It’s Not Just About Quilting…

November 5, 2014

It’s not just about quilting; it’s about creating!

It’s about the process!

The first quilting ‘off road adventure’ I took making a quilted wall hanging with no pattern –just playing and designing– was one of my earliest quilting experiences. I was drawn to this card at a store, because I liked the folk art in the drawing on the card.  The card reminded me of the Shaker saying:  Hands to work, hearts to God.

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Instantly, I was inspired to see if I could make this card into a wall hanging. Several weeks of playing with fabric, experiencing moments of pure delight in crafting and design, I came up with this:

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I usually bring this wall hanging out around Christmas time.  The hand in the middle is my own. Using a buttonhole stitch, I was able to tack the heart to the hand and then stitch the  hand to the quilt. The quilting is all done by hand.

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I became a perfectionist about hand quilting, when I was first learning to quilt on a community quilt.

Can I say I was a Quilt Lady when I was still only in my twenties?

I’m not sure about that.

One day, I saw the group rip a person’s stitches out of the quilt after she left for the day.  The problem:  Her stitches weren’t close enough together, and they were not blending with the groups stitches. I caught on fast, real fast, to making near perfect stitches. I felt challenged to to do my best.  After a day’s worth of quilting, I didn’t want my stitches taken out of the quilt. Peer pressure takes many forms.

Using cookie cutters and my children’s, Hayley and Ben’s, outline of their hand prints, I crafted the quilt’s edges.

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This is what the back looks like.

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This is the pocket I made to put a dowel rod through to hang my fabric art work!

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I make my own binding with a 2 and 3/4 of an inch of fabric folded in half that is then machine sewn to the top of the quilt. Using a seamstress tacking stitch, I put the rest of the binding in place on the opposite side of the quilt.

This wall hanging is over 20 years old, as Hayley and Ben are in their twenties now and each have their own children, whose hands are just a bit younger and smaller in size than their parents were on this quilt!

What a cool thought!

The Quilt I Just Finished

November 5, 2014

Life is full of twists and turns. A recent crisis brought an anxiousness out in me that I could tell I was not handling well. Tough things were happening, and I realized that this is the way it was going to be for awhile.  This stressful time came with a ton of meetings, a lot of waiting to see the direction things would go, and a bit of hand wringing.  I found the only thing that calmed my nerves was keeping my hands busy with something, like cleaning, cooking, or working on this quilt I just finished.

I found the pattern called Leaves about two years ago in a fabric shop in Eugene, Oregon.  The pattern was designed by the authors of The Modern Quilt Workshop and has a medium level of difficulty.  I figured I could probably make this quilt without buying any new material.  So, I began pulling fabric from several different spots around my sewing room.

I like to keep different colors of fat quarters and medium sized pieces of fabric above my sewing machine, having the colors out where I can see them inspires me!

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Soon, I had a pile of fabric to begin cutting out the pieces.  One of the challenges of this quilt was working with curves, which I have never done on a quilt before.  I think that working on this quilt was a test to see if someday I could make a Double Wedding Ring Quilt.  I have always been intimidated by all of the curves in a Double Wedding Ring Quilt.

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I made the stencils and began cutting the fabric.

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This is my son Wesley’s cat, Cheddar, who likes to ‘bless’ each of my projects by laying on whatever is near the sewing machine.  She is one of the nicest cats we have ever had. She has an easy going temperament, likes people, and purrs easily.

Pinning each block gave my fingers something to focus on especially when I was feeling anxious.

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Drinking more water, taking long walks, trying my hand at cooking, emptying out bedrooms and closets, taking unused items to Goodwill, and keeping up with cleaning only calmed me for a short time. Working on these blocks eased my stress to the point that I even bought more pins so, I could keep putting blocks together at one time.  Seeing the fabric being used up made me feel good.  Fussing with each block until I got it together the way I liked gave me a sense of accomplishment.

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After each individual block was sewn together, I pressed them and re-sized each block.

This is what a block looks like when it has been pressed and sized.

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After the blocks were all lined up on my ironing board, I began the piecework of laying out the quilt on my wall that has a long stretch of felt board on it.

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Having the pieces organized on the wall helped me to see which colors I had used and to arrange the light and dark pattern in a rotating sequence. After I aligned the squares the way I liked, I labeled each row and numbered each pair in the row. Then, I matched the seams in each pair of circles and sewed them together. I ironed each finished circle block and began sewing each row together. Labeling each piece kept me from sewing the wrong blocks together with the wrong row.  Back in the day, I might have thought this was all a bit too much work, but when you’re stressed and you need something to focus on, all of the fuss was exactly what I needed.

From cutting all of the pieces to sewing all of the blocks into rows together, it all took  about two and a half months to have the top of the quilt sewn together.  I did need to buy more of the lighter lime color of fabric and a few various shades of pink colored fabric to have enough variety when laying out the light and darker blocks.

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The finished quilt is a queen size 93.5″ x 93.5″ and was machine quilted by Tom Korn, a local quilter in the area.  Slowly but surely, the stress of the crisis that hit a few months ago is starting to ease. Finding a new ‘normal’ is a tricky thing to do. At least it is for our family.

Thanks for listening!