Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tater tot quilt

I agonized when making a Swoon quilt for my then-son-in-law and bride, the couple who are so terrifically conventional and unwilling to "step out," they had to invent a color between beige and gray to paint the interior of their brand new house. The finished wedding quilt is here (but I can guarantee they're using some single-color Crate and Barrel comforter instead).

To make that quilt work, I had to remove four blocks with pink and orange in them (too flashy). Now those blocks have been put together in a baby quilt:

My favorite of the four blocks features some lotus-flower fabric from Spoonflower:

Despite the flowers, and the pink, this quilt is for a baby boy. Hey, we're not gender-uptight here. The happy couple are two women, and they are sooo excited. Facebook has been abuzz since the peanut was born two weeks ago--five weeks early. Now is the grueling hospital time waiting for him to come home. So I thought this quilt might help sustain them.

I had no idea what backing I would use. I am packing my fabrics to move to my new house, this coming weekend! But, lo and behold, this Brandon Mably fabric caught my eye. So cheerful, a cheerful village...just the kind of place I want this baby boy to live in. After all, "it takes a village"! I had just enough to eke out the back.

It matches the front in an interesting kind of way:

The boy is named Tatum, and the happy parents are calling him "Tater Tot", of course! I hope he grows up surrounded by beauty, as every child--male or female--deserves!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Make quilts, not pipelines

I described the original inspiration of my last quilt, a crazy quilt, here.

Now I will describe the inspiration of its finishing, and its gifting. I was inspired by reading Kelly's blog post about making a quilt for friends of her cousins who live in Louisiana and lost everything in the flood. That post made me finally reach out a producer at our community radio station's sister station, WHYR in Baton Rouge. It turns out that his family lost everything, too.

So I had planned to finish that quilt for them. After all, it was in the Gee's Bend kind of style. But as I quilted through the jeans fabric, it seemed too heavy for the Deep South.

With the radio producer's blessing, I decided instead to give the quilt to a Pipeline Fighter who inspired me. Here in Iowa we are fighting the incursion of the same pipeline they are fighting in South Dakota. The Iowa Utilities Board (put in place by our corporate-cozy Gov) is allowing the company to use "eminent domain" to seize the land of farmers in its path. Some of those farmers have sued for damagees. That hasn't stopped the company from digging, digging, digging.

So, some of us Iowans have stood in front of pipeline building trucks, with the purpose of getting arrested.

The recipient of the quilt was one of those first 30. (There have been some 60 pipeline arrests since.)

And she had the graciousness to come onto my radio show and cry about acting out of a place of love. And not just cry, but say something very profound. She said that from the moment she stepped up to the block the trucks' access, she reflected on her whiteness. How nice the sherriff's deputies were, and how different it might be if she and her co-horts were black.

So my African American quilt went to Julia.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Bursts are best

"Wild", "groovy".

Those are the words my Facebook friends have used for this quilt. And I'll take them!

I started it a year and a half ago when I came back from a Japan quilt trip. Indigo is still the prevalent color in textiles there, and authentic indigo dyers still practice their art (it requires a carefully controlled fermentation process.) So, my foster daughter's cut-off jeans appealed to me immediately.

I paired them with the green fabric, which I had bought in Japan. It is a heavier weight fabric than calico. I had been searching for the "Tomato" fabric store, but there are four or five different outlets in the garment district of Tokyo, and the garment district of Tokyo is a bit seedy, and I was being guided by a man on a bicycle who first led me to an "afternoon delight" house!, SO--long story short--I took what I could get (and scolded the heck out of my "guide").

The orange butterfly batik fabric came from my friend Sally's daughter, Sophia, who had a fundraiser to sell fabric from Ghana. Hey, that's way better than magazine subscriptions! But however was I going to use it??

The inspiration came from the Silver Temple of Kyoto, a deliciously mossy, mind-emptying place. Just a couple of images:

But that special feeling I felt there couldn't sustain me through the frustration of composition (I got too ambitious), so I put it aside ... for 20 months.

Finally, after realizing I was going through severe sewing withdrawal, and as a reward for packing up a lot of my sewing room for the move, I dove in and finished the piece in 3 hours.

As my friend said, "bursts are best."

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Catching Up 3

My most recent quilt is again for a high school graduate, my "ex"-nephew, who has decided to study pottery.

It was sad to be sewing this quilt after the divorce was set into motion.

It started with a basic windmill pattern.

I was not familiar with this pattern, but I had picked up some antique windmill blocks and noticed they made an interesting pattern side-by-side (pairs of light squares, alternating horizontal and vertical):

I jumped into a purple-and-brown quilt using this scheme, but I did not enjoy sewing so many bias seams together:

Once I started changing my orientation to "on point", I noticed that [duh!] the pattern was simply an alternating one-square and four-square, but a four-square that had been given some more dimension using triangles:

Despite all the extra effort, I like the end product:

And my nephew does, too! He wrote me the nicest note, how he hopes to become as proficient as pottery as I am at quilting. I was so honored.

Catching Up 2

I've told you about my Egyptian exchange daughter, Nadia. After such difficult foster children, she was a dream come true. She lit up our lives, she made our lives as happy and vibrant as could be.

Here is her beautiful face:

Here she is, in an Egyptian costume I sewed for her for Halloween:

Here is the quilt I made her:

Here is the back of the quilt I made her.

The backing fabric worked out quite well. The blue figures almost look like Arabic calligraphy:

She still writes me by Messenger, and last week I got my first phone call from her via Messenger! It was amazing to experience her sweetness again. It was almost too much to bear. 

Catching Up 1

It's been a while since I've been on here.

It's been a busy winter-spring. My husband and I loved everything about our Egyptian exchange daughter: her bright smile, her easy laughter, her optimistic view of life.

And then the week after she left us, in June, we commenced the paperwork for a divorce. It is final now, and I hope to move into my new house in 3 weeks. This quilt was made in May for a young graduate who volunteers at the radio station.

I was able to use some pieces of the young man's toddler and elementary-school clothes in the design. I also used some of my husband's old shirts (made by me).

I hope to make this pattern again.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 in quilts

I'm a little late with this, but here are some of the quilts I made in 2015:

The year started out with a trip to Japan. And here is the gift quilt I brought:

You can see the Japanese influence in this "grace quilt" I made for a homeless woman, on the birth of her 3rd child:

I made this quilt for my Reading Buddy, who I meet every Wednesday at the library:

And this for his nana, who is raising him and his brother:

This quilt, with a border of appliques, was for my niece:

This Swoon Quilt for my stepson and daughter-in-law on their 1-year anniversary:

And this Pickle Dish quilt for my nephew and wife on their 1-month anniversary (ha ha, it was late to the wedding):

I made these two quilts for long-time friends (long-time friends are the best. Unfortunately, one lives across the state from me, the other across the continent.)

"Stone Soup" quilt

"Pressure Drop" quilt
This one was for a college freshman who showed my exchange student daughter (a high school senior) extraordinary kindness:
And this hospice quilt for my dear aunt, who passed away gracefully (but much too early) a few days after Christmas:

This is not exhaustive. I left out a couple of full-size quilts that highlight how shamelessly I do not have a particular style or palette but adapt to any new idea or recipient's preferences, as well as a couple of "charity" quilts.

What are your preferences? Which do you like best?

What do you hope to see on my blog in 2016?