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."