Tag Archives: sewing

the joy and misery of one quilter

I like cloth, the way it smells under the heat of an iron, the way it feels in my hand, how it drapes over my lap, responds to thread. I like stitching up bits of it and then moving the components around — first this way, then that and then the reverse and perhaps back again. Removing, adding, slicing in half, saving some parts, dispensing with others. Writing does this for me too, but cloth carries a special legacy.

My mother was a seamstress extraordinaire (think: upholstered couches with contrasting piping; lined, tailored wool blazers; Austrian shades; my wedding gown, pieced from antique laces and linens). Her mother sewed and hear tell, worked for a famous milliner in New York for some years. One of my maternal great grandmothers made quilts. There is a lineage here and a reassuring one, especially since my writing veers off into more challenging territory.

At some point, a quilt emerges, but it’s inaccurate, in a way, to call it ‘finished.’ It’s more like a slice in time. The piece could’ve come to a halt sooner or I could’ve kept going. Because digital technology makes these things easy to track, I’ve learned that it’s not unusual for me to strongly prefer an earlier, vanished iteration. I don’t wring my hands about this though and never have, not only because there’s no other way I could work but because each iteration offers some new leaping off point. Really this is about accepting one’s basic circuitry.

But even so, do I wish I brought a higher level of intention to the table? Maybe, though I’m not quite sure what I mean by that.

Self-acceptance and reliable absorption aside, misery does gain entrance now and then and when it does, you can be sure it stinks with comparison-mind.

Have you noticed how consistently comparison produces misery — as in Every. Single. Time. More and more I stand witness to its corrosive bullshit and step aside allowing the sanctity of life, my unique life, to hold sway.

Comparisons, if given free reign, would gnaw my fingers off. Is my work selling? Does it evidence a voice or is it derivative, merely? If I like X’s work a lot, is there a way to internalize her process so that it becomes my process, thereby creating work I like as much as hers? And if not, how come I can’t identify my process nearly so well? Has my color sense progressed or is it stalled? What about my themes — are they moving forward or is it the same old shit every time? What do I say to charges that I’m not staying in my lane? Why do I have so much fabric? Why does Y get acclaim in the form of gallery space, instagram likes, and invites to teach — is her work that much better than mine? — and what does it say about me that on some fundamental level I don’t care enough about all that to even step into the game?

A recent post in Jude Hill’s online class reminded me that connecting with others and letting the work be about joy might be the keys to letting the chaff fall away.

Ah yes! Look at the scraps of unnecessary thought juddering away!

Apron strings


If there is something to sew on backwards, I’ll sew it on backwards. For this simple project, I lined one of the many woven rectangles lying around the studio to serve as an apron pocket and then stitched the waistband on the wrong side of the opening.

I thought I was so clever to simultaneously stitch the pocket to the apron and stitch the pocket turn-opening, thus making one line of machine stitching unnecessary.

Dismayed and generally averse to ripping out, I sewed the damn pocket shut and called it a day.  So much for feeling clever!

After a pause (the all important pause), I realized It wouldn’t be so bad to fix since I’d only have to rip out the length of the waistband. So I did. Opened up the pocket. Added some hand quilting.

For waistband Round Two, I used a contrasting geometric print instead of the same seer sucker as the apron. I like it a LOT better. The same yellow print lines the pocket.

To my mind, there is only one essential feature of an apron — it must have ties long enough to wrap around the waist and tie in front. That way, I can tuck the essential hand towel into the ties. A dish towel over-the-shoulder is a distant second for convenience.

Prefer 100% cotton, of course.

Pockets and bibs are features I don’t much mind but don’t seem to need, either.

Maybe the recipient of this apron will find good use for a roomy centered pocket. If not, it looks nice!

In case you’re wondering, I am also baking cookies, mailing packages, walking the dog, watching election results, emailing commissioners at the FCC, helping to plot my younger son’s next steps, and WRITING.

PS. Ninety inches (for this waist) affords enough length to tie the apron strings in front.

Making under the radar

Sometimes a lot gets done even though it seems like nothing gets done. This weekend was like that. It felt wattless, but maybe wasn’t.

A new charm is underway. The finished sigil is for protection but given how disoriented I feel (blame it on the July temperatures in the middle of October!) — perhaps I ought to make one for clarity?

Finn and I just walked in air so hot and muggy that I might actually put the AC on (again! we broke down & got it going on Saturday). Meanwhile, D texted me while I was rounding the corner of Maplewood to say: it’s snowing hard in Boulder.

