Sunday, March 21, 2021

Project Quilting 12.6 - Ab Intra (From Within)

Project Quilting Season 12 has come to an end. I cant beleive that we are at the end of March already! Participating in these challenges, seeing the first 12 weeks of the year as "challenge weeks" and "off weeks" has a way of making time move really fast. Or, maybe just differently. As always, it's been fun to be a part of PQ. I enjoy the structure, the challenges and the creativity, as well as the community.
This week, Trish challenged us to look within ourselves and create something that represented who we are, or the creative spark that makes us each unique. I don't know why, but as soon as I read the challenge, I kept hearing/thinking "My life is an open book." The phrase popped up in several contexts throughout the first part of the week. Mid-week, I was sitting on the couch in the evening, with no energy or motivation to do anything other than scroll...and I happened across a random post featuring a fabric book. There was the inspiration I needed. I pulled several fabrics before bed that night, heaped them on the sewing room table, and went to bed. I didn't touch them again until late Saturday afternoon.
This project breaks one of my fundamental, personal Project Quilting Rules. I have always tried to make things that were "useful" during the challenges, so that I wouldn't be stuck with "Stuff" sitting around. I have a really hard time making, just to make. That's kind of paralyzing at times, and it's probably why I put off working on this challenge until the last 24 hours! I have this arbitrary "rule" and several others I impose on my life, that really do go against my true nature. These rules, and trying to follow them, are what often cause me the most anxiety and stress in my life. They keep me from being me, sometimes, and make me feel less than I am. It was kind of hard to get this project done, because it meant breaking a rule - and that's how life in general feels, lately. Like I'm doing the wrong thing, when I'm doing the things that feel right.
I filled this little fabric book with the words I know to be true, and the words I want to live by. Not the rules I think I need to follow, but the words that speak to the me I am when nobody/nothing else is putting demands on me or my time or my energy. I created quick little mini quilts filled with fabrics and images that represent both these phases and the best things in my life. For the few hours it took to create this little book, I was reminded what it felt like to just let go and create. No plan, no rules, no purpose other than the process. I don't know what I"ll do with this book, but that's kind of the point. I need to remember that I don't always have to have a plan. This sweet little object can just exist to be a reminder that its OK to just. be. This is me, ab intra.
Thank you to Kim and Trish for another amazing season. It was fun to be part of the record breaking year. I'm so grateful to have won a couple of prizes this year, and I'm going to treat my self to a PQ hoodie this afternoon! Can't wait for Lucky Season 13!!

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Project Quilting 12.5 - You're Crazy

