Finishing School Friday

FSF–Oddities and Endities

Okay, gettin’ creative here at 9:37 at night.  Does it count for a Friday finish, if you finish it at the end of a Friday?

Hope so.

What I finished today: Grading 23 MLA (Modern Language Association) tests for class (no photo–you can imagine this one)

Cutting out the pieces for the Rubrik’s Cube quilt

Correcting the color and sending to print about 230 photos for my quilt journal project

Now can I call it a night?  I’d be tempted to but my dashboard widget says it’s still 91 degrees out there and when I opened the door to check, I smelled smoke–fire’s in the air.  Ah, end of summer, Southern California-style: Heat and Fires.

But look what an East Coast friend sent to me, that made me do a happy dance at the mailbox: some Going Coastal fat quarters.  Their coast has certainly been active this week, what with an earthquake and an impending hurricane.  But even with all that, my friend sent a smile all the way across the USA.  Thanks!


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!

100 Quilts · Quilts

Lyon Carolings

The mad summer of sewing quilts has come to an end.  I found the list of quilts I’d made at the beginning of my time away from the classroom, and “French Quilt” was on the top.  I’d remade this–or as I like to say–I made this twice, just trying to find the right way to show off these fabrics from France.

I just couldn’t decide what to quilt in the center of the yellow squares, but went with a floral motif from the border.  I had to rip out one block when it turned out I hated that particular thread.  I have picked out a lot on this quilt.  I’d originally stitched the green borders with a swirling design from that same outer border.  Wrong.  So I unpicked that, and channel/echo stitched it to mimic the blue X’s in the center of the quilt.

I chose to quilt one of the flowers in the center of the yellow blocks.

Does anyone else hate marking?  I don’t want pencil, although that is the easiest.  And since I don’t plan to wash this quilt (it’s for display), I don’t want something I have to wash to get out.  I don’t trust the disappearing markers, so that only leaves me with chalk and my ragged eye to get the job done.

And the back, with its four colors of toile.  Make that five if you count the hanging sleeve at the very top.

How did I come by all this fabric?  Like Miss Carrie of Schnibbles fame, we had traveled to France.  The first few days were touring around the south of France before we were headed to Toulouse for his scientific meeting.  We’d traveled far that one day, arriving at our B & B late (8:45 p.m.) just outside the town of Aix-en-Provence, after getting lost.  They did serve us our dinner, and the part I remember was having a chilled melon soup in the dark in their courtyard.  It was lovely, and served in a hollowed-out cantelope half that had been frozen.  The French do food right, I must say.

Aix-en-Provence, painted by John Horsewell

The next morning, we ate breakfast with the white mountain in view, an oft-painted mountain, then glancing at the darkening sky, checked out and drove to into Aix-en-Provence.  We were hoping to catch a market day.  As soon as we parked the car (in the carpark on the outskirts of town), the skies opened up and a huge torrential downpour kept up trapped in a deep doorway for ten minutes.  Of course we had only one umbrella between us (!), so we ran from doorway to doorway to the center of the town.  The market was closing up, even though the rain was ending–it was still quite drippy.  We caught a few photos of the newly washed melons, berries, tomatoes, when the downpour started up again.  We dodged into a shop that ringed the market square, peering out at the rain.  We were pretty discouraged.

Then my husband leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Turn around.  I think you’ll be happy.”  I turned and looked.  We had ducked into a fabric shop and although tiny, it was filled, floor-to-ceiling with glorious fabrics printed in the traditional manner of old France.  Those were the days when an extra suitcase was no problem and weight limits had not been heard of yet.  I had brought along a soft-sided suitcase and between my purchases here–and the ones the next week in Toulouse (for they had a lovely fabric shop as well)–I filled that suitcase full.

I have purchased these fabrics in other places, but this shop, found while dodging the pouring rain, was the genesis of my collection.

If you want to start your collection, I can recommend French Connections, here in North Carolina in the US of A.  They have a wide range of choices (that’s where I bought that fabulous yellow border) and I think given the cost of importing, the high price of cotton and the weak dollar against the euro, they have reasonable prices.

Happy Sewing!

100 Quilts · Finishing School Friday

Southern Brights–FSF

This is my son Matthew and his wife, Kim.  Sometimes she likes to be called Kimberly.  Other times it’s just Kim.  She’s a bright and sunny personality of a gal, and easily matches my son in energy, determination and love of a good joke.  They’re great.

This is their family, taken at a family camping trip (quickly! and that’s why Emilee has no shoes on), in the mountains above Phoenix Arizona, a place they call their home.  But only for another day or so, because he’s been promoted in his corporate job and they’re off to Cinncinati Ohio.  I love that she would follow him anywhere, so I decided to make her a quilt to honor her love of the Southwest and her bright and sunny personality.

