Monday, September 26, 2011

Great Expectations

That is what I had for the weekend -- Great Expectations.

Most of Saturday was spent doing chores and errands. Sunday was free though and I got up to my room to begin working on the long list of things I wanted to accomplish: baste the postage stamp top, cut some fabric for donation quilts for victims of the Texas wildfires, make more double knit stars, pull and combine some fabrics for my next projects. But first on the list was to re-sash the square plates. Well. That took most of the day, what with ripping and re-sewing and ripping and re-sewing and time-outs to regain my temper (worst of times!). I had a Dickens of a time getting those sashes to line up!

It is finally together now and I really like the way it looks (best of times!) Those coral and yellow rays chase away the Bleak House Blues! I think I will add some more of that green as a border. As for quilting, last year at the Quilt Festival I took a class from Mary Mashuta on walking foot quilting and I think this quilt is the perfect candidate for experimenting with those skills.

sashed square plates

Monday, September 19, 2011

Turn turn turn

Shug has been turning wood for just a little more than 2 months now -- and look at what he has spun out!

2 month's work

There are 14 pieces there, of varying quality, though the quality is getting better and better. There are 2 bowls upstairs on my sewing table (one with spools, one with patchwork parts) and there are a few -- though just a few -- failed attempts. Pretty impressive I think!

He is getting much more done than I am. These days, I can't seem to do anything more complicated than browse blogs, flickr, pinterest & tumblr and play find-it games on my I-Pad. It isn't that I don't have PLENTY of needle-ready projects. Here are just some of them, along with my lame excuses:

The squared plates have been disassembled, squared & are ready to re-assemble, but, well, the design wall is full. The blue postage stamp top is ready to sandwich, but the table where I do this is covered with wooden bowls. The quilting threads in snafu need to be restitched & anchored, but I am still to irritated to work with this one.

 to finish
I think the shirts & slacks quilt will be about 5 or 6 blocks by 6 or 7, so I still need many more of them, but I can only work on them for a short time because they make me sad. (I think this one is a real excuse.)

to piece

I just need to make more pieces for the indigo & white stars -- just haven't made the time. The yellow zig-zag is built diagonally so I need lots of space to spread it out; it is about 3/4 done & is pretty big. I am working on the Sunday School Stars -- the one thing I am getting done!

more to finish

I want to add more borders to my Habitat challenge but need to get some more Habitat fabric. Come on! That means a trip to the fabric store! Surely I can 'motivate' myself to do that! The hexagons came to a screeching halt back in January or February, I don't even remember why, but I am sure it was a good reason. And I just dug out the purple & gray squares in squares. They were going to be a gift for someone, but I came up with something I liked better. The parts are all cut for this, it would be an excellent donation quilt, I just need, well you know, MOTIVATION!

still more to finish

I am always encouraging people to be easy on themselves, but I am the last one to take my own advice. Like the song in this post's title, there is a time for everything. I had several pretty good finishes this summer, so maybe I can take some time to rest & recharge. (Though Ecclesiastes doesn't mention anything about the internet or computer games.)

And check this out! HMQG's Habitat Challenge projects! AWESOME!!!

HMQG - Habitat Challenge

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dress your family in polyester, corduroy & flannel *

I have been having fun with some pretty odd fabrics these days.

The polyester doubleknit friendship stars that I found at my Mom's house is about 3/7 done. The Easter egg pastels were either un-used yardage or left-over scraps from dress making by my Mom & both of my grandmothers. (Though one was from my prom dress -- NO laughing!) They were all good church women, so I am thinking of calling the finished comforter something like Sunday School Stars or Full Immersion Stars or Church Lady Stars. (Please feel free to voice your opinion.) Sewing doubleknit is a bit like sewing corrugated cardboard; it is hard to imagine wearing a dress made of this stuff -- it must have been like a suit of armor! And it makes this weird, sludge-like lint in my machine. I've been digging deep into my old stash and found some flannel with pastel cats that will be good for the back.

poly stars

From nifty quilts I learned about National Corduroy Appreciation Day -- 11 November 2011, 11-11-11, of course! I used to save corduroy for quilt making, but jettisoned all of it several moves ago. But I do still have a top that my Mom and I found thrifting probably 25 years ago. I pulled it out and found *another* huge chunk of flannel (cowboys!) for the back. Now it is ready to prep for tying.


* My apologies to David Sedaris, though I think his sister, Amy, would approve.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Nine years ago today, on the first anniversary of 11 September, I did not want to spend the day sitting in front of the television, reliving That Day. I wanted to remember in my own way, by doing something thoughtful, constructive and creative. I got out some batiks and the last of my Cherrywood fabrics and cut and sewed and got most of a quilt top done. Then Life interfered & it slowly moved lower and lower in my to-do pile. A while back, I found another batik that I liked for the border. So, this morning, I thought it appropriate to stitch on the border. This is my salute to the lives lost and the lives changed That Day.


