Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Embellished jeans jacket

I've been meaning to have someone take a picture of me wearing this jeans jacket that I fussed butterflies onto. But I keep forgetting so I just photographed it on a hanger, front and back. As anyone who has fused when quilting knows, it's a piece of cake. The hard part is finding just the fabric with the design you want to fuse. In this case I'd forgotten I had a small piece of butterfly printed fabric that was exactly the right colors and the butterflies did not overlap one another and were a good size. So, as Mary Poppins was wont to say, "spit-spat" that was that.

In all my long years I've never owned a jeans jacket before. The casual lifestyle here is changing my ways. I found this jacket at a Goodwill store [on senior discount day for under $5]. It's a fabric with a lot of stretch also so it buttons nice and snug but doesn't look strained. There's a softness to the fabric as well, not the frequent denim stiffness. I'm happy summer seems to be arriving so maybe I won't be needing the jacket much until fall. But that's fine. I love summer.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Diane Hire, Oxymoron Quilts

Diane Hire, the Renegade Quilt group member who thought up the idea of Oxymoron Quilt and edited the book showing the 40 quilts which were displayed in several of the big quilt shows from 2000 to about 2004, was the speaker at the Bayberry Quilt Guild meeting this week. She chose to give her lecture and slide show about the collection which I found very interesting. I have had the book for some years and returned to it occasionally because I didn't understand just what was going on in some of the quilts. Diane's talk clarified that. Along the way she described the many different approaches to creating something from a prompt used by these quilt artists. I'm always fascinated by the creative process. Diane is a comfortable and practiced speaker.

As speakers at the meetings are asked to do, she gave workshops the following days. I rarely take workshops and had those days full anyway. One was called "Come Play With Me" which is the title of another books she's written. This dramatic quilt was hanging for us to see. Many of her smaller quilts were displayed on tables. Unlike many uptight quilt makers, she was comfortable with the quilts being touched, with people looking at the backing and asking questions. I noted that she likes using buttons as embellishment as I do. She's used a number of freely improvisational styles. I think I would have enjoyed that workshop. The Oxymoron quilts book is entitled Absurdly Logical, Oxymoron Quilts and is now out of print but still available at Amazon.com. I'm only sorry I didn't take my copy and ask her to autograph it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Rare Occurrence

I thought I'd show a picture of my daughters and I because it's a rare occurrence for us to all be together. I'm sorry this picture if a big blurry it was taken with a new camera before we got the hang of letting the auto focus do its thing.

Leslie, on the left, was here for a week from California, her birthday was in the middle of that week. I'm not telling her age but the next one if a big one. My birthday follows in a couple of weeks now and then Rachel's [on the right, of course] is a month later. We're all getting old enough that we don't announce the numbers. I figure I'll wait until 90 to announce the number proudly -- that is well in the future. And I'm not tattling on them either.

I was chatting with a couple of women this morning -- all over 60 -- and we all agreed that numbers actually tell nothing about the age we are. I'll be pondering this subject in greater depth in the next couple of weeks. After all I started this blog to hold myself to a certain level of truthfulness. But fudging is always a temptation that I sometimes give in to.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Impulse Quilting

With three UFOs needing to be finished in the next two months I'm feeling antsy and decided to make a pink quilt that would go quickly. Why pink? Because somehow too much light pink has entered my stash, also lilac and some dusty rose. I don't like pink very .] [Very bright pink is a whole other story

While surfing quilters' blogs a few days ago I came upon someone who showed a strip quilt and wrote that she was using dryer sheets as the stabilizing backing. Light Bulb Moment! I've been saving dryer sheets but didn't really know why -- it's that acquisitive thing again, the "waste not, want not" frugalista training from parents who were shaped by the Great Depression. Ah-ha! I could use up the dryer sheets and the pinks by making a strip quilt.

I love making scrappy quilts and strip quilts are about the pinnacle of scrappiness. I love, love, love having a pile of strips [or squares or triangles for other patterns] and making an instant choice of fabric every time I sew a seam. So far I've done a dozen blocks. I'm aiming for a single bed or throw size quilt that will eventually be given away to some charity. As I said, I am not fond of pink.
This little tool is my latest love. I purchased it at the Empire Guild show when told by a paper piecer that she uses it to flatten seams as she pieces. It's more adaptable then most of the mini irons. I have a couple mini irons and don't like them very much. But this little roller flattens seams enough so that when a block is done it can be ironed to really flatten the seams. Love it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hand Painted Purses

Hand painted purses have fascinated me for many years. The purse above was purchased at least 20 years ago and I've used it for semi-dressy occasions over all these years. It's a little too small for every day use and it's special enough to me that I want to save it for occasions, even if they happen to be no more unusual than dinner or a concert.
This purse was found at a flea market about five years ago. It's just an unstructured sack and I've used it as a summer purse for most of it's life. I'm happy to say it has not worn or weathered, the colors are still true. It has a nice long strap so I can wear it cross-body which I very much came to prefer when living in NYC so I could always have the purse safe when holding a subway or bus pole. My only run in with street crime in many, many years was having a purse snatched from my shoulder by a couple of teens as they ran past me. A long, cross-body strap prevents such losses.

