As I mentioned in my last post, this holiday season has me on the run. I don’t have much time to take on big projects with my gift giving. I love a good sewn project as much as anyone, but my quick go-to is always jewelry making. Bead stores have the best stuff for impromptu inspiration. And, if I still feel the need to add a stitch, well, I opt to make a jewelry pouch to hold my handmade gift. You’ve heard my schtick before and you’ve seen samples of my passion for pouches here and here.
This year I’ve been a bit obsessed with natural stone jewelry that I can dangle from a “universal” earring base.
The top row sports the universal base. All I need to do is slip off the dangling jewel and slip on another one. Very cool!
In honor of Christmas, I decided to make red wool felt jewelry pouches for my handiwork. I repurposed the wool from a tree skirt that I made a couple of years ago. The sad tale was that my pretty red skirt with glued on felt snowflakes was taken out by a flood when the Christmas tree toppled and spewed water from the reservoir across the floor. That was also the celebration when my some of my votive candleholders shattered on the hearth. After all that I think the felt scraps should be directed to projects with inherently better karma, like gift giving.
These pouches are 4 x 9 inches folded to 3.5 inches and machine blanket stitched along the edges. Super simple to make and very nice for stowing in suitcases for travel. The fun part is adding sparkle with a jeweled button or beads.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!
Despite not having to tackle my traditional major family party on the 24th, I have a feeling that Christmas is running away from me this year. We’re already in double digits on the December calendar?!? Where did the time go between that last bite of pumpkin pie and today? [soundtrack: primal, panicked scream!] Keep it together, woman!
Okay, enough with the hysteria, here’s one of my accomplishments from this week: a completed quilt. You might recall my posts on a quilt of crosses called Purple Haze(here’s the first post). I was on the fence about the finished quilt top. The good news is that I am a fan now! That attitude switch comes courtesy of Kathy August, the long arm quilter who took my quilt from slightly odd to FAB-U-LOUS!
Kathy actually finished the quilting in October, along with my son’s birthday quilt, but I pretty much ignored the purple monster until last Thursday night when I picked up the folded quilt from the corner of the floor of my husband’s empty office-in-the-making, where it had languished for many weeks.
A striped fabric was my top choice for binding, although my stash was a bit thin on color/quantity candidates. I found about a half-yard of a Kaffe Fassett Westminister stripe with a sizable bias-sliced chunk removed. No way sufficient for a queen-size quilt. Ah well. I gathered the candidates and, the next day, took them to my friend Cyndy Rymer’s for an impromptu lunch with my quilt/dining group. Turns out they were in unanimous support of the stripe, which put an annoying internet fabric search for more yardage on my agenda. Until, that is, Cynderella went stash diving in her collection and found a complete set of 3-inch strips of that very fabric in her Kaffe box. (She’s got some wonders locked away in that fabric treasure trove!) Christmas lesson: Seek and ye shall find.
It’s truly amazing how well-planned and executed quilting (Kathy August’s amazing spin on my original minimal idea) plus a perfect binding candidate can win over a doubting quilt maker. I am enchanted by the result. I love it! That’s very good because I’ve got bedrooms to furnish for the return of my fellas for the holidays . . . they’ll have to flip a coin for the bed with the fancy new quilt.
See ya Friday here at SHWS . . . perhaps I’ll reach holiday zen by then, but I’m not optimistic. In the meantime, though, take a gander at my stress-relieving effort for the Christmas season–month-long Ballet Conditioning classes led by Katarina Wester, a former soloist at the Royal Opera Ballet in Stockholm, Sweden and an incomparable teacher. (Jennifer was not harmed as a result of Katarina squishing her straddle split because she weighs nothing, but J. may be very sore tomorrow!)
There are legacies, and there are legacies. Some fit in a pocket, while some are, well, huge like houses. The legacy I received recently is, thankfully, something to which I can relate: antique textiles! What I’ll do with them is something I’ve not figured out yet. Your suggestions are welcome!
Nearly 80 years ago, my husband’s father lived in Tianjin (Tientsin), China with his family. His father was in the U.S. Army and he was posted to duty there until the onset of World War II forced the evacuation of the Americans and Europeans in the city. There are many treasures from their China days, and among them, a collection of textiles and garments. My (extra and very dear) mother-in-law Barbara has been the caretaker since her marriage to my husband’s father and she recently passed the collection to me. Barbara is a skilled sewer and had thoughts of adapting the fabric to her use, but she never quite took up her scissors and snipped. I don’t think I can either . . .
