Thursday, March 25, 2021
I needed a fabric fix. The problem is, I live in a small town and the nearest fabric dealer is an hour drive or an internet wait. There is a great antique consignment shop in town, the Banana Company. In the back room there is a corner for fabric and notions, placed in a vintage hardware rack. For $10 I found a pretty, vintage, hand pieced quilt. Who doesn't love a bargain? It is a variation on a Singe Wedding Ring. It looks to be from the 1940's by the prints and colors. The fabrics are in very good shape, the piecing thread is still strong, and except for a few tiny rends, it was in perfect shape. I added a soft buttery yellow 3 inch border. The measurements are 68" x 82". I was ready to sandwich it for basting but I kept dragging my heels. It just kept nagging at me, "what are you going to do with this quilt?" As if that really matters. I intend to hand quilt it to go with the hand piecing. What was this quilt trying to tell me? "Feed Me, Seymour." Finally I used my morning writing to figure out the silent messages this flimsy was sending. I read a blog that is a treasure trove of primitive style and hand applique and hand quilting, It inspired me to add my own style of applique design. Previously I have done a humongous amount of circle applique, on a quilt designed by Karen Mcleen, 'Lollipop Trees.' I used acrylic templates called 'Perfect Circles,' designed by Karen Kay Buckley. I highly recommend them for ease of use and quality of results. I am not affiliated with these products in any way. I had a bunch of left over circles, made from Kaffe Fassett fabrics, ready to sew down. They were left over from the Karen Mcleen project (which I named 'Magnum XL.') So I laid them on the quilt and yessss it was just what the flimsy needed. So I began making more circles for the quilt top in earnest. I am enjoying this hand sewing so much. Even watching TV in the evening with DH Mr. Thimblepie is tolerable with this yummy project. Here it is, in progress. I am swooning.
Monday, February 8, 2021
I am back at the keyboard. I spent several years mending and finishing vintage quilts for my etsy business. It may sound strange, but I got an ego boost from the compliments I received for my work. I have always struggled with the inner critic and lack of self esteem for my work. When I repaired old quilts and was told how I had made them cry with joy, or worked miracles, I felt good about myself. Some of the quilts were fabulous. But some were really bad, and needed to be tossed. After some struggles I decided to retire from that work and spend all my time creating my own epic stuff. I had to turn one person away since then, and turns out saying NO isn't so hard after all. A year ago I did a job that seemed impossible. I made a nice quilt bigger. Here is the before:
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Here is the story of how I became a zombie. It is a true story, perhaps in the Twilight Zone. 6 months ago the pandemic reared it's ugly head. Quarantine happened so suddenly! Zoom became a thing, ready or not. I didn't feel affected by the quarantine too much since we live in the mountains with lots of room to roam. Plus, around here, hardly anyone has followed the suggested social distancing, except yours truly, so it seemed like news on TV was unreal. Looking back, I was mentally numbed by the fear. Even figuring out my odds of getting sick didn't help a lot. I got internal stress and in the process of ignoring it, I became zombified. Like the perserverant person I have always been, I pushed on through and I have continued to mend quilts and make cool creations, with less vim and vigor. Blogging felt way too tough. I played a good amount of computer games. I was commissioned to finish a Cathedral Window Project 2 months ago. I was thrilled to have such a pretty project. Some of the menders I have been sent, only a mother could love. This one was interesting, and started with such a funny introduction: "I, the one who hems pants with staples and tape, have inherited pieces of what was destined to be a Cathedral Window pillow. The large triangle of work measures roughly 29 inches per side with a hypotenuse of 40 inches. There are also a few additional strips of completed squares (shown in picture) and myriad squares of patterned fabric cut for more squares."
Friday, February 7, 2020
I was contacted recently by a woman who had a set of hand sewn felt ornaments made by her grandmother. They were embellished with beads and sequins. She wanted them sewn onto a table cloth for a gift. I was intrigued. When I received them I decided they looked like they had been made in the 1960's. They reminded me of projects I saw in my mom's McCall's magazine. I called the client back to discuss buying the table cloth and found out I had 4 days to finish the project. Somehow that had escaped me at first. I blame our (new) puppy for my inattentiveness. This was a BIG problem, because I live, as Mr. Thimblepie likes to say, 50 miles from a traffic light. Getting a large red oval table cloth, not to mention doing the sewing, seemed daunting. After pondering for a minute, I thought to call my friend Linda, who supplies table cloths for our quilt auction. Sure enough, she had one that she'd give me. WOW Talk about synchronicity. I set aside the other repair job I was working on to drive to her home and pick up the cloth. It was perfect. She thought McCall's magazine, too. When I got back home I laid out the felt ornaments. One puzzling thing was the pieces that looked kind of like snow drifts. After playing with them I realized they were script words "Noel." Turns out the client had not looked through the box and didn't know about the words either. She said she was afraid she might damage them. I laid everything out, rearranged the trees and decided they would make nice centerpiece enhancers. They were kind of tricky with beads close to the edge, but I am used to fidgety pieces. They will look pretty and sophisticated with an evergreen and pinecone arrangement in the center, maybe with some varied colored poinsettias. Next for the reindeer and Santa's sleighs, 2 sets of 4 deer and a sleigh for each side of the table cloth. I spent a day machine appliqueing all of the pieces, then used some Aleene's tacky fabric glue to hold down the little bits that eluded my machine. It is flexible and water proof when dry, and dries clear. I was able to call the client and let her know the table cloth was ready before her deadline. I sent her photos and she said, " Wowwwww! It’s better than I could have ever imagined! THANK YOU" What a kind thing to say.
