Monday, April 7, 2014

All's Well That Ends Well!

Thanks to each of you for your thoughtful comments. After reading them all it is apparent to me that; A) as quilters, we will all be faced with this sort of thing from time to time, 
and B) there are many paths to take when it does happen... 
the important thing is to find the one that feels right to you and follow it.

It was midnight when I wrote about my botched quilting in my last post. After I posted it I went to bed and when I woke up in the morning I had decided to re-quilt what I had ripped out, and then finish quilting the whole bugger, mistakes and all,
 (and believe me the quality of the quilting did not improve any). 
The end result would be to give it to my dear dog, who I knew would love it no matter what. 
(I was warmed to see that a couple of you suggested this as well.)

It took me a few tries to adjust my attitude accordingly, which meant letting go of what I had thought it was going to be, and accepting it for what it was. It helped to keep my happy little dog's face in mind, and know how delighted she would be by this quilt.

Once I got it all quilted, I did a really quick machine binding, then washed and dried it in the hopes that the desired crinkling from the washing and drying process would help blend in the non-wanted, machine-quilted puckering boo-boo's. Once the quilt was out of the dyer, I headed over to my pup Eleanor, to show her her new quilt, but was intercepted by my husband who wanted to see it. 

Now, my husband is a dear and supportive man, but truthfully has never shown a great interest in my quilts, outside of a quiet nod, followed by, "It's nice, I like it. And that is that. 
(He is a man of few words, unlike his wife, who is rarely at a loss for them.)  
But on this quilt, he started to hold it, stroke it and sing it's praises.

I tried to show him all that had gone wrong with it, the way the quilting had distorted and pulled the blocks, how the fabric had fed unevenly thus turning under hear and there creating a puckered mess, how the whole thing wasn't even squared up... he would hear none of it.
To him it was the best thing I had ever made, and he preceded to lay it over him,
while he watched TV and eventually fell asleep under the warmth of it.
Luckily, he and Eleanor like to snuggle together, so I guess they can share the quilt. :)

I know now that this very humble, little lap-sized quilt has come into being to reinforce in me some lessons that I  need to continue to learn over and over again, (and I am not just talking about the quilting lessons!) The real lessons are about love, forgiveness, gentleness, acceptance, patience, humor, happiness, giving, non-judgement and staying present in the moment... 
all things that I am trying to practice and strengthen myself in.
(And that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder... )

Also, the irony is not lost on me, for I am always drawn to the beauty of imperfection, in love with all that is wabi-sabi, and I often try to incorporate those esthetics into my work... but I am also a bit of a control freak, and slave to perfection in craftsmanship... 
I want to be in charge of intentionally creating that look of imperfection. 
The reality is I am not so comfortable with actual imperfections that come unintentionally from me. 
I believe that is what we call ego and she is a bit of a joy killer...
I need to keep her in check!

So again, thanks to each of you for sharing your experiences, 
for laughing at my folly, and for offers of help and kind suggestions! 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Things I know but Choose to Ignore... Confessions of a (Supposedly) Experienced Quilter

I like to delude myself into thinking that I am way past making the quilting blunders that I may have made years ago. I mean I have learned a thing or two along the way...

(Nice, unvarnished quilt top before I defaced it.)

For instance, I know that you need to carefully smooth out your backing, batting and top then baste all three layers together very well. So how come on this quilt I ignored that "baste very well" part, and instead settled for "Hmm, it could use more pins, but that'll do"?

I know not to machine quilt when tired. So how come I decided to start quilting this evening, even though I was indeed tired?

I know that if the quilt top or back is puckering, stop! Something is not working as it should. So how come when I saw, (right into the first couple of rows) that this was indeed happening, (on both the top and the backing fabric) I just kept on going... I actually told myself that it wasn't really a big deal. WTF?

I know that good quilting takes concentration and time. So why was I plowing through the task and not paying attention to the fact that this quilt top, (that I just spent a good week putting together) was getting increasingly distorted and sloppy?

How come, (when I really did pay attention and truly saw how bad it was getting) I choose to repeat and follow that untruthful quilter's lie... you know the one..."Just keep going, you can quilt the wrinkles out" when I know from past experience that at least 7 out of 10 times you really can't.

And why, oh why did I start and stop every freakin' row, (all 54 of them, each 4 feet long... which equals 2592" or 72 yards) with little itty bitty stitches that I back stitched over several times, ( I will tell you why... because I am such a conscientious quilter and I don't want my threads to unravel). Of course I did this with the full knowledge, (gained from past experience) that should I have to rip any of those rows of stitching out, I will never be able to undo those itty, bitty, backstitched ones without ripping holes in the fabric. Now how conscientious is that??

So now I have a mess of a quilt. Not only is it a distorted mess, it is also very difficult to fix... besides those itty bitty stitches at the beginning and ends of each row, the whole backing is a homespun woven fabric that the stitches have simply disappeared into! It took almost two hours just to rip out 5 rows.

