Tag Archives: improv quilting

Works in progress….

Improv blocks that one day will be a quilt for yours truly….

Sewing has kept me sane lately, or at least out of trouble.  I’m currently hand-quilting a comforter, as well as playing around with scraps in an improvisational manner.  Seen a fair amount of my grandgirls, and of course there’s baseball.  The SF Giants just lost another series to the Oakland A’s, le sigh.  But the longer drawn breath, let out ever so slowly, is released as I can no longer chat about these games with Mom.

I love capturing a quilt draped over the ironing board; it looks so stained glass window-like.

Plenty of those moments have arisen, some easier to push aside than others.  I can’t seem to stop watching the Giants, not for as bad as they seem to want to start the second half of the season, ahem, nor for what they signified to my mother.  My mother….  Another deep sigh is taken for how she slipped out of view, that a month has passed since she died, for so many thoughts, too damn many to be honest.  The last few nights I’ve gone to bed, but not right to sleep, considerations popping like bubbles inside my brain as closed eyelids attempt to send me into dreamland.  Then I wake and it’s time to get my husband’s bag packed, make coffee, eat breakfast, drink coffee, and today write a little something.  While sewing has been a godsend, writing anything beyond a grocery list seems impossible.  I’ve read over maybe two chapters of the recently published section of The Hawk, should really get to grips with Part Thirteen, but it seems so hard.  And wondering when I might write again feels….

Some circular hand-quilting of which I’m pretty pleased.

It feels like some other life.  Mom sewed, I sew.  Mom read books, and I’ve done that, stumbling through one of my old drafts just to kill time.  That was last week, Friday I think.  The days kind of run together, one patchwork square at a time.

A quilt in memory of Mom, baseballs definitely one of the fabrics of her life.

I’ve been admonished to take each day as it comes, or each moment, whatever I can manage.  I do, it’s not like I have a laundry list of chores other than the laundry, ha ha.  And good things are waiting on the horizon, a family holiday in the Midwest right around the corner with a special event attached about which I’ll expound upon one of these mornings.  Still, losing Mom has been so effing different to when Dad died, I can’t begin to compare them.  Maybe I shouldn’t, for they weren’t the same person, the situations wholly opposite.  But they were my parents and I lump them together, especially now that they truly are together, lol.  They are back at each other’s side so far away from me and everyone else who loved them.  And even though I know I’ll be with them again one of these days, it’s an absolute bitca to be separated.

She’s seven months old with four teeth. Such a blessing to us all….

I’m fifty-two years old, but sometimes I feel as young as Miss Em, who has learned to crawl, added two more teeth to her growing collection, and is a superb snuggler.  God knows I need all the cuddles afforded me.

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 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.

Major Changes Afoot

So just as I’m grappling with the novel WIP, a roadblock occurred this morning, setting everything connected to the story askance; I’ve just sent Kendall and his family to California for the beginning of the Major League Soccer season, forgetting completely about training camp that takes place in Arizona….

Evolution of an improv quilt; those six-inch squares were quickly surrounded.

Okay, what does this mean for the plot?  I have no idea.  What it means for my current idea of writing is very clear; this novel will be shelved, because I simply don’t have the time or energy to work around a big lapse in research.  But I’m not daunted; today’s inspirational quote, which I read prior to realizing this error is: Some grin and bear it.  Others smile and do it.

More pieces added, including some triangles, although I am very geometrically challenged…

As soon as this issue arose, I saved the paragraph I’d written, closing up that manuscript.  Then I glanced at my sewing table, where scraps have accumulated over the last few days.  I started up the music, then went to work, embracing this sudden detour, considering how to fill what was going to be weeks worth of scattered writing as my eldest counts down the last days of her pregnancy, as the holidays approach, as The Burrito and his mum are slated to arrive at the end of the week, Dad on his way next week, as well as my own better half currently away on business. My goodness, the whole family is as askew as my latest novel!

A bright stripe of red completes a third of the project!

Or are they….  Not really, hehehe.  Everyone and thing are right where they are supposed to be on this day, even if means my plans for a sequel are on permanent hold.  While stability is necessary, so is adaptability.  I’ll work on this improv sleeping bag insert today, as I’d love to get the top sewn before guests arrive on Friday, at which time my sewing table will be sent to the garage so my grandson has a place to sleep.  I’ll pull out The Hawk Part 12 to revise when my authorial muscles require a workout and….  Let the rest of life go as it will.

This morning’s work; I wanted a long stretch of the birds, but some smaller pieces as well. Improvisational sewing has been incredibly liberating, even if the writing has tanked; all gifts in their own good time….

