Thursday, September 5, 2019

A Clearinghouse of Quilts!!

Well, first things first. I am going to be doing a trunk show on Monday, September 9th at 7:00 pm in Iowa City. My presentation is called "Every Quilt Has a Story" and will be held in the multi-purpose room (lower level) at the Our Redeemer Lutheran church on the corner of Court Street and First Avenue. It's free. If you are local, I'd love to see you. If you're not, don't worry. I'm about to catch up with all the quilts I haven't blogged about and will be hitting you with a virtual quilt show right now.

I'm really behind on posting, so fair warning, there are a MASSIVE amount of quilts coming.

First up is "Wise Eyes," which is 57" x 57." I am calling this one finished even though I plan on adding a little bit more hand quilting in the center of the "eyes" before Monday. Probably two more echoes will make me feel better about it.

I wrote more about this quilt in my last post because it was on of my Pantone Living Coral quilts for the year. This quilt tied for Viewer's Choice in the "Just the Top" category. I really appreciate your votes!




I have a powerful association with pickles. My dad's oldest sister became my de-facto grandmother through a complicated family dynamic. I treasure her memory. She was well-known for making the world's best homemade pickles in a million different forms. They were literally the bright spot on every dinner plate in our house in terms of flavor and color. My favorite was mustard pickles. That taste gives me an instant transport back to my childhood. My own kids tease me about the inordinate number of mustards in our fridge. I think they counted 9 different varieties? What can I say...I guess I love zing!!!!

I got to explain the concept of "relish" to my oldest son recently when we had pork with red cabbage. He insisted that he didn't like the red cabbage and I told him he needed to stop thinking of it as a vegetable and start thinking of it as the sweet-sour condiment. As soon as I compared it to cranberry sauce on a Thanksgiving plate he understood and liked it a little better because he changed how he was eating it. Thinking about things in a new way opens up so many possibilities!

I thought about my aunt a lot while I made this quilt. I wondered how she would approach the concept of a "pickle dish." Thinking about her helped me approach the quilt with humor and sass, traits she held in spades. I thought about her when I sat in a rocking chair that was similar to hers, persevered, and hand quilted this throughout July.

I enjoyed the process of making this quilt so much. I didn't have a plan, just a square taped up on my design wall that I was trying to fill, one curve at a time. So many life parallels there and so many different meanings of the word 'relish.' Here's to slowing down and enjoying the journey, and here's to you Aunt Lora. Miss you.





Next is "Yes! Yes! (Yes!)" It is 47" x 63."

This was a flimsy that I finished this spring. I saved the hand quilting to do during all our time in the car during summer travel season.

So, the name. While I was digging in my scrap bin to get strips for another ginormous block (this is 100% from my scrap bin, by the way) my then 5 year old art-obsessed daughter walked in. She looked at the pieces already on the design wall, gasped, and came out with this profundity. "Mama, I see what you're doing!! You're coloring with fabric!" That was such a succinct and perfect way of summing up what I do that I gave her an emphatic nod and a firm "Yes!" Then she said, "I want to do it, too. Will you help me make a quilt?" Another nod and an emphatic "Yes!"

Since that moment, I've thought of this s the "Yes! Yes!" quilt. The last minute name addendum came while we were traveling. I was using all my time in the car to hand quilt this, so I had a sewing kit with me. While playing with a little girl down the street from her grandparents' house, disaster struck. My daughter tried to open her new friend's backpack by the pom pom decoration on the zipper. The gathering stitch snapped and she was left holding some fiberfill and a square of fuzzy purple fabric. She was horrified, ran to get me and asked if I could fix it. "Yes!" The new gathering stitch is black 12 wt. thread, but you know what? It will probably last longer that way! That kind of make-do spirit is what this quilt is all about and I figured it warranted a name change.

Saying YES in the sewing room (and teaching yourself to have fun doing it) is an empowering, joyful act.

Did I make a quilt with her after all that? Yes! I let her raid my stash and choose her own fabrics. I helped her with the sewing and even bought a really cool rainbow unicorn print for the back. I hand quilted this. It is 40" x 60" and happily lives on her bed.




Next is a mini I made for a Curated Quilts "Well Said" theme. It was selected and appears in the mini gallery. I called it "Me" and it finished at 15" x 15."

