Creating · Finishing School Friday · Quilts

All Is Safely Gathered In–FSF

Okay, before the large picture of the quilt, get a load of this quote:

“Of all cursed places under the sun, where the hungriest soul can hardly pick up a few grains of knowledge, a girls boarding-school is the worst. They are called finishing schools, and the name tells accurately what they are. They finish everything but imbecility and weakness, and that they cultivate. They are nicely adapted machines for experimenting on the question, ”Into how little space a human being can be crushed?” I have seen some souls so compressed that they would have fitted into a small thimble, and found room to move there.” –Olive Shreiner

Hmmm.  By focusing on finishing, am I crushing myself into a small space?  Am I creating a Tyranny of the Done?  That’s the danger in shifting words around in a language as fluid as English is.  I use that term–Finishing School– in an affectionate way, Olive Shreiner’s words notwithstanding.

When I was a young mother I moaned to MY mother about how I never got anything done.  The laundry always piled up;  sometimes as quickly I as I could move it from the dryer, fold it and put it in the drawers, it would be used, dirtied and find its way back to the blue plastic mesh basket in front of the washer.  Meals were a never-ending story and I resorted to “closing the kitchen” just so I could get the breakfast dishes washed and put away before it was time to haul out the peanut butter and jelly for lunch.  The bathrooms always needed to be cleaned, the floor rarely seemed to be free of crumbs or sticky places.  And those sticky places migrated from floor to doorknobs, to car handles, to walls.  If I could have strapped on the 409 in a giant backpack, squirting and wiping as I went I MIGHT have conquered the dirt.  Just maybe.  I began quilting because I wanted a “bedspread” (what we called it then) for my bed, however I soon saw the advantage of quilting: it stayed done.  I didn’t have to resew a seam as it didn’t unpick itself in the night.  The patches would still be there, done, when I was ready to assemble them into a quilt.  And then somewhere this stitching and patching and quilting took a turn and became my art, my way of expressing creativity.

I think I moaned to mother for years and years. Then the children grew up, the bathrooms needed cleaning only once a week, then the children left.  Dishes rarely pile up and sticky places don’t spring up like mushrooms overnight.  The dust and dirt of housework and I have made our peace with each other, leaving lots of room around my job as am adjunct college professor (English) to happily spend time cutting and sewing and creating quilts.

But there’s this healthy strain of ADHD in my family, and I can easily flit from pile of fabric to pile of fabric.  My intention was to take stock each Friday, slow down and commend myself on whatever I had accomplished in order to notice my work, to smile and be aware that I completed that which I set out to do.  To reap a little harvest from the sowing (sewing, too) that I had done earlier.

So, today, here is All Is Safely Gathered In, a quilt about sowing and harvesting.  I began this three years ago, trying to work with an original block I’d drafted–simple in design but it carried a nice big punch with those new large-scale prints that we were all investigating.  How to make them work?  Place them right up against each other in nice big squares and shapes–let that fabric shine. When I was casting about for a name, I talked it over with my husband.  How about something about harvest? he asked, and the phrase from a favorite hymn jumped right out at me.  When I was that young overwhelmed mother, I could think of nothing more satisfying than walking around the house at night, the last child in bed, the open book fallen to the floor, the night-light casting its golden glow on the cheeks and hair of these children who kept me so busy during the day.  I fell in love with them all over again, storing up these feelings of satisfaction every night against the onslaught of the day.  And now, many many years later those children walk their houses at night, picking up the books, bending over to plant a kiss on their children’s soft cheeks.

I sowed children and stitches and tasks uncompleted and time and more time and I am now reaping grandchildren and quilts and houses that don’t get quite as dirty.  While I’m not done, I feel like I have some sense of the law of the harvest.  And it is immensely satisfying, I must say.

I was drawn to not only the Kaffe Fassett fabrics (rich in coloration and detail) but also those of designer Martha Negley and Phillip Jacobs (who designed that border).  I loved making this quilt, but it did take me three and a half years from inception to this stage–awaiting its label on the back.

I’m actually doing two labels–this one and the dotty quilt label.  Hopefully that one will be next FSF–in the best sense of the term.

But few have spoken of the actual pleasure derived from giving to someone, from creating something, from finishing a task, from offering unexpected help almost invisibly and anonymously.” –Paul Wiener

Happy Sowing.  Happy Finishing School Friday.

Quilt Shops

Sew Modern Quilt Shop

Yesterday my friend and I went to LA to see the fabric district, and also went to the far side of LA to visit a new shop in town: Sew Modern Quilt Shop. It has clean, modern vibe to it and we found the fabric lines to be plentiful and very current.  Overall, we’d go there again in a minute if we lived closer (it took us an hour and half to get home), but I overheard the owner say to a friend that they were readying their online shopping presence.

Lots of fabrics and with the large windows out front, everything is well-lit and fun to browse.

