I’m not yet done with my quilt that I’m trying to finish before the end of December. I’ve finished quilting on it. This is the second day it has been drying, spread out on the living room floor. I rinsed it in the bathtub in cold water to wash out the blue marker and to dampen it for blocking. To block the quilt, I squeezed out excess water without wringing, laid the quilt on a clean sheet and stretched and scrunched it to be a more accurate rectangle. The stretching and scrunching were aimed to get each of three sets of measurements to be the same: three measurements side to side, two measurements top to bottom, and both diagonals. I directed a fan on the quilt to hasten drying. This process does occupy most of the center of the living room, so I’m grateful for spousal cooperation for this venture.
While the quilt was drying, I cut fabric for the binding and hanging sleeve. I also cleared my design wall so it can become my photo backdrop. This involved putting away several projects that were on the wall. This was useful to organize my workspace and update my current projects list. I’ve finished one project on my list, but added three more. There are now 24 on the list. My definition of a Current Project: A project that is named, has a sketch or actual-size cartoon, materials have been gathered, and some work has begun. Current Projects do not include ideas or unnamed sketches; they have their own files.
blocking the quilt
projects in bags and project list
I’ve been thinking about commitment to keeping a sketchbook. I always advised my students to keep one when I was teaching, but have not consistently done so myself. I have always drawn on individual sheets of paper or torn drawings out a my sketchbooks. I file them by topic or project, or just as likely, let them lie around my various workspaces until I bury them under other stuff and lose them. Hmmm. That is the problem. My to-do list has two “Find sketch for…” items on it right now.
sketches from folders
I like filing sketches by topic or project.
A sketchbook is chronological in organization. Can I combine organization by time and by topic with multiple topic-designated sketchbooks, or is this too complex to be practical?
I am searching for purse-sized sketchbook(s) that I will actually carry most all the time. I already own these two 8.5″ x 6″ sized possibilities. More importantly, I must designate places to keep drawings and sketchbooks so I can find them when desired or review them when I need a fresh idea for a new project. Since I thought about this idea about a month ago, I have been carrying the DaVinci sketchbook almost all the time, and have filled about four pages. I’ll update after more time and travel.
I treated myself to a bit of diversion the past few days, making a skirt for under the Christmas tree. It seemed a natural for someone who makes quilted things. The best thing was using materials I have hoarded or inherited. A length of pre-printed cloth came from a “help yourself” opportunity at a gathering of quilters. The backing was a recycled piece of fabric, vintage 1970’s, that had already served as a tablecloth. The filling was an inherited worn-out wool blanket. I used seam binding from my mother-in-law’s sewing box and buttons from her, my mother, and my grandmother. The threads were small spools of unknown provenance. I feel justified that I kept the materials over many years but also relieved that their use moves me toward a less cluttered life.
under the tree
tree skirt detail
There is something intrinsically satisfying about cleaning storage shelves and boxes and neatly replacing my treasures in the freshly cleaned spaces.
I just sorted my sewing items, integrating sewing supplies recently inherited from my mother. I appreciate each of the items I’ve chosen to keep.
Most of what I saved is practical, so I placed those items with their kin and labeled the shelf or box so I can find them easily: velcro, buttons, pins, thread, zippers.
But others items have history: the snippet of lace left from sewing the ring bearer pillow that was carried down the aisle at my wedding, a remnant from curtains made for the camper which brings to mind summer horseback rides, flannel with a print of tiny bears that reminds me of my son as a toddler, sturdy metal zippers frugally cut from well-worn jeans.
In my Mother’s things, I found thread so old it was on wooden spools. I saved those for decoration. The tattered box that held pinking shears and the thread labels marked 10c, and rusty antique hand-sewing needles, I set aside for a sewing-themed collage.
It has been a day well spent.
I’m preparing now for my 2012 New Year’s resolution. My goal is to become skilled at free-motion quilting. For non-quilters, this means machine sewing with the feed dogs down, so that the little teeth that usually move the fabric under the needle are disabled and the movement of the project under the needle is controlled only by the quilter maneuvering the fabric with his or her hands. Those skilled in the technique all repeat the same advice: “practice, practice, practice”.
So, I have spent the past two weeks sewing more than sixty four 10.5 inch squares with a purple circle centered on a green square. Next, I’ll be sewing three pale-colored fabric strips to make more 10.5 inch squares. I’ll baste pairs of the two types of squares around batting to make 64 little quilt sandwiches on which to practice my free-motion quilting. I used my recently-made eight foot by eight foot design wall to decide how to arrange the squares to become a bed quilt. The project already has a name: “Thanks, Dot”, to honor the faithfulness of my mother’s lifelong friend who went by the name Dot.
I’ve saved the circles of green fabric, which I cut away when assembling the dot-on-square pieces. These will be sandwiched around batting and circles cut from a salvaged (heat-resistant) ironing board cover fabric. These will make lots of round hot pads, and give me yet more practice pieces for free-motion quilting. Oops, did I give it away what everyone on my gift list will receive in 2012?
"Thanks, Dot" pinned to design wall
Artist Studio Tour in Denver
I just got back from attending the Studio Art Quilt Associates Conference in beautiful Denver, Colorado. My head is spinning with ideas. Yesterday I organized the artist’s business cards that I had gathered, attaching each to a 8.5″ x 11″ paper and making notes. Today I began reviewing what I learned in the workshop sessions. That triggered some sorting of old files into which I’ll integrate the new information. Infused with more energy than I have had in weeks, I’m resuming work on building the design wall in my home studio.
I have heard some people complain about being bored. I can’t recall or don’t anticipate ever being so. There ARE some routine tasks that I must do that I don’t find appealing, like washing dishes or ironing clothes, so I entertain myself with ideas and envision projects that I am eager to do. I keep pencil and a pocket-sized pad of blank paper near at hand to write down ideas worthy of capture or sketch visual ideas. If I must be in a meeting or waiting for something or someone and using pencil and paper is not rude in the situation, I entertain myself by drawing or writing. My pencil (and eraser…which is also vital) sketches are of anything in sight. Sometimes the challenge is finding an interesting vignette in ordinary surroundings. Drawing practice keeps observation skills sharp. Writing often takes the form of sequenced steps in whatever creative project is on my mind. Every day I try to feed my creative self in some way, even if only for a few minutes. Oh…what to do with the sketches? Look at them later and toss mercilessly those 98% that were just “for practice” and file the good ideas by topic in folders.