Category Archives: creativity

An unexpected finish….

So last year I started a quilt top that was a remake of one done for my youngest daughter’s good friend (more about remakes coming soon….).  It wasn’t meant to be more than a picnic blanket, in that I was going to use an old flannel sheet as batting, a floral cotton sheet purchased from a thrift store for the back.  Sort of an experimental quilt, or maybe just an excuse to employ a stack of squares that I loved too much to give away.

Our laundry line is out of service, so the side fence was put into use. This quilt is 60 X 76″, which might seem a little long, but at over 5’7″ tall, I’m happy with those dimensions.

How often does that happen, not only in quilting, but in writing; I’m hording how many rough drafts, plus a few that desperately require a sequel, in the hopes that one day I’ll complete those tales or rework them into a releasable form.  And I won’t even mention storylines that continue to percolate in my gray matter with no discernible foothold in the writing schedule.  A writing schedule, what’s that?  My goodness, far gone are the days when I had more time than sense, books scribbled within a month or so as though my life would always be so unfettered.

Very slowly I machine sewed the binding, but compared to how long it would have taken to hand sew it, it was still a faster way to go.

Ahem, let’s back to this quilt, (although I can never truly escape the prose); after finishing my grandson’s birthday present, I pulled out this project in need of some hand-quilting.  I had no idea how many stitches remained, it was just something to do in the evenings while the Golden State Warriors entertained.  But one night last week I sewed the last of those hand-quilted rows, and suddenly all that remained was to bind it up!  I’d planned to use the backing for that job, but changed my mind, sewing up a colorful binding, then machine attaching it on both sides.  Usually I hand-sew the back of the binding, but felt compelled to complete this, what with its end coming without any warning.  I didn’t need to belabor this quilt any longer than necessary….

Paint splatters decorate the back, which means I won’t hesitate to lay this over the ground for a picnic!

And now it’s washed, draped over the back of our sofa, arousing parallels to other aspects of my creative life; I’ve read through part thirteen of The Hawk, and to my shock, it’s much more cohesive than how I remember it from last…  Summer, autumn, jeez, I can’t even accurately recall the last time I wrote!  Okay, well anyways, it’s in fairly good shape for how disjointed I felt when writing it which means….  Writing some more is basically just around the corner.

In making a binding instead of using the back, I chose to dress up this quilt more than originally planned. Yet I like it this way, it feels more finished.

Um, whoops, there it is???  Sure, who needs a schedule anyways, lol.  Grandkids are constantly mastering new tricks, maybe abuelas can too.  If nothing else, I have a quilt in the can, plot twists aching for resolution, and as free of an agenda as anytime in the last three and a half years, meaning no babies are imminently due, ha ha ha.  Writing won’t be as it used to (if it ever returns to my previous output), but over the last few years I’ve certainly managed to produce a fair amount of prose, alongside quilts.  Learning grandmotherly skills has also meant shuffling my previous hobbies from their former glories, but maybe now some happy co-existence will result.  This quilt is proof of that, a new top amid recycled batting and backing, with a fresh binding holding everything in place.  What’s old is new again, and what lingers isn’t always forgotten.  More about another remodeling job next week….

Novels and Whole Cloth Quilting

Taken on the sunny day….

Over the weekend I finished reading through The Hawk Part Twelve.  For the first time since releasing this saga in installments, I found no typos which required me to upload a new version onto Smashwords.  Now, that’s not to say there are no typos, hehehe, only none that were so glaring as to catch my attention.  That’s also not implying I didn’t make changes within that section of the manuscript.  I *always* find something to tweak, but unless it’s an obvious grammatical error, I leave these beta releases alone.  Otherwise I’d be forever updating various sections with each round of overall edits that occur.

Snapped this morning; I love how the circles show on the fleece.

As I read through Part Twelve, I was struck at how this behemoth has evolved, each part like its own story.  The Hawk is one cohesive tale, but every section has its priorities.  Today I pulled out Part Thirteen, amazed that so much was already written, over 28K!  I never meant for this book to be so involved, or maybe convoluted is a better term to describe it, ha ha, um, yeah.  For better or worse, The Hawk is what it has become, and is still turning into, and I’m eager to return to fashioning prose.  I’ll deal with The End once I get there.

