Sunday, December 18, 2016

Reflecting - Year in review

As this year is coming to a close, I have to reflect back on what I've accomplished.  There's been a lot of starts and finishes I can be proud of.  It seems there are always some things that get put to the side, that can wait for later.  Those always weigh heavier on my mind than the mountain of successes.  Not meaning to emphasize the negative more than the positive, but it does happen.  There's also been times where I just can't get back to it and must purge myself of the entire project.  Whether it was a tangible start or just a thought or scribble in my journal.  Passing on a tangible start to someone else could be a blessing for them, but nothing more than a burden for me.  In other words, you don't have to finish something you've started if it brings you grief.  Let someone else have the joy in it.

Recently I organized my cupboards of fabrics and patterns.  I've discovered things tucked away and shuffled around that I've had for years.  Not just a stash of fabric, but the many notions I have, like buttons, velcro, DMC floss, tiny silk roses, snaps, bits of foil, etc, etc, etc... It may be time to purge myself of these things and move on.  Will I be able to part with them?  Hmmm, will have to ponder that for a while, but not linger on about it for too long.  There's always Murphy's law.  The moment I need something for a project, I won't have it any longer.  So, that's why I'm in this predicament, boxes and drawers full of odd bits and pieces.

OK, enough rambling.  Here is my year in review for 2016....

"Orange Slices" table runner using circle tool
T-Shirt quilt + tutorial on binding a quilt
Valentine quilt
"Green bricks" Baby quilt
"Bird on a wire" small art thread painted quilt
"In the Woods" post card snippets technique and thread painting
"In the Midst of Chaos" sister quilt of "Garden Ladder"
Biscornu book weights with quilt stitches and beaded edges
Eric and baby portrait quilt
Dad's portrait multi-embellished 
Dad's portrait
Improv top (not finished)
Multi-medium post card with beads
Post Card Thread Study
Blue jean rug finished #2
College quilt for Clemson graduate
Baby quilt
Cheater quilt finished with beads and stitching

Not pictured are 12 TQPM (The Quilt Pattern Magazine) quilts for small pets finished and mailed to a kennel in need after hurricane flooding in South Carolina.  
Also not pictured, Ornaments table runner, a Christmas gift for my DS.  
A tangled stitched book cover, also a Christmas gift and a tangled and stitched luggage tag.  

Wow, when I look back at the year in pictures like this, it really does put everything in perspective.  
Here's to 2016 and looking forward to 2017....CHEERS everyone!  :o)  

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Hand Stitching - brings memories


           My studio is clean now.  Yep, even my shelves are straightened up and weeded out for donations/charity quilts.  Not a week ago, there were scraps, strips and orphan blocks littering the floor.  On my wipe board, there's a list of UFO's, starts and donation quilts to make/finish.  But, I want to dial down and work on some hand stitching.   Using a machine to do all the work makes me feel like I am just speeding through trying to get it done and out of the way for the next.  So, slowing down, making my brain work will not only make me appreciate the piece more, but help me keep a perfect precise stitch.   Felt is wonderful to work with.  It's easy to stitch through and you don't need a seam allowance or to turn it inside out.  The felt ornament above was hand stitched and only took about an hour from start to finish along with a short coffee break.

          When I started quilting over 33 years ago, I didn't have a sewing machine so all my stitching was hand done.  In those days, my fingers ached and bled.  I was used to getting small blood stains out of my blocks with my saliva.  Sounds gross, but believe me, it's the best way to get blood out of fabric.  It took me years to complete a twin size quilt.  First cutting templates, marking with a pencil adding 1/4" seam allowances.  Finally cutting the hand drawn shapes out with scissors, yes, even simple squares were drawn out and cut.  There was no such thing as a cutting mat or rotary cutter.  My teacher was a patient person giving us personalized attention when needed.

          The class project was a sampler wall hanging using polyester batting.  It was horrible stuff.  Lumpy and thick looking which doesn't hang quite right.  But, having said all this about that first project, I look back on it as a great learning experience.  You have to start somewhere.   There's some problems with this first piece, sure.....but, the seam allowances are perfect, the corners and joins are perfect, the points are perfect and the quilting stitches are.....not so perfect, but hey, it was the first project, and the one thing my teacher always said was "practice makes perfect".   I did practice, and practice, and practice, but my quilt stitches were just OK, not wonderful or perfect.  Probably embarrassing is a better word.   I did a lot of stitching in the ditch.

          About 20 years ago, I decided to learn machine quilting.  It took a couple quilts to really get the hang of it, but no where near the hours of practice that hand quilting takes.  Looking back on it, I could have easily just given up on quilting altogether, but it's a feeling of accomplishment every time I finish something no matter how large or small the project is.  It's a good feeling.  ;o)