Badlands Quilt Talks!

We have all known that quilts tell stories, but did you know they are able to talk too? Some even SHOUT! My Badlands quilt is a screamer!

Way back in the early 90’s when my children were very young, I thought it would be adventurous and educational to drive cross country in our brand new minivan, following my sister-in-law and her two kids back to their home in San Diego from our home in New Jersey; just two adults and five kids, visiting the National Parks and camping along the way. It was a trip of a lifetime with many wonderful stories to recount 30 years later.

What I remember most about that trip was how awed I was with the Badlands. Visions of wagon trains pioneering through that beautiful yet treacherous terrain made my head spin. Set with perseverance and determination quite a few of them made it through to the other side. Many others were not as lucky.

Speed ahead thirty or so odd years to the summer of 2017, and I find myself back at that very same spot, and just as awed as the first time. Except this time I am alone, with only the ghosts of the trails to keep me company.

I began this cross country trip for two reasons, one to spend some of my retirement years enjoying all our country has to offer, and two, more importantly to arrive in Seattle for the birth of my grand daughter. Driving, listening to books on tape, pulling over for any interesting attraction that caught my eye, and marveling in our vast lands were the only things on my agenda… until I heard a voice while staring off into the Badlands.

It was quiet at first. It was female, she was humming contentedly, rhythmically as if keeping in time with a hand quilting project as the wagon swayed with the pull of the horses. Immediately I felt the urge to make a quilt.

The odd thing about this decision was that I was already collecting fabric on my travels. I had no intention of doing so, but the moment my car crossed the New Jersey state line into Pennsylvania I made the conscious decision to stop each day at a locally owned quilt shop in whatever area I was in, not to purchase fabric necessarily but more to soak in the talent and creativity of others. OK… so who am I kidding, what quilter can walk into a quilt shop and not buy at LEAST a FQ (that stands for a Fat Quarter to you non-quilters)?

Normally I gravitate to bold clear colors and lots of graphic design elements like polka dots and stripes, with bright white backgrounds as I am considered a ‘modern’ quilter. However, at this particular moment I chose to purchase some creams and tans with small tone-on-tone florals. Recently while flipping through a quilt book at a friend’s house, I had seen a quilt with those colors and took a quick photo for future inspiration. That vision stuck in my head as I paid for the fabric.

Now, a few days into my trip and another fabric purchase of tans and creams tucked into my trunk here I am standing in the Badlands with this woman’s humming in my ears and the urge to make a quilt. So guess what I did? Yup… I made a quilt.

It wasn’t easy. I felt like a pioneer woman with no pattern, no idea other than a photo from a book in my phone, no rulers, rotary cutter, self-healing mat or sewing machine. All I had was a pair of small scissors that I keep in the car for emergencies, a pencil, and a few pamphlets of where I’ve been. That night in the hotel I pulled out my fabric and meager supplies, and began forming a plan. Folding and cutting the pamphlets I made a rough pattern, drew around it with my pencil, and began cutting the fabric, little tiny snips at a time. It was laborious!

By the time I got to Seattle the quilt had been cut out and was ready to be sewn. Thankfully I gifted a sewing machine to my daughter-in-law for Christmas a few years back. Working around the joyful delivery of my grand daughter, tiling the floors of the condo, and dog sitting 2 big black dogs, I was able to sew the main top of the quilt together, in addition to the half square triangles needed for the border.

Each time I made a mistake, noticed a wobbly seam, or ACK sewed a fabric backwards, the calm female voice told me to leave it alone. “This quilt is not supposed to be perfect. It’s meant to have all the lumps and bumps and mistakes. Keep on sewing, don’t stop to fix it, just enjoy it”. Let me tell you how stressful that was! Really? To see a mistake and NOT fix it goes against every fiber of my being!!! Doesn’t the voice know that we current day quilters are JUDGED by other quilters and THEIR standards??? I sighed and continued calmly on.

Packing the quilt away in the back of my car, I headed straight home without another thought. Five days later I tossed it over the back of my sewing chair where it has happily stayed, until I got the flu four months later.

