Quilt project reflects daily life – quilting as a metaphor for life

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I started a new quilt this week. It took me a long time to figure out the fabrics. The pattern is going together quickly (hooray!).  Color scheme is much more subtle than my usual project.  I’m using navy blue, tan, cream, gray, and medium blue batiks. Much MUCH quieter than my usual color selections.  A quilting friend saw the project yeserday and noticed, saying “these are very different colors compared to your usual choices”. It is hard not to add some bright color but I am trying something new and hope it will yield a subtle, tranquil quilt.

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Here are the 4-piece blocks. This will be 65″ x 65″  – sort of a lap quilt.

Blocks are 15.5″ square.

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In this photo, on the right,  I’m experimenting with borders.  The outer border is a lovely brown with “ginko leaf scroll” in gray. I’ve saved this fabric for awhile, waiting for the right project.  The second border is a solid light gray. A quilting friend here, Judi, recommended I add a skinny 3rd border which will be the cloudy gray batik or, more likely, the dark brown you can see in the 3rd position.  I do not have any navy blue in my stash large enough to create a border.  Living in Ecuador has its joys and tribulations: read further.


“Mud Slide” is the name I’ve given to the pattern I found in a downloadable magazine I subscribe to, Quilter’s World. ( Spring 2014,  Fat Quarter Slide pattern)

http://www.quiltersworld.com/

Plentiful quilting agazines are impossible to get in English here in Ecuador so a wonderful solution is a downloadable pattern or magazine.  I often find free patterns in back issues of Quilter’s World, which are included in the cost of a yearly subscription, making the magazine very affordable.  


Brief Pause:  A HUGE special thank you to a friend, Patti H.,  who brought back a huge, generous chunk of fabric in her suitcase, after visiting the US last month.  That chunk included all of the half yards of blues/brown/cream/gray shown here.  There are very few 100% quilting cottons in Cuenca, Ecuador where we live.  So I am constantly buying online and bringing fabrics from the US.  Also my daughter, Tenley, is the receiver of a huge amount of fabric before my visits back to the US each year.  So, I want to shout out a BIG appreciation for Patti’s willingness to pack this substantial 14 yards of fabric in her luggage.  That included 9 yards of fabric to be used as backing for the king size quilt/bedspread I am also slowly completing for my own use. And to Tenley for being my US fabric warehouse throughout the year.

2014 is a year of making quilts for use in my own home.  I have 8 quilts hanging in various rooms and more on beds.  Next year, I expect to make some quilts to sell.  Last year, I made a lot of quilts for other people.  It all balances out over time.

So how is all of this a metaphor for life?  Quilting represents so many things to so many people.  It is a hobby, a livlihood, a nuisance, a joy, a repository of future hopes, a way to show love, a creative outlet and also challenge, and a place where people can get stuck but then work their way out of the puzzle.   Also, here is the special bonus: recent studies show the act of quilting – the math, the selection of tools, fabrics, patterns – all of it, the coordinating of colors, the piecing and stitching, all help keep a person’s memory sharp as years roll by.  Even better for memory enhancement, in one study, than chess and bridge!

Life rolls from one season to another, days marching past as we pursue whatever things are filling up our lives.  Life just happens.  We can plan and dream and create and explain.  All the while, life is marching past us.  It seems terribly important to do what you can to make your life moments reflect what is most important to you.

For your life, dare to dream, dare to try something new this week.  Dare to be moral and ethical and care for the environment as you live each day of this new season.  Dare to be passionate about the earth and appreciate what you have today.

Have a terrific week!

 

A New Wall Quilt with Healing Purpose

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This week I plan to complete a new Laurel Burch wall panel to put up in the master bedroom where I now have my very first quilt hanging. My goal is to get the new quilt completed and UP on the wall in about a week.