Monday, September 05, 2011

I love these quilts -- special edition

From the time I was very small, I was a frequenter of thrift stores. My Mom, while not a quilter, was a good seamstress; at the thrift stores, she would buy for herself and for me clothing to wear and clothing to alter into other things. My Halloween costume when I was 5 or 6 years old was made from a quilted, leopard-printed circle skirt -- she made a pair of pants, shirt, tail and little tie-on cap with cat ears -- all that was left to do was draw whiskers on my face with an eyebrow pencil. So I have always looked at used clothing as a possible source for fabric.

I am not alone in doing this. There are many quilters who use the good cloth in old clothing for their quilt projects and have many reasons for doing so -- economy, philosophy, memory, to name a few.

Men's office shirts are a great fabric source. The many shades of blues, the many varieties of stripes, plaids and checks make for lovely quilts. Here is one by meliBismakingthings.

Recycled business shirts

This awesome one, called Office Stripes, was made by Binita.

Some quilters have more of a philosophy to use thrifted clothing and textiles in their quilts. LeilaBadBlood is one. She has made many beautiful quilts from recycled cottons and linens and has been commissioned to make quilts using family textiles. One of my favorites is M's Quilt.

M's quilt

Another and special category of quilt from clothing is the remaking of a loved ones things into a memory quilt. As quilters, we can take a stack beloved dresses or shirts or pants and create for ourselves something that will always bring to mind our loved ones. sewandtellquilts did that with her Grandmother's dresses and her Grandfather's shirts.

Grandma's Dresses

Grandpa's Shirts Memorial quilt

Even without knowing these people, I can look at these quilts and peak inside the lives of the people who wore these clothes -- Grandma loved her flowered dresses, Grandpa was more traditional with his plaid shirts.

I will always be grateful to completely cauchy not only for this blog post, but for bringing to my attention the wonderful This I Believe essay by Priya Chandrasekan. "I believe that to love, and to bare the boundless depth of our love, we must have the courage to reshape what we inherit."

Sometimes we quilters can give a wonderful gift to friends mourning a loss. Look at this lovely post by nifty quilts -- Sacred Work indeed. J R Webb was also able to provide a beautiful memory for someone. He made this amazing quilt and even a necklace with the buttons from the shirts.


I would be remiss if I did not mention Sherri Lynn Wood and her Passage Quilts. Sherri teaches, consults and does commissions of the making of these beautiful and touching quilts that commemorate lives. A lovely example is her quilt made from her Grandmother's clothing, a gift to her Father.

Georgia Marie Wood (1917 - 2003)

"Old clothes carry something with them. You can feel the presence of the person who used to wear them. It has a spirit in them. Even if I don't know the person, I know someone wore these pants, and it feels lovely and warm to me."
Mary Lee Bendolph
Gee's Bend, Alabama

My thanks to everyone who allowed me to use their quilt here. You can find these and other "I LOVE these quilts!" in my flickr gallery.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

This old quilt.

If it weren't for bad luck, this quilt would have no luck at all.


I finished the binding on this one today. I think I will call it "SNAFU".

It began well enough. I bought a jelly roll (it has been so long ago that I no longer remember the designer or the line) and made the top in pretty short order. Then I decided to hand quilt it; I pin-basted it and began stitching away. Now, with Houston weather, you do not often want a lap-full of quilt, but I was making pretty good progress in the evenings while watching television. That was maybe 2.5 years ago. Then in August of 2009, the kitten Louis came into our home. His first weekend I closely watched him to make sure he knew where the litter boxes were. From time to time I would put him in a box but he would promptly jump out. This quilt was neatly folded on the seat of 'my' chair. The adorable kitten Louis jumped on the chair & I thought "oh how cute, he is going to nap on my quilt" but, no, he was not going to nap on my quilt, he was going to pee on my quilt. And since he had not relieved himself for about 24 to 36 hours, he really had to GO. So in spite of quickly snatching him up, he pretty well soaked the quilt -- the pin-basted quilt. I had to drape it outside so it could dry, then I hastily (and not very carefully (it smelled of cat pee)) machine-basted it, removed the safety pins (checking for rust spots -- that is one problem the quilt dodged) and put it in the washing machine. So for 2 years I have been quilting on this ragged-looking quilt and finally put the last stitch in about a month ago.

I stitched on the binding, *trimmed the seam*, and began stitching the binding down. Then I kept seeing these really short, loose quilting threads -- about 0.5 inches, sometimes even less. Yikes! I was blaming this on Louis as well; I thought it happened when I was pulling out the basting stitches. I was in the final stretch with the binding when I thought "I TRIMMED the seam!"! I CUT OFF my anchoring knots -- that is why the quilting stitches are coming out!

Now I would love to continue to blame this on Louis, he won't know, he's just a cat. But I am afraid I am going to have to own this one -- along with the other bone-headed mistakes I have been making recently.
To quote one of my blog friends, "MEH!"

In other news, I'm very close to finishing my Habitat challenge top -- it is a bright one!

habitat challenge