Quilting as Part of Our Life Story

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Happy Almost May with Frivol #5!

I’m beginning this post by talking about my ongoing goal to make up all the Mode Frivols tins.  I had signed up when they first came out (as I am a total fangirl for Carrie Nelson) and every month one would arrive, and I’d stack them up neatly.

As I mentioned before, it’s been a good experience to try something new, to work with fabrics that weren’t generally found on my shelves, and Frivol Tin #5 is just that sort, as its filled with French General.  I’ve used French General before, but it was lighter and airier, when I made a quilt for my sister:

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After receiving the quilt, she repainted her room to match.  Now if that’s not undying love from a sister, I don’t know what is.

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But this tin is a bit darker, filled with lusciously colored deep reds, for the tin was originally placed in the shops in December, a month when we typically sew with those kinds of colors.

First up, this note from Moda:

You can find more about this tin on their blog (including how they turned it into a tin for hand sewing supplies), but for me, I’m dying to open it:

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The fabrics in this tin are from French General, which makes me happy, as I love their fabrics.  And their store.

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It will be a table topper, or even a doll quilt as it’s even tinier that what is printed on the tin (see note, above).  However, that means it will sew up quickly.

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As I mentioned in last month’s overview, there is always a treat in a tin, and this time it is a beautiful woven ribbon in red and white.Frivols 5_3

Continuing on, I also received news in my Yahoo mailbox about new ownership of that enterprise, including Flickr.  So went over to Flickr to see what I would lose if I just ignored that whole thing forever.  The newest activity in any Flickr group was over a year ago.  Most activity was much older than that, which told me that a lot of other quilty peeps have abandoned that site.

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My masthead, but I think that “Joined 2009” thing is when I opened a yahoo email account.

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Here’s my first set of photos on the site: March 2012, with my EPP quilt Kaleidoscope.

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And my last set, in uploading photos for the Mid-Century Modern Bee, which ended that year.

I used to belong to seven groups, most of them Bees, had several Galleries.  I got rid of the Galleries, and unjoined all groups that weren’t a bee I had participated in.

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I was hunting for this gem (4 blocks, shown together–this one is not mine): a wild and crazy star block.  The links to the original pattern are all gone now–funny how quickly that happened, but here’s my PDF for it, if you want to download one for yourself.  I tried to track down the original owner and have not been successful; I would hate for this pattern (which was a free download) would get lost to the quiltiverse forever, hence my posting it here for your download: Starry Sky by Kylie Kelsheimer

UPDATE: Dot wrote me a note with the following info:  

“The Starry Sky pattern is still out there on Kylie’s Dropbox account. I did some searching around with Google and the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and found an archived copy of Kylie’s website, with a link to her Dropbox page. To get the pattern, you need to have (or create) your own free Dropbox account, and log in to your account. Then you can paste this link into your browser, and download the file!

Here’s the Wayback Machine link to her old website:

https://web.archive.org/web/20170507123558/http://aperseveringmom.com/starry-sky-block-get-the-pattern-here/

Thank you, Dot!

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This one was mine.

So I guess I’m saying that it feels weird to have the history of the quilt world on the internet go missing after such a short time, and it feels equally weird to be erasing some of my own history as well.

It reminds me of some of the things I read in The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter (really, it’s a great little book by Margareta Magnusson): “If someone has lived in a home for many years where children, grown-ups, relatives, and guests have stayed and felt welcome, that same someone is often so busy that they never think of reducing the number of things in the household. And so the number of possessions grows and collects quickly over the years. Suddenly the situation is out of control and the weight of all those things can begin to seem tiring.”

My home and my digital media sites and my blog and Flickr are all like guests that have stayed and felt welcome, I guess.  Unlike the woman in the Swedish Death Cleaning book, not only will we have garages and drawers and closets full that we’ll need to deal with, we’ll also have digital universes that need clearing out, too.  That thought ought to cheer you up, right?