My husband Lenny is suddenly facing delicate eye surgery, scheduled for later this month.  Not a fun thing!  This will be done in Cuenca – we have a great surgeon.  It will occupy quite a bit of energy and some luck for a good outcome and to have an excellent recovery.  I am throwing my energy into getting the wall hanging completed, adding a healing image to our bedroom.

 

I have slowly been making the master bedroom in our casa more to our liking.  I had help from Gina at Artex Decor (located on Moreno Mora just off Solano about 1/2 block from Ital Deli –  they do GREAT work!). I took in photos and she made a chocolate-colored upholstered headboard with the antique silver rivets marching around the high arch.  It made the room warmer.

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Also Artex/Gina made a lovely bench for the end of the bed where Len and I can sit to chat or put shoes on. (at the bottom)

I painted the room a delicate blue which contrasts nicely with the dark woodwork and the dark brown headboard and bench.  Added a new light fixture.

We took down the old accordian-looking vertical blinds and put up a cream colored lightweight blind that lets daylight pour into the room while keeping our privacy intact. I will make drapes later.

quilt in progress for master bed

The quilt that will top the king size bed will be my next BIG project to complete.  This began, as I have reported before, as a “quilt block a month” 5 years ago.  A relative in my family was injured and I dropped out to help with care.  However, I had all the material and directions, which has proven to be much more complicated to do by myself in Ecuador.  I have about 8 blocks done, using shades of blue, eggplant, rust and cream. Making it a king quilt, large enough to cover like an entire bedspread, is a huge undertaking. It seems like I run out of one color I need.  Then I make a different block and run out of another color.

Massive amounts of fabric are needed for the backing as well as the quilt top itself.  I keep working on this quilt top and then putting it aside for months at a time.  But I hope to complete the top, machine quilt it and bind it by next summer.

Did I say I am a slow quilter?  I get sidetracked by other projects, a grandchild needs a quilt, other projects like preserving lemons I got from a neighbor crowd in for my attention. Moroccan and Lebanese food to make with preserved lemons.

 

I am calling smaller wall hanging at the top the Healing Goddess. It is full of rich color and movement. It will spread beautiful light and energy around the room where Len will recuperate. A positive attitude makes a huge impact on surgery outcome so I’m being proactive.

Two 1 yr old rescue cats keep me company.

Curry, left, and Butch (Saffron) also help keep us happy.  They are on the old “bedspread” quilt I made 4 yrs ago.

I was just taking some photos of the bedroom, trying to show the bench.
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The cats are fascinated by the bench.  We have to keep it covered to protect it from claws.
They think it is a) a cat bed for two
b) a springboard for waking the parents up
c) a scratching post, even though there are several others nearby
d)a place to hide before leaping on the other cat
e) all of the above
you KNOW the correct answer

Have a terrific week!!!

Economy Block ANY Size! (With Cheat Sheet)

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sharonmcintosh:

A really helpful tutorial!

Originally posted on Catbird Quilt Studio:

There’s a new craze out there promoted by Red Pepper Quilts, crazy mom quilts, and others, and it’s called the economy block. That’s a new term to me, as I know this block as “square-in-a-square” or “diamond-in-a-square.” Maybe the economy comes just in its name!

[See my post of seventeen free designs using this great block.]

This is the square-in-a-square made with TWO squares in the interior.

If you’d like to make the version with only ONE square inside, it’s the same as setting a block on point. You might do a large one for a medallion quilt center, or a small one as part of a block quilt or pieced border. See my tutorial here.

I’ve looked at a number of tutorials for the economy block. And none of them explain how to make it any size. That’s okay if you…

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A Straight-Forward-Appearing Pattern Proves Hard

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A Straight-Forward-Appearing Pattern Proves Hard

I recently bought a quilt pattern online.  It is a perfect solution for this US citizen living permanently in Ecuador.  The pattern appeared to be something I would enjoy making.  I even  had fabrics that look a lot like the pattern.  The pattern is fine.  My skills at matching approximately 20 junctures in each 9.5 inch block are not so great.  If several points match, still several do not.

