Ties that Bind

One of the good things about moving, as in moving your possessions from one place to another, is that you rediscover things to which you had previously never given much thought.  No, I am not moving, but Mom has moved.  Almost.  We have almost gotten all her stuff settled into our/her basement apartment.  She has been a collector of things.  Lots and lots of things.  And one of the things that she has collected over the years, has been quilts.  She was not a quilter, but she does love quilts.  And of all the lovely quilts that she has in her collection, I have rediscovered one.  We have determined that my fraternal great-grandmother must have made this one.

Rumor has it that great-grandmother did not get along very well with her daughter-in-law, my grandmother.  It seems that my grandmother used this quilt  as a padding under her nice, white linen tablecloth for Sunday dinners.  She had obviously trimmed it down just to fit her dining table, as there is no binding, only four raw edges  Get the idea?  Boy, was she 'dissin' her mother-in-law!    And, this same quilt was used by my mother under her nice, white linen tablecloths for her holiday dinners.  I always loved the nice cushion that it provided as we laid out the china and silver on the table.  And it absorbed any noise as well as the wet rings from the iced tea glasses as our large family dined.  A very nice table protector, indeed.

Now, I have discovered a new relationship with this quilt.  As stained and ragged as it might be, I think that the calico fabrics could possibly be from the mid 1800's.  It is beautifully quilted, although I do not know she could have made those tiny stitches through such an extremely thick and heavy batting.  Never the less,  I want to make a replica of my great grandmother's quilt.  I never met her, nor my grandmother, but this can be my way to connect to these steel magnolias.  I find myself conjuring up stories of their past.  The strings that tie us together.

So I am off in search of fabrics that will closely resemble the originals in this quilt.  Most of them look to be from shirtings of that era.  There are blacks, blues, purples, golds, reds, greens.  Of course they are very, very faded and many of the fabrics are in shreds.  But that only adds to the fun.  Wonder what those ladies would think of all this?  Scraps, strings and stars.

Pillow Psychology 101

I have this passion for pillows. I am not sure where it originated.  I have made hundreds of pillows in my life time.  I have made pillows will the nice cording all around, embroidered with all types of imaginable designs. Pillows with expensive trims and fringes.   I've made custom ordered pillows for folks. From ring bearer pillows to sea shell pillows.   I've sold my one of a kind pillows in shops and to friends and family and anybody who would buy one.   Simple pillows and over the top pillows.  Pillows out the wazoo.  Just a bit over the edge with pillows am I.

Why?  I ask myself. Well, when you have all those beautifully coordinated pillows in your chairs or on your sofa or on your bed, they look so pretty and decorative.  Kicked up a notch.  Welcoming.  Homey.  But then someone sits on said chair or sofa and the pillows instantly  become a nuisance.  What do you do with this awkward blob of fiber?   Folks are always squirming around in their seat, trying to adjust that pillow so as not to offend their hostess.  Others just toss them out of their way. Now comes my big question.   Is there a pillow psychology?  I often find myself doing this amateur analysis thing when it comes to how folks react to pillows.  For instance, does the person who tosses the pillow out of his/her way with reckless abandon have no regard for personal property and is only concerned with their own personal comfort?  While the person who discreetly moves the pillow aside and gently places a hand on the edge of the pillow, says this is so pretty,  it's in my way but I don't mind.  I appreciate what you have done. Then there is the person who plops down on the chair and forces the pillow into submission under their body weight.  Guess I have as much fun watching people as much as I enjoy playing with fabrics.    I am weird that way.

How do you feel about decorative pillows?  I've tried it without them, but I don't like it.  More is better in my book.  Then I had this thought.  There are quad trillions of design ideas that I want to try.  From the Amish, Mennonite, Gee's Bend, playing with new techniques and making my own designs,  to the traditional pieced and appliqued designs, to free pieced fabrics.  So why not go play with all of those ideas.  Perk up my house for the holidays, for every day, for each season, with pillow art.  And if someone is not comfortable with all that fiber lumped on their backside, that will just give me more fodder for my amateur analysis.

pillow back
pillow front
pillow back
Even more fun when you make the back as interesting as the front. 

pillow front
pillow backs

pillow front

I am thrilled that I have discovered a new way to try out all those designs that are constantly rumbling around in my head. And productive as well. While playing around for a few minutes a day, I am satisfying my creative needs while accessorizing my chairs and the sofa.  And by the way, I am using goose down and feathers as forms.  That way, when folks sit in the chair or on the sofa, the pillows will politely shape themselves around what ever form is needed.

monthly colors

Every time I check out 15 minutes play website, I am inspired.  Victoria has generously provided a wonderful spot for quilters to gather, play and show & tell.  Now I am fortunate  enough to be able to participate in Victoria's online quilt bee with 12 very talented and creative ladies. This is a first for me and I am totally hooked.Each person has  been assigned a month of the year.  When your month arrives, you must choose an idea for making scrappy blocks. Each person, will then, make blocks along that idea, send them to that person and post them on the website.   It has been so much fun to see all the blocks from all the ladies as they are posted.  What has been a plus for me is the inspiration that I get from everyone.  For instance, the choice for November by Nifty Quilts  was scrappy block all in red fabrics.  I sent these 3 blocks to Nifty.

