July 21, 2017

Today is My Day

Ever since childhood, I've relished having my birthday as My Own Special Day.  So today is that kind of special!  It's also, as a friend of mine noted, my Beatles Birthday.  Can you guess why that is?

So I'm posting a few pix of my celebrations so far.

On Wednesday, I picked up a few fun items at an estate sale being managed by my vintage clothing friend Julia.  A graceful, slightly translucent, white glass serving bowl - two little tea cups marked Made In Germany.  I'm always drawn to a nice bit of tableware!

Yesterday, when my husband and I got home from a long, lovely conversation with a long-time friend, there were four and only four items in the mailbox - and they were all birthday cards!  How sweet is that?!

One of them is an intricate pop-up birthday cake, which will be the centerpiece of my table for the duration of the weekend, at least.

And here's my friend's sweet granddaughter.  We've known each other since our daughters were this age.  A Cycle of Life moment, for sure.

Last night, a late phone call from my son made the first official happy birthday wish at midnight.  And the best news of all is notification of my daughter getting last minute plane tix for the weekend.  She is making a wedding dress for a friend, and we will have our second intensive weekend of fitting and sewing.  The lace we will be using is from her mother's wedding dress, making it another Cycle of Life event.  Here's a photo from our first sewing weekend in May, bride on the left, mother of the bride in the center, my darlin' daughter on the right.

And then this morning, there was a lovely Joseph Campbell quote posted on Instagram by lostintime_archives.  It touches on concepts of flow and learning from life's ups and downs, which are concepts that I have given quite a bit of musing time of late.

So, all in all, adding in a movie and dinner out with my husband tonight, it's shaping up to be a grand celebration!

July 12, 2017

A Lovely Pile of Paper

Today, as I was filing the repair paperwork from the two quilts I recently finished, I was struck by the size of my "completed repairs" folder.  Just look how thick!  These are all the quilts that have received TLC at my house! 

The earliest pages are from 1984.  There are just a few from the 80s, as I was still mostly working through a shop (The Wild Goose Chase, now closed), and in the 90s, my full time job became parenting and homeschooling.  I really started publicizing myself when I started up my website around 2003 I think, and then started blogging in 2011.  It's really been just the last 5 or so years that my work load has really taken off.

The pile on the right are the papers from the beginning of 2014 until this very day.

Here's what my quilt repair form looks like.

On the back, I take notes as I scan the quilt to make the estimate.  I make hashmark counts of the various kinds of damage and think about how long everything might take. 

These are the notes for the Complete Makeover job. 

This then becomes my checklist as I do the work.  This page was for the wonderful 1930s sampler quilt.

I also keep two online worklists.  Ever since starting to blog,  I've had several quilts here at a time and a pretty decent waiting list.  I'd be lost without my lists!

One list is organized according to the status of the job: next to send - in the mail - estimating - sewing - job complete, waiting for payment - completed jobs.  The other is organized according to the date I promised to take each quilt in.  Each entry includes quilt pattern, customer name, email and/or phone, dates of contact emails.  Yes, it is double bookkeeping, but I find that both are useful, depending on what overview I want at any given point.  Plus, doing it twice somehow helps keep my head screwed on somewhat straight.  Hee, hee. 

July 8, 2017

Embroidered Memories

A short while ago, I received an email asking about the best way to clean this embroidered piece.  After getting some more info, I  suggested that vacuuming would be the safest and sent along the link to my post about how-to vacuum quilts.

I thought this unusual piece was worthy of being shared here, and the owner, Priscilla Friesen, graciously sent me the photos and story below to share here.

The quilt was made by Priscilla's mother, Lisbeth Koehn Friesen, and is a treasured record of family memories.

My family is Mennonite.  My mother always had a sewing project going.  There are other quilters in my family, but my mother did not do quilts.  Her projects were embroidery and handwork projects.  She cross stitched tablecloths, quilts, embroidered clothing, and created 78 embroidered carrying bags.  She did a major sewing project during each of her pregnancies. Mine was an embroidered tablecloth. 