This week's Project Quilting Theme spotlights ome of the most classic and recognizable forms of traditional quitlng, The Crazy Quillt. I have always been fascinated by Crazy Quilts, the women who made them and the fabrics they were made from. Making something beautiful from bits and pieces in order to preserve memories AND end up with a funnctional quilt totally appeals to every part of my nature. Crazy quilts just get me, I guess. I spent the first part of the week thinking that I would create some crazy quilt style panels to put on a repurosed sweatshirt that my husband threw out a while ago. I am craving a quilted jacket, and thought I'd test the waters with a faux-quilted sweatshirt cardigan. I had a vision, but, as the week went on I realized I would need more time than the challenge alloted to make something I'd actually wear. And, I have my own PQ rule that I can't buy anything new for challenge pieces. I WILL make that sweatshirt cardigan...but I"m going to buy some fun new fabrics for it! At some point, mid-week, I read a comment that Kim, founder of Project Quilting, posted in response to a participant. She said something like, "You can really go down the rabbit hole with this challenge!" It was one of those "flashbulb" moments I reember learning about in one psychology class or another. In an instant, I had a commplete idea of what I wanted to do for the challenge! And, it pretty much turned out exactly like that vision!
I started by pulling out some vintage pillowcases that I have held onto for a while, some old lace and ric rac, and a bunch of low volume scraps. Isn't it a pretty pile?
It took a little time to make this "slab" quilt as you go style, but it sure was fun! I am sure I was't doing this the "right" way, as I frequently ran into corners and odd angles where "stitch and flip" didn't work. I wasn't too concerned. I just folded raw edges over and sewed on top when that happened. And, I had thoughts of going over those spots with some decorative stitches either by machine or hand. That would have been amazing...but, I got so excited to see the bunny that I totally forgot!
The hardest part, honestly, was deciding which part of the slab the bunny should be cut from. There were so many spots that I loved, either because of the fabrics or the trims. I actually debated turning the whole slab into a pillow because I didn't want to cut it! But, that bunny needed to come to life, and I guess she needed to have that little embroided song bird on her tummy.
Since there was a lot of crazy quilted goodness left, I decided that some easter eggs would be fun. The eggs and the bunny are all backed with pieces of a vintage quilt that I bought with the intention of using it as a cutter quilt. The quilt is lovely. It's an appliqued rose basket motif and beautifly hand quilted. Much of the red/deep pink that was used for the baskets and flowers is gone or badly frayed, but the green vines are in a bit better shape. It was very stained when I bought it from a friend who specializes in estate sale clean up, but it cleamed up very well with just a gently cycle wash and dry. It was hard to cut into the quilt, it really was. But, it's so damaged that noone but me woujld use it on a bed (and there's just a little too much resigual odor left for me to do that). I will get probably 75 small projects out of this quilt, probably more, which means that it willl be loved and appreciated by many more people than if my firend had just stashed it or used it as pet bedding. So, before I cut into it I thanked the quilter who created it, promised her I'd make lovely things out of it, then turned it around to cut the on the plain side beccause somehow that made me less sad. I like to think that the quilter's spirit approves of her handmade legacy living on.
And acutally, that quilter's creative spirit might have stuck around a while after I finished the bunny and eggs, because I started crafting and didn't stop! I painted, cut, glued crafted by little heart out all day and all night and some of the next day, too! I even worked up the nerve to cut a little bit more of that quilt, and I LOVE it.
I suspect that more than one member of my household watched my craft marathon and the small mountain of resulting projects and had a really tough time NOT saying "You're Crazy." They don't get it, and aren't even a bit impressed when I hold up a project and tell them how much it would have cost if I had bought it at a shop. Oh well. If this is what craxy looks like, I'll take it. I'm in good company.
CHeck out all the rest of the crazy quilter's projects over at Persimon Dreams.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Project Quilting 12.4 - Snail Trail

 I almost didn't start a project for this week's Project Quilting Challenge.  All week, I just didn't feel like sewing or crafting.  I did a bit here and there...a few blocks for a baby clothes quilt I'm making (for an acquaintance)... 

I decided to keep a few of the owner's baby clothes as is for this memory quilt.  The dresses and little boy jammies are just too cute to cut up! 

and playing around with an idea for spool carrots for my Easter mantel. 

These are still a work in progress, but I'm kind of smitten!  Primitive spool carrots!  Swoon!

But, several nights I just sat on the couch after dinner and looked at pictures of other people's sewing and crafting projects.  It was a long week at school.  Inside recesses, standardized testing, substitute teachers...all of those in the same week make things trickier than usual in my Special Ed world.  Actually, my trickiest kiddos all had a really good week, but some of my "easy" kids picked up the slack.  Things just felt off balance all week, and with a migraine Tuesday through Friday...I had no interest in sewing.  I kept an eye on everybody else's "snail trail inspired" challenge pieces as they were being posted and hashtagged.  I thought maybe inspiration would strike and I'd find my sew-jo and start a project around mid-week.  It didn't. 

