29 January 2016

Holy Piles Of Fabric! Sifting and Sorting.

 

Can you see the height of that mess in the foreground?! I thought that I was going to sew today, but got sidetracked by the need to 'tidy' up the fabrics that I use the most a bit. Lack of space combined with too much stuff do not play well together and sometimes, lest I pull my already thinning hair out....I just have to sift and sort!

The only way that works for me is to take everything off shelves (a clean sweep), pile it up, and go through each piece. It took all day and I am not done.

I thought that I was just about out of solids in black and (gasp!) reds. Yeah! I 'unearthed' quite a lot of both!

I made a pile of give away fabric...and I will add to it. It was great to get a better look at what I have and also to discover what "holes" there are in my stash.

What did I learn as I sifted through my fabrics?

  1. I have lots of solids and "reads as solids".
  2. I need to beef up my selection of prints (just a bit) and also add some Philip Jacobs and Kaffe fabrics to the mix since the projects that I am working on now tend to work well with them.
  3. I need to add a few 'cute', small prints for my 'Glorious Hexagons'.
  4. I found some wonderful pieces of woven and ikat fabrics that will lend themselves to clothes. Yeah!
  5. I have enough clothing yardage to make 6 new shirts.
  6. I found some more of stash of 1800's reproductions that I am thrilled about because it will be used in my "traditional" version of one of my projects. I had originally begun a "modern" version but then decided, what the heck, I can use stash and make a second version!
  7. Next up on my sift and sort list is my mixed media supplies and paints. I know that I have some heavy body Golden acrylics that need a new home!

So...my inquiring mind needs to know:

  1. How often do you go through your fabrics and other art-full supplies?
  2. What is your process? Are you a "sweep and pile" like me or are you more methodical?
  3. Have you noticed that your collections are lacking some things and over full of others?
  4. Do you ever get excited when you find something that you forgot you had?

 

27 January 2016

Hello Dolly! Or A Paper Piecing Adventure

 

My stack of 6.5" (unfinished) Farmer's Wife 1930's blocks is growing. I have to admit that I had originally not had ANY plans to participate. Truth be told I am not a big fan of 'sampler quilts' - and I haven't really "done" a lot of complicated piecing in many years. It seems, however, that 2016 is my year to re-visit the basics of quilting and block construction...which in my case may be a very good thing!

The Farmers Wife 1930 by Laurie Aaron Hird seems to be something that a ton of people are working on, and Angie from GnomeAngel and Marti Michell are doing a great job of doling out the blocks twice a week and keeping everyone on schedule...with no quilt police in the rear view mirror! The book includes a disc that has all of the template pieces as well as all of the paper pieced patterns...but, being a fan of templates, I was all to happy to buy and use Marti Michells template wizardry and most excellent piecing instructions. As I have mentioned before, I started this project in order to use up at least some of my stash.... I have a collection of 1930's print that were gathered over years...and they need to be used up!

My first hint that the Dolly block (#28) might be a wee bit of a challenge was when our fearless leaders suggested giving it two days to make...one to cut and one to sew. The book (the page is shown above) made it look simple enough- despite the 50-something pieces for one small 6" inch block! Being a person who reads instructions as a last resort, I blithely cut out the pieces using Marti's templates and began to sew using her diagrams for piecing. After about an hour of frustration and few decidedly unladylike cusses, I decided to start all over and began by printing out the paper piece diagram. Small finished two-part squares measured 3/8" = a recipe for hair pulling IMHO !

Paper piecing (using a paper foundation) has never been a favorite technique of mine, but I have used it in the past (most recently for my Wagon Wheels quilt) and I do feel that it has a lot to offer. My experience has been enhanced by buying the correct weight paper (Carol Doak's foundation paper and, as is said, practice does make it easier. I have come to value knowing how to paper piece and, for small blocks with many small pieces I think it might be mandatory!

Revisiting the basics of block construction is proving to be a valuable experience. I like quilt projects that hone my skills, teach me something new or just help to make me a better quilter. There is value to precision...something that I have never in the past considered very much...and paper piecing is an excellent tool.

The image above shows one section...the bottom image is pieced with templates and, on the top, using paper piecing. Similar perhaps, but more precise with paper.

Not as much of a difference with the simple 9 patch center (paper pieced on the right, and template pieced on the left). Those little squares measure 3/8"! Note the measurement on the first photo above and on the diagonal line of another piece shown below.

Paper piecing this block worked out much more easily for me. Perhaps it is because it provided me with much more precise results ...though not perfect still. Yes, it did take some time...either way this was a time consuming block and I am not sure that it was worth it, but is done and, eureka, it measured out perfectly. I am, for a day or so, finally caught up on my three large projects and not lagging behind too much with my fun little hexagons either.

Now I feel like Tilly (pardon the poor image quality)...wanting to just hang out and play....it feels good when I am caught up and on track.. BUT....now I have a mixed media trade to make that is overdo...I should really get working on that before I say that I am really all caught up!

 

Do you ever do anything to celebrate feeling all caught up?

