force flowing through our lives and spinning in all of the world and through all people.

And now my day has begun. The finishing up part is what we do whenever we start something. Endings are just as important as beginnings. If the quilt unravels at the corners or a seam, then all the work from start through the middles will fall short of our expectations for the entire creation.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pay It Forward

Just this morning, I signed up for a new Pay It Forward project on a quilter's blog called Alsha's Space. I have yet to hear from her if my request to join was approved, but thought I would go ahead and set it up on my blog.

Here's how it works. I will take the first three names (and email addresses) from anyone interested in this challenge and agree to make and send you a little hand made fabric art within a year. You will not know when it is coming or what it might be. 

YOU agree to post this same offer wherever it works for you (Facebook, your family gathering, your work group, or wherever you can post it) and then, make and send something you have made to those three people. It carries through so that every person agreeing to Pay It Forward only makes three items, just like you can see from the cute graphic above. You must give them the same information about paying it forward to three other people. To keep it going, they need to be aware of the guidelines here.

I've been doing the PIF's for several years now. If you are not a quilter but want to join, please consider what it is you can make, and what sort of guidelines would work for you. I've always thought that it could be an anonymous act of kindness given toward someone in your neighborhood. You decide how you will pay it forward.

Doing here, online, opens to anyone reading this blog.

Driving Through the Desert

As I thought about what to do or make during the next week for Selfish Sewing, I thought about all the scraps that have collected in storage boxes. I've spent time cutting fabrics from various projects and have them sorted into 2.5" strips, and squares that range from 10" down to 2.5". I pulled out the box that has the strips because its overflowing.

Then, this morning, I started looking at potential scrappy strip patterns and found this one called a Roman Stripe. If I make myself a comfort quilt, it has to be easy and something that will go together quickly. 

As I drove through the desert thinking about the concept of selfishness, it seemed that my world became full of possibilities. With scrap quilting, the more variety of fabrics in a quilt, the better it seems to go together. Ah well, not this week.

Today, I need to wrap the four quilts for one of my Nephews and his family, and ship them off. This is the largest of the four and was made with holiday materials, primarily used from leftovers on other projects. I adapted a pattern I found in one of the magazines I browsed through, and really love how it turned out. 

It does work for me to use the scraps, and I do enjoy the gifts from my friends who share what they cannot use. It sometimes makes me identify with the early pioneer women who made such heirloom quilts by using old dresses, shirts and flour sacks. Its simply a tradition.

And I have to get on with my machine quilting today and finish  up the others. I am looking forward to shipping them all out by Monday. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Selfish Sewing Next Week

Yah, right. 

I followed a link through three blogs (52 Quilts in 52 Weeks; the concept hosted by Imagine Gnat and Made with Moxie) to read the suggestion that this week be one where you make things for yourself. They set this up some time ago as a challenge to fabric artists with reminders that it was coming, that I never saw until this morning. And as I followed their links, it seemed that the hostesses of the challenge created more fashion garments for themselves. And to give examples of what they made, they worked in advance.

Do I have time?

I only saw it this morning, making today Day #2 of the week. I don't have a plan. I need a plan. I want a plan. I like this concept.

Its just not going to work for me this week. The originators did their work in advance, and I will play catch-up. 

I have two quilts yet to finish, and eight to ship by the end of the month. Its great to see the world spinning with new ideas, and know I don't have to go along for the ride in that same moment; and know also that I can spin and twirl on my own and be just as fulfilled.

Being selfish isn't a bad thing, but for me, its a hard thing to do. I've spent my life putting others' well-being and happiness first, even though I teach a different concept to others in my everyday conversations and through the classes I present.

In truth, I started being selfish a few years ago when I realized that my needs were not being met. I had taught others how to treat me, and they believed there was little they could do or gift me that I couldn't get or didn't have. Every time I said, "That's alright", I let others believe it didn't matter and it was ok for me when birthdays or invitations or holidays were not acknowledged. It really wasn't ok. And I thought I was being selfless.

Thing is, I don't know what it means to do selfish sewing. I haven't got a plan.

I'm driving through the desert this morning to the big city to get an oil change. It will take an hour on a straight freeway and driving with little traffic, so I will have time to think about what I might like to make myself NEXT week after the quilts are completed and shipped out. 