It’s impossible to fathom that these textiles are nearly a century old. Their colors are perfect and the workmanship of the embroidery and the garments is stellar.
A sense of scale is always illuminating and thus the penny. The stitchery is tiny, precise, and quite, quite exquisite.
I absolutely adore the pleating and embroidered details of this piece–it’s something like a wraparound skirt. It’s too precious to wear, even if it fit. The beauty of the garment is in the details as you will see in the subsequent images.
Here’s a close-up of that center panel:
How about even closer views?
Now this detail is one of my favorites in the garment: crystal pleating through embroidered silk. Don’t you just love that last bit of floral stitchery emerging from the pleating?
As I recall, the true test of workmanship is to be found on the reverse of the garment. I think the embroiderer was wonderfully skilled.
There’s a part of me that wants to bemoan the disappearance of exquisite hand stitchery and the dominance of machine-embroidered garments that we can see these days, but I think I’d rather enjoy the artistry of a bygone craftsperson who painted such a beautiful story with needle and thread. I still don’t know what I should do with my textiles, but I hope, at least, that you’ve enjoyed the peek at my little “collection.”
Hello Readers! I’m just back from a visit to my family in Florida. My mother hit an epic birthday (a woman never reveals her age or those of her nearest and dearest) and we just had to celebrate in suitable style. Among our events we held a celebratory dinner at her favorite Indian restaurant–seriously good food–and topped off the party with Sunshine Cake. Mind you, I’ll be skipping all cake for a while cuz daily doses of that deliciousness throughout my holiday was a bit much and totally against my reduced-sugar regimen.
Anyway . . . aside from the frolics, visits home can be poignant, even as they are joyous occasions. My father and mother are aging and my past life in Florida is more memory than fact with its imprint scattered as ephemera throughout their home. Bits of my life show up in odd spots. A guest room drawer disgorged this mighty fine tie that I made in a high school art class for my father. Yes indeed, a batik-dyed muslin tie! Not only tough to wrestle into a Windsor knot, it’s really ugly. Bless his heart, he actually wore it to work a few times.
Now this Pop-era minidress was stowed in the guest room closet. That’s some serious eye-ball-burning color and it’s not even neon. (Can you imagine a quilt in that color scheme? Makes me shudder and I like bright!) The dress was one of my sister Laurie’s wardrobe faves and it featured prominently in an oil painting our mother created when she was in a painting phase.
Our mother said at the time that she never saw Laurie’s face because Laurie was always running out of the house and so she decided to paint her from the back as she exited the front door. (That big hair bow must have been a fantasy–that was definitely not Laurie’s style.)
I’m grateful for these artful bits because, much like Hansel and Gretel’s trail of crumbs, they carry me back to my creative roots. My family has always celebrated personal expression, albeit in fashion or the arts. Our mother was initially the alpha/omega in all matters aesthetic, but over time, as we each followed our own creative passions, we found our voices as well as the confidence to express ourselves. To my own surprise and delight this year, my two grown sons are showing their own artful identities.
Now my mother’s truest and best artful pursuit has been sculpture. In one of her first forays into the art form she made a hilarious kiln-fired clay female figure that we nicknamed “Fanny Buttocks.” I wish I could show you a photo, but I think it’s lost in the family archives. Fanny lived for many years in the backyard of the homestead underneath a row of Florida pine trees. She could have given Kim Kardashian a run for the money with her hefty hindquarters–although what tickled me more about Fanny was the prim pageboy hairstyle she sported even though she was naked! As my mother’s sculpting skill developed she decided to make busts of family members. Here’s mine as a teenager:
Author Thomas Wolfe once said, “You can’t go home again.” I suppose that is somewhat true, but I think our creative arts can help us remember who we were at the time.
Stay tuned on Friday when I’ll share a beautiful textile legacy I just received from my husband’s family. I don’t know what to do with it, but maybe one of our readers will have an idea . . .
Almost forgot! We have 4 winners from last Tuesday’s post by Mom & Me Quilt Boutique. Send us an email to email@example.com and we will email you the pattern.
