Thursday, August 28, 2014

This and That

A small wall hanging done with minimalistic approach..

Mix of old and new..

I had some fun with sunlight and shadows...

A birthday gift of a mug rug from Kelly... I turned 51 this month...another year older and wiser!

Although the fun I had with this mug rug suggests something other than old.

I found a place for the mug-rug somewhere other than under a mug.


This was the scene above my fire place.

He is all decked up! Kelly, it looks just beautiful! Thank you!

I felt sorry for the little calf...

So I made one for him too!

  And now they look just right!

A pin cushion from Christine could not have come at a better time..I needed one that would sit steadily on the table. Thank you, Christine!

It was my turn to host my quilting group. It was a great day spent with friends talking about quilts and life over chocolate cake and raspberry sauce. Even I had a piece of cake.. Very unusual of me to eat chocolate cake or any for that matter. My friend Terry is going on another hike tomorrow.. This time in Maine climbing Mt.Katahdin. She loves anything chocolate.. I had to bake her a cake! She is so brave and amazingly talented! I am always inspired by her adventures.

Go Terry! I will be thinking of you!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Quilt on a Clothesline- First entry in a show and a ribbon

After finishing there's a bird in my garden quilt I had realized that I liked freedom in stitching. I liked applique. I am not sure if it was the group I was in or those mild temperatures in Seattle or my background but I found myself drawn to homespun fabrics and fall like colors. I picked up this pattern called, Button Tree Lane to make another wall quilt.

It was fun making this quilt. Each house represented my neighbors and friends. Our neighborhood was the friendliest neighborhood, as warm and cozy as this quilt.

 I used freezer paper for the templates for little windows and doors, chimneys and rooftops.. it was like being an architect and urban planner all in one!

I enjoyed picking colors and prints for the houses. The pattern had appliqued tree stumps and then embroidered branches with buttons.. Well, I for one was not a big fan of buttons.. So after following the pattern for two or three trees, I ripped out the embroidered branches and decided to applique them. Added leaves to make them look like the trees I wanted. The pencil marks I had made for the branches were now quite visible but I did not care. I had seen many of those in a finished quilt or embroidered wall hangings in India. I thought it was just part of a handmade textile art.

I honestly have no idea what needle or batting I used. Looking at these stitches, make me even wonder if I ever did this! Those stitches are tiny! I could not pick a favorite when it came to the houses. They are all so cute!
I do know one thing, I wasn't spending a lot of money on this craft. There was no matching thread to the applique fabrics.

Check out my stitches with white thread on dark brown appliqued tree branches. I have always loved seeing my stitches.. good or bad.. I have always been a fan of imperfections of handmade things.. or traces of human hands in crafts.

So here it is on the clothesline.

and the back.

I used 1/4'' quilting tape for diagonal quilting. Stippling with machine was a big deal.. it was something I could never do.. My machine was not even equipped with darning foot. So I decided to stipple with hand quilting. Who does that?

That local quilt/fabric shop had it's annual quilt show. I entered the quilt just to see it hanging somewhere other than on my dining room wall.

It won me my first ever ribbon!!! Second place in hand applique category. Not bad right?
I honestly don't remember which year it was. But looking at Kavita, I believe she was in preschool and it had to be around 1999.. This is why it is important to date and sign the quilts which I clearly did not do.

Have you ever made a house quilt? This makes me want to make another one fitting my life and quilting style today.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Did you see the quilts from my book?

Megan Scott, marketing manager at C&T Publishers sent me this badge to add on my blog. So far I was so busy following my heart, making the quilts and writing the book, I never really gave a whole lot of thought on how it would feel to be an author or to have something this official on my blog.

I am proud to see this badge on my blog. Happy to have written a book about my passion and share the ideas with the quilting world.  

You can see this and few more quilts from my book Cultural Fusion Quilts on C&T Publishing's Flickr page.
 Just click on the link below. 

I am getting all emotional thinking about a lot of things.. It's been a journey! One I am extremely proud of.

I am keeping busy making new quilts. Here is a wall hanging still in progress.

The colors are inspired by the full moon few nights ago. 

Hope you had a great start to your week. I sure did!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Quilt on a clothesline - First Applique Quilt

It was fall of 1998... Kids were back in school and I had little spare time on my hands for myself. After finishing the nine-patch and not being able to hand or machine quilt I still did not have a real quilt in my house. You know, I mean a completed quilt. I realized that the idea of having a hand made bed quilt was too far fetched. In my quilting group everyone was working on some or the other hand projects like embroidery, hand quilting, stitchery and knitting. I needed a hand project if I was going to continue working while I was getting to know my new friends.

I searched through my collection of quilt and doll patterns and found the applique pattern I had bought while I was in California and decided to make a quilt. 

Here is the pattern..

