Friday, July 12, 2019

groovy summer love letters goes to the beach


this quilt was destined for the beach and for the land of golden summers - california.

i completed the binding while on a trip to california earlier this summer and was afforded the rare opportunity of photographing it in the appropriate environment for a quilt called "groovy summer love letters."


the name came from the fabric line most of the quilt is composed of, "summer love" by bari j for art gallery fabrics, and the inclusion of a few squares of this script text print that reminded me of love letters. i thought the fabrics had a groovy, funky vibe to them, so when all those elements rolled around in my head together, it became "groovy summer love letters."


i included coordinating pieces of other fabric lines from my stash along with the "summer love" prints to round them out and make the quilt larger. i even worked a few precious scraps of my beloved "antique flower" print from julia rothman's "miscellany" line for cloud9 fabrics. and "hop dot" by heather bailey is here, too. that makes this portion of the quilt a favorite spot.


the fort ord dunes state park where i photographed this quilt was an absolute treasure trove of scenes and spots for taking the photos. i felt like my quilt was in its native element. and fortunately for me, the beach sand is grainy rather than the super-fine variety that gets into everything and never leaves, so i had one less worry about the quilt staying out of the sand.


another special corner of the quilt. the pink floral (carina gardner for riley blake fabrics, i think) is almost identical to a sun dress my three younger girls wore. the yellow and pink floral is another print i adore and have used quite a lot. it's from bonnie christine's "sweet as honey" line for art gallery fabrics.



these are two prints from "summer love" that i especially liked. the bead string print would have made a good binding if i had had more of it.




my 15 year old son took a break from dune jumping and sand play to bring me this flower he found. he said all the rest where yellow and this one bud was pink, so he brought it especially for me. so sweet, particularity at his age.


i had quite a hard time selecting a binding for this quilt. i auditioned several from stash, but all the blues were off or there were other issues with the prints that were the right colors. finally, about a month ago i looked on etsy to see if any fabrics from the "love letters" line were still available. there were three and this is the one i selected as the best option. i like how it coordinates with the quilt and blends in without making itself too prominent. i do wish it had less white in it as i feel whites in a binding get dingy. overall, i'm just fine with it.



i never did get the perfect shot in my head with the coastline in the background, partly because of the wind, partly because of the people on the beach. the lighting was also a challenge for this angle at this time of day. we were there about 90 minutes before sunset, which made for some beautiful golden light, but it was definitely at an angle that didn't always light the quilt.


the wind was helpful in getting some flowy, moving shots of the back of the quilt rather than a static, head-on pose. i really love the back of this quilt. when i love a back as much or maybe more than the front, i know i've nailed it.


some more special bits: the "madrona road" apricot floral and an old art gallery ditsy print favorite that i parted with.



that early evening sun accentuated the quilting design and quilt texture very nicely.


if you are ever in the monterey bay, ca, area, whether you have a quilt to photograph or not, do make a stop at the ford ord dunes state park. it's not a swimming beach because of the treacherous riptides there, but it is an absolutely lovely location for wave watching and sand play or just strolling. the vegetation and little canyon that line the walk to the beach are wondrous in their own right.

this quilt has now been placed in its new home with my husband's paternal grandmother, who lives nearby. i look forward to visiting the dunes and the quilt again when we make our annual trek to grandma's house, where it's invariably a beautiful summer no matter what time of year.

Friday, July 5, 2019

california quilting mood


part of my summer travels have taken me along the california coast from santa barbara to monterey, to deliver a daughter and friends to a church youth conference (efy) and to spend time with my husband's grandmother. the scenes were pretty, the weather was a divine break from our desert summer temperatures. i took two quilts along with me for handwork opportunities.

while in santa barbara, i laid "groovy summer love letters" out on the hotel bed for some added hominess to the room. i've never done that before because i don't usually travel with large quilts. but this one only needed the binding finished and i was hoping to get a beach shot of it when it was done, so it went along for the trip.

the quilt looked nice with the colors of the hotel room and in the sunlight pouring in, so i took a shot of it to post on instagram, but didn't do that til a day or two later. that's when i learned fellow quilter gina (party of eight) and i had been in the same hotel at the same time! if you read the comments in the IG post, you'll see us discover this. it's still blowing my mind whenever i think about it.

the rest of this post is mostly scenes from california interspersed with me working on the quilt. and then a bit on when the quilt's destiny made a large departure from my original intent.

