Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Process

The Process Pledge

I was reading this amazing blog the other day and decided that even though I am not a well known blogger, perhaps sharing my process might be valuable to someone, somewhere.  Even if it only encourages someone else to try something they are interested in but are for some reason afraid to try.

Lately, I have been giving myself little challenges and goals to try to improve my skills.  For this quilt, the challenge I gave myself was to use only fabric I already had on hand. The goal was to improve my skills in composition and color combination.

I used this book as a guide and decided I would trust my instincts and just go for it. 

Remember these fabrics from last weeks post?

I cut and sewed them into various small blocks.  Then put them all on my design wall.  Although, calling it that  is really a pretentious overstatement.  My "design wall" is just a piece of batting unceremoniously tacked to the wall behind my sewing room door.
I aspire to one day be a good enough quilter to deserve a full blown studio with one whole wall as a dedicated design board.  One who creates and sells their own patterns and fabrics and maybe even gets invited to publish an article or take part in a book. Believe me, I am not there yet and probably never will be but, a girl can dream, right??  Anyway...

I played around with the small blocks and began to group them into larger blocks.  I tried not to be too fussy and just run with my own intuition.

I kept grouping and sewing, grouping and sewing.  As I moved the pieces around, certain combinations seemed to want to go together.  I also left some spaces between the groupings and this helped me realize I needed some "quiet" spaces.  Spaces that weren't so pieced and busy.  So I started adding here and trimming there...

By 9:30 pm. (I started at about 1:00) this is what had come together. I did add some small strips of one other fabric because I felt that it needed a lighter solid.  If not solid, then something that would read solid.
I think I like it but I'm going to let it sit for a while.  Already, several times today I have stood for several minutes just staring at it. So far, I haven't felt compelled to move or remove anything.
I like that it is very random, yet geometric. I think I have the right balance of color and composition but, I will admit I am not sure.  I would love a little feed back from those who might be more experienced in color and design.  However, I would also love to hear from you whether you quilt or not.  Does anything jump out as a glaring error??  Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think. 

On another note, I wanted to show you the "process" I deal with every time I bind a quilt.

Whenever I bind a quilt, The Joe has to be right in the middle of it.  And when I say right in the middle of it, that is exactly what I mean...

He will stay like that for hours.  Having to work around him makes the process of binding a bit more arduous, but I just don't have the heart to evict him.  So just know that if you get a quilt from me, a little "Joe Love" comes with it too.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Stress Relief

My camera battery is now fully recharged so I have pictures, pictures, pictures.  Yay!  
I think blog posts are so much more fun with a few photos thrown in.
Yesterday was my math final so the weekend was spent studying.  I don't remember exams being so stressful when I was younger.  However, now that I am older, I find I get so stressed by them that my brain can actually freeze up when I take them.  No matter how hard I have studied, I can look at the questions and just draw a blank.  
Luckily that didn't happen this time.  I think I did fairly well but boy, am I glad it's over.  I'm not taking any classes this summer so when I walked out of that final, I felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders.  Can someone remind me why on earth I decided to do this???
Anyway, I did take a couple of breaks from studying to work on some small projects for stress relief.

This is the mini quilt I mentioned in my last post.  Notice the little white paws in the corner?  I had quite a time getting Joe off the quilt so I could take this photo.  This is as far away as I could get him to move.  He was bound and determined to be in the shot!
I finished the quilting over the weekend and am quite happy with it.  I am going to bind it with the large check.  I made it for the next Los Angeles Quilt Guild meeting.  They are having a mini quilt swap.  I hope whoever gets mine is pleased.  

I did straight line quilting but didn't use any type of guide.  I like it.  I think it gives it a very organic look.  

Hey, maybe I don't want to give it away after all...

The only other thing I had time for was to whip up this card.  I got the idea from here.  I think these are such a cool idea. I will be making many more in the near future. 

This is the vintage apron I made from the latest Stitch Magazine. It was a bit challenging because the article showed a drawing and gave the measurements but I had to draw the pattern on the fabric myself. It took a bit of adjusting, but I made it work.  I also made my own bias tape for the first time.  It looks great but the process definitely convinced me I need one of these
And, just for the fun of it, I thought I would show off a couple of other items I have made for my home.

This is a perpetual calendar I made from this kit from Sweetwater on Etsy.  I don't know if they still have it, but everything they have in their shop is wonderful.  Pop over and check it out.

This is one of the first quilts I ever made.  I worked on it during those long months when Matt had moved ahead to Hawaii and I was left behind to sell the house in Texas.  The pattern is called Log Cabin Luau.  I made it to display in our little beach cottage. 

 These flip-flops or as they say in Hawaii, slippers,  are why I couldn't resist making it.  I loved it in our home in Maui and I still love it so much, it hangs in our living room in Camarillo.  It reminds me of our time in the islands.

Lastly, here are some gems I recently picked up from JoAnne Fabric.  That shop has really stepped it up in the quality and design of their fabric.