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This is a lap quilt for me.  It does not have to be perfect.  The cats will sleep on my lap on top of this quilt.  Still, I have taken this as an opportunity to improve my skills.  So far, I have found that I sometimes stitch slightly wider than 1/4″.  Big problem! Even if only for 1/2 inch, it throws junctions off.  Of course.

I have discovered my attention span wanders frequently – maybe the music is great so I’m distracted for a moment.  You know how it can be, right?  So other points may be slightly off.  I have ripped out and re-sewn block after block.  Finally, I am doing the best I can but reminding myself CATS are going to sleep on this.  It will never be in a show.  For sure!!

I hope to keep improving my skills.  On other patterns, things come out just right so this one is simply not forgiving enough for a sometime-slacker.

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Still, I am mostly enjoying the process.  For one thing, I have HATED ripping things out since I first learned to sew.  With this project, I have found, with an ergo seam ripper, I can do it quickly and without drama.  All good!

I love the colors – not my usual choices – salmon, coral, orange, shades of brown, shades of gold and snowy white.

There are 30 blocks.  I have 22 completed.  On the final blocks, I am trying to learn all I can about what I’m doing to prevent perfect matching points. Sewing when I am tired is NOT successful.  Duh!  Lowered attention to detail, much less patience, mood turns to cranky, not the ideal conditions for piecing quilt blocks.

Quilting is a metaphor for life: luscious fabrics mixed in different ways make up a whole “item” in the world.  Learning new things keeps the brain sharp.  Patience can be learned in many ways. Quilting is one of them. Perseverance is rewarded at the end.

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What are you working on this week?

If you are a long arm quilter about retirement age?

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the hippie bus

the hippie bus

One challenge in Cuenca, Ecuador is that there are no long arm quilters.  If you make a quilt, you will need to quilt it by hand or machine.  There are no wonderful long-arm experts around.

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So I thought I’d note that if you are a long arm quilter around retirement age, thinking of moving to another country for your retirement dollars to stretch much farther, then please consider moving to Cuenca, EC.  You can read tons of information by searching blogs about Ecuador and specifically Cuenca.

Cuenca, in a nutshell, is high in the Andes mountains, 8300 ft alt, but people here have never seen snow or walked on ice.  It does not get too cold or too hot.  But it is NOT tropical = humid and hot.  It rarely gets over 75 degrees.  It ALWAYS cools off at night.  The months of July-Aug are the coolest. We often get a little rain each day.  Sometimes we get a few days of rain.  But the climate is wonderful unless you are expecting white sand and hot breezes.  Cuenca is a world heritage city with many very old churches and neighborhoods.  The water in Cuenca specifically is safe to drink for most people.  A few people drink bottled water just to be safe – its all up to you.

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There is petty crime here – pick pockets, people who grab your phone if you have it out on the street, but remember there is petty crime wherever you are in the world.  The greater the poverty, the greater the liklihood that someone will grab your expensive phone or tablet.  And yet, I was more frightened of being harmed when I was in the Beaverton, OREGON social security office, waiting my turn.  Ironic, huh?

The US has a level of irritation, road rage, shootings that are not seen here.  People here ask me “How can your children be in a school and someone could shoot them?”   What do I answer?  It baffles me every time there is another shooting.  Remember when airliners were being highjacked often – probably in the early 1970’s I’m guessing.  Well, the US figured out how to manage that problem.  Come on, USA, you can find a way to resolve this excessive gun problem.  Pandora’s worries are out of the box but citizens must find a way to contain these huge problems.

Back to the long-arm quilter, there would be some work here for you.  It is not a large quilting community but you also could pull from Guayaquil (3 million people – some of them must quilt) and Quito (1.5 million people).

Please think about it.  It is an opportunity to live in another culture, learn another language or brush up on your Spanish, serve the ex-pat community which is mostly US and Canadians who quilt, and explore the most species-diverse country on the planet.

