Clothing · Sewing

The Sublime and the Mundane

The Mundane

That is, if making a Wild Geese quilt block can be considered mundane, which makes me think back to the Days of the Babies, when the only time I could find to sew was about a 45-minute block once they went down for naps (and only if I weren’t taking one, too). But those minutes might be considered sublime, don’t you think?

You can read my Instagram post to find out why I was trying to beat the blahs, but in a nutshell…it’s January. Need I say more?

73 years ago. Nice to know I’m not the only one — thanks for all your nice comments on IG.

Because I was inspired by this beautiful quilt made of half-square triangles, and because I’d promised a grown grandson a quilt long ago in blue and white, I drew this one up in EQ8 and thought “Gosh, I could do a block a day and have it finished by the end of January.”

Yes, that goal is a far cry from barely being able to drag yourself out of bed, but it’s that thing about small steps, about sticking with a task, about creating. I listen to most episodes of the Ezra Klein podcast and found that a recent one, on “Sabbath and the Art of Rest” contained so much great advice for me personally. I learned a lot about the idea of the Sabbath, of taking a rest, of leaving space, of joyfully getting together. The guest, Judith Shulevitz, was fascinating, the conversation sublime and at one point she said this nugget:

“[I]t’s like anything else. It’s like writing, for example. You sit down, you don’t want to write, but you got to write. And there will be three hours when it’s a slog and that one hour when your mind opens up, and you’re in the flow, and you get it. You get why you’ve created the schedule where you have to sit at your desk from 9 to 1, or whatever it is, as unpleasant as that may be, as many conflicts as there may be. And nothing good is easy….You have to work to get to the experience of flow, to get the experience to the experience of God, to get to that what Émile Durkheim…called effervescence, which is that collective joy.”

I made the 5″ finished triangles from my stash, using the 8-at-a-time method, then made one more HST to get nine. This quilt will finish as a large lap size. The first two large squares (white and blue) were cut at 12″ square, then marked as shown. I sewed on either side of the diagonal lines, cut on all drawn lines, then pressed and trimmed to 5 1/2″ square. It went very fast. Just what I needed for January. Was I in the flow? Did I experience effervescence? Not really, but it was a mood lifter, for sure, to see my progress pinned up on the design wall.

The Sublime

My husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and after we crossed off the yacht, the furs, and the jewels from the list, I said I wanted to go the Bowers Museum in Orange County and see Guo Pei’s exhibit of her couture clothing. So who is she? If you remember back to the Met Gala in 2015, when Rhianna wore that gorgeous yellow dress…that was Guo Pei.

Many of these dresses took thousands of hours to make, and are heavily embellished. The shoes can be outrageous, too. This is not the clothes you wear for schlepping around to the grocery store, but they are the clothes that are admired, that ideas come from, maybe even a bit of effervescence. Enjoy. {Click on an image to enlarge it.}

So many of the clothes were made from man-made materials, a huge departure from our quilting world insistence on natural fibers. I loved this fringed dress.

My sister Susan came down for my birthday weekend, and she, my husband Dave, and I all liked this grouping the best. This was from a collection she titled Chinese Bride 2012. These were made of silk, with gold and colored threads used for the embroidery of “standard and shaded satin stitches.”

I’ll put some video up on Instagram and link it in a couple of days.

A movie was made about her (here’s the trailer):

Thank you, Guo Pei, for your beautiful clothes.

Look what we found when we came out: a very fancy quinceañera dress!

P. S. This was fun to see. It’s all my Instagram monthly markers for 2022.

Sewing · Something to Think About

Little Bits


“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


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.


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.


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.

April Masks_35
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


My Small World • Section 3 & 4

mysmallworld2019_4_1 full.jpg

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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).



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:

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

boro stitching


Mending 2a

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.


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.


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

Heritage Day Logo_SB
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?

pioneer dress 2018.jpg

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.

Quilt of the Mormon Migration_EPP (1)(1).jpg

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.


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

Pioneer Hexies_1Pioneer Hexies_2

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.

Pioneer Hexies_0
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.)

Pioneer Hexies_0aPioneer Hexies_0b

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


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.


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.


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.


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:


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

Pioneer Hexies_3.jpg

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.


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.


Wee Pioneers


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