Posts Tagged ‘quilting life’

Embroidery, or Picking Up Stitches

November 13, 2019

My crazy quilt pile called to me this week, so I consolidated the stack and picked up some blocks. The floral block above is done enough. I’ll put more stitching on it when I put the top together, but it needs some context before I can decide what I want to do.

The block above was easy, as I had always intended to use an outline stitch for the koi. I set the block aside because I discovered I didn’t have enough blue embroidery floss to finish the design. Luckily, a delicate peach floss caught my eye while I could still adapt the color scheme.

This block needs more work, but will also need context before I know what to do with it. I’m calling it done for the moment, because I’m pretty sure I could cover the entire thing with stitching and still not be happy with it.

One thing I am happy with is my decision not to save all the last bits of floss. Instead, I’m going to fill a scrap of Aida cloth with blocks of color. You can see the beginning above. I may put beads on it as well. We’ll see what the project tells me to do.

The thread in the box is the part of my collection I could get my hands on. I know I have more floss and specialty threads somewhere, but they’re playing a real good game of hide and seek with me. This is why cleaning my sewing room has been a grand adventure for such a long time. I really have no idea what I’ll find when I finally get to the last pile.

Luck and wisdom!

Repurposing and My New Purse

November 6, 2019

I have been searching for the perfect purse most of my life. I’ve gone through quite a few that were wonderful, but when they wore out I couldn’t find a good replacement. I made my own purse once, with pockets and zippers and sides that stood up, but it was more trouble than I wanted to experience again. Just as I was despairing that the problem was insoluble, my Halloween handbag gave me the answer. It is square, which makes it easier to arrange zippered pouches inside. Why bother trying to make a bunch of interior pockets fit easily, or wrestle with thick stablizers, when I can repurpose my considerable collection of pouches?

A few years ago, I made a bunch of zippered pouches as gifts. Not all of them were suitable to give away, but I kept them for my own use. I have also received many lovely zippered pouches as gifts from friends and family. Not all of them were put into service immediately, and I’ve always felt bad about that. Now I have a use for more of them, so I’m happy (one more item on the annual “Things I’m Thankful For” list for the Thanksgiving discussion).

I made a few alterations to the pattern (The Bellinzona Cube by Pixeladies, although I couldn’t find a link to it on their homepage). Aside from enlarging it a smidge, I added pockets to all four sides. I also added a sewn-in strap with a clip for my keys to one pocket, and made one taller and narrower to corral my pens.

The best news is the pattern went together well, even with the changes I made. Now I will be able to experiment as my handbag needs evolve – and never again be forced to buy something that is almost but not quite right.

Luck and wisdom!

The Great Wall of Quilt Tops

October 23, 2019

So the good news is I bought some nice batting on sale and decided to rough cut the batt for the four small quilts I need to finish. The bad news is I have more than four tops in the stack. This I did not know. I really thought there were only four in the stack, but there might be six. It’s hard to tell, because the tops get squeezed together. Looking at the layers is like touring a coal mine. I’m certain if I leave those tops unquilted much longer they’ll be compressed into diamonds. This is especially true if I continue to put the batting and tops together on top of the pile.


Here is the view from my sewing machine at the moment. I have a better understanding of what the soldiers who fought in the trenches of France during World War I must have felt. The good news is these quilts are small – and I have a deadline.


The better news is I cleared out the floor of the sewing room closet for the first time in years. I’m hoping I can keep it clear for a little longer, but just this week an item I thought was going away needs to be stored for a little longer. It is on the ironing board right now, but it can’t live there and I have no place else to put it but in the closet. On the floor. The once clean floor. Ah, well.

Luck and wisdom!

A Turning Point That Wasn’t

October 16, 2019

Last year at a memoir-writing workshop I wrote an outline of turning points in my life. This past week I was reminded of a career path I didn’t take and how grateful I am for that. When I graduated from college, I considered applying to the State Department. My father – a long-time civil servant – sorta kinda maybe talked me out of it. I found a different job, didn’t like it, moved to another city, married, moved across country, and discovered quilting. The brilliant career I dreamed of never materialized, but I’ve made art, contributed to my community, and even co-authored a series of sci fi novels (shameless self-promotion, you can buy the latest one here). Not too shabby, all things considered.

Whenever I wonder about the life I might have had, I remember 1979 and the hostage crisis in Tehran. Bruce Laingen (pictured above) was stationed there, the highest-ranking diplomat among the 52 U.S. Embassy workers held in Iran for 444 days. He was also a graduate of my alma mater, Saint Olaf College. In my imagination, I could see myself getting sent to Iran for my first posting, maybe even meeting Laingen at an embassy function and mentioning that I too was an Ole grad. Then the revolution would come, and I would be running for my life. That’s when I breathe a prayer of thankfulness for my (relatively) calm and peaceful existence.

