Mighty Lucky Quilting Club

So, I have joined my friend and “maniacal” crafting buddy, Jude, for the Mighty Lucky Quilting Club.

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Lesson One is all about bias tape; making it, applying it creatively, and making quilt blocks.

This is a progress report:

I am using grays…a darker solid for the squares and a light gray solid along with two prints for the tape.

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As you can see, I am experimenting with two sizes of bias tape. Note: There are multiple bias folding tools out there. My limited experience says get the Clover brand (at JoAnn’s in the quilting department). The other brand I tried did not fold as tightly and was therefore harder to use. However, don’t think that  the Clover brand is all honey (sweet)! It is tricky and folding the seams is especially tricky! I really like the look of the narrow (1/4″) tape, but the seams are a bear, if not impossible, as shown above, to fold. I think the next step, sewing them, will be equally difficult.

The MLQC goes all year and if you like quilting and think you might want to learn some techniques, check it out. (Link above) It is not a block-of-the-month club. It does give you a chance to learn from well-known quilters for a fraction of the usual price. It is only $5 per month or $50 per year.

If you join, share what you are doing! We would love to see! Tag your post MLQC so we can follow!

Starry Nights Quilt Story

Every quilt has a story. This is the story of the first real quilt I made.

In the spring of 2015, Jennifer, Jessica or JJ…whatever name she goes by in any given group, asked me to make a quilt for her, as she had just purchased a new home. She is my daughter. I was thrilled. I had only done one quilt project, a small meditation mat in chakra colors, quilted with infinity patterns.

I asked what she had in mind and she mentioned the picture in her bedroom, Starry Nights by Vincent Van Gogh. Ok, now I had some guidelines for her queen-sized quilt. I began the search for fabrics and was excited to create something with that famous painting as a model.

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I didn’t ask her, but I never thought she would want a quilt that looked just like the picture. I thought of using the colors and the painting as inspiration. I began to try laying the prints out in a design that followed the trees, village, stars, moon, etc. That was not working!

I must give credit here to my friend, muse and sew mate, Jude Brown (www.judemadeit.com). She kept me on track and from getting discouraged with this big project I had taken on. I had decided on a random, traditional, almost scrappy pattern with what turned out to be very small squares for this large quilt. Oh well, this is part of who I am…I don’t usually take an easy path!

Finally getting my groove on, I had the squares on the design wall and was ready to sew the strips together. Next step…decide on the backing. Again, never taking the easy way out, I decided to use the same color story and create a modern quilt style back so the quilt would be more or less quilt backreversible. I think somewhere inside me I was afraid JJ would not like the top, so maybe she would like the back.

 

All this took several months! I did not actually start until her birthday, July 16! So it is a birthday and house warming gift at that point. I got the top and the back finished by late August. I was really happy with the outcome of both sides. Then another delay…we had planned a month trip to Italy. I had hopes of getting the quilt done before then, but nope!

Upon our return home, my next job was to sandwich the top and bottom and then the whole thing needed quilting. My hope was to do the quilting, but I soon realized there was no way I could work this large quilt on my small Bernina (the same old machine that had made so many of JJ’s childhood clothes)…20151213_162151_HDR~2

I took the “sandwich” to Kim McCray at Windswept Quilting and am so happy I did. I can’t say how happy I am with the outcome of her quilting on this project. I simply told her I wanted something swirly to go with the theme of the painting. She took it from there with her beautiful freeform work and this makes the whole thing so beautiful! Thank you, Kim!

So, the quilt is finished except for the binding. I am ecstatic and can’t wait to finish to see the completed project. The binding process was a time when I could reflect on so many things and I appreciate having this time mostly alone. Everything about this quilt evokes my love for my daughter. I have remembered, prayed, been frustrated, lifted her up, and more during the process, but during the binding I was particularly aware of how a quilt is like life, how it takes shape with trial and error (especially if it is your first one). The way you can take all these little miscellaneous pieces of fabric and create a masterpiece is kind of amazing. You see, that is what JJ is to me…a masterpiece. I know she, like all of us, is still a work in progress, but I am so proud of the woman she has become. Bumps and bruises, both self-inflicted and mom-inflicted (others too, but this is about us) have been taken in stride and she glows with talent, wisdom and beauty!

