Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Obvious Dilemma of a Prolific Quilter

I finally got my sewing machine back from the maintenance/repair place and wow have I been antsy to get something ready to stitch on! So yesterday saw me sandwiching and pinning two quilt tops--one for machine quilting and the other for hand quilting. Later in the day I actually started machine quilting the Random Sampler quilt and it got me thinking. Uh oh... Get ready for a long post....
Random Sampler quilt--getting ready for machine quilting!
Why do I always have to have this mental discussion with myself: Am I giving this quilt away? Should I? Who to then? Then if I decide to keep it, why is there {on occasion} this guilty little feeling of possession or even greediness? And yesterday I thought to myself, 'This stops now!'

Julie's recent post and the subsequent comments really brought all this into sharp relief. First of all, if you read her blog, you'll instantly get that Julie is a giver. Some of us give quilts away and some don't. She does. Whether she gives of {what she determines to be} her very best, shouldn't really matter because hello? She always does excellent work. So good for her, coming up with a good plan of attack for how to gift in the future.

And then I thought about another recent post that resonated greatly with me. Debbie talked about when someone determines that one of our quilts has greater value or is better than another one we've made. They can't possibly know 'what lies within' like we do. That can really smart if we have a deep fondness for the one they've ultimately declared less than. I love how she further writes in the post, '.... acknowledge that what we do and what we have is something pretty special.' 
Eagle quilt--finally about to be in the hoop....
Basically, we need to just let people see what they are going to see, but know within ourselves the gift of our own creativity. It's a great post! So back to my original point--whether we give away our quilts or not is absolutely nobodies business but ours. And circling around to Debbie's thoughts and applying them to 'gifting', whatever quilt we give should be deemed good enough and special enough without having to go through these stupid mental gymnastics. We don't do shoddy work my friends! Let's try and put this into perspective. 

I started in with my love of quilting some 20 plus years ago. My skills were extremely questionable in a myriad of ways and I positively wince at some of those efforts! That didn't stop me from lovingly creating {and gifting} anything from baby quilts to what I considered to be great lap-sized quilts--all to people who I knew would appreciate the love. Here! Have this awesome quilt I made you! And as happens with many of us, my love of the  hobby {and more emphatically, my love for the process] grew to a time when yes, I do have quilts stacking up all over my house. There are some amazing quilts and not-so-amazing quilts sitting in those stacks but all are special as they have been part of my wonderfully creative journey. I have reached that pinnacle in time when I always, always wonder if the next quilt will be given away. If it should or could be. What an incredible place to be in. But that's where I think I have recently stumbled and desperately need to reassess. 

This is my love and my hobby. It's perfectly okay if I choose to keep every single quilt made for the rest of my, hopefully, long lived life. Okay, I know--definitely not going to keep them all, because I looooooove giving quilts away. That being said, new parameters probably need to be determined so as to get rid of this creeping feeling of obligation. Prolific quilt-making does indeed have some consequences, thus the gifting. However, it never feels good to give special things to persons who won't appreciate the effort involved. Hmm... 

I'm going to start by recalling a moment when my husband walked in the house with a brand new baby quilt 23 years ago. He went out on a construction job one day, as was usual, and when the elderly woman of the house found out that he had a 1 month baby boy? She immediately went to her stacks of completed baby quilts and gave him one as a gift. She loved to make and also, she loved to give, even to the construction guy who was working at her home for maybe a total of a week. Was I arrogant enough to think that particular quilt was her very best work ever? No. Did I care? Absolutely not. Happy dance everyone! We got a new quilt!! It was an awesome moment. 

Another moment in time that settled deep into my consciousness was when the 2014 fire burned through our community. We stuffed as many quilts {and other important things} as could possibly be carried into our suburban and then drove away from our house. KNOWING that our house was going to burn down and there was nothing to be done. In a very surprising and miraculous turnabout, our house did not burn, but alas, many others did. Will anyone ever know exactly how many quilts burned just from my mom and sisters possessions burning? At one point we guessed well over 40 that they had been fully completed--they were very prolific quilters so maybe even more than that. Plus they had been peronally gifted quilts--I counted 4 quilts burnt just made by me! But the greater point was this: although my sister had gifted many of her quilts, my mom had not. Only one or two people in the entire huge family have one of her quilts!! That hurts so much.

So you see, maybe it's okay to sometimes gift quilts that perhaps we feel aren't our perfect work. Would I even care what the quilt looked like if I could just have ONE of my moms quilts? After that experience I started occasionally gifting an older, gently used quilt depending on the recipient. We give for all sorts of reasons. Why do we have this perception that only newly finished quilts are acceptable for giving? That it has to be tailor-made for someone in specific? That it has to be super-duper special or our intent is somehow suspect. 

