Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A picture of the charity blankets--and a cause

I am now at least able to share a picture of last weekend's blankets. These will go to a local women's shelter. The director has specifically asked for sturdy, heavy, warm blankets; quilts do not seem to be warm and heavy enough, and do not withstand wear and tear as well, at least for this shelter's needs. So, here are the ones I did last weekend. I did 15 (one is not shown here). I think I'll mention them here:

You are of course welcome to check out this link, and to see if you can possibly get a quilt or blanket sewn for someone in need, and donate it locally. After all, don't we all have plenty of extra fabric on our shelves? And if you don't, I dare you to let it be known that you sew, and that you will accept donations. You'll eventually be swamped with more fabric than you can handle. Ask me how I know. :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday Night Sew In: Count

I sewed 15 blankets and 1 crib sheet for charity; I was incredibly productive! (Granted, I began a little earlier than Friday night...) I was even able to complete a significant portion of my signature block quilt! I hope to post pix soon...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

November Friday Night Sew In

I'll be participating in the Friday Night Sew In (FNSI) this month. I have been trying to wait for an opportune time to do this again since I last did it (back in June), but the ideal time never came. I've been doing some sewing, but it is not pre-planned, and my set-up has not really been the best. But Friday, I am going to just sew anyway tomorrow.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Part 3: String quilt top

To call this Part 3 of the series of posts I have put here is a bit misleading, yet it is not entirely inaccurate; here's why. And make sure you read the first two parts so that this post will make sense.

The weekend of the USCT Grand Review, I was finishing up a quilt. It wasn't just any quilt; it was a first for me on several counts.

This is obviously a string quilt; this beautiful string quilt was my inspiration. You may have recognized a trend in my quilting; I typically use large blocks, and do not really do true piecing. Thus, this string quilt is the first time I have really "pieced" a quilt and worked with smaller pieces to create pieced blocks.

But, it's not just any string quilt. It's also a charm quilt. So, that means that every single piece of fabric in this quilt is unique; no two pieces are the same. (Note to self: Do not EVER do that again!)

And here's the really neat's an I Spy quilt! I'll show you each of the six panels, and then you can see if you can find everything. My younger daughter and I wrote an I Spy poem for it!

I spy bunny ears, a butterfly, a tree,

Dogs, a pepper, and some broccoli.

I spy a giraffe, a horse, some French fries,
An eggplant, an orange, and owls so wise.

I spy a fortune cookie, a stack of dishes,
A peacock, a black motorcycle, a cat, and fishes.

I spy a pumpkin, a duck, a snake,
A guitar, yellow sunflowers, and a slice of cake.

The reason why this quilt is part of the series is this. I was not quite finished with it by the time Thursday came. But, after working with Tina in the schools, and I thought about the fact that we'd be a part of her lecture/educational sessions on Saturday, I knew it would be good to have a quilt like this as part of the exhibit. So, I rushed to finish the last few blocks of this quilt, and added the wildly colorful tie dye border that you see, having been inspired by Tina's generous use of colorful tie dye fabrics in her quilts.

I really enjoyed making this quilt; string quilts are a lot of fun to make, although I will not put myself thru the torture again of making sure that every single string is different.

A final, windy day picture.

Friday, November 12, 2010

USCT Grand Review Part 2: Quilt Artist Tina Williams Brewer

This is part 2 of a series of posts about the US Colored Troops (USCT) Grand Review weekend; it is best to start with part 1 for an understanding of the weekend as a whole.

As part of the festivities last weekend of the USCT Grand Review, quilt artist (or art quilter?) Tina Williams Brewer came to the event to show her art quilts at a couple of educational sessions on Saturday. But, on the Thursday and Friday prior to the event, she traveled to some of the local elementary schools to introduce children to the idea of storytelling, history, and cultural expression thru art quilts.

My quilting group (not to be confused with my charity sewing group), since one of our members knows Tina very well, had the opportunity to work with her in the schools. You might be able to see my daughters in the pictures below, standing/bending in the background and helping the students with the hands-on project of log cabin block construction.

Tina takes the blocks that the children have created with glue on a muslin foundation, and then somehow sews them together. She visited three schools; she will create three quilts, one for each school.

