Tag Archives: quilts

Randomly, at the very end of the year

As usual, I stay away from too much reflection (remorse?) of the past year, and resolution-making for the new year.

Yep, that just about sums things up… #2017bestnine

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I have a few things in mind with a fairly strong commitment to finish or frog, several small house projects that still need to be wrapped up (I’m still looking at you, you bastard threshold!), but things will start growing again, and it will all be a busy blur once more.

I haven’t been sewing much recently except for a few minor clothing repairs/alterations. For the past couple of years I’ve also been drawn to hand-pieced things, but the bigger reality is that up until yesterday all but one (the one I keep ready for repairs) of my sewing machines were on time-outs which usually magically fixes them, but my luck finally ran out on that practice. (I’ve also had the on again, off again issue of work space, but that’s usually my own messy fault, and/or access issues for home repair.)

So though I intended on working on the long-ignored quilt above yesterday, I set up one machine, sewed three inches, got a snarling bobbin tangle, got out another and got another thready mess, got out another and forgot it needed a serious greasing instead of a little oil and also couldn’t find the spool pin I just found again for it, thought about checking out another, but it was two floors up and in a closet, and didn’t bother getting out the other two that need to be re-wired.

So I took a nap.

But it was a quick one, and I spent the next hour or two cleaning, oiling, and futzing with the goddamn tension to get it to behave. It’s still not great, but it’s mostly holding two pieces of fabric together now.

I hope to finish the quilt? It has a few weird memories from the last time I spend a good chunk of time on it, I really hate the quilting part of quilts – at least big ones, and it doesn’t really go with our decor so to speak, but I’ve got everything I need to finish it (provided the machines behave) and as an amalgam of stuff, it will easier to store and of course use, as a finished thing. So we’ll see.

And I don’t really need to buy any yarn again this year – I’m still spinning the last of a big wad of Jacob – and perhaps finally got a good chain-plying action going on. The only new yarn I might shop around for is reflective stuff.

I knit up this hat out of Red Heart for N. It’s not warm enough, it felt gross (though soft) to knit, and I’m dubious the wear will make it worthwhile for hand work. But he walks the dog in the dawn dark and we walk on country roads, so we need things with a ramped up visibility factor. I also have a spool of the reflective filament that can be held with any yarn too, but it was a little pricey I think, and/or the yarn was cheaper- I can’t remember now, and I think I was concerned about yarn dominance and loosing the thread in something wooly, so then I need to experiment with using it in duplicate stitch or as embroidery… something along those lines. And I’m also playing with some ideas for using it on dog accessories.

Has anyone else worked with this stuff?

Bathroom reno time? #miniature #dollhouse #childhoodthings #idontneedanotherhobby

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And then I’m still finding myself drawn to miniature stuff – I’m oddly mildly traumatized by home renovations/repairs these days, so maybe it’s a psychological thing in that I  actually want to feel in control and spend almost nothing (but time) on a renovation project, even if it is just my childhood dollhouse to get over it?

Eh, we’ll see on that one too –

Happy New Year!

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A mostly 1970s quilt…

It’s hard not to call this ramble something like “that ’70s quilt” or “talkin’ bout my generation” (even though that was the ’60s and has nothing to do with fiber) – something overstated but understood, jingly and annoying but common and somewhat comfortable…

But that somewhat encapsulates my feeling of the whole decade – it causes me equal parts discomfort and nostalgia.

I hated the 1970s because I hated polyester, stale cigarette smoke, musky perfumes, mustaches, “me,” disco (I kinda like that now), cheesy love songs, feathered hair, giant cars (El Caminos excepted), tube socks (I kinda like those now), my bible-beating public elementary school, my ignorant small town, plastic toys, Vietnam-damaged fathers and uncles (I didn’t have one, but most did), high-waisted clothes, acrylic, popular colors of pus, piss, and poo, the stench of leaded gasoline, dusty scents from too much unwashed macrame and houseplants and pillows and tapestries, halter tops on women and girls, too much wood, terrible architecture…

But I loved typewriters, lower-waisted clothes, back to earth movements, interpretations of 1920s and ’30s revivals, funk, longer hair, afros, craft revivals, interesting food, fantastical fiber creations, and a bunch of other stuff – mostly wrapped up in nature and creativity and the lovely analog life…

It sort of all started with this fabric. It might be older than the ’70s, but the calico and earthy colors reminded me of rustic quilts in mountain cabins comforting those who played banjos, wore patched corduroy, and brewed dandelion wine. I suppose that is more Appalachian than the ’70s, but since my parents moved us to the country to get back to the earth then, and I had a musical family who partook (and still partakes) in old time music and dance, my association is personal, though part of a definitive ’70s cultural movement.