Cloudy day shot, I believe. Again, the galaxies show up on the back as well as the front.

Along the way, I have completed the sleeping bag insert for my grandson, although getting proper photos of it has been nearly as complicated as writing The Hawk; one day there wasn’t enough sun, another day too many shadows intruded.  This morning I snapped a few more shots, which seem to be acceptable.  In the interim I’ve discovered the notion of whole cloth quilting, then found I’d dabbled with it right in making this project!

This print was just too adorable to slice, definitely lending itself to whole cloth quilting.  I’m also very pleased with the espresso binding….

That realization is sort of how I feel about my fiction WIP; meandering along, I’ve spent the last three-plus years honing my authorial skills, gaining lessons in patience as well as sharpening my abuela senses.  Just days ago I was pottering about various quilt-making websites, coming across whole cloth quilting, then BAM there it is, draped right over my sofa, dude!  The purpose to whole cloth quilt this insert was in part due to not wanting to cut up this awesome print, but also to quickly produce this piece in time for a three-year-old’s birthday.  Now I have plentiful notions to consider about what I’d like to next quilt in this style, maybe a similar insert for Little Miss.  We were speaking about her cousin’s upcoming birthday, and when I mentioned what I’d made him, she said, “What about mine?”  I smiled, noting it wasn’t her birthday yet.

I can’t wait to see what The Burrito thinks of his new blanket!

Toddlers don’t miss a trick while this grandma is trying to stay ahead of the game, and when it comes to whole cloth quilting, perhaps I am a little more in the know than I realized.  As for The Hawk….  It’s been months since I worked on it, so the next few weeks will be spent reacquainting myself with current plot lines.  But the end is so clear in my mind, it’s as if I’m already there.  Then one day I’ll be done with it, revising for typos’ sakes, as if whole cloth quilting, removing erroneous commas akin to continuous stitching over seamless fabric, or something like that.  Writing and sewing might seem unrelated, but to me they go hand in hand, or I use my hands for both tasks, or….  The Hawk is like whole cloth quilting, even if it’s broken into sections; it’s one long story brokered by many stitches along the way.

The Pleasure in Being Crafty Part Two

One of the benefits of my sewing skills is repair; boy it’s easy to fix fraying towels with a machine!  Then there are the pillowcases I’ve made, sheets put back into rotation with just a few moments under a mechanized needle.  However, I’m in a slight quandary of how, or even if, to proceed with quilt maintenance.

It looks fine from far away, however….

I didn’t make this lovely lap quilt; my sister-in-law bought it at a thrift store, then gave it to me as it was taking up space in her home.  It wasn’t in need of repair until maybe the middle of last year, repeated washings finally taking their toll.  I’ve patched two long rips, easy enough, but now serious issues are emerging.  What to do….

I love this pattern, the hues too. Would patching it maintain the original flavour, or merely be an ugly blot?

I’m of the belief that everything on this planet has its lifespan.  People, quilts, baseball dynasties; we’re all meant for a set purpose, then back to dust we return.  I didn’t make this gorgeous comforter, but as it’s now in my possession, what happens to it is my responsibility.  Maybe I’ll mend jeans until the cows come home, but with a quilt, aesthetics are involved.  I don’t wish to muddy the delicate handiwork that went into this piece, nor do have the fabrics to accurately match the existing cottons.

I can easily mend the rip at the top, but what of the rest of it?

Bleach stains testify to the long life of this quilt; it was well used long before it found its way to me.  I could patch the rips and tears as I have already done, yet that feels wrong to merely place a large section of fabric over such intricate work.  It would take much more than band-aids to set this piece right.

If I had fabric similar to the flower print, I probably wouldn’t hesitate, but I’m not going to shop for a print just for repairs….

I’m seeking opinions about how to proceed; either I fix it in some manner, or sooner rather than later I throw it away.  And honestly, I don’t have a strong feeling about either solution.  If I had sewn this myself, I wouldn’t hesitate to rescue it.  Still, my mending habits call to me; place it under the machine and see what happens!  I certainly don’t lack for scraps.

A previous rip….