As I am writing this I think of a picture that was taken of us long ago…about 22 years…that reflects a bit of a starry theme…20151213_162047_HDR~2

 

 

JJ, may you continue to dream and reach for the stars. May you sleep under this quilt and dream of all your hopes and desires, knowing that I love you and that I am thankful for you and the opportunity to make this quilt, which has now become Merry Christmas too! How could I have known it would mean so much to me!

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Reminders Come In Surprising Ways!

I am blogging about something that I am really excited about today! Let me see if I can make any sense out of it for you.

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The past week I discovered a new project. (Side note: I did say I would blog about why I make bags, but that is going to have to wait!) I started making bowls as a break from making bags. These bowls have been called coiled bowls, stitched baskets or other names. I think I should call mine Life Bowls, Lesson Bowls, Prayer Bowls, Meditation Bowls…or something that combines all these things.

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I started out making cotton bowls, using regular old clothesline. They are pretty and clean. I was hooked on the first little trial. The cotton bowls are simple and modern looking. After making a few of the cotton bowls, I decided to graduate to sisal.

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Now, I am really enjoying the look of the sisal, but let me tell you, it is much more challenging! It came to me that working with the sisal to make these bowls is a lot like life. Life is full of rough spots, bumps, breaks, bruises, frustrations, failures, heartaches and more, but when we persevere, keep changing our path, our thoughts, learn from our experiences, be open to what is possible, we end up with a beautiful life.

So with every empty bobbin, broken thread, missed stitch, bent needle, patch job and so on, I ended up with bowls that I think are beautiful! No one is the same as another, though made from the same source products. They are perfect with their scrapes, holes, mends, crooked handles and all. They are loved by their creator! Pictures posted below and the descriptions tell of some of the messages (both from sisal and cotton):

sisal large 2Little flaws that show up in these vessels remind me that it sometimes takes more than one error to see and correct our flaws. On this bowl, the thread broke about every four inches. I have been sewing for a long time and know what to look for…like a crying baby that has no visible reason to cry, all was right with the machine…I was just working with some stubborn material! Sound like anyone you might know?

IMG_3864  This bowl was so much fun, as I painted bright colors on the cord first, and I like the brightness. However, look at the seam of the plain and the colorful cords…not so smooth!

IMG_3929This reminds me of the judgement that pervades society…sometimes like mixing oil and water, but it can finally connect! Two examples of this, actually…”red and yellow, black and white…” you get it, right?

 

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In life, we stop and start, take “two steps forward and three steps back”. This is pointed out when the threads break and I have to back up, double stitch and move on.

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Some of these bowls stand perfectly tall and erect on their own and some are more wobbly. Each of them, however, can support contents…some heavier than others. All of us take shape in the best way we can and carry our loads, with or without the support of others.

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The last thing I will mention is the ending, what I will call the “flourish”. I sometimes wonder why it is that we don’t figure out how good life can be until we get close to the end. I hope that isn’t really the case and that I have a lot of time left, now that I have it all figured out…SURE!!!!  Anyway, deciding how to finish off these vessels is another thing that makes them each unique. Some will have a knot; some will have more of a bow. Some will have an embellishment and  some will just end.sisal med 1

So, take this as you will…it was very meaningful for me! I try to think of who will use whatever I make and impart goodness and blessings into every item. These bowls, or baskets, are no different. I will be putting them up on my Etsy site and I think I will enclose a note similar to this post with each shipment. Like a “message in a bottle,” I hope there will be a message in each one of these bowls for the new owner and that they will create a happy spot on some shelf of life…whether they are empty or full!

Oh, and yes, for those of you who might be wondering…I will, indeed, clip the frays and strays on these special vessels before I ship them off. People will have to take them as they are or maybe they just won’t like the “real deal”!

