September 22, 2011

the quilt that is testing every ounce of my patience

I've been having a pretty good run of creativity lately. I made a bunch of new quilts (7!!) for my show at Park University in the span of about two months. They all were easy peasy - get an idea, dye the fabric, piece the top, quilt the thing, done. No issues, no ugliness, just a series of good quilts. Then it all went down the drain. There is going to be a Kansas City Art Institute Faculty show in October and of course, I wanted to make a new quilt for it. And of course, it should be kind of big. At first I thought queen size, but there will be 35 of us in the show and a queen size quilt seemed like a space hog. So I went with twin size (65" x 88" ish).
Nothing is going right with this quilt (you can read more about it in my last blog post).
Here it is in phase 3. I didn't take pictures of phases 1 and 2 because I forgot. And they were just too dreadful. To be fair, phase 1 wasn't really that bad. It just wasn't great. You know? It was fine, but boring. Phase 2 was pathetic and looked like I was trying too hard. Phase 3 is everything that happened on Saturday night, if you're following along. I really love the piecing in the lower left quadrant of the quilt. That will have to come back in another quilt, with slightly different colors.
In phase 4 I decided this was a winter quilt. So I dunked the whole bottom half in thiox (a really pungent chemical that strips dye out of fabric) hoping it would turn white. It turned a weird light greenish-tan. I knew that would happen, I'm not sure why I thought thiox would do something different this time, but there it is. So then I thought it would all be magically fixed if I dyed the bottom half a really pale blue color so it would like kind of icy. It didn't. It looked green. Bright, acid green with some sections of pale blue. Gr! So phase 6 was stripping the color out again (!!!) with thiox. Phase 7 was to dye the bottom half black.
All of the lovely piecing is still there, its just now all brownish and blackish and purplish. This is the thing after I quilted it for the second time. That's right, second time. The first time I quilted the bottom with some green thread that is really very lovely in theory, but in practice it looked like hell so I spent nearly 2 hours ripping out all the quilting. I'm happy. I think. Maybe I'm just happy to be nearly done with it (only binding to go).

Does anyone remember the Barbie doll who would say "math is hard"? There was a commercial for her I think when I was in high school, which would have been the mid 90's. She was annoying and made an even worse role model for girls than she already was. Anyways. Quilting is hard.

September 18, 2011

What I did on Saturday night.

I worked. That is what I do most Saturday nights...and Friday nights, too. Pretty much every night and every day. Sometimes I waste time watching lame tv on my computer or talking to the cats that live outside while pretending to pull weeds. Sometimes it feels unfair that my work is also my favorite hobby (if you can call it that) because it leaves me very little time for other hobbies and the long list of fun things I would like to do. But then I think "hey! your work is your hobby! that's lucky. don't complain". So anyways. Here is a glimpse into my Saturday night (times are approximate):
6:45 - eat supper with Simon (after working in the sewing room since about 4:00)
7:05 - eat a little more supper because I'm still hungry
7:15 - go into the disaster area that is my sewing room and take a great big breath because it is such a mess and boy am I stressed out
7:17 - start ripping some seams because all the work that I did on Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoon looked terrible and things need to be rearranged
7:18 - curse quietly to the cats about how much I hate ripping seams as I accidentally rip the fabric
7:19 - get over it and start ripping again. then iron. then trim. then start sewing strips together
7:19 - 8:09 - sew strips together, iron them, cut them up into vertical strips, sew those strips together, repeat until there is a 70" x 30" piece of patchwork fabric
8:10 - stand back and look at what I just did. it's good, but not great. brilliant idea! cut the piece into strips on a 45 degree angle and then rearrange and sew back together.
8:29 - this sucks. what was I thinking? gr. power through. just keep going.
9:47 - done. it is badass. now sew that part onto the rest of the quilt.
10:00 - good! now hang it up and look at it because it's going to be so great and I'm better now than I've ever been before.
10:04 - despair. it looks like crap. the color is all wrong and it is way too busy. damn.
10:04 - 10:13 - sit on living room floor staring at shitty, ugly quilt and having a mini freak out session.
10:13 - 10:18 - eat some nice bread with some lovely strawberry jam and drink some hot tea. talk to the cats about how cute they are and what good kitties they are.
10:18 - unpin the quilt from the living room wall and start seam ripping again
10:19 - 12:17 - frantically seam rip, iron, cut, sew, iron, cut, sew, iron, cut, sew, iron while singing loudly along with Roseanne Cash
12:18 - pin the quilt segments back together, pin to living room wall, step back. still not good, but better. fixable. I can see how to make it good.
12:24 - turn off lights and iron and sewing machine.
12:25 - go to bed.

September 4, 2011

Quilt Guilt and other non guilty quilts

I have been so busy lately with teaching, getting ready for my show in Parkville, and stuff I'm not supposed to talk about yet. It feels like there aren't enough hours in the day and when I try to make my fingers sew more quickly they won't listen. With all the craziness, I have been working on something I shouldn't. I call it my guilt quilt. I started it a few weeks ago and it was inspired by two quilts in the book Amish Crib Quilts from the Midwest: the Sara Miller Collection that I bought at the International Quilt Study Center last fall. It's a pretty traditional quilt using the Hole in the Barn Door (HIBD) block. Here is a picture in progress on my design wall:
I have a couple of parameters. First, all of the blocks have to be HIBD. Second, I can only use scraps of fabric. That part isn't really too hard because I have a ton of dye mistake fabric - things that I didn't measure right, or made too much, or whatever. Third, I can only spend an hour cutting pieces and then I have to make as many blocks from those pieces as possible before cutting new pieces. That forces me to make decisions I wouldn't normally make such as making things asymmetrical and putting strange colors together. At the end I will put in 1" undyed cotton sashing and it will be a queen size quilt. I'm pretty much in love with Amish quilts and using traditional blocks. This quilt will go on my bed when I'm finished, so I'm thinking of backing it with flannel for extra warmth.

Yesterday I went up to Park University in Parkville, MO to hang my show. Simon went with me and was a big help. I forgot to get a picture of the show all together but I will try to do it before I take the show down in October. I made seven brand new quilts for the show (in less than 2 months) and finished sewing pockets on the back about 15 minutes before we had to leave for Parkville. Last week was the week of very little sleep.

In some of the quilts, I used the quilting lines to mimic wind or rain or rays of sunshine. You can see the rest at my website: Now I get to cut some more pieces for one hour and then make more HIBD blocks. Yay!!! (totally not sarcastic, I really am very excited.)