(It’s similar to storing old novels in a flash drive, except that manuscripts take so little space.  Goodness knows I have plenty of first drafts waiting, if I ever need something to do….)

An easy, if not somewhat gauche, fix.

There’s a wonderful sense of accomplishment when fashioning a quilt, also when returning something to its former glory.  There is also a time to say goodbye.  Not sure what this comforter requires.  Any and all comments are ever so welcome!

The Pleasure of Being Crafty, Part One

Securing the edge before the binding is added….

The sleeping bag insert for my grandson is finished and in the dryer as I type.  I’m pleased with how the hand-quilting looks, mostly circles throughout the galaxy, with some random straight lines and meandering about along the right side fabrics.  While sewing around the perimeter with my machine, then attaching that chocolate binding, I considered how fun it was to make this for him, and how blessed I am to have sewing as a hobby.  This project was easy to produce, and will give him years of snuggly joy.

The brown binding was the perfect size, hehehe….

There’s another side to crafting, that of storytelling.  In a way, this little quilt speaks to one of The Burrito’s current faves, space travel.  (He’s also big on Superman, but I’ll leave the pop culture reference to his imagination.)  One of the reasons I write is to leave tales for my descendants, like bestowing pieces of who I am.  In future days, this comforter will remind my grandson of days when we played astronauts and various other scenarios.  He might never read one of my novels, but there will always be a quilt close at hand.

All I had left was to hand-sew the binding. Pics of the finished quilt to come….

Sewing and writing might seem nothing alike, and in part they require different skill sets.  But often I find parallels, or maybe spinning yarns is so ingrained I can’t help but note the similarities.  Words and fabrics come together in their own spheres, adhering beautiful thoughts into completed paragraphs and adorable (if I do say so myself) blankets which bring comfort, also provoke questions.  In Part Two of this post, I’ll pose a sewing query for which I require an answer.  Usually it’s a plot point leaving me stumped, but currently The Hawk is fine where it is.  One issue at a time, thank you….

And so begins the year of using what I have….

Earlier this week I laid out a variety of scraps, bright primary and secondary hues.  I stared at them for a couple of days, not certain how I would arrange them; a mix, or by shade, or value perhaps?  Then yesterday afternoon I recalled a project more in need of my attention; my grandson requires an insert for his sleeping bag!  Problem of what to do with those scraps is temporarily solved, ha ha.

I bought two yards of this fabulous print, and only needed a couple of feet, plenty more for future space travel….

Once I made that decision, the insert came together quickly, in part that I already knew most of the fabrics, and chose to use a large section of one, which left little for me to ponder.  Even then, the rest came about rapidly, and by the time my husband got home from work, the top was done, just the back to sew together.  By evening’s end, I had it basted, and was hand-quilting it.


This print has been in my stash for a good while, again the perfect time for it.

I even have the binding, that chocolate strip from a recent post!  It felt so good to dive into my stash, not thinking about any additional purchases.  Batting was from my large scrap collection, and while my daughter’s sleeping bag insert had two layers of batting, The Burrito doesn’t need that kind of padding for a while.  I’ll have it finished in time for his birthday next month, and look forward to his reaction, all our recent chats about the galaxy ready for him to explore within a quilt.

I added the anchors to hearken back to older times.

So far my 2018 sewing adventures have me feeling very pleased, and I’m itching to get back to those vibrant colours, although I still don’t know how they will fall onto the quilt wall.  I do have a binding prepared for whatever emerges, and it’s not short, so if a medium to large project happens, I’m covered.

I do love me some colour!

What I am finding is that by choosing to not purchase fabrics, parameters have been built in to each project.  It’s not that I’ve stopped admiring my fave fabric website, but the reason for gazing at those gorgeous prints has changed.  Instead of ideas, it’s appreciation.  What I sew this year is going to come from my own backyard.

And now neatly coiled….

Or rather, my sewing/writing grotto closet, lol.  I definitely have a Dorothy returned from Oz mentality going on; if it’s not within my reach already, I probably don’t need it.  I’m interested how this approach affects my crafty output, but at least I’m starting off firmly planted right in proverbial Kansas, even if it looks a lot like a solar system.  I don’t plan on explaining this to my grandson, I’d never hear the end of why’s.  But maybe one day I’ll tell him how his sleeping bag insert launched a new manner for this abuela to fashion quilts.  It’s sort of like the anchors in the corner, just a return to methods from the past.  Find purpose in what lies at your fingertips, be it in cotton, words, or a beautiful hug.