I wondered about writing earlier today, not feeling drawn to do it, but I’m at home this morning, words needing to be added to….  To a story that may or may not be completed one day, but I have to believe if that story is meant to reach The End, it will.  Most important right now is the element of trust.  Many concrete parts of my existence have been upended, but being wrenched from routine isn’t comfortable, requiring blind faith.  A sewing machine will tether me along that path, as well caring for little ones, as will a tale that has been the backbone of my writerly life for over four years.  I do want to finish The Hawk, maybe I merely needed a little break.  All I know for certain is that this morning, post-blog, I’ll sew with a bright smile on my face.  Sometimes life is as simple at that, thank the lord.

A little improv quilting to share….

My youngest daughter has requested a sleeping bag insert, so I aim to please.  A few fabrics arrived in the post yesterday, so last night I ironed them, pulling some scraps from my solids container.  This project will measure 76″ long by 26″ wide, not too much to mull over, but enough to satisfy my longing for something beyond patchwork squares, although that’s what I started with last night.  She’ll need it in January, but I want to have it finished before then.  Once a new baby arrives, no telling how time will slip away.

These two patterns caught my eye. Going to use lots of solid scraps amid the prints.

After writing yesterday’s post, I chatted with my husband about how the writing has fallen from grace; he didn’t have much to offer in response, but it felt good to talk about it.  He’s one of the few to fully grasp how intrinsic writing has been since we moved back from England, goodness knows he’s been a great sport when I’ve been obsessed with this or that novel.  But I haven’t been obsessed with writing for a while now, merely going through the motions.  I certainly felt that way this morning, adding to the word count yet wondering if I was wasting my time.  Then I finally hit on a vital point, but today’s prose might be deleted when I read it over tomorrow morning.

I *love* this print! My daughter is studying geology, and while I didn’t find any good rock fabrics, this one seemed apropos.

Usually i’m not such a navel-gazer, but lately introspection has seemed necessary.  Maybe it’s the change of seasons, rainy weather signaling an end to summer, ha ha.  Perhaps it’s my husband’s recent birthday; he turned fifty-three, so I suppose that means were truly not that young anymore, or relatively youthful.

I’ll add some novelty prints for fun, integrating the camping theme. The tiny pebbles are rock-oriented, then another print as above in peachy-pink. I just adore that design!

Or maybe losing the desire to write bothers me more than I’ve consciously acknowledged.  Um, yeah.  I’m slightly troubled by the vague meandering that has replaced meaningful storytelling.  I had hoped by switching projects I could conjure the old magic.  Or was today simply an off-morning, and tomorrow will be better?  I surely hope so….

I guess this isn’t quite as much about quilting as it is about moaning I mean writing, sigh.  But sometimes writing is tricky and occasionally it’s very difficult.  And hopefully one of these days it will be as satisfying as in days of old.

And here’s the first block; I don’t have any kind of plan for this, other than to have fun. Wonder how I incorporate that notion into the prose, hmmmm…..

And if not, there are always fabrics to ponder.  Or more rightly a healthy dose of faith to lean on in these somewhat questionable novelistic times…..

Today’s word count: 2,530

My love of colour….

Since coming home, I’ve been working on a housewarming gift for friends of my eldest daughter.  They had a baby girl in May, and I’d made a quilt for little miss A, as well as some coasters for her folks.  They were so appreciative of those gifts, asking if I had time, might I make some placemats.  All someone has to do is ask, and I’m on the job!

Quite a collection, with unfinished Christmas coasters in the upper corners, lol.

Quite a collection, with unfinished Christmas coasters in the upper corners, lol.

Sewing quilts is part of my joy, but smaller items are just as favourable.  Also easier, ha ha, with a quicker sense of satisfaction, unlike comforters or say behemoth novels, ahem.  Sewing provides tangible results for my efforts, treasures for others, and a way to indulge in my attraction for colour.  Be it embroidery floss or fabrics, I’m a colour junkie!

A couple of days ago I finished up the last mug rug, which incidentally I’m keeping; I’ve made it a habit to scrap together mug rugs from various projects and lately they have come in handy, as when my grandson surreptitiously hides them, lol.  One disappeared during his last visit, so this abuela needed a replacement (or two).  Last night I cut fabric for binding strips, allowing enough extra for the coasters.  Those I’ll bind with scraps, but for the placemats themselves, I’ll use a solid colour for each.  (I used six main solids within the placemats, so each mat will have its own hue.)  This morning, as I worked on revisions, I glanced over at those strips, then felt compelled to take a picture of them.

I don’t know the exact name of the Kona blue and plum, but the rest are from left; Konas tangerine, lemon, persimmon, and ice peach.

I’ll sew them later today amid some tennis matches; the US Open is in full swing, and it’s fun to see what the players choose to wear in this tournament compared to Wimbledon, which requires tennis whites.

The shades I chose for these placemats weren’t based upon what went into the baby quilt from earlier this year.  These hues are firmly summer-themed, with some prints from a bundle that has lent itself to other placemats, and hopefully a quilt for my nephew.   For the backing, I’m going to incorporate a fat quarter from the bundle that otherwise I just can’t imagine using within a quilt top.