A weekend that saw me puttering, cleaning, sorting stuff (STUFF!) down in the studio and elsewhere, also saw a few things being completed, born, or dusted off. Since Tina Zaffiro asked about pouches, I pressed the two I came across in my cleaning to share. Also: partnered up cloth downstairs for some new ones. Think: Christmas. I like to get going before Thanksgiving on my Christmas list, that way shopping and making feel fun instead of oppressive.

The fish pouch is ideal for my Orisha Tarot deck because it easily houses the book as well as the cards. Also, the lining is silk which is reputed to have the power to filter out negativity.

That’s it! I should be wearing all silk, all the time!

And now I’m just avoiding writing, so bye. Have a great start to your week!

circles, feet, quotes – part one

IMG_4535“Let’s become more beautiful with age, attaining the stature of the Jungian crone. Let’s be wise and mature and queenly. Let’s allow our center of power to shift with grace, from focus on physical expression to focus on spiritual strength.”
~ Marianne Williamson, A Woman’s Worth
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“I feel there’s a depth to who we are and what we long for, so uncharted, so unmined, like a field of diamonds beneath the earth’s surface. And in that field, we all lie latent. But there is arising around us, a shining through the rocks, and we are beginning to see and know and share its light. The world will be different for our daughters and sons because of our tears, our bravery, and our breakthroughs. One thing I know about all of us: We have tried so hard, and we are trying still… We have been imprisoned but we are now sprung free.”    ~ Marianne Williamson, A Woman’s Worth
Cary in CA July 2010239

Six Week Class – starting next week!

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Come join me next week at the New Art Center, Newton, MA — ILLUSTRATION QUILTS, 6 Weds., 10/30 to 12/11 (no class 11/27), 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. You can register online at New Art Center’s website.  Take a peek at some ideas / approaches to fiber art in my flickr set “Quilts & More“.

Six weeks is enough time to start and finish a small wall hanging. Hand and machine quilting will be explored, as well as several techniques for attaching pieces of fabric to each other and to a base. No experience necessary.

“but there’s no living thing…”*

possible inhabitant

possible inhabitant

This house has a personality, but I want it to have some living creatures associated with it. The seams on the roof please me. The door needs a doorknob.

What could go in this house? I need more patience.

Maybe I’ll name this cat, “Patience”, and let her be the guardian of the place.

*that’s what D said when I showed him the almost-finished Village Quilt I’d made for his bed. I added some cats.

Designing vulnerability

seam-joist

a white ‘seam’ couched as an inner wall

As I look at this composition, I begin to think about vulnerability… what is transparency, after all, if not the quality of letting oneself be known? (IRS, take note!)  I have been looking at other works-in-progress back lit in this manner for many months, so it’s not clear why THIS one speaks of transparency and the others did not. Perhaps it is due to vigorous conversations (with Grace and others) about boundaries, about where to draw the line (a red line, perhaps?) to maintain the necessary sanctuary to create, care giving and its demands, and the desire to be seen.

rectangle with 2 folds = house

rectangle with 2 folds = house

scraps from former quilt - many patches are fabric that I bleached in order to whiten

scraps from former quilt – many patches are fabric that I bleached in order to whiten

It began with ‘Ghost House’ leftover scraps, and was a conscious attempt to marry two recently made houses – both of which left me dissatisfied (The Red House quilt and The White House quilt) [links to follow – I don’t have much time this morning]. I laid the scraps on white, continuing the exploration of WHITE for my online class with Jude Hill (Spirit Cloth, side bar).

lightbacked-tower

part of the roof is white, with stitch and couching, only, to define

There is white on the base, too, which I might build up all around – picking up on Jude’s idea of moving from white as a ‘background’ to white as a field of interest, with texture, and something to say besides, ‘look at what is on me’. I actually seamed some white fabrics together, to use as building struts in the frame… only one made it into the house – that long vertical to the right of the blue window (and yes, I know the tower has the appearance of a goofy face, a fact I’m going to correct with another window or two).

blue-window

hanky scrap from Sandy Meegan pinned, center

The red thread is ‘Meditation Thread’ hand-dyed in India. I like the idea of red, with its vigor and visibility standing in as a symbol of a well-maintained boundary (Imagine that! A sanctuary bounded with quiet intent and silent, purposeful endeavor!! Not angry protestations and complaint). I wonder what each compartment holds.

implied-nine-patch-again

what if the Nine Patch will only be implied and transient?

I see the nine patch and wonder if I have the energy and wherewithall to enlarge this quilt in order to make the nine patch more than an ephemeral creation of morning sun and muntin shadow. I don’t need to decide to continue.

Many more works on the table, pinned to the wall, up against the western glass doors, and laid out on the dining room table for design-viewing.

white-house-with-red

same thread around White House, unsuccessful, but a spur to new Tower

Have a great couple of days!