goleta county peach park pier



santa barbara mission





stitching on the road

monterey bay aquarium

fort ord dunes beach park
sitting in grandpa's recliner and working on the quilt
at some point during our visit at grandma's house, a place i've been going to for nearly a quarter of a century, i realized that the colors of the quilt fit in pretty well with grandma's decor of pinks, blues, and tans. and i just decided it actually belonged with her and that house.

i've been working on this quilt for at least 3 years. i fell in love/became obsessed with the inspiration quilt made by jolene of blue elephant stitches long before that and ordered a fat quarter set of the "summer love" fabrics, by bari j for art gallery fabrics, online so i could make my own version of the quilt, which i enlarged and supplemented with coordinating bits from my stash. so many leftover pieces of fabrics i loved went into this quilt because i fully intended to keep it for myself. my oldest daughter was also very partial to it.

however . . .

as usually happens with on-line orders, when the fabrics were actually in my hands, i found some of them didn't appeal to me as much as others. it's pretty rare i am in love with every single print in a fabric line, so this wasn't much of a surprise. i ditched a few of the prints entirely and included some i was feeling "meh" about at the time but thought i could live with.

interestingly enough, those handful of "meh" prints have been grating on my sensibilities as of late and i was less in love with the quilt over the last several months than i had originally been. ever since i completed the quilting on it earlier this year, it's been folded and draped on a couch in my piano room. as long as i folded it so i saw the fabrics i loved most, i was okay with it. i figured i would eventually give it to my oldest daughter if she still liked it when she got home from her volunteer work in europe this fall.

but when inspiration hit me at grandma's house, i knew my daughter wouldn't mind her great-gran having this quilt and because of the way i'd been feeling if-y about it myself, i was able to let it go. the truth is i don't part with my quilts easily. quilts for my kids stay in my home and i have no problem with that. but i have given away very few other quilts, except for baby quilts. the reasons for that are complicated and will make another post sometime.

suffice it to say, i wanted to give this one to grandma and i was emotionally in a place i could and would do that despite my former attachment to it. in fact, i marvel at how the timing of everything along this quilt's journey into being led to it being finished here at this time so that i would know it was meant for her. i hope she gets to enjoy it for a while yet to come. at 86 she's still quite active and in good health. she intends to live up to her older sister's 96 years, and i think she has a very good chance of doing so!

i have to say i like this way of gifting quilts much better than having a deadline and feeling guilty about not completing something for several years! perhaps i would have chosen fabrics for it a bit differently if i'd known i wasn't keeping it, but that's alright. it's a special experience to realize a quilt was meant for someone else all along.


grandma has always been a devout presbyterian, so i like that the plus pattern of the quilt could be viewed as crosses. that's just one more element that makes it fit her. she seemed pleased with the quilt. she didn't say a whole lot, but she did appear to be touched with the gift. it was the right thing to do and i'm glad i did it. no regrets.

in case you were wondering if i ever got those beach shots with the quilt - i did.
that'll be another post soon.

Monday, July 1, 2019

book vs quilt


summer is in full swing. in fact, by some accounts, it's half over. not me; i've still got 2 months left before settling down to normal again. i didn't expect to have a chance to blog at all with everything we've got planned, but i find myself in a bit of a lull for the week, so here i am to report on "how i spent my summer (so far)."

in early june we had a nice beach vacation with extended family in the punta de mita/puerto vallarta area of mexico. i brought along two leisure options: a book and a quilt. seeing as the light beach reading i chose was war and peace, and the quilt needs a lot of handquilting, i have two very extensive projects to get me through the summer. my plans for the quilt are to handquilt along the inside of all the triangles, so it's going to be a lot more involved than my previous handquilting endeavors. i'm curious to see which takes longer: epic classic russian novel or miles of handquilting.


the book was mostly winning while in mexico. i got about 400 pgs in during the first few days.

our room had a nice sunny corner with a comfy seat that i did occasionally quilt in when the light was good in the afternoons.and when i didn't feel like reading. but the book was definitely winning in mexico.


when i knew we'd be staying at a location that would be conducive to photographing quilts, i looked over my projects to see if i could complete one there and shoot in on the trip. but nothing seemed a good fit. so i just brought along "mildred and ethel" because it required no marking. i didn't want to lug along my quilting ruler and hera marker.