Are you usually able to keep,up with projects easily or do you too sometimes fall behind?

Do you prioritize projects ? How?

Do you think that you can ever really be caught up?!

 

19 January 2016

Sewing Into 2016

Looooog ago, in a far away galaxy called youth, before my true passion for all things needle and thread took firm hold, I was a weaver and spinner (though at that time I never once considered learning to knit!). At that time friends who knew me well wondered where I had found the patience to weave. Truth be told I have never considered myself to be a very patient person. I tend to get bored easily and my mind tends towards day dreams.
When I began quilting there were no rotary cutters and no acrylic templates - which might just explain why I love both of these wonderful tools so much. My attitude is if there is tool available that will help me do a better job, that I can afford, I'll try it to see if works for me.
Last Fall I committed myself to several long term quilt projects (which should magically become 4 finished quilts late in 2016). One of my aims in choosing two of these projects was to use up fabric. I just have to do more of that. One project presented me with a chance to work on what I think is a very unusual, albeit traditional (using reproduction fabrics), quilt design. I chose to make a modernized version and, while I am at it, I decided to make a second version as well for which I am using only fabrics from my stash. So two projects as stash reduction related.
I shudder when I think about the quilts that I made and sold in the late 70's and easy 80's. God knows what they really looked like and I just pray that they lasted for awhile at least! As I look back at my years of quilting I laugh at myself a lot. Twenty-five years ago, when I abruptly changed paths(both career and life) and moved to my "promised land" here in the hinterlands of the Pacific Northwest I thought I was a quilter...just a wee bit of false hubris there! When I began to meet other quilters here I realized how much I had to learn before I could use the word 'quilter' to describe myself. It was sobering! It has been my friends that have brought me along by sharing their tips and tricks and being encouraging. I live in a land of seriously talented quilters! I have come a long way and, in the process, I havedeveloped a style that I am comfortable with. Although I can, and sometimes do, make art quilts, it's often "tradition with a twist" that I am drawn to.
One of my favorite things to do is to try products and see what works for me. Quilting Ing rulers are one tool that I can never, it seems, have too many of. The trick in using them, at last for me, is not having them slid on the fabric during a crucial cut. I am pa trial to Creative Grid rulers because their anti slip qualities are buil into them, but I have a lo of perfectly good rulers that I wouldn't replace just for that reason. I have tried a lot of "anti-slip" products over the years and I seem to always return to my general favorite, Omnigrip Invisi-Grip. Of course, products like sandpaper dots and "True Grips" work well too and I do use them at times. Sandpaper dots work but I find that they can scratch up other rulers or templates if I am not careful in placing them. "True Grips" are nice and transparent- and more to the point- they stop the slide - but they are are just a hair too thick for my tastes. Since they are made for long armers that makes some sense. Omnigrip Invisi-Grip is clear, quite thin, lasts a very long time on rulers and templates and provides just the right amount of 'tack' to prevent me from making nasty cutting errors. It is not a new product..I think tha it come out in about 2007.

Recently a friend introduced me to CutRite Heavy Duty Freezer Paper and it has thoroughly change the way I think about using freezer paper templates....especially for applique. It lusciously thick and has a lot of "sticking power" unlike regular freezer paper which always se me too frustration to use. For anyone local who might want to try it check in with Anne at Quilters Studio on Lopez Island ...she has it on order. In the below regular freezer paper (from the market) is on the left...and I have found most freezer paper sheets to be of similar weight....the heavy duty sheet (with templates cut from it) is on the right....

Sewing has bcom my new day job. My p objects are coming along, but I really feel the need to keep up. Falling behind could spell another UFO which I want to avoid. That being said I have become enamored with the latest paper piecing project from PaperPieces...Glorious Hexagons. Simple, fun to make and lik potato chips...I cannot resist them. Each month the papers arrive to make more blocks...all based on Katja Marek's book the "New Hexagon". I like the fact that I can use the book and acrylic template set that I bought to make the Millefiori quilt (not the same as The Passcaglia quilt) for another great project. Liza Prior Lucy and Kim McClean have put their own spin on this project with a new booklet (companion to the New Hexagon book) and two new templates.

I want many of these little blocks to tell a little story or show a little relationship ...perfect for some small prints...like these Kokka cotton/linen blends from Maigo (an ETSY shop):

I am feeling rather one dimensional lately...sewing/quilting, but two f ithe nods have lured me back into a small mixed media exchange which I am already late with! We'll see what else this new year may bring....and just how it the h do has it gotten to be so late in January already. I wonder if I sleep more than I think I do...the days just seem to flash by!

How has your 2016 started off? Plans? Projects? Share!


 

31 December 2015

Delving Into 2016

 

New Years's Eve ..almost. So many people are getting ready to gather for festivities tonight (perhaps a nap before the partying begins, a new coif, shopping for Champagne?) that I almost always feel a bit out-of-step on this day.

