Preserve the Story

SG at Southern Crescent“This has been so good for me today.  I’ve been so down in the dumps lately.  I lost my best friend and have been unable to do anything.  Now I have new ideas and I’m going to make….”

These words came from a new friend at a quilt guild where I gave a talk yesterday.  She came up to me at the end, when people had questions or wanted to see a quilt up close again.  She was beautiful, seemingly calm, serene; her outward appearance did not reveal her troubled soul.  But she and I know that stitching will soothe her.  She can make something while thinking of her friend.  She will recapture memories in the threads and forever after, when she looks at that finished project, she will remember the good times as well as the sorrow that she felt with the loss.

My talk was Capturing a Story in a Quilt.  I shared stories that had prompted a quilt project of mine, like Granny Zee’s Scrap Baskets, or Government Bird Going for a Ride, as well as stories that evolved with the quilt (one example being Ollie Jane’s Flower Garden).

The centerpiece of the talk was Fifty-Two Tuesdays, a Journal Quilt, where I intentionally set out to chronicle a year of my life in fabric.  But all of us who stitch know that every quilt we make holds memories; of friends who sat with us as we stitched, of travels where some fabric was purchased, or situations in life that accompanied the project’s progress.

In order for others to know those stories that live within the quilts, we need to write them down.  A story quilt is a good visual cue to share family stories with future generations, but a written record will help preserve the details.

A quilting friend has recently prepared a manuscript ready to print a few copies as gifts for family members.  A daughter-in-law interested in genealogy asked Ethel to write down some family stories, so she did.  Keeping it simple, she wrote as if she were talking to this daughter-in-law.  No editors, or publishers, or agents are needed these days, even if you want it bound and want multiple copies.

I treasure some memories my aunt wrote on scraps of stationery; she shared stories my mother had told me, but the details were fuzzy.  I love that I have a written record of those childhood stories, compliments of my cousin Susie and her copying machine.

I left yesterday’s meeting with new friends and new intentions.  Some of them shared their plans to write down memories associated with their quilts.  I saw projects that inspire me to go to the sewing machine!

SG3 at Southern Crescent

Simple yet Effective

 

Indigo Pearadise
Indigo Pearadise

I was just looking at some of my favorite quilts on Pinterest and once again noting how appealing some of the simplest designs are.  A little charm pack sewn together with wide sashing and quilted.  Divine.

But, I’m afraid I don’t often make those quilts.  I love designing and tend to add my “what if” philosophy to the process – adding and complicating things.  I like doing that.

Indigo Pearadise is one of those quick, relatively unplanned projects that resulted in a pleasing outcome.  Minimal preparation, some very pleasant zen time with my needle in hand, some dancing with my sewing machine, and I have a little wall quilt.

Last spring, I had been stitching pears in preparation for an upcoming class I was planning to teach at my favorite local quilt shop.  I had drawn this pear as a design to use for the introductory class. With gentle curves and a few pieces, I could focus on the beginning steps in needleturn appliqué, making a template, marking the background, learning the stitch.

In doing my homework for the class, I made numerous samples varying fabrics and backgrounds.  Pears are like chocolate (pears are good with chocolate, too); they can become addictive.

We were anticipating an upcoming trip, and is usually the case, I spend more time thinking about the sewing project I’m taking than the clothes I will wear.  I wanted to continue my pear exploration with minimal preparation.  I had a charm pack from Minick and Simpson’s Indigo Crossing fabric line from Moda and knew I would love whatever project I made.  Anything blue is good.  Anything these two sisters design is good.

So I reduced the size of the original pear pattern I had made for the class (from 6″ x 9″ to about 3″ x 5″), made a plastic template, and marked a linen background with guidelines for even placement of the pears.

I stitched all the pears in the evenings in our B & B in Blue Ridge and later at Amicalola State Park in Ga.  No, the fact that one of our destinations was Blue Ridge did not enter into my fabric choices.  It’s serendipity.

Now when I see this project, I see blue pears.  But I also see rainy days in Blue Ridge, delightful walks about the town, nice meals with my husband, and fun with family at Amicalola.

The quilting is done with 60 weight silk thread using a continuous curve design.  I mark a grid, in this case 1/2”, with a removable marker to guide the free motion quilting.  Dream Wool batting.  This project finished at 16″ x 21″.

My new friend Janet

FullSizeRenderI arrived at our quilt show today to find Janet waiting for me.  Janet lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  She had read about our show, and my quilt, 52 Tuesdays, in our local newspaper while here working with Habitat for Humanity.

Janet’s first words to me were, “this is my life,” pointing to the quilt.  She said, “I taught high school math for 30 years, retired, and started quilting.”  I agreed, this is her quilt, too.  We share a love of geometry, retirement, sewing, and life!

janets dear janeJanet reached in her bag and showed me some Dear Jane blocks she’s been making while traveling around the country with Habitat.  She’s piecing them all by hand in their RV, buying a fat quarter in every stop they make to build a house.

That Dear Jane project is Janet’s journal of her travels and adventures.  I’m so glad that 52 Tuesdays led her to visit with me and tell me her stories. We talked math curriculum, joys of family, strategies for quilting, and the technical aspects of sewing machines.   Through the wonder of email, we can stay connected.  I can’t wait to see what her travel journals reveal.  Especially the ones in cloth.