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I've been practicing my ladder stitch. It's a sewing method used to repair seams invisibly. I have used this stitch many times on qu...

Monday, July 25, 2016

My work on older quilts/blocks has halted so I can make two baby quilts. Our daughter Emily and her husband will present twin sisters to their two year old son in August. I absolutely love making quilts for babies. What a joy!
The quilts are chevron style. The chevrons are coral, yellow, and teal prints with lots of white. Emily chose the colors to go with white cribs and white curtains. I'm working hard to get them pieced before we leave for Montana for the wedding of a friend's daughter. Wish me luck.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Time, time, time. Throughout my entire life, I have been unable to get a grip on the time factor. I've already written about retirement and the evaporation of time that occurs during the exact period everyone assumes will be open and available for completing projects, making choices about how to spend our days, and doing all of the things we'd said we'd do after work didn't get in our way.
Each night as I'm falling asleep, I review the day to rest my mind about what I accomplished, how my interactions with others matched my intentions, and the things I want or need to do the next day. Lately, I haven't had much to think about in terms of creative accomplishments. Days seem to fly by and I know they're full of yardwork, grandchild care, household tasks, and appointments of one sort or another. But I want to find more time to sew. Rescuing and repairing old quilts is a favorite pastime. However it always gets moved down the list of things that need accomplishing in a timely way. When I take on a repair job for someone else, it gets done right away. Does that mean I still make time for what I feel is real work? And not so much for creative time?

I know I'm not the only one who notices time leaking away. I also know from reading the blogs of others that scheduling work on creative projects is sometimes the best way to make sure the time is dedicated. That's not something I've been able to do. I need deadlines and abbreviated time frames to push my work.

Does that happen to you? How do you make time for the creative work and still get everything else done?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Quilt Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, is a great event. This year I'll be involved as a lecturer on the topic of making treasures from cast-offs. By cast-offs I mean unfinished quilt tops and orphan blocks.
I've been a collector on the cheap of old quilts, pieces and blocks and unquilted tops in almost any condition for 45 years.
I have assembled a trunk show of the treasures I've made. Some are framed blocks, embellished or not. Some are rebuilt quilt tops. Some are quilt pieces and tops made into useful pieces for the home. My lecture includes a handout of tips and techniques for working with older fabric pieces, old thread, color runs and how to strengthen blocks so they can be used in decorative and useful quilted pieces.
I'd love to see you there. If you haven't been to the Quilt Expo, you'll be amazed at the high quality of the experience and the amazing opportunities available during it's run. http://quiltexpo.com/  for tickets and information.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Today I read several posts about Quilter's Newsletter Magazine closing its doors. I have some thoughts about quilting magazines that I'll share. First, I did really enjoy many of the magazines I subscribed to for the last 20 years or so. I looked forward to getting them and carried them around for perusing during stolen moments in a busy life. I'd use tiny post-its to mark designs I liked or techniques or tips that seemed smart and helpful. There was a time when I received 5 or 6 different publications, some by subscription, some picked up at bookstores. I fervently wished during those days that I could magically multiply my sewing time so I could make the beautiful projects I saw or try out new techniques.

As time progressed, I began to see fewer and fewer new ideas and patterns. Most projects were reinventions of old designs, albeit combined differently, made with new fabrics or made with time-saving techniques for accurate cutting and piecing. While I learned a lot about more modern patchworking and tools, it seemed like I was paying for the same designs over and over. Since I began to draft my own designs about 15 years ago with the fabrics I had in mind, I could use the old pattern ideas myself. I realize that not everyone does that and for many, specific directions for any pattern are really helpful, no matter your experience level. But for me, it became more an issue of more magazines that I had to store or dispose of rather than one of new knowledge gained.

Second, in the past couple of years, some quilting publications have switched over to a more art quilt focus and there is at least one dedicated to it. I liked that also since part of my sewing includes wall pieces that have a more artistic focus. What doesn't fit my own style is lots of surface design with paint and stencils and hand dyeing. When I get a magazine that heralds these techniques on the cover, I know I won't be very interested when I open it. That's my personal preference. However, it has caused me to let several subscriptions lapse. I check as often as I can and then decide from the contents whether or not I'll purchase an individual issue.

It's the lapsed subscriptions that spell disaster for these publications. I understand that. But the reality is that I can't afford to continue to purchase periodicals that don't have enough new material for me to incorporate into my quilting life. It's kind of the same reason I stopped buying quilting books. I just can't store all that material that repeats information I have elsewhere.

There is no real answer as I see it. But perhaps magazine editors could do a bit more exploration of the needs of their target audiences. Unless I reach a condition in my life where money is no longer a concern, I anticipate that my mailbox will bring fewer and fewer quilting magazines each month.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

On Friday, July 8th, I posted pictures and a description of a red and blue quilt that I am rebuilding. As I noted in that post, I am hand sewing the replacement pieces. The work is a bit tedious but I still think it's the best way to do it. The squares are fairly even, but each one needs to be fit into place. Here's a before picture of one section. The two red squares are discolored. The red square at the top left is a replacement square pinned in place.