I think it all boils down to the recipient and the reasons we're currently wanting to gift. We have to keep in mind that our creativity really is a special thing--from the least {in our minds} to the greatest of our efforts. Finding a way to share that creativity is a gift to ourselves--letting it go into the world-- as well as to the recipient of that physical thing--a  warm, cozy quilt. A close, personal friend or beloved family member is probably a better bet to gift the bazillion hours of hand work sort of quilt to, not the construction guy with the new baby. Just saying! And we all have those relatives and friends who wouldn't recognize a fantastically implemented quilt from a Thimbleberries knock-off. You know exactly who I'm talking about. That doesn't mean they won't positively adore having a quilt made by yours truly. So be it. 

From now on, the plan is this: I'm gleefully keeping all the quilts that I really don't want to get rid of just yet . Who cares exactly why they might tug on my heartstrings at the moment! That is totally beside the point. These are going to decorate my couches, snuggle with my kids while they're watching a movie, hang off my bed at nights and warm my nieces and nephews when they visit. When I finish the next ten quilts in line, which of course will be amazingly better than the ten before, then I'll slowly find the right recipient for the quilts I've grown tired of or feel less of an attachment to now the new, improved ones are currently staring me in the face. {That doesn't mean they are suddenly undesirable to everyone else, duh!! It's just part of the journey!!} And when a brand new finish wants to go live with someone else, of course I'll work with that. But it's not going to be all about someone else--all of the time. I vow to enjoy this creative outlet I've been blessed with and not wallow in guilt for when and why and how I decide to give away the results.*whew! Glad that's all settled. So exhausting to try and analyze all the quirky thought processes we go through...

If you're still reading along, thank you for your patience! I've got a simple giveaway for one lucky, but loyal reader.
A giveaway
Simply Moderne sent me two magazines by mistake this month {my last issue, boohoo!} and it's a great one. Really, Sujata Shah and Rachael Daisy both! Just leave a comment telling me your thoughts on why and how you gift quilts and/or if you even do. Maybe you plan to gift more in the future or keep them all till you die and let the kids sell them at the estate sale. Whatever! I'll randomly choose a winner sometime next week!



Friday, October 13, 2017

Always An Excuse Handy to Start a New Quilt

Although the picture is a bit deceptive, please believe me when I say this hst medallion is actually square. Every added border is definitely an experience though. Wowsers! I certainly don't have the most accurate piecing skills these days after playing with so much improv. in the last couple years...
Hst Medallion
Not sure what I think about the first blue hst border, but I'm gonna leave it be until the next couple rounds of pink and blue are added. They are going to be switching back and forth every other row so hopefully it will all make perfect sense eventually.

It was interesting to pull out the next potential quilt tops slated for sandwiching and quilting. There are a couple ones older than these {of course}, but I just couldn't bring myself to care too much. Apparently I am in the mood to work on fallish looking quilts, but maybe not drown myself in browns like the two quilt tops I am steadfastly ignoring. We shall see. For now I am just contemplating.
So many choices
I also jumped into another brand new project. This one is a little different than  what normally happens around here these days. Uh huh. I am mostly attempting to follow a pattern. Yeah, crazy stuff! It's from the Quilt Sampler Fall & Winter 2013 magazine--a very simple and straightforward pattern that should go together super fast with no major design boondoggles and hopefully just lots of mindless sewing.
Straight & Narrow, a new start
I need want a quilt to 'gift' to someone and there is nothing in my quilt stacks or even the quilt top drawers that will work. It needs to be very nice looking but honestly, perhaps a bit bland? Just not thinking the recipient would be pleased with one of my more creative adventures. I went digging around in the binders where I store quilt inspiration from magazines and found this pattern. It's a little modern looking but when it's made up in these particular fabrics, I think it will present more 'formal' than modern looking. And that's okay. Nothing wrong with that.
The cut list
As usual I had to re-write the cut-list. It really helps me to not make weird mistakes and mess up those precious bits of fabric. I'm actually really happy to be using these {mostly} older looking fabrics and look forward to how this quilt might look in the end. And too, I've already made a mental note to make changes to the long vertical strips of chunky crosses. IF, and I say 'if', they remain in the quilt, they will have to be sewn into the quilt in an applique process rather than piecing. There is a subtle, but cool looking reproduction fabric that wants to be the background for that particular strip of fabric. It won't look good with lots of seams so..., I guess I'll be making some changes and not following the pattern to a T. Did you really think that was possible with me? Oh well, I'm getting the cart before the horse because I certainly don't intend to do anything with that part of the quilt until all the rest is sewn together. Onward ho! Still scratching my head that I'm actually making a quilt for someone specific. I don't do that. Like ever.....