This seating area is in the front.  Love the modern quilts hanging around the shop–good inspiration.

While we were there, a man came in on an errand from his wife.  He’d brought a scrap of fabric that she needed to match and they found it, cut it, and sent him on his way.  I got the sense that this shop does customer service really well.

There’s an “easiness” to this shop that encourages looking and discovering new fabric lines.  I saw Tula Pink’s new line, Horner’s Loulouthi and lots of other fresh, modern fabric lines.  Oh yes, I indulged, and came home with some brights.  The plan is to make some grocery shopping bags with the vibrant colors.

I enjoyed their clothing samples–both women and children–with some good ideas to branch out past the typical quilt construction and use these fabrics in our wardrobes.

They were hosting a Sewing Day Camp for a group of very lively children, who were enthusiastically working on all their projects.  I liked the energy level that they brought to the store, and really liked that Sew Modern was teaching the next generation and instilling in them a love of creativity and working with their hands.

Overall it was a terrific day in LA, capped off by this visit.  Thanks to Lauren Hawley, the owner, for allowing me to take photos of a place I’ll be visiting again.

Creating · Quilts · Sewing

WIP–What About That Quilting?

Thanks, Lee! and here we go again.  To return to Freshly Pieced, click *here.*

Q: What do you call a quilt that is pieced, quilted, bound–but no label?

A: Work In Progress, I guess.  But it feels good to get this far.  I’m going to write the label on this in Pigma Micron Pen, so it won’t come unattached.  I’ve been trending that way on quilts that are gifted, and this one will be gifted.

I have another quilt that is at this same stage, but before I show that (check back here on FSFriday for a reveal) I want to get that one labeled.  I’ve collected a few more quilts from friends to photograph for my magnum opus–my journal about my quilts.  Jen of Stitch Hack and I were talking about a list that her grandmother kept, so she wrote back and told me that her grandmother had quilted (hand-quilted) over 2,000 quilts in her lifetime!

The big WIP is the quilting of the dotty quilt, based on Everyday Best, by Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins of Piece O’ Cake Designs.  I’ve titled mine Come-A-Round.  I had sent it to the quilters for anchoring the quilt together and now I’m doing detail work.  But okay–I need your vote.  Here’s the dilemma: I began quilting the leaves and stems in green, and like any good sewer loaded the bobbin with green to match.  After doing this, I switched out to white (who knows why?) and now I have what my husband calls “green branches” on the back of the quilt–but only along the bottom side.

It’s on the back, but the rest of the quilting is in white.  I tried to unpick a bit today, and I can see that if I do choose to unpick ALL of this, it will take me the better part of a day to get that done, setting me back a day.  So, what say you?

Option #1: Keep moving: Leave it alone and chalk it up to experience.

Option #2: Cope.  Flip the quilt upside down, make this the top and put a humungous quilt sleeve on it, that would partially cover this.

Option #3: Sigh.  Be obsessive.  Unpick and re-stitch, but watch a good movie while you do this.

Reality Check: Even though I am fairly skilled, I’m doing this free-motion by hand, so I know I’ll never win any prizes.  But I do want to enter it into the local quilt show, and would like to put my best foot forward.  I’ll be curious to see what you think.

Blog Strolling

Ironing Board Cover

Okay, it was time.

So I Googled “ironing board cover” because I wanted to have the glorious experience of making my own cover.  I’m not a fan of the silvery metallic covers.  I don’t like the ones with the foam bonded to them on the back.  I majored in Clothing and Textiles in college and the ironing boards we used were the vacuum-type, with the board sucking the steam out of the jets of the iron.  Real Fancy, and that’s how I got used to using a lot of steam in my ironing. But our professor said, if you can’t get one of those kinds of set ups, get an iron that has LOTS of vents and gives lots of steam and an ironing board that is heavily padded, so as to protect your work. When I buy a new iron I look for two things: lots of vents and that “shot of steam” feature and over the years I’ve been collecting the pads of my ironing board covers so now quite a nice collection. I needed a [cute] cover to go over that.

Here’s some blogs/tutorials that I referred to (I like to read up on things):

But this one seems the easiest and most complete:


I post all these so I can find them again next time I need them and because it appears there are already sufficient tutorials out there.  The world doesn’t need another.  The fabric is from Alexander Henry and has lots of sewing motifs on it.  My messy creative space looks a lot spiffier!

Finishing School Friday · Quilts

FSF–Quilts Galore

Finishing School Friday, and I’m beat!

This week I finished the quilting on the Still-To-Be-Named Quilt (I have some ideas, though), put the binding on that one in a straight bind, not a running mitered bind, added the binding to another quilt (which I’ll stitch tonight at our Quilt Night Group), and helped my friend Judy piece together quilts for her two granddaughters’ beds.  We’ve been stitiching for TWO days–like a mini-retreat!  No wonder I’m tired!  Enjoy the slideshow.

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