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Which leads me, finally, to this a wonderful video about Ken Burns, the historian and documentarian, who sent a lot of his quilts to be exhibited in Nebraska at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum.  If you want to see them, they will only be on exhibit for a couple of more weeks, but the museum does have a good gallery of the quilts online, from which I excerpt these:

Ken Burns Flag w Crosses.pngMy favorite is the American Flag, with all the crosses surrounding it.  So many terrific quilts, and thankfully, someone, some where, did not clean them out and throw them away.  Someone did not think they were household junk to part with.  Thank you, Mr. Burns, for sharing your wonderful collection and thoughts:

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“Ann Lee, who founded the Shakers, said ‘Do all your work as if you had a thousand years to live, and as you would if you knew you would die tomorrow.’  The things we leave behind — our children, our land, the environment, but also these made things, the art — will commend us to posterity.”  ~Ken Burns

Life’s Dilemma–Frivol 4 is Finished

Thank you to all who entered the giveaway for Simone’s stack of fabrics.  The info about that is at the end of this post.

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I finished up the quilt from Frivol Tin #4, and named it Life’s Dilemma.  It’s quilt #201, which means I started a new listing of quilts, above “300 Quilts.”  When I get that list filled up, I guess that means I retire? Go to the Caribbean or something, and lay on the beach?  (But can I sneak my sewing machine into the hut on that elusive beach?)

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Maybe I named it that because I forgot to put on the final 3″ plain white border, and only realized this after I finished the quilting (so now it only measures 45″ square).  Maybe I named it this because two people stopped me in the hallway at church to talk about their divorces (one just starting, one wrapping up), and the design of this quilt made me think of that type of a maze.  But maybe I just was thinking about how simple, yet complicated life’s choice can be… that way leads on to way, and this quilt reminded me of pathways, both obvious and hidden.

I decided to quilt this using my new circles rulers.

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I placed it in the middle and put my quilting needle INSIDE the circle, started it and kept going.  When I finished the circle, I pivoted it it somewhere else, working my way to the outer edges, trying for coverage, but also trying really hard not to make it feel like work.  I wanted to just play with this.

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Life’s Dilemma, quilt #301

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So now I have another X on my circle of tins: four down and eight to go.  Progress.  Which is the name of the game at my house.

 

 

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Congratulations, Ellie!  Ellie is a faithful reader of this blog, and I’ve appreciated all her nice notes, so it was great to see the Random Number Thingie pick her.  When I was running this at first, I was perplexed, because I show more comments than 80, but when I went back through to read all these interesting and wonderful comments about placemats, not all were “comments” for the giveaway.  Eighty unique and individual comments were left.

If you didn’t win, you can buy the stack of fat quarters directly.

The On Your Mark Create! blog hop is still going on.  You can enter to win every day at the following places:

Tuesday, April 17: Simone @simone.g.b  ; Simone Bradford
Wednesday, April 18: Elizabeth (me!)
Thursday, April 19: Stephanie @spontaneousthreadsSpontaneous Threads
Friday, April 20: Linda @quiltlady63
Saturday, April 21: Joan@alaskanquilter
Sunday, April 22: Carol @carolanngillen
Monday, April 23: Sarah @nohatsquilts
Tuesday, April 24: Afton @quiltingmodQuilting Mod
Wednesday, April 25: Alison @quiltstudio62
Thursday, April 26@pbstudiofabricsInspired by Fabric

On Your Mark Create! Blog Hop and Giveaway

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I was recently sent a stack of fabrics as I was asked to be a part of the On Your Mark Create! blog hop; I jumped at the chance to work more with my friend Simone’s On Your Mark fabrics.  I stewed over what I could sew, since I’d already made a baby quilt. This time I wanted some quilty project that would be fun and helpful for me and for you.

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Then it was time for lunch.

What?

Yes, lunch, and when I looked those placemats on the table, I knew they were way past their Sell By date.  It was time for some new ones.

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I hunted around for placemat tutorials that had some style and were quick and easy and that would show off the fun prints in Simone’s fabrics.  (As a former English teacher, I’m totally in love with the exclamation point fabric.)

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I found this free pattern on Craftsy by Samelia’s Mum, and thought it would be perfect.  I had toyed with another design by Fabric Mutt, which had pockets for paper plates and plasticware at picnics, but opted instead for the leafy design on “All Seasons Placemats.”

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The fabric has a soft hand, and to make sure I didn’t have the placemats shrink out of shape (and, as a mostly-I-prewash-fabric quilter), I threw the fabrics into the washer, then dryer, until they were damp-dry and then pressed up the fabric.

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I had fun choosing which leaves to go where.  I also made some changes to how the pattern went together.  First I constructed the placemat completely, following her instructions for fusing and stitching.

