Friday, February 18, 2011

Women on a Mission

I've spoken many times about the fabulous women who work on charity projects together.  Many lives are touched by women who see a need and try, in some small way, to make a difference in the lives of others.

Their contributions can be as straight forward as a monetary donation, as dramatic as being a public advocate or as simple as holding a hand.

Today I got to work with four other women who gave up part of their Friday to get together and sew receiving blankets for babies in our local charity hospital.

The project is called One Yard Hugs and I have participated in an annual drive sponsored by Sunflower Quilts for several years.

All it takes is one yard of cotton flannel and someone to finish the edges by hemming or serging.

Five women, a couples of hours, two sergers, two sewing machines and many yards of cotton flannel fabric all contributed to making SIXTY SEVEN one yard hugs!!!


With the bunch I have already completed, we will be able to give about one hundred of these little beauties to new born babies who, in many cases, go home from the hospital in just a diaper.

Thanks to Jennifer, Janetta, Susie and Lish for all of their help in this worthy cause.

Yup!  Women on a mission can change the world in many ways, both large and small.  In this case, the products may be small but the results could be large.

What's your mission?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

And Another TWO Hit the Dust...

This past weekend I got to finish TWO UFOs that had been hanging over my head for way too long.  

One comes from this past August fall when I attended an ASG neighborhood group swap.  Everyone brought stuff that they no longer had a use for and we all got to take as much as we want from what was available.  I wrote about it here.

One of the excellent bits I picked up was the remains of a curtain made from squares of African fabric.  There was a note attached that said it had been purchased at the 1998 Quilt Festival and that it had not been pre-washed.  The usable portion was about 34" wide and 40" long. which is just about the right size for a wheel chair lap quilt.

Saturday the transformation occurred.  

Very simple quilting with a solid black for the backing and binding.  It is a little small for some of the older chairs but it should work well with the more modern chairs.  I even have an unsuspecting victim.. err recipient to use it.

The other is a more recent quilt.  The pattern is from a kit I won, also back in August, that I put together over the past holiday period.  It was also used as a sample for a recent Saturday Strippers gathering.

I realized that a simple little wheel chair lap quilt was not enough of a gift for a recently wheel chair confined husband of a friend.  Although I had planned some fancy quilting I went with a very simple design (stitch in the ditch) and a machine applied binding because I know it will get a lot of washing and simple would be easier to repair, if needed.

Here's how it turned out:
The colors did not photograph well... instead of something that looks red, white and  blue the colors are more rust, cream and black.. I guess this means I need to work on my camera skills!

As it may be a while before I make it over to the nursing home, I will be sticking these in the mail tomorrow and hope that my friend's husband can make good use of both.  If not, I hope that someone else can use them both.  I know that my father loved having a home made quilt on his bed as he loved the texture of the fabrics, seams and quilting and a lap quilt for his wheel chair covered any embarrassing clothing malfunctions.

In any case I hope they both get used which is all a quilt maker wants for their quilts.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cold Weather Sewing

The past couple of weeks have had many days of brutal cold for us in the south of Texas.  Down below freezing on many nights in a row and some friends have had to contend with frozen pipes.

My own home is well insulated but with a large expanse of windows in the living room and floors that are mostly tile things get very cold downstairs.

I found myself running out of clean hand knit wool socks and having to resort to my old ski socks in order to  keep my feet warm.

The dogs have loved it all as they have slept with me on many nights.  They are a little ticked at me as I have had to wash the bed sheets frequently to keep down on the amount of dog fur that has rubbed off of them.

Keeping warm feels like a full time job some days.  My feet have done well but other parts of my body have not faired so well.

My hands, in particular, have not been happy.  Not so much my fingers, but my wrists and hands have been very achy.  Not sure if its the cold or the RA but it really puts a damper on things when your hands just want to be in a pair of fluffy mittens.  

Another part of body has not been happy either.  Essentially my upper torso... shoulders, back and chest have been very stiff and cold.

I knew I needed a solution that did not include more bulky sweaters or hiding under the covers all day.

Solution #1 - Polartec vest:

Yes, its not pretty but it is nice and warm.  Made from a kit I bought years ago at an ASG conference, this simple vest is like shearling on the inside and like velour on the outside.  Its a little big but it works at keeping the problem areas warm.  The pattern is from Kwik Sew but any basic vest pattern would have worked.  

Solution #2 - Polartec gauntlets:

Made from scraps left over from the vest making.  Essentially a tube with a slit for my thumb.  In use on both hands as I type and boy do they feel warm!

Now that there is a warming trend this weekend I may not have much time left to use my new cold weather accessories but I am very happy to know that I will have them for next year.

I hope your weekend is going well and that you have not forgotten to get your loved ones something for St. Valentine's day.  The dogs are getting bully sticks and Paul is  getting his bank statements balanced.

No-one ever said I was a romantic!

PS - read about the story behind Polartec here and here.  I am so happy that the company still exists and continues to make fabulous fabrics.  This is NOT your average fabric store fleece and their newest products are very intriguing.  Next year I might look into their battery operated heated vest...but that might just be going a little overboard for a southerner like me.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Quilt Artist

The Fantasy

The morning sun streams through the east facing windows of the Artist's palatial bedroom.  As the sun strikes her smooth brow she awakens and stretches her well-toned body under her pristine 10,000 thread count, hand-made sheets.  

Her lover has left a beautiful tray of assorted pastries and Blue Mountain coffee on the hand carved side table.  The table, made from reclaimed wood gathered from a centuries old farm house in France, sits in the sunlight shaded by lace curtains woven from recycled silk by cloistered nuns in Rome.

All is right with the world as the Artist sits to break her fast and glances at the dozen art magazines from all over the world that makes up her morning reading.

Suddenly she tenses as she reads about Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine's latest challenge.  The challenge is to take a half yard of fabric, transform it by your preferred method and send eight nine inch squares of it to the magazine Arts for a fabric swap/exchange.

"Yes" she declares aloud, startling her pack of rescued, pure bred, dogs and cats from their  postprandial slumber, "This is just the thing for me."

She dresses in a white smock, made from an Irish Linen table cloth that her great-great-great grandmother hemstitched, and rushes to her secluded studio back in the woods of her mountainside retreat.

Using her portfolio of Japanese wood block prints as inspiration, she selects a piece of fabric sent to her by the Sultan last year and, as her assistant prepares it for dying, the Artist gathers her dyes from Bali, silk screens from Tibet, inks from Ireland and brushes from her badger farm in Montana.

She is now ready to create her masterpiece.

Skipping the next seven days of creative chaos, including three crying jags, 75 yards of fabric sent to the recyclers and the demise of one great dying table from the weight of her frustration, the Artist produces this:

The Reality

The Artist awakes to the yapping of three small dogs wanting to get outside to chase the squirrels.  While eating her Cherrios over the kitchen sink, she sees that Cloth, Paper, Scissors Arts has another challenge.

"Yes" she declares aloud, startling her pack of snarling mutts competing for her leftover milk, "This is just the thing for me." 

Using her 1949 tourist guide to Japanese wood block prints as inspiration, she gathers her materials consisting of fabric from the sale table at WalMart, leftover dyes from a friend's class three years ago, silk screens from a door prize package and inks from a calligraphy class when she was in high school.

After eight hours of washing, drying, ironing, wetting, dying, ironing, stenciling, ironing and ruining the top of the plastic table she uses for dying outdoors, she produces this:

  I would love to resemble the fantasy but, alas, my life is the reality.

Have a good week!