This came in a bundle called Boys Go Camping.  I truly can't fathom how else to use it!

This came in a bundle called Boys Go Camping. I truly can’t fathom how else to use it!

I’ve cut it into sixths, and will piece it together with larger scraps.  I do like me some colour, but psychedelic forest animals are too much for me.

I am considering hand-quilting these; I hand-quilted the baby blanket, but not the accompanying mug rugs.  We’ll see what mood I’m in when I reach that point.  Whipping out the quilting on the sewing machine does have its advantages.  I have some bright orange machine quilting thread, yellow too, which would add to the vibrancy.  For now, it’s enough to contemplate those crazy deer, and moose too, my goodness.

As for my coasters, I’ll back them with whatever I find in the general scrap stash.  One will go by my husband’s recliner, the other into the kitchen circulation.  They are visible reminders of previous projects, keepsakes if you will.  Most of what I makes goes to others, but it’s nice to have a little something hearkening back to fave fabrics.  I can’t keep everything, but little mug rugs fit perfectly.  And with toddling grandkids afoot, one can never have too many coasters!

Altering Rhythms

Near Fort Bragg. California, from our mini-holiday a couple of weeks ago.  Within a few miles, the fog dissipated and sunshine ruled.

Near Fort Bragg. California, from our mini-holiday a couple of weeks ago. Within a few miles, the fog dissipated and sunshine ruled.

Amid summer visitors, I’ve been battling a pinched nerve.  The writing has come to a temporary halt, but I love sharing my home with those I adore.  The Burrito and his mum were two of our guests, and they’ll be back again this coming weekend.  They we are all off for our summer hols, and I can’t wait for some Midwestern hospitality with my hubby’s family, and probably some frozen custard as well.  I’ll share generously with my grandson, and by the time we return, August will be nearly over.  I had hoped to finish up this part of The Hawk, but I have managed a goodly chunk of words.  Part 11 is going to be significantly longer than previous entries in this story, which will be completed sometime in the not too distant future….

Watching the sunset from the Northern California coast.

Watching the sunset from the Northern California coast.

Ha ha, boy, for how long has that been my mantra?  Yet I have added impetus to wrap up this saga; a new idea is itching to be written!  I haven’t had a new novelistic notion for a while, and it has been a salve to roll characters and motivations through my mind as my right leg aches and the Giants lose.  They have been dismal since the All-Star break, about the same time my leg got niggly.  But life is a series of ups and downs.  Books take their sweet time, vacations linger in the distance until suddenly ours is ten days away and I’m almost done with the second to last part of a tale three years in the writing.

Redwoods on our way home.

Redwoods on our way home.

Hunter Pence is back for San Francisco and maybe my team will start to win some games.  Just in time, methinks, as the dog days of summer approach.

Still working on this baby....

Still working on this baby….

I haven’t done much sewing lately other than some hand-quilting on the Big Bright Quilt.  I’ve moved to the bottom half of that behemoth, and it’s fun finding different backing fabric when I end a thread.  That process reminds me I won’t always be exploring the mid-1960s.  The new idea takes place starting in 1995, quite a change from where I’ve been stuck.  Or maybe that’s a little harsh; one of these days I’ll write the concluding sentences of The Hawk and that chapter of my life, as well as those characters, will be through.  Writing a first draft is its own animal, and will never happen for that particular set of plot-lines again.  When routine is shaken, even by the best of events, I long to return to a fictional realm as real to me as the Giants’ recent slump.  Summer can be wonky for writing, but autumn isn’t far away.  I’ve meant to blog, wanting to share pics from our little getaway, some of the quilt, even of my grandsons; Grandmaster Z visited while The Burrito was here, and those chaps are getting so big!  I’m blessed to have hands so full as if I blink, something will fall away.

Grandmaster Z on the left, The Burrito on the right; buddies forever.

Yet, I’m fully cognizant that all which needs to be attended will receive my proper attention.  Many deep breaths have been taken lately, appreciating all these blessings and maintaining perspective.  A pinched nerve is a drag, but grandkids are a hoot.  Bad baseball bites, but ticking off quilted blocks makes me smile.  Time with family and good friends balances the fictional world I often inhabit; life is a matter of seasons duly acknowledged.  When I take the opportunity to pray, the center of my existence remains at peace.  And maybe that’s the biggest lesson of all.

From our trip a few weeks ago.  My goodness I love the ocean.

My goodness I love the ocean.

Well, I know it is, just sometimes I forget.  I want to accomplish so much, but there is only one of me.  Again, it comes down to filtering the treasures from the noise.  But it’s not easy, a daily adventure.  Forgive me if this is a redundant post; maybe this blog is merely to keep myself on track.  Books and quilts will reach their ends and aims.  Reveling in love comes first.

Love and the ocean, both...