Sunday, September 14, 2014

Around the World Blog Tour

I was tagged by Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict for the Around the World Blog Tour.  Sarah is one of the most generous people I know, and I always enjoy participating in her annual Hands2Help charity quilt challenge.  I'm amazed how much she accomplishes in any given week.  I'd swear she has some kind of super power, but she does it all without a cape!

So let's dive right into the blog tour Q and A, shall we?

What am I working on?

Well, hm.  Here is where I'd like to start off with a glimpse of a current fabulous work in process, but as it happens, I've just gotten started sorting loads of thrifted shirts for the next project and I haven't so much as a block made yet.  So what you see is a picture of (most of, heh-heh) the thrifted shirt fabric stash on my cutting table.  

I'll be making a quilt called "Dad's Plaids" from a pattern by Elsie Campbell.  All of these pretties will need to be sliced into strips, sewn together, and starched into a strata before I start cutting the drunkard's path pieces from them.  

It should be fun, but this kind of fun can't be rushed.  And by that I mean I will be taking my own sweet time about it, as usual!
 
I've also been working on repurposing my daughter's scrubs for kennel quilts for the veterinary surgery clinic where she works.  These are simple little quilts, the important thing being that they're comfortable for post-surgical pets.
~Tea Towel Challenge 2014 quilt top~
And lest I forget (because it's been draped over a piece of furniture so long I hardly notice it anymore), I do have a Tea Towel Challenge quilt needing finishing.  Hopefully by year's end!

Why do I write/create what I do?

It helps me focus my energy into something productive, enjoyable, diverting, and fulfilling.
~String Ring Dresden quilt~
I've sewn since I was very young, mostly clothing, and then started making quilts in my 40s.  Growing up, my mom sewed, crocheted, knit, cross-stitched, and quilted.  My maternal grandmother was also an avid quilter and sewer. 
~My grandmother's quilt, as revised by me~
A few years ago, as my daughter graduated and moved away and I gave up my 8 to 5 job in favor of flexible part-time work, it seemed a natural thing to spend more time on creative pursuits.

As far as why I write/blog, it's mostly so I don't forget!  In addition to keeping a record, I also enjoy connecting with other quilters and sharing with family and friends, since I can't bore my former office mates with show and tell anymore.  And since I've got any number of things swirling around in my head at any given time, writing is a good way to train some of those thoughts into a coherent and sometimes entertaining form.

How does my writing/creating process work?

I'm pretty random, at least it feels that way to me.  As far as writing for this blog, I tend to have a general idea and then may veer off on a tangent, which might relate back to the primary subject, or not.  Sometimes I'll relate an amusing anecdote, talk about some thrifting adventure, or embed a song to share.

With sewing/quilting, my creative process tends to be somewhat random as well, in that I usually have a technique or pattern I'd like to try or a fabric I'd like to utilize or experiment with.  I'm not the most organized person, but I do have a threshold for chaos and clutter.  I need a relatively clear deck, but everything need not be in its place or particularly pretty in my sewing room to begin.  However, I can get overwhelmed by too much going on at once, introvert that I am, so having multiple things in the works all at one time seems more paralyzing than energizing to me.  That said, I tend to get antsy after doing any one thing for too long and need to shift gears.  So I like to concentrate on one thing at a time, but I like variety, the down side of this being that I can (and do; oh boy, I do) get distracted.  Eventually, though, things get finished!
~Ship Shape, from thrifted shirts~
My quilting style leans mostly toward scrappy.  I love new fabric, but I think some of the most interesting and inspiring quilts are those that pay less heed to a particular fabric line and more toward overall composition.  And for me, the more eclectic, the better!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I love quilts that combine "interesting" fabric (some may say ugly), thrifted fabric, disparate scraps, used clothing, vintage tablecloths or tea towels, etc. in ways such that the end result beautifully surpasses expectations based on its humble components.  They're the kinds of things that ignite my creative spark.
~Tea Towel Tess~
I love—make that LOVE—string quilts of every kind, as well as quilts that make my eyes dance (optical illusions, bold colors and patterns, etc.).
~Black and white scraps string pieced on phone book pages~
Personally, I seem to do well working within certain limitations, whether those are self-imposed or circumstantial.  For example, I may have an unusual fabric—thrifted, gifted, etc.—and wonder how it might work with other things in the stash.
~I was determined to use a navy blue and white floral from my sister's dressmaking days~
~The apple print was a vintage thrift store find.~
Or I might hear a song, like "Bang a Gong," and decide to create a quilt around a lyric, like I did for Hubcap Diamond Star Halo.
~Hubcap Diamond Star Halo, made from fabrics found at Goodwill~
That said, I'm not opposed to a good old fabric shopping spree when the mood is right.
~I fell for this entire line, and I still love it~
I'm constantly inspired, enlightened, and entertained by other quilters and creative people.  I think we all have something to share, from the enthusiasm of the novice to the wisdom of the experienced.
~Kaleidoscope Quilt~
In fact, that's what I had in mind when I chose the name for this blog.  The Way I Sew It is not really about any particular way that I do something.  It's more a play on words.  It's a twist on the phrase, "The way I see it," (which also happen to be the opening words of my favorite Joni Mitchell song; see what I mean about tangents?).  It's sharing a point of view.