I don't know if you can tell but the design on the pink fabric is of bees and the fabric underneath looks like honeycomb. (Bad Pun Alert!) I am just buzzing with ideas about what to do with them. Teeheehee.

 These beauties were just too good to pass up.  I am sure you will be seeing them soon.

 I also had to have these lovely, modern orange prints.  

I will be using the orange floral in my next project so stay tuned.  

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gray Matters

This will be a post with no images.  When I went to shoot the mini quilt I worked on over the weekend , the apron I sewed from a pattern in the current Stitch magazine (I adore that 'zine.  It is a must if you are or dream of being a seamstress of any kind) and the fun, funky fabric I found at JoAnne's yesterday , my camera informed me it's battery was "exhausted". (Who isn't these days! Suck it up, my friend!) Anyway my poor little camera has, alas...no juice.  Sorry, I guess I really should pay more attention to that flashing red thingy. Oh well, I guess you will just have to tune in next week to see all the goodies.
This leaves me staring at a blank screen wondering what on earth I have to say that might be interesting enough not to need photos.  Tick, tick, tick, tick...
Let me start by telling you that yesterday I got another compliment on my hair.  I say "another" because I get A LOT of compliments on my hair.  I have had both women and men cross a crowed room or busy street to tell me they love my hair.  I had one woman actually reach out and run her fingers through it while telling me it looked like mink. I admit, it was a little disconcerting as those passing by turned to stare, but she meant well.  Now, I don't mention this to be stuck up.  I mention it because the reason for it all is simply fascinating to me.  You see, my hair is gray; no highlights or color of any kind and that single fact is the cause of all the hubbub.
I have let my hair go natural for about 4 years now and my decision to be gray was a very conscious one.  I came from a family that grays early.  In fact, I got my first gray hair before my 23rd birthday.  An exaggeration, you say?  Not possible?  Believe me, it is true.  A girl does not forget a thing like that.  It is one of those memories that burns into your brain, like where you were during 9/11 or when you found out about the Kennedy assassination.
Anyway, when I saw that gray hair, I made the universal choice of reaching for the dye bottle. I never even gave it a second thought.  I spent the next 26 years dousing my hair with some form of artificial color. However, once I hit my mid forties, I began to redefine who I was.  I can't explain it exactly.  I can only say I felt more adult.  Suddenly, it just didn't make sense that in order to be beautiful, I had to put something artificial in or on my body.  So one day, I woke up and told Matt that I was done highlighting my hair.  You know what he said?  "Good, I never thought you needed it anyway.?"  Have I mentioned lately what a keeper he is?
The choice was easy but the transformation from color to natural was not without it's bumps.  I do admit to moments of insecurity; wondering if I would end up looking frumpy.  Four years later I can honestly say, I will NEVER go back.  In fact, my hair has become my signature. 
Going back to the reactions I get, I am constantly amazed at how strong people's positive reactions are.  In all the years I colored my hair, I never had a man cross the room specifically to tell me they like my hair color, yet this has happened to me several times since I have gone gray.
This has brought me to a couple of conclusions.  First, it is the women in the world who define the current opinion of beauty.  It is the women who have decided that beauty is defined by fake hair, swollen lips and implants.  We all blame the men, but truthfully, if women as a whole rejected today's artificial definition of beauty and began to confidently own their own natural beauty, we would see a massive shift in the view point of the men in the world.  I have lived in a household of men all my adult life.  It has been a true eye-opener as to what decent men really want in a woman. That, however will have to keep for another posting.
Second, confidence is the true fountain of youth. It is also a magnet that people are irresistibly drawn to.  I'm not talking about the arrogance or conceit that passes for confidence today.  I am talking about feeling comfortable in your skin.
Now, I am not espousing that we all throw out our make-up, razors and blow-dryers.  I am not that radical.  But I am suggesting that you trust how naturally beautiful you are and find one artificial thing that you do and stop.  Just let it go.  Who knows, it may end up defining you the way my hair has helped me define myself.  Can I get an Amen?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

While I was away

I had plenty of time to work on some projects while I was sitting with my Dad in the hospital.

I put the finishing stitches on my Snap Shots quilt.

 I am a sucker for anything with buttons and I love these buttons as the center for the quilted flowers.

I think this scroll is my new favorite quilting stitch.  I seem to use it a lot.

I bought the fabric for this quilt when we lived on Maui.  The Maui Quilt Shop is the tiniest shop I have ever been to!  They mostly specialize in Hawaiian and Asian prints (not my thing) but every once and a while I found something that was right up my alley.

My intention was to make this quilt to spruce up our little cottage by Charley Young beach but I didn't get to finish it before we moved back to the mainland.  I has hung unbound in my quilting closet for a year and a half now.

I decided to dust it off and finish it on this trip.  I finished stitching the binding during the long car trip home. 

I like this quilt so much that it is now my personal "quilty-poo". I have it folded along the back of my couch. Most nights will find me snuggled up on said couch, fast asleep underneath it.  Now, that is my version of bliss.