Starting a new quilt as a summer project

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When I visited the US recently, I had the joy of buying new fabric to bring back to Ecuador where there are virtually no 100% quilting cottons.

This week, I feel ready to start a new project.  I have plenty of quilts partly sewn.  But it is more fun to start something new right now.

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The fabric colors I’m using are salmon, bright white, taupe/gray/brown with other colors added for contrast.

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In the middle of the photo above, you can see the pattern and a photo of a quilt in similar colors. The pattern is a new one to me: Jumping Jacks.  I’m making a lap size 55 x 63 or so. You can download the pdf at connectingthreads.com   if you wish to buy the pattern.

Getting new patterns this way is wonderful for me since I live in Ecuador where it is challenging to get things shipped to you.  So anything that can be done on the computer with a good printer is a great thing.  My friend Judi printed out the pattern in color.  Much easier to work from than the black and white my printer does.

Speaking of Judi, a wonderful closed group developed here in Cuenca among some ex-pats who quilt.  We started a small group – not to sew together – too hard to move machines and no space easily available.  But to talk about quilting, share patterns, look for resources together, etc.  It is wonderful to see this group developing its own personality.  There are not many active quilters here so I really appreciate this development.

OK, its time to go cut more fabric.  This pattern uses about 2 million 3 1/2″ squares.  All for now!

Best place to hide for a nap!

Best place to hide for a nap!

 

 

Back in Cuenca with new fabric!

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I returned from a wonderful visit to the familia and friends in the US – we were in San Diego, Idaho and Oregon.  It is great to see friends, catch up with extended family and have close time with each grandchild.

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I am glad to be back in Ecuador!  I really enjoyed visiting people I love but I also adore getting home to our adopted culture.  I came back with a couple of suitcases of new 100% quilting cotton. And a few new quilt patterns.

I need to be working on the king quilt for my bed, as photo above shows a few of the blocks.  However, I have been putting it off for a bit.  Instead, I’ve been pouring over which pattern would look good with which new fabrics.

I LOVE putting fabrics together to make a quilt.  I wish I could do this for others and be paid for it.  I now have enough fabric to keep me busy for quite awhile so I told my husband (again!) that I have stopped buying fabric.  Done, fine, terminado!!!

I know you are laughing – stop that!

Another fact: I took my Pfaff sewing machine back to Oregon as luggage (very well padded and packed).  I had it repaired in Portland where I bought it, by Montavilla’s Steve – a great repair tech there.  My Pfaff is a computerized machine.  The feed dogs had locked up.  The tension was off. It was sewing zillions of tiny stitches no matter where I set it. Inside, around the motor – beyond where I can safely clean, –  it was crowded with fuzz from batting and fabric of the many quilts I made the past 3 years.  No one here is authorized to work on a computerized Pfaff machine.  So, right now, it looks like I will be taking my machine back and forth to the US every couple of years for a proper cleaning.

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Maybe a Pfaff authorized/trained repair person will materialize to live here but for now…this is the best solution.

Isn’t the “hippie bus” in the photo cute?  I plan to make a wall hanging incorporating this for someone else.

What project(s) are you  doing this summer?  Do you sew more in the summer because it is hot outside?  Or do you sew less because you are busy enjoying summer weatherd or going to the beach…or exploring local parks, or having the kids home from school makes sewing impossible, or…???

I’ll be back soon with some photos of new fabric “kits” I put together from my stash with a few new fabrics.

I want to invite anyone who is a long arm quilter to consider moving to Cuenca, Ecuador in South America.  There are not a lot of quilters here but there are some in the ex-pat group of about 4500.  A few of us started a small closed group to discuss resources, share ideas and patterns. There is no one who does professional long-arm quilting in Cuenca!  So if you are a long-arm quilter, there would be some business here, quilting for other people.  Living high in the Andes where it is cool, never humid but flowers bloom all year long.  I have no idea how many people would take advantage of professionally quilted finishes to their quilts.  I know 3 – 4 people who would for sure!

Have a great week!

Sharon