Laingen died recently at age 96. He grew up on a Minnesota farm, interrupted his education to serve his country in World War II, then returned to complete his degree before continuing his service in government. The Iranian hostage crisis brought him to the world’s attention, and he responded with dignity, calm, and presence. He earned every bit of respect due him. I am very grateful to Laingen for showing America at its best.

Luck and wisdom!

The Mystery of Emptying Shelves

October 9, 2019

I took advantage of a charity garage sale and donated some of my treasures that I told myself I could live without. I cleared out one complete shelf in my sewing room closet. I promptly filled that space with items from other shelves that I wanted to reach more easily.

You would think that I would have had an equal number of inches of clear space on the two shelves from which I moved items, but you would be wrong. Well, maybe you would be wrong. I didn’t actually measure the open areas, but they sure look tiny to me.

There is also the problem that these shelves aren’t convenient, so I need to choose what goes there carefully. That means moving around stuff, unearthing stuff, and evaluating stuff. I won’t even try to take a picture of the chaos in the sewing room now – it is just too depressing. So, for the moment, I have a bit of open space gathering dust until the things that should go there attract my attention. This could take some time.

Luck and wisdom!

Halloween Projects I Have Not Done

October 2, 2019

I collect Halloween fabric, and dream of the darling things those fabrics could become. Here are my latest purchases.

Alas, the dreams remain just that. Although I consolidated all of my Halloween cottons (don’t ask about the Halloween satin), I didn’t actually look at the collection before I bought the new stuff.

Yes, that is the same crow fabric, bought one year apart. The background colors are a little different, but only a bit.

I’m hoping that those of you who have mountains of Christmas fabric ready and waiting to be made into tree skirts, gift bags, and stockings will take comfort in my not-even-started projects. You at least have two months to get your projects completed, while once again I will bring out the decorations that are finished (or were bought already finished) and dream of the perfect projects I will complete for next year (oh, stop laughing).

Luck and wisdom!

When My Mind Is Made Up, But I Don’t Know It

September 25, 2019

I have read that the decision-making process is not as controlled and logical as we would like to imagine. Even simple things, like moving your arm, are sorta kinda maybe decided by the brain (or perhaps the arm?) before you are aware that you are going to move. This was the case with the candy pictured above. I saw it, I thought I had told myself I didn’t need it, but there it was in my hand. “Self,” I said, “one of us has already decided we’re going to buy this.” And that’s how the candy ended up in the shopping cart.

The same thing happened the last time I was at the fabric store. I saw a sale sign at the bead and charms aisle. I guess my subconscious decided we were going to buy something. I bought one card with ship-related charms, and one with tree-related charms. Oh, I discussed the merits of the purchase with myself, calculating that even if I only wanted one charm per card the savings more than compensated for buying stuff I didn’t want now (but might later on). It was all rubbish, of course. Somewhere, tucked in the folds of my brain, is a little pack rat who knows exactly what she wants and how to get it.

Luck and wisdom!

Again With The Lobsters

September 18, 2019

The next project in the pile is all about sea life. I hadn’t realized how much I bought of this lobster and crab fabric. Since I want to use up my stash, not create just enough scraps to demand a secondary project (or tertiary), I’m doing something I haven’t done in years – a “planned” quilt.

All of these blocks are the same, which is not my style at all. I will have enough of the lobster and crab fabric to make a backing – also not my usual procedure (I tend to back quilts with what I have enough of that is sorta kinda maybe the same color as the top). It will go to the guild’s charity quilt program and I will go on to the next project in the pile, but this is not the end of my lobster and crab collection.

Luck and wisdom!

Figs In Space

September 11, 2019

I unearthed an experiment of space fabric layered on batting and quilted, and decided it would be an ideal foundation for my fig applique. Don’t ask why, just go with it. I attached the applique with some running stitches, and added beads and embroidered leaves.

The binding is narrow sheer ribbon. The planet patch covers the spot where the ribbon ends meet. Technically, this is a single fig in space, but the plural sounds better to me so that’s what the piece is called – Figs In Space. Consider this your whimsy for the day.

Luck and wisdom!

What’s At Hand

September 4, 2019

The curse of productivity is that you find yourself repeating the same pattern because it is efficient. After running through a bunch of tops for donation quilts, my creativity decided to take a vacation. Realizing I needed to do something completely different so I could face my fabric collections again, I took a look at what was at hand. This is what I found.

My original idea was to create a forest scene, but that wasn’t working. Someone suggested I cut it up, bead the units, and make pins. That may still happen, but for the moment I’m beading the piece whole.

I have a box of beautiful green beads that I would love to use, but not a lot of any one variety. I may bead the center and turn it into an art piece, then trim off the edges to make small pins. Regardless, the project at hand is letting those little gray cells work again, and that’s good enough for me.

Luck and wisdom!