Quilting ~ for Love
My first two quilts, made in 1985 were baby quilts ~ one for each of my nieces, born 4 months apart, children of two of my brothers. Here they are.
Layne, the eldest, carried hers around until it wore out, except for the appliqué teddy bear in the center. Her Mom framed the bear, and she still has it. Here’s a picture of Layne as a child.
They grow up so quickly! This spring, Layne graduated from college. Here’s a picture of her taken a couple of years ago.
What better gift of love and congratulations than an adult-sized quilt? When I asked her what colors she liked, she replied, “all colors, bright colors, especially turquoise!” Works for me too! I love Bali batiks, so decided to go with a patchwork quilt with squares of bright colors bordered by turquoise and navy. Here it is displayed at our County Fair!
Obviously, I’m pretty pleased about the ribbons. Didn’t expect to win anything, as the design of the quilt isn’t very complex.
Quilting ~ with Friends
My first half-dozen quilts were wing it quilts, which means I made them without really knowing anything about how to do it, and with no experienced quilters to help me ~ following the old just do it philosophy.
It worked ~ the quilts were lovely and kept us warm. Yet, it is so much nicer to make quilts in the good company of others, especially friends more experienced than I, who can explain the easy way to cut a binding, how to make the corners square, how to iron seams without stretching the fabric, etc. That’s how it is for me now that I’ve found and joined our local quilting group.
Here we are pinning the back, batting and top together for Layne’s quilt.
Quilting ~ from Zone to Zen
The exciting, fun part of quilting (for me) is designing the top and buying the fabrics! After that, it’s all about getting the job done. Cutting the pieces is hard on my back. Sewing them together into blocks is fun for the first few blocks, then becomes tedious ~ at least until the final seam reveals a finished top. Then comes the quilting ~ in the case of Layne’s quilt, marking and machine quilting stars and diamonds over the entire generously-sized, double-bed surface. Finally, there is the job of hand sewing the binding around the outside edge of the quilt.
What goes around in my mind during all these hours of sewing? At first, during each stage of making Layne’s quilt, I found myself in a counting zone ~ making mental note of relevant numbers.
For example, while sewing the blocks, I multiplied (in my head) the number of pieces in each block by the number of blocks, and added the number of pieces in the borders to arrive at a total number of pieces in the quilt top (754). While machine quilting, I passed the time by figuring out how many total quilting seams I had to sew across the width and length of the quilt (38), then how many times I had to stop and change directions (678). And, while hand sewing the binding, I timed myself to figure out how many inches I could sew in ½ hour, then multiplied that times the number of stitches in an inch, which gave me a stitches/hour figure (500+). Whoa ~ anyone else do anything this goofy?
For a while I stayed with the numbers, mentally ticking off how many units were finished and how many I still had to go. After a while, my mental state shifted. I forgot to keep track. The process slowly became more meditative, and I went from one step to the next seamlessly, without conscious comment. My hands kept working; my mind was calm, and long chunks of time passed in peace and contentment. Until eventually I realized, with surprise, that I was doing the final unit in the process.
Is that Zen? I’ve read about Zen Buddhism, and once attended a 4-day silent meditation retreat. Of course that’s hardly even a start to understanding the nature of Zen. Yet, I feel it is so ~ that while quilting, I sometimes come into a Zen state. It’s a beautiful place to be!
Teaching ~ in WI
In case any of you midwesterners have a bit of free time, in two weeks I'll be teaching at the Valley Ridge Art Studio in SW Wisconsin. I show pictures of this fabulous place taken when I taught there last year here.
September 7 & 8th, it's Acrylic Painting ~ Delux Decorative Papers, where you will learn all about painting in layers to create painted papers for collage, book arts, cards, etc. You can see a few examples on my website, here.
September 9th and 10th, it's Improvisational Bead Embroidery, where you will learn all of the basic bead embroidery techniques, many variations, edging, fringing and finishing methods, plus create your own unique piece working improvisationally.
As far as I know, both workshops still have a couple of openings.
Visiting Mom ~ in MN
For a few days before and a few days after teaching in Wisconsin, I'll be in Minnesota (St. Paul), visiting my wonderful 90-year old Mom. For a couple of decades, she was THE banner maker for her church. After moving to assisted living, with limited space, she quit making them, until last spring she got the bug again. So while I'm there, she'll be working on two Thanksgiving banners while I finish my August BJP and start the one for Septmeber. After all the quilting I've been doing, it will be great to get back to beads!!!