Feverish, achy, coughing, and fading in and out of consciousness, the quilt began to speak to me.

“Hey, wake up, I want to be finished”.

“No”, I said to myself.

“Yes. Now”.

“No. Go away”.

“NOW! NOW! NOW! I want to be finished NOW”!

“Ugh”.

It took three days, but I hauled myself up off the couch long enough each day to sew a little bit at a time finishing the border. Laying it down on the floor and placing the border around the edges I stepped back to take a look at my work. Something was wrong. The quilt looked sad. It wasn’t speaking. Maybe it was just this stupid flu playing tricks on me. I went back to bed.

The next morning the quilt was still on the floor, looking sad. I kicked the border around a bit and I swear I heard the quilt giggle. I moved the border around a little more creating an off center kind of thing, and again I heard giggles, then laughter. YES! The border was the problem; it was too predictable, too traditional, too planned. With a few more snips of the scissors, a couple of new seams, and turning some upside down, I recreated the border and sewed it on. I now have a happy quilt.

Happy Badlands Quilt

All that’s left is the actual quilting and binding. I’ve got the binding under control… it’s the quilting part that’s speaking to me now. My original plans were to hand quilt the entire piece, just like the women on the wagon trains did many years ago as they passed through the Badlands… but this quilt is insisting on being a bit more current day and wants a hint of machine quilting along with the hand quilting. Ah…. She wants it all! Typical female!

Check back while the story continues as the quilt gets ready for the ball (Quilt Fest) in April 2018.

Happy Quilting!

Deb

Creative 2017 is Now in Session! Won’t you Join Me?

It looks like 2017 is going to be an extremely creative year for me. I’m only 3 days in and so far I have been working on a quilt, drawn a neighborhood home, started Joanne Sharpe’s 2017 Artful Life Class, and have a knitting project on my needles! All this… and so much more either in the design stage, or further!

The Quilt – I fell in love with Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s Star Storm pattern and have been busy choosing fabrics for mine. I am blogging about the process… so you can read all about it HERE and HERE. Deviating from the original color scheme is certainly exercising my creative brain!

Star Storm creative Fabric Selection

House Drawing – My neighborhood is an eclectic mix of homes at the Jersey Shore. From sprawling mansions to tiny bungalows and everything in between, we have it all. As I walk around I am humbled by some of the amazing homes. I want to draw and paint so many of them!! One of my favorites is one that has so much character and texture it SCREAMS for me to look at it as I pass. The stained glass window on the front door is a spider web!!! So AWESOME! Taking a break from the quilt and some computer work, I spent this rainy day finally drawing this house. I still have to pull out my water colors to finish… but that might have to wait for another day. Working from a quick snapshot taken this summer, I had to take creative license on some areas I couldn’t see well.

creative Ink drawing

2017 Artful Life Class – I signed up for this online class the moment I heard about it… grabbing the ‘early bird’ pricing. I have been following Joanne Sharpe for a few years now, purchased her books, read her articles in magazines, and have even taken an older class or two. I love her easy style of teaching… and the positive atmosphere she creates in her classes. This particular class runs the ENTIRE YEAR!!! One of the main reasons I signed up for her class was to document my life in a fun and creative way, while learning new techniques on a regular basis. I highly recommend this class to ALL of you… even if you don’t think you can draw! Seriously! Joanne makes it sooooo easy to follow her!! More information can be found HERE!

Creative Lettering - 2017 Artful Life

Knitting – In reality I have TWO projects on needles. The first is a hat for my grandson in Florida. Obviously it will be lightweight as the temperature doesn’t drop that low. It won’t take long to complete… maybe a day or two. The second project KILLS ME!!! The scarf that took me THREE YEARS of off and on again knitting… and had to be ripped out and re-started FOUR times (post of progress HERE)… was LOST!!! I only got to wear it TWICE!! I was wearing it when I hopped on the PATCO High Speed Line, and by the time I walked the many blocks to The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia… it was GONE! AAACCCCKKK!!! I can only hope that it is keeping some homeless person a little bit warmer this winter, and they needed it more than me. I quickly purchased new yarn (on sale… SCORE!)… and am ready to start all over again! To satisfy my creative side, and not feel I’m knitting the same thing over again, I purchased a different color.

