Thursday, February 18, 2016

"Trucks and Trains for Jack": a scrap quilt

I've just finished a new quilt in the "Film at Five" design.  It is for Anna's darling little godson, Jack.  Now that he is growing up, I felt that he might like a "big boy" quilt and since he is all boy, he loves trucks, cars, and trains.  This a great little design that is all 2.5 inch squares, so it is easily composed and easily quilted.  You can check out the first one I made in this post.

Here are some closer shots of most of the individual blocks.
Here is a close-up of the bias binding.
And finally the back, which is a flannel with all sorts vehicles.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Finding out what gives me joy and living with less stuff

Much has been written of late concerning a little book written by Marie Kondo  called  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese art of Decluttering and Organizing (Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, 2014 ISBN978-1-60774-730-7).  As one who is always looking for new ways to reorganize and reduce the clutter in my life, I grabbed it up instantly.  The radical nature of Kondo's philosophy is that you have to do the throwing away of unnecessary items in a hurry so that you can know and appreciate the difference less stuff makes in your closet, drawers, and other areas of the home.  This helps reduce the rebound effect of the return of clutter.

When Jim and I moved down to North Carolina in 2007, we got rid of lots of stuff.  We also resolved not to put anything in the attic of the house or the attic of the carport.  I can honestly say, we haven't missed one thing that we got rid of.   We moved into a much smaller house in North Carolina, but we love its cosy character. My thoughts now are to fine-tune.  If something is in a box in the closet and I haven't looked at it or thought about it since 2007, I probably don't need it.

Since I had already done some weeding in my drawers and closet, the clothes and shoes part of the job was quick and easy.  Kondo also has a great folding technique for clothes which allows you to see everything that's in your drawer at a glance.  I haven't done the little jewelry cabinet yet because much of that falls into the memento area that Kondo suggests saving for last.

The work in my studio has been slow, but steady.   I've discovered that my love of containers has meant that I use up much more room than really necessary for not that much stuff.  As Yoko Ono appropriately once said, "We're container minders."  Or at any rate, I am.

I've taken two loads to Goodwill that were mostly clothes and small furnishings.  Edward McKay, our wonderful local used book store, was the recipient of five cartons of books.  Next on the schedule is paperwork.  Industrial shredder, here I come!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My continuing love affair with Pinterest

Just some quick thoughts on Pinterest:  as a visual learner and an artist, I find that Pinterest is like a party for the eyes.  I have 75 boards and thousands of pins on them.  One of my favorite phenomena is when worlds collide.  That's what I call it when an image appears that would fit on more than one of my boards.  For example a painting by Frida Kahlo of her grandmother knitting:  I have a board for Frida Kahlo and a board called Knitting and the Knitted.  Where should it go?  Oh, I love the fun of the decision.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Returning to my poor, neglected blog


Apologia: Last weekend marked the hellish return of my trigeminal neuralgia symptoms and I've asked my doctor to refer me to the surgeon in Winston-Salem who does laser surgery to bring relief from the pain.  This is as bad as it's ever been.  Everything seems to trigger the pain--toothpaste, talking, chewing. drinking cold water, walking, touching the right side of my face, etc.  Saturday, I mostly sat on the porch and tried not to move, but Sunday, I was tired of giving into the pain and decided to do some work in the studio and reactive this poor, sad blog of mine.  The baby quilt above is for the new baby of the couple who owns our favorite Indian restaurant.  I finished piecing it on Sunday.

  Dan and Steph left on Friday after a wonderful extended visit.  Anna was able to come for the long July 4th weekend and it was terrific being together with our entire family for my  66th birthday.  Anna made me a delicious and beautiful cake and we all enjoyed our meal at Lucky 32, an excellent Greensboro restaurant with fabulous catfish.

Jim is greatly improved in health.  The brace and the walker are gone, but he relies on a cane.  He is getting himself around to therapy and school and generally looking and feeling more himself.

Safety Pin Studio has seen the usual number of baby quilts as well as a t-shirt quilt for my cousin, Lynn, and the repair and quilting of an antique quilt top of hers.  Anna's new apartment sports new curtains, too.  Dan and Steph's quilt was finally finished so that they had it on their bed here during their visit and then took it back to Canada with them.

My cousin's antique quilt top was in rough shape, but since I had some experience restoring antique textiles, I repaired everything first. The poor baby below had to be completely backed with cotton to save it.  I suggested that quilting the top would help to preserve it.  Using all 100% cotton (thread, backing fabric, batting), I sandwiched  and quilted it very lightly by hand.

The weather was cooperative, so I was able to baste it on the screened porch.

My cousin knew something about the history of the quilt, so I created a label on the back to preserve that information as well.  The block pattern was churn dash, so I made a little block of my own for the label.