Can you believe the price? Only $5.69?

It's even harder to believe that I still have the pattern!

It was my first applique quilt, measured 26'' x 39''

Although there were no apples and pears, pumpkins and cornflowers that grew in any gardens I knew,
I had always loved birds since I was growing up in India. Little balcony off to our living room was our garden. My Father used to grow marigolds and zinnias, Arabian and star Jasmine. There were plenty birds like pigeons and sparrows making nests in those pots. I can smell the cool breeze from the Arabian Sea only couple of miles away that carried the sweet fragrance into our living room as I write this. He was the one who planted the seeds of gardening in all of us. To this day after almost 40+ years gardening is a common topic of conversation among us siblings.

After moving to Seattle, for the first time in my life, I saw birds like blue jays, northern flickers, gold finches, chickadee and Oregon junco. Obviously, the name of the pattern there's a bird in my garden had a greater meaning to me.

This was also my first attempt at embroidery.

This block was the toughest to applique. I gave up after few attempts and fused the leaves and flowers. Then went over and hand appliqued the bird on top and fused the leaves for the reddish.

I wish I had a better picture to crop and show you the signs of my first hand at applique. It wasn't pretty but still precious to me. I finished the quilt with hand quilting around the edges. Rust was my favorite color and fall in Washington was my favorite season. This quilt has packed many memories.

In 2003, my sister visited me in Seattle for the first time. She stood in my dining room staring at the quilt for quite some time. She loved it so much, she asked for it and happier that she has it hanging in her house.

This quilt was the beginning of my love for applique. The freedom of shapes and forms in the art of quilting. it is so different from making blocks, sticking to seam allowances and trying to be perfect every time! I wonder if this was the start of a bigger concept in my head.

Thank you for your response to this feature. I am glad you are enjoying reading about my journey. 

I can hardly wait for the next one!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Quilt on a Clothesline - Nine Patch

Although this feature has had a rough start (read my previous post) I am excited to share my second quilt today.

After taking the class on basic quilting, with lack of time and interest I bound my first quilt without finishing the quilting and continued making dolls and dried and silk flower arrangements - a home grown business I was in before I made my first quilt. It seemed like I was working every waking minute of my day. It was difficult to manage with three kids so I stopped making dolls and focused on being a full time mother.

In 1996 we moved to Seattle. I didn't have heart to get rid of my fabrics so I packed my precious yardage along with my belongings. I did not know what I was going to do with it but it was FABRIC! How could I not take it with me? Having grown up in a middle class family in India, waste not want not was the only way of living.

Two years after moving to Seattle, I took my fabrics out of the box and decided to make a quilt. That's right, there was almost six years of gap between my first and second quilt. What made me decide on making a quilt and not dolls? The temperatures...It was always too cold, I thought I was saving money by making a quilt from what I already had. I set up my little TV cart that I used as the sewing table and plopped my Singer sewing machine on that in a corner of the play room. 

I taught myself how to piece blocks all over again with the help of only book I owned. 

Nine- Patch made with leftover scraps from doll making.

You can tell by the colors, they are not my usual colors..What a contrast, right?   

With three children under the age of nine and husband who often traveled on business, I found myself enjoying sewing during the little pockets of time in the evenings. After the day of running around chaotically, having a systematic process of cutting the strips and piecing them into nine patches was fulfilling. I had no clue how or if it was going to be quilted. I was just having fun looking at colors, fabrics and being proud of those perfect points. Which by the way looked as if they magically appeared, every single time!

I had planned on hand quilting the quilt. I owned a machine that did not have capacity to lower the feed dogs, neither did it have a darning foot nor a walking foot. Not that it would have made any difference! I did not know what was their purpose in the first place.

I thought it would be nice to have some white space to show off my hand quilting...So I used muslin for the borders. It's been 16years since this top was's still not a quilt.

Even though these colors are not my favorite, there is something peaceful about it. Like an antique quilt, I will always treasure this because of it's significance.

This quilt helped me make first quilting friends in Seattle. One evening my son's friend's mom came to pick her son up after the play-date. I had just finished the top and it was hanging on the banister. As soon as she saw it, she asked, "Do you quilt?" and added, "You should join our quilting group, we meet once a week and it would be nice if you came." And so it began - A wonderful friendship with Rhonda, Patty, Janey, Diane, Susan and Sandra. They were all experts at quilting and hosting. I was so new to everything!
Each of them had son or daughter in my son, Gautam's grade but not in the same classroom. I took my daughter to the weekly meetings. She loved playing with Patty's daughter and looked forward to seeing her. It was great to meet them and share quilts and life.

It still seems like just yesterday!

As far as this quilt goes, I am happy to have used up all of the leftover fabrics. All good memories stitched in those jewels like patches. Some day it will be finished.
Have a great weekend you all! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Out of Control

 Do you think they are cute?