Elizabeth Baker, Pat T., Frances Misquez Quigley, and Jennifer Willard
There you have it, a road map to a completed Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La! Quilt-Along. Click the Pattern tab for all the instructions. Next month we’ll show you the completed quilt and discuss other finishing details. Thanks to Laura for the final measurements and instructions!
Hello. Yes, I’m still in project-making mode here and have just completed a baby quilt for the daughter of family friends that I’d love to share with you. Initially, I thought I’d go full Modern, but her mother’s words uttered years ago rang in my memory, “Rebecca is such a girly girl.”
Somehow minimal stripes and lots of quilted negative space weren’t suitable for her, especially with the naïve and pretty prints I’d selected for the baby quilt. I’d cued their selection on a preview photo of Rebecca’s freshly painted nursery.
A Pinterest tour (yes, again, I turned to that dazzling output of creativity) yielded good inspiration, but nah, I didn’t bite. For some reason hexagons piqued my interest, plus they are fun and current. I had so much fun making a Kaffe Fassett hexagon quilt last year that I decided to pull the book from my shelf and take a look. Okay, I felt a shiver of excitement—that was a good sign. If I reduced the number of hexies I figured I could execute a sweet little quilt.
Little did I know that “why not?” decision would set me off on one of the best quilt-building weeks I’ve experienced in ages. I had a blast because the pattern assembled like a dream and the cotton/linen fabric combination I’d selected made for perfect pressed seams with my brand-new iron. (Had to trash the old one because it sparked and burned me—fair warning: make sure your iron cord is intact, not worn to bare wire!)
As a technical sewer I’m typically a bit haphazard. Now I don’t mean to say that I’m sloppy, I just don’t always end up with a full set of perfect blocks and my quilt tops might have some squirrely matches as a result. Not so with the baby hexie quilt: aren’t those points delicious?
I delivered the quilt to the new parents this past Saturday and met tiny William, a perfect little sweetheart of a baby boy. Very manly! Parents and grandparents are over the moon with his arrival—although the novice mother and father could do with a good night’s sleep! Oh I remember that well . . . one groggy night I got lost on the way to the nursery right next door to our bedroom!
Isn’t it fun to share quilted love with a new generation? Check back on Friday for the next installment of the Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La! Quilt-Along–it’s time to finish up the quilt top! Type “Quilt-Along” in the blog Search bar to find the prior installments–also refer to the Pattern library for instructions.
It’s inevitable really, the road to learning the quilting craft always passes through Amish Country at some point. While modern quilters may point to the Gee’s Bend quilt exhibition as a clarion call to explore quilt making, Amish quilts also cast their lure with minimal design layouts and vibrant coloration.
Urban and Amish Embraces a Hallowed Tradition and a Modern Aesthetic
Author of Urban and Amish, Myra Harder, comes by her love of Amish quilt making from childhood exposure to the Amish community of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Myra’s Canadian parents moved the family to Lancaster County and lived there for several years before heading back north. The time spent in that rural fastness had a strong impact: Myra’s mother learned quilt making from the Amish women and Myra spent many hours playing with Amish children and learning about their mode of life. Later, when Myra took up quilting, it was an Amish Pineapple quilt displayed in a Lancaster, PA shop that set her on her quilting journey. Myra is a twenty-year veteran of the textiles and quilting industries and attributes her fascination to an ancestral calling “to the cloth,” so to speak, as her family traces its roots to Moravian cloth traders in early colonial history.
Urban and Amish brings together two of Myra’s abiding interests: the Amish quilting aesthetic and the modernist trend in contemporary quilt making. Her tactic is to juxtapose them in 8 duets of quilts: one faithful to Amish tenets of quilt design, and the other, a modern riff on the theme block. The result is 16 quilt projects that can be tackled by all skill levels. The challenge, of course, is in the execution which is something she addresses in her book: color palettes, print or solids, scale of design, deconstructing blocks. It was interesting to learn that Amish color schemes are specific to each community–Lancaster County quilts do not use black as the darkest hue, navy is the preferred color. (That’s a factoid I’ll store for future use!)
Myra Harder’s Urban and Amish is available now through Martingale & Company. Visit the publisher’s website for additional information about the book and author. Ah, don’t neglect to scroll to the bottom for giveaway details–you could win an Urban and Amish eBook from Martingale!
