Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Preparations

How are your holiday preparations coming along? Is your Christmas shopping done? (Ours isn‘t) Got your tree up? (Nope) How about those exterior lights and flashy yard ornaments? (Never have, never will) Is your holiday menu planned? (Kind of) Are your Christmas cards in the mail? (Just)

No wonder my Santa has an anxious look on his face. He’s in panic mode!

Actually, our family is celebrating Christmas simply this year, with minimal decorating, minimal gift giving, minimal hassle, but maximum love! It just feels right.

As far as I’m concerned, this antique quilt is the only decoration we need to give the house a festive look. It dates from the mid 1800’s and is in pristine condition. You can still see faint pencil lines used to mark the quilting pattern, which in no way detracts from the tiny stitches, 12 to the inch.

The quilt maker chose solid colored fabrics in classic red and green for her seemingly simple star design. But look closer... 

The star blocks are quilted with parallel lines and a grid within each green square. Alternate muslin blocks are heavily quilted with a double clamshell design, showing the maker had amazing prowess with a needle.

I'd like to display this in our living room for Christmas. Does anyone have experience hanging a quilt from picture molding that's already attached to the wall?

Christmas blessings to you for the coming year.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fun with Barb and...

Have you seen my friend Barb's new blog, Fun with Barb and Mary? It’s a dialogue between two quilty friends who maintain their relationship in spite of one family's move from the East Coast to the Midwest.

Wait a minute... Why does that sound so familiar? Because before there was Barb and Mary, there was Barb and Diane. We had our share of fun too, until one family’s move from Chicago to New Jersey forever altered our quilty friendship.

Diane and Barb, 2002

I wish Barb and Mary well with their new blogging venture. What a great way to stay in touch! As they share news and photos of their projects, quilt shows, bee get-togethers, fabric shopping escapades, holiday decorating and more, you’ll begin to feel like they are your best quilt friends too.

Before her move, Barb and I collaborated on Churn Dash quilts based on this pattern from the January, 2002 issue of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine. We swapped blocks made from reproduction fabrics. Between us, there were enough fabric combinations that no two blocks are alike.

Click to enlarge

The blocks are 5" and my finished quilt measures 64" x 85". Robyn Saunders of Batavia, Illinois did the machine quilting.

Barb has a very similar "sister" quilt. Read about hers HERE.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Number of visitors to the Quilt: +18,000,000
Number of names on the Quilt: more than 91,000 (representing only about 18% of all U.S. AIDS deaths)
Size: 1,293,300 square feet (6 city blocks)

Viewing time: To see the entire Quilt spending only one minute per panel - over 33 days
Total Weight: More than 54 tons
Last Full Display: The Mall in Washington, D.C. in 1996

Goal of the Quilt: to honor and remember those who've died of AIDS, to bring awareness to how massive the AIDS pandemic really is, and to bring support and healing to those affected by it.

These are the panels I made to honor my brother, Wayne Hanson and his partner, Don Melvin, who died of AIDS in the mid 1990's. Each individual panel measures 3 feet by 6 feet (roughly the size of a grave).

Eight panels are combined into 12 by 12 foot units that make up the massive quilt.

If you ever get an opportunity to view a portion of the NAMES Quilt in person, don't hesitate. You'll find it a powerfully moving experience.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

As I count my blessings today,
know that you are among them.
Happy Thanksgiving!
Fondly, Diane

Monday, November 23, 2009

Indian Summer

Indian Summer has come at last. Two glorious days of warmth and sunshine lured my husband outside, to complete his autumn yard clean up (and snap a couple quilt photos).

If you grew up in the Chicago area, Indian Summer may have a special significance to you. As kids, we'd look forward to the official pronouncement of the season by the Chicago Tribune. When the air turned hazy with the smell of burning leaves, we’d start scouting the newspaper for Injun Summer, the classic story and cartoon by John T. McCutcheon.

This little quilt evokes Indian Summer with its autumn colors and harvest inspired name. I call it "Spinach and Squash" because of the fabrics I used - the green and gold of early Pennsylvania German quilts.