The purse in the narrower photo came into my possession this week at a Goodwill store. I nearly missed it but spotted it when I was at the check out counter. It's signed inside by the painter, and is structured enough to have two generous pockets inside and a sizable flap held in place by a snap -- also a nice long strap. Also, it's got a different design on the back [below] than on the front. Like the others, I expect it to be in my possession the rest of my life and I expect to use it often with much enjoyment.
All three purses are a study leather [cowhide, I assume but don't know] have well attached straps and are lined with a fairly heavy fabric. I very much enjoy design and color. It lifts my spirits to wear an interesting purse [or scarf, of course] with an otherwise simple outfit.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Edward Gorey House/Museum

Edward Gorey's drawings and whimsey seems to have affected my daughters much more than it did me. I don't specifically remember reading his books to them -- perhaps they read them mostly after they were in grade school. Anyway I have totally ignored the fact that his home is now a museum and is less than ten miles far away. Today my daughters and I sentd something over an hour in the house and perusing the current exhibit which is about his involvement in the performing arts -- designing sets, logos, program illustrations and so on for plays and ballets and other arts. They loved it and remembered fondly many of his drawings. I seem to have been largely oblivious.
The house is a deceptively large Cape Cod type and is filled with memorabilia. It is also hosted by some of the most pleasant personnel I've found in any museum. They gave tours, they chatted and they flirted a little bit. It was entirely charming - so was the enormous cat that lives there, so were the many little touches that made the time a series of delights as we went from room to room. Sometimes something wonderful is right under our noses and we ignore it for no very good reason at all. That was the case with this wonderful little museum.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Another Experiment

I've been in an experimental mood lately and here is another. I made a couple of squares with poets and their poems but I haven't been happy -- largely because I don't like the look of my own handwriting. It took a while for this slow old brain to realize, hey, I've got printable sheets of fabric and there are a ton of fonts on my computer.

So I made this small prototype yesterday with a visible but not particularly pretty font, and a short and somewhat amusing Emily Dickenson poem. I think I've found my answer since I really do want to make a dozen squares like this with poets, preferably less well known than Dickenson who is surely America's premier woman poet. She does not much personify what I'm trying to say with the selvage format -- that women poets are too often marginalized and ignored in the world of "commercial" poetry. I don't mean Hallmark cards, I mean academic, really, the poetry that gets printed for the college student to study and use as his or her guideline for what poetry is supposed to be. They DO study Emily, but very few other women poets.

The very good thing is that I can format the poem on screen -- trying out different fonts and even different colors of print and I can print the picture of the poet at the same time. Then I can cut it up and incorporate it in the quilt. It takes me a while to understand that the technology exists for my use, even for my creativity. Hurray!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la

This new quilt is an experiment. For about 24 hours I thought I'd chuck it out because I was very unhappy with my planning of how the second layer of material I would cut through worked, and I didn't like the black background -- still don't. But then I decided to carry on and see how it would turn out. I like the hand dyed top fabric and hated to just discard it.

Finally I decided it is a step in the learning process and hung it up to live and learn with it for a while. The title is, as above, "Flowers that Bloom in the Spring, Tra-lal" The squares of quilting should be more consistently equal but I decided I wanted to cut the X-es into the top and second layer in the kind of random way flowers, even when planted neatly in a flowerbed, do not come up all perfectly aligned and the same size. When trying to iron the "flowers" open they never fold out exactly and they often bounce back to nearly closed. I like that it suggests flowers at different stages but I think I'll take it down and do some more ironing. My final decision was to add the half dozen flower shaped buttons I had in my stash. I think sometime I will make another version and work on the under-layer colors. It seems to me utterly counterintuitive to sew these layers together and then to cut into them leaving the raw edges. But it's a wall quilt and the fabrics are tightly woven so they will not ravel. So another step in the new techniques road.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

122 Quilts in a Month

The call was issued at the February meeting of the Bayberry Quilters Guild for quilts for tsunami victims in Japan. The same call was issued by an organization in Golden, Colorado to all quilt guilds in the United States.

At the March meetings of the Bayberry Quilters [they meet on a Tuesday evening for working women and on Wednesday morning for those who don't have day jobs] 122 quilts were collected. Some had been made during that month, many more came from stashes. They were all sizes, from crib size for babies to queen size quilts. They were a wonderful variety of colors, styles and patterns. Although Bayberry's treasury was willing to pay the postage to the collection point in Colorado, a request for donations to defray the cost brought in $336 of the approximately $450 needed for UPS chargers -- and UPS gave a discount for this particular shipment which was several large boxes.

This is only the latest example of generosity. Bayberry, like Empire Quilters which I belonged to in NYC, has ongoing charity projects to give to locally needy people and organizations. Quilters are a generous species. After the Katrina catastrophe thousands of quilts were donated.

Like many quilters, I have more quilts than I need, the top shelves of my closets are full of quilts and there are some under beds as well. I make them for the joy of making, of seeing colors and patterns go together. If someone I know would like to have one, I give it to him or her; if a call comes for donated quilts, I pull out one or two or three. As I write I remember a couple of quilts in my UFO box that I ought to finish -- they are only tops right now. They will be good quilts to have on hand the next time a need arises. And I have so many ideas for quilts I'd like to make and such a lovely stash of fabrics waiting to be used. Being a quilter is a special kind of joy in itself.