however, once we were in mexico and i was eating fresh guacamole and chips on the daily (almost every meal, actually), i realized "mildred and ethel" has a certain mexican vibe after all! i hadn't thought of the green crossweave fabric in terms of avocado yet, but it certainly is a wonderful 70's avocado green. yum. i might just get a craving every time i see the quilt from now on.


when mexico was over and done with, i got a few days at home before i was off further up the pacific coast to the santa barbara, ca area with a daughter and group of high school girls. once again i was on a beach with book and quilt to occupy me while i chaperoned the girls everywhere.

by this time i was 700 pgs in and only a few lines of quilting done. book still winning.


however, my mood shifted and i started getting a lot more quilting done in my spare moments. probably because i was having to stop and start a lot. it's easier to do with stitching than reading.

then i made a big mistake: i took the book with me to the pool one afternoon instead of the quilt. i say mistake because i found out a few days later that i had been in the same hotel as an online quilting friend, possibly at the pool at the same time, and we didn't discover it until a few days later. gina (party of eight) and i have been casual internet quilt friends for more than 5 years and randomly being in the same california town, much less the same hotel, never crossed my mind. but when i posted a photo from the hotel, she commented that she had been staying there the same day! it was like something from the twilight zone or something - too weird and crazy. what are the odds, right? we could have met up in person! and it also made me further wonder who i've crossed paths with elsewhere through out my life and never known it. life is weird.

anyway, i figured if i'd been walking around with a quilt instead of a book, a quilter might have approached me and then the story would be even better.


after santa barbara we went even further north to the monterey/salinas area to visit my husband's 86 yr old grandmother. grandma is as spry and active as ever. while we were with her, i actually worked on a different quilt (next post), but found some time for "mildred and ethel" when "groovy summer love letters" was completed. you can quilt while talking to your grandmother, but reading in that instance would be rude.


the quilt and my quilting callouses began making progress.

despite the fact that i have this callous, i find after a few hours of handwork, the end of the needle begins to push into my finger anyway. it just slides right in under the thick skin and pokes me! ouch. too bad i haven't found a thimble i like, but they're just not me.


after visiting grandma, we made one more stop in santa barbara at a different hotel before flying home. i made sure that even when i was reading, the quilt was out and visible just in case some other quilter was around.

i do hope i finish the book by the end of summer.
i don't think the quilt will win.
not that i'm betting on either.

which would you pick?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

procrastination quilting


this is probably my summer sign-off post.

i have several upcoming events and deadlines that have me wanting to hide in the covers all day just to avoid even thinking about them. it's all a little too much pressure and stress even though taken separately they aren't really a big deal at all. but overwhelm is kind of the modern way of living and most people can relate to the impulse toward ostrich behavior on occasion.

when times like this strike, it inevitably gets me wanting to do something productive, just not what i should be doing. that's self-defeating behavior, of course, but i know some of you can relate. "see, i'm busy! i'm doing stuff. i'm getting things done." if i haven't quilted in a while, i will get an overpowering urge to work on some quilt stuff.

quilting is probably my favorite form of productive procrastination when i should be doing something else.


in the middle of all this other chaos going on for the next few weeks, i finally got my carpets cleaned. since i couldn't walk on any of the carpets for a full day, it was the perfect time to work in my sewing room, which is in the tiled section of the house, for most of carpet cleaning holiday. my kids went to grandma's next door and i sewed.

first i made three frames/courthouse step blocks for "cheery easter quilt." once that was out of my system, i moved over to block trimming some of the 500+ 3"hst blocks i pieced and pressed for the "gypsy child hst quilt."

during all of this i was listening to middlemarch by george eliot on audible, read by juliette stevenson. (masterful reader, highly recommended, especially for classics.) this is a thick read/listen and such a great work on human relationships and foibles. it just makes me so sad every single time as i watch the characters enter doomed marriages with such high hopes and so little grasp on reality, but in the best way. there are happy parts, too, and so many juicy lines. it's my first time listening to the story and what i've been enjoying as i quilt lately.

i would love to have either of these projects fully pieced and ready for handwork over summer trips, but i don't think that's going to happen. those other nagging non-quilty deadlines and projects are looming too close.

see you at the end of summer!

