November 2010 - Posts

How was your holiday?

We had a wonderful time at the lake house. Mark, Mom, my sisters, and my husband and I all cooked and slept and ate. With all that exhausting work, you'd think there would have been no time for sewing, but we're just kinda superheroes that way. I got the binding on a quilt and Mom and I designed a quick baby quilt, too. Rebecca worked on a project -- she's going to be nipped by the bug for sure -- and everyone felt deeply happy to hear the hum of the sewing machine on the back porch. 

Even the dog. 

Here's a picture of me and Scrabble, Mark and Mom's miniature Golden Doodle. At seven months, she's still a puppy and very much a true love of mine. (Don't worry, I didn't let her get too far with the binding. She's not ready.)

Watch that little paw, Scrabble-do!

I'm inspired by antique quilts. 

The fact that the women on the prairie created, with often little more than a lead pencil, a straight edge, and an idea, these artful designs that they then crafted from cloth is something that dazzles me every time. And I'll say it because it must be said: Because they were women, I suspect, the artistry and the vision they possessed has gone largely under-appreciated. More on that later, I'm sure. 

I pore over the books I have of antique quilts and when I'm in Iowa, I look through my mom's books. She has a lot of books on quilting and because she's such a fan of Civil War era quilts in particular, there are a lot of volumes full of incredible photography that I can sit with for hours. I find inspiration by looking at books of blocks -- Barbara Brackman's comes to mind -- and then figuring out how the blocks might be combined to create a new quilt. This is how many people do it, I know. 

The block that inspired my "Emeralds" quilt is the "Rolling Stone." I saw it and I thought, "Ooh. It looks like cut emeralds." And since I wanted to work with greens, it was the perfect choice. This is what it looks like. Or what three in a row look like:

Don't you think it looks like the top of a diamond or some kind of jewel? I hope to have 40+ different kinds of green fabrics in this quilt, and it's all set with Kona cotton's "Natural" solid, which looks like muslin but has a different feel to it. 

This block isn't particularly complex, but I love the person who designed it anyway, and I love that she named it "Rolling Stone." She was way ahead of any rock n' roll magazine, way ahead of Bob Dylan, too. 

I have a pair of arm-warmers. This is not the same as a long-armer.

Arm-warmers are like detached sleeves from your favorite sweater that come down over your hands with holes for your thumbs. They look like this:

They're very helpful if you ride your bike when it's cold, which I do quite a bit. But arm-warmers are not long-armers, thank goodness, because neither would really be able to do the other's job very well. Long-armers, of course, quilt your quilt tops when you ask them and pay them enough to do so. I've heard over the years that you can quilt a top by hand, by machine, or by check. It's a funny joke because it's true. 

I just got pictures from my latest top, quilted beautifully by LuAnn Downs, my new favorite long-armer. She did my "Curved Log Cabin," a design by Blue Underground that I did in 60+ scrappy yellows and oranges, set against steel gray. Thanks, LuAnn!

 curved log cabin, quilt, mary fons, quilty, scrap quilt, modern quilt 

When we were in Houston 10 or so days ago, I was remembering being a kid with a mom in the quilt industry. 

My father wasn't around, so mom was a single mom, and when she had to go out of town, Gramma stayed with us or a quilting friend from the guild would come for the weekend. That was when we were younger. As my older sister got into her teens and could drive and be responsible enough to take care of any emergencies that might arise, we made it on our own. Mom went and taught all over the country (and then all over the world) so that she could keep us in school clothes and lunch money. 

And she went to Fall Market every year. That was one trip that was on the calendar in perpetuity. We knew that Halloween weekend, Mom would be out of town. When I was at Market a few weeks ago, I heard many people, moms and dads alike, lamenting the fact that they were missing their kids' costumes. They said that little Joe or little Suzy would never forgive them for missing Superman or the Fairy Queen, and I realized that I was a "Market Kid." 

"They'll forgive you," I reassured those who were concerned. "I never really did Halloween, and I turned out okay." 

Indeed, I think I turned out okay, but I really dislike Halloween. I don't know if I disliked it before and that's why it didn't bother me that much that Mom couldn't take us all trick-or-treating or if Mom couldn't ever take us trick-or-treating and that's why I never dress up, decline to go to Halloween parties, and skip the whole thing. It should be mentioned that I went into the theater. So I guess I did like to dress up. But I did it in a professional way, not just for kicks and a Twix bar. 

Hang in there, Market kids. I heard a rumor that the lady who owns and runs Fall Market has booked Halloween weekend for the next five years straight. 

Boo!

The quilt top is finished!

Coming in at over 1,000 pieces, my Diana Vreeland quilt top is 90% done. Or is it? I need some help, quilters.

I'm not sure what to do about a border on this puppy. I sent a picture to my friends at Love of Quilting (my mom included) and several of them said that they didn't think it needed a border at all. That was surprising to me, but I like the idea. When I eyeballed a solid navy border around it, it looked way too chunky. A pieced border would be okay, but I'm kind of ready to move on. 

What do you think? Border? And if yes, what kind? Or should I got borderless? Is that like making a cake with no icing? Help!

Well, well, well. 

I'm home in Chicago after three long and glorious days at Fall Market in Houston. First of all, Texas isn't "like a whole other country." It is a whole other country. It feels like it, anyway. Every time I'm in Texas, whether I'm in Houston, Dallas, even Austin, I feel like there's this second America. The people walk and talk differently. Texas has its own infrastructure, its own climate. It's endless, and the hair is bigger. I actually really like it there, but it's weird to know they tried to secede because it really could happen, I think. 

Anyway, Market was pretty amazing. I met so many wonderful quilters, quilt shop owners, industry folk, designers, and saw plenty of friends. Over the years I've met so many amazing industry people and it's really cool to see them all in one place. And I need to say this: I think you'll be hearing about a kinda-sorta big project from me real soon. Here's a clue: The "Quilty" blog is a small part of the bigger picture. That's all I can say. I really, really want to say more but I refuse to count my chickens before they've been slathered in Texas BBQ sauce. You know?

I'm home and it feels so good. Market may be fun, but you really have to be "on" the whole time. The smiles are 100% genuine and the chit-chat is sincere, but it's pretty tiring to do that for three days straight while walking around an absolutely enormous convention center. My husband cleaned the bathroom and bought me a new dish rack and these two simple gestures made me fall in love with him all over again. Seriously, that's all it takes.

And what was in my inbox when I got home? Pictures from my longarmer! She's got two quilts of mine and the first one is done! Second one is almost done! Yaaaaay! Binding, here I come!

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Soo awesome. LuAnn Downs, ladies and gentlemen!