I was in awe of the event. First, I found it amazing that a quilter--and an art quilter, to boot--would be interested in teaching children about art quilts. I truly admire her desire to instill in the next generation an appreciation for an art form that has revivals from time to time, but never really seems to be thriving anymore. Second, I was shocked that she travels with her museum quality quilts, and allows children to handle them! But her belief is that, as they are insured, they are meant to be experienced and enjoyed, and a quilt--and the quilting process--should not be inaccessible. That gave me pause. As much as I am adamant about creating utilitarian quilts, I do still believe that not every quilt should be used frequently. Well, Tina's perspective has given me pause, and caused me to begin to evaluate even more my way of thinking about quilts.

She was also incredibly gracious. On Saturday afternoon, she held two educational sessions about her quilts. Not only had she given us, our quilting group, opportunities to instruct right alongside her in the schools on Thursday and Friday, but on Saturday, she even gave us the opportunity to display some of our quilts along with hers. We are quilters, but she is an artist. Below is one of her exhibits of quilts, with some of my quilts. You might recognize what is probably my best known quilt (see the white one with the square, folded and lying on the table?). Under it is my picnic quilt top, and to the right on another table is my Yellow Brick Road quilt:

I do not have permission to share photos of my quilt group (except for one or two members), so I'll only show some of the pictures of the room where we were stationed. In the photo below is my High Light quilt:

See the woman in the foreground on the right with the hat and red dress? She was one of the re-enactors (see the Part 1 post); she was on break from her own session, and stopped thru our room:

Here I am seated at my sewing machine, sewing some of the setting blocks that Tina will use when she assembles the childrens' quilts; I am positioned in front of the quilt that I will present to you in Part 3 of this series!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

USCT Grand Review Part 1

(On this day, Veteran's Day, it is most appropriate to talk about one particular group of veterans...)

We had a very interesting weekend this past weekend. In order to fully explain it, I'll need to give you a bit of history over the course of three blog entries, which will help lay the groundwork for making the connection to quilting. Here's the first one.

At the end of the Civil War, Washington wanted to honor its troops for their service in the war with a grand review. However, they made a grave oversight and decided not to extend the invitation to the US Colored Troops (USCT). Yes; in this, our brand new United States, some of us were still not welcome.

(Now, Pennsylvania at least decided to hold a grand review, and they did invite colored troops to the affair, but the governor did not attend.)

So, here we are, at the sesquicentennial (150 year) mark. Pennsylvania decides to hold a sesquicentennial celebration of the grand review, and makes a point to extend to the colored troops the honor that Washington should have extended them a century and a half ago. I will not consider the injustice, irony, etc. of it all; I will simply be grateful for this past weekend. And for the governor's presence this time around. Below, you can see him posing with some of the troops.

And the mayor, too; here she is, being escorted to the podium.

To celebrate the event, on Saturday there was a procession of troops on the streets of the state's capital. There are companies of men across the country who participate in re-enactment events, and were more than happy to travel to Harrisburg in their Union Army garb to honor the men who fought many years ago for the cause of freedom.

Some of the companies consisted of very young men. :) These drummers are in their early teens.

There were also men and women dressed in "civilian" attire of the time, who represented certain characters in history. For example, one woman was Harriet Jacobs. If you walked up to any of the actors, they would, in character, explain who they were, and what part they played in history.

It was hard not to be moved by the events of the weekend. It was amazing.

Part 2--an art quilter (or quilt artist?)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Picnic Quilt

I've got good news and bad news.

First, the bad news.

I have not yet finished the socks.


Now, the good news.

I have a quilt top to show you!

(Have you ever tried to take pictures of a quilt top outside on a windy day? Oy!!)

Early this summer, I took a good look at my fabric stash. It hit me rather hard that I love novelty fabrics, especially food fabrics. (Now, that makes for a very colorful, and very interesting stash, but not a very versatile one. I'm slowly, bit by bit, trying to remedy that. But in the meantime...)

So, I thought it would be nice to make a picnic quilt, comprised of my food fabrics!

You might recognize the pattern. It is the Fresh Vanilla pattern, that I have already used for two other quilts to date. Remember these?

 I love the versatility of this pattern; see how the sashing and fabrics changed the look of this quilt completely?

Ordinarily, I wait to reveal a quilt once I have fully completed it--the quilting, binding, etc. I actually finished this one a month or two ago. But this one is still a top, and will remain a top until I figure out how I will quilt this on a regular home sewing machine. It is HUGE; also, I broke the presser foot I had been using for free motion, so I need to first figure out which of my machines to buy a new one for, and then go and buy it. And maybe a walking foot, too.

I have another quilt top to reveal later this week. I will finish up my grading, and then share with you a very special event, and a very unique quilt.
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