Antique Ohio Amish Quilts from the Darwin Bearley Collection, San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
Staring November 15, 2014, and running through March 1, 2015, the quilt museum in San Jose, California will host an exhibition of more than 40 quilts from the Bearley collection. The quilts range from doll to bed-sized and cover a timeline from 1880 to 1940. The provenance of each quilt is fully documented with the story of the maker, recipient, and the dealer(s) who found the quilts.
Amish: The Modern Muse at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
To coordinate with the exhibition, the museum issued a challenge to Bay Area modern quilt guilds–East Bay Modern, Bay Area Modern, and South Bay Area Modern–to interpret the Amish style in a modernest vein. The juried exhibition will run concurrently with the Antique Ohio Amish Quilt show. Quilt artist Joe Cunningham will select the quilts that best represent a 21st century interpretation of traditional Amish quilt making. Of course, our resident modernist and guild member, Pati Fried, has a challenge contribution and she’s giving us a peek!
Giveaway Details Here!
Martingale & Company has kindly offered an eBook version of Urban and Amish for a lucky winner. Leave me a comment by Monday, October 13 and I’ll announce the winner in the Tuesday post on the 14th. Here’s your question: Why the hoopla, aren’t Amish quilts already modern?
Later gators, gotta go make another quilt–modern, but not Amish . . .
Wow! Seems like ages since I sat at the keyboard to type a post. My blogging sisters Laura and Pati have been very busy. In that interval I’ve been hard at work on a personal quilt-making project, a birthday gift for my oldest son. My children have reached the age when they need household stuff of all sorts; a fact that my eldest is still having trouble processing. Last Christmas was a real eye opener for him when his brother got very excited unwrapping a blender. His expression and snarky remarks were priceless: du-du-du-du, du-du-du-du . . . we’ve entered the Twilight Zone! Let’s hope he’s emerged by now and will welcome a birthday quilt.
Impromptu is the byword for my gift inspiration. It all started at Pinterest with an image of a simple, two-color quilt that could plumb the depths of my stash of blue fabrics. Hmm: that’s a maybe for my (grown) baby . . .
I really don’t know why after collecting countless images from Pinterest that that blue-and-yellow quilt fired my creative jets. What actually impels forward motion? Easy. Check. Colorful. Yup. Guy friendly. Hope so. Doable without a single fabric purchase? Maybe . . . Whatever it was, I was in for the adventure.
Many, many miles of stitches, later plus one tiny fabric purchase to lively up the mix–only an eighth of a yard, I swear–and I was done. Wild Blue Yonder clocked in at 92 x 102 inches. Yikes, that’s a lot of backing fabric! I did have significant yardage of pair of fabrics as backing candidates, but the blue edged toward grayish green.
The quilt sat marooned on the constructed backing for a week while I struggled with the limitations of the challenge I set for myself. To date I’d spent $3–purchasing a backing would throw my ideal budget awry. What set me shopping for an answer was something surprisingly effective; my husband remarked, as he took a look at the quilt that was taking up the floor in his soon-to-be office: “That backing doesn’t work.” The budget exploded, but I found a fantastic super-wide batik that required absolutely no seaming.
As I decided to share the quilt on the blog, it behooved me to backtrack and establish the provenance of the idea. It turns out I hadn’t “pinned” the actual image, instead I’d taken a screen shot and left it on my desktop with scads of other images. Here’s where the story gets twisty. I went off to Australia to check the origins of the bicolor strip quilt idea before checking the blog of the quilter who made the actual quilt. So first I learned about a fantastic quilting mom Down Under who designs very pretty quilt patterns in between having beautiful children. And then I did the logical thing and backtracked to find the designer of the quilt pattern I used as inspiration. She is a creative mother as well.
The upshot of my online adventure is that I’m confirmed in my amazement of this prolific, clever, and creative new generation of quilt makers. Not so long ago there was pessimistic talk about the future of our creative arts and the loss of brick-and-mortar shops. The present and future don’t look quite the way we expected, but Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram, and a boatload of other online venues show that creativity is aflourishing globally. To me that’s humanity’s redemption. Despite truly vile things, there are places where beautiful expressions of our artistry flourish. Please, please, please: beauty must trump ugly–Make, Create, Share! (Okay, I’ve appropriated Lisa Fulmer’s tagline–hope she doesn’t mind!)
Giveaway Winner Here
Congratulations Beth T, you are the winner of a copy of Lisa Fulmer’s fabulous book!