Friday, September 15, 2017

One More Check Mark

Today I think I have come to terms with my dislike of binding - the final stage of making a quilt.  First, for anyone who doesn't already know, I am the diva of ducking the finishing stage of quilt making.  There are innumerable unfinished quilts languishing in our home - most of them needing only a binding.

You may also remember that on my September to-do list of projects there are two binding chores (I am smart enough to know that listing more than two might have been the kiss of death for the entire idea of the to-do list).  Yesterday I began working on the first quilt for which I had already at least made the binding.  I machine stitched binding to quilt but decided to leave half finished until I purchased thread that would match the binding material more closely than any I have.  Today, I decided to forge ahead and just use what I have and get the job done.

Also, I have always found making a totally smooth joining of the binding strips an iffy business at best.  Sometimes it went well; sometimes it was a disaster.  The more experience I had, the better it went - most of the time.  BUT there were times when it really mattered that it didn't go well at all, and I think the more uptight I got about it, the more it didn't work.

However, I have finally found a truly foolproof (well, all right, one really has to follow directions carefully!) method, and oh, how my heart sings to see the joining smooth and fitting perfectly!  That took away a bit of my dislike and delay in "finishing".

Next there is the issue of machine stitching BOTH sides of the binding.  Typically one machine stitches one side in a way that can't be seen and by hand blind-stitches the back side of the binding to the back of the quilt.  I've experimented with machine stitching both sides of a quilt.  That can make the stitching either semi-hidden or (as I prefer) visible and decorative.  It's also much faster.  Guess which one I like to do!

Here is a close up of machine-stitched binding.  It is a curlicue pattern you have to look closely to see on the edge of the quilt.  It's a view of the edge of the quilt as it would appear at a casual glance.

This machine stitching is deemed of lesser value, something that simply isn't done, and it is not accepted as appropriate.  Oh well.  They used to say that about machine quilting as opposed to hand quilting.  Here's what I realized; I don't like hand sewing binding.  It is tedious.  It is not stitching that adds to the beauty of a quilt by its presence because the hand sewing isn't visible if done correctly.  Indeed, I thought to myself, it's like sewing the hem in a skirt - another job of finishing I never enjoyed doing.  Light bulb moment: I like a creative not a routine approach.

Below is another view of the edge of the quilt, and in this view you can't see that I did the machine stitching on the front.  

So here are today's revelations:

1.  Having lumps where binding ends meet really drive me bonkers.  Question: Why continue to sew them as taught?  Answer: No one cares or notices the method only the result.  Solution: Use the method that really works and that satisfies that perfectionist soul within.

Donation Quilt for a Female Veteran
2.  Hand sewing binding is a chore I thoroughly dislike.  Question: So why do it?  Answer: It isn't accepted by judges.  Solution: Hand sew ONLY bindings on quilts that will be judged!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Not Exciting but Satisfying!

It was a busy day with the construction men back in to take care of odds and ends left from their last work as well as a couple of things D wanted done.  

While they were working, I went off to Her Treasure Box (craft shop run to raise money to help victims of human trafficking) with a bag of some material, craft items, and unopened patterns.  It also gave me an opportunity to see the apartment in the same building that the owner has allowed Her Treasure Box to use rent free.  What a great space!  Until they have women who need a place to live, the apartment will be used for meetings and as a classroom space.

And that's why I was invited up to see the apartment because I will teach watercolor painting in there on Saturday.  I've done it before but in the shop itself which is quite dark so I am looking forward to having the class in such a lovely space full of light.

Once home again I was able to spend time in the studio and make some more inroads on my to-do list.  It is with some pride I say that I pinned the binding on a quilt made some time ago.  Tomorrow I will sew it on.  May not seem like much, but to someone like me who really doesn't like to do binding, it's huge!

It helps that my best friend and I each have project lists and that we keep track of the progress each other makes.  Having a cheer leader is great!

Oh, and I found the buttons for the shirt so now I can make the buttonholes!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Shirt

Another day working on my list of projects, and I am very pleased.  I have one of D's shirts almost completed, and if it were not for the lack of buttons, it would be finished.  There are plenty of buttons in my stash that would be suitable for a basic shirt, but this isn't a work-in-the-garden or clean-the -basement shirt.  Of course, it also isn't a go-to-an-important-meeting or even a celebrate-an-important-occasion shirt.

This is the type of shirt it is:

The purple leaves are bamboo, and there are other skeletal leaves in white.  In the gray patches there appears to be  Korean writing, and in the golden yellow patches there is either Chinese or Japanese writing.  So to me it is a Bonsai type of shirt.

However, only D will be able to describe its true "kind of shirt".

