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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

ooo, shiny!

August journal quilt finished - as shiny as a Magpie's nest.

Thrums from the August weaving project combined with an acrylic felt wadding that shows through the nest of clipped dyed and maroon fibers, bits of sequin numbers thrown in for good measure. In person, the dyed tencel yarns fairly glow.

If I planned a journal quilt each morning and sewed it up as quickly as this in the evening, I could be caught up in a week.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

soft as a baby's cheek

The sample size of the baby quilt I've been working on. Definitely was helpful to sample before sewing on the full size quilt - flannel is stretchy. I was practicing the curved seams and then trying out different ways of quilting. I perfected the heart technique - one strip of it is not that great, but I got better after doing about twenty of them. I tried doing hands and feet - no way. Too hard for me. I like the cross hatching and the way it makes that area stiff and visually receding. But not for the baby quilt. I did use the stars on the block that has appliqued stars.

13:55 Posted in journal quilts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

still as a statue

This great tutorial should get much of the credit for my finished April journal quilt. I'm really pleased with the binding technique and it would have been harder to learn without a video cast or a demo in a workshop. I do okay learning from books and diagrams, but believe me a demo is dynamite for getting to the finish line fast.

This is the reverse. I used cotton flannel as the filling for the quilt sandwich and that was a mistake. Don't do this again. The white flannel bits followed the needle out the back and showed up as specks on the dark fabric. I thought at first it was because I used metallic thread on top, but no it did the same with regular thread. I covered up the white flecks by sketching along the quilting lines with a metallic marking pen (archival, blah, blah, blah) and so it appears like I intended to do that not that I was covering up a huge mistake. I do like the back a lot now.

These photographs from the Houston International Festival in April were my inspiration. The theme for 2007 Festival was of course China and there were a lot of great exhibits and shows. These are replicas of the Chinese soldier statues found in a tomb. We had a great time that day. Almost stayed too long.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

cat quilt

Last week my sister and my mom came for a visit to see the great grandkids. My sister pulled a quilt kit out of her suitcase saying she brought along a little mindless entertainment that she figured I would help her with and maybe doing this together we would rekindle my mom's interest in sewing. Mom is in her eighties and she used to sew all our clothes when we were kids. It made her nervous to sew really important things like graduation and prom dresses so in high school my sister and I took over the sewing chores at home.

I've only recently begun to do more interesting things besides sewing clothes and my sister is complimentary but seems confused a bit by some of my collage and journal quilting. I showed them a video "The Art of Quilting" that includes the Chicago School of Fusing skit and that was amazing to my sister. I'm sure she'd never seen quilts like that before. As we worked on the kit I tried to show her some the things I've learned recently. Of course the kit directions weren't really well written and we had to wing it at times. She said she never would have finished it without my help. We cut one assembled section wrong and had to sew it back together and recut it!

Anyway, I showed her how to free motion quilt and we did samples so she could choose which batting out of my stock she wanted. At first she said yes on the first one and then I did another sample and she realized that was more what she envisioned ... just a matter of no experience on her part and no expectation of there being real differences in something as simple as the batting.

At the end of the week, she had a nice wall hanging for Christmas and had actually done some FMQ around some of the printed illustrations in the blocks of the quilt - kitty cats - and had learned a lot about piecing and quilting. Not that she had a expert as a teacher, of course.

My mom on the other hand was not really interested in the sewing but she was our color designer! My sister cut the pieces and mom decided which one of the colors and prints went next and I sewed the pieced border panels. They were amazed at all the tools and professional (!) equipment I had including the spray baste - all things I have only learned about in the past year or so ....

In the end, the project that interested my mother the most (besides watching the grandkids play) was making paper beads! She wanted to make them real tiny and real tight. She rolled quite a few and I showed her how you can use any paper and some of ads in the magazines make the best beads! Anyway, they've gone home now, all the sewing stuff is back in my workroom upstairs (mom doesn't do stairs anymore) and I'm still rolling paper beads! I've put some copper embossing on some and that is looking dynamite! So maybe I won't get caught up on reading the messages on my forums after all.