Next week, I will do Selfish Sewing. 

After my trip today, I will have an idea of what I want to sew for myself and make a plan. I can do this. If my whole theory about quilting is to create something that is made with 'every stitch a prayer', then I will be doing it for myself next week. 

Its actually exciting.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Comfort Quilt Group

There is a local quilting guild in town that meets monthly and the surrounding areas that I have yet to join. I was invited to attend one of the sub-groups that meets. This group of between 10-20 participants meets with their machines and portable tools to make and distribute Comfort Quilts to children and adults in crisis as well as in grief. That appealed to me, so I went with my local quilting friend to a meeting today.

Women were already busy at machines, laying out fabrics and projects and gathering up ones to work on. So many people donate fabric and quilting tools that they have a closed trailer to hold it all and its sorted by colors, by sizes cut and by styles. 

I asked how I could be of service and was given some simple tasks. One was to rip a seam. LOW & BEHOLD, there is a way to do it, and I got my first lesson there on how to do it correctly.

Everyone there has parts of quilting they like to do better than others. Some cut and put together simple 'kits' for another person to take home, piece and return next month. Others were hand-quilting, and others sorting or pressing.

They also host a pot luck for lunch, sit down and relax, then put things away and go home around 1:30 PM.

This group of very loving women set about the task of loving others in a special way. It made me think about how any of us love ourselves, and made me think about how I do or if I do love myself.

I am trying to evolve in this area. 

Sometimes self-love is tentative, half-hearted and downright skimpy as an eighth-inch seam. Normal wear and tear on such a skimpy seam will cause its fabric to shred. So it is for us as well.

I watched how they all checked and double checked their own work and the work of others on these quilts, and was told that when they go to someone ill, the quilt may be washed in hot water, sometimes every day, and needs to be securely pieced.

Hot water for a quilt is like heavy emotions or stressors that come at us with each day, day after day. No wonder people 'come apart at the seams'.

I think about the people in my life who have pieced me together and how few of them were checked at all for what they said or did. However, I see that I have a role to play as well in the woman-making efforts.  

Its never too late for me to be aware of who says or does something affirmative or who in my life is critical, bullies me or doesn't have my best interest in heart. In my awareness, I can reinforce the seams of my life so that I last longer, healthier, wiser and with more usefulness to myself and others.

It was a good morning!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Blessed Art Those Who Inherit the Quilts

Quilting on Saturday was getting those completed projects ready for shipping. I didn't blog.

The minor details of pulling loose threads, making sure the name of the recipient is on the quilt, with its name, my name and the date (I only add the year) are all things that take time. 

This morning, I made a potato-leek soup and started a paper craft project that will go out before Solstice. It will sit on the dining room table so that we can work on it when time allows.

Not so these quilts. These are going out this week!  Four to one house, and three more to other homes. I find a great deal of happiness bringing each creation to completion. Its become a passion that goes beyond the whisper it was when I first started quilting.

I've evolved personally like my skill in quilting has developed. Each quilt has become as familiar as a memory, precious and priceless as each person who will receive them. I look at the colors blending and coordinating in ways that are uniquely my own vision.

I believe that they are treasures inside a box that will soon arrive on the doorsteps, so unexpectedly, so in-the-moment bringing something that only a quilt can symbolize, like warmth, comfort, shielding from outside forces. 

This afternoon I will be binding the fourth quilt that goes into the box and off to my Nephew and his family. I am looking forward to having it on my lap because the nights keep getting chillier. THIS is the perfect season to quilt and to enjoy the creation one more time before it goes off to its destination across the country to where winter is really Winter in Minnesota.

Blessed are they? Yes, with every stitch I make.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Smallest Gift

I finished this Mug Rug yesterday and even hand quilted it, which was difficult because its too small to fit in one of my smallest frames.

Like my other projects, as I worked, I held the thoughts of the person receiving it on her birthday next week, who is my last maternal Auntie alive.

I've spent considerable time this last year asking and researching my maternal heritage. There have been a number of people in my family who worked with various fabric arts. But more, what I find is a lineage of strong women who lived in an era where they did what was expected, kept a lot of secrets and once they were married, did not cling to a sisterhood or even understand what one would look like. The patterns I see when I look back exist in me either to heal any dysfunctions or to continue a courageous behavior.

