Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Figuring It All Out, A Part of the Process

Ok, so I love to work with Day of the Dead fabrics. I like to fussy cut the skeletons out and then frame then and build blocks around them, this I know. Then when I start to put the quilt together I realize that maybe there's something to be said for a pattern. You cut 16 blocks 2 by 2 of one color then 8 blocks 4 by 4 of another color and so on and so on. Then you follow instructions and poof you have a quilt. Well, mine don't quite work that way.

First all the fussy cut blocks are different sizes even from the same fabrics. Skeletons come in all sizes you know... then there's the variety of skeletons and sugar skulls. Wouldn't want just one type what fun would that be? Then you have to decide what shade of colors you are going to use there are lots of blues and don't even get me started on red.

After all that you start building a row and the first one goes together pretty nice and easy. You add this and take away that and all in the entire first row is together. Then you start the second row and you realize that you don't want to put the same skeletons next to each other or one on the other and you don't want colors touching the same color and well you add a bit here and a bit there and you get the second row finished of sorts but then it's not as long as the first and you have to figure in where to add or sometimes take away. I'm tired just thinking about it.

Now if I had a pattern I could just cut and sew but the pattern is created as I go and let me tell you sometimes an inch can be a tough bird to find. I can't add a half and inch to the edges not cool so I reconfigure and it finally comes together and you line it up and move one.

Today I sewed the top layer to a quilt three times upside down because I was just having issues. Mostly with my eyesight I think anyway it finally came together and I have a quilt to start the quilting on tomorrow. You'd just think that after all these quilts I'd have a tried and true system down but no each one is it's own creation and I just have to let that be.

I really love the way the blocks start to come together and how I try and work in lots of different styles of fabrics and colors. By the end of the quilt, my pile of color pieces is much smaller, some fabrics I have had to say farewell my friend. You were a great one and I will miss you. After all fabrics go out of print too. Then it makes me hungry to go looking for new ones to add to the next.

So all in all the pattern I follow is to follow my bliss as I make a quilt and let the colors fall where they may. Not a bad way to spend a day if I do say so myself. Now, where is that ruler I had one yesterday....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sourdough Starter Quilters Style

As I sit and sew often late into the night, I let my mind wander about and sometimes it comes to rest in amazing places. Tonight I was thinking how I wish I had some of my grandmother’s sourdough starter. Not because I really like sourdough but because I just think it would be incredible to have something that had been passed down from my grandmother to my mother and then to me. I would of course share with my children and the idea that it would be carried on is incredible.

Then I realize I do have a sourdough starter of sorts. My grandmother’s mother’s mothers were seamstresses. As far back as the story was told to me the women in my family have sewn. My Great Grandmother had a stack of quilts in her home all hand made that would have warmed the entire family for generations if her home hadn't tragically burned down taking them with it. I even had a Great Aunt that was the best tailor in her small town.

In fact, both my Grandmothers sewed. My father’s mother made us quilts when we were young of puppies and kittens in baskets and we used them until they were shreds. My Grandmother use to let me play with her button tin for hours and when she passed I felt blessed that I was given that old tin full of old buttons. She never threw a button away and it still smells like the memories of her home.

My mothers mother sewed all the clothes she and her sister wore when they were growing up and my mother spent hours making my sister and I summer sets of tops and shorts that we would wear out before the summer was over. My first formal was a dress my mother made for me to wear for my first official band concert and I thought was the most beautiful dress I had ever seen.

So you see, my starter was given to me from a long line of women who created with their hands and hearts. They shared their skills and passions with their daughters and their daughters shared with today and us I am the living starter that began generations ago. One of my own daughters wanted to learn how to sew years ago and I began teaching her as well but she became busy with those crazy growing years but recently she started sewing and creating again in her very own style and I am struck with awe…we have passed on our ancestral starter and it is alive and well.