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But then I layered the placemat on top of batting without quilting it down first.  I layered the backing on top of that RST.  I stitched around the edges, leaving an opening.

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I turned it inside out, and closed the opening by top-stitching around the outside edge of the placemat.  It looks poofy, but it settles down when you quilt it, which is the next step.  After stitching around the outside edge, I’d say to do it again, 1/4″ away.  Then quilt the plain spaces in the mat.  I went around the leaves first, then stitched more leaves in a random fill pattern all over.

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Did I mention they are reversible?

I know a lot of folks don’t set proper tables anymore, but there’s something so lovely about a well-set table that shows love to all who join in. After using them for a few days, I think I should have places the leaves on the RIGHT side of the placemat, for then the glass would be like the flower at the top of the leafy stem.  Next time.

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PS.  That’s my grandmother’s napkin ring you see up there.

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Here are my On Your Mark placemats, gracing our table for dinner.  By the way, one night we spilled on them, and I tossed them in the washer then laid them out flat on top of the dryer to dry, and they look as good as new.  No shrinking.

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Paintbrush Studio, who makes these fabrics, is offering one fat quarter bundle to be given away each day of the blog hop (like what you saw at the beginning of the post). (So you can hop around for more chances to win!)

UPDATE: Giveaway closed now.  Thank you all!

To win one from me, leave a comment telling me when the last time was you purchased placemats (if you can remember), and I’ll draw one name randomly (USA only) to win.  Winner will be contacted via email and the bundle will be mailed out from Paintbrush Studio.  (But if you don’t win, you can purchase them here.)

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Please visit the others on the blog hop (the first listing is the Instagram address, and if there is a second, it is their blog):

Tuesday, April 17: Simone @simone.g.b  ; Simone Bradford
Wednesday, April 18: Elizabeth (me!)
Thursday, April 19: Stephanie @spontaneousthreadsSpontaneous Threads
Friday, April 20: Linda @quiltlady63
Saturday, April 21: Joan@alaskanquilter
Sunday, April 22: Carol @carolanngillen
Monday, April 23: Sarah @nohatsquilts
Tuesday, April 24: Afton @quiltingmodQuilting Mod
Wednesday, April 25: Alison @quiltstudio62
Thursday, April 26@pbstudiofabricsInspired by Fabric
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Go with the Flow

I’ve been thinking about what it takes to keep me interested in what I’m doing, and better yet, to find that creative task, that, when I check the time, I realize I’ve been absorbed in this task for hours, not minutes. When I used to manage the black-and-white photo lab at my local university, students could stay in there for hours, developing their prints, discussing them, claiming they were in the “zone” and didn’t want to leave it.

I’ve been on a pretty intense creative output flow, and I can feel myself wanting to wind down, and take a breath.  So I thought I’d look into this idea–of being in the “zone” or “flow” and see how it would apply to us quilters.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book,  Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience has much to say about the idea of “flow” or “being in the zone.”  He stipulates certain conditions present during flow:

(1) engagement in an activity that is both challenging and attainable

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If you ask me to make simple HST quilts forever, I’ll be incredibly bored, as my skill levels have gone beyond that.  It was fun for a day, though, in Jenny Doan’s class at Road to California this past January.

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On the other hand, if you ask me to talk at QuiltCon 2018 in front of a crowd of eighty quilters with a big screen behind me, I’ll be incredibly anxious. I made it through, thanks to kind quilters.Flow chart.png

The left to upper left shows what happens if your skill level is low, but the challenges are too high.  The bottom to lower right is when the abilities are high,  and the challenges are too easy.  Of course, we should all try to shoot on a diagonal path from low to high, to get to the flow, but often we are stuck with patterns that don’t work, or run out of fabric, or can’t figure something out, or feel frozen in our progress.

(2) the ability to keep concentration focused on the activity, and
(3) sense of control over your own actions

I lumped these two together, although they really are separate ideas.  For me, these can sometimes be hard to attain, especially if you have young children, or fighting health issues, or don’t have the right physical set-up that allows easy access to your tools/fabric/machine.  I also love seeing blank calendar days, without the distraction of appointments or errands.  I can stay in the zone for hours on those days.

(4) clearly defined goals that are within the individual’s control

Writing down a goal that says something like winning “Best of Show at Paducah” is not something within our control, because we can’t award that ribbon.  Perhaps that why we see a proliferation of techniques Finish-A-Longs, or goal-setting posts, to help us identify our goals.  I’ve found this helpful, but more often than not, it leads to a list of tasks — which we call UFOs — rather than list of goals.

(5) immediate feedback

According to the book, our psychic energy tends to atrophy without some verification we’re on the right track.  I think that’s also why Guilds and Quilt Groups are so valuable, but often we resort to snapping a photo and texting it to a friend.  However, I might argue that too much immediate feedback, such as our faces glued to our tiny screens checking our Instagram likes, being fixated on the number of likes can pull us out of the flow.

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(6) deep, effortless involvement in the activity which removes from our awareness the worries/frustrations of everyday life.

I love it when I can forget what’s going on out in the world, listen to a book, and just sew and sew.  Or it’s like when we have to glue fabric on 500 one-inch hexies for our quilting booth at an upcoming Heritage Day Festival, and I took this task to my quilt group and we had a great time eating fresh strawberries, chocolate treats, and solving all the world’s problems. (We did get a little goofy, I must say.)

(7) non-self-conscious individualism, or you lose yourself in what you are doing and eliminate all self-criticism. His book states that “loss of self-consciousness does not involve a loss of the self, and certainly not a loss of consciousness, but rather, only a loss of consciousness OF the self.”

Maybe it’s not best to continually evaluate ourselves as we work, given the rhythm of this chart:

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Finally, (8) some alteration of time (either “hours feel like minutes” or vice versa)

Being IN the flow, is definitely not the same ask GOING WITH the flow.  But to be truthful, I mostly feel like Sarah Cannell, when she said: “I’m either hurtling down the track not noticing the passing countryside, or standing on the platform having missed the train… The two extremes seem to smoothly flow into each other.”

Giveaway Thanks

Thank you for all your comments on the Giveaway for the Northern Star curated stack of fabrics.

I used two different Random Number Generators (actually, three, if you count when I asked my husband to pick two numbers randomly, and interestingly, one of his was nearly the same as one of these) to pick our two winners:

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Jamie was #7: “I have not seen the Northern Lights. However if I win, I could make your quilt (you’re writing a pattern for us to buy right?) and then have my husband hold it above me so I can see it in the night sky. Pretty clever eh? hahahaha”

(I laughed out loud)

and Joan was #71: “Oh, yes, I have seen them and should do so more often, but I’m usually asleep in the middle of the winter nights when they are most visible, and I just can’t drag myself out of my nice warm bed to stand in the frigid nighttime air to watch! Summertime viewing would be perfect, but it’s just too light outside to see the aurora even at 2:00am!”

(I’m going to visit you, Joan, and really soon.  Joan?  That okay?)

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I did love these reminiscences:

The first one is from Barb: “I grew up in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada and my parents home backed onto a field so there was no obstruction of view. We could watch the Northern Lights dance across the sky many nights from our kitchen window. I didn’t realize what a special experience that was until we moved to a large city where the only thing I can see in the sky is the Moon and a few bright stars and planets!”

Another one from Edith: “I used to be able to see the Northern Lights in my hometown of Medicine Hat, Alberta when I was a young girl. I used to sit on the park swing and be able to see them over the hill in front of me, but since the city grew and more lights were added, I must say I have’t seen them in a long time.”

And last one, from Holley: “I have seen the Northern Lights many times starting as a child growing up in Iowa. We didn’t see them often but we did see them from time to time. I lived in northern Minnesota after college. This was at the time of missel silos and ICBMs so when the northern lights looked like rockets shooting across the sky it was unnerving. When I lived in Wisconsin near Chippewa reservations I was told the lights were the old people dancing and that was the way they looked. I’ve seen lights in Alaska was I was babysitting grandchildren and in the Scottish Highlands when we lived near Glasgow. I have a quilt started that I call Northern lights that I hope to finish one day soon. The colors and patterns vary depending on location and weather but they are all wonderful. Thanks for sharing yours.”

Ladies, you are living our dream.  Thank you all, again.  Guess what?  Another giveaway is coming on Wednesday, when I show you some secret sewing I’ve been doing for Simone.  See you then!