Both widowed now for several years, this particular Auntie visits my Mother regularly. Mother lives in residential care nearby, so Auntie can drive there without too much effort. They are only three years apart, and as they have aged almost are like grrrlhood chums again. This is the time to glean from their memories because they are upfront in their own consciousness.

I think about the smallest acts we do are like making this small Mug Rug. Or visiting someone in a nursing home, or greeting the new neighbor.

Its as though any small acts on our part either enrich us or diminish who we are. No matter how quietly or privately we do something, it transforms us and becomes a part of who we are, how we think, and how we feel and how we are becoming whole and greater.

Today, I am basting a flannel quilt I am making my younger Son. It should be cozy in those chilly Minnesota evenings. There are two still WIPs, or works in progress that will also go out very soon. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hallows Rail Fence

I enjoyed piecing this quilt and the challenge that a scrap Rail Fence pattern provided. Halloween fabric is often outrageous for whatever reason, so I added the black between the blocks and for the first border. 

Basting at my community clubhouse is such a gift for ease in layout. Much easier to lean over a table than to struggle on the floor. The ruler helps smooth the fabric, removing lumps or bubbles, and straightens it out to better hold crisp lines. 

The brightness of all this color made me think of the new quilt owner. She has the most gorgeous smile that starts with light in her eyes and a laugh about to spill out, to her open and warm body language. It was fun making it for her and imagining her on their couch under the quilt reading to her Sons. 

People in my family who get these early versions of my quilting receive the ones made with squares and rectangles and simple quilting that follows the ditches. 

It makes me think of how we are as humans learning what we came here to know, doing what we can in ways that our current skills present. We...well, I measure my work against what I see others do and it helps me want to achieve more and do better with what I share.

Everyone I admire raises that bar of excellence for me.

And I know that my work in this art form is still at that early stage. It still makes me laugh over the conversation I had at Project Linus on Saturday with the woman who told me she never lets quilters see her work.

What would they say? In my experience, most quilters encourage me, and point out other ways of doing something rather than to say I did it wrong.

I think those quilters understand that in creating something, its like birthing a child and no matter how healthy or dysfunctional that child is, it is still yours. And we care about what we create whether it is a pot of coffee or a lovely quilt.

ooooohhhh, that's pretty or ooooooohhhh, that tastes wonderful.

Oh coffee. Yes. And, Happy Full Moon!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Strip Piecing

I've done this strip piecing before and have ended up with some Orphans This time, I was focusing on creating something for the MugRug Swap.  It started by simply piecing them together in strips.

 And then, I cut and re-pieced. Angles were making it most interesting. So I made a piece that measured 10x12 so there would be two Mug Rugs from it.

These are the two resulting cuts from my playing with fabric. Its interesting to me that these smaller, mini quilts are almost more difficult. I am not sure if it is the confinement of space to work with or simply that I am working without a pattern on them. This first piece is nice and will serve quite well as a Mug Rug. It has a feel of being solid and stationary in movement.

 They coordinate color but have two completely different looks to them that, unfortunately cannot be replecated. This second piece has less horizontal/vertical lines and seems to represent new directions in the way it seems to move. In both, the green forms a directional line to my eye.

I found a couple of patterns that make up smaller stars and will try my luck at them later this week using other color combinations for Fall. 

This morning, I am ready to baste two more quilts that need to ship out by the end of the month. Each will be simply quilted by machine, then basted.

Mornings here are chilling down and seem darker. Its a good time to work with a quilt over me in the early mornings by the light of the fireplace. I enjoy every part of quilting, but seem to enjoy this part most as the seasons shift.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I finished the TRAINS quilt for my Great-Nephew. He's the youngest member of my entire family and has a passion for them.  I wasn't sure how this Log Cabin would turn out, but I really think it works. Until I took a picture of it, I couldn't see how the choices with black and the train print would work to balance out the wilder colors.  I fussy cut 12 train engines for the centers and made sure they would be directionally the same. It was a quilt that took a lot more thought.  This last year, I used the Log Cabin pattern many times and sincerely like how they all turn out.

