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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Standing the test of time

I've passed by this great old barn in Connecticut a number of times in the last few years. This past September I was compelled to pull over and take a few pictures. The barn sits on an expansive piece of farmland with great long stone walls.  The house next to it is still standing and in the process of renovation. There is something I find inspiring about the construction and colors, the fact that it still serves a purpose and is obviously well-worn used over the decades. It is humbling to know that someone pulled the stones from the land, stacked them precisely and created usefulness out of the simple materials at hand.

There are quilts that have stood the test of time, some in almost pristine condition after 100 years or more. But they were not used. They sat in cupboards, folded and displayed. They didn't warm a body or provide comfort in texture and color. They were not handled and dragged and draped over children and their parents as they read a bedtime story. It gives me great pleasure to visit someone and see a quilt I’ve given them bunched up on the couch or a bed, softer from being washed and dried, and used well. I know then it has been used as intended. It has served its purpose.

As I begin a quilt, the first decision is whether it is a ‘user’ or a ‘keeper’. Rarely is the answer a ‘keeper’. Perhaps a piece of my work will last beyond 2 or 3 generations. That’s a nice thought. But the stories will fade and weaken along with the colors and the construction materials. It might need a bit of renovation if it does last. In the long run, if these bits of cloth pieced together and stitched lovingly serve a purpose today, provide some bit of comfort with the recipient knowing I cared for them, that’s enough. And it gives me ample reason to make another and another….

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A room with a view


Classroom sewing area - sewing the last row on a 1920's One Thousand Pyramids quilt. 

The view from the classroom

After a few trial runs with my quilter friends, the studio is ready for regular classes.  I'll be advertising locally in the next few weeks with classes starting in November.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cats, Quilts and Excuses

Is the fact that this is one of Casper's favorite spots to take a nap any excuse to not finish it?  This quilt was started a few years ago (more than I'd like to admit publically) and is done except for hand-sewing the remaining unfinished portion the binding. 

The truth is that I put off finishing projects unless there is a reason to finish them.  My quilts seem to need a purpose to be finished.  Until they have a destination or intended recipient, they linger.  I  like to say I 'live with them for a while' until I know where they belong.  Working improvisationally is exciting and interesting.  There are lots of decisions and trials, experiments, auditioning.  Once all the decisions are made and I can see the finished product, I'd rather be designing again.

The upside in working this way is that there is always something constructive to do at any stage in the process of quilt-making.  If the mood strikes me to do simple piecing, there's a project that needs piecing. If quilting is what I want to do, I can pull out a quilt top that needs quilting.  If I need a take-along project, applique is very portable. 

These may be excuses, but they work for me.  And I have the finished quilts to prove it!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Simplicity in Design

There are certain things that we do by habit that become comforting in their simplicity and tried and true results. Half square triangle blocks, essentially a square cut in half on the diagonal from corner to corner is that comfortable and dependable block for me.

I’d rather work with 200 fabrics than be limited to just a few. Simplicity rules! If you use just light and dark fabrics, saving your mediums for another project, the results can be wonderful. This works for two-color quilts, scrap quilts or themed projects. A quilt made with just this block, with or without borders and a simple binding works marvelously. It is important to size them all up consistently before piecing the blocks together, regardless of which method of piecing you use. There are a variety of ways to make these blocks. Because I work scrappy, I like to use the method outlined in this link.

Who knows, maybe someday I’ll try this theory on a rectangular block just to try something entirely different?

If you do decide to make a border, applying a background fabric and using leaves and vines compliments the overall design very nicely.  Sue Pelland's new rulers and tools are a wonderful way to add a lively border.  Check out her website.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

October 2, 2010 A beautiful autumn day for quilting

Welcome to the first posting for a fine line quilt studio!

The studio is recently completed and just about ready for quilting classes.  Quilters of all levels of skill, from novice to accomplished, gather at a fine line, where the emphasis is on developing and enhancing skills, confidence level, and ability to create.  We learn from each other, get to see a variety of projects and methods, and have guidance throughout the process of learning.  The environment is welcoming and well-equipped.  The people are enthusiastic and friendly.  The results are better than you imagined!

Quilt classes are Friday nights from 6-9 pm, Saturday mornings from 9 am to noon, and Saturday afternoons from 1-4 pm.