Other Projects – First up, I have another card table play tent to sew for my daughter’s business… Posted Fete (formally Bash Box). Last time was a Luau theme… this time it’s camping. Fun! It will debut next month. The creative design stage is complete… it’s now time to get this thing on the sewing machine. Secondly… I’m working on a super secret project due soon. As soon as I am able to share it with you, I’ll post.

Working on the computer, checking in on high school classmate’s parents, staying in  touch with family and friends, and finally eating and sleeping round out my day. The big question I have now is… WHEN did I ever have the time to work full-time job????

Here’s wishing you a happy and creative 2017!!!

 

 

Church Window Hexagon Quilt Challenge

Happy National Quilting Day!!!

In honor of National Quilting Day, and to all the fabulous and creative quilters out in the world… I give you… my very first Quilt Challenge.

Last month a small group from my local quilt guild (Jersey Shore Modern Quilt Guild) attended an exhibit at the Michener Art Museum (as in… the author, James A.) in Doylestown, PA. ‘Blanket Statements’ was a Kaffe Fassett exhibit of antique English quilts and his modern-day interpretation of them.

The antique quilts were amazing. To think woman over 150 years ago used needle and thread with such complexity!  Although we didn’t agree on which quilt was our favorite, we found ourselves gathered around one particular quilt commenting how we would have designed the modern version differently than Kaffe Fassett. Each idea was creative, exciting, and totally unique. Eureka! A quilt challenge was born!

Before we start… let me take a few moments of your time to explain the coolness of this particular block. If you look closely at the antique quilt top after reading the write up… you marvel at the fact it was all paper pieced… BY HAND!!! And as amazing as that is, you look closer and only then realize the hexagon shapes are mostly done in stripes… and they are MITRED!!! O!M!G!

Paper pieced antique quilt, Church Window Hex

         Paper pieced antique quilt, Church Window Hexagon Top

Now… let’s take a look at the modern interpretation.This one has taken the current day mantra of ‘git her done’ to heart by using rotary cutting and machine sewing… not to mention the bold, bright patterns and colors Kaffe is so known for.

Church Window Hexagon Quilt Challenge http://www.debhathaway.com

      Modern interpretation of Modern Church Window Hexagon

Now it’s YOUR turn to re-invent this design. I’ve done the easy part for you and created the basic pattern and tutorial. You, as the creator get to put YOUR spin on it. Will you make it a ‘scrappy stash buster’ or all in one fabric designer’s line? Will you use prints or all solids? Fussy cut centers perhaps? Oh… I know… how about all the hexagon shapes the same color?? Oh the choices are endless. I think that’s why this specific quilt captured our attention. Oh! What would happen to the design if all the small corners were the same color… would they look like polka-dots??? Hmmmm…

Challenge RULES:

1. Have fun with this! Use your imagination and creativity. Feel free to use my tutorial and pattern instructions as a GUIDE by changing up the width of the strips you cut. Hand sewing, paper piecing, machine sewing, embellishments and more are all accepted.

2. Finished item must be in quilt form… top, batting, and backing… bound. There is no minimum or maximum finished size requirement.

3. Must use a minimum of 12 blocks clearly depicting the creative journey you are on.

4. Challenge begins 12:01am March 19, 2016, National Quilting Day, and ends at midnight September 192016. Feel free to jump in at any time!

5. When completed please post a photo of your quilt on our Facebook page… Church Window Hex Block Quilt Challenge.

PRIZES…

Yes, there will be prizes. In addition to simply seeing all the inspiring quilts there will be pop-up prizes for those who post photos along the way. Things like, a signed copy of Denyse Schmidt’s book Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration… A fat quarter bundle of Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s new fabric line Mostly Manor… and more. To know what prizes will be awarded when, and what you need to do to be in the running… you will need to join or follow our Facebook Page.

