Sunday, March 26, 2017

It's the Part That Touches You

The back of a quilt, that is. Just as important as the front, in a different way. Does that make it a reason to buy more fabric, for that special quilt backing? For certain! Someone was surprised at my most recent finish; I hadn't pieced the back. I guess that a pieced back is one of my trademarks. Also the patched binding. This binding is various browns and blacks left over from other projects. It is perfect for this quilt, making the bright colors sparkle.

I was asked to make a quilt for the Women and Children Free Restaurant Spring Tea Party Fund Raiser. This wonderful organization in Spokane provides food for women and children who are in need. Since the venue is a tea party, I decided that nothing says comfort as much as a cuppa tea.

This cheerful quilt, "Big Mug," is 64"x80." It was made with Moda batiks from a free pattern on the QNM website, designed by Pam Rocco. I added the tea tags which have sayings from Yogi tea. I was hoping to tug at heart strings, for the quilt to have crowd appeal, and to be a great gift. Here are the 20 different sayings:

Of course I added my label, complete with thimble insignia. I quilted this on my domestic machine with wavy lines. Simple and effective.

Abby is considering a nice cuppa.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Leaning in for the First Kiss

   I wrote my annual New Year's Resolutions which included "to NOT start any new projects." Those of you who are creative types will get that one, the fun, the joy of leaning in for the first kiss of a new project. Finishing just isn't the climax we dream of. It is usually more like a sigh of exhaustion. There, the baby fell asleep after crying all frickin' afternoon and evening.
   So, completing my UFOs has been more of shushing the fussy babe, mixed in with "WTF was I thinking when I started this? " As I worked through the projects, I noticed an inner shift. Looking procrastination right in the eyes and winning a staring contest. Small quilt projects only take a day or two to sew, quilt and bind. Even when they need remedial design help they don't take too long.
   Here are some lovelies that had been collecting trolls (as they say in Norway, translation: collecting dust.)

Little Butterflies
quilting detail, batik cording inner border
Scrappy Trip Around the World
I like the curry colored inner border. It brings out the other colors.
Backing of the trip; Japan prints, Kitty-San and Butterflies of Kobe by Alexander Henry, and Kaffe chrysanthemums
Lots of straight line quilting was perfect for this modern baby quilt.
The backing flannel is just right, as is the striped bias binding from my sister Pam, and my little tag with a thimble.
"Nacho Pussy" quilt. 
   It is hard to stay out of the spitting contest on social media when it comes to politics. Such extremes are a phenomenon. The day after the Inauguration, there was a huge protest march that took place on all 7 continents. Estimates gauge the attendance at over 5 Million. The common attire was "pink pussy" hats, to protest the president's comment about his ability to grab pussies. Since I had my own personal tiff with Mr. Thimblepie about the march here at home, I decided in time honored quilter's style, to put my political opinion on a quilt.  The result is "Nacho Pussy." What flavor is my pussy? Nacho. It's Nacho Pussy.
5 yr old UFO remade into Cobblestones, with elephant flannel back. Kaffe stripes.
I took myself on an artist's date to McCall to see the snow sculptures and to buy some new fabric. It was a lovely sunny winter day.The sculptures were pristine, and huge snow berms were everywhere. I stopped at Huckleberry Patches to pick up a flannel charm pack I'd won in a drawing and to buy 5 different yards of solids for new, modern projects and to sparkle up my UFOs.
   It looks like my resolution is to lean in for more kisses rather than shush the baby.

Friday, January 6, 2017

My Sweet Tooth of Cuteness

I did my annual photo album on facebook of my year of projects. I was missing a few that didn't get photographed, but the end result was amazement at how much I accomplished. I had over 21 quilted projects, 3 big quilt tops, over 30 blocks for exchanges, handfuls of zipper pouches, messenger bags, commissioned projects, mending jobs... With all of this sewing, how can it be that I still have a fabric stash that just won't quit?

I whipped up a sweet little confection, this hearts-a-flutter mini quilt, using scraps, and corduroy for the dimensional hearts:

A Walk in the Woods leftovers.

I used left over bias binding from an apron project. It is machine quilted with glossy pearl grey Glide.
Then I finished a UFO of 4 left over heart blocks from a lotto win 2 years ago. I pieced, bordered, and machine quilted this little sweetie, and now to hand sew the binding. Kaffe is perfect!

Lovely Valentine Table Topper
These little projects have no purpose but to please me, to satisfy my sweet tooth of cuteness, and to remind me that love is real.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

It's All About the Quilts

  Every year end I write up my goals, resolutions, and dreams for the coming year. As I was pondering this stint, I found a link up with rewards by Yvonne of QuiltingJetGirl. A good omen if I ever saw one! I spent a day ruminating on my goals, not the dreary "lose 10 pounds" kind, but the fun ones, because we know it's all about the quilts.

My not so secret to personal growth as a quilt artist is writing the Daily Pages, ala The Artist's Way. The link is actually to a woman who inspired me to give it a go, someone who found her success through the process. So my first goal is to continue writing the daily morning pages. It cleans the brain gears. It sweeps away the dust bunnies. It tortures the Inner Critic into a whimpering mass of jello. It opens the gates to creation.

Creation is fun.
My next goal is a yearly hope for almost every quilter and creator: to NOT start new projects.  I have whittled down my stack of UFOs, but there are still a whole bunch. One blogger said she would let herself start a new project for every 3 she finished. Maybe it is more realistic to go 1 for 1. If I get a big inspiration how can I not start a new project? It is more about progress than perfection, folks.