1970s baking fabric

The fabric came from an antique mall (I think), and it’s a massive amount – some 10 or 13 yards, and it had to have been priced at $15 or less, so I bought it without a specific quilt in mind, but with the thinking that any cheap large amounts of cotton fabric = quilt backs. At the time, I also had a cousin who lived in an old house and participated in old time life whose wedding was a few months away, and I had grand ideas of making a massive rustic quilt for the couple. But that thought was short-lived – I never thought about what the top would be, and our own old house didn’t yet have a kitchen and sewing machines were packed away, and I essentially had stopped making quilts for anyone, or any bed-sized ones at all…

Fast forward a few months ago when I was unpacking and organizing my fabric stash, I found that fabric again, and also pulled out the tiny bit of my mother’s leftover stash that I’ve keep separate for fear of forgetting what was from my own past and what was from someone else’s.

1970s home fabric

Some of these are are a little earlier too, and I remember the top blue covering a chair seat likely done in the ’60s… and I vaguely recall the black or navy used for a piece of clothing for me. A bit more of this sort of calico found its way into the treetop of this piece.

Birdscene

And my old bonnet – which still fits…

(Remember the ’70s aslo had that patchworked and bebonneted character of Holly Hobbie and the resurgence of Sunbonnet Sue – I’m not sure which inspired my mother to sew a long dress with matching bonnet and white eyelet pinafore for a xmas outfit for me…)

1970s bonnet

But the fabric is awesome – baby chicks, scarecrows, kittens… I don’t want to cut this up though, so bonnet/artifact it will stay.

1970s bonnet detail

I also kept a terribly sewn dress that I remembered hating to wear because the neck or the empire waist, or something about it was too damn tight, and it was a baby style sized up to my girl frame, though I was forced to wear it around the person who gave it to me, and clearly it is faded so I must have been strapped into the thing often – or – the fabric was lousy and faded on the clothesline quickly. I think the fabric is a Liberty of London? And I have no idea why I kept it except for evidence in a child torture suit? Because I like brown?

(As an aside, I don’t get the hullabaloo about Liberty – sure, I appreciate the historic factor, but where is the fabric made? England isn’t known for its cotton crop, so it isn’t really made there, just printed. And though some of the patterns are lovely, some are a bit too romantic and twee for me, and some are just plain frumpy and if not in the know, would appear to be something that came from the big box…)

So I have no qualms about cutting it up – and I had it stored with an unfinished felted bag with pinks and browns, so it still could become a lining.

1970s dress detail

And finally, I remembered an aunt’s homemade skirt from that time – a mountain dwelling dancer whom I looked up to – I don’t know why I ended up with her skirt, but I was a tall child, and it fit me with the aid of a safety pin and I remember wearing several times when I needed to look “old fashioned” for some school pageant or living history sort of thing.

It still fits, but is nearly a foot too short for being the maxi-style skirt it is supposed to be. I am very hesitant about cutting it up, though I truly want to have less in my life – perhaps I’ll consider shortening it a bit to wear as a skit again, and then have the scrap to use, or perhaps I want to make a smaller wall quilt just out of it alone….

1970s-skirt detail

Though my thinking about ’70s fabric mainly revolved around brightly colored calicos and decisively shunned other fabrics of the decade, my mind started to wonder/wander about “cheater” cloth and if I shouldn’t just get several yards of the stuff and only add my own patch to it here and there.

I found this awesome hex pattern online and snatched it up…

1970s cheater fabric

It reminded me of my old pants.

