FSF–Shopping Bag/Tote

Finally!!  Something to show for Finishing School Friday.  I was despairing of ever having something to show again, as school has started and I’ve been slammed with busyness.  Today was the first day I’ve had to take a breath.

I was able to work on this shopping bag/tote that I’ve had cut out and partly sewn for over a week now. I wasn’t really happy with it during construction, but decided that today, before I started any other sewing projects, I would finish it.   I remember long ago standing in a new dress in front of the mirror while my mother was sitting on the floor, marking my hem with straight pins.  I didn’t like the dress at all.  I thought it didn’t flatter my perfectly fine 17-year old teenage-girl body in the ways I wanted it to, in order to catch Dan Ord’s eye at church.  I don’t know what I wanted, but I didn’t want this.  I must have said something to this effect to my mother (not mentioning the boy, of course), who mumbled through the pins in her mouth: “Don’t judge a dress until you get the hem in.”

She was right, of course, about this and so many other things.  I wore that dress out, and yes, got the boy.  But in dressmaking and in life, we have an idea in our head of how the end will be, but somehow what we are working on, and what our vision is, have a parting of the ways.  Maybe it’s because we want it to be finished, to be done.  And we are called away and so the quilt, the bag, the dress sit, unfinished.  But I kept at it all afternoon, doing loads of laundry, talking to the man who came to replace our windshield (rock divots from our trip to Yellowstone), and made a batch of cookie dough.

It began last May with Carrie, a friend, who came to stay with one of her friends, Gina.  We hung out together for two days, goofing off, playing, eating pastries at 4 p.m. in the afternoon and ruining our dinner, but who cared?  When she and Gina left, they presented me with two swaths of quilt fabric: the raindrops print in blue and green and the wild floral print.  I loved them both, and couldn’t decide between the two for lining the bag. So, I used both.

I finished the last of the top-stitching a few minutes ago, shook it out, and wow.  I liked it!  It’s the old put-in-the-hem principle at work, one more time.

In case you didn’t go and visit and read about being my slammed by school post on the other blog, here’s one of the pictures for you, a dreamy pastoral sunset scene, taken in Paris, Idaho.  Enjoy, and have a good weekend!


WIP–Red/White Table Runner

Isn’t Lee, of Freshly Pieced Fabrics, the best?  Many many thanks to her for providing motivation for us to get something done and put together, so we can share with our WIP community.

Even though my week was somewhat stalled, due to Lack of Personal Energy (that even chocolate and caffeine couldn’t fix), I did force myself to some progress on the Red/White Challenge blocks.  I wanted to make a table runner, but didn’t know how it would come together.  I played around with a lot of ideas, putting the blocks on point, but in the end, it was all about getting the blocks to interact together.  I love how they seemed to “converse” when they were up on my pin wall and I knew if I put them on point, that conversation would vanish.

So I made a mock-up of the blocks with a checkerboard border.

Then I kept switching around the order of the blocks until I got an arrangement I liked.

Stitched together and pinned–ready for quilting!  It’s good to have something smaller to work on, because school started this week.  For those who don’t know, I teach English at a local community college, and this semester (they rotate our classes) I’m teaching Introduction to Literature.  We’re diving into poems right off the bat, so I thought I’d offer up this poem by Billy Collins, as a tribute to what students in literature classes can do to a poem.

Introduction to Poetry

by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

from The Apple that Astonished Paris, 1996
University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, Ark.

But the most important thing of all is, it’s my daughter’s birthday.  Because she developed pari-partum cardiomyopathy upon the birth of her last child–a life-threatening disease–I celebrate every birthday I can.  Happy Birthday, Barbara!

And if you’ll indulge me for one more, here’s my husband and I with most of our grandchildren, taken at the last family reunion.  I LOVE glow necklaces!

Quilt Shows

Springville Quilt Show, Part II

Again, so sorry not to have lots of interesting information for the quilters.  Our dead desktop computer has gone to the shop (cue: violins) and we’ll find out if our fancy back-up external hard drive system has been working for us.  Or if we should just start crying now.  Okay, let’s look at art to take our minds off of the hum-drum of our very dull twentieth-century-computer-dependent lives.

Upstairs, the museum has a lot of art from Russia; I’m giving you two of the paintings that just leapt off of the walls.  This one is my sister-in-law’s favorite, and I can only imagine it’s because of the beauty and hope and passion of these young girls on their graduation day.  I wanted to take it home with me.

This one could be a quilt!  A May Day celebration, complete with balloons.

Here’s another exhibit room, and in the far right corner is another quilter who has the same thing on her mind as I do: the Lollypop Tree Quilt.

But Chris Manning’s version is stunningly different from the usual brilliantly lit up colors used on this quilt.  I took lots of photos–lucky you, you get to see them all.  I was so impressed by this coloration.  Really fabulous.  Title: Lollipop.