Thursday, January 23, 2020
I started some propeller blocks a few years ago for a commission. I liked the fierce retro airplane fabric; chosen for the fellow receiving the quilt. He had a penchant for vintage airplanes. The companion fabric, sort of pebble looking, was something I loved. The colors worked, so I gave it a try. I used chartreuse blades for the first quilt, then switched to red bandannas for this second one. I was thinking about a Quilt of Valor (QOV) for my cousin Joey Holbrook, who was a pilot during the Vietnam War for the air force. He grew up on a sheep ranch and it seemed homey and fitting. There weren't enough for a big quilt so I sewed some airplane blocks from a book titled, 'Quilts for Kids' by Carolann Palmer written in 1993. (I used to sew with Carolann at Quilter's Anonymous retreats in Washington.) After I made a fleet of airplane blocks I realized that coordinate or not, the two blocks did NOT work together. So, I made an airplane QOV for Joey and relegated the propeller blocks back into the UFO basket.
Thursday, January 2, 2020
A new year, a new calendar, some people say a new decade. One thing I am sure of. For me, here, it is a new day. I wish all of you a Happy New Year, full of hope and possibilities and magic. I have long made resolutions and kept many of them in my quest to grow and learn. Finish up projects that have been in limbo. Start new projects! Have more fun! Ainsley says to treat ourselves like little kids, have a snack, a warm drink, a snuggle and a rest. Be kind. Smile more. Don't take myself so seriously. Sew more! Eat the good chocolate! I am finishing up a Hanukkah Star quilt, a little belated but still apropos. It is from a pattern I found in QNM, 12/2000, called Rachel's Star. It is a 29" x 33" table quilt, made with paper pieced diamond log cabin blocks and triangles. Luminous, timeless, classic. I started this little quilt as a thank you gift for a cousin who has helped me with family history for a book I am writing. She, however, is at the age where she does not want any more belongings. So, I sent her a photo and regifted it to my son-in-law. He and some other members of my family and friends are Jewish. I used Indigo Shibori fabrics designed by Debbie Maddy for Moda. I also used some muslin dyed with onion skins for a curry yellow tone. The yellow diamond centers symbolize the candle lights of Hanukkah. The border was serendipity, as it has snowflakes which are six pointed like the star. Some of the shibori print has six pointed stars as well. Pure grace. For the back of the quilt I chose a fabulous red and chartreuse bird print by Kaffe Fassett. During Hanukkah this past week, I attended a dinner party with friends and family and found this lovely version of the same pattern: Historically the symbol became representative of the worldwide Zionist community, and later the broader Jewish community, after it was chosen to represent the First Zionist Congress in Israel in 1897. The Star of David was yellow badge that Jews were forced to wear in Nazi-occupied Europe invested the Star of David with a symbolism indicating martyrdom and heroism.
Wednesday, August 7, 2019
I was commissioned to make a get well quilt for a brave friend battling cancer. The commission was for a soft and warm quilt. I asked about color choices. Modern favorite is black and white sophistication. NO WAY!! Make it cheerful and comforting. colorful and pretty. I thought about what would be nice to cuddle under, something that touches and has tactile interest. Something to ponder and day dream under. A meditation mantilla. Something with the chakra rainbow colors, to aid in visualizing healing. Softest quality flannel, front and back. The image that came to mind first was a hummingbird. "Ancient Aztecs recognized hummingbirds as brave and courageous fighters. It was admired because, despite its size, it showed great strength and power to fly. Its beauty, color and accuracy were highly prized qualities." I love the idea that bravery comes regardless of facts to the contrary, that despite lovely facades, a steely reserve can abide. The feathers are iridescent, prismatic. With amazing accuracy they dip into flowers larger than they are, and lap the nectar with their tongues. Their favorite are red flowers, such as honeysuckles and hibiscus. I drew up a pattern for a 3 foot hummingbird. The wings and tail would have rainbow colors. I decided to make a rag quilt with fringe on the top and smooth underside. In a style like foundation piecing I put the hummingbird together. Then I built the flower, red, pink, and orange with a yellow center sewn around the narrow beak. I imagined the hummingbird in a sky of blues. Beneath it a garden of greens. I pieced it together with pink and yellow on the back. Pink to symbolize cancer awareness, yellow as a cheerful warm sun. As I sewed I prayed and visualized healing miracles. I sewed love into the quilt. I put my heart into the quilt, and spent many hours creating a labor of love. As I held it up to look at it, I saw the world from a hummingbird's perspective. They don't consider bravery. They act on instinct. Wise beyond imagining, they migrate each year to the same feeders, the same gardens, and the same lovely humans who are so fond of them. If you chirp at them, they will chirp back. Their songs communicate to their young, their mates, warn adversaries, and sing for joy. Here is my quilt, front and back.