I’ve tried

To keep up with two blogs, but it’s just not possible for me. I’ve moved all the content from here to Under the Texan Sun. I really hope you will join me there. 🙂

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Coming to you live, from London!

Doesn’t that sound fantastic? I’m in London, and you’d think I’d be thrilled. But instead, I’m sitting in my hotel room with a raging headache, ready to go home. This is my second time in London in four months, and while that might sound great, it really IS just one big headache. I’m not here for fun, I’m here to work. Fortunately, I don’t work round the clock. Sadly, my body decided that it didn’t want to cooperate, so I’ve been fighting a migraine and cold since before I ever even left Houston. It doesn’t make for very pleasant travelling, but I’m trying to enjoy myself. It just so happened that tonight, I had a free evening, so here I am, laying in bed pouring my heart out to you …

But that’s not the real reason why I’m writing today. First of all, I said I would try to post here more often, and my goal is to post at least once a week. Since I last posted on January 2nd, I figured today was as good a time as any. And besides, I have something on my mind that’s quilting related. It might make some people mad, and it might cause some people to unfollow me, but it’s something that’s been bothering me for a long time, and now I just really want to say something about it. So here goes …

I’ve been reading several blogs over the last several months – some of them on a regular basis, some of them only once or twice. Almost all of them have photos of “quilts” that someone has made, or other crafts they’ve done, and I will say that I admire anyone who’s willing to put themselves out there like that. Everyone should be proud of what they do, and if they aren’t an expert at something, I feel they should acknowledge that and then resolve to do better next time, whether it’s to themselves, or their readers. And then I REALLY hope to see some improvement in what they do in the future.

Sadly, in internet world, it doesn’t seem to work that way. Rather, it seems like people call themselves experts, or proclaim to have some wonderful knowledge of a craft, but then fall short of exhibiting said knowledge. For example, let’s take quilting. I am not a person who feels like someone has to take classes in person (or even online) to learn how to quilt – I myself have never taken a lesson, and I taught myself from a book. And I like to create my own designs, make them, and share them here and with my friends and family in real life. Most of them are very simple – I see no need for every quilt, every design to be complex. But I am baffled by the number of people I see on blogs who sew fabric together with no idea of what they’re doing, and call it a quilt. What they are doing is making a blanket, but I don’t see how they can call it a quilt when there is nothing to indicate that it is in fact, a quilt.

Recently I ran across a blog written by someone who claimed they were “designing one of a kind quilts like your grandma wished SHE could make!” Ummm … if either of my grandmothers had ever quilted, I’m pretty sure neither of them would have considered what this person was doing, quilting. Not a crazy quilt, not anything with a design or even a plan one could imagine, these were huge pieces of fabric sewn together haphazardly and then backed with a sheet. There was no batting, no attempt at quilting the two sides together, nothing that I could look at and say, Yep that’s a quilt. I’ve seen many such attempts by people, some with batting, others with quilting or an attempt at quilting, but I still don’t really consider them quilts.

I have no problem with creativity or with coloring outside the lines, but it’s obvious how some of these bloggers write (and by the pictures they post) that they have no idea how to make a quilt. And they shun the idea of learning anything about traditional quilting because “that’s not my style.” Well, it may not be your style, but what harm could it do to learn traditional techniques before you start trying to bend rules you don’t even know exist??

Despite the way this sounds, I’m not a quilt snob (though I might be a fabric snob; my husband says I am, anyway). I don’t knock people for trying new things, or doing things differently than I do. But I do have a problem with people calling their work a quilt when it clearly possesses nothing more than two or more layers of fabric sewn together in whatever way they imagine on the spur of the moment.

You can call it a style or you can call it creativity, or you can even call it beautiful. But the truth is, there are many blogs that claim to be about quilting that I wouldn’t read simply because they lack technique. Slapping two pieces of fabric together and sewing a 1″ seam (that, by the way, is visible on the outside of the quilt) doesn’t make it a quilt. It isn’t modern, it’s sloppy, and I’m tired of folks hiding behind the “modern” or “contemporary” label to explain their poorly constructed/designed projects.

Not everyone has to make traditional quilts for them to be quilts. I’ve seen some beautifully done contempoary designs that are breathtaking, and they are clearly quilts. But I do believe that in order to make true quilts, one needs to understand the “rules” of quiltmaking. Then, once they understand and can employ them, one can bend or even break the rules without creating something that looks like an object Goodwill would reject!

Before Prozac, there was quilting

I have been trying to avoid making New Year’s Resolutions when it comes to quilting, because it’s inevitable that they will get blown out of the water. Real life intervenes, and before I know it, I’ve missed several resolutions and it makes me feel pretty bad. This year I decided not to make quilting resolutions, but it’s hard to resist the temptation … so maybe if I decide on just a couple of goals, I might find some success. If I don’t succeed, I might find myself searching for the Prozac! But still, I think that making sure I set aside some time for me – to quilt, spend time with those I love, pursue some photography, read – might help me avoid a therapy bill. So, in no particular order, here are my quilting goals for the year.

Turn the three quilt tops I’ve already made (one of them has been done since my daughter was about 10; she’s now 18) into real quilts. Sandwich, quilt and bind them before year’s end.

Finish piecing Chris’s quilt, get it quilted and bound before year’s end.

Make a quilt for my mother for Christmas this year.

Make the Craftsy Block of the Month quilt – which is quite different from anything I’ve done before. It is a mystery quilt (never done one of those) and it uses some very contemporary patterns (nope, not that either). Should be fun. Can’t wait to get started when I return from London. Maybe this goal can be combined with the one above. 😀

Design a quilt and piece it.