Read between the lines of any quilt I've ever made and what do you see? ME!!

Last summer I entered one of my log cabin quilts into a local show. I received a feedback form from the judge with the comment, "I am waiting for you to do something more with this design." Then she signed her name and listed her judging credentials. I felt a series of emotions, but after some thought I was able to place the experience in some context. She signed the sheet with her opinion and I signed the quilt with design, color and the form my personal expression seems to take. I consider the center of this mini to be a figurative version of my signature. Her signature was ignored and forgotten. My signature is proudly hanging in my sewing room.



This table runner was made from one of the Project Quilting prompts last year. The theme was "Chocolate," so I made this based on one of my favorite chocolate bars, the dark chili chocolate from Moser Roth (I get it at Aldi). I called it "Dark Chili Chocolate" and it finishes at 14" x 30."



Next is "This is 41." It finishes at 34" x 36."

Last year when I turned 40, I was in no mood to celebrate. I was 37 weeks pregnant and I'd heard one too many "old" jokes and comments to feel happy about my birthday. I decreed that we'd let it slide by with the barest of fusses, and we did.

This year has been all about embracing being an experienced parent (NOT an "old" one). I don't get too worked up about the inconveniences. I've adapted to being perennially tired. There's a lot of "rolling with it" at our house. It's been so nice to simply enjoy a baby from the perspective of the other side of the hill.

Since there was no celebrating at 40, I wanted to make a quilt that showed what 41 looks like. This is made from 2 dress shirts I bought on clearance at Goodwill. I made 41 free-pieced flying geese out of the shirts and combined them creatively to draw out some shapes in the center panel. To that I added some of the shot cotton that my mom sent and some Handcrafted that the baby emptied from my shelf. Instead of worrying about putting it back, I shrugged and added it to the quilt. It's beautiful serendipity. I made improv sawtooth borders and added one row upside down for some fun. Part way through the quilting I ran out of matching thread. I pulled out another spool in a contrasting color and kept going. I didn't use a ruler until I cut the binding.

So what is 41? It's a whole lot of making it work and also a whole lot of fun.





I had some more scraps left over from the shirts that I wanted to use. I combined that with some of my own scraps plus the scraps from someone else who was destashing on Instagram (Thank you, Karen). I thought it was a fun snapshot of where I am as a quilter right now, so I called it "Making Do." I constructed this without a ruler, too. It finished at 23" x 24." I got a blue ribbon at the Iowa State Fair for this quilt and was pleasantly surprised. I thought for sure that the first two quilts in this post would do well (they didn't) and I entered this one for fun. Lesson learned. You just never know.




This pillow is the result of another Curated Quilts prompt, "Stars." Our summer travel plans caught up with me and I wasn't able to finish before we left and the deadline happened. That's okay, though. Missing the deadline gave me the opportunity to turn it into a cute pillow. It is a 14" square. The dotty fabric came from a $0.44 maternity shirt I bought from Goodwill and cut up. Be on the lookout for more shirt quilts, I really enjoy piecing a quilt with something that already has a history.


Speaking of history, I was able to buy nine pieced vintage diamonds from a Mennonite thrift store near me. I purchased the diamond blocks and one other block from the same maker for $4.50. It was a wonderful find.

This is the quilt I made from those vintage diamond blocks. I named it "Log Cabin Star" because that's what the original maker called it. She'd pinned the blocks together and labelled the nine pieces with the name of the block and a sketch of the finished quilt. For my label, I traced her handwriting and sketch since this is her quilt, too! I made an educated guess for her city of residence because one of the paper foundations was made from a Shumaker's Grocery bag (Wayland) and the notepad she'd used to label the pieces was from a feed company in Wayland.

It was such a fun experience to feel like I was collaborating with someone from the past and creating something that already had a history. I used modern methods, fabrics and sensibilities to finish a thought the original maker had started. Of course I had to make some modifications along the way. Some of the diamonds were frayed and needed extra fabric to fill the voids (that's the red). Also, I'm not quite sure of the math on a nine-pointed star, so I was kind of glad that one of the pieced diamonds was in pretty rough shape so I could default to the more doable eight-pointed star.

Wherever she is, I hope she's happy with the finish and glad that I crossed off a UFO from her list.

"Log Cabin Star" finishes at 36" x 36."






