Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Guilt Quilt, part I

Meet the Guilt Quilt.  I made it for my mom to replace the first one, which she literally loved to pieces.  This was her Christmas gift.

My brother Taylor and I nicknamed it The Guilt Quilt because at the time it was given to our mother, she had made quilts for just about every person she ever met--and two for Taylor--but none for me!   The joke went that perhaps she would feel guilty upon receiving it, and finally make a quilt for me.  For my birthday last month, I finally got my quilt, and she totally upstaged me!  But that is for another post.

Anyway, this quilt is a slightly updated take on a classic pattern called Flying Dutchman.  One of my favorite things about traditional patchwork is the history and significance of naming.  (It reminds me a bit of how people named and identified constellations: imaginatively, and with much creative license.)  The Flying Dutchman is a folktale detailed here and here, essentially about a ghost ship damned to sail the seas forever.  Each block represents the ship's eternal journey, or ocean waves I suppose.  Either way, it's a great geometric interpretation of folklore.

I used the folded flying geese technique to construct the blocks.  Each center pinwheel is edgestitched (using a Bernina #10 foot) to create a curved seam without curved piecing!  Because of the extra layers and because I used a home dec weight twill for the backing, this is a fairly heavy quilt.

The entire thing is free motion quilted, and I admit I cheated and used the Bernina Stitch Regulator.  I have mixed feelings about the BSR, but it came down to this: I needed to finish the quilt, it could not be quilted any way but free motion because of the dimensionality, and I did not have time to warm up every time I sat down to quilt!  The binding was finished by hand at 2am, followed by a quick rest, followed by the drive south to celebrate Christmas with my family.  I am a last-minute kind of person.

(Note awesomely bad bathroom paint job courtesy of a previous tenant!  At first appalling, it soon became a funny joke and is now the first thing we show guests: Come look at the bathroom, you won't believe it!)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

spring reading, part I: unfinished business

I guess my taste in books changes seasonally.  Here are a few books I started in springs past that remain unfinished.  Now that the weather is changing, I find myself longing to return to those interior worlds again.  I probably still won't finish reading them because I enjoy them too much--I like knowing these books are waiting for me.  Do you do that too?


Thursday, March 18, 2010

for those about to draw, we salute you!

It seems like every cell in my body is aware of spring's arrival.  All of the old-time Bloomington folks I know keep saying it could snow again, that March in Indiana is tempestuous.  I choose not to believe them, siding instead with this, the tiny surprise I found next to where I park my car:

Though I've been slacking in blogland, I have been sewing at a frenzied pace in preparation for the upcoming Bloomington Handmade Market!  It is held twice yearly, and this is my first time as a vendor.  Actually, it's my first craft show.  I'm kind of nervous and very hyped!  Jessica and I formed a little sewing operation called Owlette, and we are focusing on cute things for little ones and their parents.

She holds a degree in fashion design and already had a number of patterns drafted for different sizes.  What luck!  Jessica and I both grew up sewing, and if I remember right, sewing is what got us talking in the first place.  I think I approached her at Food Not Bombs, having heard she was a seamster, and suggested we sew together.  That was almost six years ago, and since then, I taught her to make quilts and she taught me to make clothing.  (Well, we are both still learning.)

I just completed a set of crayon rolls to sell at the Handmade Market.  I bought a set of crayons in order to figure out the measurements, and had to remind myself I don't need the 120-pack.  Grade-school habits die hard, I guess.

My heart leapt when I opened the box--the smell of new crayons!  So much promise in that box: no broken ones yet, no peeled-back paper, no duplicates or vacant spaces as a result of mandatory sharing with imprudent classmates.  Yes, I was the kid who hoarded their art supplies.

And I would've been very, very into these! It combines two loves: crayons and organization!  Each one holds 16, and rolls up for easy travel.

Some are print-on-print and some are linen with a cotton print as the pocket.  Linen, I love you!

I actually made two of the circuit board print.  For one, I like it, but it also seems like kids these days are born with a sixth sense called technology.  It's a wonder to watch!

Linen, cotton applique, and jute.  I used the green, leafy print to back a quilt for Oliver, as seen here.

Early on I decided to stay away from too many heavily gendered color and print choices.  When I was little, my favorite color was blue because every other girl seemed to favor pink.

Here is my favorite, featuring linen and a Heather Ross horse print.  I think the jute really adds to the whole 'giddyup' feel, don't you?  This one is a nod to my past as a Horse Girl.  My cousin owned a horse named Dolly, which she bought with her own money that she told her parents she was saving for a car.  Instead, she brought home a mare and I loved her for it!

I made all the crayon rolls I can stand and am now moving on to greener pastures; namely, market bags.  How do I know how much of one item to take along to a craft show?  That's what has really got me, and I don't think there is a definitive answer.

Monday, March 8, 2010

scenes from a quilt show

Well!  I was busy, busy, busy the last month preparing for the Indiana Heritage Quilt Show, which took place last weekend here in Bloomington.  I work at a local quilt shop, and we had a booth at the show which I set up and manned some of the time.  Many long days were spent cutting jelly rolls, preparing kits, bundling fat quarters and getting temporary staff up to speed.  It's an exciting weekend, but it's high stress leading up to it, and I am glad it's over.

Here are a few highlights!  I didn't have much time to walk around and take it all in, but I snapped photos of what caught my eye.  Sorry there's no information about the pieces--I had to make the rounds during rare lulls in activity at our booth.  The lighting at the convention center was not great, but I did my best to fix up the pictures so they'd look accurate.

I think this was called 'Grape Harvest', and as you can see it took Best of Show in the Wall Quilt category.  It's machine appliqued; the grapes are fussy-cut.

This quilt contained so much amazing detail!  These little patches of pintucks give texture to the foliage in the background.


Here is a pretty traditional wholecloth quilt.  The sort of cutwork in the border and around the centerpiece is so unique; I've never seen anything quite like it!  I don't think it's actually cutwork, but once again I didn't have time to read up on it.  It took second place in something.

See, what is that?  I'll call it noodlework.

A detail of the free motion quilting, with what looks to be couching or bobbinwork (or good ol' embroidery) for some of the tendrils.  Imagine how many hours this section alone required to complete.  My shoulders ache at the thought!

This little quilt is definitely my favorite.  A 9-year-old girl pieced and quilted it for a school project, as an example of Seminole patchwork.


I like the slight wonkiness of the patchwork.  Few people possess such patience, let alone a person in the fourth grade.

It must run in the family, because here is an entry from her 7-year-old sister.  I really like the composition of this one: the spacing of the nine-patch units, and the fact that some are placed side-by-side.

And lastly, we have an entry from Greenwood, Indiana's Mary Buvia, which won 1st place in the Fabric Art category, as well as Exemplary Machine Quilting.  I couldn't get a shot of the whole thing, but you can find one here.

Mary teaches free motion quilting at the shop where I work.  Many of Mary's designs begin with a painting or sketch by her husband Bob; I believe this one started as a painting.  The collaborative flow of ideas between the two is enviable.  Though this quilt isn't exactly my style, the workmanship is stunning.  Detail of the applique and quilting:

Sometime during the making of this quilt, Bob's cancer returned and Mary stopped teaching in order to nurse him through chemotherapy.  She was able to complete this piece in the meantime.

Really, look at that.  Quilting to stop hearts!  Despite being in his 80s, Bob beat cancer once again and still drives Mary to the shop to teach every month.  What Bob and Mary have is rare; her quilt symbolizes that.