This denim quilt is 45” X 65” with denim squares created from the jeans of my brothers and me.  Each square is uniquely embroidered with different themes or pieces of our clothing as abstract color designs. 

What was particularly unique was the time frame that the quilt was created.  The summer of 1967 was a very disrupted year in the life of the family.  Both my mother and father’s mothers died within a week of each other in July. My father’s grandmother died a month later.  The bulk of the initial squares were embroidered and stitched during the summer driving to and from funerals in Kansas, Minnesota and Ohio.  It was later that year that my mother’s cancer reappeared.  The more stark winter embroidered pieces were created during her cancer radiation treatments.   She gave the quilt to me as the oldest daughter before she died in l971.   It has hung in my home since.   

The embroidered red bird was the first piece.  The idea was taken from a magazine. 

One theme was the seasons as you can see in these four diagonal pieces representing winter, fall, summer and spring. 

The stark white embroidery on darker jean fabric were created during her cancer treatments.  Appliqué pieces of fabric came from pieces of the family’s clothing. 

My favorite square includes french knots on my jeans. 

I think this is a super clever idea for a take-along project.  It's really like doodling with needle and thread.  I, for one, always enjoy doodling - what fun this would be!  And in this case, it also served as a lovely way to hold the family close via needlework during tough times.   

July 3, 2017

Catching The Moment

For the past few years, I've been using photography as a means to mindfulness and awareness.  I've been taking daily photos of little things that catch my eye - things that either are artsy or symbolic of what I'm doing with my day and my self, or sometimes both at once.  A subcategory has been watching the light and sky out my front door.  I live across from a park, so have great sky views!  Also, I have a huge front window that lets all the changing light into my living room.  It's where I sit to hand sew.

Yesterday, I glanced up right after a small but heavy rain came through.  The clouds were amazing.  I grabbed my camera, but didn’t get to take the photo, because my neighbor was coming up the walk to return my sewing machine which she had borrowed for a couple of hours.  As she left, the clouds were still great and the sun broke through up above.  I quick snapped the photo, all smiles and excitement. 

I’ve always loved that odd combination of sunlit yellowish green leaves against dark blue-grey storm clouds.  It’s a color combination I’d never have thought of on my own, so I find it fascinating that it looks so cool.  It also speaks to mindfulness quite strongly, as these moments pass in an instant. 

I've been thinking to share some of my daily photos just for fun.  So perhaps this is a beginning of that aspect of this practice. 

June 24, 2017

Another Perfect 1930s Double Wedding Ring

The Double Wedding Ring pattern was sure popular in the 1930s!  This spring, I've had two here for repairs in the same month.  When I blogged about the first one, I called it a perfect quilt - hence the name of this post.

Both have the same characteristics, including a huge variety of pastel print scraps and great needlework.  Here they are side-by-side, so you can see how they are alike and how they differ.  I always think it's great fun to compare and contrast the design choices that make each rendition of a pattern unique.

I'll call the one of the left (more info in a previous post) the pink quilt, and the one on the right the purple quilt.

The pink quilt continues using scraps in the 4-patches where the rings intersect instead of adding solid colors.  That lets the rings be complete, intersecting circles that flow calmly across the quilt.  On the purple quilt, the solid color accent squares create a more lively look, a counterpoint rhythm with the scrappy arcs. 

I'm incredibly fond of the combination of these green and purple squares.  I like green and purple together in general, but these particular 1930s versions of these colors are as good as it gets as far as I'm concerned.

You may also notice that the pink quilt has a thicker batting which shows off the quilting much more clearly.  Both quilts use the very same quilting pattern.

The soft mint green backing fabric on the purple quilt is a bit gentler than the bright pink back on the pink quilt.  Both backing choices are great compliments to the fabrics in the patchwork.