Take a machine quilting class.

Go to the Quilt Festival in Houston next fall. I haven’t been in about four years, so I’d like to see what new things are out there.

Blog here more.

I’ll try to remember to check in at least once a month on these goals to see where I am, and to keep me in line. Last year, I failed miserably, but I think it’s because that “plan” was way too ambitious. This year, I want to try to keep it simple and see if I can do better. Wish me luck!

The quilt I wanted to share, but couldn’t

This is the quilt that I gave to Chris’s grandmother for Christmas this year. I’ve had the top done for some time now, but never posted pictures of it because it was a gift. This quilt was made from the Turning Twenty Around the Block pattern by Tricia Cribbs. This is probably the fourth or fifth quilt I’ve made using this pattern, but I’ve lost count. It’s very easy to put together, the instructions are well written – you could definitely do worse for a quilt. The best part is, you can use fat quarters, which means you can collect fabric over time and then put them all to use with this pattern. I like that a lot.

 

The two day quilt

I am a bad aunt.

My family exchanges Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve every year. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember – since I was just a kid, really. So you’d think that with a hard deadline date like that, it couldn’t sneak up on me, but it does, far too often. This year, on the 22nd of December, it hit me. Hard. I’d forgotten to buy a gift for one of the kids. In my defense, this is a “new” kid to our family, my brother’s 10 month old son. I don’t see him often, and we didn’t buy gifts for all the kids this year (we drew name for the six older kids, then my sister took one of the babies (my brother has two) and I took the other). So it was easy to forget the gift for the youngest member of the family.

Told ya, I’m a bad aunt. There’s no justifying it, but I’ll try!

Anyway, on the 22nd, I realized I needed a gift. We had spent our Christmas budget (plus some) so I really didn’t have much in the way of money to buy something. So I started digging around in my stash to see what I could find. Now, this is where the rubber meets the road for a quilter – when things get tough, do you have the fabric to pull something together that’s brilliant without having to spend any additional money? Fortunately, my stash came through for me with flying colors! Don’t believe me? Judge for yourself …

I love the way it turned out. I used Sandy Gervais’ (for Moda) Nautical and Nice charm pack and jelly roll for the colorful blocks – I bought it at the beginning of summer, just because I liked it. The large cream colored blocks were from some fabric I’ve had for at least five years, probably much longer. I backed it with a seashell tone-on-tone print that I’ve had just as long.

It has inspired me to purchase more charm packs this year, possibly two at a time, so I can always be prepared with quick quilting ideas when presented with a last minute need. Making this quilt in two days (yes, it was done by Christmas Eve morning)  has further inspired me to make a couple of quilts to keep for last minute gifts that don’t require a lot of hustle. LOL I have two quilt tops that should be quilted this coming year; I think I’ll keep them for this purpose, and hopefully have them completed before the end of March, just in case.

Wow

I am shocked and ashamed at how bad I’ve let my blogging slide in the last year. It’s just … pitiful! I could put up a defense about how I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to do it, but we’re all busy and it’s a cop-out excuse. I could say that having my house in utter disarray over the last year and not knowing whether I should be prepared to move or not just about did me in (and it would be true), but everyone has challenges they deal with every day. I could, in fact, come up with 700 different excuses as to why I haven’t been blogging, but each one would be more pathetic than the last. Instead I’ll just say this – I didn’t blog. I should have, but I didn’t. And 2011 is just about over, so there’s not a lot I can do to salvage it.

But I can attempt to do better in 2012. I am going to commit to blogging at least once a week in this space over the coming year. Starting today, I am going to say SOMETHING here every week, even if it’s to say that I’ve nothing to say. And I’ll try to post more photos.

My apologies to all who hoped to find inspiration here, but instead couldn’t even find me! I’ll do better in the future. I really must – I need to reconnect with myself, and my creative outlets are the way to do that. Watch this space for better blogging to come soon!

More Progress

Remember when I posted about my studio make over, and the mess that constitutes my fabric stash?

This is what it looks like today.

Close up:

I used the comic book cardboard inserts to wrap the fabric around, an idea I picked up … somewhere. I really cannot remember, but I’ve seen it done several times. What I haven’t seen is the explanation that these boards come in three sizes. I used the mid-sized boards, called Silver, and I used the corresponding bags to store fabric that was less than a yard. If I had known more about it when I went to get the boards, I would have bought the smallest sized bags (which fit current comic books) and the largest bags, called Gold, which fit the oldest books.

The top shelf is full of projects, either in the planning stage or UFO’s (UnFinished Objects). See the box on the second from the bottom shelf? That’s remnants – typically cuts of fabric I’ve used in other projects. And the two boxes on the top shelf are scraps from past projects. One day, I’ll use some of these to make a scrap quilt – not my favorite style of quilting, but still a necessary part of quilting, I’m coming to find, as my scrap/remnant collection grows.

I learned a few things as I organized the stash – I buy the same colors over and over again. Red, blue, purple, green and cream/white/tan are very well represented. And I apparently love both colorful prints on a black background (I have nine of these) and butterflies (I lost count of the prints with butterflies in them around 10 …). Not as well represented, but still there, is the color yellow. Almost no orange, which is about the only primary color that doesn’t appear in my stash. That might explain why I’m not too keen on painting the kitchen any shade of orange …

Well, now that the stash is organized, my studio is in better shape than ever, and I can’t really procrastinate any longer on Chris’s quilt. Besides, he and I have a wager about whether or not the quilt will be finished at any point in his lifetime. My Magic 8 Ball says, “Yes!”