Those greyed-out greens, mossy colors work incredibly well with the pastels, the deep tones.

I covet this, really I do.  Is it because it’s “done” or because it’s so beautiful in the tones and values and colors she chose.  Both.

Last gallery.

Sorry the lighting is so dim on this quilt, but you have to believe me when I tell you that Rhonda Montgomery’s quilt My Favorite Things, is a real knock-out in person.  They had the quilts really well-lit, so the flash wouldn’t go off on my camera (I know, try reading the camera book to see how to do a fill flash.  That’s next on my list–right after solving the computer problem).

I peeked closely at these letters–either she went around each of them with a marker, or else it’s a very thin line of acrylic paint.  Whatever the technique, it made them pop off the quilt.

Brenda Sommers’ Grandma’s Lemonade Stand was in that room with all the deliciously pastel quilts–again, this photo doesn’t do it justice.  So I read her name, and then wondered–don’t I know her?  That name is so familiar.  I think she used to live in my neighborhood, but I guess I’ll never know.  We quilters travel in a small world!

Julie Saville made this quilt, and I think it’s titled Road to Ohio.  I love all the sampler blocks arrayed around the center medallion.  Sampler blocks seem to be popular right now, with a couple of Quilt-A-Longs going on.  Here’s an idea for putting it all together.

Kathy Young’s quilt, Not So Long Ago, is an homage to her childhood family and home.


This reminded me of the May Day painting in the upstairs Russian galleries.  While I’ve been fixated on red and white quilts, this shows you what using red as a “neutral” can produce.  It looks like another Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins design (like the dotty circles quilt, yesterday).  They keep us busy with applique!

I believe this is titled Grandma’s Old Time Garden, made by Patsy Wall.  I love those carnations in orange-striped fabric!

This is one where I have no idea who the maker is, nor the title.  I apologize, but I include it even without that information, because I’m really impressed with her soft shading of color to color–using up lots of fabrics (an idea for a scrap quilt?)  It quite possibly could be Carolyn Hulse’s Scraps of Rainbows, but I really don’t know.

It was beautifully done.

Strawberry Baskets is done by Valerie Marsh, and is another delectable pastel quilt.  The quilting is quite amazing, and if I ever get the computer back–and restore its memory–I’ll let you know who did it.

By the time Janice and I finished the show (I’m on the far right and Janice is next to me), our niece Lisa (in the black) had arrived and followed the sound of our voices to find us.  Becky, another sister-in-law of mine (Janice’s sister) came just as Janice and I had to jet–and she brought me two gigantor zucchini from her garden!  I love getting together with these fine women, and how fun it was to do it in a quilt show!

Thanks to the Springville Art Musuem, and the co-sponsors, Utah Valley Quilt Guild and Corn Wagon Quilt Company, for this lovely morning!

Quilt Shows

Springville Quilt Show, Part I

When I was in Utah last week, I slipped down to the Springville Art Museum for their annual quilt show.  They have quite a reputation, and for those who are juried in, the honor of having their quilts displayed in a museum.  My sister-in-law, Scott’s mother, invited me down and I jumped at the chance to meet her and look at the quilts.

Generally I like to photograph the cards placed near quilts in a quilt show so I can add that information to any quilts I might put on this blog, giving credit to the maker/quilter.  And I would give them to you, but —  ahem — my desktop computer’s hard drive died today, so you’ll only get the quilt and the maker, with no details.  Sorry about that.

I liked Allison Babcock’s Stars of Glory, because of the interesting sashing around the outside of the blocks. Sometimes something so simple can really pop up the interest on a tried-and-true favorite of stars in red, white and blue.

For some reason, the only info I have on this is the last name “Baldwin” but that could be a wrong name.  This was a beautifully done quilt with points crisp and perfectly formed.  I was quite impressed.  I also liked the quilting.

Cathryn Hulse made this, and it’s either Islands of Color, or Scraps of Rainbows.  I’m voting for the former, because the applique reminds me of a Hawaiian quilt.

CharLee’s Flower Baskets was made by Cheryl Barlow.  This whole room in the museum had a series of quilts done in pastels, with lovely applique work and inventive quilting. It was like tasting all the best ice cream flavors, but in quilting.

This is the patio, just outside the door.  If I’d had more time, I would have stopped and enjoyed the sculptures in this garden.

Francine Berrett made Blue Daisies and won a blue ribbon for her work.

Ann Bowen’s quilt delivers such a nice visual impact.  Upon closer look, though, we noticed all these signatures and messages of good will.  Then the title–The Perfect Beginning— finally clued us in: it was a quilt for a newlywed couple, perhaps signed at the reception by all the guests?

