Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Faded Memories

This blog post immediately feels inadequate to me. How do I post something without acknowledging what we are collectively going through right now? And yet, anything I say feels so insignificant in the face of it all.

I wish I had wise words, comforting words, words that maybe could make you laugh for a second and momentarily forget the pain, the fear, the sadness, the confusion... but I don't.

The only thing I have is my compassion for whatever it is that you are going through...

If you are a medical worker on the front lines, risking your own life to save the lives of others, sincerely I say, God bless you and protect you. You are doing an amazing job.

If you are one of the many workers, such as my husband, who is still called in to work and you find yourself in an environment that puts you at risk and seems to undervalue the service you provide, sincerely I say, God bless you and protect you. You are doing an amazing job.

If you have been laid off from your job, and are not sure if your job will ever exist again, such as myself, finding yourself in an odd state of limbo where one day blends into the next and you feel unproductive despite having more time on your hands then you ever had before, sincerely I say, God bless you and protect you. You are doing an amazing job.

If you are a parent of young children, possibly juggling work from home along with childcare, homeschooling, housework and meal prep, and increasingly find yourself understanding why some species eat their young, sincerely I say, God bless you and protect you. You are doing an amazing job.


The rest of this post is me just showing you some pics of the piece I recently completed. It's a small piece, (14" x 16.5") started months ago... one that I would just pick up here and there and add a bit of stitch before putting down again, and now it's finished...

"Faded Memories"
Made from vintage grain sack fabrics and bits of book cloth gleaned from the covers of vintage books that I have had in my possession for 30 plus years... It was time for them to be repurposed...

Some small holes in the cloth gave me a place to mend...

Machine and hand stitched,

And patched together...

And that's all I got.
Stay safe. Stay well. 

Monday, December 16, 2019

Shunned Series

In my mind a did a blog post just about a month or so ago... in reality it was 8 months ago, and here we are with just a few weeks left in 2019. So, with that realization, I figured it was definitely time to do one last blog post before the new year.

While I've made a couple of quilts between my last post and this one, (both of which can be found on my Instagram feed, I thought I'd share with you what I've been most recently stitching.

Small stitched works visually inspired from the local worn and weathered barns that I photograph on my phone as I go from here to there, in Northern Lancaster County and surrounding areas, such as these two...

Each was stitched while contemplating that, (and those) which are rejected, discarded, abandoned, deemed unworthy... But which deserve love, respect, honor, dignity, and understanding. I also pulled from personal memories of rejection, as well as reflecting on the Amish practice found here in Lancaster County of shunning those in the family that choose to forge a different path.  And from those contemplations, all I can say is this...

We all have faced rejection and we have all been the one that rejected. We have all been judged, and we have all judged. We have all had love withheld, and we have all withheld love. That alone should give us compassion. Everyone is broken to some degree, and everyone is in need of some tender mercy. 

Having said that, (and warning... I'm about to go political here) I admit I'd find it hard to give that mercy to some... including the person who now occupies the White House. However, should he ever grow a heart, or at least a moral compass and truly ask for forgiveness, then that is what I hope I would do. Until then, I hope his is a one term presidency, or better yet, a less than one term.

Below are the 8 pieces I've stitched so far in what I am calling my "Shunned" series. I may finish with one more, or keep going. Don't yet know. 

The photos were all taken in various natural light and aren't the best, so have a bit of mercy for them.


Stained and scorched vintage grain sack fabrics and bits of vintage book cloth.
Machine and hand stitched.
7" x 4.5"


Stained and scorched vintage grain sack fabrics and bits of vintage book cloth.
Machine and hand stitched.
3" x 3"


Stained and scorched vintage grain sack fabrics and bits of vintage book cloth.
Machine and hand stitched.
5.75" x 5"


Stained and scorched vintage grain sack fabrics and bits of vintage book cloth.
Machine and hand stitched.
7.5" x 6"



Stained and scorched vintage grain sack fabrics and bits of vintage book cloth.
Machine and hand stitched.
6.25" x 5.25"



Stained and scorched vintage grain sack fabrics and bits of vintage book cloth.
Machine and hand stitched.
8.5" x 4.25"



Stained and scorched vintage grain sack fabrics and bits of vintage book cloth.
Machine and hand stitched.
5" x 5.25"


Stained and scorched vintage grain sack fabrics and bits of vintage book cloth.
Machine and hand stitched.
5.5" x 5.75"


Wishing you all the best for the New Year.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Off the Beaten Path

If you read my last post, than you know that I have been on a bit of a fabric buying strike, but allowed myself to indulge in buying some thrifted men's shirts, (results of which to date can be found on that post as well). 

