Block by block.

Dear friends,

quilt

I enjoyed a quiet day alone yesterday. Kate went to a wedding while Mr. Mom and Parker took their dirt-bikes to a wilderness area for an afternoon ride.  So I took advantage of a long stretch of time to nearly finish Kate’s quilt top.

I still have some ric-rac and two borders to put around the blocks, but I’m awfully close. I just might finish it this weekend. Then all I have to do is to piece the backing before shipping it off to be quilted. I took this photo as daylight was fading so you can’t really see the fabrics very well. It looks better in person — bright and colorful but not garish. When it’s all finished, I’ll take photos in proper light so you can see the subtleties of the prints.

I chose this quilt pattern because it’s a little rustic and seems old-fashioned to me. While I’ve always appreciated the handiwork required of intricate and artistic quilts, my favorites have always leaned toward the folk art variety — something you  might have seen 70 years ago on an iron bed in a cabin in the woods. I like the contrast of the rustic pattern with the bright and modern fabrics I selected, especially since my girl is a big fan of bright colors. I think it will look terrific in her college apartment next fall.

You don’t have to look very close to notice my many mistakes. A friend’s mother is an expert quilter — expert, as in she’s had several quilts selected for the prestigious Paducah show. She’s been giving me encouragement and she recently told me every quilt has a “God” block — that one block in a quilt that’s imperfect. (Some quilters call it the “humility” block because when you leave it in, it shows your humility before God.)

That made me laugh when I heard it because I was pretty sure I would be making about 42 God blocks, which makes for one divine quilt.

With gratitude {for the light at the end of the tunnel on my first big sewing project},

Joan, who’s already itching to move on to quilt #2, a project she is excited to reveal soon

First I swooned. Then I stitched.

Dear friends,

While searching the internet recently for embroidery inspiration, I stumbled across this creation . . . so charming, so lovely, so startlingly original that I swooned.

pearsample

Source: Etsy

For days, I was obsessed with the notion of a stuffed pear. In the same way I get obsessed with an elaborate dessert and plan it over and over again in my head, I was inspired by this delightful combination of crazy quilting, embroidery and fiber art. I was determined to replicate the design.

So I spent Saturday afternoon making a prototype. Because I had no idea if I my experiment would be a rousing success or a colossal failure, I kept it simple — where simple equals starting at 1:30 pm and finishing at 7:30 pm. So, yeah, even simple art takes time. But I was happy with the result.

IMG_1849[1]

I had no idea before today that six hours stitching nothing more than a pincushion (or a windowsill tchotchke) could be such a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Had I adorned my pear as lavishly as the inspiration photo, I would have spent two or three afternoons stitching. Today, I just wanted to finish. To know whether or not my fading eyesight and increasingly stiff fingers could pull off such a thing. The answer, apparently, is yes, so next time I’ll take all the time I need to bling my baby up.

Speaking of next time, I recently ducked into a flea market on my way home from work and found a vintage quilt for a song. It was terribly tattered around the edges and ripped down one side. But at $17, enough of the quilt was intact that I couldn’t pass it up, especially since the top was made from a lovely shade of faded cotton the exact color of Jadite. (If you read this post last year, you know I have a kitchen full of Jadite dishes. The serene seafoam color associated with these vintage dishes is a shade I simply can’t resist.)

I envisioned cutting up my tattered quilt for a number of craft projects, including another pear pincushion. But before I cut into my vintage treasure, I had to know I could pull it off.  Today’s prototype pear made from inexpensive fat quarters purchased at Wal-Mart gave me the courage I need to stretch my sewing wings a bit more.  Now I’ve got more designs than I can keep up with swimming through my mind, all competing for my limited weekend  crafting time.

The good news is I won’t be bored for pretty much the rest of my life.

With gratitude {for my kickin’ new sewing machine, limitless inspiration, and enough spare time to pursue my textile dreams vigorously},

Joan, who thinks the internet is the coolest thing ever for crafters and is especially grateful to the lovely people who post free patterns and tutorials like this one