Saturday, February 13, 2016

Fabric teaches a Lesson

Recently, my friend's friend passed away. I did not know her, but I understand that she was very creative. In her life, she had experimented with many different artistic media & had excelled at quite a few of them. Her studio was filled with the materials of her creative life. After her death, my friend volunteered to her friend's newly widowed husband, to help with the big task of clearing out the studio.

My friend's dining room was *filled* with her friend's fabric. She put out a call to her fellow quilters & to several church groups who sew for those in need. In spite of my over-full stash, the words "free fabric" had me in my car & headed to her house. I was amazed by what I saw! So much fabric! Fat quarters, small cuts, huge cuts. Cat fabric, Asian fabric (I came away with an Asian cat fabric), batiks, etc, etc, etc. There were zip bags filled with blocks & block parts. There was even tub filled with bandannas?

After several, round-eyed "oh my words!" on my part, I started thinking about how many plastic tubs would it take to contain *my* stash.
As many?

But the good news is that though my friend's friend will no longer enjoy her studio filled with color & inspiration, her fabric has found new homes & will be put to good use. I brought home a couple of bags of WIPs to make up for charity quilts. One was a bag of bright batik blocks which made two quick quilts -- one to give, one to keep.

I am still absorbing the lessons.
The first lesson I was: people with too much fabric should not throw rocks at others who have too much fabric. I know a very few people who only buy fabric when they need it. Me? I. Buy. Fabric. I buy fabric because I LOVE fabric. I have too much fabric & now I have a little more fabric.

The second lesson was this -- don't worry about having too much fabric. Yes, it will present a problem to who ever has the chore of cleaning out my sewing room, but the very good news is that quilters will love the fabric I loved & will do good things with it. This dear woman's beloved stash is now scattered over Houston being loved & doing good.

Happy mail days!

And a happy FedEx day!

My Pinterest Pal & I had been "chatting" about little quilts, when I realized that I never had a baby quilt. Turns out my Pinterest Pal hadn't one either. So we decided to make one for each other. For her, I put together the strips left over from my scrappy trip around. My gift recently arrived, & while not a baby quilt, it is even better! A charming pillow! And a bonus hot mitt & pincushion!

Then came a birthday remembrance from my dear Mrs. O'Quilts. They look like hot pads but what I see is love & creativity & strength.

And then the FedEx driver came! Red Bowties! Home again after more than a year! It was so beautifully wrapped -- tissue wrapped, tissue in the folds, I could not immediately un-do it. Pippa, always on the lookout for the new & comfy is enjoying it, as is.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Tree Lot

The tree is probably my favorite part of Christmas. Well, after gathering & sharing with family & friends, then the Christmas tree. I have been known to leave the tree up until springtime -- an artificial one, we quit having real ones after we realized we both were sneezing the whole time it was in the house. But because we often travel at the holidays, I don't always get to have a tree. This year was the second in row without one at chez Shug & smazoochie. I hung a wreath on the door, our stockings on the mantle, my old Christmas tree quilt on the wall & called the house decorated. Easy to clear away when the holiday was over, but not very cheery.

I began thinking about a another tree quilt in mid November. I love my first one, am looking at it now while I type, but I wanted to make another. This time I wanted more freely pieced trees. I thought & thought, looked at books, on Pinterest, watched Craftsy lessons. Finally, I went to the source: Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking. I pulled a mix of greens, old & new, then began making liberated geese. The trees grew quickly. While I sewed, I remembered tree shopping when I was very young. A guy with a semi-trailer full of trees would set up business on a vacant lot in my town -- the Tree Lot -- this is where my family would go to choose ours. While Mom, my brother & I looked for The Perfect Tree, Dad's input was a tree with a straight trunk. I don't remember a tree ever falling over in our house, but the straight trunk seemed a very big deal. Perhaps none of these trees would have passed his standard, but it was such pleasure making them & remembering those old times.

This quilt may hang until Spring.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Office Geese

first finish & a short story made long

I put the final stitches in the binding of this one in the early days of 2016. Technically, it is not my finish, I merely turned a top into a quilt, but it is now a charming & cuddly quilt in our home.

I bought the top years ago. When both my parents were living & well, I would go up to visit twice a year. During these visits, Mom & I would usually take a day & go to the thrift stores & flea markets. On one of these trips, I found this bright, simple vintage quilt top. I always had plans to quilt it, had folded it away with fabric for backing & binding. For more than 10 years, it had been on my shelves until late last year I pulled it out & decided it was time to do this thing. I simply & quickly quilted it, was sewing on the binding -- rats! -- it lacked several inches of meeting up. Well, time to formulate & implement Plan B.

Under my sewing table, are 2 vintage suitcases & a decorative box, all are filled with fabric. I knew one held my gathering of 30s looking fabrics where I might find a binding-gap filler. I wiped off thick layers of dust & began exploring.

What's in the box? Oh! It's my collection of Day of the Dead, Virgin of Guadaloupe & bright florals. Eep, I had forgotten all about them.

What is in the black case? Well, flapjacks, more things I had forgotten I had. Woven stripe, ikats, batiks -- beautiful stuff, but, whhaaaat!?! I'm sure I had some lofty plan that did not materialize. But now what!?!

 The brown case was Mom's high school graduation present. She took it with her to college & several years later, it went with her on her honeymoon. Now it holds fabric. And here is what I was looking for, my 30s fabrics that I gathered together after I cut up Aunt Evelyn's embroidered tea towels & set them into blocks. I was thinking of something cheery & kitchen-y -- it still could happen, I suppose. And, look! There on top is the perfect substitute binding!

