This is the second quilt I'm currently working on. I'll save the story for another day. It's been in process for a while, and I got a little confused about where I had left off and what I was doing. It shouldn't be that hard to figure out, but I have a little brain.
I didn't think I had started this border, so I picked a pattern, marked it and began with a nice deep gold thread, only to discover a section I'd started with a different pattern in peach. Hmmmm....
So I switched one of the lines to peach, since I hadn't started it yet. It's a little of an odd look, but I can live with it.
There was a quilter, Gwen Marston, who wrote a book, I think it was Liberated Quiltmaking, which really helped me loosen up with my thinking about design and execution. For example, my stitch length is a bit uneven (more so in an earlier section) but ... I'm going with it. I loved her approach which really was liberating since I began with a very structured right/wrong mind-set. Maybe that's why I didn't start sketching for so long, and that's my point. Right gets in the way of fun. I love good technique. I also love play and experimentation.
So I get to tell the story of some of these quilts. I won't overwhelm you with the lot of them, just dole them out over the year(s).
This quilt began as a project to learn how to appliqué. I got a job in Sweden, right after I was married, and yes, nine months after the wedding I got on a plane and spent the next year in Orebro, Sweden without my hub. My mother-in-law was convinced this did not auger well for the marriage. What she didn't know was we were just idiots. But absence makes the heart...
So before I left, knowing I wouldn't have a sewing machine and being very very into quilting at the time, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to learn more about appliqué. My mother fitted me out with a great book, Appliqué 12 Easy Ways by Elly Sienkiewicz, which was the BEST book I've ever seen about appliqué. I tried every method she suggested. I had brought a misc pile of fabrics and some left over muslin bits. I made a strip of circles first.
And then a strip of leaves (two points) and then two other shapes.
Then I did just various other shapes.
I figured out which method I liked (I use freezer paper when possible as a stabilizer) and just practiced in the evening while I watched Swedish TV (which was actually a fair bit of American, British and Australian. I also hand sewed a cover for a chair that someone had lent me since I'd gotten a kitten who was starting to paw the fabric. DO NOT try to hand sew upholstery fabric. Especially for a big project like, say, a chair cover. I made a fair number of idiot decisions back in the day.
Later, when I was home, I got the idea of combining all the bits into a top, and quilting in colored thread to add another bit of interest without more appliqué.
I think I had this in progress when my father was diagnosed with cancer. That was 18 or 19 years ago. Luckily at some point I had taken the pins out so it doesn't have rust marks, although there are stains so I suspect I did some eating when I first started quilting on it. Who knows. I'm carefree that way.
I love quilting and piecing and appliqué. I love fabric and stitches and patterns.
I have a bit to work on before I have to come up with the quilting pattern for the blank bits. I used to stress about that because I thought there was a right decision I had to suss out. Now I know better. Now there is just what I feel like doing.
I'm excited about all of this.
Yup, I've been ignoring my blog. I needed to. That's just the way things go sometimes. But while I've been ignoring my blog, I've been busy doing other things.
Some people are good at reflecting on the past year, setting goals, creating priorities. I like the sound of that. Some times I do part of that, but... when it comes to my creative free time I like to flow with impulse. So... In 2014 I did a pretty good job with getting my knitting self organized and settled. I pulled out all my old knitting projects, some of which had been languishing for years, and yes, I actually got them all completed it (or pulled out).
That little person is a nephew. I started this sweater when my son was about two. I made it big so I would have time to finish it before he grew into it. He's eleven now. Lucky for me nephew lives in Colorado. Son never wears a sweater. Never. Hard to get him out of shorts even on a school snow day.
I've been updating my project journal with new pictures. Don't have pictures of the pictures yet... That's the part of my blog that has gotten me bogged down.
But... I have set a goal for myself. I decided to face my quilt problem.
Before I had children (yes, 17 years ago practically) I used to quilt. Then my mother, who was my quilting buddy, got ill, and was ill for a few years before she died. Also my toddler took a pair of scissors to on of my tops. That made the shift to knitting much easier. So I've done a bit here and there, but many of the projects I started have (like my knitting projects) languished in the dark corners of various closets.