There was a time in my youth when I adored going glam (that's hard to imagine when I look in the mirror these days!), dusting off my formal wear and dancing shoes and chilling not one but many bottles of fine 'champs'. I used to look forward to see how my dates formal attire would look on them too. It was, at that point in time, a festive occasion. Not for the first time this year have I wondered if the holiday season is really fit only for the young....

Somewhere along the line my idea of a good New Years Eve became curling up with a good book and getting into bed by 9pm - about the time that my home states (New York and Connecticut) were watching the glittery ball fall in Times Square. I was never much of a reveler - truth be told. I wasn't fond of getting inebriated, for one, and two, I did not think that having a hang-over was, in any way, how begin a bright new year. My endearing, New Years Eve book fest continues...

Of course being the history buff that I am I like to read about New Years customs from days gone by...some of which, to me at least, feel more pertinent now than ever. Until 1752, when the Gregorian Calendar was adopted, New Years was not celebrated until March 25th..which in other times was also celebrated as Lady' Day and/or the Feast of the Annunciation.

The history channel has a nice little round up of New Years history and trivia here: http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/new-years...or Wikipedia does a nice job here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year%27s_Day

Forinstance

It was good old Julius Caesar who originally though to make January 1st the start of a New Year in order to honor the god Janus.

Times Square in NYC began dropping the glittery ball in 1907

In medieval Europe, Christian leaders temporarily replaced January 1 as the first of the year with days carrying more religious significance, such as December 25 (the anniversary of Jesus’ birth) and March 25 (the Feast of the Annunciation); Pope Gregory XIII reestablished January 1 as New Year’s Day in 1582.

Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event. In Egypt, for instance, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.

Revelers often enjoy meals and snacks thought to bestow good luck for the coming year. In Spain and several other Spanish-speaking countries, people bolt down a dozen grapes-symbolizing their hopes for the months ahead-right before midnight. In many parts of the world, traditional New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future financial success; examples include lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the southern United States.

Tonight's reading will be finishing up "The Spy Who Loved". It is a riveting biography of Christine Granville...a polish Countess who became a spy for the British during WWII. I learned SO much from this book....it will remain wit me for a long time and has sparked my interest to read more WWII history - something that, hitherto, held little interest for me....other than the French Resistance....they are some true heroes in my opinion.

When I turn the last page on tha book I am finally going to read Rutherford's "London". It has been on my TBR list for such a long time and I am in the mood for a long, historically based, book about one of my favorite places on earth.

Whatever way you celebrate the dawn of th New Year....and I sincerely pray that there are people who still live "puttin'on the Ritz" and dancing and reveling all night.... be safe and call a cab if you need to.

I wish everyone, especially my loved ones, friends and family alike, to enjoy a new year of blessings, light, love, laughter, health, and boundless creativity. Cheers! I may even drink a toast to that before the night is done!

 

21 December 2015

Respite: Taking A Cue From Tilly

Respite —noun

1. a delay or cessation for a time, especially of anything distressing or trying; an interval of relief: to toil without respite.

2. temporary suspension of the execution of a person condemned to death; reprieve.

This is what spouse and I are doing this year about the holidays. We are not being grinches or grouchers, but we are taking a sabbatical and enjoying a respite; stepping back and "not doing" rather than doing.

I was curious to see how it would feel to "not do" during this time of the year and it feels a bit "out-of-step" certainly but, more to the point, it is a relief to be able to simply be in the relative here and now of the "everyday" watching the world swirl about and hurry on around me.

I admit that I have become very disenchanted with the hyper- commercialism of the holidays, but it feels like more than that. As I get older I do tend to think more about memorable holidays past and, as could be expected, many of my fondest memories are from when I was a youngster- or at least young adult. Christmas really is for kids I thinks. You make memories that will last a lifetime during the holidays when you have children, but I seem to know many adults who would really rather "not" do the do, create the fete, schlep to the malls or otherwise wear their "Santa hat" in public. Most of us still do it anyway because it has become 'expected' if a little hackneyed.

One friend and his family have escaped to a once in a lifetime dream vacation to the Land Down Under...a great way for the family to enjoy their holidays as a family experience. What memories these will be!

Most of my friends and I have also agreed to forego the holiday madness. I prefer to be sending New Years cards this year and birthdays -or perhaps the Epiphany- will be celebrated with gifts instead. It wasn't until 1752 that New Year's was celebrated on January 1st rather than in March and "holiday gifts" used be exchanged for New Years's rather than in December. It wasn't until 1870 (wow!) that we began to celebrate Christmas on December 25th. In actuality the history of the holidays is far more interesting than simply as a religious reminder for a variety of belief systems. History.com has a great little blurb about it all here.

I am enjoying the freedom to jus sew, knit and play as usual without the expectation of so much wrapping (we still have small gifts for three people that need to get wrapped), card writing, and exercising the plastic. My New Years cards are waiting for me on the table...the envelopes are calmly being written out.

So, until we celebrate the beginning of another wonderful year I am taking my cue from my current favorite feline...taking a wee respite in the middle of the maelstrom!

Tilly and I will be celebrating the Winter Solstice together. Welcoming the gradual return of light to the world.