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!