Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Polka dots for Betsy and Meg

My friend Betsy gave me a wonderful piece of polka dot fabric based on Eric Carle's book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I decided to make a larger wristlet bag, more of a large pencil case shape as a gift for Betsy. Big enough to hold scissors and other sewing accessories. I put a large round wood bead on the zipper pull.

I just love the bright colors of this print and how the polka dots are so plentiful and crowded joyfully together. Can you believe The Hungry Caterpillar was published in 1969? This must qualify as a classic now. It even has a wikipedia entry, where it says that it is one of the best-selling books of all time, with over 25 million copies in print.

I also made a smaller wristlet for Betsy's daughter Meg. Meg is a school teacher, so this seems to be a perfect print for her.

I just love making these wristlets, I am ever appreciative of the tutorial posted here for the instructions.

Monday, January 26, 2009

sewing for Makayla's bitty baby

I spent a long weekend up north with friends and their 4 yr old daughter. Makayla brought along her bitty baby doll. I had a small variety of fabric on hand, just in case. We made her a quilt, a bib and a bonnet. She picked the colors (her favorite color is yellow) and helped me decide on size and placement of the large blocks and the bib shape and size. What fun. She was very pleased with the results, as you can see.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

finished sunshine

Here are some shots of the finished sunshine pillow. You will note that is got a little bigger.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Elizabeth Alexander's poem

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


This week I have been dreaming about sunshine. We have had sunshine here in Michigan, but it has been accompanied by temperatures as low as -15 F. So, I gathered some pink, yellow, orange and red from the stash. I didn't have time to actually get to the cutting and sewing part till yesterday.

So, my sunshine grouping became this.

You may notice some fabrics in the block that were not in the inspiration gathering. These are courtesy of my friend Betsy, I joined her for sewing time and she generously found some sunshine in her stash to contribute.

Next step, quilt this and make it up as a pillow.

This is a type of sunshine that says summer and hot to me, what a nice break. For contrast here is what the sunrise looks like for me now. A different quality indeed, but beautiful in it's own way. I have been noticing a lot of these black/white gray skies backed with red and pink lately. Another theme, for another time.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The black and white quilt

Spoiler alert - Sarah.

I just couldn't resist posting some photos of the finished quilt. I wanted to make a large lap quilt, it ended up 80 inches long and 60.5 inches wide. I think that is almost twin bed size, so it should be plenty large enough to snuggle under while lounging on the couch. It remains to be seen how it functions in the environment with their black dog (who sheds a lot), I hope it all blends in nicely. : )

Here is the quilt being held up by my husband. The next shot is the back. I did not have enough of the black fabric that I purchased, so made a wide strip from the fabrics used in the quilt top.

The label is shown here.

I also wanted to mention that I adapted the pattern for this quilt from one in Modern Art With Fabric by Debbie Maddy, published in 2007. I used her lap quilt pattern but made it about 1/3 larger. Here's a link to her web site, it's called Calico Carriage.

Little practical things and more quilting

Some of my studio time this weekend was used for a couple of needed practical things. I made a padded bag for my new car navigation assistant. I made the standard writstlet that I have been making and added a center divider, so that cord would not scratch the screen. I also put a layer of quilt batting in the bag to provide cushion.

I also realized that I needed one more cloth grocery bag, so made one out of the leftover bedroom curtain material (that I have been getting a lot of mileage out of!). I used the basic Morse bag dimensions. This one does not a have a flat bottom like most of my other bags, but I think that's OK.

With those two projects done I then turned my attention to finishing the quilt for Andrew & Sarah. As you can see from this picture, the pins are out. I finished the machine quilting yesterday then added the binding and did the hand sewing last evening.

I added the label for the back this morning. Just the basic message, who it is made for, with love, my name and the date. Now I can't wait to give this to them. I think it will happen sometime in February, we may be making a visit then.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Free Motion extravaganza

I spent time yesterday doing the free motion machine quilting on Andrew and Sarah's large lap quilt. I pulled my machine into the center of the room, put a table behind it and set up my ironing board to my left. Like so:

It was great fun and not nearly as cumbersome as I had thought it would be. I did a sort of large scale stipple. The black on black is almost invisible, here are some of the more white squares that show the quilting more obviously.

I ended the afternoon with a very numb right thumb. I guess I was a little too excited and clutched the fabric too much. Feeling is back in my thumb today, so no harm done.

In the spirit of Every Day Creative and inline with my goal this New Year I plan to post more often. I want to record what I am doing in my every day way to infuse creativity into my life this year.

If you are a lurking reader a comment of encouragement would be appreciated. What are you doing to keep your creative spirit alive in your life?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Creative Every Day

I have joined the Creative Every Day 2009 challenge. A very low key group. I want to use this commitment to spur me to get to the sewing room/studio more often and with less expectation and judgment. The theme for January is Play. We hosted an open house recently and in preparation for the "play" I found it necessary do some sewing projects.

In the waning hours before the event, a couple of things suddenly became an eye sore (to me) when contemplating entertaining. Items of very minuscule import that most probably only enter my consciousness. I do feel better having made them and will enjoy them.

1. Made a new set of oven mitts. (This fabric is from old bedroom curtains, at least 20 years old, a classic and durable Waverly print)

2. Recovered a very tattered chair seat:

3. Make a table mat to cover an unattractive table top.

So here's to a year filled with projects large and small that meet the challenge of infusing my life with creativity.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Great quote on sewing

I was just reading Marcy Tilton's newsletter and really like this quote:

"This I know: the act of getting my hands, heart and soul into making & inventing something brings great pleasure. Where there was once a neatly folded flat piece of cloth, suddenly there is a dimensional garment. In spite of setbacks (buttonholes gone bad, unintended puckers, 2 left sleeves.......), I return to the studio with passion and hope. Some days the act of stitching something together, smoothing out wrinkles, shaping an edge, tweaking a pattern, screening in a bit of color, all add together to make a feeling of joy that is almost beyond words. "

I often try to describe to someone what I get out of sewing, this sums it up so well. I am not at the designer level as Marcy is, but do very much identify with the intent and effect of the creative process that she describes.

Here's to "joy beyond words" in sewing adventures.