My summer was essentially relaxing, but frought with anxiety and of course, rainless sunshine which is especially rare in Seattle, particularly in July. Instead we got the national news about the “heat dome” and my family retreated to an air-conditioned hotel on Pride Sunday.
Pride Hotel was conceived then, but it was Zak Foster’s prompt to make an “unblock of the month” that inspired me to finish piecing it and turn it into a mini quilt. It seemed too glaringly bright in white so I added a reverse applique layer of silk organza. I have been making a lot of mini quilts lately while I work on a lot of UFOs with the hope of being more prolific and entering more shows in 2021 and beyond. Wish me luck!
The time I’m finding for hand-stitching in 2021 is making me really happy. It is color therapy while resting my eyes from screens all day, sometimes I even sew while watching. I have two more traditional hand applique projects, one I started in January with Alisson Glass fabrics I bought myself for black Friday, feeling blue and looking for something cheerful while supporting a small beloved business. I’m also thinking more about digital design this year and want to start playing with digital image and pattern making to supplement my little graph paper sketchbooks. I am taking Daisy Aschehoug’s Adobe Illustrator workshop at Quiltcon this weekend and thinking about playing with design and applique shapes in the future.
I started a project from my stepmother’s clothes a few years ago and this week, with the new year of (my) ox, a burst of creative sewing energy as I take my mid-winter break, its sprawled into 4 different pieces so far. This is my smallest one, a 6×8 piece called “Kansas City” I’m submitting for the 2021 SAQA Spotlight Auction. Trying to solve the next step in this quilt project has unlocked something inside of me and I am sewing every spare minute of the day. This slightly larger 7 x 10.5 mini started out as a tester for my next and presumably last piece from my stepmother’s clothes. I will gift it to her sister even though it may be a bit weird.
Last month I decided I really wanted to also take Heidi Parke’s whole cloth improv class to satisfy my recent return to hand stitching. I thought it might help me with the “back” for the memory quilt top I’d already made from work clothes, jeans and synthetic fabrics. But testing out cloth, fabric and trying to substitute DMC No 8 perle (I have No. 5 and its too bulky) for visible hand applique and quilting has helped me realize I want to make two quilts, not one. So yesterday I’m “fronted” and backed the utility quilt with the Lonestar pattern with some silk selvedge that was the perfect width. I’m cheating and facing the backing on 3 sides, then folding it over to the “front” for the applique on the rough pocket-y side. She was a painter and wiped her hands on her hips a lot on this pair of jeans. She also loved silk pajamas so I’ve been gently deconstructing some silk french seams.
This concludes my enthusiastic Quiltcon Together post, I hope you are having fun out there. And for folks in Texas, I hope you are warm and dry and your phone is charged, I’m so heartbroken for this mess some of you are in.
What does patriotism look like in a time of rising fascism?
I have been thinking about my great grandmother’s Hands Around the World block – a ten inch block with over 50 pieces = because someone saved one of her quilts that was badly damaged and I’m contemplating mending it. I’ve found several variation of the pattern but her scale seems to be unique and that doesn’t surprise me since her quilt is a depression era design probably drafted on boxboard. I have her daughter’s double wedding ring block drafted the same way, so I think she must have mailed the DWR to my grandmother. I have evidence of this in some letters and envelopes she sent to my paternal grandmother than include Nebraska newspaper clippings and patterns in newsprint and boxboard. The first block I made is in modern fabrics and palette but veers off the pattern so much I don’t know how I will fit 8 of these together to repair a badly harmed quilt. But in the meanwhile I can share a baby quilt I made in 2019 from scraps and put on Hands All Around on the back.
I used a lot of Cotton and Steel prints I’ve been unable to stop collecting over the years, but the front is mainly scraps of solids brought together from other projects. The improvisational piecing was therapeutic in the “before time.” My kids have repeatedly suggested time stopped existing when the COVID pandemic began almost exactly a year ago…but this quilt was made when time still existed and I was very very nervous about our incompetent, narcissistic president and his cronies in the Senate.
I hand-stitched in the center of the Hands All Around block and then echoes that at regular intervals followed by a grid quilting. I even marked most of the grid. I’m showing off the detail where clearly the result isn’t “Square” but its even and gives an overall impression of regularity. Everything is fine, move along. I made some little asterisk-like “stars” at some grid intersections. I can’t wait for an excuse to quilt like this again. It was fun and easy and I also just love the orangey pinks in the C&S palette combined with my coral solid.