It was pieced and quilted entirely by hand. Sounds tedious, I know, but it was easier to stitch a couple triangles together in the spare moments of my day, than it was to find time to sit at the sewing machine. Besides, the slow process of hand sewing is calming and relaxing to me. There's a kind of romance to the process, a daydreamy, contemplative quality, where I can let my mind wander, while accomplishing something with my fingers at the same time.

The small half square triangles finish at 1" and the large ones are 3".

Spinach and Squash Sawtooth
15" x 18"
 hand pieced, hand quilted
© Diane Burdin, 1990

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Replica Quilts

Like many of you, I was first drawn to quilt making by antique quilts. It wasn't the fancy ones that caught my eye, as much as the humble utility quilts, made for hard wear and everyday use. To me, their scrappy "make do" patchwork and simple block designs have more "soul" than their pristine counterparts.

This Scrappy Star quilt is a copy of one featured in an old Country Living Magazine. My friend, Mary Radke, a real purist when it comes to replicating quilts, matched it block by block and fabric by fabric, from the picture below. 

The maker of the original quilt was resourceful with her scrap bag. Even though she pieced each block from the same Variable Star pattern, look how different they turned out because of fabric placement.

We can only guess why the quilter broke pattern as she stitched this quilt. Was she tired of piecing star after similar star? Did she run out of fabric and have to make do? Whatever the reason, it's these "renegade" blocks, those that "break rank" with the others, that make this quilt so interesting to look at.

So, how did I come to own this quilt? Mary made it as a sample for a quilt talk she used to give on the history of quilt making. When she decided to sell off pieces from her collection, I was lucky enough to buy a few of my favorites. I hand quilted it with an all-over fan design, typical of old utility quilts.
Scrappy Stars
30” x 42”
machine pieced by Mary Radke
hand quilted by Diane Burdin

Friday, November 6, 2009

Attitude Adjustment

This autumn has been so dreary! Twenty-two days of rain in October gave me sinus headaches and now, with the time change, SAD (seasonal affective disorder) has kicked in. These waning hours of sunlight really influence my moods. How about you?

My husband has noticed my increased irritability and tells me that the only peace he gets is while I’m sleeping! As much as I hate to admit it, he’s probably right. An attitude adjustment is in order.

Several years ago, when Sarah Ban Breathnach's books were all the rage, I made a half hearted attempt to keep a gratitude journal. The timing was all wrong and I only lasted about a week. But the exercise has merit. The act of focusing on simple, everyday blessings is a healthy practice. I’ve recommended it to others who suffer from depression. Now, it’s time for a dose of my own medicine.

I've got my gratitude journal ready. It was made by Wanda Hanson of Exuberant Color. The last time Wanda visited me, I cleared out her stock of journals by buying one for myself and several for friends. They make great gifts. Wanda has written a tutorial for making journal covers, if you'd like to give it a try yourself. 

I promise not to gripe and grumble too much through the dreary months ahead. As far as blogging goes, “no news” from me is probably news you wouldn’t want to hear anyway. Wishing you sunshine!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I've Got the Power!

After weeks of futzing with our computer and Internet connection, the problem has been resolved…with a new power cord. 

And, yes, the irony of wasting so much time trying to fix something that wastes so much time, is not lost on me!

I double checked the spelling of “futz” in the dictionary and had a good laugh at the example it gave for usage: "spends hours futzing with that computer."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

An Envelope of Autumn

Home in New Hampshire, William Glackens, c. 1919

Friday, October 23, 2009

Under Construction

Most of you know I spend a lot of time on my computer… a really lot… okay, all day… every day! It’s permanently perched on my lap, with a minimum of four or five tabs open at all times. The Internet is a godsend for someone with MS. It helps pass the time and connects me to the “outside world.” 

So, imagine my angst, that our Internet service is on the fritz. For several weeks, we’ve been getting sporadic signals that waver between excellent and nonexistent.