I celebrate the unique perspective each of us brings to the blogging community and creative process—the way you see it, sew it, or "sow wit," and the way I do the same.

And now, as a final part of this Around the World Blog Tour stop, I pass the honor along to three other fine people!

Mary Wald has a keen eye for the beauty of vintage pieces and a gift for telling their stories.  Looking at her crisp photos and reading about the treasures she describes is always a "stop and smell the roses" moment of my day.  She also embroiders and crochets beautiful things!  I hope you'll take time, perhaps with a cup of your favorite hot beverage, and give her lovely space a look-see.

I met Michelle, The Jypsy Quilter, in an online sewing machine forum about five years ago, and we hit it off right away.  We both bought our Juki machines and started blogs around the same time.  She does very cool things with fabric and has hand-pieced (I know, right?) most of her quilts, including a wonderful New York Beauty.  Michelle has been busy the past couple years working on a master's degree and establishing a career.  I'm happy to say that she has resumed quilting and blogging again, and I think we will all be the better for it!

Elizabeth of Such a Sew and Sew is another inspirational and creative soul.  She puts her heart into every project and her talent shines through.  Not one to do anything halfway ("Go big or go home!"), her energy and attention to detail amaze me.  Her paper-pieced Twilight quilt still blows me away!  She's been working on a special quilt for a woman who just turned 100 years old.  Did I mention she has a big heart?  Pop over and give her some love!

Thank you so much for reading and stopping by.  Hang around, peruse the archives, and/or come again soon.  And feel free to say hi in the comments!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Two Little Quilties

I finished two kennel quilts from my daughter's repurposed scrubs this week.
She had given me the dimensions of the kennels for the post-surgical animals.  One of these is roughly 27 x 27 inches and the other is 27 x 33 or thereabouts.  

They will probably shrink a little with washing, so if they are a smidgeon bigger to begin with, that's probably okay.
I did a meandering stipple on the one and a loopy meander on the other for the quilting.  Just using up scraps/stash for the backs and bindings.

Nothing real fancy about these.  I'm trying to keep them simple, but overall I think they're still pretty cute.  Soft, too!
Linking to Whoop Whoop Fridays and Free Motion MavericksHooray for the weekend!


And if you're doing the happy dance like me, here's a funky remix of Earth, Wind and Fire's "Shining Star" for you.  I dare you to keep still! 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Sundry 9-7-14

You know how it is when time passes and you don't blog, and then it's like where do I begin?  It's not as if a whole lot has happened either, just the usual things, day to day, enjoying whatever is left of summer.


~A bouquet of zinnias from Dad's garden~
I continued cutting up clothing with the deconstruction of a big box full of scrubs from my daughter.  The vet surgery where she works has gone to the same uniforms so she put aside her fun and whimsical printed scrubs.  I volunteered to make some kennel quilts from them for the post-surgical dogs and cats. 


So the pile went from this (above), to this (below):

For the first quilt, I cut some of the removed pockets and sleeves into 5-inch squares and made this one 27 x 27-inch, to fit the dimensions of one of the smaller treatment room units.  

It has since been quilted but still needs a binding, which I'll machine sew on later today.  It occurred to me later that I could have (and might in the future) turned it, pillow-case style, so as to not need a binding.  We learn as we go, eh?

