Have you ever had that moment when you’re reading something, but misread it? Scrolling through facebook this morning I misread an ad that said, “Create Your Gifts” as “Celebrate Your Gifts”.
Creating your gifts, the things you give to others in celebration of the person whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, or Kermit the Frog day is a good thing, an investment of time, the hard work you’ve put into learning how to make the thing, and the tools (thread, fabric, stabilizer, batting) you have. Creating gifts celebrates the others in our lives.
When I read Celebrate Your Gifts I thought that is the coolest advertisement EVER! After all having a gift is one thing, using it, exploring it, growing the gift, is quite another. Often we have more than one gift and they’re related. Intertwined is more like it. In using one, often something we’re thinking about for another gets thought through, resolved, or we have some kind of insight that grows these gifts together.
I quilt. (I’ll bet you’re shocked by that statement, not. at. all.) I teach, love this so much. I make stuff. I’ve tested, and written patterns, though this isn’t my favorite thing. The thing is, if someone said this to me I’d say you’re inexperienced. And this is true. The more you do a thing, the better you get at it.
Today I’m going to celebrate the gift of quilting in my life by: finishing a quilt I started last week, and starting to write a pattern.
So here’s the second installment of the Kaleidoscope Quilted Block of the Month. I’m posting on Friday because I have a commitment tomorrow.
Let’s start with how much fun I had stitching this one out. I figured there’d be feathers, and bubbles, and swirls, something simple. Well. I did start out with feathers.
First step: stitching in the ditch, I used a pink Floriani Micro Thread (60 weight) embroidery thread with a size 70/10 Chrome needle. Why the pink? To show the seam lines in a pieced block. If this were going to be more than a sample for showing what the thread can do then a thread similar in color to the background would work.
This quilt is something of a two-fer: the back is this orange batik, I used the same bobbin thread throughout – the same pink to stitch in the bones of the block. I used cotton batting on this side of the quilt (orange), and wool batting on the oatmeal (cream) side of the quilt. This gives a sense of how the thread will look with different batting. I do prefer two batting on stuff that I’ll be taking to show.
Once the stitching in the ditch was complete I sat back to think about the motifs. Feathers around the center, waxing and waning with the shape of a diamond would create visual movement around the block that shows itself in the block.
Starting with a pearl at one end, I stitched along the top of the feather to give this finer thread a bit of weight and presence, and to help create the spine. As the feathers grew in length I’d switch to the opposite side, to continue filling the space.
To get to the next diamond shape I stitched through where the (seam) lines meet up. Anytime you’re working on a pieced quilt using the ditch to move from here to there is a great option rather than having a lot of stops and starts.
Tip: when starting or ending a new thread color, take the time to bury the threads at that moment to lessen the risk of stitching over them, or creating birds nests.
Next up: the center “star”, creating texture with the stitching that is simple, yet will create something that is visually dynamic.
Rayna Gillman has a new book: Create Your own Improv: Modern Quilts With No Rules and No Rulers published by C&T. Rayna has been part of my quilt world forever. As the Community Editor for Generation Q Magazine reviewing books is part of the work. Head on over to the blog, read the review, and enter for an opportunity to win a copy of her book.
Now onto today’s post:
I started stitching the feathers on this Quilted Block of the Month Sunday morning. I only had one plan: use Quilters Select battings, and Floriani Micro Thread for the blog and take when I teach to show off the micro thread and batting.
It is a rare occasion that I speak of my private life, and even then most of the details are left unwritten, or unpublished as I choose to have a public life, and my Sweetie does not. I respect that private space.
That said the last few years have been personally challenging, where the “have-to-do’s” outweighed the “I want to do this” and even the “I need to do this”. I’ve wanted to finish a few quilts – both personal, and professionally that are still waiting for time and attention.
I’ve wanted to teach machine quilting more, write at least one book, and some of the things that naturally flow from doing that work. Not being able to delve much more deeply has been, well, challenging (gut wrenching) at best because the Quilting World stuff is home. With the personal machine quilting, I haven’t stopped, however it’s not been quite as creative as needed, as though I’ve been phoning it in. Okay, I have, I’ve been phoning it in. There have been moments where I’ve found the zone, quilting with reckless abandon, those experience few and far between.