1970s pants

(I’d like to think I caught Patches the cat leaping through the air in a trick feline circus move, rather than I’m probably squeezing her, or him? to the point of torture).

But that awesome mustard fabric is more of a canvas, there’s only a yard or less, and I think I’d rather make a tote bag out of it, so my focus returned.

I looked around for some more bright vintage calicos and was rather disheartened by the prices online – I’m used to picking up second-hand fabric (at least stuff that’s less than 50 years old) for a song…

But then this stuff is now “vintage” after all – I often think the ’70s was only about 18 years ago…

1970s cut fabric

I found a good deal on some pre-cut patches – normally I hate the pre-cut stuff because I like to use every last scrap of fabric and I mourn for the jagged corners thrown away, but I wanted some variety and this fit the bill.

And then I found a few larger cuts – the one on the left has a pleasing brown background, and the one on the right has a coy bird…

1970s bird fabric

(One of my online orders reeked highly of dryer sheets or some other synthetic stench. I can appreciate the need to scent the stash to deter fiber-munching predators, but if you sell it to others, please don’t use these chemical bombs – lavender and other herby sachets and naturally scented soaps and such work just as well and don’t cause respiratory distress in others as much… Better yet, send it out once it has aired and smells of nothing at all…)

And then I dug through my regular stash and found some prints older and newer that fit in well enough – most of these are scraps and fat quarters from the craft supply thrift store (usually 4 or 5 for a dollar), or in grab bags at antique malls, so all told, I spent less than $30 on my new old acquisitions to scratch my ’70s itch – not too overboard, but still fabric in, money out, and nothing to show for it….

1970s random scraps

But I don’t really like these colors – too primary with searing reds – I like that they’re warm and happy, but I don’t want to see them every day and I don’t want them in my bedroom with its calm and soothing hues. So perhaps it was enough to just gather my thoughts a bit and collect these few more fabrics – the total lot doesn’t take up much room and I’ve yet to lay it out or calculate to know if I even have enough for a quilt – a throw size definitely, which is perhaps what I’m leaning towards if anything at all…

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What I was thinking; what was I thinking?

I dip in and out of various media for scattered amounts of time, but I probably think about sewing the most.

I feel like I’ve made hundreds of quilts, but most of those were in my mind – the reality has only been in the double digits.

I still haven’t reconciled the disconnect of quilts falling farther on the craft side of the art scale and my desire to just whip out some for practical reasons, but not fully committing the time to do so because time should be used for art or making money to live. But that doesn’t reconcile the fact that almost all of the knitting I do is practical and most decidedly pure craft since I’m often using other’s patterns. I feel at odds with much of the quilting “community” both on social media and what can be had with guilds and such locally, though I’m not much of a community person to begin with… And I could go on with my discomforts on precision and technique versus visual interest, weird bandwagons and fad fabrics, and the pacing – slow down and make slow shit versus be sure to crank things out to keep up interest…

But I’ll rest here since I don’t have much time to ponder all of this, and frankly I don’t really care – I’ve been making a few quilts that will either be finished or not, be practical or hang on a wall, and I’m sure I’ll start a few more in the meantime…

But there was a time (late 1990s) when I wanted to really study quilts, and I forgot about it until I unpacked some old sketchbooks a few months ago.

thinking-scrapbook

I specifically chose an art program for my undergrad that focused on classical art “training.” We had an obnoxious amount of drawing classes and a somewhat rigorous prescription of moving up and through various media before finally focusing on our chosen one after a couple of years of fundamentals. I roughly still feel a sense of “you have to know the rules to break the rules” about making or doing most things, but my interactions with fiber have shoved most of that in its face. I spin but I don’t know shit all about twist; I knit but still knot when I shouldn’t; I sew but I don’t understand most of what anyone is staying about various seams and stitches and grains and biases.

Okay, I do know a bit, but from trial and error rather than a slow concentrated graduating effort.

thinking-blocks

So I think it was with this in mind that I started really looking at quilts – mostly old ones, especially depression-era, since I was collecting reproduction vintage feedsack fabric at the time. I think I wanted to make a grand all hand-stitched “traditional” quilt. At the time (and still now) I’ve only made pattern-less [I guess the kids are calling them] “improvisational” quilts.

