Scrap Wool Felt + a Button = Super Quick Xmas Gift

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.

Projects-J:  Earrings for 2014 gifts

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.

Project-J:  Jewelry pouches for gifts

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!

Jennifer Signature

 

It’s a “Hazy Shade of Winter” at SHWS, but I Will Conquer Xmas!

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!

Quilt-J:  Detail of reverse side of Jennifer's Purple Haze
Long-arm quilter Kathy August outlined each bird and then quilted the top in unevenly spaced horizontal lines.
Quilt-J:  Detail of Jennifer's Purple Haze
Front side of Purple Haze–can you see the bird outlines?

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.

Quilt-J:  Auditioning binding for Jennifer's Purple Haze
Auditioning the Kaffe Fasset stripe from Westminster Fabric.

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.

Quilt-J:  Detail view of binding, Jennifer's Purple Haze
Detail view of finished binding

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.

Quilt-J:  Jennifer's Purple Haze
I had the B Team holding the quilt today, my A Team has grown up and launched. Looks like I’ve got to train the new guys on quilt holding techniques cuz, among other things, I just realized the quilt needs a flip to the right.

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!)

Inspiration-J:  Katarina Wester's hard-core conditioning class

p.s.  Hazy Shade of Winter–Paul Simon!

 

Jennifer Signature

Antique Textiles: What Does a Quilter Do with Legacy Fabric?

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!

Inspiration-J: Vintage Chinese Textiles

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 . . .

Inspiration-J: Vintage Chinese Textiles

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.

Inspiration-J: Vintage Chinese Textiles

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.

Inspiration-J: Vintage Chinese Textiles

Here’s a close-up of that center panel:

Inspiration-J: Vintage Chinese Textiles

How about even closer views?

Inspiration-J: Vintage Chinese Textiles

Inspiration-J: Vintage Chinese Textiles

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?

Inspiration-J: Vintage Chinese Textiles

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.

Inspiration-J: Vintage Chinese Textiles

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.”

Jennifer Signature

 

 

My Mother’s Art: One Quilter’s Creative Roots

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.

Inspiration-J: Sunshine cake
Exemplar piece of Sunshine Cake–don’t you want a taste?

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.

Inspiration-J:  My father's batik tie

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.

Inspiration-J:  The dress that started it all

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.)

Inspiration-J: Oil painting by my mother

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.

Inspiration-J:  My son's table art
My son’s table art–chalkboard paint makes a clever canvas for an ever-changing artist’s medium.

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:

Resin-cast sculpture by my mother
Resin-cast sculpture by my mother

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 seehowwesew@gmail.com and we will email you the pattern.

CONGRATS to:

Elizabeth Baker, Pat T., Frances Misquez Quigley, and Jennifer Willard

Jennifer Signature

Quilt Assembly How-To’s for the Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La! Quilt-Along

Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La! quarter view--thought we'd wait for the quilting to premiere the whole quilt . . .
Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La! quarter view–thought we’d wait for the quilting to reveal the whole quilt . . .

Project-J:  Quilt-Along Quilt Assembly Instructions

Project-J:  Quilt-Along Quilt Assembly Instructions

Project-J:  Quilt-Along fabric layout

Project-J:  Quilt-Along Quilt Assembly Instructions

Double border detail of our quilt-along.
Double border detail of our quilt-along.

Project-J:  Quilt-Along Quilt Assembly InstructionsThere 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!

Start your sewing machines . . . Jennifer Signature

 

Don’t You Just Love it When Quilt Blocks Fit Together?

Theme and border fabrics for baby hexie quilt:  Wee Wander by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller Fabric. (click image to visit Sarah Jane)
Theme and border fabrics for baby hexie quilt: Wee Wander by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller Fabrics. (click image to visit Sarah Jane)

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.

Assembling hexies--opted for an inset detail with the setting triangles for a playful touch.
Assembling hexies–opted for an inset detail with the setting triangles for a playful touch.

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!)

