I haven’t had much time to sew what with trips to Baltimore daily for cancer treatments for my honey, and my own health issues. But I decided to try something “fun” and not worry about the outcome. Of course, if you know me… that is easier said than done. I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to creating.
So I had these 5″ charm packs of rustic homespun red and tan fabric and I decided to make a rag quilt. Something I have never done, and not really thought about. (And honestly, don’t know if I have ever SEEN one in person… lol )
I had no idea the amount of time and effort it takes to create each of those 180 squares, stitch them, then figure out a layout, combine them… not to mentions the time to snip all the edges and then fluff for days until it has the natural look!!!!
So far… I have gotten the squares put together and begun the layout process… more later!
Sometimes, like most of us, I am just looking for a way to keep busy. I have these tons of scraps in my sewing room that I never know what they are from or why I have them, nor any real plans for them. But then I have spare time and a hole in my schedule and so I just HAVE to make something.
My kid sister does a lot of beautiful traditional pieced quilts. She is a real artist in the traditional quilting sense. Me, on the other hand, I prefer the actual quilting process to piecing tops. So when I am looking for something to work on, I am more inclined to make a whole cloth quilt or throw together whatever is near to make a top I can practice on.
My sister asked me to make a twin quilt that she could take to a craft market. I had these precut 5″ squares in strange colors I had picked up from a swap table at the Fairfax Quilters Unlimited meeting so I thought I would piece a simple top and a pillow case to go with. The quilting will be what ties the fabric together.
Once I get the rows pieced I will add a border of creme muslin, and a muslin backing. I will then determine the patterns for the quilting. I am thinking Orange Peel for the color blocks using their edges for guides and using a variegated thread. Then perhaps a border of Leaf Meander.
Once we get back from the Drs’ today I will have a better idea of where I want to go with it…
While life is a bit hectic now with daily commutes to Baltimore and for cancer treatments, and the usual stuff of life and love and building a business. I did have time yesterday to quilt this darling little baby quilt. I used a daisy chain pattern fo the 3″ squares and then did a simple paisley for the sheepish boarder. I hope to get the binding on it this afternoon.
In December of 2015, my best friend Jane Bonin was diagnosed with a lung cancer that had metastasized. She died on July 24, 2016, the day after my birthday. (For the last 16 years we had always been together to celebrate each other’s birthdays, Christmas eve, and any other special occasion. In fact, every day was a special occasion for us and a reason to talk, laugh, eat, share wine, and celebrate all of life.) Losing Jane’s close friendship has taken a toll on me that I am only coming to realize now.
November 2016, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to be exact, we learned that my husband and the other dearest friend I have ever has been diagnosed with another form cancer. Needless to say, my emotional stress level went a few notches higher. I would be so completely lost without his support, love, encouragement and friendship!
The good news is that his cancer is in the very early stages and it is easily treatable. There are many different options, but the one we have chosen is Proton Laser Radiation Therapy Treatment. The difference between Proton therapy and Photon therapy treatment is the type of radiation and in the mass of affected tissues around the cancer site. The Proton beam is a much denser bean and can transmit a much tighter beam of radiation that can be controlled and stopped at an exact spot rather than passing through to damage other surrounding tissues. It is a specialized treatment and is covered by many insurance programs. (Thank goodness.)
The BAD news is that there are very few areas that offer the treatments and they must be done on a daily basis for a specific amount of time. (In our cases 9-10 weeks.) Currently, the closest medical centers that provide the proton service are in Baltimore, Md (UMMC) 1.5 hours away; and in Hampton Rhoades, VA (3 hours away.)
We are doing a daily trip to Baltimore — Monday through Friday — before God is awake every morning to beat traffic and to get treatment over with so that my husband can still get hours into his work day. It makes for a long day for him, but he enjoys working and it keeps his mind sharp. And he is just not ready to retire. (We always can still use the money while I am building up my business!)
