Monday, January 17, 2011

First FO of the new year!

Thanks go this three-day weekend, I was able to finish up my first quilt of the 2011. Technically I started it in 2010... but it was just a top, all of the quilting & binding took place this year.

As with all the quilts I make, I absolutely love this one. The fabrics make me sooooo happy. Thus, I'm calling it my Happy Batiks quilt. Went with my new favorite quilting technique - wavy diagonal lines. I'm really starting to feel like my quilting is improving.

*Just wanted to add that I want to show this quilt at the Sister's Outdoor Quilt show this summer. I'm also trying to decide if I want to offer it for sale there or not. As I was making it my intention was to try to make this one for sale, but then I got it all finished up and I just love it! Selling a quilt you've made yourself is almost like selling your baby, you know?

If I ever do decide to start selling my quilts, I think the key will be to make two identical quilts at the same time... and keep one for myself!!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My quilting heritage

When I visited my family in December my Mom dug out a few quilt tops that she had inherited when her mother passed away and they cleaned out the house. My Mom was never a quilter, she mostly made clothes for us when we were kids, although she did make a few applique pillows and things like that. Now that I'm the quilter in the family, she gave them to me. =)

My Grandma had been a seamstress in a clothing factory, and would use whatever scraps she had to make quilts. I've seen a few of her quilts and to be honest - they're not beautiful. She used polyester or cotton/poly blends because that was what they were making clothes from where she worked. And her eye for color was... well, eccentric I guess. I loved my grandma... I promise, and I'd never want to speak ill of the dead. But her quilts were never meant to be art pieces, they were functional, practical, 'waste-not-want-not' blankets. So forgive me when I warn you that this particular quilt top is ugly as sin.

The blocks themselves are not that bad... a variety of fabrics, mostly men's shirting, cotton & some cotton/poly blends (I'm guessing based on feel and shininess... I'm certainly no expert). It's all machine sewn. And she changed up the orientation of the half square triangles in some of the blocks. Can anyone tell me what these blocks are called? Do they have a pattern name?

The only real 'sin' in this quilt are the fabrics she chose to border the blocks & in the sashing. It feels like a really poor quality cotton, and good lord Grandma... what's with the little red & yellow kids? It really does clash with the blocks. But my Mom said that she thinks Grandma had used the blue and yellow fabrics to make dresses for some of my cousins. So... again, waste not want not.

It's now up to me to finish it up. I've seriously considered un-picking the blocks and using a solid blue for the borders & sashing to remake the top, then to at least preserve Grandma's intent... use the blue 'dancing children' fabric in the backing. But then I showed it to a friend, he argued that, you know - this is the real deal. This is a woman who worked and used what she had available to make something functional, and that I should preserve her choices. It's a strong argument. And honestly, this is one of only two things I have that my Grandma actually made (she was much more of a cook / baker, and what I wouldn't give for one more jar of her currant jam!!). But if I finish it up as is... it's unlikely that I'll actually display it in my home. Whereas if it were just the blocks & a plain blue background, I'd proudly display it on my sofa or bed.

So what do you think? How should I finish it up?

Next up is a top from *her* mother... my Great-Grandmother. And this one is much more in my color palette & taste. I just love this bow-tie pattern.

Looking at the fabrics... they feel like they're all cotton, one of the yellows is a waffle weave, and the sashing fabric is a very loose weave, but they're generally in good shape. The thing that cracks me up is that some of them look *exactly* like some of the reproduction 1930s fabrics that are popular right now. Except, you know, these are most likely *actual* 1930s fabrics!

Unfortunately, as they say on Antiques Roadshow, there are some condition issues. The yellow waffle weave in particular seems to be pulling away from the fabrics it's sewn to. So there are some seams that need repair. Does anyone have any advice for that?

The blocks were hand pieced, and then the yellow sashing was machine sewn on later. I'm wondering if my Great-Grandma did that or if maybe my Grandma inherited the blocks & sewed on the sashing.

Without getting too sappy, I do feel honored to be carrying on the tradition of quilting in my family. Both of these projects will be huge undertakings, and I'm not sure if my skill is quite up to it yet. But at least with the one from my Grandma, I know she would want it finished up and used to pieces. I'm fairly certain that she's the source of my Mother's and my strong practicality gene (if there is such a thing) and she wouldn't want her quilt top just sitting around gathering dust for another generation. The yellow one though... will need a careful hand, so I might hold on to it for a while.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

In with the new...

Happy New Year!!

I know New Year's Resolutions are made to be broken, but there are several things I hope to accomplish this year.

1. Take care of my health.
A few things fall under this one, first get a new doctor. Second, see the optometrist and get new glasses. Third - I'd like to join a gym and get back into swimming. It won't be quite as fun as swimming in the bathwater warm teal blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand, but it will be good for me. I'm also going to give up Dr. Pepper specifically and in general try to cut down on my soda / fast food consumption....limiting it to once a week at the very most.

2. Get in good financial shape.
I'm pretty happy that I've managed to furnish my apartment, start taking classes, and travel a bit while still staying debt-free this year. But I've got virtually nothing in my savings account, and like everyone else's, my IRA took quite a hit in 2009 and won't be recovering any time soon on it's own. So for 2011, I need to start putting a bit more money into savings & investing.

3. Creative aspirations.
I'm pretty happy with the amount of quilting I've been doing, but I really want to step it up a notch. I want to put a quilt in a show this year, most likely Sister's Outdoor Quilt Show. But if I don't finish something up in time for that, I'll aim for a local show.

4. Philanthropy.
The one thing I slacked off on this year as I rebuilt my own life, was giving back to others. So in 2011 I want to start contributing to a charity and try to volunteer a bit too.

5. Take the next few steps on my career path.
It looks like this year will be when I choose a grad program and apply for it. I'm aiming for Fall 2012 admissions... so this will take place in late 2011... but it's still something I'll be working towards.

And that's about it as far as formal goals for 2011. Wish me luck!