It’s interesting what a snowballed block can look like when combined with other like blocks.

This houndstooth quilt by Brittany Burton is titled Baby Love.  I’d never seen a houndstooth quilt before and I think this would make a great scrap quilt–she used lots of Kaffe Fasset fabrics to deliver the punched-up color scheme.

Laurel Christensen brings us Sunflower Forest, a jumble of flowers and grasses and colors and shapes–so wonderful.  I was impressed with the high quality of the quilts in this show.  I only saw one potential dud (shall remain nameless) and perhaps that evaluation was in the eye of this beholder.

The first exhibit room.

We ran into Susan Gilgen, as she walked around with some family members.  This quilt, Autumn Birches, had also been juried into the most recent Houston show, winning first place in the Art/Naturescapes category–it was a masterpiece!

Fun to see a quilter with her work, don’t you think?  Visit her at her website.

Jackie Hadley and I have been thinking about the same thing this past year.  Her quilt, My Color Wheel, has a bit different finish on the outside borders than does mine, but so fun to see it!

Carol Johnson, Have I Not Made the Earth? shows a slot canyon in Southern Utah, glowing in brilliant reds, yellows and ochre colors.

Last one for today: a rendition of non-extant old pioneer/family home, also by Carol Johnson.  The title of this one is Gone, But Not Forgotten.  The quilting is amazing–you can see the wind flowing through the skyscape above, and regretfully, I didn’t get any close-up photos.

Come back tomorrow for some more!


Slow Saturday

I felt like I’d spent the week inside a front-loading washer, going round and round, getting soggier and more wrung out by the minute.  And this was a pretty okay week, really.  Good visits by family, good chats with friends, but I just seemed to be not getting anywhere fast–and I know what that does to creativity.  “Too many irons in the fire puts out the fire,” an old saying goes.

And I missed FSF–Finishing School Friday–a goal I’d set for myself to publish weekly in order to stop and take stock.  If I had published something it might have included how many loads of laundry I was doing, how many trips to the grocery store to re-stock the cupboards after being on vacation so long.  That kind of [boring] stuff.

But here’s what I decided to tackle: making shopping bags.

I’m using the Practical Bag pattern from Grand Revival–an all-purpose slouchy terrific bag.

I’ve used the pattern so much, I had to copy it off onto some new paper.  Here I’ve shortened it to fit this Japanese canvas.  Even though I ordered a fat quarter, after washing it shrunk a little, so I folded the bag pattern in the middle to “tuck out” about 3 inches.

Here’s a stack of them lined up ready to be stitched together.  But I stopped mid-seam because my husband offered to take me out for sushi.  And a trip to Target.  Such a deal I couldn’t pass up.  Happy Saturday.

Something to Think About · WIP

WIP–Details, Details

Thanks to Lee, of Freshly Pieced for hosting this forum.

Coming home from vacation is such an interesting feeling.  I read your blogs and your comments on Facebook and you seem to slide from one zone to another, effortlessly.  I, however, have had quite a “re-entry” from my time away.  Perhaps that’s because there aren’t children around anymore to pull and push me into activity.  I did spend close to 10 hours on the computer the first day home getting things to the print center where I teach, then a haircut, laundry, College Orientation on the second day home, which brings me here to WIP Wednesday, and that freshly laundered handkerchief on the ironing board.  So the details of today are laundering and pressing the handkerchief and vintage fabrics (hoping that musty smell leaves soon—any tips?)

More details include making a label for summer’s last quilt.

A little more hand-stitching tonight as I watch one more Harry Potter movie–I’m on Number 4.  A friend dropped by her collection so I could watch them all at once before going out to see the latest.

And I’m listening to Last Town on Earth, by Thomas Mullen, while I work.  Riveting fiction–I highly recommend it.

My husband and I have been retracing our steps of many years ago. Yesterday I said to him, “And today was the day we packed all my four children into our new mini-van and drove to Utah.  Did I drop you off at your parents’ house before I went up to Ogden to stay at my parents’?”

“Yes.  I slept on their old sofa, as my childhood bedroom was full of my sister’s kids.”

Many years ago today was the last day my beloved sweetheart had his bachelor status, and tonight we’ll talk about the “rehearsal dinner” in a park with all his nieces and nephews and my children and his sisters and brothers and my sisters and brothers and our parents coming in together in a great picnic.  That night he and I worried about different things: I worried that my children wouldn’t fit in, that the blending of the family would be too much for the both of us.  He worried about finances and how we were going to make it through all the college years, even though the oldest was only 14 at the time.  But what we didn’t worry about was our love and commitment to each other.  Yes, many years ago the small details seemed to be detritus, like little bugs buzzing around the grand event of our marriage.  But this week we enjoy them, think about them, recall them and relish the bits and pieces and patchwork of our wedding day.