I have been on a cleaning tear this summer. I just conducted a ruthless tear through the fabric closet in my sewing room. Many things were purged and sent to a consignment store. Many things were also found. This pillow is based on an oil stick fabric stencil my mother had finished in a workshop several years ago and given to me. Originally, I had planned on placing the coneflower stencil drawing she'd made in the place where the rusty red square is. I decided at the last minute not to piece it in and add the monochromatic half square triangles instead. Ordering the disorder is one of my favorite things to do, and is definitely what is happening in this pillow. It is an 18" square.


I was very saddened to hear of the death of Gwen Marston this spring. I would not be the quilter I am today without her influence. Instead of moping and getting too maudlin, I decided to make a Gwen-esque quilt to honor her memory. "Remembering Gwen" is improvisationally pieced, completely liberated, made from scraps (including someone else's) and heavy on the red and purple. It finished at 20" x 20."


Last up is my most recent finish. If you are still reading this, THANK YOU! This post has been way too long and way too long in coming. I'm considering posting on Instagram and my blog simultaneously. I don't really know if there are people who follow both places or just one. A few months ago I started telling the stories on Instagram too. It seems silly to try to keep the two accounts separate or to try to use one platform to promote the other. I appreciate the friends that follow me on both accounts and I think it would be better to show my appreciation through more timely posts.

This is "Lift." It is 39" x 53." I started this quilt back in 2017, and I took it off the design wall to work on the Pantone Greenery quilts. I found it in the fabric closet during my purge and I am thrilled to finish it!

This quilt began out of thriftiness. I wanted to use up little triangle scraps from my Wanta Fanta bee blocks. I improvisationally pieced them together as quarter square triangles and it reminded me of a butterfly. This is the first one of many butterfly quilts that I've made. I'm pretty fond of that metaphor.

In this quilt I am trying to create movement. I used every trick I know to make the eye lift upward. I changed the butterfly density. I added vertical strips of fabric that looked like effervescence. I used another fabric that looked like bubbles. I added a swoop of butterflies that flashed color. I also used a free hand waving quilting pattern that replicated a flight path. I pieced in lots of surprises. There are peeking animals, a continuation of the color in the binding and an interesting cropping of the word "molasses" in a texty print. I left it in. Sometimes whimsy can have a PG rating.







Thanks again, everyone! Have a great day!

Jill

26 comments:

  1. Reading this post made my day...and it wasn't a bad day to begin with! Thanks for sharing your beautiful quilts and the stories behind them!

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  2. This was fun....the most interesting blog post I've read in a while! Love absolutely all your quilts and don't know how you get all this done and much of it hand quilted with a baby! Loved your daughter's description of what you do! Carry on! Thanks!

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    1. Thank you! I've found that there is always time to do something. Much of this hand quilting was done while my littlest was watching Sesame Street (it's her routine to watch one of "her shows" after we drop the big kids off at school) and the rest was done in the car while we were traveling. I do my piecing early in the morning (I get up at 5:00) on school days and during nap time. I do have a dedicated sewing room where I can leave my stuff out and sew in short bursts whenever I have a second. That definitely helps.

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  3. This was such a joy. Thanks for taking the time it took to share with us here. I know that so many people have moved on to Instagram, solely, but I love the space blogs allow for readers to hear the story behind the pictures and have a little room to take in the fullness of the experience being shared.

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    1. Thank you! That's great feedback. I do think the words "time" and "space" go very well with blogs.

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  4. Jill, I love every one of the photos. I am so glad you posted them. I have tried to work improv, but I get lost because I don't know where I am going. Love the colors, the composition, the quilting.

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    1. Not knowing the outcome is the best part! My one piece of advice to you would be to start something with no expectations of greatness. Piece a little bit and then take a look at it. When you do, keep looking at it until you see one good thing. Once you do, then all you have to do it repeat it a few more times and you'll have a finished top.

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  5. So good to hear from you again and yes, I vote for having you post more often. I'd rather read a blog post any day than look at a bunch of photos without much context. Yippee that your daughter wants to quilt. She did great on her first project.
    Pat

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    1. Thanks, Pat! That was a perfect first project for her because she was all about the fabric!! I loved that there were no points to match.