The t-shirts that my cousin had collected over the years were very rich visually and made a very fun quilt. Making t-shirt quilts interesting presents a challenge because it is tempting to cut them uniformly in size which means you end up with lots of empty space and the thing becomes so heavy you can hardly move it.  I'm a fan of cutting the designs out closely.  I stabilize all the shirt pieces with a woven, iron-on interfacing which makes sewing regular cotton fabric to them easier. The differences in size can be dealt with by adding pieces of patchwork.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Quilted Librarian in Retirement

Our lives have been turned upside down since my husband's illness began in May of 2013.  Finally, after three different courses of antibiotics, the last one killed the staph infection in his back, but he suffered a compression fracture of the T12 vertebra sometime in November and had to spend eight months in a sort of tortoise shell brace.  The fracture healed on its own (which was a blessing because he is not a good candidate for back surgery now) and with physical therapy, he is regaining his mobility slowly but surely.  He returned to teaching after several months off, but it was necessary for me to take him and pick him up.  It became clear that my retiring would be the best course of action.  Since I turned 65 in July and had the required amount of time in, that is what I did.  So whilst I am technically retired, I am still a librarian, so the name of the blog will stay the same.

Also in July, three days before my birthday, my mother, Kathleen Warner passed away at 94.  She had been failing for several months.  Anna came to stay with Jim in June so I was able to fly down to see her.  Several weeks later, it became clear that she was not going to get better, so  Jim and I drove down.  My brother and his wife flew in and were actually with Mom when she passed.  I'm glad that we could all be together and support my dad.  He is doing well, but misses her tremendously.  They were married for 67 years.

I have not been idle during this time of being a full-time caregiver, though.  I've made a number of baby quilts, a t-shirt quilt for Anna's friend Philana, curtains for Anna's godson's room,  and am working on a full size quilt for our son Danny and our daughter by marriage, Steph.  I've also read many wonderful books and have added more yoga classes, zumba, and cardio workouts at our local Y.

This is a quilt for Danny and Steph's new niece, Aria, who was born last spring.

The t-shirt quilt was composed of Philana's high school sports shirts.

This is the back and the bias binding.

I'm currently quilting this bento box quilt for a little baby girl.

These are some of the double wedding ring sections for Danny and Steph's quilt.

The setting is called Posies because four sections of a similar color are put together to form flowers.

Monday, February 17, 2014

New scrap quilt thanks to Pinterest

I've started a new scrap quilt thanks to Pinterest.  It's creator, Deanna of the Wedding Dress Blue blog, named it the "Film at Five" quilt and it is an extremely serviceable design for all sorts of scrap arrangements.  I started looking for a likely candidate design when my scrap box had to be declared totally out of control.

Once I had the design, I dumped the scrap box and began cutting two-and-a-half inch squares.
Having a two-and-a-half inch ruler is a huge help so you can quickly see if you can use the scrap in question.
Slipping is always a problem, but a saw a great idea in the new American Patchwork and Quilting magazine about using shelf liner to help hold a larger ruler still.  It works like a charm.
The blocks in this quilt are twenty-five squares, and the illustrated quilts on Deanna's website were mostly charm style (all blocks different).  I actually had large quantities of several fabrics, so I did some improvising.  The first block I did used an overall floral and difference pink fabrics.
The next one used two different fabrics only.
Putting them together using string piecing went very fast.  You can see the threads connecting the rows.
This block used crayon fabric and then solids in the crayon colors.
Calling the vertical rows one through five, turn row two over onto row one

and then starting at the top, pick up the five pairs (starting at the top and putting the next pair on the bottom) and take them to the sewing machine.

Sew the five pairs together without breaking the thread in between pairs.
Pick up row three as you picked up the first row.
Starting at the top, open the pairs and sew row three to the pairs, again without breaking the thread between the now-forming rows.
Once you've picked up all twenty-five squares, press in one direction for the top row and the opposite direction for the next row and so on.  Pressing is really important as it makes you work more accurate and looks better.

Press the finished block from the right side.

Most of the time, I just cut blocks, but for several of them, I did do "fussy cutting."

Here's the finished Clifford block.
I also "fussy cut" the Cat in the Hat fabric.
This is the dinosaur fabric.
As you can see, the blocks are largely children's fabric.  This one is the exception, but I think it works with the others.
I love all the kitten's green eyes staring out from this block.
For the borders, I decided to use one fabric for the corners. The white fabric is a white on white print of numbers in different fonts.
The rest of the border blocks use solid fabrics.

I'm very pleased with the nine-block size (54 square inches) and I've got other ideas for new color combinations.  I'm an old-fashioned quilter in many ways and using up my scraps is certainly one of them.