Naturally, I’m impatient and blow things out of proportion. To my computer programmer husband: “Can you fix it? Can you fix it NOW? What do you mean, you don’t know what’s wrong!” To the Geek Squad: “Can you fix it? Can you fix it NOW? What do you mean it costs $300 just to get started!”

I’m an Internet junky, in need of a fix. Why not just put that $300 toward a new computer and be done with it? Meanwhile, Netzero is sending us a new power cord, speculating that the intermittent service is due to a loose connection.

At any rate, when I’m finally able to post this rant, it will be to tell you that my absence has been due to a technological glitch and not worsening health. I’ve missed you, and look forward to "reconnecting" soon.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Recycled Clothing Quilt-Along

I asked a friend to photograph each of my denim and flannel quilt blocks so I could continue playing with virtual layouts on the computer. The cutting and pasting from one program to another might be tedious for some, but as libbyquilter commented, “It’s much better than having to get down on the floor and arrange multiple times!”

The layout I ended up liking best was what several of you preferred ~ the Straight Furrows set. Its diagonal pattern is not diminished by the scrappiness of the blocks. The effect is strong and masculine, which is just the feeling I was going for (picture the Brawny paper towel guy sleeping under this quilt). The final arrangement of blocks will differ from the photo above as I add new blocks to the mix, but it gives you an idea of where I'm headed.

Visit the Recycled Clothing Quilt-Along to see what others are making from reclaimed garments.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

College Countdown



Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Virtual Quilts

I've been playing around with setting options for my denim and flannel Roman Stripe blocks. Here's a slideshow I made, illustrating several different quilt layouts.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Roman Stripe Blocks

I had several of these Roman Stripe blocks already made when I read about the Recycled Clothing Quilt-Along. Like so many other projects, this one was set aside when MS began interfering with my quilt making. Truth be told, this is the first machine sewing I've done in a couple years. And while I feel like I'm all thumbs, the work itself is very forgiving.

The fabrics for this quilt have come from my family's old or outgrown clothing. The denim is cut into 8" squares. It serves as the background fabric for the block, and also the foundation on which the strips are sewn. I cut flannel strips into three different widths: 3”, 2 ½”, and 2”, but they could just as easily be cut into random widths or all the same size.

Instructions for making this block can be found here. It's a simple sew and flip method, with little or no pinning required.

My son's have given me sideways glances as they come to breakfast in flannel boxers and pajama bottoms. I've been warned not to get too close with a scissor!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Get Cutting

Back in June, Anita at Bloomin’ Workshop described a summer quilt-along that caught my interest. She, and others, have been collecting clothing to make quilts. Everything from thrifted men's dress shirts to outgrown children's clothing is being reused, repurposed and recycled. Why not grab a stack of tee shirts and join the Reclaimed Clothing crusade?

I've been saving old blue jeans for years with the intention of making a quilt. My husband and sons have kept me in constant supply. The only problem is getting them to stop wearing the jeans while the fabric is still functional. Many's the pair that was just too holey and threadbare to be of use.

Denim and flannel are a natural combination, so as collars and elbows wear out of my family’s shirts, I've claimed them as well. A nice assortment of colorful plaids are ready to join the denim in their next incarnation - a quilt.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pioneer Nine Patch

Give a kid a new camera and he'll take pictures of just about anything ~ even Mom's quilts. I wonder how many pictures I can get out of Will before he heads off to college?

The weather has been perfect for outdoor shots ~ mild temperatures, blue skies, billowy clouds, plenty of sun. 

William found a clever backdrop at a nearby corn field. 

I'll settle for heavy shadows if he's willing to climb trees to compose the photo!

Direct noonday sun won't bother me as long as he gets the full quilt in frame. I made this Nine Patch in the early 1990's from 9" blocks, swapped with friends. The Streak of Lightening border adds extra interest.

William sleeps too late to capture the texture of hand quilting with long shadows of early morning light, but enlarge the close-up and you may see my favorite fan design.

I'll probably drive Will nuts with my photo requests over the next few weeks. But he knows how much I appreciate him being my hands and eyes. I'm gonna miss that kid!