On Friday night I decided I'd just make a few snail trail blocks and see where things went.  I pulled burgundy and gold (mustard yellow) scraps and made a few 4 squares.  The colors were inspired by our trip to Chicago last weekend to visit the Loyola University campus.  I am thinking my daughter's wardrobe is going to be heavily populated by those colors in the next few months, as it's looking like that's where she's going to school!!  There are still two other possibilities, but, we all liked the Loyola campus, and it just felt like someplace she belonged.  She has loved Chicago since she was a little girl, and has thought about going to college there since she started high school.  Loyola offers the Chicago experience without being right down town.  So, I'm feeling pretty good about the possibilities.

On Saturday morning, I looked up a couple of snail trail patterns and tutorials.  I couldn't find measurements that fit my blocks or my scrap kind of winged it.  I laid my 4-square patch on my mat along one of the diagonal lines to see how big my triangles for the next "round" needed to be.  Then I cut squares accordingly, cutting those squares on the diagonal.  It worked, more or less.  My blocks were a little wonky, but, since I didn't really have a plan yet, I wasn't too worried.  It was fun to figure things out as I went along.  The block is kind of, but I don't think I'd ever make a quilt worth of them!  It's been a while since I've made actual quilt blocks, and I had forgotten how laborious cutting, pressing, trimming, squaring up, etc. can be! These four squares took me a couple hours!

While I might never make a snail trail quilt, I think I WILL try spiral quilting again!  It was perfect for this little mini quilt and it was SO fast!  I love the way it looks on the front and the back, too.

As I was cutting my binding, I was dreading the joining step.  It always takes me a few tries and on such a small project, I just wasn't feeling like putting in that much effort.  I remembered seeing how someone used a bit of ribbon to cover where the binding ends meet, and decided I would try that.  But, Instead of ribbon, I thought I'd put a little message in the binding for my daughter.  I remembered a text print that I'd used on the back of a t-shirt quilt several years ago.  

There were several words I could have used.  "Persistence,"  "Wisdom," "Dream," "Accomplishments."  But, "Possibilities" felt right.  There are SO many possibilities open to her at this stage in her life, even if it feels like COVID takes something new away every week.  She can use this as a large mug/snack rug, or a little wall quilt for her dorm room (fingers and crossed the world is somewhat normal by fall and she can move into a dorm room!).  It will be a touch of home and a reminder that the world is FULL of possibilities.

I'm really glad I dug in and finished a project this week.  Quilting, sewing and crafting are always the best therapy for me.  I felt the balance returning and just felt happier as I worked.  Plus, its such fun to be a part of the Project Quilting Challenges.  There have been more than 200 entries each week so far this year.  Isn't that awesome?  More than 600 new "quilts" are out there in the world because of PQ.  I can't wait to see what everyone does this week with their snail trail inspired projects.  Thanks Kim and Trish for another fun week!  Can't believe we're more than half way done with the season!!  

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Project Quilting 12.3 - Virtual Vacation

 I am SO in need of a vacation, and I have been, for a very long time. This time last year, I decided it was time to do something about the fact that we have not taken a trip to anywhere but a neighboring state since my teenagers were in elementary school.  I planned a California vacation that would have taken us along a good stretch of the coast over our 10 day Spring Break in early April, 2020  "Planned" is kind of a loose term.  "Daydreamed" might be more accurate.  My youngest daughter (who has cystic fibrosis) had been facing many health challenges for the past year, and I dragged my feet actually making travel arrangements because I just wasn't sure she was going to be well enough for us to go.  I had an itinerary and figured we'd wait until mid March to find flights and hotels and a rental car and just wing it.  Ha!  Mid-March had other plans!  We spent the 10 days of Spring Break at home, like the rest of the world.  Fortunately, I had NO money tied up in my imaginary vacation. We lost nothing and have had no nightmares related to re-scheduling like so many.  Sometimes, hesitation pays!

A year later, I am still very much in need of a vacation.   The snow and cold we're having here is Wisconsin have me longing for the warm sun, the sound of the ocean, sand under my feet and the sweet smell of flowers in the air. 