This last week I pulled out every last one of them. Or at least, I think I did. I counted two quilts that are actually in the midst of being quilted, plus nine (yes nine) quilt tops completed (but not layered) and four or five with quilt blocks either finished or in process. Plus another mini pile of misc unfinished bits and bobs. Back when I was in a quilt guild, we'd have a workshop, or a block swap. Those puppies are still sitting with sad eyes asking me... when? Which is a good question. Oh, and that doesn't include the unfinished projects from my mother (tops and blocks) OR the four quilts that I bought that need repairing.
I don't have a master plan yet. I believe I'm going to use another of my numero journals to help me organize where I am and how things progress. Finishing a quilt project is quite a different undertaking than finishing, say, a mitten or even a sweater. So I have to stop and consider.
For right now, since I can only operate in the right now, I have pulled out the two quilts that are started. This is one of them.
More on that tomorrow. Yes, really, tomorrow.
I finished one mitt. I've started on the next, but am thinking of adjusting the size. Well, actually I have already adjusted it. I don't know how I feel about two different sized mitts, but this one is just too bulky. We'll see.
Because I am who I am, I decided at the last minute (well, pretty late in the game) that two little nephews needed little car quilts. A car quilt is a kick around small quilt that fits over your lap/legs and keeps you warm when you get in a cold car. They work great. I made two years ago and they drag around with me and get washed and thrown under and over all kinds of things.
I happen to have a fair bit of novelty fabric with little creatures that little boys could look at. And all that cleaning out and organizing actually uncovered all kinds of things like batting and quilting feet and binding I'd sown for something else. So parts sort of feel into place and then there is the new sewing machine I got last year (when mine seized up and no one thought it was worth their time fixing it - tried four places and all said it wasn't worth cracking the case to see what exactly had frozen or snapped or broken- aargghh).
I enjoyed trying to match my stitch choices to the fabric. I picked the above for the chicken - looks like chicken scratches to me.
This shows one mostly done. I actually have finished both - except I might add a little more stitching to hold the batting in place. Can't decide and it will probably depend on how much energy I have tomorrow.
My brain seems to have shifted from paint to fabric. This has happened before. Then seems to shift back. I keep thinking things will calm down (and they sort of do) but over Thanksgiving we had two Chinese exchange students (my daughters school has a longer break then) and now we have a German student who wasn't making the trek home for the holidays.
You wouldn't know this but the best part is that someone in my house takes it upon himself to offer truly gourmet meals whenever we have guests. He learned a fair bit about Chinese basics and the girls went wild. I am looking forward to seeing what he cooks up (literally) for this break.
When I get my car sweater finished this is what I will be working on again. Patching up an old quilt. A well used and worn out quilt, one with which I feel a great kindred spirit.
Tomorrow will be a chilly day here, so if I can get myself up, I may take a break from the sweater to do a little stitching here. I'm about to finish the two sleeves, and that means putting the pieces together. Oh boy do I hate armholes!
My stitching is ... well ...unfortuneate, but I don't care. I have a small pile of damaged quilts I want to try to fix. Some will require percision. This one doesn't, and that suits me just fine. I just slap those patches down and stitch them up. I will have NO problem dragging this thing around for general use. That is, as soon as I get the pins all out.
Am starting some new medication as soon as lab work comes in and the exorbitantly expensive medicine is approved. Then it takes a week or two to feel the effects. Therefore I will be on mental holiday for the next while. Probably only sporadic posting. I have someone who will be guest posting, and I'm so excited!!
And Peggy Su, I have tried eliminating wheat, eggs, white sugar, and dairy and adding special probiotics. Some people have had great results with each of those, but my UC goes on unabated. However, the last two classes of medicine have failed (one landed me in the hospital), so I was perfectly willing to try whatever might work. Alas, I'm back to pharmaceuticals, at least for the moment.
More rain, more migraine, BUT...
I got to the point of putting on a border band.
Twin quilt tops. Now do I set them aside and continue on my quest to complete tops I've already started, or do I stop and labor away at getting them layored and quilted?
Oh, and the time lapse betwee the photo above and below? Under two seconds.
I believe I am a better person when I take the time to be creative. And by better I mean kinder, happier, more patient, more thoughtful. Sewing, knitting and now playing with my journals - all of these have proven to me time and time again that I need an outlet. So I give myself permission to spend time on myself this way.