I placed a train track border on it because I am sure he will love driving on the tracks, and just quilted on the outside of the yellow border for stability. I used a poly batting for ease in washing. The close-up shows one fabric that has train cars, another with signs and the third one has tracks.

This shows the back. Its quite a wild green with dots on it and it wasn't until I was stitching the binding that I noticed that the blue, the yellow and the red all have dots, so this fabric really coordinates better than I first realized.

Can it be a simple random choice or was I guided by something so beyond me that I will not even know? When we gift our quilts to someone, even if they send a warm note of gratitude, we release the quilt with our love and never really know what happens to it. This young boy may have thoughts that he never expresses to his parents. Thoughts can run the full gamut from pleasure and joy to a complete turnoff.  

These days when I receive a gift, I allow myself the full wonder of the love from the person sending it. I hold it close to me, take pleasure in the sight of it, the textures, the thought behind the kindness. 

It wasn't always so. There have been times in my life when I secretly laughed at what I held, secretly dismissed the gesture. I might have wanted more or thought I deserved better or different. And knowing this about myself, helps lighten my expectations when I ship a quilt off to someone in my family or my friends.

Few people understand how much work goes into making a quilt. Fewer people know that some of us put our souls into the creation, from the time we conceptualize it and select fabrics and patterns to the time we wrap it up and ship it off.

I realize now that those gifts I received over the years were either made or purchased with similar intents to share the love the giver had for me. Maybe it was an odd color, or maybe an odd object. I never stopped to think of them or why they chose what they did to express their love for me.

I will probably never know how Jackson will feel about this quilt. In my heart I am smiling. I can hope that it brings him joy and that at some distant time he remembers taking off the wrapping and feeling surprise that it was just for him...that some old Great-Aunt he barely remembers made it just for him.

My heart is smiling this morning too in remembering all the odd gifts, all the magnificent gifts, all the small treasures, all the warm extensions of love that everyone in my life has shared. Through TRAINS, I travel back in time and forward into the future connecting and being connected by love.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mug Rugs Are My New Thing

I've made three now that are practice pieces to get me ready for the Swap. They are mini quilts and take a lot of thought. What is great about doing something like this is the 'practice' component.

I met a woman at the Project Linus site on Saturday and as we looked at some of the donations, she told me she never shows her quilts to other quilters. I get that. To the untrained eye, these quilts are lovely.

Today, I am sending these to one of my Nieces for her birthday instead of the usual card, and with a note telling her what they are, so she doesn't think they are potholders and burn her hand holding something from the stove or oven.

Learning to quilt has become an act of being slow and steady with my progress. Sure, the results can be immediate, like what you see above, and I love just looking at them because they are dramatic in color. What you cannot see in the photo and I realize, is that I need more practice on...for instance the binding. 

My MugRugSwap partner will probably look at what I send with a more knowing eye, and while they might be pleased with what they see, they will also be looking to see what it is I need to learn. 

Quilting gives me a calmer, more even approach to how I see myself and how I do this work. As the operator choosing the speed, my machine runs slower than when I first started because I have learned that my impatience was actually an obstacle to quality. Accuracy is a well-appreciated quality. 

As I reflect on my life, I wonder how my in-born need for speed really worked for my greater good. With a quilt, if something is amiss, you can go back and rip the seam out and do it over. With life, those do-overs aren't always possible.

This realization is a big leap today. 

Yesterday, I was able to baste and machine quilt TRAINS for one of my Great-Nephews. It needs trimming and binding next. I learned from making the Mug Rugs that I want to do the binding just a little differently at the joined seams. There are two methods: One is a straight cut and the other is a mitered cut.  The straight cut saves fabric which was fine because I had just enough scraps to do them. However, with TRAINS, I expect this little boy to want to play with vehicles on the quilt and so even the smallest bump might make a difference. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Short Life

My Niece Manda passed this year after a long battle with leukemia and all its terrible side effects. I made her a comfort quilt last summer and a satin pillowcase when she lost her hair to chemo. I had been working on a scrappy quilt using a very complex pattern from the 1930's called Aunt Sukey's Choice...I renamed it Auntie M. It was almost finished. Just the last border to quilt and then binding. I've decided to let it be unfinished.