Here’s the basic pattern and tutorial…

Church Window Hexagon Block

*Following is the standard size I have designed for this challenge. Please feel free to use this as a guide and switch it up. You will notice I have included a few other size options below as well. Let your creative muse be your guide.

For EACH block cut the following:

Fabric A   – (1)   2 ½” Square

Fabric B –   (2)   2 ½” x 6 ½”

(2)   2 ½” Squares

Fabric C –   (4)   2” Squares

Church Window Hexagon Block Challenge

   Pink is Center square, Green is Hexagon, Yellow are the corners

 

Fabric A… Pink.  Fabric B… Green  Fabric c… Yellow.

Assemble:

Step 1: Using ¼” seam… Sew each Fabric B 2 ½” square to opposite sides of the Fabric A 2 ½” square, creating a rectangle. Press seams out, away from the center square. Set aside.

Church Window Hexagon Quilt Challenge http://debhathaway.com

                  So far, so good… center of block is complete.

Step 2: Using a pencil and a straight edge, mark a diagonal line on each Fabric C square. Following the photo… place a Fabric C square on each upper corner of the 2 Fabric B 2 ½” x 6 ½” rectangles… right sides together. Sew ON the pencil line AFTER double-checking the direction of the diagonals. Trim seams to ¼”, then press resulting triangle up.

Church Window Hexagon Quilt Challenge

                          Pencil lines drawn on diagonal.

Step 2b Church Window Hexagon Quilt Challenge

Step 3: Finger press the rectangle made in Step 1 to find the center from side to side… and repeat with the 2 pieces made in step 2. Matching centers, sew the unsewn side of Step 2 pieces to the top and bottom of Step 1 piece, right sides together. Press seams away from center square.

Finished Church Window Hexagon Block http://debhathaway.com

                     Ta-Dah!!! Just press and you are finished!

Size: 6 ½” unfinished, 6” finished

Additional size options:

For a larger center square (see Solid block example below)…

Cut: Fabric A – (1) 3 ½”

Fabric B – (2) 2” x 6 ½” rectangle

(2) 2” x 3 ½” rectangle

Fabric C – (4) 2” squares

Still results in a 6” finished block (6 ½” unfinished)

Large center square

                                Notice the larger center square?

For an even smaller quilt block cut all 1 1/2″ squares and strips, 2 strips being 1 1/2″ x 3″. The finished block will measure 3″ square.

*** Please note that the small squares (Fabric C)creating the hexagon shape are NOT necessarily on the seam line in the main directions. This is by design. If you look closely at the Modern interpretation of the antique sample, you will see they chose NOT to line them up either. If this bothers you… simply cut 2 ½” squares and proceed with directions.

*** When assembling blocks into finished quilt, rotate them so seams alternate from horizontal to vertical for added strength. See modern interpretation photo for clarity.

Questions??? Leave a comment below, or email me at deb(at)debhathaway(dot)com.

Can you understand why I’m OBSESSED with this block??? It’s so versatile!

I am so excited to see all the different variations of this quilt you all make!! Each one will be special and oh so beautiful!

This challenge is open to EVERYONE. The pattern is GREAT for beginners as well as the more advanced quilter. Please SHARE this challenge with your fellow quilters. The more participants, the more variations we get to see.

Share your process on INSTAGRAM using #churchwindowhex or tagging me  @uniqueandnovel.

Again… JOIN the Facebook Page to be kept up to date on all the fun. Pop-up prizes, Special Surprises, inspiration, and motivational cheerleading will all be posted there.

I will finish up this post with one final photo… the 2 quilts side by side at the exhibit that rocked my world and started this entire challenge.

Old and New

*Photo Credit for the Quilt photos at the museum goes to Brandy Borden. Thanks Brandy!

I hope you all enjoy this challenge as much as I had putting it together.

Happy Sewing!  Deb

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh New Look!!

