Thursday, August 21, 2014

Remember Me

Wouldn't it be great if we knew more about the women who made some of the antique quilts we love so much? And wouldn't it be nice if we were also remembered through our quilts? You don't often see labels on old quilts. And, even when you do, they don't always offer much information. It's more common to see signatures.




Labeling my quilts is always an afterthought and something I know I need to do more often. Do all of you make labels for your quilts? I know some of you take the time to create wonderful labels. I labeled many of my early quilts very simply, usually because I was in a rush to meet a deadline for a book and felt lucky to get them finished at all, much less have time to make a  fancy label. I don't do it too often now and I'm embarrassed to say that my favorite method involves slapping a piece of fabric onto some Steam-A-Seam, cutting it out and writing my name and date on it with a permanent ink pen and then ironing it onto the back of a quilt. Well, I figure it's better than nothing. The thought of making pretty or fancy labels for almost two hundred small quilts now is a little overwhelming so if I ever do label the rest of them this may be the way I do it - simply.


Primitive, yes, but at least it's something. Some of these were made for trunk show quilts I sent to shops across the country and Canada. They needed something on the backs in case they got misplaced or lost. This will sound crazy but, after making the original quilts for a book, and after a book was published, I would go on to make 3-4 copies of several of them to send to quilt shops so they could display them with my books. That's 16-20 additional quilts I had to make when I was promoting a book. Sheesh. Sometimes I had a little help. So pretty labels were not necessarily a priority when making quilt samples for shops. But it helped to have even a primitive label when I needed the quilts returned to me. With the exception of one, I got all the quilts back intact that I sent out. It's never fun to lose a quilt you put so much time and thought into creating, even if it was a small quilt I could easily create again. Thankfully, I had labels. 

I'm really impressed by those of you who take the time to make pretty labels for the backs of your quilts and would love to see the really special ones that many of you put so much time into designing and creating. If you have any that you're willing to show me, send me a photo and I may do a Show and Tell here. I'm sure this is something many of us struggle with when we make things.  I would love to be inspired so show me your labels! I vow to do better with mine in the future.

I could always just sign some of this ribbon tape . . . .

Here's an article I found that you may find interesting - it gives tips and encourages quilters to make labels for their quilts. We all want [our quilts] to be remembered.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Farm to Fabric Challenge

Clothworks Textiles and Quilts, Inc. are sponsoring a quilt challenge using Clothworks’ American Made Brand cotton solids. See details here.

The deadline to enter is coming up soon but there's still time to make a quilt and enter into the competition. Quilts have to be at least 25"  x  25". That's something many of us "small quilters" can handle. Clothworks started this movement in hopes of restoring the proud tradition of American textiles and has produced a fabric entirely sourced and manufactured in the United States. Check out their gorgeous American Made Brand fabrics and see if you can come up with an idea for a quilt.

Winning quilts will be displayed in a special exhibit that will premiere at International Quilt Market and Festival, October 25 - November 2, 2014.

The theme of the exhibit is:  “Celebrating Farm to Fabric.” What does it mean to you, your family or your community to bring fabric production back to the United States to use in your American made quilts?  American-made fabric for American quilts. What a great way to express our American spirit. I hope some of you will decide to take the challenge.

In conjunction  with this exhibit was the Illinois license plate block I made for the AMB Blog Tour 50-state quilt this past spring. Well, all of the state blocks are now in and the quilt is being sewn together. See if you can find mine. It's a little inconspicuous, so good luck . . . .

Quilters, I know you like a challenge so put your sewing skills to work and enter!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Staying Motivated

I'm a wonderful goal setter. Always looking to improve something, somewhere. Goal finisher? Ehhh. Making a Dear Jane® quilt is one of my bigger goals but it's been awhile since I made any blocks. Finding motivation to continue working on a big project can be a huge issue for me. 