Well... I also allowed myself to buy some vintage grain sack fabric found at a local Mennonite quilt sale. I figured it was fair game, as it isn't new and I fell hard for its quiet beauty, flaws, stains and all. 

And on a quick side note... may I say many thanks to those that did read my last post and a special thanks to those that took the time to leave a comment. I know much time can go from one post to another, (although not this time) and everyone's kindness is always so very much appreciated!  

I got several pieces of this incredibly soft grain sack fabric that has the most amazing drape. Old dirt and mildew stains speckle the cloth which I find lovely. (The fabrics all appeared to have been washed before selling, with no evidence of active mold or mildew. However, I still gave everything a thorough cleaning in very hot water and dried on a long high heat once home as well. I want those lovely stains to remain, but also wanted to ensure that no active spores were still present.)

Now that I hopefully peeked your interest, I regret to say that I am still contemplating what to do with the above fabrics, so nothing more to show you there. And I might as well be up front now, (after my last post set the bar a bit high) just ONE quilt to show this time, but I think it's a good one!

Ok, back to the fabrics, and eventually that one quilt...

I also got a stack of these low volume beauties...

I am serious as can be when I tell you that their weave, their colors, their typography... 
all make my heart speed up and my mouth literally starts to salivate. 
Why on earth I do not know... it's not like I want to eat them.
(Or do I?) 

No, I'd much rather sew with them...

Vintage grain sacks
Freehand cut, machine pieced, hand quilted
27.5" x 21"

Out of all the quilts I've ever made I think this was my favorite one to quilt. 

All the hand quilting was done in a VERY freeform manner. 

No planning, no marking, just stitching. 
It was, in a word, LIBERATING! 

Some of the material was very gauzy and light weight, so I decided to line the whole quilt with a piece of muslin fabric layered between the top and the batting, in order to give it better stability. This also came in handy when I decided to mend two small holes found in one of the fabric pieces. I just hand stitched the edges, and left the hole openings be, allowing the muslin lining to peak thru. You can see a better close up in that photo at the very top of this post.

Oh, and here's a little tid bit... 
Have you noticed that little slice of fabric that says Baltimore? 
It was part of the address found on one of the grain sacks.
I put that in as an ode to where I was born.

I backed the quilt with a natural unbleached muslin and for the binding I used a gauzy vintage fabric that I got at the same sale. Then I washed it to bring out all that delicious, crinkled, quilt texture. 

Quilt is currently for sale in my Etsy shop and can be found here.

Thanks for stopping by.


Saturday, April 13, 2019

Waste not, Want Not - Shirt Quilts

For the last year or so, I've been on a bit of a self-imposed fabric buying ban, (with a few exceptions for buying mostly backing fabrics here and there). I mean, it's not like I don't have enough fabric, right? But then again, can you ever have have enough fabric? 

With that second thought looming more prominently in my brain, I decided to allow myself some indulgence, with the caveat that all "new"  fabric would actually be old reclaimed fabric. 


So off to the thrift store I went in search of men's shirts, (which we all know is made from much higher quality fabric then women's clothing, but we will save that discussion for another day).

Here's a pic of some thrifted shirts after dissecting them...

A good seam ripper and a sharp pair of fabric scissors, coupled with a little patience, is the key!

And look at all that nice fabric! We've got cottons and linen. 
Shot cottons and chambrays. Stripes and ginghams, too!

And here's what I've made so far...

Shirt Quilt # 1
Cotton and linen
Freehand cut, machine pieced, machine and hand quilted.
19.5" x 14.5"


Shirt Quilt #1 Detail

Shirt Quilt #2
Cotton and linen.
Freehand cut, machine pieced, machine quilted.
29" x 18.5"

                                                                 Shirt Quilt #2 Detail

Freehand cut, machine pieced, machine quilted.
22.5" x 20.5"

Shirt Quilt #3 Detail

Shirt Quilt #4
Freehand cut, machine pieced, machine quilted.
20.5" x 17.5"

Shirt Quilt #4 Detail

Shirt Quilt #5
Cotton and linen
Freehand cut, machine pieced, machine quilted.
33" x 30.5"

Shirt Quilt #5 Detail, front and back

And to end with I shall share a little bit on the making of that last quilt.
I call it...