I know it seems I haven’t been posting much lately… OK, I HAVEN’T been posting ANYTHING lately… but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working hard.

First off… I’ve been diligently working on updating the look and feel of this site. It was too ‘stiff’ for my taste… and ‘corporate’, so I’ve switched it up with a fresh new watercolor background and header, making the site more ‘me’. This change is in keeping with my NEW GREETING CARD LINE!!! I have my very first design at the printer’s RIGHT NOW! I should be able to proof it in a few days… and showcase it shortly. Until then I’m keeping the design ‘under wraps’… and leaving you guessing.

October 11th is fast approaching… and that means BELMAR BOOKCON is right around the corner!!! I have been reading, and reading, and reading, and vetting self published authors like crazy to bring the very BEST new and original books to Pyanoe Plaza in Belmar, NJ for the day. If you missed it last year… shame on you… and hope you can make it this year. Stephanie Evanovich ( I KNOW!!!) is our keynote speaker!!! We are soooooo excited!!! More information can be found at www.belmarbookcon.com.

My brain needed some creative release… and so I took up crocheting super cute OWL HATS!!! It all started with my daughter asking me to crochet one for my grandson’s Halloween costume this year. Well… I’m totally hooked (pun intended) and can’t stop making them! Owl Hat

Aren’t they the CUTEST??? Currently I am taking orders. They come in ALL SIZES… even ADULTS!!! Send me an email if you would like me to make one just for YOU and I’ll send you the size and price sheet.

In my spare time… (yeah right) you can catch me procuring and selling books for RECYCLE YOUR BOOK HEREexperimenting with IMPROV QUILTING so I can teach a tutorial for my local quilt guild JERSEY SHORE MODERN QUILTERSdesigning greeting cards and ADVENT CALENDARS, traveling, babysitting for my adorable grandson, and trying to sleep. YAWN!!

I hope you all had an enjoyable summer and are loping forward to a breath of fresh air this fall season!

Deb

 

 

 

 

Quilting for Texas

Unless you have been sequestered in a cave lately I am certain you have heard sad and horrific stories of the flooding and devastation in Texas. When the Northeast was hit by Hurricane Sandy, the rest of the U.S. rushed to our aid. Power companies, construction crews, church groups and more created a steady streaming convoy in our direction. Local businesses provided food, water, and shelter… and quilters began cutting into their fabric stashes.

Flood Texas with Love

                  Flood Texas with Love

 

It’s time to set up our machines and dig through our fabric to cover Texas with warmth. I have personally pledged to sew some blocks to mail off to other quilters and longarmers to turn into finished quilts. I encourage all of you who sew… Even if you are a ‘newbie’… to join in!

Slab Quilt design graciously provided by Cheryl Arkinson

Slab Quilt design graciously provided by Cheryl Arkinson

As you can see it’s a colorful and fun design to do. Head over to the blog Southern Transplant, http://mainerinthesouth.blogspot.com for details.

 

Donation Quilting. I Need HELP!

A few years ago a friend insisted my quilting ability was a marketable skill. I have since realized very few people are willing to pay the going price for a quality quilt. Each lap sized quilt takes on average 50 hours to complete and costs about $85.00 in materials and supplies. If I charged a fair hourly rate of $20 an hour… I would have to charge just over $1,000!! It makes my stomach ache just thinking about it. Yes, my quilts are worth it… after all they are true family heirlooms, but I found I gain more pleasure in quilting for charity.

My Grandson's Forever Quilt!

My Grandson’s Forever Quilt!

 

Over the past two years I have mailed out over a dozen quilts anonymously to families hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Using fabric from my personal ‘stash’ kept the costs down. However, at my own expense I purchased the batting and backing fabric. Just because I was donating these quilts, I didn’t skimp on quality. I still insisted on using the best of everything.

My goal this year is to complete 4 quilts for the QUILTS OF VALOR program. All donated quilts are given to a wounded warrior to be wrapped in love and warmth. In addition, I would also like to contribute 4 quilted wall art pieces to THE HOUSE QUILT PROJECT presented to returning wounded warriors. Both causes are calling my name!