 Early in my quiltmaking history, I read or heard that, for cohesive quilts, we should keep like fabrics with like fabrics -- no vibrant Day of the Day prints with florals in chalky pastel with indigo hand-wovens. I pretty much kept that axiom close to my heart all these years. Now I am trying to let it go. You may soon see many of these coming together!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

2015, 2016

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! Ours was crazy busy! We drove North to see the family -- ALL the family. We were very tightly scheduled -- if this is Wednesday, these people must be Shug's family & like that. We saw everyone, even had some bonus visits. Besides seeing family, we also saw a really magical light display.

I have to say I am kind of glad to see the backside of 2015. It wasn't really a bad year, just one with quite a lot of expensive maintenance & repairs needed for our home, our vehicles, our pets & ourselves. Let me repeat, there was nothing really bad or serious, just a continual squeezing of our wallets.

Making-wise, it was a pretty good year. Shug turned some really amazing pieces. This one is my especial favorite.

It wasn't a big production year for me. I spent quite a lot of time piecing & quilting a scrappy Arkansas Crossroads quilt -- which is still not finished -- it needs something more, I'm just not sure what it needs -- quilting? tying? something in the 16-patch squares. I made & gave away 6 quilts -- that is always satisfying. And 2 finishes remain in house: my version of last year's plus quilts made with my parents' shirts & Laura's Lightning. Both were long-time WIPs that I was glad to finish & I am quite pleased with both.

What do I hope for 2016? Firstly, fewer trips to the repair shop. Then there will be 2 milestone birthdays this year, for both I want to make quilts for the birthday girls. There are always a heap of WIPs that I want to see become finished quilts. Also as usual, I want to make a serious dent in my over-accumulation of fabric -- to give, to donate, to keep. And there are quilt blocks I want to explore -- more flying geese, more pluses, maybe baskets, log cabins/house tops? I've only ever made one of those, & how about something very different from anything I've ever done, like a big appliqued princess feather!

Please stay tuned!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

a finish & a greeting

I whipped up a little doll quilt for a super hero-loving grand niece who is expecting a special baby doll for Christmas. I have been enjoying watching Audrey's quilt along, wanting to join in, but haven't had much time with Holiday preparations. This quick little toe-test of the circle blocks have me wanting to make more -- next year.

Wishing all y'all a safe, warm, love-filled Holiday.
xxx, smazoochie

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Misses & Hits

There is a Modern Quilter whose lectures & lessons I listen to online. It seems like with every quilt of hers she uses as an example, she will exclaim, "I LOVE this quilt!" I find it a little off-putting. Does she really LOVE every quilt she has made? Is there nothing about any of them that she would change, do differently in the future?

There are quilts I have made that I had great expectations for -- perfect colors, perfect fabrics, perfect pattern -- but when they were finished, they just didn't hit the mark I was aiming for. Some are just off a bit, others not even close. As blogging quilters, we show our efforts out here on the Internets & our readers, our friends, will applaud them. Even when we say 'I don't like this' or 'I wish I hadn't done that', our readers & friends often say, oh no, it is beautiful just as it is. I do this myself. And when I do see something about someone else's quilt that I don't like or wish had been done differently, I don't say so. We seem to go by the If-You-Can't-Say-Anything-Nice-Don't-Say-Anything-At-All rule. So on Big Reveal posts, the comments are full of praise. I find that sometimes it gets hard not to believe all the praise, hard not to think, 'yes, smazoochie, another awesome quilt'.  But I try to keep my feet of clay firmly planted in reality.

Anyway, all this is leading to this quilt. It isn't often that I am so unabashedly pleased with something I've made. This quilt is not perfect, but I really don't think I would change anything about it. I LOVE this quilt! I don't say that about many of my quilts, just a few -- one more now!

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Proud, happy & thrilled

I began piecing this quilt more than 3 years ago; looking at my blog posts about it, I see I got the top put together in about a month. I basted it in the late Autumn of 2012, then began 3 years of quilting.

3 loooong years of quilting.

Not 3 constant years of quilting -- I would work diligently for a while, be overcome by the boring & tedious nature of the quilting I chose, then I would put it away for a month, a few months, a year. I finally got tired of the thing lying around & soldiered through. I put the last quilting stitch in a week ago today. After finishing, I would have Sworn an Oath that I would never quilt another quilt in that sort of dense, echoing way again.

But a week has passed & the memory of the boring tedium is fading.

Some time ago, after 2 failed attempts, I got to Hollis Chatelain's class at Quilt Festival, "Quilt Line as the Third Design Element." The only class supply we were to bring was an un-quilted top. Through the day of the class, the 25 or 30 of us would show our top, then with Hollis leading the discussion, we would talk about ideas of how to quilt it. I think after waiting years to get into this class, my expectations were pretty high. I suspect I was hoping for some sort of magic algorithm -- 
If This, Then This = Awesomely Quilted Quilt. 
Instead, through the day I heard Hollis ask the same set of questions to each of us. By early afternoon, I was sitting there like Peggy Lee wondering, Is That All There Is?

It has taken me this long to find the value in the questions Hollis asked each of us:

What is this quilt for?
What is your favorite thing about it?
What do you want to emphasize?
What do you want to achieve?

My Laura's Lightning is to be a utilitarian quilt; I really like the combination of fabrics, colors & I wanted to emphasize the zigzag streaks of lightning. I think I may have blundered onto the perfect quilting to achieve that. I am now hand-stitching the binding & am eager to pop it in the washer & dryer & get a good look at this quilt.

In other news, the chaos & mess in my sewing room has gotten SO BAD, trees are starting to grow!