I am not able to get a lot of sewing/ quilting/ artwork done right now between the driving and appointments and the dogs and the house and making sure he is doing OK. I am also not able to blog every day as I had hoped to do originally. Life gets in the way of Life sometimes. But family and friends are the most important things that we have in life. Studies have shown repeatedly that no one looks back over their life when the are ready to go and says they wish they had worked harder or made more money. They often say they wish they had connected more, been there more, loved more. I want to make sure that every life I touch, however briefly, is better for having known me. And so with gratitude, I thank the universes for the moments I have now. For all that I am. For all that I have. For all that is coming my way. and for the chance to love as completely as possible while the time is now!
When my dearest friend, Jane Bonin, died the last year, there were a few things in her apartment that she left to me for sentiment’s sake. I had decorated her apartment when she returned from her tenure in Africa as Director of the Peace Corps in Niger.
Being an intellectual and a historian, Jane was passionate about all things French and revered things with history to them. We decorated her lovely Georgetown apartment condo to read classic elegance and old-school and finished it to look like an ancient villa. I had faux finished the walls with a hand rubbed golden glaze to give it the old plastered look, and all the pieces in it were chosen to accent comfort and function rather simply be stylish.
This screen was a piece she had toted around for ages. No one seems to know exactly where it came from. It has obviously seen better days. there is water damage to the bottom of the fabric and wood structure and the current fabric is dry rotted.
Another good friend of mine, Jen Athanas, owner and artist extraordinaire of Jen-A-Fusion, often gives me surplus fabric to quilt with when she is downsizing. She gifted me with this gorgeous red and gold upholstery Brocade (previously used as curtains from a Washington Redskin player’s home I am told!)
There is a lovely braid on the fabric where it connected to some gold silk that is already removed that will be a great edge accent for the screen.
As I began to uncover the screen I realized that perhaps this had been a piece that belonged to Jane’s mother or even her grandmother at some time. There were layers of fabrics on top of fabrics, all dry-rotted, as it had been recovered several times.
I have completed two of the panels so far, and hope to get the third done this afternoon.
I finally got to finish the screen this weekend. (All but adding the brass upholstery tacks that I am waiting on…)
Giving this piece new life and having it my home, will help me always have a little piece of Jane with me. It gives me great joy and comfort, not to mention inspiration, as she was the person who pushed me to consider using my quilting talents for income for the rest of my life.
I am one of those people that take a lot of time to decide on an action, and then I dive in with both feet and head straight to the bottom of the lake. Many of my friends wonder aloud how I get so much done every day. The simple truth is that I don’t think about it. I plan and I do.
Take quilting… Two years ago I had never made a quilt in my life. I grew up with a crazy mom. SHE was the quilter, the seamstress. In a typical knee-jerk reaction to all she represented, I wanted nothing to do with a sewing machine or anything that represented her life choices.
Then after a life as an artist in theater, music, dance, and landscape painting, I discovered the world of Silk Painting fabric. That opened a new door to me. I began making simple art pieces – scarves, items of clothing, and etc.
From there it was really just a skip to Creating wall Tapestries of hand painted silk. Those led to more works of art that then had to be embroidered, and texture added with machine quilting.
Quilting added more definition and texture to the Tapestry as a whole.
Then my younger sister got me started with doing some quilting for her quilt projects – some placemats, then small quilts for her to sell, then larger quilts, and then I was hooked.
When I discovered the world of Long Arm Quilting, I knew I had found what I was looking for for the rest of my life. I am not so interested in the piecing of quilt tops, especially not traditional ones (although I happily do them for others, not for myself,) I really LOVE the process of quilting tops that others have created. I love the drawing with the needle. I love creating new patterns that compliment the quilt, and I really LIKE the solitude and the physical work.
Now two years later I have completed over 55 quilts for others. I am obsessed with getting my new long arm machine so that I can begin to work MORE for others. I am quilting now on my heavy duty Singer machine and it is a great machine for me. But doing a large quilt under a domestic sewing machine arm is really a pain! So much fabric to tug and turn and move. With the long arm you move the machine NOT the fabric!
(This Kingsized Tumbling block quilt took me 2 weeks to quilt alone do on the domestic machine…)
So day by day I am more grateful the universe for all that I have, all that I am and all that is coming to me! I know that I have many creative gifts to bring to others, and my obsession with service is ONE of them!
