Crazy Cushion Class

If you could scroll down for just a second and locate on the right blog sidebar where there is a link to a video titled Create. This was taken from a talk from one of the leaders of my church, and if you are not a religious type, then substitute in your version of God for what Elder Uchtdorf says.  I watch it everyone once in a while to remind me that what I do is more than stitching, or cutting up pretty cloth.  Being creative is my connection to — and a conduit for — the divine.

Crazy Cushion Class_6a

I had an inkling of the power of a lot of creative women, when I attended Becky McDaniel’s class for her Crazy Cushion pattern.  Yes, there was fatigue and frustration, but there was also a spirit of wanting to create (above, watching a demo).

Crazy Cushion Class_6b

My workspace.  I had a nice visit with the two quilters at my table, Sandie and Marie (absent), and was totally impressed with the women in the Nite Owl Guild.

Crazy Cushion Class_7

Becky was energetic, funny and taught some new skills: like working with a light table while paper piecing, and we all promptly handed over our cash to buy her cool flat light table, while stories swirled around about the light tables we had at home.

Crazy Cushion Class_8

Yeah, we weren’t in this room, but the ping-pong table was.  The class was held in the Senior Center for a nearby town and was a great place to have a workshop.  Below, Becky’s table of supplies.

Crazy Cushion Class_9Crazy Cushion Class_10

Even though I had all my sections pre-pieced, at this point I felt like I’d run a marathon, just getting that welting stitched in between the flying geese band and the cushion top/back.  The band includes a handle for carrying (seen serpentining in the photo above).

Crazy Cushion Class_10a

More than one use for those binding clips.

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Because of all my sewing beforehand, I was able to finish my cushion.  Above, the photo with Becky McDaniels.

Crazy Cushion Class_11aCrazy Cushion Class_11b

I posed my cushion with hers (the larger of each).  Mine measures 14″ x 2″ and hers is 16″ x 3.”  If you decided to take this class, do your homework beforehand, if you have done paper-piecing before, so you can have a finish, too.

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And then outside in their gardens, before leaving.

Crazy Cushion Class_12aCrazy Cushion Class_12c

Now I’ll have something to sit on when I go to workshops!

  • The pattern can be found on her website, along with more information.
  • Kaffe Fasset fabrics recently purchased at Blue Bird Quilt Shop, near me, including that cool stripe.
  • I use transluscent vellum paper by Neenan for my paper piecing because I can see through it and it rips off easily.  I purchased a ream about 10 years ago from Kelly Paper, and it cost way more than I wanted, but hey–10 years use?  Not bad.

Process vs. Product

Since I am away from the computer for a while, I’m running a few favorite, previously published posts.  
This one originally ran on July 16, 2010, but is modified for today’s post.
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Is it possible to lust after another person’s finished quilt?  Yes, quite possibly.  Definitely. For sure.  The quilt shown above uses the Castle Peeps line, and was put together by  Elizabeth Hartman, of Oh! Fransson.  I purchased the blue colorway of this line this summer and before I close out my sewing blitz and focus on The Job, I’m dying to throw together one more quilt.  This design has inspired me.

There’s been a lot of talk on the blogosphere about the issue of production in quilting, and I’m here to add my .02.  Jennifer, of “That Girl. . . That Quilt,” has written a whole series of her thoughts about “quilting without obligations.” They seem to be a reaction to the feeling that quilting is all about production, rather than about the process.  This is an age-old discussion and is found in other corners of the creative universe.

When I was an undergrad, working in the black and white photo lab, this idea–process vs. product–was discussed constantly.  To give you a flavor of what our conversations sounded like, as we blew dust specks off of our negatives and worked at creating “art,” have a listen to the little clip below. Yes, it’s dense, but give it a go.

I think his point that when we focus on product, we may miss other connections that may arise from the creative process is valid, but there are times when product is not the Big Evil.  Sometimes I just want to get something done, speaking of quilts and quilting.  Sometimes I just want to quickly make up a quilt in a fabric line because I want to see that on my bed.  I’m not interested in being drawn into the process of the quilt–I just want to lay down under it.  Or hang it up on the wall.  Or because the process has already happened in my mind, in thinking about it at the back of my brain when I couldn’t get to the sewing machine for one reason or another.

I read a lot of blogs, like the rest of you, and many of them are designed as advertising.  The quilt artists/makers have been involved in the process of their art and designed fabric/patterns/quilts that they need to sell in order to make their living.  Many blogs are tied to online quilt shops.  These are valuable places for me to go and get my ideas, be exposed to new fabrics, enjoy the fruits, if you will, of other people’s labors all before I take up my rotary cutter to slice into some fabric.  I enjoy these blogs, love reading them, admire the work.  But I do not ever confuse what they are doing–earning a living–with what I am doing.  Some other blogs have “taken the process pledge,” and try to put out on their blogs how they arrived at the journey’s end.  This is a valuable resource for us as quilters when it truly involves process, and not just a “how-to” tutorial (although I like those too).

It seems to me that there is enough room in this quilting universe that we can quilt what we want to, blog when we want to, go off on vacation when we want to, work (when we have to) that we don’t need to compete.  Commercial blogs? Non-commercial blogs?  They are resources for us all to glean from.

ProductProcess_PreK+KImages, and interesting reading,  from *here*

Product?  Process?  We need them both.