Then, as I looked at my workspace and the quilt that I am working on when all this started, I realize it too is a sourdough starter. I have been saving bits and pieces ever since I started quilting and I just keep adding new as I continue to create and design quilts. I see a small piece of fabric from a quilt I made last year and my heart soars and I am thrilled and as I start to close my eyes for just a moment, I can almost see them all here smiling and watching me and they are all alive and well in my sewing.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Art of Finding Zen

I read an article in Quilters Newsletter, by Jen Daly called, Zen and the Art of Binding. She recently had a break through in her process of binding a quilt. This use to be her least favorite part of making a quilt but she spoke of that magical place all artist know from painter to potter or like me, a little quilt maker, the zone.

Ok, she didn't say zone I did but you know what I am talking about. That place where the world disappears and you re surround by your craft and your hands and heart are engaged in the making. Your breathing is calm your mind is at peace and the pieces seem to go together like magic. Before you know it the quilt top is finished. It really is magic and you take a deep breath and begin to imagine the next steps.

So as I was reading this I was imagining my worktable right now as I work on a custom order, a Day of the Dead quilt, and had to laugh out loud. There is nothing Zenful about it. It's a pile of bits and pieces next to my machine and more on my cutting board. To the outside eye it might look more like a ragbag then a peaceful calm and soulful place, and yet it's where I find my Zen. Surrounded by color with the sounds of James Taylor or Dar Williams in the background and bright pink bubble gum walls all around me. Here in this kaleidoscope of bits and pieces, I find my Zen.

I think the whole reason I've been thinking about all of this is because I've had people express and interest in seeing my process as I make a quilt. I'm still not sure how to go about this really so I took a few photos recently and laughed when I was looking at them after having just read her article. I'm just not the follow me on u-Tube type. Half the time I'm having to unbury my scissors or rotary cutter to trim the edges of the last bit of fabric I just added, my seam ripper is usually under the table as I have a habit of knocking it off as I am looking for the scissors and somewhere in the middle of it all you might find a cold cup of coffee. Not exactly grace in motion but it is my process and this is my blog and so I shall post my process and maybe in the middle of it all I will find my zone or
Zen for sharing.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Creative Madness

Sometimes being a creative heart can be a bit crazy. So, of course I've figured out that I need to come up with some sort of work schedule and time frame for the custom work that I am getting. Such a problem may I always have, but I can't just write stuff down and feel like it's ok, no I keep scheming and plotting some sort of work flow chart. What color should it be made out of what, fabric of course... but so what fabric?

Do I have cute little baby quilts to represent a quilt, little dresses for custom orders and maybe little bloomers too? Yup, that's how crazy my mind goes and then I think each quilt should be a little quilt you know,mini patterns to have fun with it. Dresses can be different and so can the bloomers. Baby quilts need to be special then regular quilts in my mini world because I make different sizes and styles so I'll need quilts that match the styles I make. Baby quilts can't be represented by a Queen Size Day of the Dead for heaven sakes. Bloomers can come in calico or specialty orders like Day of the Dead or how about when someone wants them to just be like summer pants...

I know I know who has time to make this cute wall chart with all these cute quilts and dresses oh did you know they have mini buttons you can use? I found them in doll making supplies, how cute would they be on the dresses? Did I mention I make wall hangings and upscale potholders from leftover images of Day of the Dead appliqu├ęd on them? How hard will that be to create mini potholders.... and so my mind goes on and on creating and dreaming up more and more things to add to the board.

E gads, I really just have to keep focused on making quilts and truly pray I really never have time to make mini anything and keep making full size everything for other people... maybe it's enough to dream it up and in my mind I have this cute wall board that people who see it think it's the most amazing flow chart they've ever seen and where can they get one? Wait, then I could make one and have all the little things and cute buttons and oh, there I go again... maybe today, I just need to break out the crate with Day of the Dead and start working on Jennifer’s quilt, bet she would appreciate it a lot more than a little mini quilt hanging on a wall that would represent her quilt in the future... but some day.... mini buttons are mine!