Cheers!

Prayer Flags

Sometimes I feel so dumb! I am sure this never happens to you! This morning I was catching up on Quilting Daily emails and there was an article about prayer flags.

prayer flag project  (Prayer Flag Project)

prayer flags(Prayer Flags on Pinterest)

If you have followed me long at all, you know I am fairly easily inspired and that means yet another new project. This one may be long-going…

I try to live a mindful, prayerful life. My favorite element is the wind. This is a natural for me! I always wondered by people left these flags outdoors to fray and virtually disintegrate…in the wind and weather. Now I know! They are supposed to be there, sending the prayers up on the wind…how cool is that?!?

This is an ancient art and has kept going and being modernized with pictures, quotes, blessing (in your native language) and more. Well, I am off to start the project…I will likely start simple so I can get some prayer flags waving!

Quick Follow-Up to Craft Day

IMG_0684-0It was so much fun, as always, spending time with my muse friend and painting fabrics!

Here is just a sneak peek at phase one of some of the items. Next step will be lettering…or not…and then sewing up some cute market bags! More to come, in case you are watching.

It is CRAFT DAY…Yay!

It is Tuesday and it is Craft Day! I try to craft every day, but getting together with someone who shares my passion and inspires me is so much fun!

Today I will be painting, in preparation for making bags. That seems to be my two favorite things lately…painting and making bags!

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Above are two pics…one of more recent art…this technique might work on bags; one of a recent bag…no art on it, but made from recycled fabrics.

Hope you are doing something you love today too!

Jars, Junk or Just Great?

IMG_0658This is an empty jar!  It is a very nice jar though. Bet you expected me to say it was full of something. It was a candle, which I actually bought because of the jar. (I really didn’t like the candle wick…one of those wood wicks that is supposed to sound like a real fire…I digress, that is another story.)

I think this jar with the wooden lid is just waiting for some exciting contents to start filling it up! Now, some would say that saving jars is ridiculous and that filling them is even worse…maybe close to hoarding. I, on the other hand, say “phooey” to them!

button jarThis jar holds buttons. I thought this was quite a cool jar too, so I saved it, of course. You can see that the top is sitting ajar (no pun intended), as it is full, so maybe the empty jar will hold more buttons. Probably not.

cork jarThis rescued jar (also a candle jar) holds wine corks…for now. These are just from this month and this baby is almost full, so the corks will be moving to some BIG jar I am on the lookout to find. And no, I am not a wino!!!

So, why save jars and fill them up? Well, one reason is just to recycle. We need to be kind to our planet! Another reason is because they look so neat when filled and could be décor pieces that speak to your interests. Then there is the fact that I am a crafter and keep all kinds of stuff that I MIGHT want to use later. (I often times do use that stuff too!)

So, the next time you think about getting rid of an empty jar, think of me. Or better yet, think of some cool thing you could use it for…shells, matches, bottle caps, yarn scraps, rocks, screws, nuts, bolts, the possibilities are endless!

And one last little thought…you know another thing that makes me really happy when I find a jar I love? A manufacturer that uses labels that peel off easily! (Maybe that will be another post too…how to get those pesky labels off.)

Happy collecting…jars, junk or just great stuff!!! Thanks for listening to my ramblings. What do you think?

Off to a 2015 Start

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Happy New Year…even a bit late!

Off to a new start for 2015 and back at the work table. Today I am making pillow tops and bags. These will be in my Etsy shop when they are finished…along with more that don’t show up here.

My goals for the year? Other than being the person I am meant to be? Well, I hope to understand more about the ins/outs of selling my wares on Etsy (or other means). Why? Because I truly love creating things, as noted by my header here! What will I do with all of them? Maybe support my habit!!!

If you have any words of wisdom or a blog to share on this subject, please let me know in the comments below! I will also unabashedly ask for some love here and on Etsy…and will also return the favor!

Here’s to the new year and success in all the forms it can take!