I anticipate the QUILTS OF VALOR donations to cost approximately $100 each in materials and shipping and the HOUSE QUILT PROJECT donations to cost about $30 each. Is there any chance you (or someone you know) might be willing to help defray these costs?? I would be forever grateful!!! Please contact me for further details. Anyone donating $100 or more will get their name added to the quilt label and journal that goes along with the quilt.

Donations can be made through PayPal (use the email address of deb(at)uniqueandnovel(dot)com), or by sending a check or money order to my home. Please contact me for information. Oh, and YES… you can donate ANONYMOUSLY in cash (believe it or not I’ve had this happen once).

If for some extraordinary reason I receive donations above what is needed to complete these 4 quilts and 4 wall hangings… I promise to use the funds to continue on and make more quilts for donation.

All donations and progress will be notated on my blog in a monthly post. I intend to make these items no matter what! With help, without help… no matter.

If you would like to help design, cut, sew or do any ‘hands on’ work, please contact me via email: deb(at)debhathaway(dot)com. I will send you my timetable for you to tell me when you are available. *This is a perfect opportunity for those of you wanting private quilting lessons… For FREE!! If you don’t live near me, it is still possible to help by sending items via snail mail, however YOU will be responsible for all postage to and from me.

If you would like to donate batting or backing… please contact me FIRST. I am very particular about the brands and quality I use. FYI… I am frugal in my purchases and LOVE using coupons, however I have PLENTY!

I can not accept donations of fabric at this time. I only use top quality quilter’s cotton from reputable independently owned quilt shops. Besides, until I design a pattern, I have no idea how much of which fabrics I will need. But thanks for thinking of me!

If you really want to help, but don’t have the time… feel free to buy me a cup of coffee to keep me going!!! My favorite ROOK coffee costs $2.35… I drink a regular size Honduras with cream and sugar… oh and a chocolate croissant or a bagel is a nice touch 🙂

Please check out the sites for QUILTS OF VALOR and THE HOUSE QUILT PROJECT and see why I’m obsessed!!

If you have any questions, please comment below or send me an email!

Thanks in advance for your support!

Deb

 

 

Raw Clams at the Shore

I woke up one morning with an image of a quilt in my head. I was so excited I couldn’t wait to start sewing. Although it seems I thought of it one day, and made it the next… in reality it was years in the making.

Two years ago quilt artist extraordinaire, Frances Alford had shown me a piece she was working on… making her own fabric by sewing odd shapes and pieces of fabric to a base. The best thing about this concept is that if you don’t like what you’ve done… simply sew another piece over it. Ta-dah… instant ugliness eraser! This technique rumbled around in the back of my head for too long… it was time to bring it to the fore front and try it out!

I purchased fabric last year for the Quilt Alliance contest/fundraiser. The theme was TWENTY… whatever that meant to you. I had decided to use 20 fabrics (all beach colors) and do something that represented 20 years at the Jersey Shore… but never got around to doing the project. The fabric sat around on a shelf for an entire year… untouched. Each time I unearthed it in a frantic search for something else, I would move it to the side with the intention of SOME DAY doing something with it.

This year’s Quilt Alliance theme was “INSPIRED BY”. By searching the Quilt Index and checking out all the quilt eye candy, you were to design an art quilt of your own that was inspired by something you saw. Well… for me… it was CLAM SHELLS. There is an old pattern making the rounds again named Clam Shells. To be honest… I had no desire to sew anything with this design. Personally I don’t like it… it doesn’t appeal to me at all. However the idea of this challenge was simply to be inspired by a quilt… so… Clam Shells it is. I couldn’t get Clams Incognito by Beth Donaldson out of my mind. Her quilt is colorful and modern… clearly ‘outside of the box’ type of thinking went in to her design.

All the planets aligned, a new contest/fundraiser was announced, I had all this fabric just itching to be used in some amazing project, Frances’ idea was niggling in my brain… and I dreamt of a specific quilt. Kismet I tell ya… Kismet.