Most of the scrubs were poly/cotton, and there is a certain comfortable softness to them.  The pieces sewed together nicely and I think they'll hold up well through washings.  This one, however, was 100% cotton and just too cute—Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  I might have to reserve it for my own stash.


Norm brought home a fresh batch of work "whites," which needed hemming.  I had to break out the serger for these six pair of pants.


I typically procrastinate on this kind of sewing, but I got right on it this time.  The old ones he had been wearing to work were pretty pitiful and stained.  

So that, along with mending the hem of a sheet for my sister, has comprised the sum total of my sewing for the past week or so.


~A "clean out the fridge" day yielded a tasty blueberry crisp~
It was a fine day for a boat ride with Dad on Friday!


~Nita, Dad, and me~
We had a little hitch in our get-along when the motor began sputtering out quite a ways up the river channel.  

It worked itself out, though, thank goodness.  Dad blamed it on "bad gas" (and who doesn't?).  That would have been a long paddle back to the landing.  

Three adults in the boat and not a cell phone between us.  Sure, we all have cell phones, but they were all back on land.  Cameras though?  Check, check, and check!
The shifting cloud sky was as captivating as the water and trees.
Dad was in his element, the old "Marsh Rat."  A badge of honor, to be sure.

Another lovely time for the memory book!



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Next Up

As I sat down to write this post (which will eventually be about an upcoming project I hope to start soon), I started to recall a dream I had last night.  It involved a strange thrift store display—more like a sculpture or art piece—comprised of dozens of vintage sewing machines welded together in a circular pattern, kind of like a gigantic mobile or chandelier made of many different makes and models, colors, etc. 

The piece was suspended from the ceiling (the store itself was like a very big pole shed or barn or maybe an airplane hangar, someplace with a high industrial-type ceiling).  Everybody else in the store seemed to be ignoring it completely, going about their usual shopping, but I was fascinated and intensely curious.  I looked around again and realized my mom was there (this is the second dream I've had this week about my mom and something sewing related; she passed away in 2009, but it's always a nice surprise to see her in my dreams).  I asked the people in charge of the store about the sculpture and found out they actually wanted it taken down, and if we wanted to remove it, we could have it and all the machines that were part of it. 

My mom didn't seem all that interested at first, so I had to fill her in that since she'd been gone, vintage machines like those had become more popular with collectors/sewists, and that I bet we could separate them and sell them on eBay.  I did a quick mental tally and somehow came up with a figure of 10 grand in machines suspended above us (yeah, right...in my dreams!).  Of course, there was the issue of whether or not any of them were in working order or even had motors and/or their requisite parts, but I was willing to take a chance.  All we had to do was come up with a plan for removing them.  Mom was always a good problem solver, and I was confident that between the two of us, we'd figure something out.

The next thing I knew, I was lying face up on an open moving platform lift, rising higher and higher toward the ceiling and the monstrosity of machines.  Did I mention I'm not particularly keen on heights?  And that this was an open platform, as in no side rails?  And that it was wobbling?  Which explained why I was apparently frozen flat on my back, feeling that I did not dare even sit up to get my bearings lest the thing start swaying more, and I sure as heck didn't want to look down.
High Steel Heroes, c. 1932
Maybe I underestimated the logistics involved in accomplishing this feat.  Just a tad.

Things got fuzzy after that, but it was with relief that I woke up on the low platform of my own bed, safely back on terra firma.

* * * * *
Well, there is little more down to earth than men's plaid shirts, and I've been up to my armpits in them this past week. 


(Before)
Specifically, I have been cutting them apart for a quilt project I'd like to get started on.


Over the past couple of months, I've been picking up a few men's plaid shirts here and there at the thrifts, having in mind to make the string quilt, "Dad's Plaids" from this book by Elsie Campbell.


I first saw this quilt on Pinterest and tracked down the pattern and book from there.  It is one of my most re-pinned pins (trumped by Ian Somerhalder, however), so apparently a lot of other people are enamored of it as well.  If any of you have made this quilt or are planning to, I'd love to know about it in the comments.


Anyway, I think I have enough shirt fabrics now to get started, although I haven't taken a complete inventory (oh yes, there are more in the stash) and something tells me I may still be in need of light colors.  But I'll sort all that out in due time.


