Friday, November 16, 2018

Sunshine and Silver Linings

   
Last November, as soon as Gautam and Kim shared the news of their pregnancy, my mind started thinking of a baby quilt.

Will it be for a boy or a girl? What pattern will I choose? What theme would they choose for their baby's room?

All I knew, I wanted this quilt to be very special. I wanted this quilt to be an heirloom. It was going to be hand quilted. It had to be soft and cozy for mother and child. Yes, I wanted it to be big enough so  both parents can use it and snuggle in with baby. The baby would be able to use the quilt for couple of years before growing out.

I went straight to work, looked for any and all of my husband's shirts I could find in my stash. All I could find were white-ish shirts. My husband wears very few colors.  The fabrics had to come from washed and worn old clothing. It was very common in India to make baby quilts from used clothing  lined with used clothing so they are washable. As I was collecting his shirt, I thought - Why not add grandpa Thomas's shirts too?  I got on the phone and requested few of his shirts for the mix.

Before leaving for India in January, I had everything I needed to make a quilt, except for accent colors. During the first half of  2018, I was also quite busy traveling and teaching. The quilt had to wait. I had a window of later half of May and entire June to make a baby quilt. How difficult can that be? I deconstructed the shirts and left them in a box.

Time passed quickly, month of May rolled in, the fabrics were still in the tub! In the beginning of the month, I had to travel again for three different workshops and couple of presentations in Seattle area.
That's when I panicked.

The best thing happened when I was in Seattle. My son asked me if I could fix one of his ripped shirts. I looked at the shirt with a L shaped whole at least 2" long. Oh darn!
In past I had asked Kim to save all Gautam's shirts for a quilt. She right away suggested that I should take that shirt home. Although she had no idea I was cooking up a quilt in my head. I happily accepted the offer. I had just hit the jackpot! I got to add a "papa" shirt in the mix!

When I came back home, all I knew was I was going to use them with bunch of blues. We were having a grandson! Kim wanted fluffy clouds and stars in baby's room with everything else as a clean canvas (not too many colors) because there will be plenty colors with additions of toys, books, and other things once the baby was here.

Start of the Process

On 21st May, I started the process. With time constraint in mind, I thought a simple quilt will be nice. After all that is what I make - Simple quilts. The question was how to fit the clouds and stars theme in my quilt. Did I need to do it? I couldn't see myself making a representational quilt. I heard my daughter's voice in my head. "Make what you like" an advise I often give my own students. It is an often forgotten voice when we make something for someone else.

I didn't need to worry what they would like. As long as I love making it, the end result will be beautiful and giving that with whole heart was going to be enough.

So I let loose and trusted that anything I made will be perfect for this little guy.

Moving on from there was easy. I cut pieces and pieced them together into strips.


Then arranged them on the design wall in few different ways.



When I arranged the strips in next arrangement, I knew that was the way I wanted to go.


I kept sewing patches into strips. It took few days and the strips were overflowing. Pretty soon I ran out of the design wall. The quilt had to be good lap size so Kim and the baby could cozy up together.

It took me five weeks to complete the quilt. I took it with me in July before his birth and gifted it to my son and daughter in law. The quilt contains three shirts of grandpa Thomas and many of my husband.


Kai's Quilt - Sunshine and Silver Linings

It has got Seattle's days and nights and fluffy clouds as well as water logged clouds.


It has built in dappled sunlight and mix of rain and frost.


If you have ever lived in Seattle, you know you could experience all the elements of weather in one day.

The quilt has lovely, soft curved, uneven edges..bound with what else but all of the shirts!


I used up most of the leftover material from shirts to make the backing.
 
How did he match so well with the quilt?
 When it is folded in quarters, it is quite comfortable.


He loves looking at the trees and sky out the window and I love watching him!



"Tummy Time"

Every picture I see of him, there is the quilt!

It is hand quilted with loads of Grandma love.

Grandma! I love the sound of that!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!





Tuesday, October 23, 2018

it all adds up

It was little over a year ago when I wrote this post about the good news and the bad news.. My daughter was moving to the bay area and my husband had a new job is San Diego. They both started their new job on the 30th of October. What a year it has been since then!

