Thursday, September 11, 2014

Around the World ... hop. I'm trying to trick you into ignoring that whole "blog hop" business by not putting it in the title. Did it work?

No, but really this is a pretty fun idea for a blog hop. The very sweet René of René Creates invited me to participate. It's always fun when you get to just talk about what you like to create and not actually make anything new for the blog hop :)

I "met" René almost three years ago when I made her a quilt for a Flickr swap. Ever since then, she has sent me Happy New Year cards with pictures of her beautiful quilts on them. Is that not the sweetest thing you've ever heard? Seriously, she's the nicest,  plus she makes some gorgeous quilts. And then we got to meet in person this past April when we were both at the MQG Sewdown here in Nashville. Totally just as sweet in real life!

So I'm gonna dive right into the blog hop questions and maybe toss in some Instagram pictures.

Instagram picture, in your face!

1. What quilting/sewing thing am I working on? 

Well I think I told you guys before that I was searching for a job. I got one! YAHOOO!! I'll be working as a full-time reading intervention specialist in an elementary school, and working on getting my teaching license back to legit status in the meantime. So I've been wanting to sew some grown-up-ish work clothes for myself lately. I've made a few tops, have a Washi dress halfway done, and some fabric pre-washed and ready for a Moneta. Plus a ton of other patterns I really want to try for myself at some point. Phew! I haven't started work yet because there is a bunch of background checks and pee testing involved when you work at a school, so I've basically been sewing like a fiend for a couple weeks while the kids are at school. 

Ruby Top I made for job interviews. I need to blog this one for real soon, I love it!

I also finished 3 quilts that were all about 6-9 month old projects, and have big sewing plans for another (gasp!) FILM PETIT!! I know, it's been far too long and we are really excited for this one. Can't put a firm date on it, but it's coming friends. 

Quilt I just finished up for a sick relative.

2. Why do I write/create what I do? 

My reasons for creating are probably pretty similar to a lot of bloggers/sewsters/quilters out there. But sometimes, there doesn't have to be a good reason for it. All the reasons we come up with kind of just serve as excuses to feed our creative compulsions, right?  Oh, is someone sick/ sad/ lonely/ ran a marathon/ got the hiccups? I MUST make them something! I just like doing it for me and for others who might enjoy my handmade gifts. Maybe some people don't, but keep it to yourself, you're getting a quilt dammit!

Some blocks for a charity quilting bee

I also love creating just about anything for my kids. There are so many little needs in a kid's life that sewing can fulfill with tons of extra love- things like a shirt for purple day, or a nap time blankie for school, or a skull & crossbones bag for your pirate puzzle. They are little things, but I can make them. I love that. I don't think Hendrix and Elsie realize that most moms don't make all that crap for their kids. But when they do, I hope they will remember it making their childhoods full of creativity and love in the form of fabric and thread. 

Elsie and I sewed this school blankie together- she picked everything out!

I think the whole messy-making thing is rubbing off on them. 
We made a lot of animals and robots and dragons out of trash this summer!

3. How does my writing/creating process work?

However I can squeeze it in and make it work! I think I need to focus on streamlining my creative process and really learning more about how I work that way. I've been reading Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit and it's really making me think about all of that stuff. Especially with this transition into full-time working, evenings with the kids and school work, and falling into bed at 10pm like an old lady, sewing time won't come easy. I don't want to work on things that are just obligations or the popular sew-along of the week. I want to enjoy every second and make only things I'm thrilled with. So is that an answer? I guess how my creative process works is that it really needs some work.

 Mini quilt I started in April- this one will hang on my wall for me to enjoy. 

Next on the blog hop, I'm tagging three friends who are SO inspiring in their creativity, and who I've been lucky enough to sew/eat/drink/laugh with in person: 

I miss you girls like the desserts miss the rain.

Thanks for inviting me René! Make sure to check out her work over here- that incredible heart quilt!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Why it's always good to have those unfinished quilt tops lying around

I finished this quilt top last fall. I even put together a backing for it, but it's been on my shelf ever since. It started when I made this pillow a couple years ago, then made a replica of that block for myself, but then decided to add 8 more and make it a lap quilt. All that to say, I had no purpose in mind for it or urgency to finish it until last week.

That's when I found out a friend from college- my age, two kids- was diagnosed with breast cancer and would have surgery a few days later. And, she was 12 weeks pregnant with twins. Needless to say, this was awful news and I couldn't wrap my mind around all the what-if's and all the worry and fear. But at the same time, everything I was hearing from her and her family was full of hope to beat this thing. Such an amazing attitude, the least I could do was finish this quilt for her. When you make things all the time, you are even more compelled and obsessed when something like this happens to someone. It's like you can't think about anything else until it's done. Part of me feels like it's weirdly a selfish act- like I need to feel better that I've actually done something in a helpless situation.  Is a selfish gift still a gift? Sure. I'm rambling now, but I'm hoping some of you quilters and makers out there can relate to the feeling.

Anyway, lucky for me, when I messaged her husband to ask her favorite colors, he said purple. This quilt had a sealed fate, and a very clear deadline date.

The pattern is based on the popular granny square block, but they are enlarged to 3.5" squares instead of 2.5", then I put wide sashing between the blocks out of the same Moda Bella Feather solid as the background. Most of my quilts don't have this much white in them, so I really wanted the quilting to stand out on it.

Free-motion quilting is something I've become a lot more comfortable with (even though I know I have SO much room for improvement), but I always have mixed feelings about the finished product. I seem to love the flow of my little practice quilt sandwiches-where I try out all different designs that all run together- much better than most of my quilts that have an all-over design, or even different designs based on the piecing. So I decided to treat this whole quilt like one of those practice pieces. I would just go with the flow and change designs when I got bored. Sometimes I would follow the lines of the piecing and sashing, most times I ignored them. It was definitely the most fun I've had quilting, and I love the way it turned out. It was just like quilt doodling, and the resulting crinkle is amazing. With such a simple and symmetrical piecing design, the quilting really helps to move your eye all over the place and make it interesting.  I'll definitely be "free-stying" like this more in the future.

I took these pictures after washing the quilt so it doesn't look so bad, but I wanted to show you the pucker action I got on the back. You can kinda see it on the right of this picture. Totally not that noticeable and I'm not one to unpick for something like that. But it happens. Adds to the charm.

I even labeled it before mailing. I always say I'm going to label my quilts, but then I never do. I felt like if this quilt stayed around in her family for any amount of years, I wanted them to know when and why it was made for her. It can be a small part of the some-day-story of how mom beat cancer while growing two (TWO!) babies :)

I didn't have a good binding on hand, but I got lucky at the local small town Sew&Vac here and found this Art Gallery Oval Elements in the perfect dark purple. I love framing all that white in a dark color.   I think the quilt finished at about 55" square. 

The package arrived the day of her surgery and her husband let me know that he'd bring it to her in the hospital that afternoon. Surgery went really well by the way, for all three of them!