Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Journal and Sketchbook Covers


While my family was in town I noticed that some of my nieces carried little composition notebooks as sketchpads.  My kids use composition notebooks to write stories or poems and sketch as well.  I thought it would be cute for each child to have his/her own notebook cover, so I found a tutorial that was really easy to do and made some up.  To make it easier to identify each kid’s book, I reverse appliqued their first initials onto the front rather than covering it with piecing.  I’m not finished with them all, but I have a good start and I think I’ll be able to finish the rest leisurely over the next couple of weeks.  



Saturday, July 23, 2016

Indian Throw Quilt Finish

This week I finally finished a quilt I have been working on for several months.  I thought it would be faster.  Actually, I thought this quilt was just an exercise, so it took me by surprise that each step along the way required lots of attention, consideration and care.  It didn’t originally speak to me, and I’m not sure why I began, but once I got going I really enjoyed making the quilt and I’m happy with the end result.  Most especially I’m happy with the quilting, which was a first attempt at chrysanthemum free motion quilting.  While certainly not perfect, I think it is very effective and, despite the many hours it took to complete, a pleasure - for the most part - to quilt.  




Meanwhile our house has been busy.  We have spent the last several weeks with my siblings and their children.  Our extended family has congregated at my parents’ house to help my mom with a pretty severe injury she sustained while hiking through the Gobi Desert last month in Mongolia.  She’s doing better and my sisters have now headed back home.  






Now we’re spending our days shuttling between swimming and music lessons, soccer and volleyball camp, squeezing in playdates and trips to the library.  Although none of it is very taxing, it all takes up so much time.  Frequently I wonder when is the right time to work on my projects.  I have a huge line-up of things I’d like to do.  Some are things for my family, like a new quilt for my boys with an appliqued knight in armor, and some are household sewing projects, like fresh napkins for our meals, as ours are getting a little sad.  Some projects are for gifts, like a large sashiko panel I’m working on for my parents anniversary, or for the new school year - both girls have requested new backpacks this year.  And some projects are just experimental stuff that I’d like to explore for myself… I have an idea for an EPP project based on a beautiful Islamic design I saw at the Met last year.  That project has the potential to become an obsession but every time I sit down to work on it I find myself interrupted.  I would like to say I’m enjoying all the interruptions, and I’m working on that, but right at this moment I could do with a few less.  

That said, spending these last few weeks with my sisters and their kids has put into focus how fast kids do grow up.  I have a two year old, but thanks to my older kids, I can see that his babyhood is coming to a close.  I didn’t have that perspective when my older kids were babies and toddlers.  It was mostly great and sometimes difficult, but it felt like that stage was going to be permanent.  Now I can see that before I know it my kids will have all grown up.  It used to be that things like naps felt more important that they do now.  Not that I don’t care if my kids sleep, it’s just that now I know they will, sooner or later.  They probably will, anyway.  Spending time with so many small children made me realize that our challenges feel very different than they once did.  It’s still all about keeping them engaged and busy.  But what that means is different.  It used to be enough to make play dough or sing silly songs.  Or look for nature on a walk through our neighborhood.  Doing laundry together or making dinner was a focal point, not something we had to squeeze in somewhere.  Now the kids need to be out in the world a lot more.  And each child has his/her own individual set of interests that need to be accommodated and developed.








Its not as if we don’t have downtime anymore.  In fact, as I write this children are reading, playing music, and building with Legos nearby.  I don’t like being heavily scheduled and I don’t think it’s always in the best interest of families or children.  But to some extent it seems to be a fact of life with school aged children.  The challenge we’re facing today is trying to balance the activities that will benefit each member of my family and the down time that all people need.  Time for activity versus time for introspection versus time for relaxation.  

Last night I was up LATE drafting, or trying to draft, that Islamic mosaic I mentioned.  I think I’m going to need a compass and a protractor.  Luckily my oldest daughter has a set that I can use.  This is a big project.  I’d love to get going on it though, because it is exciting to me right now.  




As for the Indian Throw Quilt, I took it down to my mom’s house the day before my sister left with her girls and we photographed it there.  My mom lives above the harbor and in the evening when the sun goes down it gets chilly.  My mom got cold toward the end of dinner and we threw it over her. It looked just right there on her lap, so I decided it should live with her.  I think it found a happy home, which is just the point of making a quilt!

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts.

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Good Mother Makes a Happy Home...

Yesterday was my sister’s birthday and she's in town right now with her kids.  We’re heading to my mom’s tonight to celebrate as a family.  Actually, both my sisters and their families have come to visit so we've been having a great time, especially with all the kids running around together.  

I’ve been working on a mini quilt (whose design I took directly from Sew Mama Sew --  I think) and it seemed like a great birthday gift.  I just wish that I put onto it the words “A Good Mother Makes a Happy Home”.  My mom has had a plate that hangs in her kitchen with those words on it for as long as I can remember, and this mini quilt would have been a perfect backdrop for that saying.  



I am also working on a second mini quilt, but I’m not nearly done with it.  I found it in a book by Kathreen Ricketson, called Whip Up Mini Quilts.  I didn’t follow it exactly.  I made my own bird entirely, and reoriented the quilt a bit.  But I certainly enjoyed using her ideas.


I'm not sure how to quilt it, so I'll need to think about it a bit.  I think I'll embroider the details onto the bird before I begin quilting, so that I don't need to think about defining it during the quilting process.  

I thought these mini quilts would be an easy and fun way to work on my machine quilting skills a bit.  

Working on texture for sky.  I used a freehand spiral that I think worked well with the fabric.

Here's a close up of the grass.  I tried to ground the quilt with a texture that would feel very different from the sky.  I think it worked.  
I’m still working on an “Indian Throw Quilt” that I started a few months ago.  I’ve been quilting chrysanthemums onto it, and it’s going well, but it is time consuming.  I’m nearly done with the quilting (hopefully this week will do it) and then I need to think about binding.  But I do see the light at the end of the tunnel.   

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts.