Sewing · Something to Think About

Little Bits

#1

“Human beings are creatures made for joy. Against all evidence, we tell ourselves that grief and loneliness and despair are tragedies, unwelcome variations from the pleasure and calm and safety that in the right way of the world would form the firm ground of our being. In the fairy tale we tell ourselves, darkness holds nothing resembling a gift.
“What we feel always contains its own truth, but it is not the only truth, and darkness almost always harbors some bit of goodness tucked out of sight, waiting for an unexpected light to shine, to reveal it in its deepest hiding place.”
by Margaret Renkl, from her book, Late Migrations

#2

I have spent the better part of the last two weeks working with my daughter on her Fall 2021 Lookbook on packaging for mac makers, published Tuesday. She purchased Affinity Publisher and took a stab at working in it, her first time using some sort of design software. (Good for her.) We used all her photos of all her macs (she had over 400, but we winnowed it down to about 70); however, I was quite entranced with Page 19 of her book: it was about little bits, and how these ends of ribbon bolts or tiny clips, or shaped pieces of paper could embellish a package.

#3

The artists above (L) Alayne Spafford and (R) Anna Mac are making art with a gallery of tiny things.

All my life I’ve been enamored of little things. As a child, I once shaved the wood off the tips of 7 colored pencils with my father’s discarded razor blade, broke off the tips, and made a teeny set of colored pencils, complete with their own paper case (also handmade). I have collections of tiny things, in jars, in boxes, in drawers. Obviously I was drawn to the sewing world, with all of its collections of tiny bits (thimbles, needles, wee scissors and of course, scraps).

So when our Inland Modern Quilt Guild decided to host Berene Campbell, showing her idea of a Mini-mod Block Swap (they are all 1 1/2″ finished), I was all in. Earlier this year, I helped make advertisements for the guild’s blog, and I put together all those shapes using Affinity Designer. (Again, I mention this software so you know you can buy an excellent digital design software for about $55. That’s $55 once, not a monthly fee.)

She uses this concept–of going around and talking to Guilds as a charity fundraiser, but the guilds will sort out how to set up the swap, and she gives good support. Her series of YouTube videos help anyone make tiny bits of a block.

Three of my four batches of bitty blocks (2″ unfinished) have arrived.

All arrayed in rows.

I made a bunch to send out but I got confused and made too many. They joined what I had received.

An afternoon of playing with solid scraps yielded this bundle of wee blocks.

The challenge from our Guild is to make something for our December meeting from all our blocks. I have an idea, but it’s a bit of one, so I’m holding onto it and letting it grow. I did pretty well in the last challenge, winning the vote at the Guild Meeting. That made me more than a bit happy. Thank you, Guild Members.

#4

I read many bits of happiness when I read all your comments on your Happy Days. From start to finish, they were all wonderful, inspiring. I loved how often they included family and friends, fall traditions, and near misses with disaster. My husband and I read them together, commenting on how often you epitomized the Renkle quote from above, finding how “darkness almost always harbors some bit of goodness tucked out of sight” and I love that you shared them with me, with others.

I did choose a recipient (Pat A.), and have sent her a note to arrange the mailing of the jelly roll. Thank you again to Sherri McConnell for donating this so I could host the giveaway.

But most of all, thank you for sharing your Little Bits (and some Big Bits) of Happy Days. It was a treasure.

Fall leaves, Alexandria, Virginia: I lived there for a year and ended up scanning so many leaves on my flatbed scanner, as I loved them all and wanted to capture them forever!

Gridsters · Sewing

April Flowers

Gridster Bee April 2020

We had our April showers this week, and while the verse says that the flowers aren’t supposed to show up until May,  Nancy of Patchwork Breeze, our Queen Bee for the Gridsters this month, asked us to make these giant blooms for her block…so I made her two, just because at this time of Being Shut In, why not?  It’s the Totally Tulips Quilt from Missouri Star.

Yellow Quilting Tools Block

I also am attracted to happy, yellow posts, and this one from Karolina fit the bill.  She brings string-pieced blocks to a new level with her photo styling.

Roz Chast Cartoon April 2020 COVID
Roz Chast says it best.

Oliver Meme

More Instagram memes, which also remind me to be grateful that I’m esconced in a house with a sewing room with all that I need to sew.

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Beauty Queen in an Face Mask

I chose to put a little dart at the nose and chin of my accordian mask with ties.  I had run out of elastic when I made this batch. Then the universe, and Elin, smiled on me, providing more elastic for more masks.  While I am choosing to serve our country during this critical time by making a few masks, I think there are very many ways to serve.  Maybe your best way is to stay home, or take care of your children, or bring a neighbor some groceries, or put something in the mailbox for your mailman (I usually put treats, but yesterday I left a mask), or treat the people with who you live with a little more patience, or call up someone who is alone and have a chat.  We can all do our part.

Somewhere in this mess of a house, or in my garage somewhere I have a whole box of black pipecleaners that could be used for  shaping in a face mask.  Can I find them?  No, but I found a box of my grandmother’s large silver hairpins, given to me upon her death several years ago.  Thank you, Grandma, for doing your part in donating wires for face masks!

I updated my Face Mask page, after getting the official names for masks.  I found another version on the Washington Post website, so now you have your pick of what you can make — if you need to for your family/friends/health care workers.  Our county put a “wear a mask” mandate out there at the beginning of the week, the neighboring county did it yesterday, and Los Angeles will adopt this as well.  If you don’t have a mask made of batik, then good-quality quilting cotton will do, and in a pinch, a bandana.

Why are you doing it that way Meme

This hit a little close to home.

Fast April 2020 icon

Our church is inviting everyone to fast and pray with us — or just think on it, if you aren’t affiliated — this week on Good Friday.  Our main ideas are “that the present pandemic may be controlled, caregivers protected, the economy strengthened, and life normalized.”  I personally can’t do much for the caregivers, health workers, scientists who are scrambling to find us treatments and vaccines, but I can pray and fast that the suffering may end soon, and that those who are on the front lines, supported.

Discouraged Sailors Advice Meme

Sewing

My Small World • Section 3 & 4

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I know you are thinking, no — praying — that someday soon I will be through with This Quilt, and believeyoume, you are not the only one hoping and praying that I can add it to my list of Three Hard Quilts of 2019 to be completed.  I’ve finished two Hard Quilts and I’m determined not to put any other quilt up on that design wall until I slay this Patchwork Dragon.

So I’m here to report progress: Section Three AND four are finished, hallelujah, but I’m celebrating probably less than you are because I have two more sections to go and I get stuck on the smallest things.

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Like the flying geese in Section Three.

The approach I took the first time I made started this quilt was to pull every fabric out of my cupboards, strew them around and clip a square of this or a square of that and piece it into this quilt.

I occasionally try that approach again.  Which doesn’t work, again.

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The best approach is to see what you’ve already thrown into the first two sections, then replicate that, either via color/value or the actual fabric, if you can find it the mess. The completed flying geese, above — which you can see is sort of an amalgam of all the geese I tried.

I’m finding the paper piecing templates from Sarah of SewWhatSherlock very helpful, if you want to get yourself a set.

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I also learned that I am truly stuck, lunch helps.  And maybe read the newspaper.  And then start in on the big shapes, letting the detritus come later.

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I can work in new bits here and there, like this woman with her bird.

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Or some fun repeated shapes, the appliquéd half-circle echoed in the fabric.  I can’t decide if this yellow is a fancy front window, or two hidden doors, camoflauged, or a re-planted tunnel under this European-style gate to the city.mysmallworld2019_4_2.jpgmysmallworld2019_4_3.jpgThen I charged into Section Four — and why not? the whole sewing room is already a disaster — hand-sewing clamshells and fussy cutting blocks, and cutting multiples of the lower section strips but finally deciding, and now these sections are sewn together: 1 & 2 & 3 & 4.

Seam Presser

New notion: this little seam presser, purchased at PIQF from Edyta Sitar‘s booth.  I’ve tried the roller ones, and this one’s on par.

To recap:

My motto: Making progress, square inch-by-square inch.

My Small World Quilt, a pattern by Jenn Kingwell.
Mess in the sewing room, by Elizabeth Eastmond (me).

Sewing

Mending

I’ve had mending on my mind and wanted to write about all forms of mending, but hadn’t been able to find a way in until I saw this:

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“The Opposite of Hate is Mending,” by Kate Sekules

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boro stitching

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kintsugi

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I’m a long-time mender.  I recently fixed a favorite purse for my mother, replacing the torn pocket with some vivid yellow lining.  I stitched up a few other ripped places, re-glued the lining into the frame and sent it back to her; she was pleased as punch to have her little purse back in working order.

ChristAdulteress_0I always look for handsewing in pieces of art, and found it in this image by David Habben, in a recent art exhibit in Salt Lake City.  It depicts Jesus and the adulteress with her angry mob of accusers.  The clenched fists with rocks, the tortured shapes, and the vile expressions in the background convey the tension in this well-known scene.

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In the foreground, Christ kneels and writes on the ground, this thread looping around his other hand.  This puzzled me, as I knew it wasn’t in the original story.

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I found gold stitching in areas of the woman’s veil, clues to my small mystery.  My sister, viewing this with me, provided the connection: calmly drawing in the dust with his finger, the accusers slinking away after his measured rejoinder, Christ was mending.  The accused woman may have stitched her clothing, but now He would mend her soul.

A mended surface can carry a scar.  In the case of boro, or of artful kintsugi, we appreciate the addition.  But more often that not, we humans don’t want imperfections, or wrinkles, or sadness, death, old age, or any evidence of a rent place.  We want happy.  We want life to go on with daisies and sunshine and lollipops: no fights or bad diagnoses or mistakes that reverberate for generations.

For years I’ve taken comfort in Eugene O’Neill’s line: “Man is born broken.  He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.”  Are we broken? Certainly we only have to the watch unbelievable tragedies of this past weekend trickle in a headline at a time on our screens, to know that broken and torn places are piling up somewhere in a onslaught of rage.  I turned away from the yet-again, awful headlines, not knowing what to do.

I take comfort in O’Neill’s wisdom, and Christ’s golden thread.   Rather than join the fury, I can fix a torn pocket, a broken heart, work through a quarrel, listen to someone who is trying to heal a shattered life. Whether at the epicenter of the current bad news or in our own homes, we can do our part to draw together the gaping edges, mending them with careful, even stitches.

Clothing · Sewing · Textiles & Fabric

Pioneer Cosplay

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Logo by Simone

Recently a few of us here were involved in the Heritage Day Celebration, honoring the early pioneers in this valley. It happened last Saturday, on a mildly hot day.  Good day to be wearing all these layers, right?

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Didn’t Thoreau say something like “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes”?  I think the dress looks like a cross between Mary Poppins and the mother from Little House on the Prairie, an ancient TV show that forever colored our view of what women in the 1850s wore around the farm, and notable for the final show: they blew up all the set houses with dynamite to keep them from the local evil corporate guy.

We hosted a “quilting booth” but instead of that tired old trope of setting out a quilt top so people could mangle it with their stitches, we ran a hexie booth, based on the research I found that quilters at the time were doing English paper piecing.

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We had some work to do.  We, meaning, several of us who have attended our quilting group for many years, plus some others we conned into asked to participate.

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First, combine four patterns to make a pioneer outfit (seen above). Then start working on the demo goods: hexies.

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I appliqued them to a tote bag I picked up a couple of years ago at Quilt Market, figuring the “maker” theme was a good fit for hexies.

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l to r: Julie, Melissa, me, Laurel, Simone, Lisa. (PS Simone doesn’t really look like this. She likes to pull faces. Her texts always make me laugh.)

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We figure we glued up about 500 hexies, total, between this and what Leisa did later on.  It was so good to have these!

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It was a team effort: our friend Dennis brought us tables and chairs, and Leisa was the “set decorator,” using quilts from near and far. We arrived at 7:10 a.m. and left at 2:20 p.m., the right amount of time.

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We also had some modern hexies there to entice the participants; that is Laurel’s beautiful Modern Millefiore Hexie quilt on the left, with Simone’s hexie pillow (pattern here), and other props.

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We had Color-A-Quilt pages for the littlest visitors, as well as create your own quilt block (below).  We had to remind them that it was a visual treat–take a photo with your phone sort of thing–as people kept walking off with my design boards.  That is Julie’s hand you see there, making a mock-up.  She kept these two sections rolling the whole day.

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from l to r: Cindy, Julie, Denese, me, Laurel and her husband Ralph, Leisa, Simone

The original crew, plus my husband, Dave (who is taking the photo).  We swapped out two for four others mid-day; we were swamped, so were glad to have them.  Here are some photos from our day:

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We were suprised by the number of teens — and teen boys — who sat down and made a three-hexie patch from start to finish.

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Most did not look like this–they sewed them up properly, although sometimes with an interesting twist or two, but we thought this won the prize for “Most Interesting Hexie” of the day.  We had to teach many how to tie knots (about half had no idea how to do that), and we saw that lots of youngsters (and oldsters) liked to be able to sit and sew, a skill not often available to them in other places.

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We had a sample quilt set up in a hoop in case anyone wanted to try hand-quilting.  Most were more fascinated by the hexies.  And most wanted to pick through the baskets of cut fabric squares and glue their own shapes, too.

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Wee Pioneers

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I love sharing our craft with some new quilters!

tiny nine patches

Stats: 3,000 paper hexies purchased
60 needles (only 35 were brought home–don’t know where the rest went)
3 needle-threaders: one from Clover, my friend Laurel, and my husband Dave
2 ten-gallon jugs of water
4,000 cut squares prepped up: fabric donated by Paintbrush Studio and Primitive Gatherings
Project boards that are not dusty: 0
Number of pioneer outfits that will never be used again: 7

Sewing

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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giveaway-banner

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.)

tiny nine patches

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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