I am very surprised at myself for not taking photos of my sister and my mom as we worked on the quilt. I was so involved in the process, I didn't think to document it. Fodder for the blog now lost forever.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

the key

Sunbonnet Sue is a very traditional quilt pattern with lots of history. Sue has plenty of friends and some detractors. She's a faithful little girl who won't let you down when you need a cuddle.

An unfinished quilt top of Sunbonnet Sues was one of the few things I got to keep from my family's household when my mom pulled up stakes after her divorce and moved east a long time ago. Many of the material memories she had carefully saved were gone when she moved back to her birthplace twenty years later. So I was happy Sue was safely tucked into my stash.

At some point when my daughter was in high school, we got the idea that we would finish the quilt. I pulled it out and we looked at it together. Not exactly as I remembered it. The sashing between the sweet blocks was black and there was a peachy pink square residing between the black strips. It was a horrible combination and I couldn't bear it. So I picked out the stitching and washed and ironed the blocks carefully. As I ironed them I studied each one. The appliqued dresses and bonnets were made from clothing scraps. Hardly any repeats in the entire quilt. The embroidery was nicely done around the edges of the appliqued dresses. The background was a variety of muslins, some coarser than others and there were rust stains here and there. Some of the color combinations on the blocks were a little unusual but not so bad once the black was out of the picture. The most intriquing part was that a couple of the blocks were sewn rather badly. The appliques were not carefully turned, the embroidery was in huge stitches as if the seamstress was in a hurry to get it done. A child's work.

When I talked with my mom about our project, she vaguely remembered the quilt top, didn't remember giving it to me at all. She did remember that her grandmother made quilts and that she had worked on some of them as a child when she was learning to sew and embroider. These sloppy little blocks were hers!

My daughter and I searched out old clothes and leftover fabrics from clothes I had made for her. We shopped for some other prints and solids that would go with the blocks and replaced the black sashing with more cheerful fabrics.

We decided to embroider all the names of all the women who had worked on this quilt in the sashing that ran horizontally between the blocks. We started at the upper left hand block and put my great grandmother's full name and her birth year and the year of her death. Then working diagonally and dropping down a row, we put my grandmother's name and birth year and then my mother's name and birth year, then mine, then my daughter's. We still have two more sashes - one for her daughter and one for her grandchild.

Over the course of months, the quilt sat on the back burner for me and one day I came home to find that my daughter had sewn the strips of blocks together with the sashing we picked out. She was breathless as she showed me how much she had gotten done while I was away at work. She told me how anxious she was to get it done! Just as the embroidery had been done by another anxious-to-finish child, this stitching was not very well done. Hardly any of the seams she had sewn actually held the pieces together. She hadn't matched the edges of the fabrics together and there were gaps where the stuffing would have been seen clearly. I was appalled. I had to redo it all. I was disappointed that she didn't have the patience nor the inclination to learn do it correctly. We were silent about the quilt while I worked to fix it.

But I got the message, she wanted to finish the quilt. So after fuming and fixing, we moved on to the sandwiching of the batting and the quilting and binding. We hand quilted. Thank goodness. I had never made a quilt before this one (part of the reason for my going slow was I was hoping for directions to appear written on the wall above my sewing machine). Quilting was simple, right? Everyone knows how. There are plenty of books on the subject. I have a degree in Home Ec, for crissakes. Anyway, it was a long time ago and I really hadn't a clue how to do this the right way. So I struggled onward and hoped she didn't realize how scared I was to work on this precious piece of family history.

During some family visits, I insisted that my sister, my nephew, my mom and anyone else who could hold a needle, should work on the quilting. We finally got enough quilting done so that the quilt could go off to college with my daughter. Yes, an heirloom went to college. And came home again, I am happy to say. In fact, it is safely locked in the hope chest that we had made for her. I lined the wooden chest with muslin covered chipboard to prevent the wood from harming the fabrics inside. The top of the chest has a beautiful leather dragon illustration designed and carved by her dad. So I know the quilt is safe inside - perhaps forever. Somehow in all her moves from college to my home to apartment to her first home to her second home, she has lost the key to the trunk.

So all you get is the photo of one of the leftover Sue's. We also made a pillow for my mom to keep on her bed with two of the Sue's. I should take a photo of that the next time I fly to see her.

Anyone know how to pick a lock?