Between sewing masks, trying to reach my students, and doing a lot of cooking together with my self-isolated family, it seemed like a good idea to submit another Curated Quilts Mini. “Spring Blossoms” uses my stash of silks in the ‘subtracted’ palette of silver, graphite, and soft pink. It is stitched and hand quilted with #50 silk thread I got from Red Rock Threads last year for the Yoshiko Jinzenji quilt I will try to finish quilting during this home isolation. I got this photo in the backyard today right before a thunderstorm darkened the sky. I’m already prepared for rejection on this one, but it felt really good to dive into a hand quilting project to calm my nerves over the past two weeks of what could become many weeks of being sheltered. I used some of the silks last week to make masks for myself and family members when we go out grocery shopping even before there was a national call for PPE and medical support for mask making. I remind you that while cotton and silk are obviously less effective than N95 masks for protecting one from COVID19 infection, they can also protect others from any infection you may be carrying (even though not 100%, although there are some sources suggesting 50% effectiveness) and as I selected a source for this post, I found WIRED has just published an article similar to my earliest sentiments. If you want to see my ridiculous youtube video or get a copy of the pdf pattern I made for my students, send me an email, its based on a rectangle so wastes less fabric, and a healthcare worker has reported good fit with it. I’m worried about my students, my community, my city, and my state as we enter this growing crisis. I am even more alarmed by the divided and confounding response to this crisis on a national level. Part of the therapeutic process of making this mini quilt has helped my process what has happened in New York, Florida, and Louisiana as our president failed to take advised and appropriate actions. This is criminal. I realize this is a contentious sentiment and obviously I have no desire to argue it with anyone who sees my voice of grief for lives needlessly lost as an opportunity to fight or attack others. This week, my grief and anger are fueled by the understanding that the president acts by blaming, insulting and condemning people rather than showing compassion, contrition, or concern, and it makes my role as a teacher harder. I am grateful that I taught many of my students to sew last semester as we made a beautiful baby quilt for a volunteer, the patchwork almost entirely hand-sewn by students in 3 of my classes, with several students stitching the binding around a table almost like a quilting bee.
I am thankful that after finishing and gifting this quilt, we started another set for another baby on the way, this one may be born behind an unknown backdrop of quarantines and unavailable hospital staff. I worry about what will become of a country that is collectively entertained by watching cruelty and disaster on television but is unable to act to support neighbors, community members and strangers during a pandemic and the immediate financial crisis impacting so many families. I think about the importance of connection, of supporting each other and making for others as I sew the next baby quilt, thankful that I am securely home, with my family, and a sewing machine, despite isolation.
I should not have even started this last week but when saw stars in Terry Aske’s posts I took a peek at the Curated Quilts spring challenge and loved the palette. Then I only used half of it in this very sunny mini quilt. At first I was thinking reversal like a penumbra but it looks more like a sunflower now. I hand quilted this during our marathon dance mom recital/dance company/high school grad/birthday/father’s day weekend. Happy Father’s Day out there to all you quilters!
I’m so happy to share a little belated post that my quilt, Resistors, made entirely for a Woman Made Gallery call for entries on the theme “Quilts + Resist” is now making its way home after being on display at the Chicago Gallery. Thank you so much to Deb and all the coordinators at this gallery who made this show possible as well as jurors Marcia Grubb and Adelia Moore.
June is the time of month that as a teacher, I start thinking about all the things I want to do in the summer. My summer reading list is taking shape. I’ve got “Behold the Dreamers” by Imbolo Mbue, “There There” by Tommy Orange and “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara all loaded up on my kindle app. We finally got a couch in the living room and now I’m throwing quilts on it this weekend while I try to decide which quilt might go on the wall. Two weeks ago I was really overworked and I kind of lost myself when I saw Debbie‘s play with a palette for the curated quilt mini challenge and I could not resist. Forget about marking or writing my finals, I had to jump in and play with a minimalist palette of solids and wound up picking the cream, yellow and navy.
I started playing with the “Tesla” font on paper a couple times in the past, but that weekend Musk was all over Twitter and I was thinking about how this technology hero and forward thinking fellow physicist can also be a demagogue due to fame and success even if he is a deep-thinking sort. I am submitting this to curated quilts but unfortunately due to my limited experience with completing things before deadlines, I learned a couple things about sizing, squaring and binding minis in the process.
If you aren’t going to do a fabulous faced binding like the one in this linen Rothko inspired one bespokeoutlaw made me for the SEAMQG swap 2 years ago, you need to allow a little extra space, one quarter inch, to be exact. So now my mini is 0.5 inches too wide for the original call for entries. But I kept it square because I liked that part of the challenge too. This was a lesson for me in binding that made me appreciate how well Martha, Debbie and Jackie bind their quilts. I worship at your feet fellow quilters!