This quilt represents so many ‘firsts’ for me. Raw edge quilting, beading embellishment, free motion quilting, making a hanging sleeve, submitting to Quilt Alliance, and yes… even making a quilt label! I have made many quilts over the past 2 years… but they were given anonymously, so I never put a label in them… SHAME on me 🙂

Without further preamble… I unabashedly unveil the final art quilt… ‘Raw Clams on the Shore’:

Raw Clams... final

Of all the quilts I have made… this one saddens me to give it away. I dreamt about it… it’s a part of ‘me’. It came out EXACTLY the way I envisioned. On the plus side however… it will be judged and hopefully might be recognized is some small way. Then it will travel to some quilt shows and eventually be put up for auction on Ebay via the Quilt Alliance as their annual fundraiser. I’m sure it will go to some one who will appreciate it as much as I do.

Hey… I can always make myself another, but then I’d have to go fabric shopping… Darn!

close up 1

Quilting… an Aerobic Activity. Really??

Yes, really.

While working on a quilt all this week I was concerned I wasn’t getting enough exercise. Sitting at a table drawing a pattern, leaning over the fabric with a rotary cutter slicing the fabric according to the design, and hunching over the sewing machine for hours pushing and guiding the fabric under the needle to produce a quilt doesn’t leave much time for taking a walk.

Once I begin a project, nothing gets in the way of my focus. I have been known to go without food at times. I get so involved in what I’m doing, I simply don’t notice I’m hungry.

I made the prudent decision to place the ironing board downstairs in the kitchen, and kept the sewing machine up in my bedroom. I would then have to sew a little, then run downstairs to iron it… run back up and sew some more, and skip downstairs to press what I have done. Keeping the blood moving and my heart pumping… that’s the name of the game.

My current project is a mini quilt for a challenge held by two fabric manufacturers… Dear Stella and Timeless Treasures. The rules are simple… Sew a 20” by 20” quilt using ONLY their fabrics, no solids, and interpret what Modern Traditions mean to you.

The challenge as it turns out, was not the making of the quilt per se, but finding the right combination of fabrics to use. Although I have piles and piles of fabric purchased over the years… none bear the selvage imprint of Dear Stella. Giddy at the thought of having a reason to purchase fabric, I trot off to the store. No online shopping for me. Years ago I made a pledge to myself to shop in Independently owned stores whenever possible. Brick and mortar quilt shops are all privately owned… YIPPIE!

It took an ENTIRE day to search out and purchase my fabric. In one day I drove back and forth between 2 local quilt stores… scouting out possible choices, before actually purchasing the fabric. One store had the focal fabric… while the other store had the coordinating styles. It was certainly a great learning opportunity for me. I was physically and mentally exhausted by the end of the day.

Usually I choose fabric based on color and design. Not once have I taken notice of the mill OR the designer. This time I found myself looking first at the end of the bolt seeking out all that read Dear Stella or Timeless Treasures… THEN I looked at the color and design.

Also a little backwards… I normally design the quilt first, THEN pull fabric from my stash and purchase what’s missing that will pull the whole quilt together. This time however, I gathered the fabric first, THEN designed the quilt… which was problematic.

Just because a quilt design is in my head, doesn’t mean my hands will make my vision. As is true with all art work and creative pursuits… the project goes in a direction it wants… I am just the means to the end. The fabric I purchased as the main ‘focal’… ended up being cut into unrecognizable shapes and used as accents. Oh well… that’s just the way it goes some times.

The quilt is almost finished. I’m stumped on the last part. I need to devise a way to make the accent feathers ‘hold their own’ and POP. So far everything I have tried didn’t thrill me. Back to the drawing board! I’m sure an idea will appear while I’m in the shower tomorrow.

Picture to be posted next week, once it is submitted to the Challenge website.