I finished 6 blocks in April, 2 in May, 0 in June and only 1 in July. You can see the trend . . . . I became worried it would continue spiraling downward. Like many of you, I plod along making this quilt. Some years I'm good and some not so good. 2013 was not a great year for working on them until I decided I needed a little push to keep going and formed a Yahoo  Dear Jane®  Support  group for some of us working on the blocks (see sidebar for info).  So I challenged myself and some in the group by putting my name on a list for all to see and committed to making at least one block per month. Nothing like accountability. The idea was that one block would get the ball rolling for me and then perhaps I'd become motivated to make more. One block a month may not sound like much, but, you have to admit, it's still a lot better than NONE per month, which is where I was heading. 

Baby Janes??

I find I spend the longest time just going through and picking out the fabric I want to use for a block. Do you do this too?  A long time ago I pulled some of my favorite fabrics (some new, some very old) that I thought I'd like to use in the quilt. I set it all aside and now keep it in a separate DJ basket. If I buy a new print and want to use it, then I cut some off and place it in the basket. So at least that's somewhat organized and I don't have to go through all of it every time I begin a block.

Well, so far  my plan has worked pretty well. I finished the block for August in no time at all. Sure, it was an easy block, but sometimes that's just what I need to get back into it, you know? Once I decided to do this I didn't want to let myself down (or anyone else on the list. This was my idea so I'm supposed to be inspiring everyone else too, right?) 

I found I was able to become motivated to finish another block -

This one was a more difficult block for me -  I could not get those teensy pieces to line up right. Even after ripping it apart and trying again. Enough I said and decided to go with The Galloping Horse Theory on this one - If you can't see a mistake while riding past it on a galloping horse, then it doesn't matter. Looks okay to me from a distance. Up close? Don't go there.
So now I've finished two for August and the month isn't even over yet.  (Yes, patting myself on the back here. Completing even a small goal makes me feel good.) 

Here are some ways I try to stay motivated: I bring out the DJ chart I made from poster board with pictures of the blocks I've completed so I can see my progress. It's fun to fill in the spaces.

Here's how I made my chart - I drew a grid of squares to represent the blocks in the quilt on poster board, numbered the rows, then printed out pictures of my blocks in a small size and cut and pasted them onto the poster board.  Primitive, yes, but it really works for me and allows me to see how far I've come. (I cannot get the digital one that comes with the DJ software to work with my computer.)

Then I attempt to fill in some of the rows or work on the trip around the world motif in my quilt. I keep a list of the blocks I've finished by date and then also check them off on another list according to difficulty. I've finished quite a few of the easy blocks and need to work on some difficult ones now. Yes, applique and paper piecing. Easy for some of you, not so easy for me. 
Here's my main problem, though: I've been so  lazy  busy this summer that my sewing space is quite a mess. I drop things on the table and don't clean it up. Can you imagine? : )  The weather's been so nice and it's so much fun to do other things instead. I'm going to miss going to the beach when it gets colder but I'll be more productive, that's for sure.

I tend to not want to create in a messy space, however, so that's the real hurdle I have to face pretty soon or I won't get anything done. On the list for next month - CLEAN up the mess! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Quilts sur le Table

My apologies to our French-speaking friends. I am trying to say Quilts on the Table, or "Table Quilts," our blog topic for today. But first I am going to tell you about my "productive" day so you will see how I got there from here.

I had nothing special planned today, for a change - a doctor's appointment this morning. When I came home I had breakfast with the dog (literally, since she was sitting patiently at my left side, waiting for me to drop something. She had been fed her first breakfast before I left.). Then I walked the dog. After that, I finished some e-mails, cleaned up the kitchen, vacuumed and mopped the floors and picked up a little.  My, how time flies.

The house was clean, which made me feel pretty good and motivated me to plan a nice dinner with my favorite salad on the side (recipe later). I climbed up onto the kitchen counter to get a better look inside one of the high cabinets for the glass cruet I like to use for the special dressing I was going to make. (You are probably thinking that I fell or something disastrous happened, but it did not. I just thought the image of me climbing onto the kitchen counter at my age would be good for a laugh . . . .) I couldn't find the cruet so I'll have to think of something else to use for the dressing, but look at the pretty little vase I found instead.