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bamboo Forest Painting - More Growth

Today was a slow day for me at painting class.  First, I had accomplished quite a bit with my quilting but nothing in the painting realm.  That has been the way has been for the past several - well, for a long time.  

Anyway, because of that I had not reached any conclusion about the color for the second woman's kimono.  Originally, I had painted (in my studies) her in the color she was actually wearing (red purple with yellow designs) when I snapped the photo, but I really didn't like it.  I didn't like the colors or the combination, but I especially didn't like it next to the lady in the red kimono.

While I was mulling the problem over, I worked on the roadway, the wooden railing, and the thatching.  Those last two items made the barrier between the public and the bamboo.  Originally, I wasn't going to add the barrier but wound up feeling the composition needed it.

Then I tried out some possible kimono color combinations on scrap paper.  When Sharon came by, she and I discussed the ones I had and tried a few more.  Before the end of class I was able to paint the first kimono washes.

Oh dear, on my screen it looks like an orange and a blue; I hope it show up better when posted.  The lady on the right is wearing red and the one on the left is in a blue-purple kimono.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Three Steps Forward . . .

Three steps forward sometimes mean at least two steps back.  While the list is moving in the right direction, every now, and then it takes a step in a direction that wasn't planned.  

Yesterday, for instance, I was ready to tackle a sewing job that is not a favorite when I discovered I didn't know where my interfacing was and I couldn't proceed without it.  Before I knew it, I was pulling all my stabilizers, battings, and fusibles out of my closet.  WOW!  I had no idea I had so much!  By the time I had it all out, I realized that I had to purchase a new storage bin to hold my stash of - well what is the correct noun to cover what I found?  In the meantime, I grouped like things together in clear garbage bags so now I can find what I didn't know I had!

Okay, did I find interfacing?  Nope. So I thought I should put the project in its appointed place and start something else.  Of course, when the fabric was replaced in that pile of similar projects, I found the interfacing I had been looking for before getting distracted by organizing all that batting and stuff! Frustrating on the one hand, but on the other hand, a task was completed that I hadn't even thought of doing!

Hmmm . . . wonder if I can put it on my list so I can cross it off?  


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Progress on Projects

After making a HUGE amount of soup, I spent the rest of the morning sorting and putting away my collection of embroidery threads.  Why I was so astonished that it took me until lunch time to finish that task I don't know.  Everything takes longer than I expect!

At least I had time in the afternoon to finish a project I started a few days ago.  While tidying the studio, I came across a series (or part of a series) of banner patterns I bought several years ago.  The pattern that caught my eye initially was the September banner of a school house.  It was shown sewn in a red homespun plaid set on the diagonal, and it was charming!  I didn't want to do it that way even though I love homespuns because I wanted to use my collection of fabrics with printing: letters, words, script, etc.  Even though this was not on my official list of Six Items to Complete, I started it anyway.  After all, it is September!

Even though I set the bell cupola too low and may not have room for a school bell charm, I do like the way it came out complete with typewriter keys roof and a ruler door.  

So I put it on my list and then crossed it off; one down for September!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Painting and Crazy Quilting

What a wonderfully busy day!  So I'm back to my usual pursuits of painting and quilting and those two pursuits filled my day.  As the first Tuesday of the month I had both my morning painting class which is a weekly occurrence and the once a month Tuesday crazy quilt class in the afternoon.  

After several, okay, more that several studies of the Bamboo Forest painting, today I started all over. My first run at the forest itself was no more than that - a first run.  There was no way it was worth going on with.  The second and the third were along the same line - trying new paint mixtures to get the color for the bamboo, the women's kimonos, and in the last couple of "studies", the composition was not quite right (the proportion of the paper to my subject was off).  Also, I had not been satisfied with the size of the two women; they were simply too small.  

So after doing nothing on it for a couple of weeks, I decided to start all over.  Here you see the women have a greater share in the space than in previous attempts.  Also, after chatting with Sharon I made the decision to put the barrier between walkers and the bamboo forest itself back in the painting.  While it doesn't seem as though I got very far, the decisions that we discussed took time as did the women and the new bottom edge.  It's on its way.

Then I met my best friend for lunch (always a good time).  It's the first time we've done that, and I hope it will become a habit - at least as often as we can.  Then off to the quilt shop where we have our class. The block honoring my sister has been a struggle since I started.  I feel so guilty that I didn't know her as well as I should have.  The block for my mother sailed along and so did the one for my great-grandmother who I didn't know at all.   I hope I have broken through the wall with today's work.  What you see below is only about half of the block where a finished the lower portion of the garden beneath her photo.

Once again, today I was reminded that working in a group is very helpful.  Ideas are bounced around and sometimes the mere chatter about what each person is doing is helpful to say nothing about sharing opinions on everything from materials to colors to composition.  

Let's hope it works!