Another UFO, DONE!! 
This is a 14 x 24 Tlinget Button Blanket art piece. My inspiration came from the logo of a soul catcher, a symbol for physical and spiritual well being. It was originally created for the U W School of Public Health by Marvin Oliver. I adapted it in colors I love, hand appliqued, machine quilted, and embellished it with antique mother of pearl shank buttons. It is a graduation gift for my daughter, Diane Jensen Donald.  I called Lisa at Huckleberry Patches to brainstorm about the best way to hang this pushme-pullyou. We thought framing, so I called Nels Jensen at Picture This, and made a plan. I will mail this wrapped around a tube and inside a priority mailing tube to him to frame. He told me he is booked 3 weeks into January, and of course I need it today, December 17th, so I replied that my daughter Diane is used to being disappointed. 

So, since I finished this one, do I get to start a new one? 

I have had a goal to write pdf patterns and sell them in my etsy shop. I even bought the Adobe update pdf tool this year, and had a fine tutorial by Diane on using it. Well, I need a refresher course. But I have at least one design, Superhero Undies, that I want to get drawn up. I found this poster on etsy, and wrote to the artist several times with no response. If I give him credit in the pattern, maybe he won't come after me with his copywrite infringement superpower and slap my hands. I have a secret wish to try EQ7. Or maybe that is complicating things? 

Triangles and a couple of appliques. 
I have been working on my FMQ (free motion quilting.) A goal that needs to stay as loose as my shoulders is to practice my FMQ. I find it more useful to just practice on my real projects, rather than mess around with scraps and toss things in the garbage. I will post a photo after Christmas of a project waiting to be quilted this weekend. I need to restate a personal skill I have. When I FMQ, as my hands move the fabric around under the needle, my tongue sticks out and moves in unison with my hands. This is a natural talent, not something I had to learn. I will see about posting a video of this amazing feat.

Of course I will continue with my usual yearly goals, go to yoga 3 days a week, eat healthy, smile lots, connect with others more, comment on every blog I read, and keep sewing every day.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Complete with Fringe

My 13 year old granddaughter, Grace, is asking for a grey and white bedroom do over for Christmas. She will come back from a week at her mama's on Christmas morning to find her fresh, modern bedroom. My contribution is a quilted throw made from a Moda jelly roll of Red Riding Hood fabrics, titled, "A Walk in the Woods." The fabric went from my sister, Pam, to daughter Ainsley, and then to me. I added some scrumptious and fitting Kaffe grey (picnic) basket fabric and grey with aqua shot cotton. The back of the quilt is a repurposed chenille bedspread complete with fringe. The pattern is from Moda Bakeshop, chosen to show off the cute prints and be simple enough to finish in this busy season that included a left total knee replacement 4 weeks ago. (Still waiting to be glad I did that.)

I love how the quilt seems to have windows to the canyon and snow behind it.
The chenille and fringe, and wolves.
Red got distracted by tiny pink birds.
Shot cotton and a cute tag.
Other finishes include two more hand pieced quilt tops to go with the other quilt tops that I completed in November. And, I finished the embroidery on two sets of pillow cases, sewed vintage looking lace on the edges, and sewed french seams inside. The stains still remain to be washed out.

I decided to simply back these long narrow tops and used this tutorial. I chose a soft cotton for the first quilt, and blue flannel for the second quilt. The actual quilting is just enough to hold the two parts together.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

An Unlikely Muse

The original muses were 9 Greek goddesses to whom poets and artists prayed for creative inspiration. To be a modern muse, one doesn't need to be a beautiful deity, but must inspire uninhibited, original creative work. My inspiration comes from joking around, silly stories, crazy prompts, oxymorons, other people's weird ideas, the worse the better.

I'll take an idea, pull fabrics to express the feeling, audition neutrals to create dimension. Then I'll look for patterns. The internet is a wonderful cornucopia of free patterns, I also have a few quilt books for ideas. And then there is my fabric collection, my stash of possibilities.

This project started as a question in my etsy shop last summer. Could I make a Christmas Tree skirt with photos? Not my idea of the best tree skirt, but, yes, I can do that. I didn't hear back from the client for several months. Then, in September I received an email with 7 stunning professional photos of a beautiful, Land's End type family. She wanted a style of classic modern country Christmas. No Santas, angels ok. My muse had arrived.

I found a pattern on a blog I like called Quilt Inspiration. They offer 30 different quilted tree skirt patterns. I found one with 7 stars on point, perfect for my 7 photos. It was designed by Margrit Hall for RJR Fabrics. Slightly larger than the traditional 48 inch tree skirt, this one comes out at 54 inches across.

In early October I attended a Kaffe Fassett lecture on color  inspiration. With his ideas fresh in my mind, I chose one of his prints with red and orange flowers, and small turquoise and forest green jelly beans. The orange gives the quilt some nice zest. The rest of the fabric is Moda.

I didn't bother with fastening ties for the skirt opening. I doubt the skirt will fall away from the tree.

Tree skirts make elegant table toppers. Therefore, you can never have too many tree skirts.

The client was happy. Here's her review on my shop: Absolutely gorgeous! I ordered this tree skirt for my parents as a Christmas gift with family photos as a memento for Christmas over many years to come. It is truly beautiful and Jane combined her skill and eye for patterns into a great piece of art that I am so excited to give to my parents. They are going to love it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

UFOs Finished

I was contacted by a woman who had half a dozen hand pieced quilt tops that her grandmother and great grandmother had made. The fabric was from the 40's through the 60's, and in good condition. There were also 4 embroidered pillow cases and a set of embroidered blocks waiting to be finished.

A lot of bias stretching in the handwork, quilted out.

The scrappy variety was lots of fun.

Two table runners. One with pale grey Moda, the other with pale green Moda.

The 40's flour sacks were sweet.

I added a little black checkered border and a yellow binding. 
I am happy to think of these quilts being shared and loved. Grandma and Great Grandma are happy that someone else finished them.