And then sometimes I really can't. And I get cranky. Maybe that's self indulgence. Maybe. Maybe not.
After years of starting new projects when I get bogged down with one - because i needed a lift of energy that starting a new project gives me - I have committed myself to completing what I started.
It has been suggested that I could just jettison some of these projects. Let them float away into hands of people who would happily take them up (or deposit them in the trash where they might belong), and I might at some time do that. But for now, I think I need to work my way through some of these tangles. I need time to sort and unfold and problem solve. I'm finding it very settling. Very centering.
So right now with the little snippets of time I have, I am working on a lace shawl (yes, I did figure out where in the lace pattern I left off -why oh why did I not take a moment to make a notation all that time ago? Probably because I laid it down thinking I was going to take it up again immediately. HA!) I'm also working on these twin pinwheel quilt tops. I finished one and then realized I'd made it for a very skinny 7 foot giant. So there was an evening of unsewing the bottom row of blocks and making another column down the side. Ah well. One step at a time.
And while I was putting the pinwheel top together, I was also doing this.
Oh, and it started with one of those jelly rolls. I was kidnapped and taken to a fabric shop by a friends. Some friend. Like I don't already have a closet full of fabric. LITERALLY! And helpless to resist new very cutely bundled rolls.
So I came home - err- I mean, after I was released, I sewed them into strips. And then I realized I had some plaid eastery fabric. Just sitting in that closet.
And just kept at it. I like strips. Not blocks. Just strips.
I'm sure this was all an unconcious attempt to alieviate my anxiety with the nonblockiness of my blocks. Some strip therapy.
But next thing I knew, this is what I had.
Oh, and by the way, when they tell you how easy the whole jelly roll thing is, believe them but don't then try to spice it up by doing some stupiedly more complicated things like alternating strips and "planning" placements of fabrics which turn out noy to be placed where you thought they would be. And don't strip sew 10 yards of two pieces of fabric together that it turns out aren't suppposed to be next to each other so that you have to get out your handy dandy seam ripper and rip the whole thing out - thereby making a SHORT process take 10 yards of seam ripping time longer. Just so you know.
To save you some time.
You might think might that I haven't been doing much, because I've been sporadic in getting posts up. But no. I've been in a frenzy.
I put my squares together in strips. This part unnerves me because my squares are never square and squaring them up is BORING but necessary and I double triple check myself before I cut and then I STILL often get it wrong
That's just the way my brain does.
But I muscled through it. And put the strips together into bigger chunks.
That would be the technical term. Chunks. I like tech.
Do all the photos look like they've been taken in different atmospheres? Hemispheres? Biospheres?
But the top is done.
The thing is, this "quilt in a day" project had two sets of blocks in which my blue and print alternate. This is one set. I still have another set to go. But somehow, even though I LOVE the print, when I'd sewn all the blocks I knew it would be TOO MUCH for my little brain to have this bold saucy mama on my bed. So two smaller "day" quilts were born. Now I have to do the other day.
DId you have day quilts growing up? We had small quilts for naps that my mother called day quilts. I loved them. I'll have to hunt them up and photograph them.
Another head cold. I had a remarkably healthy fall. The gods were watching and waiting.
I made this in eleven days.
I've never made a quilt that fast before, even an "in-a-day" quilt.
My friend did a little special quilting on it for me. Don't I have wonderful friends!
This has been an exercise in putting into practice some ideas that I believe, but don't usually act on. Getting it done is one of those.
I used to HATE binding, but I LOVED doing this one. Go figure.
Someone has already staked a claim to it.
But final ownership has not yet been determined.
Monday night I finished binding my quilt. And then today my good friend took it away to put a secret finishing touch on it and so I don't have anything to show. Just know it looks - finished.
(I'll have to do a post on the horrendous mistakes. - some are truly jaw dropping)
On a different note.
I've been quilting for a long time, but when my children were little I packed most of it away because it didn't work with what was going on. I made a couple little kid quilts, but I had many unfinished projects (UFOs) in little piles and boxes and tubs. They were stacked not only in my closet but in a little shelf in my brain.
I'm taking them down. Bit by bit. Off the shelf.