So I printed off pictures of vintage quilts up for sale on ebay and pasted them into a sketchbook.

thinking-redblocks

And checked out lots of books from the library and copied the traditional squares. I’m not sure if I was too cheap to make photocopies or I thought sketching them would help me decide if I liked them or not…

thinking-storm

And I’m pretty sure I came really close to choosing the “storm at sea” as my traditional quilting masterpiece…

But then what?

Grad school intervened? I took up knitting? I didn’t have enough of the right kinds of fabric in my stash? (I still don’t) I didn’t have the focus to start cutting out the same shape over and over and over again? I couldn’t choose the colors?

I still don’t have the focus or proper stash to execute something more traditional, but I’m thinking about it again…

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Randomly, as the season begins to change…

 daffydills

We’ve got a rogue patch of overachieving daffodils that bloomed weeks before their cousins.

And immediately it becomes spring.

Our bodies are still confused about the seasons…

turkey devonshire

Still craving heavy winter food – like the disgusting-looking, but oh-so-delicious turkey devonshire sandwich – better with smoked turkey and yes, you can make cheese sauce with soy milk, and of course, lots of cheese, and I’m not one to believe bacon makes everything better, but in this case, it does…

jeni's

But also finally feeling warm enough to eat ice cream…

last of the 2014 salsa

But disappointed because last year’s home-canned tomatillo salsa ran out way before we can make more…

New tin

Still not quite willing to give up indoor activities like thrifting – especially when I can add a new tin to my collection

lamppad

Or a crocheted thing to protect newly finished furniture

Little quilt

And sewing little things because my physical space and current brain can’t handle anything much bigger…

Morandiesque

And continuing to unpack and arrange long stored things (Morandi, anyone?)…

whitewash not

And dragging my heels in deep about finishing the basement…

I experimented with whitewashing the ugly paneling, but only succeeded in making it uglier.

More painting, again? Now, so soon after all the rest…?

Noooooo……………

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Feeling peckish…

I hate most fabric marketed to babies, or rather their keepers, since perhaps babies would really just like giant boob prints, but most of it is just pathetic and timid, too cartoonish, sometimes oddly and vaguely religious, too pale and sickly pastel, and just plain ugly (however I do like some vintage baby prints).

But this one caught my eye a bit ago, and I knew about an upcoming wee one that needed a sewn item.

woodpecker-fabric.com

(Michael Miller fabric, pic from fabric.com)

I don’t make many things for babies now – at first I made many things because I only knew one.  Then more people started having them, and then the first one got a sibling, and I couldn’t keep up, or the charm wore off, or they started to blur together in a drooling blob and I couldn’t remember what I’d made and for whom.

(My apologies to all of those second children out there.)

So I whipped up a little quilt for the wall, but it could still be used as a quilt.  I had a grand idea of massive three dimensional applique with crazy depth and perspective, but in the end I kept it simple – a bit of applique birds and leaves and machine quilting.

woodpecker quilt

I had to buy thread again too – you’d think I would have learned from the last time I moved and couldn’t find it…

But the paint is drying in my new studio room at the moment, and next will be a freshly sealed floor (and then it has to become the bedroom for a while while I work on that room) and then I’ll be able to unpack allllllll of my sewing things!  So I see that day not so far off in the distance now.

But back to woodpeckers – I’m a fan of them.

I like their almost jungle-sounding call.

And their rat-tat-tat drilling (as long as it isn’t the house).

And though I don’t like that they damaged our lovely Magnolia, I’m fascinated by the pattern that they made – almost as if the tree had ripped out stitches…

woodpecker damage

…or machine gun fire.

woodpecker damage with moss

Maybe the yard is run by Woodi Peccaroni, the ancient don of the fermented tree sap bootlegging era…

 

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Old blue quilt

oldbluequilt-full

Many years ago, I found this old narrow reversible quilt at my old favorite thrift store.  I loved that it was made from scraps, improvisational, hand and machine-sewn, and the fact that it was just plain old, and I like old sh*t.