I chose to make tropical flowers the focus of my Project Quilting piece for this week's theme - Virtual Vacation.  I thought about some specific destinations.  But, the truth is, I'm not really picky at this point.  My dream vacation right now is any place warm and tropical.  I could have represented sand, sun and sea,  but its the colors in the flowers that I'm craving most in our white covered world right now. 

 I cut the hibiscus flower shape from iron-on vinyl on my new Cricut.  This is the first time I downloaded an image to use, and the first time I've used the heat transfer vinyl.  There's a pretty steep learning curve involved in learning the ins and outs of the Cricut - or at east there is for me.  So, incorporating the Cricut into this challenge piece helps meet my goal making one Cricut project per week until I feel like I know what I'm doing.

It was really easy and fun to cut the shape and adhere it to my fabric.  And I love the way it looks with the favorite print from my stash.  It's been quite a while since I have sewn a zipper pouch.  I had to look up a tutorial to refresh my memory, and even then, I put the zipper in backward on my first try.  But, its all good.

I ended up with a cute zipper pouch that says "Warm Weather Here I Come" and it will make the perfect bag to throw in my overnight tote this weekend when we finally take a vacation.  To Chicago.  For a walking tour of a college campus.  In snow.  And most likely single digit temperatures.  Sigh.  Someday, these feet will feel sand again.

Pop over to Kim's blog to see all the marvelous places we Challenge Participants are dreaming of!  Judging from the number of Hawaiian and beach themed projects, I think Kim and Trish should maybe plan a quilt retreat on Maui for 2022...ladies?  You in?

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Project Quilting 12.2 - Fussy Cut

 When I think of fussy cutting, I think of novelty prints.  From the projects that have already been linked up to this week's Project Quilting Challenge, I am learning that I need to expand my idea!  There are so many different ways to interpret the technique!  My stash is limited in novelty prints, so I went with a large floral print to use for the challenge. I can't remember how I acquired this Charming Circles ruler.  I might have bought it at a quilt show.  But,  seems to remember that it was part of a swap package years ago.  In any case, I've never used it, and this seemed like a good time.

Its a fun little tool!  I learned that stretch denim is NOT the way to go when using it.  And, I don't love my final project.  There's not enough contrast between the floral and the denim.  And, the flowers aren't oriented quite right.  And it doesn't lay flat.  It will probably be scrapped and turned into something else.  Oh well!  They can't all be winners!  I had fun, I used a tool that had been sitting around and finally touched some of the denim scraps that have been in a basket for a LONG time!  Wins all around.  

Now I'm off to link up to this week's post over at Kim's site.  Then, I'll get back to my self declared Winter Crafting Weekend.  Coffee, slipper socks, cozy clothes and my new Cricut to explore when I'm not sewing! Heavenly!  Maybe I'll even come back to do a post when I finish some of my projects.

Hope you all find a little bit of crafty/sewing bliss this week!  

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Project Quilting 12.1 - Illuminating and Ultimate Gray


I made a little time to make a little quilt!  And, I completed the first challenge in Project Quilting Season 12!  This week's theme was "Illuminating & Ultimate Gray," also known as Pantone's colors or the year for 2021.  I knew, two weeks ago, when my husband painted our laundry the most lovely gray that I'd be adding pops of yellow as I decorated the space.  

I knew, when I brought this vintage washboard home from my parent's house last weeked that I'd be hanging it in my "new" laundry room.

And, I knew when Trish (Quiltchicken) and Kim (Persimondreams) posted the first challenge on Sunday that I NEEDED to make a mini quilt for the washboard.

It was fortuitous to find the the perfect little clothespins and jute twine as I cleaned out and reorganized my craft room this week.  We have work yet to be done in the laundry room, and the washboard needs to be cleaned.  But, I couldn't resist propping it up for a picture.

So happy to be starting another season of Project Quilting!  It's my favorite time of the year!

There is so much yellow and gray goodness already linked up over at Kim's blog!  Check it out!