This second picture shows the two red replacement squares sewn in place. The red squares were salvaged from rows that were removed.                                                                                         
Two things I've noticed while working on this top. The first is that the thread originally used to hand piece it is thick and in some places has fused itself to the fabric. Picking it out took extra time and lots of care. I couldn't just clip an end and pull. I had to clip almost every stitch. Second, I do know that I am not a great hand sewer. Working on this top is teaching me to slow down, pin a lot and match seams very carefully. It's also increased my respect for the woman who sewed this top by hand all those years ago. I'll keep working on this top and posting pictures as I go.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The embellishment of the Dresden plate block continues. I'm having fun both making up and remembering stiches I've seen. Actually, I believe that most of what I think I'm making up is just a variation of patterns I've seen somewhere else. As I age, I become more and more convinced that nothing is really new anymore; it's all just a version of something else. I like looking at embroidered designs in magazines about quilting or any kind of handwork. Usually, I can't find the pictures or directions when I have the opportunity to work, so I kind of wing it. Maybe I just need to get things organized into a system that allows retrieval conveniently! I'm also deciding about the centers since the original plates didn't have anything appliqued in the center. Should I add something? Or leave them open? Here are a couple more blades that have been finished.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Yesterday our family celebrated my father-in-law's 92nd birthday. He served in the Navy during World War II, worked two jobs for much of his early married years, raised three children with my mother-in-law (who is also 92) and maintained a marriage for 69 years. He is proud, loving and generous. God bless him.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Hello Friday already! It seems like time has sped up since I retired. Folks always said that when a person retires she won't know where her days have gone. I now understand.
I have been working, during stolen moments, on rebuilding a quilt top that I bought on ebay. I paid about $15 for it. I knew it had some damaged blocks but I love that kind of challenge The pattern is great and many of the 2.5 inch squares retained their vibrant color after washing. I decided to remove some rows from each end and use any salvageable blocks to replace the worst pieces. That worked out pretty well. I found out that most of the faded red blocks were only faded on the right side so I flipped them and added them into places where the blocks were too damaged, or faded, to use. Originally, the interior blocks were hand pieced, while the exterior rows were machine pieced with a very tiny stitch which may mean that it was done with a treadle machine. I'm hand sewing the replacement blocks into place. It's time consuming but seems like the best alternative in order to fit the pieces properly. Here's a picture of the original top which was 58 by 72  inches. The "new" top is 58  by 64 before borders, which are still under consideration. The second picture shows some rows that I removed.

I'll post a picture when I get a bit further with the reconstruction and make a decision about adding borders.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Happy Wednesday! Technically the project pictured is not a quilt rescue or repair. It's the first piece in a ten year collaboration with my dear friend, Susan. We had know each other for about 30 years before we talked at a party and decided to work on things together. Susan would draw, I would translate into a quilt. We also purchased a kit for a challenge that involved the theme of strawberries. This is the result! It is unique and was very fun to do. Figuring out how to stuff the strawberries back then was interesting but I like the way it turned out. The recipe is written in Susan's beautiful hand that I embroidered. I also added embroidery to the leaves and vines. It was a fun project and set us up for 10 more years of collaboration.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The grand celebration of our nation's birthday is over. But maybe not the fireworks craze in our neighborhood. We've been kept awake until midnight the past couple of nights, even with the windows closed!
As promised, here are two pictures of the Dresden plate project. The first is the whole block. You may be able to make out the light yellow button hole stitches around the center and stem stiches between the blades. In the second picture, you can see two embroidered blades, one with blue crosshatching and the other with daisies. Let me know what you think.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Sorry for my absence since the end of April. Since I last posted, I have spent two weeks in Italy, taken care of my grandson while his parents moved and seen my husband through surgery, Despite all of that, I still find bits of time to work on my rescue projects. Lately I have been using an old Dresden plate block as the base for embroidery. I have a set of plates from an old quilt that were appliqued to pink fabric originally. I removed all of the plates and discarded the pink fabric which was stained and fragile. The plates are made from many fabrics, some cottons but lots look as if they are from garments. Some silk pieces are evident as well as some that look like suiting material. I appliqued one plate on to black Kona cotton, then button hole stitched around the center. The center was uneven so I traced a circle in white chalk pencil on the black background, then matched the plate to it as I secured it down. I hem stitched around the blades to secure the outside of the plate. Finally I stem stitched between the blades. I am now in the process of embroidering some of the blades. I'm focusing my work on the blades that are stained a bit or otherwise discolored or fragile. I'll post a picture soon.