Something shifted Sunday while stitching out the feathers for the current Quilted Block of the Month. The last few years have felt a lot like, “NO, Teri this isn’t for you” and “Who do you think you are?” and “No, just no” 2017 has had quite a few, “No’s” One was a huge surprise, however it freed me to let go of something that I’d been holding onto for dear life, thinking this was the best thing for me, and in letting go, in honoring the words I’m hearing, there’s a deeper sense of freedom to explore.
Another, “No” led to an experience of disappointment. BUT it’s okay, I don’t mind being disappointed. Disappointed means that I’m invested in, and yearn for this. This can either be a goal for another time, or an indication to move in another direction. Either way it’s minor, and all is well.
When the quilting started to happen on Sunday in the organic, let’s create texture, and use all the color way that is the personal quilting style. I breathed deeply that fresh air. Whatever comes next, I’m game.
Sneak peeks of the block of the month are on Instagram. Saturday will be why the feathers were chosen, why the 60 weight thread, and other decisions.
My sweetie and I took advantage of some time together at home to rearrange the furniture in the living room. There’s something cathartic about making changes that begins to free the creativity in my soul. On Saturdays post I chatted about taking a detour while working on the Quilted Block of the Month. I’m actually breaking out the Marcia Derse fabric that’s been waiting for me to use it for quite a long time. While stitching the other day I noticed another charm pack featuring Marcia’s fabric, then found some solids to go with it. Then remembered that I have those fat quarters that have been waiting and waiting for me to use them. Stay tuned to see how this all works out.
When we last encountered our Quilted Block of the Month I’d finished the kaleidoscope block under the needle. Now, I may need to back up and show the finished quilt again, though that will be another day because there are exciting things on the horizon with the whole cloth part of this adventure.
I chose the solid Oatmeal batik from SewBatik, cutting a 20” square. This gives space for the block, and the opportunity to create a border for the quilt, this will be determined later on, once the block itself is complete.
Since this is a light background the lead for the SewLine pencil that I’ve been marking with lately is too light for these old eyes to see, so I turned to one of my handy dandy chalk pencils that wear off with great ease. I used a gray, which actually provides just enough contrast to see the lines.
Batting wise I’m using Quilters Select Perfect Cotton Batting, and Quilters Select Soft Wool. The cotton is the first layer at the back of the quilt, the wool the top layer nearest the oatmeal batik.
Thread wise I’m using Floriani 60 weight in the top, and in the bobbin. I’ll be using this thread through the entire project. This should be fun. I started with hot pink to stitch the bones. There are loads more colors and lots of motifs to stitch out.
Lately upon entering the sewing room there is a strong sense of being overwhelmed with ideas. Lots of ideas tumbling over, and over each seeking the deserved attention. While writing that sentence an idea to make a whole cloth using 60 weight thread in the top and bobbin popped into my head. I think I’m going to make a three-fer out of that one to feature the Floriani 60 weight thread, Quilters Select Wool batting, and for the Quilted Block of the Month for the blog. If I get really ambitious I might make more than one to share with a at least one other Educator.
The day started looking for a USB stick to transfer embroidery designs to the machine. While looking I found sample packs of fabric lines by Leslie Jenison – Urban Artifacts, and Alex Anderson – Mirage. So using them in the same quilt seems the only thing to do. Now a disclaimer, I’m not in love with using precuts, I know there are a lot of people who love them very much, and I see their value in the quilting world. And I would not ever tell anyone not to use them. They’re simply not my fave. So using them is a bit of a challenge for me.
After pairing them up, stitching and pressing I looked at the fabric stash, finding a line of striped batiks that I adore. I cut 9 1/2” strips, and 5” squares. Piecing for a good bit of the day yesterday was cathartic. That also meant that I didn’t do the Quilted Block of the Month, for good reason…I had no idea what fabric I wanted to stitch it out on. Gah! Quilters Block! Calgon take me away!