UPDATE… Photo of completed Dream Catcher Mini-Quilt:

Mini-Quilt Challenge

 

Receiving Handmade Gifts

Years ago I was spending the night at a friend’s house. As we re-arranged the furniture to make room for my temporary bed in the middle of the living room, I noticed a piece of art work stuffed behind the sofa. That evening I pulled it out and took a closer look.

It was obviously a hand painted canvas… very modern in all shades of blue concentric circles with a dab of rusty red. I couldn’t read the artist’s name in the lower right hand corner… but it was there.

I looked around the room and wondered where a good place to hang it might be, and I would offer to help in the morning. As I took a closer look I came to the realization this painting didn’t seem to ‘fit’ the house I was in.

The next morning I gingerly broached the subjet of the painting. I was told it was a gift, hand painted by a friend many years ago. When originally given, it went perfectly with their style… but years have passed and now it stuck out like a sore thumb. They continued by saying they shoved it behind the sofa because they didn’t know what else to do with it. They understood the amount of work that went in to painting it… and just couldn’t bare to dispose of it.

I then asked if they would like me to walk around their house and perhaps suggest a spot to hang the painting where it wouldn’t compete with the rest of the house (having already scouted out their upstairs bathroom as the perfect place). “Nah”, they replied. “I really don’t like the painting any more, so I just stuck it behind the couch… out of sight, out of mind.”

Watercolors

That comment got me thinking. I give a lot of gifts to friends and family that are handmade. Quilts, watercolor paintings, knitted scarves, seashell ornaments, beaded jewelry, baked goods, etc… I wonder how many gifts I have given that created stress for the recipient.

The joy for me is in the process of making the item. I give the finished piece to someone because I think they might enjoy it. No strings attached, no hidden meaning, just pure friendship. Sometimes I hit the nail on the head and it is a perfect gift… and other times I bet I miss by a mile. Never once do I intend a gift to create clutter in the recipient’s home/space… nor do I want to interfere with their decorating style.

Quilting

In as much as I appreciate someone understanding the work involved in creating a handmade item… I hereby give everyone permission to treat a handmade gift from me as you would a gift from anyone else. If it is not to your liking just thank me anyway and do whatever you feel you need to do with it. I will not be offended in any way shape or form. I think it would bother me more to know the item was stuffed away behind a sofa… out of sight, out of mind.

How do you handle gifts you don’t like? Do you re-gift? Donate? Hide it? Do you treat a handmade gift differently than a store bought one?

 

Tentmaker of Cairo – DP#53

Hosam

Meet Hosam… one of two talented tentmakers from Cairo who earn a living making applique quilts by hand. The men were brought here to the USA to promote their craft and sell their quilts. Aren’t they stunning!!!

To watch them in action is an honor… and a lesson not only about quilting, but life as well. His talent is handed down through the generations. He earns more than the average villager and is treated with respect. He is soft spoken, but eager to talk to us and answer questions.

The men have few tools… a needle, a few spools of thread, a pencil, a HUGE pair of scissors, and a bag of fabric scraps. They begin by lightly marking a large background fabric with a suggestion of a design. I watched in awe as Hosam reached into a plastic bag, pulled out a scrap of fabric, hacked off a hunk with oversized, dull shears; folded and fussed with it until he got the shape he wanted, then proceeded to sew it in place by hand with the speed of a machine.

My jaw dropped. Hosam holds the quilt on his lap without a frame. He secures the fabric down with one hand as he appliqués it with the other. Not a pin in sight.

As a quilter, I own a state of the art sewing machine, sharp shiny shears, pins, thread in every color of the rainbow, marking pens, pins, self healing cutting mat, rotary cutter, a work table, tape measure, a steam iron, and have access to thousands of fabrics. Wow… I am certainly spoiled!!!

An interesting fact… when traveling to our country the quilts come over unfinished… and are completed when they arrive. If they are not bound they are considered fabric and not a quilt… which is taxed differently.

Take a close look at the quilt hanging behind Hosam. Look at the colors! Look at the design!! If I live to be 150 years old I would never be able to sew a quilt near as beautiful.

AND….they even have their very own FACEBOOK PAGE!!! Check it out!