Pressed like a dream--classical sewing technique suggests the reverse side should match the front in execution . . . maybe I had one of those moments?!?
Pressed like a dream–classical sewing technique suggests the reverse side should match the front in execution . . . maybe I had one of those moments?!?
Stained glass view:  back lit finished quilt top.  The insets of the setting triangles illuminated.
Stained glass view: back lit finished quilt top. The insets of the setting triangles illuminated.

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?

Sewn with care, this Kaffe Fassett pattern builds perfectly!
Sewn with care, this Kaffe Fassett pattern builds perfectly!
Detail view of the long-arm quilting of Cyndy Rymer.
Detail view of the long-arm quilting of Cyndy Rymer.

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!

Mini hexie quilt label made with scraps.
Mini hexie quilt label made with scraps.
Ready for delivery along with Woodland Bunny by Jellycats--I've got my own Jellycat puppy standing guard by my sewing machine (yes, small obsession!).
Ready for delivery along with Woodland Bunny by Jellycats–I’ve got my own Jellycat puppy standing guard by my sewing machine (yes, a small obsession!).

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.

 

Jennifer Signature

 

The Signs are Out There: Amish Quilts Redux + A Book Giveaway!

 

Quilt-J:  Ocean Waves from Amish & Urban Myra Harder
Ocean Waves from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder, Martingale & Company/That Patchwork Place, 2014

giveaway2It’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.

I’m seeing a trend here. In the space of a few hours last week, I heard about a challenge issued by  the San Jose Quilt & Textile Museum to several of the modern quilt guilds in the San Francisco Bay Area called  Amish:  The Modern Muse; an  exhibit of antique Ohio Amish quilts from the Darwin Bearley Collection set to open at that same museum in mid-November, AND, a new release from Martingale & Company/That Patchwork Place called Urban and Amish:  Classic Quilts and Modern Updates by Myra Harder. You don’t have to be a seer to note the signs:  Modern Amish is on its way! (Although, there’s always been a timeless modernity about the spare and bold quilts of the Amish.)

Urban and Amish Embraces a Hallowed Tradition and a Modern Aesthetic

Screen shot 2014-10-08 at 4.15.01 PM

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.

Quilt-J: Amish Center Diamond Urban and Amish Myra Harder
Duet partners: Amish Center Diamond from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder
Quilt-J:  Lightening Strike Urban and Amish Myra Harder
Duet partners: Lightning Strike from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder

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!)

Quilt-J: Amish Bars from Urban and Amish Myra Harder
Duet partners: Amish Bars from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder
Quilt-J:  Horizon Line from Amish & Urban Myra Harder
Duet partners: Horizon Line from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder

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!

Quilt-J:  Trip Around the World from Urban and Amish Myra Harder
Duet partners: Trip Around the World from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder
Quilt-J:  Trip to NY fromUrban and Amish Myra Harder
Duet partners: Trip to New York from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder

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!

Quilt-J:  Detail of Pati Fried's Amish style quilt

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 . . .

Jennifer Signature

 

 

 

A Quilt From The Wild Blue Yonder + A Giveaway Winner

Quilt-J:  Wild Blue Yonder by Jennifer Rounds
A finished birthday quilt called Wild Blue Yonder–sorry, way too big to fit in the viewfinder!

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.

Quilt-J:  Finished scrappy blue quilt top

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 . . .

Quilt-J:  LuluBloom quilt on Pinterest

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.

Quilt-J:  Scrappy blue quilt
Countless pairings of blue prints paired up again and again and again.

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.

Quilt-J:  Auditioning quilt backing
Nope, can’t do it. Wrong blue tone. So much for a thrifty project.

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.

Quilt-J:  Kathy August's machine quilting
Big Blue Yonder machine quilted by Kathy August in a mod motif.

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.

Quilt-J:  Scrappy faced binding
Scrappy faced binding for the perimeter–except for the backing this was a true stash buster.

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!

Jennifer Signature