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Mad for Solids Wrap-up 2018 and Giveaway

Giveaway Thanks

I’m sure you have seen a version of this photo before, as I participated in the Mad for Solids 2018 for Painer’s Palette Solids.  Paintbrush Studios, the people who manufacture this line of solids first contacted me about four years ago, asking me to make them a quilt for Quilt Market.  Paintbrush who? was my first response.  But I jumped in and made them a medallion sort of design.  I was paid for this effort.  But simply being paid doesn’t keep me coming back.  I have also sewn for “free” for them.

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Why do I keep agreeing to do this?  When they do send me fat quarters/half yards of a variety of colors — whatever they are setting up as their parameters —  it challenges me to design a quilt using just those fabrics, and I use it as a design challenge.  (Of course, if any of you have participated in any of the MQG challenges, you know that even if you get 3 fat quarters for free, you end up buying about more on your own.  Typical, right?)

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When I first was considering designing/sewing for them, I asked, “Is your fabric of a good quality?”  Painter’s Palette was a new line, made with a bit tighter weave and finer threads, and while the first launch had 80 colors, they now have many more than that (latest card is above).  I don’t need 500 colors to be happy; I need enough to make the designs I want to.  My favorite part about this fabric is how it feels in the hand–almost silky, but with a good weight. I also like that if I have to “un-sew,” this fabric will hold up to the repeated picking out and re-stitching.  It also steams into place well, if the block needs to be flat, or seams eased in.  I’m not the only one who is in love with this fabric.

Here are the quilts I’ve made with Painter’s Palette Solids:
Starry Compass Rose
Cinque Terra Tiles
Northern Star (in progress)
Annularity

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Red, White, and Blue Star (free pattern)

Sky Rocket Variant

Guccilicious Block, above, and here too
(Note to self: I need to finish my ideas on this one)
Electra Magnetic

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Six Ways to Blue (above)
Rose Window

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And this little one, Focus, made for their first booth at QuiltCon 2017 from scraps from the first quilt I made for them.

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I make these little pictures on my phone, using the app Snapseed. Easy-peasy.

Thank you all for your votes and support in the Mad for Solids 2018.  I really owe you all a quilt or something, but I decided instead to have a little giveaway of Painter’s Palette fabrics, in the exact colors I used for my Northern Star (which is still in process), so you can try them for yourself.

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I ordered these from Pineapple Fabrics, which is where — until I can persuade my local shop to carry them– I purchase my Painter’s Palette Solids.

I have two stacks of 8 fat quarters, which I’ll give away to two people.  I will announce this on Instagram and on my blog, but only comments on my blog will count. (I will ship internationally as well as domestic, for those of you overseas who are wondering about that.) If you are a follower of this blog, leave an extra comment to double your chances (and thank you for reading!).  I’ll let this run for a couple of days, and then draw a winner, who I will notify by email.

To enter the giveaway, please leave me a comment telling me if you’ve ever seen the Northern Lights in the night sky.

Giveaway now closed.  Thank you for entering!

Spring Mini Quilt-on-a-Frame

ACK!!  It was 93 degrees today!!

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My snow-covered Orangeman (or Snowman, made of oranges) has his arms thrown up in amazement/horror.  While Rachel and Carol show snow days on their IG feeds, we are already burning up out here.  My newly planted zucchini and spaghetti squash plants are wilting, and it’s only April.

The origin of this mini quilt (tutorial is here) started when I first moved here, and commuted an hour to the Orange County Quilt Guild.  We had a block swap, and the theme was snowman, and since I was a newbie, I think I got all the rejects.  Except this one…which was my own (I made one for myself).  One snowman block was a zig-zagged stitched pair of stacked circles, with two hot-glue-gunned twigs for the arms, and dots of makeup for the coal and eyes.  Yes, I threw that one away.  But in looking for another project in my Orphan Blocks Box, I found this one, and turned it into a Mini-on-a-Frame quilt.

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I bordered it with those fabulous swirls, quilted it and trimmed it up).

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I backed it, and slipped it on its stand.  Now I’m up to four of these mini-quilts-on-a-frame.  Given the success of this one, I may turn other orphan blocks into bits of art to be displayed!

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PS: Swirl fabric is by Valori Wells, “Marks,” design #16354–by Robert Kaufman.  A young mother in church yesterday asked me if I bought fabric for a single project, or if I bought it when I feel like it.  This purchase was obviously the latter.