I bought this years ago and forgot I had it. It was shoved into a cabinet.

I stopped to go outside and pick a flower to put in the vase. I know, I should post a photo on Facebook just because it's so pretty. Then, since the camera was out, I thought I'd take a picture of the vase on a quilt. Then I thought I should take another picture of another quilt with the vase. Then I decided to take a picture of another quilt with another vase, and so on and so on and so on. By the time I was finished it was 3:00 and I hadn't really accomplished much else at all other than fooling around with quilts, the vase and the camera. I sort of just puttered around but it felt good instead of rushing around. Pretty productive day, huh? I like to have a day like this every now and then.

People ask me this question all the time - what do I do with small quilts? Easy. You can put them on a table. Here are some of my Quilts sur le Table -

 Patterns for some of my table quilts can be found on my website

*   *   *   *

Dinner tonight will be Pasta Primavera accompanied by a salad with oranges and candied almonds with an orange vinagrette dressing. It's similar to this but I also add 1 -2 Tbs of frozen orange juice concentrate (from a can).

The missing cruet looks something like this.


If you happen to see it, let me know. Or, better yet, maybe this is the excuse I need to go visit a Home Goods store and shop for a new one . . . .

Monday, July 28, 2014

Starved Rock State Park

I got my nature "fix" at Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois.

This beautiful state park is almost right in my backyard, less than 2 hours away, and I cannot imagine why I've never been here until a few days ago. It's a nature lover's dream, especially if you live in an urban area like I do.  It's one of the prettiest parks in Illinois. Keep in mind, we not have the scenic views or "wonders" in our flat Prairie State so we take what we can get.

Most of the trails are nice and well kept.

There are sandstone canyons, bluffs, pretty rock formations, waterfalls and hiking trails throughout. The area was hit by several nasty storms in June so when we were there many of the trails were closed due to dangerous conditions - downed trees and damaged walkways and stairways  - but there were still plenty of trails and canyons open. We also went to see the canyons and trails at Matthiessen State Park - just as pretty but lesser known and a few miles south of Starved Rock. 

The canyons are beautiful and it's so cool and quiet and peaceful when you get down there.

 The only problem with going down into the canyons is that, yes, you have to climb back up  eventually : ( 

The other bad part was that on our first trip out on the trails we did not get there early enough in the morning and the crowds were horrible. Too many noisy people and screaming babies. So, if you go, go early. One guy was actually walking along playing loud music on his phone if you can believe it. A kid screamed: "I want to go home! I know why they call this 'Starving' Rock - there's NO food here!!" I guess he expected a hot dog stand and ice cream vendor along the way, LOL. We lagged behind for a bit and let the obnoxious guys get ahead and then we sneaked off onto a side trail that was less populated and much quieter. Despite the heat and humidity it was mostly cool in the canyons. The next day we set out much earlier and were able to hike by ourselves.

Tip for my sister: Some of the streams have bridges you can cross over, but not all . . . .  You're going to get wet at some point.

The park provides stairways to get down into some of the deeper canyons. 

While up on a bridge looking down into a canyon we spotted some teenagers attempting to climb DOWN this slippery waterfall if you can believe it. 

I can't help but act like a Mom to all kids I meet. I thought of my own and yelled at them and asked if they thought they should be doing that. It was pretty deserted up where we were on the bridge - we just happened to be there at the same time they were and I'm sure they were surprised to see us. Later, after we had walked down into the canyon ourselves by way of the stairs, we ran into them again. The girl looked at me shyly and said "We decided to take the safe route down after all." Whew! I told her her mom could thank me later. I'm pretty sure the park rangers see injuries or fatalities every year involving stupid kids doing stupid, reckless things like that.

If you live near Chicago or are visiting this summer, think about planning a trip here. It is worth seeing and we will definitely go back in the fall for the colors. Hopefully, the other trails will be accessible by then. I hear the waterfalls are also much larger and prettier in the spring after a rain so we'll have to return for those as well.


Related Posts with Thumbnails