Finishing School Friday · Something to Think About

FSF–Red/White Blocks, plus a few thoughts

You know how it is at the beginning of summer?  It’s like I face an unmarked calendar, and I make plans galore.  I want to sew this, design that, finish this, quilt that, and of course, maybe go to the beach, or read some books.  It’s like we make a list and start chipping away at it, applying the habits of type-A personalities to our unfettered summer.  I ran at the beginning of summer, so happy to be free of grading and lesson plans and student emails and admin requests.  I ran headlong into the quilting, cutting and sewing, and photographing–and yes, of course–blogging.  It was like falling backward into a cool pool on a hot hot day in July.

But now that it is July, the ol’ Get-It-Done engine has a few sputters.  The “free” time left to me is winnowing down, and soon I’ll have to return to teachery-responsibilites.  So, this makes my mind concentrate more on what I really want to have done by the time I head to my Orientation, and what can be left to sandwich in between teaching obligations all semester long.

I was hoping to have this quilt all done for FSF, but no–still quilting along.  I did get a quilt back from the quilter, but it’s going to be gifted, so no peeks yet.

But I can point to finishing the Red and White blocks in my little swap.  On the left is the block made up in Bella Solid Country Red and Kona Snow.  On the right the block is made in Kona’s Chinese Red (and Kona Snow).  While the Chinese Red is more brick-colored than the Country Red, when made up, you can only discern the smallest difference between them.

I use a quilting book to help me lay out the blocks, since they have a lot of pieces.  I made it from cloth, foam-core art boards, flannel and butcher paper.  I cut those into long oblongs (two-page size length and one-page size width; my pages are about 14″ square), layering the flannel with the butcher paper.

Stitch down the middle.  Create a pillowcase-type shape a little larger than your pages, and insert one foam-core art board cut to size in the bottom.  Stitch along the edge, then stitch about an inch away again, then insert the second board.  Whipstitch closed. Layer everything and stitch down through the middle to secure the pages.   Of course, I did it a much harder way–cutting all the pages individually, then enclosing them in the binding, but it was the first time, and I was finding my way through this.  I also have ribbons on it, so I can tie this up and transport it, which I have done to quilt classes, etc.  I’ve seen the use of foam-core art boards, stacked up in use at home, but I like this design because it is less bulky.

Here are the blocks, all loaded up.  I carry this to the sewing machine and just work from a single page.

I sew the small parts together, then into rows, then press.  I stitch rows together, then press, then true-them up, hoping not to cut off too many corners!


Sometimes unpicking is involved in quilting.

Here they all are, so far.

The book I listened to while stitching was Half The Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Pulitzer Prize winners.  More on this in the next post.


Munich’s Garden Gate

Because the experts always say to have a better chance of accomplishing a goal, I have started thinking each week what I want to finish.  I realized that this week, because my red fabric for my Red/White Challenge hadn’t arrived (my planned finishing item), I would have to think of something else.  It was this quilt.

We went to Munich in 2004, and I shot 300 photos, digitally.  And some time in April 2005, I erased them all.  (!)

But I had already planned to use this photo for the center for a project I was working on with my guild: a medallion quilt, so had moved it to my desktop.  It’s the only remaining image. I carried on, blowing it up, figuring out the flowers and what colors I wanted them, as I had carried home a sack of scraps from a small fabric shop in Munich that made dirndls for Oktoberfest.  We had been there shortly after that season, and they sold me the bag for about 25 bucks.  Many of the fabrics in this quilt are from Munich.

Here’s the central medallion, almost finished.  Then the hard work of figuring out the borders–always a dance.  I invested in a couple of used books, and slowly, border by border, I built the quilt.  We were on sabbatical in Washington, DC at the time, and I was able to finish my quilt top before we left to return home; I quilted the top all the way across America, finding more thread in Albuquerque when I ran out.

It sat, quilted, for a while and when I came across it again, I decided to add more quilting.  Back at it with the blue painters’ masking tape until I finally got fed up with it all and started drawing light lines of pencil on the top.  I finished that quilting, then it sat again, until I started the photography project.  I dug into the stash, found the binding, made the label and finished stitching around it in time for this week’s Finishing School Friday.  I HAD to have something finished!

When I went out to photograph it, the wind was moving the quilt back and forth, and it flicked into the sun, creating this translucent effect.

All the hand quilting–think of it as if every state along I-40 has a bit of itself in this quilt!

The labels, all stitched down.

Five years later, we went back to Munich, and this time I didn’t erase all my photos (back it up, people, back them ALL up!).  I didn’t ever find the original gate, but I did see this grillwork alongside a building near the dirndl shop, near the beer garden downtown, with the same central motif.  It felt like I was seeing an old friend.

Finishing School Friday · Something to Think About

Finishing School Friday

No, not THAT kind of finishing school, but the kind where you get something done–something that won’t be UN-done, and say “Yay!  I finished something!”

I told my husband that I needed to go to Finishing School today, and so I did.

You’ve heard of Northern Lights?  Well meet Southern Brights–as in the southwest section of our nation.  We like brights, and this bundle from Fabricworm was so fun and cheery that I couldn’t resist adding a few more to make a Bento Box quilt.

This fabric, Round Robin, reminds me of the digital game Angry Birds, with their little round birds flying through the air.

I took it to the quilter today, so I could say: I finished a quilt top, sewed up the back and got it to the quilter!

What have you finished, this fine Friday?  So often in our listing of Works in Progress (which I love reading, by the way), we focus on the incomplete, those tasks that still remain heaped around our shoulders like heavy stones.  And if you’re like me, you might tend to interpret every new fabric stash purchase as adding more weight to that burden.  So I think it’s nice to be able to say–DONE!–even if the quilt itself isn’t done, this part is.

Here is a page out of a terrific book I have that is not used enough.  (And yes, I know where it is.)  It has a column of little pink boxes along the left side of the page, lines in the middle and drawing space–blank space–on the right.  The pages are perforated in case the user wants to tear them out.  It’s called Project Planner and it is made by Pen-Tab.  I did a Google search on it (couldn’t find it), because while I am a totally digital sort of person and can make loads of computer-generated To Do Lists, there’s something so cathartic and lovely about writing down a list of steps to do next to cute little pink boxes.  And there’s also something so lovely about being to put checkmarks in those cute little pink boxes.  The above page is for my daughter and son-in-law’s quilt that I made them for Christmas a few years ago.  I like looking at this page on those days when I feel surrounded by the Undone and feel like The Undead as I try to muster up some energy to clear the desk.

So, what can you point to this Finishing School Friday (FSF)?  Decided on a quilt?  Chosen some fabric?  Completed a block?  Or two?  Stitched a few of them together? If you are so inclined, leave a comment with your blog address showing what you’ve finished, even if it is so little as “doodled up a quilt sketch during a meeting.” Celebrate the Completed.