Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Challenging Quilt Label For A Quilt Challenge

One of my regular customers called and asked me to make a label for a quilt she was entering into an Ugly Fabric Challenge. The only parameters she gave me, besides the message to sew onto the label, was “make it creepy and black, and put a spider on it. I trust you.” As much as I appreciate my customers’ trust, I get very nervous when they say that. Sometimes I get a wild “out there” hair and who knows how something will turn out? Plus, this was for a contest! I can hear it now: “You were going to win until we saw that horrific piece of crap sewn to the back.” Are you sure you don’t want to tell me exactly what you want? After I got through whining about it, I got to work and here is the result. I used the Blackadder font which was really challenging to sew given all the loops and flourishes. The customer was very happy with it, and I hope she wins (the crown covers her last name to protect her privacy – another thing I’m a big spaz about).

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Dork-Out Quilt Is Done!

I finally finished the redwork/feedsack quilt I’ve been geeking on about. Hooray! Except I couldn’t call it My Dork-Out Quilt and expect to sell it. So its professional name is Everything Old Is New Again.

Here’s some history for those who aren’t familiar with redwork or feedsacks. I got the inspiration for this quilt from two of my favorite mediums: redwork and feedsacks. Redwork is a style of embroidery that was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It's called redwork because of the colorfast Turkey red thread that was used at the time. The redwork patterns used are authentic 1890s motifs which I hand embroidered. One of the design themes in turn-of-the-century redwork was nature which is where I took my cue for this quilt. Peaches, strawberries, leaves, roses and cherries fill the 5 embroidered squares.

Feedsacks that formerly held flour, sugar and feed were a popular quilt material during the Depression and World War II. Through the shortages of money during the Depression, and of cloth during the war years, feedsacks filled the needs of thousands of women for fabric to create the things they could not otherwise buy. Recycling at its best! Nine 3” squares of mostly cotton 1930s feedsacks with some viscose and cotton scraps were hand sewn together to form each block. I got these blocks already sewn together at an antiques store and instantly fell in love with them. Each one is still gorgeous and the seams strong even after all these years.

There are red frames around the embroidery, and around the center is a border of black and red paisley print from this century. The border has a double cable quilt stitch, while the smaller 9 patches are quilted with a half moon pattern. The quilt stitches are hidden in the seams around the redwork so as not to distract from the embroidery. The backing fabric is a white on cream tiny floral design. To keep all this red from becoming too overpowering, cadet blue thread was used in the quilting, and blue and cream plaid binding was used to finish off the quilt. Its finished size is 34” x 34”, and is available for sale on the Quilted Lovelies website and the Quilted Lovelies Etsy shop. If you would like to see all the embroidered redwork and 9 patch squares, please see my portfolio on Flickr.

To keep the antique theme going, I just got in a 45 year old Flower Garden quilt to restore. More on that later!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Diva Moments

Inside my businesswoman body beats the heart of an artist. And sometimes that artiste gets pretty darn uppity, wanting nothing more than to cut up whatever I’ve been working on. The kids started calling these episodes Diva Moments, and the name stuck.

Diva Moments occur when a quilt I’m sewing is not meeting expectations. This is a bane to my perfectionist tendencies. Why can’t everything I do be perfect the first time? Instead of realizing I’m not perfect and trying a different approach (perish the thought), my prissy little diva starts ranting.

“This is swill! Why can I not create anything but garbage? I’m going to put this in the fireplace and burn it!” Sometimes, on the way to the fireplace, a reasonable facsimile of sanity returns. Or my husband brings the matches, and I am dismayed that he agrees with me.

Methods of destruction and expletives vary according to how high my frustration level is (much like the ever worsening rings of hell in Dante’s Inferno):

• Small seam ripper: mutter, mumble, big sigh
• Large seam ripper: How hard can it be to sew two pieces of fabric together in a straight line?
• Big honkin’ seam ripper: If this weren’t for a customer, I’d cut it up right now.
• Big sharp scissors: This looks like crap! Prepare to say hello to your new friends in the scrap bag! (see picture)

Other destinations where my projects have ended up are:
• The fireplace after being cut up.
• The dog’s mouth (Merle’s new chew toy).
• The shredder (bad idea – had to buy a new one).

You’d think after the shredder incident, I’d learn to control my little fits of pique, but no. Take this post for instance. It’s almost been to the new shredder three times.

I’m getting a little better as I get older though, and my Diva Moments can’t be heard by the neighbors anymore. I realize I can’t be perfect all the time, and try to be more patient with myself. But I did buy my own personal heavy duty shredder just in case…

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Two Dork-Outs In One

I’ve been wanting to make a redwork quilt ever since I restored the 1907 redwork quilt last year (see first post). But I wanted to do it with authentic patterns, so the hunt was on! During my quest, I came across nine patch squares from the thirties at my fave antique store. Shortly thereafter, I located the aforementioned redwork patterns. Two, two, two dork-outs in one! Redwork embroidery and antique fabric!

The nine patch squares were filthy dirty and stapled together (just put a staple through my heart why dontcha), but after I surgically removed the staples, I was able to move on. After a good long soak, most of the grime came off and I could get a good look at what I had. Nine 3” squares of mostly cotton with some viscose were hand sewn together to form each block. All are still gorgeous even after the indignities they’ve suffered.

I thought it would be cool to pair the redwork and nine patches together since there was a lot of red in the 9 patches. Fortunately, the reds complement each other and a new quilt will soon be born.

The hand embroidery took 27 hours to complete, and was a joy to follow patterns over 100 years old. There are 1” frames around the redwork to make all the blocks the same size. Around the center is a 6” border of black and red paisley print. The blues in the squares plus the cream in the redwork balance out all the red fabric. I’m almost done quilting it, and haven’t decided on a binding fabric yet. Maybe a blue and cream print? Any ideas?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Meet The Teacher Night

For maximum embarrassment to your teenager, be sure to try these tips at the next Meet the Teacher or Open House night. They really work!

  1. Wait patiently for your turn to speak with every teacher.
  2. Tell every teacher that your child has “special needs”
  3. Speak French to the French teacher (or foreign language of your choice). The worse you speak it, the more embarrassed your teenager becomes. It’s amazing!
  4. Give all the teachers permission to hand out extra homework to your middle schooler in order to get her/him “ready for college”.
  5. Ask all the members of the opposite sex who say hi to your teenager to fill out a health questionnaire.
  6. Make sure the P.E. teacher knows it’s OK to give your child extra laps/pushups every day.
Use these little tidbits, and I guarantee you at least 3 eye rolls and a couple of huge sighs.  Maybe even a "Mother!" or two! ;)