Flashback to Celebrating the End of a Century

As we celebrate the end of a year I just had a flash back to how I marked the end of the 20th century.  I received a quilt top I had made with 2000 different fabrics to mark the end of 1999 back in the mail from a friend who had quilted it for me.

2000-quilt

I had long ago forgotten about this quilt, mostly because it turned into an overwhelming project that did not pan out to this wonderful creation I had imagined when I started it.   As we approached the end of the 20th century,  there was a plethora of folks who thought if we swapped fabric that we could all end up with 2000 different fabrics from around the country if not the world.  Then each of us would make an amazing quilt using 2000 fabrics to celebrate the end of the century.

I am not exactly how we all exchanged addresses, but we did.   Each of us sent one another an envelope with 10 squares of different fabrics.   They were suppose to be quilt-quality fabric.  Some of what I received went directly to the trash clearly not quilt quality fabric even for the 1990’s when quilting was in the mist of a reawakening.    I taught quilting and used all sorts of fabrics, but was beginning to explore some art quilting and the new emerging batiks.   I used it as an opportunity to cut up what remained from quilts I had made and trade  it out with others.  Lots of what I received was that classic calico I am not sure they even print any more.

Soon my rural mail box was full of squishies every day.   This is what we called an envelope with 10 squares of fabric.   Some tucked notes in with their squares, explaining the significance of one of their squares.    Several from Canada found fabric honoring their country with the name Canada blaze on the square they sent a print with  the maple leaf that was synonymous  with their country.   One lady who own a bakery in NYC, said she bought special bagel fabric so she could include a square in each package she sent out.    I got one with an ostrich on it from a lady in Australia.   A person from New Orleans found fabric in gold and purple with figures of Mardi Gras, fabric that would likely never be found in northern Michigan.  I got an Asian print from a woman in Japan, long before they became a mainstay option for quilters in the US.    I remember this inspired me to go out and buy fabric that would represent where I lived and enclose a square of fabric with pine needles on it to tell the story of the pines where I lived.

Once I collected my more than 2000 pieces of fabrics, I purged some of what I could not believe that someone sent, or pieces that were a long ways from square, until I pared it down to 2000 pieces of fabric.   Then I thought about design and became overwhelmed by what I had and how to best organize them to sew them together.    I toyed with color rainbows, light vs. dark, designs within designs….but no matter what I came up with my project was huge and I had no way to manage it.   I eventually threw up my hands and just sewed my 2000 squares together.   When I finished it was not this wonderful master quilt I had foreseen.   It was too big for me to quilt I was now over my head again, and whatever inspiration I had when I started this project it was long gone.

I pondered and finally decided that I would send it to my friend, who was also a long arm quilter with the statement, “quilt this puppy and send me a bill.” Now this friend is a perfectionists.   She organizes her fabrics by color and light to dark.   She makes amazing quilts that have an iridescence and luminescent by using that understanding of color and light to make them sparkle.    I am sure she looked at this and want to use it as a dog blanket.    It was bundled up and put in the bottom of  a pile  almost completely forgot about,and she was hoping that the UFO (Unfinished Objects) fairies would come steal this nasty from her closet.   Some how occasionally she found it and we talked about it, but always finding its way back to the bottom of the dark closet.

Just this week it showed up in a box from the UPS man unannounced.   It was like having someone dig out the card you made for your mother in the third grade, framing it and sending it to you.   Oh my!    I called my friend and she used this an experiment in quilting style she had thought about but never tried before…to make her feathers freely come from all different directions on a long arm quilting set up that doesn’t really lend itself to that kind of style.   She said she was glad she tried it but no hurry to do it again, so much trouble.    The quilting is absolutely breathtaking.    It is the star of the quilt.    You want to appreciate this quilt from the backside and the talent of my friend.

Receiving this has taken me back.   This group of squares has provoked memories of the grand experiment.    Looking at them make me I remember a few of the folks who I swapped with.  It reminds me of the talent of friends who introduced me to quilting so many years ago.  It has also let me know how far I have come and the evolution of not only the art of quilting but also of me.

Making the Back Look Good

IMG_20131028_183653_521

I have finished quilting the planned areas of my baby quilt.    I did some diagonal lines on the edges and some stippling in the main body.   It went pretty well, but my time away from quilting showed and my stippling isn’t up to what was at one time my standard.  When you quilt breathing is as important as when you exercise.   I found myself holding my breath it caused some of my movements not to be as smooth as I would have liked.