The Saga of Shirt Quilt #5

Compared to other quilts I've made, there was nothing out of the ordinary nor technically difficult in the making of this piece. However, I have never been so happy to be finished with a quilt, then with this one. Were it not part of this on going Shirt Quilt series, I simply would have named it "Petulance". 

As a general rule, I try to listen to the work and respect where it wishes to go. This usually creates a working harmony and respect between myself and the piece. This quilt however, WHINED its desires and when I did as it requested, it threw its head back laughing, as it waved a five finger salute at me. Every. Single. Time. 

 The one and only thing that seemed to make it play nicer in the sandbox with me was if we listened to Johnny Cash, specifically the songs from his American Recordings and American IV albums. The quilt still stuck its tongue out at me, but at least it stopped throwing sand in my eyes and hitting me over the head with its bucket. 

The only reason I didn't walk away was to show it that I am just as stubborn!


Friday, December 28, 2018

End of Year Wrap Up

Well, 2018 zipped by like a flash of lightening, and though it's been quiet here on the old blog, I do continue to make. So, while 2018 still has a few days left in it, I thought it'd be nice to do one last blog post for the year. (Hey, that brings me up to a full 5 posts for 2018... no slacking here.) 

Take a look below to see what I've been stitching since I last posted back in June... 

(Note: If you are a supporter of our current administration, you may not like the creative thoughts behind the works below, and that is ok, as we are all free to believe what we choose to believe. If you choose to leave a comment that obviously differs from my own political views, please make it thoughtful, respectful and constructive. Help me to understand your point of view. Hateful and nonconstructive comments will be deleted. Thank you.)

This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land
36" x 36",
Cotton fabrics, (Moda Grunge)
Machine pieced and machine quilted

I made this quilt while reflecting on the many ways we divide ourselves in this country, while at the same time craving connection more then ever. The work itself explores division and reunion. Using a multitude of colors helps to illustrate and celebrate the importance of diversity in America.
(Thanks to Woody Guthrie for the title inspiration.)

31.5" x 21.25"
Cotton fabrics
Hand cut, (no straight edge used)
Machine pieced and hand quilted

This quilt was made while reflecting again on how divided we are as a country and how quickly our world wide credibility is fading under the current administration. The man in the White House seems hell bent on trying to deconstruct the American values that we have held so dear while trying to refashion them into a wholly different America, and it is very alarming to me the speed at which he seems to be accomplishing this and the lack of response from republican senators and congressmen/women.

26" x 26"
Cotton fabrics, (shot cottons)
Hand cut, (no straight edge used)
Machine pieced and machine quilted

This quilt was made while reflecting on several things: line work, local surroundings, and of course, politics. In regard to line work, that's the term I am calling my ever developing and deeper desire to explore organic line shapes and how they interact with each other and how color influences that interaction. (The piece before this one is the beginning of my intent for a more mindful exploration, and going forward in the new year you will be seeing more of that exploration.) (Until I tire of it and move on to something else.)

This curiosity of line is of course deeply connected to the study of lines in my local rural surroundings... those old barns and outbuildings still fascinate me. (Below I've posted a photo I took just the other day that has wonderful lines and is a good example of the loveliness I see on a regular basis.)

And still, my mind can not help itself from continually thinking about our current state of affairs, (fueled no doubt by news often playing in the background while I sew). I seriously considered calling this piece "Tilting at Windmills" in a playful reference to the delusional Don Quixote and our own delusional Don occupying the White House. However, It was Thanksgiving when I finished it and in a desire for rest, I refrained and simply titled it "Windmill". (I'm saving that other title though for a possible future quilt.)

See? Good lines!

And here's a peak at something currently in the works, which I will share more of once it's finished, (which may be awhile). It's not big, but the stitching is going slow. Except for the smallest circle in each fan, I am basically eyeballing it, with the intention of not perfect quilted lines, but nevertheless, unity and relative consistency throughout. Much harder then I thought it would be. .

For all of what is shown, I was going back and forth... stitch a row, then flip the quilt and stitch the next row, thus saving on cutting, knotting and burying thread every row. However, (and here's a tip if you try this yourself!) I have finally realized that it's easier for me to stitch a row where the previous row is below the row being stitched and much harder for me when flipping the quilt and stitching a row where the previous row is above the row being stitched. Having that previous row below helps me eyeball  the new row much easier. So, more cutting, knotting and burying, but less pulling stitches out and starting over. (And if you are reading this but are not a quilter, my apologies for something that must sound very confusing!)

Happy New Year to Everyone!
See you in 2019!