In keeping with some of my current goals, I'm trying not to start anything new (till I declutter my brain a bit more) and also not overwhelm myself by trying to jump into everything all at once.
So I am considering my options.
Which project will feed my spirit?
What are you doing to feed your spirit?
Just a little pause in the quilt madness for a word on stuff.
This is not a post about thread. My mother did lots and lots of quilting. She quilted for family, friends and charity. She LOVED quilting. She also loved color and texture and using her quilts. BUT... She died with piles and piles of quilt fabric she was "saving". I can't take a picture of that fabric (it's stored in another state). I can take a picture of her thread, though and you have to imagine several pieces of fabric for each of these spools of thread. Several.
Don't save your best stuff for a better project, a future project, a might-never-happen project. My mother died never having used her "favorite" fabric. She kept saving it and then suddenly she was ill and it never got used. It's not my favorite fabric and even if it was, I wouldn't make when she would have with it.
There's nothing wrong with a having a punch of fabric on hand. She lived in a little town and she couldn't just run to the store and pick up something. She had a fabric pantry and that was wonderful. BUT she also had all the fabric she loved the most sitting on her shelves.
Since her death I have realized how much I save for a time when I'll be able to use it "better" or because I'm afraid of messing it up or using it up.
USE IT UP! MESS WITH IT!
Really, that's all I have to say about this.
I've been a woman on a mission. Last night I even dreamed about posting about my quilt. I thought of something really clever to say.
Too bad I didn't write it down.
It was really really clever.
Instead I spent the day arguing with my sewing machine. And then it decided to pout. Now I'm using my old Featherweight 221. I did all of my earlier quilts on this and a Singer 301 (a brute of a machine). Then I decided to get fancy and get something with a zip zag. Now I have to take my new fangled machine to the shop. Stupid machine.
Despite all of this, I did get the quilt stitching done. It's truely awful, but it's done. Then I squared the quilt up and got the binding stripped together. I used old scrap strips and sewed them in one LONG binding. Not bias but I think this baby needs a firm edge.
I always put the back of the binding on with my machine and then hand stitch the front. This evening I started with the hand work. I suppose I could have machine stitched this too, but this is how I do my quilt bindings. I can tolerate some atrocious quilting but not bad binding?
This is record time for me for a qult. One of my earlier ones (now many many years ago) took me seven years to finish. SEVEN YEARS! If I had worked on it steadily it probably wouldn't have taken so long, but still.
Oh, and let me just add a tip. If you have one machine set up on your table and it dies, and you switch to another machine and then that one, despite clearly having power (the light goes on) and having moving parts, is doing NOTHING when you step on the gas - well, before you panic and run start taking things apart and/or screaming at it - just make sure you are pressing on the NEW presser foot and not the OLD presser foot.
Now that I've started machine quilting this sucker, I'm going to give you some advice.
2) Always get a good night's sleep before attempting to man-handle a wily quilt.
3) Keep an even pace both on your presser foot and as you move the quilt around under your free motion quilting thingy. So as not to have wild variations in stitch length.
4) Don't switch directions suddenly unless you wanted to have jags and points.
5) Arrange your quilt comfortably to reduce shoulder/arm/neck strain.
6) Have a plan before you begin.
7) If you don't want to follow any rules, mayhem and chaos will ensue. Also a great deal of hilarity. And some gasps.
Of sheer wonder and delight.
The top. This top. This top right here. It's done.
And layered and basted together. My good friend helped with the basting. Thanks good friend!
This is the blue border (only on the top and bottom) that was specially requested. Those are the sheepies peeking out.
This entire quilt was scrap. ALL the pieces on the front including the muslim strips between each band. The blue on the edges. Even the batting was cobbled together. Only the backing was whole, but it's been in my stash for years, so I give myself credit for using it. Nothing was bought. Not - one - bit. One day I'll post a picture of the thread display set of drawers that I inherited from my mother including shelves full of different color thread. Now SHE was a quilter.
I can not believe I've gotten it this far already (six days). I had hoped to even start machine quilting today, but that didn't happen. Bad weather, bad headache. Maybe a little bit tomorrow. Maybe. I've been virtuous not only in the use of scraps, but in getting little bits and pieces of other necessary things done, so I might reward myself with some machine time. Maybe.