I made this quilt soon after we moved to San Francisco in 2015. I am not sure if I ever shared this story but it is a good reminder of how life's events make up the life itself and it is never is a one note song.

Back in Fall of 2015 soon after we moved, I thought I could do without the sewing machine for a while. I thought there will be plenty to explore in the city while we looked for our new home in the suburbs. I soon realized that I could not do without the sewing machine. I borrowed my friend's machine to see what I could do. There was a Good will store near by, which became my fabric source. I walked to the store and bought myself some fabric.

Not having any rotary cutting supplies was a non-issue. My friend had given me a kitchen scissors and that was plenty. I was set. I started tearing the strips and made simple blocks without any measurements. They all turned out to be different size. 



With no design wall, our bed became the place to lay out the blocks. It worked just fine! I first arranged together all the blocks that were roughly similar in size. If they were slightly small I added the strips. Chopping them up was not an option. I really wanted to use up all the fabric and make as large of the quilt I could.


Once all the large blocks were arranged and sewn up, I had to fill up the space. There were just enough scraps and strings left to piece few smaller blocks.


The clothes I bought were not all cotton and I am glad that was the case. My focus was on buying prints that were cheerful. The apartment was grey and dull, too modern for my taste, I needed to focus on colors and prints that would make me happy for the time being.


I used every bit of leftover fabric to sew a skinny border all around the quilt top. I figured some day will turn this quilt into a summer quilt and the time has come!

It is time to stitch the next chapter of our lives into this quilt.

I am thrilled to say my husband starts a new job in the bay area next week and coming home in couple of days. 

There have been many ups and down in last couple of years with him loosing his original job, searching for a new one and subsequently moving away from home. We both had decided to hang tight for a year and see how that job would go before moving permanently to San Diego. We all know, nothing is permanent in life but it has been challenging to say the least.

My days and life's events have been as different as these blocks. Life's experiences - good, bad and ugly - they all add up. I've always believed I am here because of the roads I  have traveled and these past few years are no exceptions.

He comes home in two days!

I am happy to be here, waiting.  
 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Flashbacks to June 1986


I am no psychiatrist but this much I know from my own experiences - Sometimes it takes new but just the same event of the past to trigger an old memory. 

I have always been sensitive to sudden loud noises. I also believe it has amplified as the years have gone by. There has to be a reason that makes me startle. I am sure it must be a normal reaction across the board. Sudden noises aren't fun.

But this morning what happened took me back to 1986. Yes, I know, we are talking about ancient times.

My husband and I had just moved into our new apartment in Ithaca, NY. I had joined him after one year of our marriage. I could have come with him soon after the wedding (visa situation was quite different then) but I had to finish my last year of Applied Arts back home.

The apartment we lived in was backed up to lush green hillside and a beautiful Ithaca falls was just a walking distance away. My friend Laurie Buck knows how much I still love that place.

One fine afternoon, I was making an Indian meal because that was the only thing I knew how to cook. The kitchen was furnished with electric stove which was new to me. I had never worked in a kitchen without a window, or on an electric stove. 

It was 32 years ago! All I remember, I wanted to make Chapatti - Indian flat bread.  Back home I used a gas stove and used to roast freshly rolled chapatti straight on the flame. Rolled chapatti rises like a ball, the house smells so good, it makes me hungry just thinking about it right now. If you have ever tried it, you know what I am talking about.

Here is the link to my IG post about it. You will be amused, I promise!

Well, back in 1986 in Ithaca, I did not have that little cake cooling rack you see there. I thought (or didn't think at all) it would be okay to roast it straight on the coil.

You have to imagine what happened next. My perfectly rolled chapatti burnt into nothing and the smoke alarm went off. This is the first time ever in my life I heard that loud screeching noise of an alarm. I didn't know what it was and where it was coming from. Honestly, I didn't care, all I knew, I wanted to be as far as possible from it. I turned off the stove and ran outside as fast as possible. 

Everything else about that day has faded away. I do not remember how long I stayed outside. There  were no phone calls to be made. I wasn't going to run back in the apartment to call my husband. No cell pones. Hard to imagine that today. 

