Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Personal Challenge

   About two years ago, I became involved with an established charity group making quilts for chemo patients. I identified with their cause and mission, and thought it was a perfect match for what I wanted to do with quilting. They were trying to establish a new chapter north of the city, where I live, and some other people and I, tried to establish a chapter at my church. I was frustrated with the lack of support and consistency from people to get this off the ground. Despite a lot of effort and time, after a year, the chapter was not able to be sustainable to the group. On my own, I have continued to make quilts for cancer patients, putting the quilt in a tote bag, complete with a book, When God and Cancer Meet, and handmade card. Some of these are shown on past blog posts. I have been able to cover the costs of doing a few quilts at a time. My mother has even jumped in sewing straight seams for strips and squares that I cut and resew into blocks and quilts. Some people have generously given me fabric, fabric scraps, and money towards the bags and books, so I will continue on, one quilt at a time. When I hear of someone who needs one, off it goes.
   One woman that I have learned a lot from is  Victoria Findlay Wolfe, who taught me through her sites how to make fabric from scraps which comes in handy for doing these quilts. She has even personally answered me when I had a question about a quilt she had posted and answered me again when I did not understand her explanation. That goes beyond the call I think. Recently, she posted that she was in need of some blocks for quilts she makes for cancer patients. She already coordinates quilts for the homeless. She showed the block, Anvil, and the tutorial, and asked for even one block if possible. At first, I dismissed the thought because:
1. I am triangle challenged
2. If I repeat blocks over and over, I glaze over and lose consciousness
3. I have my own cancer quilts to do
4. My blocks probably won't fit, they won't be perfect like hers
  Finally, I thought, I am just like what I was frustrated with. I needed to challenge myself and make these blocks because:
1. It is the same cause I believe in
2. Victoria has freely given help on her sites and email
3. I have to focus and make repeat blocks. I don't have to make them forever. Just six- enough to get the hang of it.
4. I cannot complain about anybody else, but do what is in front of me, even one block at a time.
So, thank you, everyone who has shared with me- resources, tutorials, blogs, scraps, time, I am grateful for your pieces in my life that make me the quilter that I am. Thank you to my guild who has shown me so much. Thank you to all the workshop teachers who traveled and prepped to teach me something. Thank you to all the authors and photographers of books that teach me even one small things. Thank you for reading this and I hope I have given you something you can use.
My two Favorites, made fabric from scraps

All six blocks ready to be mailed and I am humbled by it
All sewing done on my Singer 15 treadle and Singer 301.

Some of the machines

      I realize that I did not post the base that I refinished for the Singer 99 that was resurrected from the scraps that were delivered due to poor packaging (once was a whole machine) and the Spartan that I turned into a handcrank. I have another Spartan in its original green case, but this one came in a broken bakelite shell. I bought the case bottom from Cindy Peters, stitchesintime@earthlink.net who is a wonderful seller of parts for antique and classic sewing machines. It came unfinished and I used Minwax antique oil finish, at least 4 coats, and it is just terrific. It is cherry wood. I am going to buy another, but here are the 99 and the Spartan in the same base. Converting to the handcrank was easy. I bought a vintage spoked handwheel, unscrewed the old handwheel, put the vintage one on, bought a reproduction handcrank, unscrewed the bolt for the motor, removed it, and that was it. The machine itself was extremely dirty and gunky, but now it is just terrific.
Singer 99

Spartan Handcrank

Base before finishing

Monday, August 19, 2013

Two for the price of one

  Taking a cue from Bonnie Hunter, I started using leader and ender pieces while sewing. I have a plastic container of squares pre-cut, light and dark, just waiting. At the start of sewing, I piece a light and dark square, and at the end, another set. Eventually, I use the two blocks together as leader-enders to make a four patch. This is while I am piecing another quilt. Most of my piecing is done on a Singer 301. I press the four patches, and with this quilt, I used the Square in a Square Method by Jodi Barrows to add the sides on. I made half the blocks with black print, the other half, white with black print. In the book that comes with the trimming tool, this pattern is called, Simple Simon. This quilt is loosely based on the pattern, as I used a four patch center, and different borders, but I got the black and white idea there. I sewed the quilt together on my Adironadack vacation with my Kenmore 158.1040. It is so compact, it easily packed away. I also started an I Spy Disappearing Nine Patch Quilt there, but I don't have photos yet. When I got home, I added the borders. I need to see a quilt complete before I decide on how wide and what color the borders will be.
The Bonus Four Patch, a leader-ender

The Square in a Square Bonus Quilt

Further Denim Lily Developments

   I have continued to work on the Denim Lily Quilt that I showed earlier. After sewing it all down with invisible thread, I used a variety of Isacord color thread. I tried using Superior Bottom Line in the bobbin, but it did not work very well. Using a neutral Isacord worked much better. I trimmed all the seams carefully but of course, did cut into the hand dye fabric in a couple of places. I will have to repair that with fusible I suppose. I think I have all the color quilting on there I need or want but will give it a couple of days on the design wall before I add the border or binding. I can add a denim border or just bind it. Not sure. Although I love, love denim, this project was difficult removing freezer paper and the ravels of the denim edges. I think it needs to be rethought on my part if I am to do it again. Once again, I based it on buying Hollis Chatelain's pattern for the instructions, design is my own. Pieced, zig zagged on the 401, quilted on the 301.
Quilt the size of a fat quarter

Back from Vacation

My family all takes one week, the same week every August, and goes to the Adirondacks. It is a miracle we can all schedule this as the family has changed over the past 20 years we have gone. We rent a big house and try to give each other space. I take a multitude of photos that I use the rest of the year in my paintings and quilts. It is an inspiring place.
Fourth Lake

Moose River

Fly Pond

My favorite flower in Moose River