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Little Red Riding Hood

So here's Lil' Red Riding Hood, the latest finish. It was started in fall of 2015 on a total impulse one day. I had been making a series of circle quilts and this one incorporated some of the leftovers from the other quilts. Don't you just love the feeling of 'using up' and being frugal!

It's finished!
It also included 5 fat eighths from a traveling stash that I had received back in 2014. These fat eighths were {'little red riding hood'} conversation prints, something I don't usually buy and potentially a good challenge for me. One day, after a little bit of play, the entire plan for the quilt came together all in a rush. Overall, it was a fast little quilt and one I don't remember feeling a great deal of angst about. Maybe it was the idea that anything was better than having orphaned bits languishing in the totes. Or perhaps it was just one of those days when all the stars appeared to be in alignment!

Loving the texture
Whatever the case, it felt like one of those quilts that practically make themselves. I completely hand quilted Lil' Red Riding Hood with #8 perle cotton thread {just got done a couple weeks ago} and fell in love with it all over again. It may seem soft and sweet--totally non consequential--but up close, it has a lovely, cozy feel. It's absolutely a feel good quilt. Nothing to be ashamed about that! The hand quilting added a much needed texture and all together, the process seriously helped soothed some ragged edges around here. For me. Who cares what anyone else thought about the quilt draped across my lap in the evenings!
This one actually looks good on the back too....

Another thing that made this quilt interesting to me was the fact that this quilt has lots of soft blue/green fabrics in it. They were fabrics that I'd tried and tried to play with so many times in the last several years. And finally, they found a home with Lil' Red Riding Hood, a quilt that basically sprung up out of nowhere. So ironic when that happens. I guess that just proves that we can't force anything when it comes to quilting!
Lil' Red Riding Hood
This quilt ended up being 58" by 63", pretty small for my personal preferences, but a decent sized lap quilt. I've had to teach myself how to stop when a quilt says it's done. Too many over-sized, design monstrosities through the years until now, mostly just-the-right-size-at-finish. Well, that's what I tell myself anyway!  Linking up to sew-stitch-snap-SHARE #14.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Some Things I've Been Working On

Life has been craaaazy for us lately, I think it's been mentioned once before here on the blog. We've had company something like every weekend but two? out of the last 8 or 9 weeks? Yeah. Fun stuff. Anyhoo--hand quilting and applique have been the go-to stress relief for yours truly.
Next up in the hoop
Immediately after dumping the last quilt out of the hoop, then it was on to the next. This one is a decidedly fall colored quilt which makes me just sigh in complete and total satisfaction. It's been awhile since I attempted any Baptist fan stitching, and this one seemed like a perfect match for that. Because this is such an 'imperfect' quilt, it seemed wildly appropriate to stitch freehand fans, right? Well, like I said, it's been awhile.

The first two frames were stressing me out so much that I almost ripped ALL the stitching out. The blue perle cotton thread was getting lost in the piecing and I couldn't see anything. What a disaster. After I slept a night or two and did lots of contemplating, I decided to keep going. But from now on use a blue wash-out pen to mark my fans as I came to each particular frame. Still a freehand look as I'm not using any sort of template, just drawing the 5-arc sets prior to stitching.*whew!  Glad to get that figured out! And now I'm happy as can be and things are going swimmingly. I am loving the sweet texture and am so very glad I didn't default back to a more formal look. This quilt definitely needs stitching with the look and feel of 'the human touch'.
Peachy Cameo Medallion
And my Peachy Cameo Medallion quilt got a good fixer-upper this week. I was a little unhappy with the top and bottom borders and in fact, got out my seam ripper and took the bottom one off, flipped it upside down and then just sat there and sighed with exasperation. I knew it. Even though it makes everything wonderfully balanced, I don't like the look. Not with this quilt! So while that border was off I did a quick measurement and sure enough, it needed trimmed about 1/4". Hmm... I thought the two borders looked a little out of whack. So I went ahead and ripped off the top border and hello? it was 1/2" too long. Working too fast because of time crunch issues and just not paying enough attention.