Waiting to be sewn together….

A Bright Baby Quilt

Sunny view, amid a blustery morning….

While we’re still waiting for Lil’ Sis’ arrival, another bambina is in my thoughts, due in a month’s time.  This little quilt is for that girl, whose mum is a good friend of my youngest daughter.  I completed the hand-quilting a couple of days ago, washing it last night.  It’s very soft yet vivid, perfect for these short days right before the winter solstice, and of course for many years to come.

A more subdued view….

I like me some floral prints, and this blanket is chock-full of them.  I included fabrics decorated with bees, then backed it with an adorable hedgehog flannel I found at Joanns.  It’s bound in Kona Orchid, coordinating with purples scattered amid the hues, also a calm spot in an otherwise busy collections of prints.

Butterflies and bees add to the outdoorsy nature of this comforter.

I’d been collecting these fabrics for a while, and once I knew the gender, went all out for this quilt.  I like how the dark purple pops, as well as the dark pink and the orange.

So dang cute!

As soon as I saw the hedgehogs, I had my backing.  These little creatures were prevalent in England, and are perfect for this quilt.  I still have over a yard, for future projects.

I have some burp cloths ready as well, so fun to add to a couple’s joy.  Plus it reminds me of the nieta that will be joining my family soon, many blessings all round.  Now to pop it in the post, then get to a Christmas quilt, nine rows left to sew….

A nearly completed project….

Once I started sewing, I didn’t stop to document my efforts. Here are two panels from sometime on Tuesday.

Not too many of those in my sphere lately, but if I don’t post this today, I have no idea when it will happen.  Family are arriving soon for the next week, and blogging will be the least of my priorities.  However, I did want to share the improv sleeping bag insert, as I’ve worked off my fanny perpendicular to get it almost done.

On Wednesday morning I added the bottom right corner, and all that remained was sewing the three sections into one.

Once I gave up the notion of noveling, sewing barged right in as if I had nothing else important to do with my life.  Although, with my hubby away, I did have extra time, when not visiting with Little Miss and her mum.  But here at home, it was just me, myself, and I.  And fabrics and my sewing machine and….

I’ve never used polyester for batting before; boy that makes for a thick sandwich!

And I literally sewed all day Tuesday, then again Wednesday morning before heading to see my daughter’s crew.  Yesterday I affixed the three panels, cut the backing, sorted the batting, which was actually two kinds of filler, fluffy polyester as well as drapey cotton.  I basted it with big safety pins, then began the tying process, although I didn’t cut the strings long enough, le sigh.  By evening’s end I had pinned the fleece backing to the front, to act as the binding, then went to bed and slept all night.

Tying this was certainly the quickest method, but I really need to remember to leave the strings longer next time….

My sewing table will be coming down today to accommodate The Burrito, so I truly had an impetus to finish the basting!  Early this morning I sewed the binding, but the mitered corners are too thick for my machine, so I’ll do those by hand.  Otherwise I just need to trim the ties, and maybe work in a little hand-quilting to make up for ties that weren’t affixed as well as I like due those short strings.  I can work on that in the evenings after my grandson has gone to bed.

Very quickly I hand-sewed around the perimeter; at first I excluded the poly batting, but then I added it, once I cut away the excess. Made it easier when I folded over the backing to act as the binding, just a little thinner of an edge with which to work.

My youngest doesn’t need this until the new year, but with another nieta due very soon, holidays as well, I wanted to wrap it up, maybe just so I could say that yes, I completed it.  I will say that as soon as I abandoned the idea of writing, I felt great peace, also a yearning for the time to fashion prose.  I know it will happen in the proper time, just not right now.

Not the best light due to afternoon shadows, but hopefully I’ll get a better picture once it’s washed and trimmed. It is very plush feeling, and should keep my daughter cozy while camping.

Right now is time to reflect upon the multitude of blessings in my midst, more than I can note.  Suffice to say I have loved ones for whom to sew; that’s a precious treasure beyond words.