Monday, December 3, 2012

You’ve Got Mail

A package arrived on my doorstep,

and even though I was expecting it and knew what it contained,

I wasn’t prepared for the color and texture that burst from the box as I opened a quilt from Wanda Hanson.

It’s a Streak of Lightning quilt, the latest of many Zig Zag quilts Wanda has made. I’m crazy about this pattern and watched with interest as her project progressed, finally asking if the quilt was spoken for. It was not, and Wanda graciously gifted it to me.

The hand dyed fabrics sparkle and glow like stained glass and I just can’t decide which combination of vibrant colors is my favorite.

It covers me perfectly from nose to toes and is just wide enough to keep me warm without entangling my arms in extra quilt.

Whether I’m snuggled under the quilt or admiring it from across the room, those colorful zig zags make me smile. Thank you, Wanda, for a gift that warms both body and soul.

  Details and Links

~36” x 63”
~Zig Zag quilt tutorial by Sujata Shah, The Root Connection
~Hand dyed cotton fabrics by Vicki Welsh

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Party’s Over: Confessions of a Control Freak on Thanksgiving Day

How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was quiet and casual. My husband did all the cooking and William and his girlfriend joined us for dinner.

I had a different blog post prepared about the challenge of balancing MS symptoms with my perfectionist tendencies, about wanting to control things I have no control over and having a hard time relinquishing control to those who don’t take control quite the way I want them to. You know, a typical family holiday scenario.

My husband said that if I wanted to focus on the negative, I deserved to feel miserable. So, instead of whining and griping ad nauseam, I've summed up my frustration with a single photo.

This was our guest's view from her seat at the Thanksgiving table. Apparently, I was the only person bothered by this mess, since no one thought to hide it before dinner.

CLICK PHOTO for the festive details.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Veteran's Day

PFC Edward Haeger

I usually call my dad on Veteran’s Day to thank him for his military service. This year, his dementia is too advanced to sustain much of a conversation on the phone, but if I could be with him, I’d try to prompt a few memories.

In the early 1950’s, Dad and his buddies volunteered in the Army reserves at Chicago’s Navy Pier. They enlisted and went to basic training together at Fort Riley, Kansas. Dad completed his Army stint at White Sands Proving Ground, New Mexico.

I used to tease Dad that he spent the Korean War stateside, defending America’s southern borders from marauding Communists. Joking aside, he's very proud of his military service.

A couple years ago, the assisted living facility where Dad lived, honored its veterans with a brief ceremony and certificate of thanks. Dad was brought to tears by the acknowledgement, so I called the director to tell her how much the gesture had meant to him. She said his reaction was not uncommon. A person’s military service, no matter how long ago it occurred, played a significant role in his or her life.

I don’t know how much Dad remembers of his Army experience from sixty years ago. I do know that something deep inside him would still salute the American flag, rise with hand on heart for the National Anthem, and beam with pride at a firm handshake of thanks.

Happy Veteran’s Day, Dad!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat

Liberated Sawtooth doll quilt
16” x 23”
machine pieced, machine quilted
© Diane Burdin, 2003

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Friendship Quilts

Hey there! It’s been a while. The month of September got away from me and if I’m not careful, October will too. Our autumn routine was abruptly interrupted when my husband had an accident at work. He conked his head in a fall, resulting in some facial injuries. We're hoping there will be no permanent damage, other than a sinister looking scar when he furrows his brow.

Incidents like these make things particularly tenuous for our household. With me so dependent on Jim for my basic needs, we worried about how we’d get through his four week recuperation. With patience, and help from both our sons on the weekends, we managed.

So, let's talk about quilts instead, friendship and signature quilts in particular. During my years at QBU quilt shop, we signed and exchanged many blocks as mementos between friends and colleagues.  Shari Tischhauser used the "Old Italian Block" to make this friendship quilt for my birthday one year.

For each 6“ (finished) block,
Cut 4 - 4” squares
Cut 4 - 4” x 2 ½” rectangles
Cut 1 - 2 ½” square of muslin
Sew as you would a nine patch.

Center a 6½“ square ruler on point and trim the block to size.

This method creates some waste, but the excess triangle trimmings can be used for another project. It also results in bias edges on the outside of the block, generally a no-no, so handle blocks carefully.

I’ve sewn and swapped scads of these blocks, probably enough for a couple of quilts. One set of blocks is signed by quilters from guilds, bee groups, and retreats I‘ve attended over the years. The other set is still blank, awaiting an occasion worth commemorating. Here are mock ups of potential layouts.

In this case, adding sashing and cornerstones to each block as you go helps control the bias edges.

Be even more careful with a zig zag setting. It's a little trickier because you'll be sewing bias to bias.

I’ve not tried it but Anita Grossman Solomon demonstrates a waste free method for cutting 6 inch blocks with straight of grain on the outside edge. Give it a try.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Marriage Milestone

Our newlyweds celebrated their first wedding anniversary with a belated Niagara Falls honeymoon!

It was also time to wash their wedding quilt, so James called me for laundering advice. What I wanted to say was, “Hold your breath, cross your fingers, and pray the colors won‘t run.” What I actually said was, “Fill your washer with cool water, add a little mild detergent and several color catchers. Swish the water around to dissolve the detergent before immersing the quilt. Let it soak for 30 minutes, then run it through a gentle wash cycle and tumble dry." 

All in all, I'd say they got pretty good results. As you can see, six color catchers absorbed the excess red dye from the wash water. There was just a little color bleeding along the seam line of the red fabric and no color migration to the white background fabric or the back of the quilt.