Don’t Put Up My Thread and Needle

Don’t put up my Thread and Needle (617)
by Emily Dickinson

Don’t put up my Thread and Needle—
I’ll begin to Sew
When the Birds begin to whistle—
Better Stitches—so—

These were bent—my sight got crooked—
When my mind—is plain
I’ll do seams—a Queen’s endeavor
Would not blush to own—

Hems—too fine for Lady’s tracing
To the sightless Knot—
Tucks—of dainty interspersion—
Like a dotted Dot—

Leave my Needle in the furrow—
Where I put it down—
I can make the zigzag stitches
Straight—when I am strong—

Till then—dreaming I am sewing
Fetch the seam I missed—
Closer—so I—at my sleeping—
Still surmise I stitch—

Bee Blocks & Winner of Project Folio

Project Portfolio_chair

First, while my husband and I were watching Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway in Three Days of the Condor, I leaned over to him and said, “Give me a number between one and sixteen.”

“Five.”

Five it is.  Cindy, you are the winner.  I’ll mail off the portfolio tomorrow.  Thank you to all my very fine readers and followers.  You are such lovely people!

I must admit that I did want to give it to my newest follower: my daughter, Barbara (Hi Barb!), but I’ll make her a new something or other for her work-out clothes (what she said she’d use it for) and send this white one to Cindy.  Congrats!

Arrows Aug ABLbee 2

Secondly, even though it feels as if I haven’t touched a machine much this month, I did get my Bee Blocks finished.  Above is the one for Always Bee Learning.  We were sent some some fabrics, a link, and we were off to making arrows.  It was a real brain-stretcher, but I finished mine and sent them off to Megan.

MCM Aug Block 1 MCM Aug Block 2

And for the Mid-Century Modern Bee, Mary asked for some Cross-X, or X & + blocks as I’ve seen them called, in pinks.  So I followed her linked tutorial at Badskirt’s blog and sent them off.

And now, the to pull the biggest rabbit out of the hat: figure out how to start sewing my projects again.  With this disjoint summer, a bad beginning to my school year (it will get better), and some time away from the sewing machine, it’s like being on a boat being carried down stream from the dock, slowly, and you can see your picnic lunch there in the middle and you are getting kind of hungry but you can’t figure out how to get to it.  Okay, bad analogy, but I think you all know the feeling.

I look at my list of things I want to sew and nothing interests me. I love reading blogs and seeing everyone’s fun projects, and think, I could do that.  But if I do everyone else’s project, how will I find time to do mine?  It’s a double-edged sword, this living in a world of blogs and Instagram and it’s hard to turn off the input in order to find the creative project that is uniquely mine.

My father, aged 87, goes most mornings down to his painting studio on the second floor of a building in his downtown.  There, he thinks, starts his routine, puts on his music, paints, pauses.  Of course, I can only imagine this because it is done in solitude, but every October he opens his studio for a painting sale in his studio, proving that he accomplishes, produces, Gets Stuff Done, sending out more paintings into the world.

I find my challenge to still myself — to enjoy the social media-fied quilt world, yet also to let that project that is interesting to me find its way forward.  I’ve been tempted by another Polaroid Swap, a recent Signature Swap, this winter’s Scrappy Trip-A-Long, and the Medallion Quilt among other recent popular quilts.  But I also know through historical evidence that our quilting grandmothers searched the newspapers for what others were doing, and through imitation, linked themselves together through common projects.

LIke them, I do quilt what is in my universe.  I often think of Nancy Crow, a quilt artist I admire from afar who has seemed to produce what is important to her, to follow her own stream of thinking and creating without regard for what is the most popular.  Perhaps she, and my father, are at one end of the spectrum while the social media/Instagram/blogging crowd, of which I am a part, is at the other end.  No answers here.

Just searching for those oars that will get my boat back to the dock, back to my sewing machine, back to my quilty world.

Craft vs. Art

Ken Price: “Untitled Two Parts”

For a while now, I’ve been intrigued by a comment by Ken Price, a ceramic sculptor, an artist.  Since he sometimes did representational shapes like cups, saucers and covered jars, the “cultural prejudice against clay as a hobby-craft material unsuitable for major art” reared its head to often typecast him as a craftsman, not an artist  (quotes from an article in the LATimes).  Just like our quilts.  My art professor in college, when I asked him when he’d ever okay a show of quilts, said “Over my dead body.”  He was kidding (well, maybe not) and the answer stung.  I realized that even though there is now more recognition for the quilt as an art form, too often we are put in the craft category.  So I was intrigued by the following quote (also from the LATimes article):

Price did distinguish between craft and art, but it’s important to note that he respected them both.  “A craftsman knows what he’s going to make and an artist doesn’t know what he’s going to make,” he once said, “or what the finished product is going to look like.”

These words did echo in my head as I worked on English Elizabeth.  Like Price, I took my fabrics and my technical skills and knew that somewhere I’d end up with a quilt.  But I didn’t know what I was going to make, or what the finished product was going to look like.  My quilts will never hang in a museum, but the journey for this quilt was so different than my usual, that Price’s words resonated.

There’s an interesting energy that comes from trying something new, or to use a cliché: “stepping out of your comfort zone.”  Usually, for me, a quilt begins at the computer, doodling around in my computer program or imitating something I’d seen before, but this process–to create out of whole cloth, literally, was an experience that I found seductive, scary and immensely satisfying.