32 years have gone by since then. I am a pro now! I have managed to trigger the alarm a few times.  I still panic when I am in a windowless kitchen. Back home, kitchens always have a window, and it is always open.

When we moved to San Francisco in 2015, initially we stayed in a beautiful but small apartment. I did not want to cook there at all for the same reason, fear of alarms. It took me a while before I got comfortable to cook there.  One day when I wasn't cooking the smoke alarm went off. Aaaarg! Here we go again, I thought. I ran outside the apartment as I was supposed to. Came back once it was cleared.. And then it went on and on again for next few times. I was told I could stay in the apartment because it was the maintenance day for the smoke alarms for the complex and it will go on for most of the day. Can you imagine that?

So let's fast forward to this morning!

I am in our apartment in San Diego for couple of weeks. The light is beautiful here and I don't have so much of white, blank space in my house in the bay area. So I decided to take advantage of it all and take pictures of few quilts cascading from the door.

As soon as I took one picture, the alarm went off. Ha Ha!

My quilts are too hot for this place!


Quilts too hot that turned on the smoke alarm 2018

I was still in my pajamas but decent enough to not worry about it all, I grabbed my phone, keys and wallet.. You never know how long it would take for everything to be normal. As I was walking down, I realized, this is it! This is why I get startled with loud sudden noises.

After all I am a girl from India, where noises are common. Those of you who have been there, you know this. I am quite used to daily sounds - The honking of automobiles, people talking loud, all kinds of processions on the streets, wedding and religious, even marches and protests of all kinds. Nothing new there. If fact, when I came back after every visit, the quiet here was unbearable. But the smoke alarm is a different kind of beast. I have never gotten used to it.

But I understand, I have changed. It has been 32 years. It would be strange if I hadn't.

Got to love the apartment life!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Twins



I am almost done with that other quilt I shared in previous post. I am going to have to wait to bind it until I get home again.

I basted two quilts before leaving for San Diego. Small quilts don't really take that long to quilt, especially when you have lot of time on your hands.


I am really glad these are small quilts too. After moving to California, I have missed seeing my quilts on the walls. This door in our apartment has become quite the feature lately. I have taken pictures of different quilts. You may have seen a couple of them on instagram. The light is always perfect here!
I will have to bring this quilt back here in the apartment once it is bound and labeled.




Once I started quilting, it progressed organically. It started to look like steam rising on a hot day.


Then I decided to change it up a bit and stitched with red thread. Quilts made with used clothing are so soft, the needle runs through it like butter.


You never know what tomorrow might bring.  I may add few more stitches to it to I will start on the second quilt.


This second quilt is made of an old shirt, a dress and few scraps of my husband's shirt.

Both these quilts were made at the same time. I can call them twins. Funny how they got basted at the same time and on the same backing too!

When I have smaller quilts, I layer them together. It makes it easier to quilt on the edges without having to use larger piece of batting or backing.


Do you ever do that?


Thursday, July 19, 2018

UFOs

UFO - A word widely used in quilting community but I checked, I have not. Not that I am aware of.

It's not that I have stuck with all my projects from start to finish but they do get finished one way or the other. At times I have used a quilt top as a back and considered it finished :)

So why am I thinking of UFOs today?

I have been invited to be a featured artist at two local guilds in 2019. It will be really nice to be able to see some of my old favorites hanging with my current quilts.

Usually when I am presenting or teaching, I am there to explain my journey as a quilter. When the show goes on for three days; I want my quilts to speak for themselves, guide the viewers from the beginning to end and so it is important to have those tops finished into quilts.


I began quilting this old quilt just a few days ago. Organic piecing lines blending with slow and steady organic hand stitches are making quite a splash in not so perfect way.

I have also decided to enter these three quilts in an upcoming quilt show in Pacific Northwest. We will have to see what the judges think of them.


Speaking of shows, if you haven't read my dear friend Judy Martin's post today, you must check it out. Her work and words both inspire me so much. 

With that I am going to get back to my stitching to add my day to this quilt.


Have a wonderful day!
Sujata