Happy Anniversary James and Rachel. You're off to a great start!

*Has anyone had luck reusing Shout Color Catchers? Do they continue to absorb fugitive dyes or are they good for one use only?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I'll Show You Mine, If You Show Me Yours

I'm curious about something. As much as we write about quilt making, I seldom see posts about how people actually store their quilts. Wouldn't it be fun to peek at the collections of our quilting friends and see just what they do with quilts that aren't in use? Do they fold them, roll them, hang them, stack them, wad them into balls... Aren't you just a little curious too? I'll show you my storage method, if you'll show me yours. 

At our house, extra quilts are kept in this corner cupboard. Because it’s positioned across from a window, we keep the door closed to protect the quilts from dust and sunlight.

We had the antique wardrobe fitted with shelves so we could fold and stack quilts. The only problem with storing quilts here is that since they're “out of sight,” they’re also “out of mind” and don’t get aired or rotated into use as often as they should.

I inherited another great option for storage and display with an antique china cabinet from my parents’ home. Mom used it to display glassware, but I knew it would look great filled with quilts.

My friends, Sheila and Kathy, offered to arrange the cabinet for me. They hauled armloads of quilts up and down stairs, gently opened each one, shook it out, and let the folds relax a bit. 

It was like an impromptu quilt show, with plenty of “oohs and aahs” for quilts we hadn’t seen in years.

Here, Sheila is folding so fast, she’s just a blur! 

Now I get to enjoy my quilts everyday. Thanks, dear friends, for a job well done! 

When we get together the "show and teill" is amazing! Here's Sheila, sharing a Bow Tie quilt she received from our friend Barbon a very special birthday.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Make Your Own Medallion Quilt, with Simple Tips for Prolonging the Process

Create your own medallion quilt in less than two decades. It’s easy. Deliberate, procrastinate, and remember, you can’t rush quality work!

1. Choose a theme fabric. In 1992, I purchased one yard of a beautiful toile print, designed by Jinny Beyer to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to America.

Tip: Look for hard to use fabrics like large scale directional prints. Buy just enough to limit your options when designing the quilt.

2. Collect coordinating fabrics. My favorites were reproduction prints from 19th century quilts in the Smithsonian and Shelburne Museum Collections.

Tip: Choose a monochromatic color scheme based on one of your least favorite colors, in my case, blue.

3. Select a quilt pattern. I liked this simple antique medallion quilt (circa 1840-60, owned by Penny McMorris), featured in the Autumn 2005 issue of Designers' Quarters Magazine.

Tip: Use the pattern for inspiration, but change it just enough to require reworking all the math.
4. Wait 10-15 years before you begin sewing. By that time, my MS made the task too challenging. I got this far and the project stalled.

Tip: To simulate sewing with MS, wear mittens and tie one hand behind your back.

Tip: Miss every deadline you set for gifting the quilt: high school graduation, college graduation, grad school graduation, etc.

5. Call in reinforcements. My quilt buddies stepped in to complete the sewing and even sent the quilt to the machine quilter for me.

Isn't this wavy design fun for a nautical quilt?

Tip: Avoid asking your friends for too many favors. I’m pretty sure I’ve worn out my welcome with this crew!

6. Document your work. Photograph the finished quilt in a lovely outdoor setting.

Tip: Nag your kids to take waaaay more pictures than you need so you’ll have plenty to choose from.

Tip: Use one of the photos as the background for your quilt label.

Tip: Design the label digitally on your computer, but never actually get around to printing it on fabric or sewing it to the quilt.


7. Create a nifty slide show.

Tip: Post it on your blog, but don’t mention a word about the quilt itself. Keep readers guessing. The suspense will leave them wanting more.

8. Wrap it up already! Wait another year (you can't rush blog posts either) and write about how to prolong the making of your own medallion quilt.

This Christopher Columbus Medallion was intended as James' "Coming of Age" quilt. He didn't seem to mind getting it a few years late. As you can see, it's enjoyed by the whole family.

*In an interesting bit of synchronicity, today is the 520th anniversary of the day Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain on his voyage to the New World. Maybe my 20 year process was meant to be after all.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Coming of Age

Early in my years as a quilter, I read a passage somewhere about the tradition of presenting a young man with a special quilt on his twenty first birthday. The gift was meant to represent the breaking of bonds with home and family as the son ventured into adulthood and life on his own. Like cutting the proverbial “apron strings,“ the custom (Amish, perhaps), symbolized his emancipation.

As a quilt making mom, the idea stuck with me and even though our boys had several quilts of their own while growing up, I still liked the thought of making something special to commemorate their coming of age.

Our son, William, turned 21 recently and I remained true to my intention, presenting him with this Jacob’s Ladder quilt for his birthday. I pieced it about ten years ago and had it machine quilted last summer by Cheri Gabrielsen, who also quilted the wedding quilt.

The name Jacob’s Ladder comes from the Bible, (Genesis 28: 11-22). The pattern is also known as Underground Railroad. Either reference, seeking the Promised Land or finding the path to freedom, is appropriate for a “Coming of Age” quilt, don't you think?

My Jacob's Ladder blocks are 12". I like a large block in a masculine quilt.

It’s a bonus when the quilt blocks form a secondary pattern where they intersect.

Fan quilting again. It's my favorite design and seems to work well on most of my quilts.

Happy birthday to a son who’s been independent since the day he was born. You’re handling the responsibilities of adulthood with maturity and grace. Dad and I couldn’t be more proud!