Now, what to do? I really liked the top. So, do I spend the next few days ripping out stitches, straining my eyes and making my hands ache? Or do I let it go, wasting what was a pretty top, and lots of fabric, along with my vision of what it could have been?

Ultimately it doesn't really matter, because the most important lesson here is that the quilt isn't what is important. (I mean it is just fabric and batting and some time spent. No big deal in the scheme of things.) What's important is re-learning the lessons that I knew, but choose to ignore, as well as some new lessons. So I thank this mess of a quilt for teaching me and reminding me...

~ To slow down and breath.

~ To stay in the present moment.

~ To do it right, (lest you re-do it later.)

~ To remember what I already know, (and apply it to the situation).

~ To not believe my ego when it tells me it knows better then my inner voice. (Inner voices always know best!)

~ To be kind to myself when I forget and screw up. (That's how we learn, and relearn, and remember.)

~ To be  conscious. To be aware of what I am doing, and why I am doing it, and my attitude while I am doing it.

~ To remember that a good attitude in any situation goes a long way! Nothing is worth doing with a bad attitude, (and no quilt is worth saving if it will make me a miserable person in the process!)

~ Shit happens. Accept each situation with love, make the best choice you can in each moment, let go of what doesn't work and move on to something better.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

In the Studio

Not much to share as of right now, but I do have some new quilts tops in the works, including this scrappy one. Hoping to start quilting it this week. Will share more later.

Also, wanted to officially announce the randomly picked winner of Candy's giveaway from my last post. The prize goes to Sandi, of shhdesigns. Congrats, Sandi!

Crocuses have just started blooming here, and it is slowly beginning to feel like Spring!
A very blessed relief after an oh, so very long winter!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Free-Motion Machine Sketching DVD Blog Tour and Giveaway!

My friend and fellow artist Candy Glendening has just released her newest instructional Quilting Arts DVD, where she shares with us her process for using free-motion sketching to create her wonderful sketchbooks, (and inspires us to do the same) filled with stitched samples of that which inspires her, such as birds, vessels and fauna. Oh... and COLOR! Lot's and lot's of glorious color, which Candy knows better then almost anyone!

For anyone who is intimidated by free-motion sketching, (done the same way as free-motion quilting,  but using the technique to draw/sketch a picture) this DVD will be a great first step in breaking down that wall of fear. 

Candy gently walks you through the process, showing how simple and fun it actually can be, even if you have never had success with sketching on paper. 

She teaches you how to create fabric sketchbook pages that you can then record your free-motion sketch ideas onto, which you can then build into complete sketchbooks.

As Candy demonstrates it's a great way to practice ideas for new motifs and color combinations. 

Candy likes to create her sketchbooks by themes, and refers back to them when planning bigger projects, which I think is a fabulous idea!

And now here's the best part! Not only is Candy offering one of my lucky blog readers a chance to win their own copy of her newest DVD, she is also going to include a botanical sketch of a Pansy, (which I requested as it's my favorite flower) made especially for this giveaway! 

To enter, just leave a comment at the bottom of this post, (please make sure that the comment links back to you so I have a way of contacting you should you win)! The drawing ends on Wednesday the 26th, and I will announce a winner on Thursday. You can also follow along on the blog tour for more chances to win!

3/26/14: Comments are now closed. Thanks so much for everyone who participated!
I have contacted the winner and will share who it was in my next blog post. Contest is still going on over at some of the other participating blogs, including Candy's, so you still have more chances to win!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rough Patches - First Batch of 9 - Done!

Finally! It was two months ago that I first talked about starting a new series called "Rough Patches", in a blog post titled "Series within a Series". The premiss was to create 4 batches of small fabric collage quilts, (called "Rough Patches"). 

Each batch would containing 9 individual Rough Patches. At the time I thought I'd have the first batch easily done within a few weeks, but between writing and illustrating some new patterns, as well as contributing some art and articles to some upcoming magazines, it wound up taking me a wee bit longer!


Each Patch pays homage to the worn and weathered farms and fields that surround where I live, and which, as many of you already know, I am so drawn to, time and time again.

( I am posting photos, almost daily, on Instagram
Many of the photos I post feature those farms and fields!) 

Various fabrics were used in the patches, including cotton tickings and cheese cloth...

Shot cottons, linens and rusted fabrics...

Homespuns, chambrays and flowered indian prints...

Plaids and vintage crochet.

The patches of fabric were machine stitched with little bits of hand stitching here and there.

Although ultimately very simple, each patch, each placement of fabric, 
each tiny stitch, took a lot of thought and consideration.


My favorite part of the patches are the outer edges, 
where I stitched small bits of fabric in-between the quilt layers... 

and hand frayed all the edges.

To see more detailed photos and info on purchasing, 
just click on the links below each Rough Patch.

Am thinking about the next round of patches now, planing on how they will be similar, and how they will be different... stay tuned!


Also, be sure to pop back in this Monday, March 17th, where I will be part of Candy Glendening's current blog tour. There will be a Giveaway! where one lucky blog reader will receive a copy of Candy's newest Quilting Arts instructional video, and a piece of her artwork made specially for readers of my blog.

See you then!