I have been a creative artist all my life. It is not something I do, it is who I am. Perhaps it was growing up semi-wild in the mountains of Virginia and always being outside and free to learn and explore without the influence of TV and all the nonsense that people think are so important in the world today. Perhaps I would have been that way no matter what. In spite of the somewhat difficult and tough life I have lived, I have always looked upon the world as a beautiful place to be, a safe place to grow and to learn, and a gift to us all.
Art of many different media has attracted me. I have worked in the professional world of dance and theater. I have sung professionally in opera and musical theater, jazz, cabaret, and big band. I have been a culinary creator. I have taught everything from music to speech, to history. I have been a professional landscape artist working in oils and pastels. And now I work in fiber art and quilt for others.
Inspiration comes for me from many places, but the primary source (besides the creator or universe or whatever you call it) is my memories of nature growing up. The variety and the intensity of the colors in nature have always inspired my palette in painting, and in my fabric works.
The small town I grew up in still has a small town feel. And though it has been years since I returned there, I hold it dear in my heart.
Nature can be beautiful, it can be seductive, it can be dangerous, it can be wild, it can be sultry, it can be ethereal. All these sides of her inspire my work to be both sensuous and grounded.
Whether in designing a motif for a quilt-top, or working on one of my tapestries, I try to let things happen organically and not force it. The right shape will come. And I enjoy the process of letting the work happen rather than forcing it.
I find motifs in a pattern on the leaves, in a field of flowers, in the pebbles in a stream, in a shady bank of moss on the creek bed. If you begin to see that all of life is connected by threads it is a small step to following those patterns to their artful conclusion.
As part of my ongoing daily work to affirm to the universe that I am ready for more success as a professional quilter, I schedule chores that let me practice my skills while also producing useful items for my business around my quilting schedule. Sometimes I spend the time creating the paper and file systems I need for intake and management of my clients’ projects. Sometimes, I work on a specific fiber item.
This week I have taken on a special project of creating sample blocks of machine stitching for clients to touch, see, and choose from. I created bleached muslin 12″ x 12″ layered quilt sandwiches for each of the sample stitches I wanted to produce.
After cutting and baste pinning the quilt sandwiches, I then took fabric pencil markers and free hand drew the individual stitch patterns on each panel. ( I usually just do FMQ — sew freehand, but in this case, I wanted to make sure I had a good representation of each of the stitches as a sampler.)
Here are the different samples before stitching: ( click on thumbnail to view large size)
My next step today will be to quilt them all using a colorful dark thread on top and a neutral thread on the backs so clients can see how they look both ways. Then wash and Once they are quilted, I will bind them using my overlock serger (no sew on bindings for these.) I will wash and press them to remove the markings, and then add hanging grommets and rings to make a flip book of them. It is a lot of work, but it gives my clients something concrete to see, and it gives me even more experience with what I love, quilting!
In my continued daily work preparing for the Universe to provide the HQ Avante 18″ Long -Arm-Machine of my dreams, I spent the holiday Monday cleaning out and re-organizing my studio space to be ready for Isabeau (my name for her) when she arrives!
I had been working on a tapestry project that was going ALL wrong and I finally decided that it is OK sometimes to trash something in order to move on to more good in my life.
Here are pics of the NEW and Improved Little Old Lady Quilting Studio!
Making way by cleaning out the old, by straightening, organizing, and by opening myself to the new, allows me to welcome MORE into my life.
I sang for a while in a really wonderful church choir. Singing had been my whole life and career until about 10 years ago. a combination of illnesses and life events ended my professional career, but I tried to go back to singing “for fun.” It turned out to be not be so much fun, the challenges were too great at this stage in my life. But I did get to make some wonderful friendships.
For this holiday, I wanted to create a simple gift for the choirmaster. Chad Steffey is one of the most giving and gifted musicians I have ever gotten to work with. His soulfulness is 100% genuine and his love of every person he meets is like a light in the world we live in.
This is another collection of fat quarters I bought having no Idea what I would one day do with them. I created a simple pyramid pattern trying to alternate dark and light fabrics with patterns. The challenge was using the written words of scripture in a way that made them both readable and to look like they belonged in the patterns.
The back of this throw is a single large piece of upholstery fabric that adds warmth comfort to he whole.
It is so rewarding to be able to create things that give people a sense of myself, as well as add to their lives.