It had been a serious undertaking at my skill level, and was an old pattern I found that used an older construction method for making those green diamonds. They create an optical illusion of sorts. Its like they are fractured and yet comes together when you step back from it.

In some ways, it represents what happens to us when our lives are disrupted. Manda's little body fought so hard against this disease and all the infections she got. She also fought hard to be present in the lives of her daughters and did the best she could to live her life in the moment. 

If you look at the archives here, I posted a pic of Manda and the comfort quilt she did get from me in "Practice Pieces". Not sure what her family did with it, whether they passed it along or if one of her daughters cuddles up under it now, hoping to get a sweet scent of her mother.

For as long as there have been quilt-makers, there have been stories to tell. Each quilt does that. I think of all the history stored in them if we only know how to break the codes.

Personally, as you know, I put positive energy into all quilts I make. As I improve this art, my quilts will look better to the untrained eye. They heal me too. Each one is a step into a brighter future, a warmer life of intense inspiration.

Like the fracturing look of this quilt, the act of becoming lets us create a new reality. And as long as we remember the shattered dream of yesterday, there is a bigger picture reminding us that we have a role to play, that we have progress to make that takes practice, persistence, patience and hope.

Old dreams are gone, and we must dare to dream again, dare to dream new possibilities. 

I think it is wise to remember those dreams and hopes, wise to recall the love we put into them. Healing or recovery takes time.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

For Project Linus

I took in three quilts to Project Linus today, plus some fleece for them to use. I've been donating quilts to them now for several years and its a nice way to get practice and have the quilts go to good use. 

This is one of the baby boy quilts. I understand they get plenty of pinks and purple quilts, so I try to make mine ones that little boys would like cuddling up under. This one is called Carter's Cowboy. Its got a flannel back so is quite cozy. The next one is a scrap log cabin.

I rather enjoy this simple classic even in its scrappiest forms. No matter how you put one together, its got that huggable feel to it. I named this one, Home.

And I didn't take a pic of the third one, which was made of two colors of fleece, simply cut and tied around the edges for a fringe. I am not a fan of this kind of quilt, but people like them for their simplicity and care.

The Project Linus site had just opened, and already people were there finishing work on other quilts that had been donated. Some women brought machines and were piecing. I saw a man clipping threads from corners and checking the quilt to see it was complete. It gets packed there as the morning wears on with volunteers from nearby. 

After getting to all the other places on my list, the fabric store was the last stop. I bought material for backing two other quilts that will be shipped out soon, and some for aprons that will become thank you gifts. The library was holding two books on apron-making that have directions in them as well as lots of photos. Hmmm...garment sewing is such a different skill. Oh well, aprons have become popular again. I wonder. 

What I never liked was ironing them and so made sure it was a heavy cotton and not quite canvas. If I don't like ironing, I cannot imagine anyone else doing it. So if I am going to all the work of making them, they have to be really carefree and come out of the dryer good enough to put on again.

Its exhausting going shopping to so many stores in one day, however, living an hour away from the big city means making a list and doing as much as possible.

This is a good time to shop before the holiday rush, which I understand starts by the first of October when the stores begin to stock for December. Yikes!

Well, tomorrow is the day I stop putting off doing the free motion quilting. I sewed the stitch-in-the-ditch lines on the Hallows Ghastleys (and yes, I am taking the liberty of spelling it this way), and the machine is loaded with thread in pink and black so that I do not allow myself to procrastinate about it.

All the new fabric is washed, and I have another reservation at my clubhouse to use the tables to baste again on Wednesday.

Basting. Ah yes, basting. I know that some use a spray basting and some use pins. I like thread basting. Its what I learned for hand quilting, and I like how it holds the quilt together. Pins are usually used for machine quilting, and I have not learned to like that method.

See, this is the joy in choosing something for yourself, and its especially joyful when you are the only one living with those choices. No one cares what I do to make this art work for me. Unless they read my blog, or quilt and it comes up in conversation, my basting method is my own business.

Can you imagine how the quilting world would be shaken if the government or the churches got involved with this simple choice? Bad enough for women that what we do in our bedrooms matters to so many others.  And speaking of my bedroom, its gotten to be a long day, so I am headed off to that purple room down the hall with the sleep number bed and open window.

good night and sweet dreams!