Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Helping the Tornado victims in Joplin, Missouri

We have seen the devastation in Joplin, Missouri after an E5 tornado destroyed have the city. Over 140 people lost their lives (and the count is still going up), and countless others lost everything they owned.

There are ways we can all help. To make contributions, Charity Navigator has a list of charities raising money for this disaster. They include local food bank, Habitat for Humanity, and The American Red Cross. This website (also a non-profit) has financial information on each charity and shows how much of monies collected gets to the needy.

If you are a quilter and want to help out other quilts, or help by using your quilting/knitting skills, here is what I have found:

1. Bittersweet Quilts, a shop in Joplin, is looking for homemade quilts. They are also hoping for donations of a matching sheet set to make it easier for the bedding to be given out. See the linked page for addresses and additional specifications.

2. The Ackfeld Manufacturing Co. is collecting quilts for Joplin, working through churches and local organizations. From their FaceBook page: "Rebuilding "One Patch At A Time" We are collecting Quilts for the victims of Joplin. If you have any that you would like to donate please send to Ackfeld Mfg @ 360 Emerson Rd Reeds Spring, Mo 65737. Let's show Joplin the love of Quilters."

3. There is some talk on the web that the Springfield, Missouri chapter of Project Linus has already sent blankets to Joplin, and will be sending more. I don't see anything on their website, but contact information is on the site. "...It is our mission to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, victims of natural disasters or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer 'blanketeers'." Specifications for knitted, crocheted and quilted blankets are on the site.

4. The Town and Country Quilters Guild of Joplin, which makes quilts for the needy (172 just last year), lost all of their quilting supplies when the house they were stored in was destroyed. All of their fabric, batting, rotary cutters, cutting boards..etc are gone. Donations of quilting supplies are being accepted by the guild representative and can be mailed to: Gloria Park, 2921 N. Hickory,Joplin, Missouri 64801. (btw, the only JoAnns fabric store in town was also destroyed). They will also take checks, gift cards ...etc See Susan Brubaker Knapp's website for more details.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My Unfinished Quilt Projects

Because I can't talk about my very latest project until after the recipient has received it (just in case she's listening), I thought I'd document some of my unfinished quilts, recently unearthed during my pizza box project.

Quilt 1. The Irish Chain Quilt.

Might have been started in 2007/08, the Irish Chain quilt is just a pattern I wanted to try. Since it had no specific place to go, I suppose I didn't feel the urgency to finish it.

Quilt 2. The 3rd Red Room Quilt (2008). I will document the "red room quilts" at another time, but after making 2 quilts with fabrics chosen/donated by online book friends, I was on a roll and in possession of scraps I didn't want to waste. Thus, this small quilt top came about. Just tooling around.

Quilt 3. The Batik Circle quilt (2007). My daughter was "house mom" to several middleschoolers for a year at the private middle school where she taught. They had a big blank wall in their common room over the couch, and that is where this "wall hanging" was destined for. Unfortunately, my daughter took a different teaching job half way across the country and that took the urgency out of finishing it. Currently it is the size of a small lap quilt and I have another 30+ quarter circle blocks made up that could be added to it. In this picture the blocks have just been arranged but I doubt this is how they ended up.

Quilt 4. The eye-searing kids' quilt (2006). This is another quilt top I made for the fun of it. It hung, folded over a cardboard tube, on my closet door for what seemed like ages. It disappeared from there and honestly, I thought I had finished it and given it away, but there it was buried under "stuff". This is a twin-sized top. I've forgotten where the pattern came from.

Quilt 5. The Divorce Quilt (2001?)

I started making this scrap quilt for my oldest daughter and her then husband back in 2001 (?), but they separated and divorced (they were so young...), and well, that killed my enthusiasm to finish it. When I pulled this out just now to take a picture of it, I realized that the top was much more finished than I remembered. The overall effect is nice, but I shudder to look at how badly all those little seams line up (I used to have a problem "eyeballing" a 1/4 inch seam.)

Quilt 6. The Pink Quilt (2010)

I have 30+ little 6 inch blocks for a pink quilt I was making for a friend. After I had completed the blocks I laid them out and thought the whole thing looked horrible, so I canned it then and there, and moved on to another quilt for her. There was just too much pink. I had some ideas around some bordering for each block to dilute the "pink effect", but set it aside to work on the new quilt.

Quilt 7. The Victorian Crazy Quilt

I can tell you now that this quilt will never be finished. The amount of work in this one 20-inch block is substantial. The block is machine-pieced of mostly special occasion fabrics (velvets, brocades, jacquards, silks, satins, taffetas ("Taffeta, Darling!"), and then embellished with different stitches of embroidery in various kinds and colors of floss, also lace, beads, charms...etc. I made a few projects during this period, and I loved experimenting and playing. Not sure my eyes are up to such work now. This block will become a pillow eventually, I think.

There. I have confessed all.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Bama Bound Quilts

My most recent project, finished this morning, are two quilts for the Bama Bound Quilt project, which aims to provide a quilt, tote & small stuffed animal to children who were victims of the Alabama tornadoes.

One of the many benefits of not being able to resist cute, colorful or otherwise eye-catching fabrics is that you have lots on hand for "emergency" projects such as this.

I can't remember where this pattern came from, but it is a very easy one and would work up quickly. Essentially, one cuts 4 inch and 2 inch strips from various "fat quarters" and then sew one of each together. After pressing, you cut from the assembled piece, 4 inch and 2 inch pieces. Mix & match and sew one of each together. Assemble 4 in a block and alternate with 10 inch squares.

The quilts were layered with a light cotton batting, and backed with the same extra wide, blue/purple/teal batik that I backed my previous quilt in. I machine quilted it with wavy diagonal lines, roughly 5 inches apart.

Pictured is a "girl quilt" and a "boy quilt" with their totes and beanies. Also, two extra totes & animals I volunteered to donate to go with quilts they received without them. The tote bags are made out of denim and lined with whatever half yard piece I could find. I purchased the strapping. Again, an easy-peasy pattern.

Both the block pattern and the tote pattern can be scaled easily to any size.

As someone said elsewhere recently, "I can't build a house in Alabama, but I can make a quilt!" I hope someone will come forward to do the same for the victims of the Joplin, Missouri tornado.

Friday, May 27, 2011

All Mixed Up But Not Crazy quilt

I recently finished a quilt for a friend in her favorite colors (and many of mine). The pattern is from Batiks and Beyond by Laurie Shifrin. I liked the "mixed-up" look to this quilt, the pattern aptly named "all mixed up but not crazy." The quilt is made by assembling 2 different blocks, (very similar except that one block is an inch long than the other - thus one is a square and the other a rectangle) and a strip of 1 1/2 squares. Vertical rows are created using a variety of the blocks and strip, but each row adding up to the same length. The rows are then sewn together and the quilt is finished.

Here is where I tell you that I am not a perfectionist. There is always a bit of fudging in my quilts! Fudging is a fine art in and of itself. After I assembled the quilt, I realized that somewhere along the line, one end of the quilt had about 3/4 inch more than the other. A little fudge, a trim here and there, plus the distraction of a busy pattern—who would know? (quite obviously, you now, because I've told you).

I finished the quilt by machine stitching a random loopy pattern. I do this on my regular sewing machine while humming waltzes (it gives me a rhythm to move the fabric by). It's not easy—a sneeze or a moment of distraction can make a nice loop go in unwanted directions. Still, for me, it's not about perfection.

Just a bit about the colors. I was confident going into this project that the deeper purples, blues and teals would jive wonderful, but I was less confident about the lighter hues I added: the lavender, sea green...etc. I mixed batiks which, because they aren't a solid color, helps to move the eye from piece to piece, and other patterned fabrics that create movement in a different. Not every fabric ended up being a perfect fit, but the effect turned out as I wanted it to.

When you make a quilt for someone else, you think about them throughout the whole process. There is a lot of affection worked into the pieces, the layers and the threads.

Photos: 1. The quilt's vertical rows laid out. 2. Finished! (but not washed yet) 3. The batik backing. 4.Close-up of machine quilting 5. Crinkling effect after washing. This quilt is lap-quilt size, but made closer to a square shape.

(Clearly I need to spend some more time messing around with the html so I can get those pictures exactly where I want them!)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pizza to the Rescue!

Who among us does not have several (or more) unfinished quilting or sewing projects? I certainly do. Despite my attempts at maintaining some organization, these orphan projects have had no home and have been crammed into boxes and baskets where they would fit. They really need their own homes.

Today I was in Home Depot looking for something else when I found myself contemplating the array of  plastic storage boxes. There was a Sterilite storage box that could work, but at $5.97 a piece (hmmm. how many unfinished projects do I have?), I dismissed it. But, on the way home I stopped in at my local pizza place and got them to sell me 6 large pizza boxes. They charged me $4.00. These are new, unfolded boxes, with a vague smell of pizza (if you hang out in a pizza place, you're going to smell like pizza).

I've attached a picture of one of my unfinished projects in its new home! This is a future quilt of diamond-shaped blocks cut from Kaffe Fassett fabrics. I'm going to also include in this box, a number of squares I've cut from KF scrap fabric. These boxes will label and stack soooo nicely!

A New Blog!

I've started this blog to create a space to chronicle my creative projects, present and past—to be honest—mostly for my own entertainment. My past attempts at putting together photo albums or notebooks of projects have been rather futile.  But I like being able to go back and consult earlier projects so, thus the blog.  I also have a travel blog which I created in 2008 in order to share our photos and adventures with friends and family. That has not be kept up properly.

So, I'm optimistic about this venture. At the very least, this blog will provide me with pleasurable moments as I revisit the fun I've had and the challenges I've undertaken. And, if you are like me, and are inspired by other creative people's projects, and like to visit, well then, welcome!