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  6. Wow, I think I just want to go back to the top of this post and read it through again. Love, love, love your quilts! Thanks for sharing your thought process for the quilts too; I enjoyed them. Quick question, when you hand stitch, do you use a hoop? I'm thinking of doing some big stitches on a larger quilt, but pondering how I should approach it. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks, Wendy! No, I do not use a hoop. I don't even use a thimble. I spray baste the quilts lightly and add a few safety pins just to be sure. I always make sure to keep the quilt folded nicely in between sessions. That helps keep everything smooth.

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  7. oh wow. I enjoyed your post. One reason I think to post in both places is on the blog here the photos are larger and we can actually see some detail. As much as I love Ig, I'm really not ready to give up my blog. Too much of 'me' there - so much history.
    Anyway, I love hearing about your projects. A couple I must have missed on Ig - like "Lift". Also love "This is 41" and your ode to Gwen and that HST pillow! Beautiful finishes Jill. Thanks so much for sharing!

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    1. Thank you, Debbie! I got a lot of feedback from my questions here and on IG. I think people like the immediacy of IG. There are some that don't care for my longer posts there, but they can just look at the pictures. I will post more intermediary "in progress" pictures for my IG followers and more written "process" comments for the people that follow the blog. I think you are right, the larger pictures and details on blogs can't be replicated in other forums.

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  8. Wow, an amazing post. I've enjoyed reading about all your quilts. And I just love your 'log cabin star' and the story behind it, and your 'remembering Gwen' one too. I too post on both my blog & ig, but am feeling like its going to be one or the other soon-ish!

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    1. Thank you, Linda. Yeah, I've been noticing the decline in traffic and interest on the blog. I do think there is a value in blogs, though, so I'm going to keep on keeping on. I do really miss the Friday link-ups.

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  9. You are one of my fave quilters, seriously!
    Katell, France

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  10. I so loved seeing your beautiful quilts, and reading the stories behind them. Some of the favorite quilts I have made have come from unfinished things I have found in the thrift store! I love the quilting, too! That adds a wonderful frosting on the quilts. I love the colors you put together!! Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. Thanks Carol! I know I definitely will be looking for blocks/unfinished quilts in thrift stores now. That was so much fun! I found a lot of personal satisfaction in that finish.

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  11. Hi Jill. I do hope your trunk show went well - I'm sure it would have, and if they didn't love your quilts, they must be very traditional and not open to new possibilities. I love everything that you've shown above, and I can see your personal style shining through your work. Keep doing what you're doing.

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    1. Thank you, Wendy! I had a wonderful experience and there were no pitchforks in the audience. Haha. Thank you for your encouraging words.

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  12. I found you in the sidebar at The Patchery Menangerie, and am so entranced by your beautiful quilts--and the lengthy post!--that I an now a follower. I look forward to more of your so-enjoyable posts. (And I don't "do" Instagram; I spend too much time on a computer already....)
    susanprincess at att dot net

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    1. Thank you, Susan. I'm really glad you enjoyed the post. This is probably my longest post yet
      because there's twelve quilts in it. I will try not to do that again. 😄 Anyway, welcome!

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  13. I love love love your blog. I came across it via IG and I've since went back and read every post. I wish I'd been into sewing when blogs were really popular because I love reading, seeing and learning more about the why and how than IG offers. I've often thought of starting my own but realise I'm waaaaaay too late to the party! I love everything you do Jill and you are a constant source of inspiration to me when I'm stuck for ideas. I've recently signed up to a travelling bee and was at a loss what to do for it, then voilà, I read your latest blog! I can't always keep up with posts on IG with that pesky algorithm so reading a blog is perfect for me. I'm sure it takes a lot of time to write and organise what you want to say but I really hope you continue 😀

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    1. Thank you, Joanne! I recognized your handle right away from IG! You may be late to the blogging party, but you are not TOO late. If you have that desire to start one, I think you should. Are you going to have a million hits and views on every post? I'm lucky to hit 500 now that people have turned mostly to Instagram and a lot of the link ups have died. I do think blogging is important for other reasons than followers and views, though. To write about your work changes the way you see it. And when you change the way you see your work, it changes the way you work and what you produce. For those reasons, I think blogs are important whether anyone reads them or not. I also think of them as an extended tag that I'm leaving on the quilts for my kids and family. I can say more on a blog than I can on a little square of muslin that I am stitching on the back.

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