Once I began making these quick, fun, blocks, I couldn't stop.  I had to keep making more.  The same thing happened when I made October blocks for Victoria's month   This has inspired another idea.  Now I am thinking that I could make scrappy blocks for each month of the year.  But as an added idea, choose a color for each month of the year.  For October, I would make blocks using only blacks fabrics.    Reds for December.  Then make more blocks for November using golden yellows,  January might be blue.  You get my drift?  And as another added bonus, I already have a short stack of single colored scrappy blocks that I've had laying around  for a couple of years just waiting for more.

I had even made one into a pillow. Most of the scraps came from this quilt. All nicely coordinated, huh? 

This picture shows the back of the pillow.  Rather than sewing it permanently "closed", I like to make one side lap over the other.  Plus, it is fun to make a band that slashes across for added appeal.  I usually end up liking the back more than the front.   

 More to follow on this monthly theme as well as on the pillow theme.

A weak moment - Part II

So.  It is over.  And it wasn't nearly as terrifying as I thought it was going to be.  After all, those ladies love quilting and I do know most of them.  They did ask me to explain how I do what I do.
I was prepared as I was ever going to be.  I held on to that podium for dear life, adjusted my reading glasses and before I knew it, it was all over.  It still isn't easy speaking to a group of people about yourself and what you do.   Now it seems that I find myself thinking that I wouldn't mind doing this again.  Scratch that.

The sample has been completed and then I was inspired to do another ~ a set of leaf portraits, as it were.  The maple leaves were machine appliqued while I decided that the dogwood leaves would be pieced.  Once I learned the Ruth B. McDowell technique of drawing a piecing pattern, I have abandoned ye ole applique  technique.  Although the initial drawing and pattern making is much more involved, the sewing goes much more quickly.  I realized this as I worked on the applique sample for my presentation.  Although my Thistles quilt was done with mostly machine applique using the same process as the Maples,  and I enjoyed making each petal and piece , I find that the pattern making and piecing has a more appeal.

Let me pause to give a bit of credit where credit is due, the artists who have inspired me through their instruction books.  I have found that I learn more easily in my own space and in my own time by using the quilting and art quilting books that are available.  I have a rather large library of those.  The main artists that have inspired me to design and create several of my award winning quilts include:  Ruth B McDowellBarbara OlsonKatie Pasquini MasopustCarol Taylor, and Vikki Pignatelli.  Of course there are so many other quilt and textile artists that I admire, but these ladies have provided excellent sources of inspiration in their books as well as their art.  I don't know that I would have ever figured it all out on my own, had I not bought their books and spent countless hours studying and drooling over every page.  They empowered me to give it a go and develop my own style and technique.  I suggest that you check out these websites as well as their books. There are much more instructive than I.

So enough rambling.   Now on to the completion of the maple leaf sample.  Once all the pattern pieces have been cut out, ironed onto the fabrics and pinned onto the cartoon, it is time to glue. 
I usually begin with the background pieces.  Looking to see which pieces will be mostly covered by the others, I select one and check to see which edges need to be turned under.  First I will clip any curves that need to be clipped,  then using a mini iron,

I press the seam allowance that over the edge of the freezer paper, and let cool a bit.  Then gently lifting  the freezer paper,  I use Elmer's Glue Stick and lightly touch the edges to be turned under. Next, turn under that seam allowance and press to dry the glue. 

Choose the adjoining piece, matching the registration marks  and slide it into place with the folded edge covering the raw edge. Add a touch of glue to secure the pieces into place, fold the freezer paper back onto both pieces and lightly iron down.   

I continue in this manner until I have several applique pieces glued together.  Lay them onto the Sulky Totally Stable cartoon and press in place, checking  to be certain that all the proper seam allowances are folded under and glued together. At this time I go ahead and machine applique some of the pieces in place.

Once all of the pieces are in place on the Sulky foundation, I will finish the machine applique.  Next I will gently tear the Sulky from the back of the piece.  I don't worry about removing every bit of the Sulky, because I don't want to stress the seams. 

TA-DA!  Ready to be quilted

Here is the dogwood leaves under construction, showing my piecing pattern. 

And the pair ~ still waiting to be quilted.