Now is the time to turn the quilt over and decided if I need to add some more to make the back as nice as the front.   Normally one does not worry too much about this but when you use a pink/fustian/yellow colored thread on a white on white backing you artistic choices are out there for everyone to see.    I have decided a little outlined quilting on the sashing between the rows of blocks that have been stippled quilt will create a unified look.    It will put a little straight line in the middle of the quilt creating balance of curve and linear design.

Keep watch for the back side.

Time to Get on the Stick and Quilt

quiltI have made what seems to me  like zillions of baby quilts over the years.    All my contemporaries and even their children are  done with little ones.      I have not made  a baby quilt for years.

A business associate found out this spring that she was unexpectedly expecting another second child.    I was by accident one of the first people she told via text, picking the wrong Diana in her contacts to break the news too.   I knew at that time I was going to be making another baby quilt.   This little one was a blessing this family had wanted and thought was not going to happen.

This baby quilt  has sat on the back burner for months and now is the time to get on the stick and get it done.   I have found my favorite baby quilt pattern with notes written all over it, pulled out my stand-by baby quilt fabrics, got my ruler and cutter ready, and oiled my sewing machine.   Daylight is burning and I have to put the pedal to the metal.

Using Forgotten Talents – Designing a Window Dressing

I have been working on designing new window dressings for our living room.   I am not sure why we have lived here for nearly 13 years and not had curtains yet.    We let the blinds down at sunset and raise them as the sun comes up in the morning.   Softening the look of naked windows has never been a high priority.   It makes it easier to pull this kind of stunt this when you have no neighbors.   Only if you have strong field glasses and are determined pervert are you going to know what goes on in our house.

I had lots of helpers as I thought about how to best approach this project.

I had lots of helpers as I thought about how to best approach this project.

Recently our window coverings failed and the manufacturer no longer makes that design.    It meant that we were going to get completely new window covering in the living room.   I chose Roman shades this time.   Some how that made it seem like it was time to make some window dressings for these new shades.

I knew what I wanted, but also knew that nothing ready made would really work for windows the size ours are.   We have two different sized, over-sized windows in our living room.     I have designed curtains from scratch before and learned to let some one else design the curves when possible.   I purchased two  patterns at the local Joann’s each with some of the elements I wanted.    One had jabot and one had swags.   I wanted some pleats but the pleats in neither  patterns were  going to work so I was going to have to do the math to get that right. The pattern was designed for a window 36 inches wide, ours was 81 inches.     Adjustments were in order, serious adjustments.

I then got my 40% off coupon and headed to Joann’s again, this time for a bolt of true-grid.   For those of you unfamiliar with tru-grid, it is a lightweight poly/pellon type  fabric with one inch grid all over it.   I always use it when making window coverings or other home dec items.   It has enough body to allow me try it out like an old-fashion muslin pattern.   I like it better than muslin  because the grid allows me to keep things square and in alignment.   It also is transparent enough that I can fold a pattern for a window in half and make sure that the right and left  sides are symmetrical.   I have taped things together when I need to slip a additional piece in when my math has been wrong. .   I have stapled pleats before  to try out a look and then pulled them out to cut the actual fabric when I knew I had it right.

Pieces from two different patterns, tru-grid, pattern weights and a ruler.

Pieces from two different patterns, tru-grid, pattern weights and a ruler.

The first window pattern is underway.   I added three swags, with the middle one center in the large window.   I have tested the symmetry and have somehow gotten my jabots out of sorts.   That needs to be resolved before I move on.      I have left room for the pleats but haven’t yet decided if I am going to do them as innies or outies.   The stapler will let me get a better feel for that.

The second smaller  window is going to just be two swags with a jabot on each end.   I am hoping that I can just pull out the middle swag and make a few adjustments in the pleats and let ‘er roll.

I share this with you not because you likely care about my windows, but to inspire you not be afraid to try your own creative window coverings.   I don’t recommend that your first project be the living room, but if you can use a sewing machine you can likely make a window dressing.   Maybe a guest room, or your home office would make a great first project.    There are lots of patterns out there.  Don’t be afraid to mix and match.   Tru-grid doesn’t have to be bought  by the bolt, but it makes that trial window covering a great way to figure out really how much of that window fabric you need and if your idea is going to work out as you see it.  Fabric is expensive and it saves lots of heartache.   Be inspired.  Be creative