I am not so sure about that!

This guy right here has a grand idea for messing up my plans of Friday's  feature - Quilt on a Clothesline.

Yesterday while in my family room, I saw my clothesline flinging quite vigorously.  I looked outside rather curiously only to find this squirrel trying to chew it off. Needless to say I went running to grab my camera but by the time I got back, he had done his job!

Seriously? It was up for almost four months and as soon as I decided to make it into something fun he decided to chew it off?

I just stood there feeling frustrated.

Off he went.. as if his job was done! Some times I feel they can read my mind. By they I mean deer, squirrels, raccoons and bunnies. Whenever I sit outside and even dare to think that the certain plant is doing well this season, one of them is here that night or early morning to ruin it.. I am not kidding... this has happened so many times I am starting to believe it.

I have no intentions of backing out.

Here is the new Clothesline - taught and ready to go for Friday's post.

Meanwhile, I have been quilting away.

  Making progress.

Friday, August 1, 2014

New Friday Feature and an update

After mom left, I have been busy with all sorts of things. Matters like looking for an apartment in NYC for my daughter and taking care of my poor back suffering from a pinched sciatic nerve for over four months have consumed me.. They say it takes a long time for it to heal. I know they are right. After some failed physical therapy I have resorted to resting and taking breaks during my day and driving as little as possible. I have also started walking instead of my regular high impact workouts.

The good thing about this is with enough breaks I am able to sew just fine. Since we moved our old kitchen table in my studio, sewing at any time when I have few minutes has become possible.. Having an extra space to spread out in the studio has been tremendous help. Not moving and shifting of cutting and sewing space on the same table has sped up the process.

Let me talk about the new feature - Quilt on the Clothesline.

The clothesline my mom used is still up and reminding me of her being here. Our homeowner's association does not allow any kind of laundry hanging outside. Lucky for me, we have enough trees in the back to keep it hidden from pretty much anyone who is walking or driving through the neighborhood.

I keep staring at it from the kitchen window and think of my mom. As pleasant as those memories are, I have stared at it enough to think of something other than mom and equally pleasant!

Why not go down the memory lane, document my own journey of quilting with the help of this clothesline? Starting today, each Friday I will feature one quilt a week from the very beginning of my journey as a quilter. I am not sure how many weeks I will be doing this since I have no clue how many quilts, tops I have made so far. I am not even sure if I have them in chronological order but I am going to try my best to keep it straight.

Although there can be only one first, each quilt in this picture is very important first of my life as a quilter.

The small quilt in the middle is today's quilt of the week on the clothesline.

My First Quilt
I took my first class in 1992 in a shop called Going to Pieces. I was introduced to this quilting shop by a friend Kathy who was a quilter and also made dolls whose son was my son Gautam's very first friend in Livermore, CA. She got me into making dolls when I was mother of two boys.

I made dolls and sold them in local gift shops for next few years until the birth of my very own doll. I still have some of those doll patterns in my collection.I often think about revisiting doll making for fun but haven't quite done it.

In that four week long class, I learned the basics of quilt-making like cutting the straight lines, sewing 1/4'' seam allowance and freezer paper applique. It also included instructions on how to butt the seams for a nine patch to get those perfect matching points, difference between pressing and ironing and a lesson in contrast and values in colors. Our teacher, Linda also taught us how to hand quilt and bind the quilt. It all seemed like magic! In four sessions we learned a lifetime of lessons for traditional quilting. 

Wait a minute...that was the only style of quilting I thought/knew was around then!

I was the only girl from India who had taken a class from that teacher. She loved talking to me about India. I was fascinated that she was so much interested in my home country. 

It took a while to finish the hand stitching my first quilt. I used polyester batting which felt like I was quilting through butter. I had poked my fingers so many times, I remember thinking that it was never going to finish. The quilting hoop I bought then still has the label of the shop on it. Love that hoop! Although I enjoyed applique and hand stitching more than piecing of the quilt, watching all those different components coming together was fun.

Do you still have your first quilt with you? Did you take a class or someone in the family taught you?

I would love to know about it. 

And on the front porch...remember this?

 Here is the basket now...

Yes, my front porch is the saddest looking front porch in the neighborhood but it is filled with joyous sounds of little wren chhikies chirping.. Momma wren is constantly flying in with food and babies open their mouths and stick them out as soon as they hear her. As happy as I am for them, I am also ready to switch that basket with some fresh foliage. Hurry up and fly away please!
Have a great weekend. It is supposed to rain here.. I am ready with my bobbins filled!

Conversations on Quilts from India

   It is my lucky week and I want to share my joy with you all.   Quilt from The Henry Drewal Collection Lately my posts here on the blog  h...