Thursday, June 27, 2013

That's MS. You-Have-Too-Much-Fabric to YOU, buster!

Can one have too much fabric?

Well, I think maybe one can. More specifically, yes, I think maybe I do.

I'm feeling buried alive by the fabric in my sewing room. I've been quilting for more than 30 years (OMG!), sewing for longer than that. I'm not sure when I began collecting/amassing fabric, but it has been accumulating for a long, long time.

Pretty fabric, on sale fabric, on a whim fabric, thrifted fabric, inherited fabric -- it's all there on my shelves. Big yardages for clothing, small cuts for a specific project (did I finish that project? did I even *begin* it?) Fabric bought on trips, fabric given as a souvenir of some else's trip. More & more & more.

The quilt shops were smart when they started cutting fat quarters -- just a sweet, inexpensive taste, like the little spoons at the ice cream shop -- perfect for a small gift, a little pick-me-up. Then the manufacturers began selling pre-cuts -- the beginning of *my* undoing. At first I thought, what can you do with a stack of 5 inch squares!?! Then I began to enjoy the restrictions of the 5 & 10 inch squares, the 2.5 inch strips -- I often cut my yardage into these dimensions. I found working within the structure a bit like haiku, kind of fun & freeing once you get into it.

For the last several years, when my Mom was in nursing care & I was spending 2 to 3 months of the year away from home visiting her, fabric shopping -- especially e-fabric shopping -- was my self-medication. I think most of us have seen those hoarding shows on television & know that the shopping isn't about the things being bought, it's about filling a hole, healing a hurt. Is it better or worse if you know what you are doing & do it anyway? I don't know, but it gave me something to look forward to when I got home from a sad & stressful trip. And an e-cart is so benign. Your purchases have no volume, just electrons, so it seems like nothing & so easy to "Proceed to Checkout". Then the giant box arrives at my door, like a present -- that is, until the bill comes.

The thing that is overwhelming me now is all the stuff I've been bringing back from my parents' home. A lifetime of things saved & things never gotten rid of -- clothing from nearly every stage of life of each member of my family, yard goods never used, scraps from dressmaking, hankies, linens -- there's even a silk parachute! -- etc, etc, etc. Baskets & bins & bags of it (oh, my).

I'm making a serious effort to realistically look over this new-to-me stuff & the stuff I already had, evaluate what I can use, what I will use, what I don't like or want anymore, what there just isn't enough hours in the day to get to.

But will I stop buying fabric? Not likely. Over the years I've learned that, for me, fasting leads to over-doing. Moderation works best, so I'll try to cut back.

I am really trying to cut back.

Monday, June 17, 2013

I LOVE these quilts: put a bird on it!

I grew up in a bird-watching family. When I was quite young, I could identify birds by their calls, their flight profiles, their habits. My parents had feeders up year round & watched them like television. The bird book & the binoculars were always close at hand. So bird-y things make me think of home & family & make me happy.
I haven't done an "I LOVE these quilts" in a while, so I thought I would do a "put a bird on it" edition. I have VERY MANY quilts with birds favorited on Flickr. Embroidered, appliqued, pieced, paper pieced, or just made with bird-printed fabric; realistic, abstract, whimsical, there are many many ways to make quilts that celebrate birds. Here are just a few that I LOVE!

This quilt, an heirloom belonging to Pearlzenith, was one of my earliest Flickr favorites. Her great-grandmother, a woman who preferred science & drawing to needlework, made the quilt. She may not have loved it, but she was clearly quite skilled with her needle. Her whimsical little birds are so adorable & well-made; she must have loved someone -- child? grandchild? -- very much to have made this sweet little quilt. What a treasure!

Bird Quilt

Another of my early Flickr favorites was made by run amok. Flying Birds made of 1 square & 2 HSTs -- so simple & so effective! I cannot imagine anyone looking at this quilt & not thinking of a swirling flock of birds. Her sky is a mix of blue & neutral solids, she used special vintage kimono fabrics for her birds. I would really love to make my own version of this quilt someday -- imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?!?!

Flying Birds Quilt, finished

Made by kellymeanix (she blogs at Pinkadot Quilts), this quilt is a charmer. A contemporary appliqued bird block surrounded by what look to be vintage fabrics in a cheery palette of blues & aquas, pinks & reds. And if it weren't bird-y enough, there are little birds & nests ink-stamped onto the white areas. It's little, but makes a big statement & what a great way to use some cherished fabrics!

 Bluebird in Winter

PinkPlease! made this quilt for the MQG Kona Charm Challenge. Cute, chubby little bird shapes were cut from the solid charm squares -- the square without the bird was raw-edge appliqued to one side & the bird without the square was raw-edge appliqued to the other side. Very clever, very modern!

Flock in the box!

I admit to loving very nearly everything RachaelDaisy (she blogs at Blue Mountain Daisy) makes, but I do have especial favorites. "Oi Emu" is an especial favorite. This quilt was made for Corduroy Appreciation Day (11-11-11) & made wagga-style! Some corduroy trousers, some Aussie screen-printed fabrics, curtain scraps, an emu, a dash of rust & mustard & RachaelDaisy has made another awesome quilt!

Oi Emu!!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I'm still here

Yeah, I'm here -- busy with work & having bad days & slightly better days & longing for time off for some rest & restoration.

I went north for Memorial Day. My brother & I went together to the family cemetery, stopping on the way to have a picnic lunch at a favorite spot of our parents'. The weather was sunny & mild, the country cemetery was pretty & it was very nice going together.

I am sewing some.
Mostly doing what Lynn Roddy Brown calls "mental health sewing" -- just assembling parts. More & more lap & baby quilt tops are getting made for donation -- I'm getting quite a stack! I'm also 'working' on 3 projects for other people: for a friend's birthday, an Irish Chain in shades of green -- simple, but slow-going because the 9-patches are 3 inches finished; Shug's 'birthday' shirt -- yes, the one I began last year -- it remains unfinished (hangs head in shame); & a Jayhawk basketball t-shirt quilt for my MIL, not begun, still in the thinking stage, but it should be fun to do.

I've also got the HMQG challenge with Denyse Schmidt's Florence line. 16 fat eighths. Sounds like a lot of fabric, but really isn't so much. The line made me think of prints from the 1940s, so I'm doing an old-school-ish block & using a muslin-like solid to stretch them. I like the way it is shaping up, I just need to sit down & do some piecing.

I have 4 quilts that I really want to get quilting on: Laura's Lightning -- a bit more than halfway done; I have an awesome back prepped for my Swoon blocks with the Marcia Derse fabrics -- I'm thinking of simple, wavy-line quilting; the little quilt made for the Michael Miller's Madrona Road challenge (I had thought I might give this little quilt to my Mom {sigh}); & my scrappy-trip-along with the cherry-chocolate-y fabrics is ready to sandwich.

But I tire easily, am restless & can't focus for long. So I'm not making any serious progress on any one project.