Ta Da!  I give you “Southern Brights.”  It’s a Bento Box block, with lots of wild and crazy fabrics, put together in a bundle by Fabricworm, but of course, I added a few of my own.

My favorite is the little Round Robin fabric with little round robins on it.  I also like the punched-up hugeness of those flowers in the middle.  Change in scale?  This quilt’s got it.  Change in color?  Yep, yep.  Change in value?  Not so much (all medium fabrics) so I threw in some lights and brights to keep the eye moving.

Love the Marimekko fabric on the back, punctuated by a strip of the the Anne Kelle flowers.  Alas, our Crate and Barrel outlet has closed, so now if I want those fabrics, I need to travel an hour and half–instead the previous half-hour.  So I hoard my stash of these, but this quilt just called out for something sunny and bright.

I wish them all success in their new home and new state!

100 Quilts · Quilts · Something to Think About

Come A-Round: Finishing School Friday

Come A-Round is finished.  This has lived in our house under many names: Crop Circles, Dotty Quilt, Elizabeth’s Masterpiece, That Quilt.  But its real name is Come A-Round. *This* is how I came up with the name.

I finished the top and sent it to the quilter, Cathy Kreter, who quilted the central fan-like circles, and the spaces in between them.  She also ran a line of stitching on the dark green stem and the outer edge.  I was to take over from there, but it went back to her to tackle the middle of the circles–a space about 2″ in diameter, which I couldn’t quilt because of so many layers.  Then back to me and I did the rest of the details.  It’s a good partnership.  The back fabric is about perfect for machine quilting: lots of tiny dots in all colors that hide a multitude of sins.  Just not green thread branches, and no, I didn’t pick them out.  I knew that if I turned back at that point, it would never be finished.  At least not by the end of summer.  And sometimes good-enough-but-done is better than perfect-but-undone.

The circle is simple in its geometry: one continuous looping whole.  Yet most of our lives feel more like jagged peaks on an EKG monitor with little blips of up and down in a rhythmic pattern–peaks and valleys that indicate there’s a life going on–that a heart is beating.  So when my husband’s sister called us early Monday morning with a voice full of peaks and valleys, so different from her usual and we heard the news about her young adult son gone too early, the rhythmic pattern of heartbeat stilled by his own hand, my husband and I sat together quietly for a long while afterward.  The silence between us was thick with emotion and sadness and wondering about whatever could have gone wrong?  We’d start a question, then pause mid-thought, not really knowing where we were headed, but knowing that there was no easy path around this sorrow.  This circle had been rent, broken.

My husband called our eldest son, and now his voice echoed his sister’s; as we called each of our children, we took turns pausing to let the emotion fall away so we could continue with the necessary news.  We went about our day.  We sat stunned.  We fixed dinner.  We took a walk.  We kept talking, thinking about Scott’s widow and his two young daughters.  The couple had recently separated and we wondered how we could let her know that no one blamed her.  I made a cake.  We were more gentle with each other.  We lingered outside after dinner on the patio, the sun falling into darkness.  Then the phone conversations turned to funeral arrangments.  Then the task of travel arrangements, and my voice cracked as I tried to arrange flights, blessing the kindness of the faceless voice on the other end of the line.  We talked with our children: life is fragile.  As people of faith, we believe we will see him again: whole.  After a few days the jagged peaks and valleys of those initial numbing hours leveled out.

It’s really a circle, this thing we call life.  The idea is not a new one, and certainly has a myriad of cliches to accompany the idea: one eternal round, the wedding ring’s symbolism, death to life and back to death again.  You name it, you’ve heard it.  But at the end of the day, we are all encircled about by a sense of going forth and returning, a feeling of beginning and ending, yet sometimes the lines that create those divisions are so subtle that they fade away.  What we send out, we see in return.  What is born, dies.

There’s a famous passage in the Bible, in Ecclesiastes, about a time for everything.  I looked it up again today and interestingly, in among the weightier references of death and life, mourning and laughter, peace and war, it notes that there is a time to rend, and a time to sew.

This week, I sewed circles.

Finishing School Friday · Quilts

FSF–Quilts Galore

Finishing School Friday, and I’m beat!

This week I finished the quilting on the Still-To-Be-Named Quilt (I have some ideas, though), put the binding on that one in a straight bind, not a running mitered bind, added the binding to another quilt (which I’ll stitch tonight at our Quilt Night Group), and helped my friend Judy piece together quilts for her two granddaughters’ beds.  We’ve been stitiching for TWO days–like a mini-retreat!  No wonder I’m tired!  Enjoy the slideshow.

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