The long and short of it is that in trimming both of those borders, I had to take off a couple of those green leaves there on the sides of the quilt and move them over. Which made my brain spin and next thing I knew, there was a great solution to my borders making itself known. Yep! I quickly picked some fabric out and mocked up some simple little flower pots to put my vines in--elongate those side borders down into the bottom border. Problem solved! So yeah... all that 'fixing' took a couple hours, but it was so worth it. Now it looks right and good. Ready to move on to the next border!
Vintage Lillies
And I warned you that I was probably going to start 3 new projects? I was serious about that. This one is a project I've been deliberating about since Kaja started this quilt much earlier in the year. The colors were so intriguing that I couldn't help but start pulling fabrics. Yum... Various fabrics have migrated over to that stack in the last couple months, but I just couldn't pin down where and how to start the quilt. Finally, after the quilt show in September, the starting place hit me like a bolt out of the blue. What about a Lily block centerpiece? And from there it's just been a matter of finding the time.
A fabric pull
I cheated on the lillies, and just drew up a simplified version, totally skipping the diamond piecing. Who cares about that? I just want the look! All the pieces need to applique stitched down and then I'll probably have to cut the top of the block down for reasons of proportion. My daughters were less than impressed, but I am really excited about this new start. It feels really good. Maybe some improv. can be incorporated into this quilt too?
Trying to take the Family Pic
And just as a side note in the interest of keeping things real. My plan has been {all year} to get a family picture sometime this fall. One good picture of my mostly adult children with their dad and mom--it's gonna be blown up pretty big and will hang on our wall forever. My parents always had a big pic of their huge family and I loved it, always wanted my own. So... plans were made, schedules were checked and finally we had a date where everyone could be in town, not working, no company, yada yada yada. It was a beautiful day, but my oh my, were the family members grumpy. Normally I'd have made meticulous plans to make sure we all had new, spiffy clothes and, no

We totally lost track of time. Okay. What colors do we ALL have in our closets? It seems that we are a casual, blue-jean sort of clan. There was a football game in which cell phones were making their way into pictures on a regular basic. NO! This is picture day! My oldest son was on call with his work. Don't answer your phone! This is important! My husband has been sick off and on all summer. He looked tired, desperately needed a nap. Eyes open everyone! He's lost almost 60 pounds in the last two years. Yay! Good for him. Apparently I picked up 15 or 20 of them.*Ugghh  Was I not planning the picture for over six months? Seriously. How hard is it to stay away from the desserts? and so on and so forth. I'm depending on my amazing photographer sister to make US all look amazing. That's not too much to ask, right?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Applique and More Applique

There's been a little bit of progress on my 17ufosin2017. Mainly I was focused on getting this particular border finished up and sewn onto my Peachy Cameo quilt. Originally I was going to just have the simpler border work shown in the first panel on top. Bleh! Too boring. So I played around with some ideas and came up with the idea to add on the blue flowers.
Border work on Peachy Cameo Medallion
I was worried about too many 'circle' shapes and how that would look. Yes, no? and then in the end decided the quilt needed that bit of orangey-coral to connect back into the centerpiece. I'm all about creating movement and energy in a quilt and one of the easiest ways to do this is by strategically using color!

This plain peach background fabric has been really different to work with. Not sure I LOVE it, but overall, it's been a very different and a fun, albeit challenging, change-up. Looking at the quilt with these borders all sewn on, now I'm wishing I would have extended the long 'vines' down into the bottom border. Oh well. Hindsight is most always 20/20. At this point I'm trying to decide if I should pursue the next, but last border that was roughed out in the basic plan, or leave it 'as is'. Also, I'm contemplating taking the bottom border off and turning it upside down. Hhmmm.... So many decisions.
Another border on Peachy Cameo Medallion
 On another quilt in this challenge, all of the Solids Challenge blocks are finished! Yay! Only nine blocks and they have taken me well over a year and a half! Some quilts are just not in a hurry. And yes, I designed and drew them all out myself. Of course there have been many influences from the lovely applique I have seen and been exposed to for years. That's the beauty and charm of quilting. Trying to make something new but using the genesis of so many beautiful quilts from before!
Blocks for the Solids challenge
If I could point you to a single piece of inspiration for any of these blocks, I would. But honestly, when doing applique like this, it's often just wispy little memories and a basic idea being drawn and then re-drawn onto paper. From there the shapes have to be manipulated into fabric form and many times there's a detour at that point as well.

This is one of those quilts where the original plan is not wanting to play nice and so I'm staring at my blocks and scratching my head. I don't want to make more blocks, that's for sure. Guess I'll have to let these simmer awhile longer until that light bulb goes off. Somehow I have a feeling this isn't a project to force into submission. Might inadvertently lose all the charm....