Friday, June 7, 2019

mini museum finds


there is a small historical society housed in an old elementary school in a neighboring town that advertises a quilt show every spring. it runs from march - may, and my 4th daughter and i always express interest in it but never manage to go. the restaurant where our family has birthday breakfasts on each family member's birthday is just down the street from the little museum and since we have 3 birthdays during those months, we drive by it a few times during the quilt show each year. every time we do, d4 says, "mom! the quilt show is on again. we really need to go this year." and somehow we never do.

a few weeks ago on a saturday morning i randomly decided to make the drive over with d4. it's a good thing we did because when we got there we found out it was the very last day of the show for this year! apparently "march - may" doesn't "1st of march to may 31st."

we found all kinds of quilts and tops on display, some for sale and auction. anyone at all from the community is welcome to display in the show. we grabbed a glove for quilt handling and map of the rooms, then set off to look around.


in one room we found a group of quilters working on handquilting some vintage wips. apparently the historical society has a quilter's group who meets together several days a week to piece and handquilt for anyone who needs help. people bring in their heirloom pieces to have them finished off. i was so enchanted by the idea of these ladies sitting and working together, old school bee-style. they invited me to come whenever i can. maybe someday i will find the time?

on this particular day they were handquilting a vintage grandma's flower garden quilt made by this lady's mother in the 1980's from the family's old clothes. as we talked about the quilt, she began pointing out various fabrics and telling what items of clothing they came from that she could remember from her childhood in the 60's through college years.

the fact that this quilt was all handpieced rather blew my mind!


i was particularly drawn to this combination of citrusy colors.

after watching them at work and chatting with the ladies for a bit, we moved on to see what was on display. my daughter loved every single quilt she saw and wanted to buy anything that was for sale. she was so enthusiastic about the whole thing. i told her we had plenty enough quilts and fabric at home, so we were just going to look and enjoy.

most of the quilts were not made with fabrics i'd choose or did not fit my personal aesthetic, but i did thoroughly enjoy just wandering and looking at what other quilters had done. i find i can almost always see some aspect of the piece that i like or can admire, even if it's not something i'd make or want to own personally.


i thought this handprint quilt was about the coolest signature quilt i'd every seen. i wasn't crazy about the choices of fabric for the hands themselves, but i did like the low-volume background. having not only the signatures of the the participants but their handprints as well was an idea that really appealed to me. it would be great to make for a grandmother or as a family heirloom.


someone had made these wallhangings with some sweet quilters' quotes on them. very cute sentiments.


this dresen plate quilt top kind of rocked my world, not because i loved the fabric selections, which do have a certain vintage vibe to them, but because of it's imprecise piecing. as i looked at it, i was struck with how wonderful it was despite of, or even because of, the wonky shapes. it was so charming! and i could just imagine a family member receiving this quilt and not caring a hoot about the flat-sided circle or irregular blades as they were cuddled up in great-grandma's virtual hug. they would love it just because of who had made it.

something about this quilt emotionally overpowered me with the appreciation for it's imperfection. it made me realize that when we make out of love and gift out of love, we will always be given the grace of our loved one's appreciation for us rather than criticism over the imperfections. it was a lovely feeling. maybe this was one top i should have considered purchasing.


there were so many fun fabrics to peruse in the various vintage pieces on offer. i'm always amazed at what looks modern but is actually quite old in some of the quilts.


this strings quilt was so colorful and had a ton of interesting pieces in it. just look at those greyhounds- so unusual and unexpected. i liked how that ultra-bright yellow floral was used throughout the quilt to tie it all together. it was an unusual yet effective choice against the other colors in the quilt. the vibrant colors and scrappy vibe reminded me of something rachel at stitched in color would make.


this trip around the world was chock full of the tiniest little squares - all handpieced! amazing. if you look in the top right corner, you can see my daughter's gloved finger in the photo for scale. the squares were 1" or less.


this variation of a drunkard's path block really appealed to me, especially because of all the washed out reds in it. so cute!


take a look at these hexis - they are all vintage fabrics, but many of them look straight out of a denyse schmidt collection, don't you think? the plaids especially remind me of her work, which is of course always vintage inspired.


"i done my best."
enough said.


a zoomed out look at some of the pieces on display for sale, including that dresden plate i loved so much.

now that we've been once, we will definitely make the show again next year!
maybe we'll even contribute some pieces. who knows?
or maybe we'll decide to bring home a vintage top for ourselves next time.

show takeaway:

1. if you're a quilter, go to any and all shows. you'll find something to admire no matter what.

2. quit fussing about precision, particularity when you are making for loved ones. they'll love whatever you can manage.

and i must say, after looking at lots of different handpiecing and handquilting, i'm actually feeling pretty chuffed about my own handquilting. it may not be perfect, but it's pretty good after all.