Tag Archives: “hand sewing”

A crowd gathering on the mantel

These creations have a way of taking over. Are they gifts? One or two. Do I plan to sell them any time soon? Nah. Never mind — they demand to be made.

I machine stitched that pink and white kitty head and soft mauve body (below). She’s going to be a gift for the girl I babysit one day a week. I love that her ears are different colors and that her face has that triangle of pink. Soft, old wools help. I was hoping she would wear that pink satin skirt (to the right), but she has other ideas. More sporty.


Today we went to a Big Box store primarily to buy nuts for baking (yes! Christmas IS happening) and (somehow) managed to buy $450 worth of other stuff while we were at it (not counting booze).

A case of wine and bourbon fell out of the hatchback and landed on my foot in the parking lot. Incredibly, five bottles survived the crash and luckily, one of them was the bourbon. Ironically, fifty dollars worth of wine met the pavement while I was making sure they hadn’t overcharged us $16 on a package of meat (still agog at the $500 total. I mean, seriously — batteries, men’s shirts, and frozen shrimp notwithstanding).

Last weekend, we gathered with K’s cousins. It was a surprise birthday party for two 60 year olds. Yes, it’s come to this — gag gifts for extra hair and bad joints, jokes about Medicare, and actually wanting to be in bed by nine. Here’s C with H. She moved to the West Coast at the end of the summer and C is moving there at month’s end.

Everything will be LESS this year. Less cookies. Less shopping. I may not even bring in the nutcracker collection this year. Fortunately I gave up card writing more than ten years ago.

This doll no longer looks quite so forlorn. I added more hair, closed up the sides of her head, hemmed her cowl. She’s being shaped and auditioned on a bottle, with a chop stick for stability. I am considering keeping the bottle, instead of creating a cloth body with gravel at bottom for ballast the way I usually do. These are not kids’ toys, after all.

These two felt doggies (below) are whispering behind the curtain. I’d love to know what they’re so giddy about.


I gave the Red Bell Pup to my sister on Wednesday. Her cat may think it’s for her.

Tomorrow, we get our tree. “Less” will govern there as well. We have high ceilings and have typically had gorgeous 8-9 footers gracing our living room. Not this year. I’m thinking small — not table top small, but maybe six feet, max. It’s not just that I continue to feel done in, anxious, and lost. It’s that LESS truly feels like enough.

Front and back times two

Piecing on the ironing board is an old way of working. As is piecing on the machine.             Flipping to the back and tacking down seams or opening them and stitching down the quarter inch flap is new.

I am interested to see where this intersection of old (machine-work) and new (hand-stitching) will take me. For years, I have been wondering what a more lively synthesis of the two might look like.

Not sure batting will be involved, as I like the light shining through.

Cold Snap

In the winter, after the leaves fall, our first floor is flooded with light. It’s one of the things I like most about this house.

Trayvon-MartinOne day last week, when I was feeling a little at odds with myself (I can’t remember why), I found myself thinking, “But this light, I get. This light doesn’t confuse me.”
strange-fruit-on-curtainHow to address the brutal history of slavery in a quilt DOES confuse me. For one thing, there is the question — is this my story to tell? That query triggers the question – does that matter, and if so, how? More on those thoughts later.

The working title for this ‘Trayvon Martin’ quilt is: Strange Fruit, triggered by an email conversation with the fiber artist, Kit Lang.  Ms. Lang responded to the Zimmerman acquittal with two quilts, one of which she titled “Strange Fruit – Stand Your Ground.” You can see it here.

Being reminded of that haunting Billie Holiday song informed the choice of the fabrics printed with trees and vines. The ship in the lower right references slave ships, as does the brown batik with horizontal striping.

I got away from the initial idea of a white house with a white fence beyond which a black boy could not safely go. One of the other Martin quilts may preserve and explore that initial design impulse.

polka-dotsBlogged about earlier here “White House and Privilege” and here “Privilege Progression – quilt slide show“.

Pushing one’s preferences, but not too much

This picture was shot under a sky light that was filtering northern light through a thin veil of snow — hence the blue cast.

Are all epiphanies obvious after the fact?  Here’s my latest, associated with making this little quilt — when taking on something new, don’t change up EVERYTHING else while you’re at it.

While consciously switching scale, palette, or medium is very instructive to an artist, and probably ought to be built into one’s work rhythm on a regular basis, juggling too many projects where everything is new is disorienting.

Case in point — my first script quilts (like the above).  I was busy shifting to a paler palette, sewing more by hand, trying out gel mediums and markers on fabric, weaving strips of fabric — and getting very frustrated because NOTHING was familiar (except the collage aspect).

For the  little spiral piece, I played with some of my most beloved fabrics. . . current fabrics (in use in the Global Warming Quilt that is in progress downstairs).   This is my preferred palette.  I am drawn to very saturated colors — not always this hot, but usually this saturated.  To mix in a few washed out hues was not enough to throw me.  Further, these are patterns I love — polka dots, solar disks, spirals.

So, the teeny scale and hand stitching, which are NOT usual for me, could be dealt with.

I picked a single variegated Sulky thread and stuck with it, so that I could focus on placement of stitches and not thread.  It was so pleasurable to stitch!

PS  I am thrilled to be pushing a needle through soft layers.  In the past, I have needed to use my TEETH, often, to get a needle through because I’ve backed my quilt with an upholstery fabric and layered applique on top of piecing, and sometimes added sections of previous quilts (that would be SIX layers, one of them upholstery-weight!).