Or I might just stand back and admire.
Today (which is Tuesday when I wrote this, not today which is Wednesday when this is posted) I did no sewing. None. Not one strip, not one - well, none.
Along with making my pathologies work for me, my new, and actually pretty successful, tool for getting things done is this. When I am in a bad mood already for (as is my want) no particularly good reason or no reason that I can do anything about, I try to do things that would put me in a bad mood on their own, but since I'm in a bad mood already I don't care and then I can at least feel good that I got those things done and feel all successful (or at least mildly successful) and virtuous. I like to feel virtuous. I'm not actually a very virtuous person so it's a pretty good thing to have that feeling every once in a while.
Today, once I realized I was going to be in a funk (for some pretty pretty silly reasons that, thank you very much, I don't need to go into here), I put aside immediate gratification (PLAY WITH FABRIC) and did some silly silly things I've been putting off. Tonight I feel virtuous and my funk has lifted. Mostly.
Yack Yack Yack
No picture of my new layered quilt. Because it's not layered yet. I did get the backing out and ironed (night before last) and unrolled the batting to let it "breathe". Yup. I breathe my batting, that's the kind of woman I am. And added the last border (for my Bear). It's good to go. So tomorrow, if I am VERY VERY LUCKY and not in a bad funk again, my goal is to layer the thing.
That blue on the right - that's the last borders before they were added. Someone picked those colors. See that big piece - the one with sheep on it (yup those are sheepies) - that's the back and it's flannel! I'm not hand quilting this thing (not with all those seams, I'm not) so flannel it is. Wonderful to drape over a couple people on family movie night.
And on those nights, I'm also working on this - still.
Only a little bit of yarn left, so I guess I'm almost done. And by a little bit I mean six skeins for the final border all the way around. Which I may crochet because I'm a bit wild that way. Only then I'll actually have to look at it while I work, so that will mean it'll take longer. Oh, decisions decisions! What's a woman to do.
I have no brain.
I think I sewed it into a strip.
Someone is feeling neglected.
Someone else is moping.
No, seriously, I set out a cat trap. I just wanted to show proof I caught one.
But I'm focussed.
It's coming together.
Friday afternoon, Saturday all day, and now (as I write this) Sunday!
strips and strips
stacked and saved muslin and quilt fabric
me and my machine (and scissors and a ruler and an iron/board and a whole lot of thread and sometimes a cat - or two)
The strips are building.
The strips are congragating.
I am getting a little nervous about the strips.
And, by the way, how the heck did I get all this as left over?
This weekend we are bound in by ice. I have a house full of kidlets, and am giving myself permission to do exactly whatever my whim desires. And today (and yesterday) the whim has desired sewing. WIth a shoulder problem, I haven't been able to do much sewing, but now that it's progressed far enough, I can actually do some. SO...
I got an itch to sew scraps together. Just scraps. No plan, no purpose, just lots and lots of actually-should-have-been-thrown-out scraps. The kinds of bits that I think - well, I should be able to do something with THAT, but then don't.
So I am.
I am making myself smile just touching all this fabric. I do love love love fiber (in almost all it's forms).
I am curious to see what the day brings today. Will they actually come together? I have a glimmer of an idea, but we'll see. Plus later today I want to do something with paint.
Because we are iced in, and I can.
I'll get back to journals tomorrow, but for now, I'm showing off what I've gotten done. This was the first quilt I started working on repairing. At some point, I took of the binding on two sides and recut this quilt. It had worn away in two strips on either side of the quilt and so I just eliminated the tattered bits. Then it sat. Waiting. Occasionally making grumbling noises at me. This and the one from yesterday. Buddies making impatient signals to each other. Figurative eye rolling.
So this week I finished rebinding this one. I just reattached the old binding, but then found out I'd lost a section so I replaced it with black. Just cause.
I love this old quilt and I GOT SOMETHING OFF MY LIST!!!
I REALLY don't need to make any new journals, so I've decided to channel my stiching impulse in another direction. I'd given up quilting with my shoulder problems, but recently discovered that I've improved enough to be able to do some stitching. YAY!! I love to knit too, and have found that on good days, I can knit an hour or so while watching a soccer game or Project Runway. I just love watching people be active and creative. While I eat ice cream and make blankets.