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Spring Sewing

The world continues to be a crazy place, and it's getting crazier.  Covid-19, and now, protests against police brutality and racial injustice, riots and just a generally unstable and scary feeling in the world have made it a Spring unlike any other.  I don't know what to make of it all.  Nothing feels right, yet nothing feels different.  We finished the school year, still in a remote learning platform.   We have made some small forays back into the real world (back to work for husband and daughter, some shopping trips, some get together with a friend or a couple) but for us, or me, at least the world still feels askew and slower and just...  off.  But then again, this week has felt like the start of our summer vacation, like nothing is different.  I've experienced my usual "I have all the time in the world to do things now, but I can't bring myself to do them." and, "there are 11 weeks that belong to us...but each day gets us closer to the end and it's going to be over too soon!" feelings.  I don't know why I struggle so much with these inner conflicts at the start of the summer.  In some ways, they've been more pronounced this year because the last three months have felt a bit like a weird not fun vacation.  

I have been countering a lot of heavy emotion and anxiety with  my favorite escape:  sewing.  School demands didn't allow me to finish out the Project Quilting Quarantine season, but I've definitely been in my sewing room at least a bit almost every day since March!  A first for me. I like it!

Like most sewists around the world, I've been sewing masks.  They're not mandatory in Wisconsin except for in some businesses but they are recommended by the CDC for the whole country.  And we're trying to wear them in all environments outside out own home.  Paper masks and other PPE are readily available again and we have plenty of those on hand now.  But I prefer a fabric mask most of the time.  I put out a Facebook post asking if any friends or family needed hand sewn masks.  I was surprised to get nearly 30 requests!  So,  that's how I spent our first week of Summer.  Making masks.  

 Assembly line sewing is supposed to make the process go quickly, but this batch felt like it took a week!

First time making kids' sizes.  

In early May, I also finished a project that had been started pre-Covid.   It had been pushed aside for school work and mask making, but I also wanted to just have it done!  I had been asked to make a t-shrit quilt for the mother of a young man who died of a drug overdose late last summer.  It was an honor, to be sure.  But it was also a very heavily emotional task, and that weight seemed to be multiplied by the general weight of the world around me.  When the mom (she's a friend of a friend, so I don't really know her) came to pick up her quilt, I just wanted to hug her.  She burst into tears seeing it, and the key chain I made from a heart shaped hole I found in one of the shirts.  But, we were on my doorstep, in the rain.  She was wearing a mask, and it's really not cool to hug people now, due to Covid.  I cried for quite a while after that.  I suddenly missed that quilt that I had been so anxious to have gone.  I missed the world were I would have shown her some of the little details I'd included (like the WI badgers shirt that was SO full of holes I had to hand stitch it to a backing fabric to keep it from falling apart and the shirt that had the sleeves removed, which I raw edge appliqued to make it fit).  I cried for her.  I can't imagine having only a quilt to hold and not my child.  I don't have great pictures of that quilt.  It's not mine to photograph and the memories aren't mine to share.  But I write about it, because it had a pretty profoud impact on me.  And that, I don't want to forget.  

I also altered a couple of prom dresses for friends of my oldest daughter.  At the time, we didn't know that there wouldn't be a prom this year.  We assumed that the district would have something for the juniors over the summer.  Now we know that they are just being lumped into next year's junior prom.  It's very likely that  these girls will get new dresses. so...the yards and yards of haltered hem line are for naught.  But, I learned a few new techniques, got to creatively solve some problems that I um, created in the course of the alterations, and, got to make some young ladies smile when their dresses, finally, fit just right.  

This dress was a force to be reckoned with!  More than 4 yards around the bottom and 
layer upon layer of tulle!  And a horsehair hem, and I added a bustle!  Oh my!

So. . masks, a memory quilt and prom dresses.  None of that is on the top of my "fun sewing list".  It ALL becomes meditative and stress reducing for me (well. those prom dresses might be the exception) and I love it all.  But, not so fun.  So, I made sure to make time for that too!  