Did you know there is a lot of fabric in a XL or XXL men's shirt?  As far as the deconstruction process, some may find it a tedious proposition; fortunately, I am one of those people who has always loved cutting things with a good sharp scissors.  After all, I apparently remodeled my mom's best girdle into a "cheerleader skirt" with a pair of her sewing shears and gave myself my first self-haircut by age three, so I think it's fair to say it's a predilection I was born with.


(After)
And because I am in a tangential mood, and I like this song, and the heights dream reminded me of it...

Friday, August 22, 2014

Scrappy Sixteen

The scrappy 16-patch quilt top is now stitched together, seen here sprawled on the steps of the deck and spilling onto the lawn, like a colorful guest who's had maybe one too many. 


Hold on there, buddy. In fact, why don't you lie down on the grass and try to nap it off. 


There you go.  That's it.  What's that?  It's too bright?  Well, just close your eyes, it'll be okay.
Anthropomorphizing aside, the quilt is, in fact, straight and flat, but the lawn needs mowing so it looks a bit rumply.  Plus with the sun behind me, I was dodging my my shadow in the shot, so you get some wonky angles.  Sober as a judge, I swear.


It's only taken me two trips to Jo-Ann this week for backing fabric.  The first choice looked fine in the store, but at home mostly resembled a paper bag.  At first I thought it'd be a soothing contrast to the "Quiet Riot" of the front (that'll be the quilt's name, by the way), but no.  Just...no.  Six yards of no.

I'm linking to Whoop-Whoop Fridays, where Sarah's dancing granny is cracking me up!

If you feel like shaking your rump, here's one from the vault—Nikka Costa, circa 2001, "Everybody Got Their Something."  Yes, we sure do.

Monday, August 18, 2014

It's Monday...It's Miscellany

Overheard at the Flea Market
 "See this hat?" said the woman in charge of the pie booth, pointing to her head, "We Amish and Mennonite do not lie."

I didn't catch what the customer had pressed her about, but I had to chuckle.  Gotta love that Anabaptist sense of humor.

We came home from the flea market with nothing more than a couple pounds of bison from a friendly farmer (who wore a baseball cap, in case you're wondering).

Grateful for the Growing Season
The friendly farmer in my family, a/k/a Dad, has had a good crop of kohlrabi this year.  I think it's my favorite vegetable.

If you've never tasted kohlrabi, it has a mild, cabbage-y flavor, and the texture is kind of like a radish.  I enjoy it peeled, sliced and eaten raw alongside a sandwich for lunch.

The beets have been doing well too.  My favorite way to eat those is in the chocolate beet cake recipe, which I shared last year.  Can you freeze beets, do you know?  I'm wondering if I could just grate and freeze them in Ziplock bags, like you do with zucchini.


Media Musings
We watched Locke starring Tom Hardy last weekend.  I liked it very much, despite its mixed reviews on Redbox.  If you love your action flicks, you may want to pass, but if, like me, you'd like nothing better than to stare at Tom Hardy for a couple hours, then by all means, see it.  I found it fascinating and compelling the whole way through, as the viewer comes along for the ride and eavesdrops on a man trying to keep a handle on various situations threatening to spin his life out of control.

I'm still working my way through the Outlander series of books (in the middle of book five, The Fiery Cross, at the moment), but have taken a short break to read something different.  

A Wilder Rose by Susan Albert is right up my alley.  I loved the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, but on discovering they were, in essence, ghost written/heavily edited by her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, I was curious about Rose.  Many years ago, I had read the biography of Rose Wilder Lane, A Ghost in the Little House, and then enjoyed one of Rose's novels, Free Land, after that.

I'm really enjoying A Wilder Rose.  It's been a terrific summer, weather wise, for grabbing some time to read every day out on the deck with my lunch.  I am savoring these days of sunshine and warmth and only wish I could soak it up and store it like a battery for those long winter months ahead...when the deck will look like this again, GAH!

(Okay, it is kinda pretty, I have to admit.  In pictures anyway.)

Palate cleanser/back to reality photos:

This little plant, whose name I forget, is doing well on my semi-shaded front porch.  And the barrel out front is a-blooming with some red and white star-like impatiens I tried this year.  

Note to self:  Forget about planting the begonia in the center of the barrel next year.  It got entirely swallowed up by the impatiens.

How is your summer winding down?  Are you grabbing the gusto of these last days before school and schedules?