Jackie bound this adventurous mini with reverse applique and metallic vinyl for me when we were on a committee together with Karen and we all swapped minis.
Karen‘s ties all four of these together with the cream and navy, and now I’m trying to find a way to mount them all in the living room (once I clean it, after school starts…I have a to-do list and even cleaning sounds like fun after not doing hardly any for the last 3 months). Her binding is tidy and patterned, and looks lovely in my living room right now. Any suggestions on how best to mount mini quilts on walls are welcome! We are finally furnishing our living room and treated ourselves to a non-secondhand couch (this is a first) and now I’m inspired to clean and organize the space.
Making this curated quilts challenge was so therapeutic for me to make and finish a small quilt in two weeks. It gives me just the energy to push through the final two weeks of school knowing summer is just around the corner. And I am re-inspired to begin more binding too, while I wait for summer making season.
I’m thinking of my family a lot this week and there have been some similarly scrappy, traditional log cabin quilts floating around the modern quilting universe. But mostly its thanks to Debbie at A Quilter’s Table and her easygoing blogging style (not to mention completely uplifting and validating tendency to comment on nearly every post I make) for inspiring me to just jump in to blog land when I have a few spare moments. I saw her link to Scraptastic Tuesday and immediately thought of this quilt only to realize I’d never blogged it, so here it is.
Many of these scraps pre-date even my earliest quilting days and were inherited from my mother or even my grandmother. The last move we made in BC in 2010 saw a lot of these scraps off to new homes, but the ones I’d already cut into 1 1/2″ strips survived and eventually saw a finish in 2012, when I gave this to my stepfather for Christmas. These classic log cabin blocks still entertain me and I love how many different vintages the fabrics span.
We are halfway through the Modern Sampler Quilt Along and I couldn’t be enjoying these blocks more. I was relieved when I noticed that Caitlin’s blocks are also not all the same sizes, I figure that is a problem for future me, especially because the silk may fray as they wait in the cupboard for more blocks to join them. The new “F” block is in the middle, and this block is definitely my favorite and I was looking forward to making it even before I found out about this quilt-along when I first found the Yoskiko Jinzenji book at a local bookstore and couldn’t resist it.
In another avenue for procraftination, I decided to embark on the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild’s Mini Mini Quilt Swap to add to my divine collection of our guild’s fine workmanship. But wait, did I read that right? Perimeter no greater than 24″? That means 6×6 or 5×7 or maybe an ambitious 2×10 mini-quilt? I decided that I would experiment with Season Evan‘s Mighty Lucky Quilting Club February challenge (actually I might have played with this more than once, the other result is much bigger and for a later post). She is a guild member I am extremely lucky to have a quilt by, maybe someday I will even post a picture, it goes great with the yellows in the new house. Anyhow, here is the back of my mini mini quilt (I’m not sure if I should reveal the front or not). Those are teeny tiny Cotton and Steel linen bunnies. I have spring on my brain, just not my homework.
Ok, I’m really heading back to writing a paper now, right after I walk my lovely patient dog.
I finished this quilt the day before Valentine’s Day last week, right before I got into a funk about the President’s Day long weekend. The heart HST layout is from the Decemberists poster my daughter brought back from the concert at Marymoor this summer (thanks for the tickets, Becca!) and everything about their last two posters is very folksy and quilty. My neighbors seemed like they were cut from the same cloth (they play folk jazz music and generally make us feel old). At any rate, they welcomed their son into the world on labor day weekend after I’d already pieced most of this heart. Needless to say, teaching keeps me very busy, as does grad school and so I didn’t get this puppy quilted until the Winter Break, and I finished binding and washing it last weekend.
The blues that hit me on President’s Day had more to do with my abysmal lack of exercise combined with the demands of both my teaching a new semester, not getting enough time between semesters to plan, and then losing the full Midwinter’s break week off due to the Seattle labor action earlier this year. Strangely enough, I decided back in September not to go to Quiltcon this weekend even though I thought I would be finished with this pesky Master’s degree. While I am delighted by the photos from friends who are there, I am not sorry not to be there, especially because I have a paper to finish. I will celebrate finishing grad school with hopefully a proper week off in February and a trip to lovely Georgia for Quiltcon East in 2017. However a great workout with my fabulous children and viewing the gorgeous photos all weekend is a great pick-me-up!