So while I continue to journal and paint and play with pens and ink and ALL THAT GOODNESS, I will be reporting on all things Stiched occationally.
For this post, I'm trying (and not quite succeding) to get a good shot of the quilt I'll be appliquing on to repair some warn out squares. I rebound it quite a while ago and it's been sitting waiting for me to regroup and jump in.
I love this kind of work, resurrecting an old piece and giving it a new life. My semi-little people love it too, because that means there is something to cuddle under while THEY watch Mythbusters and Once Upon a Time. Unless I forget and leave needles in. I try not to leave needles in. Anymore.
Some of what I've been doing recently has nothing to do with journals.
I've been meddling with some old uncompleted quilts. The bottom quilt above is one I'm considering working on. I'm auditioning it. But once fabric gets moved in my room, someone feels the need to sleep on it.
The brown fabric under someone was the cloth I decided to recover an ottoman with. I did that yesterday for the last day of Create Every Day. I created myself into a tizzy.
But I also took a moment to try to capture the image of this interloper.
I got impatient and the colors ended up bleeding into each other because I couldn't wait for them to dry and I totally MESSED UP the placement of the appliqué pieces, but hey, I had fun. So there!
This is a photo (above) I've edited that I included the other day to show projects that were still in my Creativity Queue. This particular part of the photo shows fabric that I prepped for a project I was doing with my daughter - two years ago! We were making purses for a school sale, and we finished some cute change purses and two of these. But being the kind of person I am, I had prepped five more. I'd chosen fabric (from my extensive fabric collection) for the front and lining, cut batting, layered and even bought zippers for each of them. Then I set them aside.
During the Creativity Queue Challenge, I was searching for something else and came across this little pile tucked in a drawer. When I pulled them out, I realized they were the perfect size for what I was in the mood for. All the preparation had been done; all that was left was the sewing part and that was exactly what I wanted to do.
These little purses came from an article in Quilting Arts magazine and were designed by Melanie Testa. In her article (Dec/Jan 09), she talks a lot about surface design. I even ordered the Quilting Arts TV dvd (3rd season) and watched while she demonstrated how she made a screen to embellish the whole cloth with paint. I think Melanie Testa is a fabulous artist and when I discovered her blog, I realized that I'd marked copies of Cloth Paper Sissors with her article because I think her pages are so beautiful (cover of May/June '09). When she describes her process, I feel that I'm seeing someone with the heart of an artist who is exploring how to express her vision. I just love it.
That being said, I'm not that interested (at least at the moment) in working with screens or tracing paper. That doesn't matter. I love that in reading or listening to her describe what she does, I see how one experiment leads to another, and it gives me lots of information that I may well use in the future. I feel richer even if I don't want to jump into a whole new direction at this moment.
But I did love those little purses. So instead of feeling like I had to create my own cloth, I just picked some fabrics that I love just as they are. And over the last couple days I've been going to town sewing. I got to do some free-motion stitching. This is a skill I've never really developed but I know I'd like to do more with it. The fabric pieces were small enough to manipulate without a lot of hassle (I'm having shoulder problems) and to get through without taking too long (I feel I need to get through some things to keep my momentum going).
Then I also was able to practice simple sewing techniques like setting in a zipper and finishing seams off. Quilting doesn't involve a great deal of different kinds of sewing, so this was unexpectedly fun for me. I enjoyed problem solving how to making certain things work. I'd rather have had a friend (or my mom) with me to give me some experienced advice, but short of that, I managed on my own.
Oh and she has a new book out, Dreaming from the Journal Page. I haven't seen it, but I'll bet it's wonderful. I'll have to look for at my bookstore (sadly there are no independent bookstores around here, just a chain). Oh 1b, it turns out her book hasn't been released yet. Due out in early May. I preordered it from Barnes and Noble. But I would have gone to an independent bookstore if there were one available.
Oh2, and she wrote her book last year while having cancer treatments. I mean, really! Do I feel unproductive or what?! I know it's not a contest, and I'm grateful I wasn't getting chemo therapy. I'm just amazed at the ability of others! Plus when I'm feeling really whiney thoughts about people like Melanie Testa help me keep my mouth shut, which I think is a good thing.