I sewed a sleeve on the opposite of what I considered the more public side and hung it in my bedroom to ward off the cold seeping through the walls in my old apartment – I loved that place too because it was old – but damn, it was also cold.

oldbluequilt-ties

It’s tufted with knots of white, blue, and reddish-pink (perhaps formerly red?) wool yarn.  The interior might be filled with wool as well as it’s just a mass of somewhat disgusting clumpy lumps now, but I’d need to perform a little surgery to find out.

(And I don’t think I really want to see what’s in it in case it’s nasty).

oldbluequilt-pinwheel

The reverse has a pinwheel and some nice fabrics not seen on the front.  This pinwheel got into my deep brain and caused me to make many half-demented pinwheels last summer, or maybe the summer before…  I think I probably have enough to make something from them… I should find them.

oldbluequilt-squiggle

I like this squiggly block.

The back has a few stained blocks, but were stained in their former life perhaps as clothing, as the stains were sewn over.

A few faint splotches look suspiciously like blood, or a really robust coffee mixed with a hearty and delicious red wine.

(That is also part of the reason I chose the other side to display).

oldbluequilt-plaid

And there are some lovely hand stitches too.

I also love that delicate blue pattern on the left side.

I can’t date it – there are definitely some old fabrics in it, perhaps from the 1910s, and the red, white, and blue color scheme could place it in WWII times, but some of the other fabrics have a 1950s and ’60s vibe?  Though the shape is also older – long and narrow – somewhat too big for a crib and too small for a twin bed.  It would probably best fit one of those narrow cot-like beds (don’t they have a name???).

But it seems that it could have been made from old clothes from a number of members of a family perhaps for a notable baby or a soldier – as a memento, or a comfort for someone leaving home.

But things are rarely as they seem, right?

When I was trying to pare down my things after I moved to N’s house, I gave it to him to give to one of his family members who was having babies at the time – I thought it would be nice for a wall in a kid’s room.  But he wanted to keep it, though we didn’t get around to hanging it up then.

Or in that apartment of late of which I’d rather not speak or remember.

And we still haven’t put it up in the new house (or anything else yet until the painting is done…

rather, all of the repairs that need to be done to the walls before I can even begin to paint them).

But I rescued it from storage a few months ago, and I’m  really glad I still have it.

And I love hate love hate love hate love that he enables me in the keeping of old sh*t.

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Of veggie weenies and small epiphanies

The growing season has ended for my mutant anthropomorphic vegetable friends.

carrotman

I think a mandrake got a bit randy in the carrot patch…

I’ve been struggling with that large quilt since the summer.

But no longer. 

Though I thankfully received some helpful suggestions on how to finish it in my limited workspace, I still didn’t want to deal with it.  But then I had a head-smacking moment when I realized it didn’t have to be a quilt.  I wanted it to be a functional bed covering to fully realize its concept, but it made no difference whether it was a quilt, or a coverlet, or a comforter, or a duvet cover.  I am loudly sighing with relief.  Though I also went to 13 stores (even thrifts) trying to find a cheap comforter that I could use as filler instead of spending an ungodly amount on 4 or 5 layers of high-loft batting and failed to find one in my budget.  So duvet cover it became out of thrift, necessity, and for the sake of my sanity.

Most of the other things I’ve been working on are finally coming together as well – it will be a welcome relief to stop thinking about the things I’ve been thinking about for the last few months.  So now I’m allowing myself to fall backwards into a bottomless [happy] pit of multiple projects.

My vacation knitting socks are further along, and might even conclude by the end of the year.

nostalgiasockmonster

I’ve gathered some acorns to use as dye (still no luck finding a tree infested with galls).

acorns

While I was in the woods, I saw several really cool vine yarns.

woods-vines

And I’ve started a couple of gifts for upcoming birthdays and holidays.

strelka-start

But thankfully I do not fully participate in most holidays apart from cooking and eating (mostly just the eating) so I have none of the pressure that others do to complete x projects in x time for people who might not want/like that hat, pair of socks, scarf, pillow, toy anyway.

As some may say, woot!

Or yippee!

Or hell yeah!

Or yee hah!

Or the excitement is so short-lived it will be over by the time I finish shouting.

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