One of the things my mother left behind after succumbing to the ravages of ovarian cancer and assorted treatments for over 13 years was a collection of fabric–in her favorite colors–rust and turquoise. These were NOT my favorite colors to work with–a certain shade of turquoise in my box of crayons at age six led me to throw that crayon away ..much to my mother’s consternation.
The fabrics even smelled like she did and it was hard to open up that box and begin this project. But when Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville posted the suggested color palette for her annual Thanksgiving to Christmas mystery quilt, I knew it was time for me to start.
Bonnie likes to use a LOT of little pieces and I must admit I simplified the sashings considerably–using just two strips of fabric with no triangles on the ends. I also got rather a late start having to deal with hypercalcemia in November and December…amazing how oddly you will speak and weak you become with a toxic level of calcium. There is no handy way to measure the levels–no calcium meter like a glucometer. And the diet? no Dairy, no broccoli or dark greens! Tough for this girl from Wisconsin who loves all things cheese!
I completed the top in January, got it quilted and bound in March. It now only needs a label and it will be ready to be transported to M.D. Anderson for their odd year quilt auction to benefit ovarian cancer research.
I think Mom would have been pleased.
Our city seems to be slowly recovering but there are many who are still displaced and wondering where they will go next. On the other hand some of us are using this time to do some much needed repairs.
I have some property out of town which used to house my sewing machine business, now it houses my bee hive and bee equipment plus a lot of my sewing/fabric playtoys including Vivian my Gamill.
Yesterday husband repaired the front eave on the porch. Just tearing down the eave which was hanging by one end and prompted a passerby to leave me a sign saying that he bought dilapidated houses made it look much improved., Replacling the rotten boards–probably because of clogging up of the drain spout from the cedar tree that lived there until Rita. Guess I should clarify–that was Hurricane Rita–followed by Humberto and then Ike in this area, not to mention tropical storm Allison and other assorted near storms with downpours of up to ten inches of rain in a day.
We had already repaired the shed roof–which houses the bee equipment; ran the lawn mower around, I picked up a lot of dead branches, and we checked on the bees. I am down to just one hive now–and there is an abundance of ants. The oil trap seems to be working well with a few hive beetles and a lot of ants.
While he worked on that eave, I worked on this community service quilt. I must confess I am accustomed to my own piecing–which–not to brag–well, okay bragging some–does not have ruffly edges. This top was beautifully pieced in the center but the borders were too long and so it ruffled. To compound the problem, the backing was just barely big enough. When I trimmed it afterward, I had mere slivers of backing to remove. It may have been my inexperience as a longarm quilter but it was definitely a challenge.
And yes, that is my attempt at free-form feathers. I think I need to stick to pantographs.
Now back to my own work–I still have a backlog to complete.
Sometime ago, now I don’t remember exactly when–maybe 2015 extending into 2016, Quiltmaker magazine published as series of tiny blocks all less than 6 inches. I started making them, making several of many of them–they were like eating popcorn.
Then I put what I had together and quilted it—a fun little piece–that isn’t big enough to keep anyone warm but is just fun to look at.
Last year the local quilt guild issued a challenge for their biannual show.
Put your hand in a paper bag filled with crayons, select a crayon–no peeking–and construct a quilt with that color or shades thereof with a modern look.
I drew yellow-green.
The gray and black plaid was my mother’s–I think she planned a dress from it.
The yellowgreen and the black swirly and the white were from my stash–which is not shrinking despite my best efforts.
As you can see this quilt is very long and too long for me to get it all in one frame. I am limited by the ceiling height AND the length the frames will extend. My photography setup includes one set of frames with a black drape and a second frame to hang the quilts on. I haven’t figured out how to do framed work yet–usually I photo it before it gets put on a frame.
I also have tried editing with photoshop–after a great course with the Pixeladies from California–an on-line class with great homework assignments. Wish I had a steadier hand to do the edits but if I keep practicing with things I don’t plan to enter into shows I’m sure my skills will increase.
One of my least favorite things to do is to photograph my work. I’ve discovered smaller pieces are much more manageable but then I have some pieces that are just larger because they want to be the size they become.
Sunday Dresses started out as a few pineapple blocks in a Quilt Festival workshop with Gyleen Fitzgerald. She is a real dynamo and the class was fun, her tool very helpful, and it didn’t hurt that I was there with a rowdy group of Holus Bolus. I came home with four or five pineapple blocks with three rounds each. I continued on with some black and white prints–all from my mother’s scrapbasket of leftovers from her Sunday Dresses. There were some everyday blouses and aprons and a few shirts for my brothers and so I sliced them all up with my handy dandy Accuquilt Studio cutter.
I set those blocks together and then decided to finish it off with several rounds of just straight strips set together end to end in a random pattern–just like my grandmother did with a special quilt she made just for me. That quilt was batted with a wool blanket–she lived through the Depression and World War II and was thrifty by necessity.
This quilt was quilted on my Gammill using a star motif in the centers of those pineapple blocks.
Every time I look at it I see my mother’s wardrobe made of plywood sitting in the corner of her bedroom, filled with those white-black print dresses, the bottom with a box of fabric scraps all carefully rolled up and pinned together either with a straight pin or tied with a piece of selvedge. That wardrobe was still there when we began remodeling the farmhouse–the dresses long gone but still so visible in my mind’s eye.
This is a small part of the completed piece. I tried to use her quilting stencils but quickly learned that hand quilting stencils do not work well with longarm machine quilting or probably any sort of machine quilting.
When I bought my first Gammill–and only–I learned that many quilters gave their machines names. I named mine Vivian after my grandmother who was a sewing machine repair lady during depression days, operated a canning machine during World War II and was always busy with assorted projects.
Vivian has been very nice to me–except the one time I forgot to oil her before starting and she just locked up and said I’m not doing anything at all until you oil me.
Since then I have oiled her liberally and every day that we play together.
Today though was a different story.
I had a black polyester batt left from my mother’s small quilt store twenty years ago, a rather stiff backing–even after washing, and a top that had a LOT of bias edges.
First the backing was so hard to piece with the needle it left big holes in the backing–no way to erase bad stitches. The polyester batt and the bias edges kept me chasing the top all over as though it were alive.
And then Vivian said–no way am I stitching straight lines without you stopping to rethread after shredding the thread. Her arms were crossed and she was not budging on this idea.
I double-checked the threading, checked the bobbin tension, changed threads, changed needles–and still NO!
THEN I tried going left to right—and it was perfect–still the holes in the backing–but that backing is going to a homeless quilt that is tied—ditto the batting.
So Lesson learned—Vivian sews straight lines from left to right but is okay with pantographs also left to right–but on the backside of the machine.
Slowly but surely I am learning how to use this machine.