Category Archives: Creativity

More Drawings I Found

I’m still working on my red and white quilt. There are parts covering my design wall. I’m paper piecing the triangle borders. It is a slow, fussy process, but in fact I don’t mind it at all. Would not want to work this way all the time, but it’s fine for now.

Since it is all “parts” and not much new to show, I thought I’d share other drawings I found while looking for newsprint.

One of the drawings is dated 2003, and the other two would have been from the same general time. Coincidentally, or not, I made my first quilt in late 2003 for the birth of a granddaughter. At the time I assumed — I said out loud, numerous times — that I’d never make another quilt. Instead, I didn’t draw anymore, and I did make another quilt in early 2005.

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A young boy. Drawn from a photo of a painted portrait. The painting was likely from the early 1800s.

The next drawing is of Victor Weisskopf. He was a physicist with a wide-ranging and impressive career, including working on the Manhattan Project and chairing the physics department at MIT. The black-and-white photo I used to draw him was so striking, with beautiful lines and shadows of his strong features.

In these days when science and basic research are threatened, it’s worth noting this 1969 quote from Weisskopf: “The total cost of all basic research from Archimedes to the present is less than the value of ten days of the world’s present industrial production.”

sketch-man

Victor Weisskopf, physicist. Drawn from a photo of him found in a magazine.

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Drawn from a magazine ad.

I’ve had fun looking back at these old pictures, and I might muster the ambition to draw again. But there are always so many things to do, aren’t there?

Are there any arts or crafts from your past that you’ve given up? Did you play an instrument or tat or needlepoint? How about intricate origami? Any of them you’d like to resurrect? 

Looking For Newsprint I Found Something Else

On Friday I took a class on foundation paper piecing. Yes, I’m a little late to the game! I’ve always been able to do what I wanted without using the technique, but sometimes a block is more complex or sized in a way that makes it hard to do conventional piecing. It was time to add this skill to my toolkit.

The kit for the paper piecing class included a pattern printed on “foundation” paper. It reminded me of newsprint paper. It worked easily but seemed expensive. Many years ago, pre-quilting, I took a couple of art classes. I saved some of the supplies; perhaps I had a pad of newsprint with those things.

I didn’t. However, as I dug through the drawings (not terrible for a beginner!) and paintings (no comment,) I found this drawing done with watercolor pencils. Honestly I barely remember doing it. And now I rather regret I didn’t do more.

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Thinking About Goals — 2117

Maybe *over*thinking about goals? The other day I posted about goals — not that I got around to defining any! But I did look at a couple of ways one might develop quilt-making goals. One question was from Lori at the Inbox Jaunt. She asked

Imagine it’s the year 2117--and a family member has just inherited a trunk of your quilts.

What will YOUR quilts say about YOU?

Do they say what YOU want them to say?

It’s a great question about legacy and how we want to be remembered. By extension, it prods us to consider whether we are making the quilts that will create the heritage we wish. If not, why not? Should we change (or set) goals for our quilting?

After chewing on this for a while, I realized that I don’t care what people a hundred years from now think about me, or about my quilts. My quilts serve three purposes:

  1. expressions of creativity
  2. expressions of love
  3. expressions of compassion.

The three purposes overlap, but depending on the quilt, the priority differs. All three are immediate needs for me —  I need to express myself. Quilts made from love and compassion, however, may have a different duration of impact. And that depends on the receiver more than it does on me.

I’ll never know most of the people who receive my “compassion” or donation quilts. I hope the owners feel the warmth of the “blanket” as well as the intention. And I hope the quilts are loved, used, and washed until they are used up.

My wishes are the same for the quilts I make for those I love. I hope the quilts are used, preferably for comfort or warmth, or for decoration. (I’d rather not know about quilts used to protect furniture while moving, or to coddle a dog giving birth, or to soak up oil on the garage floor…)

The quilt below was a wedding quilt given a few years ago to friends. It hangs on their living room wall. We visit often enough that I can still enjoy it, and they boast of how it can be seen from the street, as well as inside.

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What legacy do I want to leave with my quilts? I hope that when I die, my loved ones will tell stories about my quilts and my quilting. Stories like how I took over our son’s bedroom for studio space while he was in college (and how he still hasn’t gotten over that, several years later!) Stories about a granddaughter working on a little brother’s quilt with me. Stories about the round robins my sister and I did. Stories about how a daughter and I got each other the same quilting book one year, a book long out of print and wildly expensive. I hope they will share the quilts I made with others, and I hope there are no pristine, never-used quilts of mine to discover one hundred years from now.

Another New Christmas Stocking!

When I was a kid, the Christmas stocking was a feature of our family holiday celebration. My mom, an incredibly creative woman, made our stockings, decorating each differently. We all knew the stocking itself was a manifestation of her love for us. Besides that, the nuts, fruit, and candy in the stockings were a relatively large part of our presents. Last but not least, we were allowed to open our stockings immediately, because Santa filled them!

When our son was born, it was important to me that he have a stocking, too. I didn’t have the creative skills of my mom, so I bought one for him, which he still uses when at our home. On his first Christmas, Santa brought him one present, a small stuffed Curious George doll that fit just right into the top of that stocking. I’ll never forget the look of wonder on my son’s face when he locked eyes with the little monkey.

Last winter I made our son a new Christmas stocking, since he was far away. This year I made one for his girlfriend.