Linking up with Meredithe and many others trying to check things off that 2017 list!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Hey Grandma! Starting to Come Together

I was able to find time to lay these blocks out and decide on an order for sewing. Just had to wait until a time when the living room floor was relatively free of traffic! This is such a bold looking quilt top already. Can't wait to see what adding borders might do for it, but I have a feeling this quilt isn't going to get very large. Of course, nothing is set in stone and quilts have a tendency to change directions on me mid stream.
Hey Grandma!
If you remember, this was the initial layout when trying to determine what fabrics might be included in the quilt. I'm still hoping to incorporate some of that oldy blue fabric for the border and see if it will add a little more 'punch' to the quilt. Because of course it needs something more.*wink  In, fact, this quilt is very eye-catching already--from anywhere I have it laying, on the railing upstairs or where ever, it totally demands attention. Don't let these washed out pictures make you think differently!
Close up
Also, I had mentioned before about hand quilting taking up most of quilting time. Well, this little beauty is all done now except for the final stitching on the binding. It's right on schedule with the way I tend to finish things, about 2 years since it was started! 
Lil' Red Riding Hood
There's just been something about the colors and simplicity of the pattern that have been a balm to my very scattered mind lately. So soothing to sit and stitch, stitch, stitch myself into a state of peacefulness. I was thrilled to find this old piece of a light red plaid to use for the binding! I think it was used as a backing fabric many moons ago, but regardless, it's been in the stash totes for well over ten years. I had pretty much determined it to be useless for any quilt ever--just an odd color and it never seemed to play well with other fabrics. Now it becomes the perfect touch for this soft, dreamy quilt! Love how that works out. Now onto another quilt in the hoop. I'm thinking this one needs to be fall colors....

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Use Your Words Improv. Quilt

I had grand plans to have this particular quilt top all sewn up, or at very least, the basic outline. Oh no, These letters take much, much longer than you would think. They aren't difficult, but wowsers do they burn up the time!
A rough layout
But maybe that's just me. I do seem to have a love/hate relationship with them. They are so simple and logical to figure out. Really, it's like a puzzle! Which is all very interesting. Until it just isn't fun any more. And that's when the tedium sets in.*ughh.....
Using a quote by Saul Bass

I was very disciplined this afternoon {knowing this was my window to make real forward progress}, not even leaving the upstairs quilting area for another cold drink when the first disappeared. Our air conditioner has been switched off and the afternoon heat was making me positively drip! There was a pre-determined stopping point in mind and finally.... finally... we got there.
Trying to make them all 5" tall
All along, I was trying to incorporate this part of a quote by Saul Bass 'I just want to make beautiful things even if nobody cares'. If I was going to make a quilt about 'using your words' as the base inspiration for making a quilt, well then, it had to be relevant to my world at the moment. Honestly, I'm not the least bit interested in making anything political, sappy or even too terribly introspective right at the moment. Quilting is my happy place and there it shall stay.*wink  {And please don't comment about anything political because I promise you, I will not respond!}

Although I've had a rough idea of where and how these words were going to play in the entire scheme of things, I wasn't sure just how many words would be needed to fill the front of the quilt--if this part of the quote would be enough? So I made a few extra words of my own, which will probably end up on the back of the quilt. There might even be more words, because I just can't resist. See? There is a strong push/pull in sewing more of these words that makes me laugh. Love 'em, hate 'em!
Joining the letters to make blocks of the words
I can tell there needs to be other colors added into the border, perhaps in a piecing effort. Things have gotten a bit stagnant with all this gold and brown, but those two fabrics were what seemed to work best making the words clearly stand out. Plus, I had lots of that gold fabric leftover from an older quilt top and yeah... those wheels. They sort of limited my color choices. Oh well! I can't imagine this quilt without them and it's always a thrill to use up orphan blocks!
Auditioning border colors
Overall, this quilt feels like a 'squirrel' sort of quilt. Definitely taking me off in a direction that I didn't see coming. Regardless, it has been a great challenge, making me think, instigating a decided push to get into the 'Word Play' book and start figuring it out! {Loving my applique style, I may be the very last quilter on earth who has.} 

I had forgotten how much I enjoy these style of quilts--the ones where you start with a specific element, add in a ringer {how bout using up those orphan blocks?} and then see what in the world you end up with. Still lots left to do with getting those word rows filled in with more of that gold fabric, sewing rows together and then working toward a set border plan. In the meantime, I have been hand quilting up a storm in the evenings! Never a dull minute.

Linking up with Anne and Kaja for AHIQ25, and also with Linda and Julie for sew, stitch, snap, SHARE!  Thanks ladies, for taking the time to host the linkups. As always, it's some of the best motivation to keep projects rolling forward!




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