This morning I decided that the SewBatik Oatmeal is the way to go. It’ll show the color of the thread well, and marking it will be fairly easy. Sometimes sitting on a project for an extra day or two is completely worth it, for me, and for the Quilted Block of the Month Project in part to show you that I struggle with determining designs, and colors. What has come to seem intuitive is actually a lot of thought.
After a bit more looking I did find the USB stick that I needed, and have transferred a few Pickle Pie Designs embroidery designs that I want to stitch out as samples. I’ll get going on each of these projects after a few home projects. I’ll post now and again to Instagram…so keep an eye there.
Now that Quilt Market is over I can come back to the Quilted Block of the month. Our last block is this amazing kaleidoscope block, which I finished a while ago.
The next part of this block will be drawing it on a solid piece of fabric, then adding quilting. I’ll be talking about batting, thread choices, and motifs. The kaleidoscope is a favorite block as it creates a lot of visual movement with straight line piecing.
The lines in the whole cloth will do the same thing. I have some ideas for quilting that are starting to bubble up to the surface that will give this some dimension and a bit of fun. Oh and another thought…oooh stay tuned!
On the last day of the Dutchess Heritage Quilt Show I popped out for a bit to go to Montgomery Place Orchards Farm Stand in Red Hook NY. The Pink Pearl apples on my list were sold out the week before, necessitating an apple change. Each apple was chosen in relation to making apple pie, I made two, one included bacon. Oh! My! Goodness! that was so good, and it’s on the “must make this again” list.
Last night I used the last of the apples to make applesauce. It was so very good. There’s enough left to snack on over the next couple of days. Fond memories of late summers in Ephrata, PA, standing around my friends kitchen table rough chopping apples to make, and freeze applesauce for the winter months. It was a lot of work, and the reward of going to the pool later in the day was totally worth it. Being something of a city kid this was eyeopening because applesauce comes from a jar, right?!
The apples, an heirloom variety from Montgomery Place (please don’t ask the specific type because I don’t remember) are particularly fragrant, and held up well over the last several weeks. Instead of dumping the water they cooked in, I put it in another pot to let it simmer down for a while. This simmering down takes time, and patience, something that embracing the process of baking way back when, taught me. The liquid simmered, and simmered until this lovely thick, tartly sweet syrup was all that was left. This syrup tasted so good on the pancakes this morning. What a delightful and satisfying experience when something works in the hoped for way.
This morning Seth Godin shared these words on his blog, “Are there places you feel like you’re falling behind where there’s actually no race?”
And of course, this brings us to quilting, and how we perceive our work in general. For the first time ever I had the opportunity to attend the awards ceremony at International Quilt Festival in Houston, it’s simple, straight forward, and beautiful. Seeing the quilts revealed around the room, one by one, highlighting each quilter(s) work is impressive. Someday I will be among those quilters. It’s one of MY personal goals. There was a sense of belonging, and knowing I can get there.
Here’s the thing. This isn’t a race for any of us. It’s a choice. WE also have the choice of honoring one another’s work, therefore honoring our own. We have the choice of recognizing the level of work that each quilter puts into making quilts from the beginner, advanced, and artist. We’re each different, we each bring something cool to the party. And for most of us, this is not a competitive thing. Because it’s not competitive let’s remember that this is not a race, comparing our work to others is useless. I know we’re going to do it anyway, it’s what we do. Let’s keep our own goals in mind, particularly as we read blogs, check out pinterest, see photos flooding our fb or twitter feed. By keeping our own goals in mind we have a better shot at not comparing our work to others, or better yet being inspired and not diminished by what we see out there.
One of my very first quilts lives on my bed, it’s got some serious problems. I still love every. single. stitch. lovingly put into that quilt. I love the awful tension. I love what that quilt taught me, and that it started me on the journey to where I am as a teacher and machine quilter. It wasn’t long after that quilt that I learned to understand tension.
The beautiful thing about quilting is that there’s room for all of us to become who we are as quilter makers. And if your path leads to being a fabric designer, pattern designer, teacher, competitive quilter, or a quilter who makes quilts for every member of the family, friends, and strangers who are in need then you are right where you fit, where you belong, and where you need to be.