Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How do you work?

Piecing in an improvisational way comes naturally to me. I just do it. It helps that I like and collect scraps. I pull them out of a pile and put them together in a way that pleases me. I guess you'd say it is intuitive. I like being surprised at how it comes together. And it feels like play. After dealing with other things in life that have to be done, I want to enjoy my time stitching.

But I have come to realize that some people struggle with working this way. It does not come naturally to them. One fellow stitcher wants to sit by me to see how I work. She is a thinker so it could be interesting.

One of the pure pleasures of this blog for me is that it gathers kindred spirits, those of us who love improvisational work. So my question today is how do you work? How do you do this improvisational work? What works for you?

p.s. Barbara wrote a great blog about a recent project of ours, see our guild blog.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vintage No Scraps Too Small

This quilt has been making the rounds with me at presentations lately - it's a good example of how far you can go with the no scraps too small concept. I don't know who made it, I found it at an antique shop. You will note that the maker organized her randomness into 11" square blocks, assembled into rows to make this 55" x 76" quilt. Based on the backing, it was assembled in the 1960s and machine quilted at that point. It is very neatly hand pieced. The scrap dates are a big ol' mishmash - some 30s and 40s but lots of 50s prints. The fabrics are in great shape which makes me think they were sewing scraps, not worn clothing.

Here is a detail from one of the 35 blocks. Making a modern day version of this could keep me busy with handwork for quite a while.....

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Found at Lawrence's 50th Sidewalk Sale

 Side 1
 Side 2

My town has an annual sidewalk sale, on the third Thursday of July. This was the 50th year of this sale - and what did I find there - this 2-sided quilt! I didn't find it by myself, I was alerted that this was waiting for me outside the downtown antique mall by my friend Roseann.

This quilt measures 41" x 66" and has many worn spots. Luckily, I have an old quilt top that I can use to patch it with. Looks like it has survived many nap times. One worn spot reveals an old blanket inside this quilt. It is machine pieced and tied to finish. The edges are turned in and machine topstitched.

Roseann also caught me one day recently photographing this truck in a downtown parking lot. My town attracted lots of newcomers back in the days when youngsters with long hair were called hippies. Seems some of them persist in calling themselves that to this day.

You can also find this sign downtown:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Yellow block close up

Here it is, in all it's glory! Several of you mentioned this block so I thought you might like to see a detail shot of it.....

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wildest Churn Dash Ever

Okay, I think you are ready for this one. It is not for the faint of heart.
I found it in Texas a few years ago. It is a top that is very rumpled.

It's truly a thrift shop quilt. The fabrics are definitely from clothing or sewing leftovers. The blocks are traditional 12" churn dash blocks. It is hand pieced and measures 56" x 72". The sashing is the fun part, of varying pieced strings.

It is fun to show to people. One friend saw it at sewing. She had to go to an end-of-the-school-year banquet that night (you know, the type where you sit and listen a lot and work to keep an expression on your face that says you are listening as your mind wanders....). And she said she thought and thought of this quilt, wondering how it went together (with an appropriate touch of awe in her voice).

I like to think it was comforting handwork, pieced on someone's lap. Someone who wasn't paying REAL close attention, but who was enjoying their sewing!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Kindred spirits

I read some wonderful advice today and thought you would enjoy it too. It's part of an interview with Julie Silber, quilt collector extraordinaire in California. She was talking about a wonderful quilt that she owns that is NOT perfect - one many of us would love. I saw the quilt at the last meeting of the American Quilt Study Group (a wonderful organization to join if you want to learn more about quilts). You can read the entire interview at the Alliance for American quilts website, in the Quilters' Save Our Stories section. Julie was asked if there was anything she'd like to add for future quilters :

JS: I guess I would say – Pay Attention. Pay attention to what moves you as a quilt collector or quiltmaker. Pay attention to what makes your heart beat fast and go with it. I'm concerned about the movement in the last years of this current quilt movement toward precision and perfection. I worry about the crowd mentality. I have actually heard people say, 'I need to find out what the judges like so I can win this contest.' Some people escape those pressures. I encourage people to look carefully at the 18th and 19th century quilts and see that they were not always perfect. Make what makes what makes them happy and go with what makes their heart sing.

Julie blogs too and offers quilts for sale.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Behind the Scenes with Sew Into Sports

Best title, don't you think! The clever Barbara Brackman strikes again. This book is so near and dear to my heart. Barbara and I collaborated on several of the quilts in this book. It contains the most successful fundraiser quilt we ever made, the Jayhawk Shoes Quilt. As usual, she had the vision and discipline to pull that and several other projects over the years into a great book. If you want ideas to make a sports related quilt, this is the book you need.

But the dearest quilt for me is the one I made for my dad (it's on the cover, right below the photo of BB holding a football Lucy Van Pelt style for her brother to kick). Dad played college football at Kansas State University from 1948-1950, wrapping up his career the month before he married my mom. He got clobbered in the mouth in his last game and lost his front teeth (that was in the days before football players wore facemasks, which is always hard to believe).

By the time I got to college, most vestiges of that purer age of sport were gone. Imagine players today cleaning the stadium after the game! That's what scholarship players did in Dad's day. But they were local heroes, that has become clear to me in my life. One of the nicest stories anyone ever told me was about how good my dad played. How I would love to see a film of that! But of course, it was before those days too. They barely got still photos of them. Here is Dad (#52) with players from my era: Perry C. Viers (#81) and Garry Spani (#59) (1970s players) at a players reunion last fall. Please note how much BIGGER they are than dad.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Celebrate Americana

Friday night the Kansas City Ukesters performed for their largest audience ever, more than 6,100 people. Here they are entertaining the crowd at the Kansas City T-Bones baseball game with a stirring rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th-inning stretch. The fearless musicians even climbed atop the dugout to perform! The Ukesters are a group of people who love to play ukelele. They welcome everyone, people who can play as well as people who want to learn to play. They have made a musician in this household very very happy.

The T-Bones are a independent league team with a picture postcard stadium in Kansas City, Kansas. Going to the game there is pure Americana. Every seat is a good seat and it's thrifty too: tickets cost less than $10, hotdogs are a buck! Free parking, nonstop entertainment. Fans can strum while they watch!

Simple pleasures. Isn't that what life is all about? Happy Fourth!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hotel rooms keep you focused

Another good thing about sewing AWAY from home is that you have fewer distractions. I know I am distractable. At times, this is good, as multitasking helps you get more done. However, when it comes to sewing, I find I'm lured away by a new stack of scraps, fabrics, a tantalizing new project....before I finish what I'm currently working on.

When you sew in the hotel room, you can only work on what you brought along. So I brought a project that I knew I'd be easily distracted from (binding), but one that I really want to get going on.

A friend heard about this quilt and I was asked to consider repairing it. When I heard the story, I couldn't turn it down. Turns out this quilt has been passed down from generation to generation within a family and that it has been handed over when comfort was needed. It comforted the present owner's aunt a few years ago, then it comforted her niece in a rocky time in her life. It's the opposite of so many homeless quilts that we find and feel a little bad about (who didn't want this great quilt?).

It's in delicate shape. It has been well-loved. It's very soft and worn, needs new binding and many patches replaced. I told the current owner that I could make the repairs but that the quilt could never be perfect. It would be fine if she just wanted to fold it up and keep it as an heirloom.

But she wanted the repairs made so the binding is now underway. We agreed that one thing it needs is a detailed label, telling who made it and who passed it on. We'll meet soon to record the quilt story. I can't wait.