The edge treatments are also different.   The pink quilt has a more common edge: big scallops and a narrow bias binding.  The purple quilt continues having complete 4-patches along the edges, making a more complex shape.  Rather than trying to manipulate a binding around all those sharper corners, this quilt is finished with a knife-edge, i.e front and back fabrics turned in towards one another and whip stitched shut.

More about the purple quilt:  The owner thinks it was made for his mother, Mary (aka Peg), by her mother Lydia and Aunts Tillie and Ella (who Peg called LaLa).  They lived in Holdredge, Nebraska, and were farmers' wives.  Peg came to Chicago to study nursing at Augustana School of Nursing.

The quilt is in good shape.  I repaired only a few spots where a couple of fabrics were weakening faster than the rest.  I also washed the quilt.  It had some grey soil on the reverse.  The front didn't look too bad, but the quilt had obviously not been washed in quite a while.  The wash water came out quite a bit browner than I had expected!  Here's a bird's-eye-view of the quilt soaking in the tub.

The rings feature a few cheery (as always!) conversation prints.

I'd love to see a large piece of that last print.  I wonder if we'd find out where that little guy is off to in such a hurry!

June 14, 2017

Two Conversation Prints

A fiber friend is going through the sad process of clearing out her ailing aunt's home.  The aunt was quite a crafter, and had amassed a huge collection of craft supplies over many decades.  My friend found it was way too much for her to take on, and offered us the chance to choose some goodies for ourselves.

I always take a moment at times like these and at estate sales to thank and honor the person who loved the same things I do, and who found such fun ways to express her personality!

Here are two really fun conversation print fabrics that I adopted from her stash.

The one at the top of the post has ended up in my pile of extra special, totally wonderful fabrics!  Here's why:

I think it is from the 1960s since it reminds me of the style of cartooning that was often used in advertising in the 50s and 60s.  I'd call it a loose, stylized style of drawing.  Given the women's hair styles, I'm going with the 60s. 

This one, while less amazing, is just plain adorable.

There's just nothing like a great conversation print to brighten my day!  Well, that or some great buttons.  Or a gorgeous new quilt book.  Or completing a project.  Yeah.  

June 1, 2017

Busy, Busy Month of May

This week takes a prize of some sort for having three newly-finished quilts signed, sealed, and delivered in just one short week.

My hometown of Evanston holds a month-long arts celebration every June called Evanston Made.  There are exhibits and programs all over town.  This year, I'm exhibiting in two events.

This quilt will be in the main show at the Evanston Art Center.  It's a new member of my Something From Nothing series called "Symmetry."  It's 16.5" x 16.5".  The opening is this Friday 6/2 5-8pm, and I'll be there.  The show runs for the entire month. 

And this quilt will be in a show called Nasty Women Evanston, a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood.  The event is on Saturday 6/3 from 6-9 pm, and I'll be there as well.  The show is patterned after a similar fundraiser in New York City that was quite successful.  All pieces in the show are for sale and 100% of the proceeds go to P. P.  This is also a Something From Nothing quilt.  It's called "Directions" and is 12" x 12".

I had some fun while stitching this one, which I wrote about a bit earlier.

And finally, a quilt called "To Turn, To Turn."  This is the third quilt of this pattern that I have made.  You can read about the first two in a previous post.  The quilt has velcro strips on the back so it can be rotated as the year goes along, keeping the current season at the top.

The quilting design includes clouds, sun, rain, wind, and snow.

This version was commissioned by my friend Diane, as a gift for her son who is about to graduate from med school.  We worked together to get the fabrics "just right."  Diane is a glass artist, and we had loads of fun.  A photo of the first set of fabric choices we made is below.  The fabrics look quite a bit different when they are in folded chunks pulled off the shelves vs. when they are cut to size and shape, so there was quite a bit of fiddling around to get the final look.  You might have fun comparing the two and finding all the changes we made.