I wanted to keep with traditional colors, with fabric from my stash. However, I don’t stash Christmas fabrics, so I chose a mottled wine red for the stocking, and plaid for the cuff. The backing is a plain white muslin. Cotton batting makes it soft and pliable.

First I quilted the fabric with my long-arm. Because the fabric is plain, I wanted to make the quilting a little fancier. After looking at a couple of my books for inspiration, I decided to draw flowers and leaves with the thread.

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Here is the finished stocking.

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The other photos and instructions below are for Son’s stocking from last year. The pattern and process I used are all the same.

After quilting, I traced around my pattern. The pattern was drawn using the stocking he got as a baby, and it has a seam allowance included of approximately 1/2″.
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I drew and cut out two. Remember you need two sides to the stocking, and the foot needs to face both ways.
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To keep the edges corralled, I stitched quickly around the edges of each part separately. Then I pinned them, right sides together. Using my walking foot, I stitched around, leaving the top open.
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Then next step was to create a cuff. I decided how deep I wanted it (4.5″), doubled that (9″), and added an inch (10″). The inch was the seam allowance for both edges that would attach to the top edge of the stocking. I cut the piece 10″ deep. I also needed to know how long to make it. Honesty: this was a bit of fudging. What worked fine was using the width of the finished stocking, doubling it, and adding something like  1 1/4″. Because the cuff needs to fit around the stocking, you need a little extra leeway. Then I sewed my cuff along the 10″ edges, right sides together, to make a tube. The seam allowance here is probably a fat 1/4″. As I said, I fudged a little.
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I turned the cuff and folded it to make a tube half as deep, with right side of fabric on the outside. I pressed the fold edge all the way around. Then I tucked a piece of batting into the folded tube to give the cuff a little poof. You could skip that if you prefer.

With the stocking turned inside out, I pinned the cuff to open edge of the INSIDE of the stocking.
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Again using my walking foot, I stitched the cuff down around the top edge, back-stitching at the beginning and end to secure. Once turned right-side out, the cuff lies nicely around the top. Finally, I used a piece of grosgrain ribbon to create a loop, attaching it with zigzag stitching.

Here is the finished stocking, featuring Son’s first Christmas present from Santa. Next to it on the right is his original stocking, which served as the model.
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Presentations in 2017

I still have openings for presentations and workshops in 2017. And it’s not too early to book for 2018! I’m located in east central Iowa and can travel.

Contact me at catbirdquilts @ gmail.com for more information or to schedule guild presentations or classes.

LECTURES OR PRESENTATIONS

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Medallion Quilts Design Basics

What challenges do medallion quilts present? Learn the basics of medallion quilt design principles, including unity, symmetry, balance, proportion, and movement. Find out how to achieve these with color, value, shape and size, line, and placement. Mixed presentation including PowerPoint slides and trunk show. Approximately 1 hour.

The Underground Railroad Quilt Code: History, Mystery, or Bunk?

Were quilts used to help slaves escape? What codes might have been used to convey information to fugitive slaves? What was the legal, economic, and political environment during the Underground Railroad years? This class looks at pre-Civil War history and existing evidence on the quilt code. Approximately 1 hour.

The Mill Girls, Revolutionaries in America

Who were the Mill Girls and where did they come from? What part did they play in changing America forever? How did the textile industry in which they worked propel slavery in the U.S.?  Learn the fascinating stories about how these girls and young women drove the industrial revolution in America,  led the labor and women’s rights movements, and helped bring quilters to where we are today. Approximately 1 hour.

Collaborative Quilting and Round Robins

Most of us collaborate in our quilting, using patterns designed by others or creating with partners. Round robins are group projects that pass through the hands of a number of quilters. Round robins are fun and challenging, stretching quilters’ creative powers. Learn about the joys and challenges of collaborative quilting, including sample rules for round robins. Approximately 1 hour.

CLASSES and WORKSHOPS

UntitledHaving Fun with Economy Blocks

Learn to make Economy blocks the size you want for a setting you love. Using them alone, you can create fun and stunning scrap quilts. Brainstorm other ways to use these versatile blocks and begin to see the possibilities. You’ll learn how alternate blocks can create a sparkling secondary design. You’ll see other settings such as in borders, medallion centers, or as the beginning of a great modern quilt. This one-day workshop is fun for quilters of all skill levels.

Medallions for Beginning Quilters

Can you measure and cut accurately and sew a pretty good 1/4″ seam? Have you noticed all the modern medallion quilts around and want to get in on the fun? Or maybe you love the history and beauty of traditional medallions. Join me to learn some basic medallion techniques. You’ll improve your 1/4″ seam, chain-piece, press, and construct five basic blocks. We’ll cover multiple methods to make half-square triangles and flying geese, so you can choose what works best for you. With blocks in hand you’ll assemble them into a medallion quilt top. This 5-session class is for confident beginners.

Medallion Improv!

This Design-As-You-Go class will show you strategies and techniques to customize a medallion quilt. Whether you love modern style, traditional, or somewhere in between, your imagination and favorite fabrics will create a quilt unique to you! You’ll learn how to create a center block to serve as your focal point and inspiration; choose and size borders to enhance the center block and each other; and lots of tricks for dealing with color, shape, value, balance, and unity. This 5-session class is for the experienced quilter who isn’t afraid to design her own quilts or change patterns to suit her own vision. Class size is limited due to extensive discussion time needed.

Contact me at catbirdquilts @ gmail.com for more information or to schedule guild presentations or classes.