In April I noticed a Facebook Posting from a quilt shop in a nearby town - Sew Much More in Waukesha.  I've never been there and I don't know why I follow them.  They were doing a Safer At Home quilt sew along.  The woman whom I assume owns the shop did a series of FaceBook Live posts showing how to make a simple house block.  
I watched a lot of home improvement shows while working on these little houses.  Fitting!

The idea was to create 30 houses for the 30 days of the state''s Safer At Home Order.  That order was extended.  Then overturned.  And I went rouge and added some fences and trees so I don't have 30 houses.  But, I DID finish another quilt top, the third since the beginning of the quarantine!  And I LOVE it!  
It's a combination of scrappy, with bits and bobs of mask fabric and other favorite scraps AND some fat quarters that I've been collecting from quilt shows and shop visits.    There's some really OLD stuff in there, mixed with new, and that's my favorite!  I truly love every fabric in this quilt, even the scrappy white on white pieces that make up the background.  It makes me happy and is the first quilt I've made for me!  It will, of course, be used by the entire family, but I made it with ME in mind.  

It was fun to watch this quilt grow!

Since this one is special to me, I decided to go a step further and do something special with the quilting, too.  This will be the first quilt I send to someone else for long arm quilting!  I am SO excited about this!  I have a high school friend who has a long arming business in our hometown, and I'll be sending it to her for quilting . I've already purchased good, quilt shop fabric for the back (also a first...I usually only buy fat quarters or half yard cuts at the quilt shop.  Buying four yards was a bit of a shock to the wallet!!) and it will pieced and pressed this coming week.  Then I'll send it to Angie and wait.  I am already a bit giddy with anticipation!  This one will get a special label, too.  I envision this quilt becoming part of our family history, and my girls using it to help explain to their children what  strange time in history this has been.  

Also in the "fun" category,  I have used this time to check a very long standing WIP off my list.  I have finally finished my "Scrappy Stars" quilt!  According to Google Photos, I pieced this back in April of 2017.  It sat for a long time, and I finally started quilting it last summer.  It's simple straight line quilting, but, I wasn't crazy about the way it puckered and pulled, so I kind of abandoned it mid summer.  It had been literally, sitting in a  heap between my sewing table and the wall since then.  When I picked it up again two weeks ago, I discovered that I actually had only about 30 minutes worth of quilting left to do on it.  Why? Why didn't I just finish it last summer?!?  I remember being disappointed in the quality of the quilting and sad that I would't feel comfortable entering it in the County Fair.  It wouldn't have even placed, and that would have bothered me.  There's no fair this year, so no need to worry about that!!  This summer, I'm quilting just for the joy of it, and WOW do I love this pretty little scrappy quilt! 

 I LOVE the saturated colors, the subtle stars, the blue binding, the fun backing that brings me a happy memory of our first trip to IKEA a few years ago, and you know what? I don't mind the quilting!  In fact, on the back, I really love it!  

I enjoyed the process of finishing the binding by hand, most of it in my new favorite spot - my front porch.  It's not much of a porch, but after 14 years in the house I finally put a chair out there and I've been sitting on it!  We have a deck on the other side of the house, but it's often too windy or too hot to enjoy siting there until evening.  The front porch is perfect nearly all day long!  So, I sat there one morning, and then the next evening to bind this little beauty.  I could look at my flower beds, watch and listen to the birds, and wave to an occasional neighbor.  Exactly what I needed, and what I'll remember when I look at this quilt. 
Looked down and realized that the zinnias in the bucket were a perfect match for the backing!

I sat and stitched until almost 9:00 on the longest night of summer!  Perfect!

 I'm so happy to have it done.  I am not sure what will become of it.  I thought I might see if any friends would like it. But it might just get added to the rotation of living room quilts.  We'll see.  

Happy, Scrappy Stars.

I made a list of all the other sewing projects I'd like to (or need to) get done this summer.  Another t-shirt quilt, at least 10 more masks, a couple of garments...Seems unlikely they will all get done, but, it's going to be fun trying!