Present Perfect

present-perfect

Today I’m excited to be part of the sew-along for Betz White’s new book, Present Perfect: 25 Gifts to Sew & Bestow from Interweave. The book has some very useful and fun projects that you can create quickly.

Since I am busy sewing for the upcoming Quilt Market, I decided to use some of my new Charms fabric to make the Eye Candy Glasses Case as you can see below. I made a simpler version without the contrasting fabric on the front of the case. Super quick pattern and as usual, Betz’s instructions and illustrations are clear and helpful.

eye-candy-glasses-case

eyeglass-case

You can see the full sew-along schedule here:

Sew Mama Sew – Make & Bake Apron excerpt – Mon, 10/6

Stacy Sews – Falling Leaves Appliquéd Placemats – Tue, 10/7

House on Hill Road – Hot Mitt House & Tea Towel Set – Wed, 10/8

A Happy Stitch – Sweet Life Pillow – Thu, 10/9

Sew Sweetness – Wool Courier Bag – Fri, 10/10

Raspberry Sunshine – Gentlemen’s Travel Case – Mon, 10/13

Pink Chalk Fabrics – Pasha Pleated Clutch – Tue, 10/14

Made with Moxie – Cargo Tablet Sleeve – Thu, 10/16

Bixou Lovely – Coffee Cash Coin Pouch – Fri, 10/17

Flax and Twine – Forest Friends Finger Puppets – Mon, 10/20

Imagine Gnats – Bib, Rattle & Burp Baby Set – Tue, 10/21

present-perfect-eyeglass-case

 

Portland

portland

My husband and I took a trip to Portland over the weekend, ostensibly for our 14-year wedding anniversary, but he had also registered for the marathon. Unfortunately, a stress fracture in his leg prevented him from running. For someone who is completely addicted to running, this hasn’t been easy.

With limited walking abilities, we concentrated on food, crafts, beer, coffee, and record stores. We found lots of great vegan restaurants, but the vegan food truck was probably our favorite. I visited Crafty Wonderland and Woonwinkel, both amazing shops. And we explored breweries and record stores all over town. The weather was sunny and actually warm, so we picked a great time to visit.

Since it was Portland Design Week, there were lots of things going on around town. Sunday night I attended a panel discussion with three craft book authors: Besty Greer of Craftivism, Kim Werker of Make it Mighty Ugly, and Leanne Praine of Strange Material. All very interesting and inspiring books! The discussion was led by Kate Bingaman-Burt, author of Obsessive Consumption.

books

In the discussion, they talked about using craft in different ways and in particular, Kim Werker talked about allowing yourself failure as a way to find your creativity. She recounted an experience at a crafting party where she felt uncomfortable and didn’t really know how to sew well, so she intentionally made an ugly doll and found this experience incredibly liberating. They talked about all of the beautiful creative images we see online, which Kim referred to as “fiction”, and how these images can be frustrating. As she said “shame is combated by honesty.” In the same way that it’s often cathartic to open up about our personal lives in all their complexities, sometimes acknowledging and embracing creative failures can help you move forward.

Make it Mighty Ugly is a book filled with stories about the creative process and tangible things you can do to exorcise your creative demons, overcome fears, and build confidence in your creative abilities. Her suggestions for finding inspiration include riding the bus for a full day, getting up early to make things, reading a book, and taking directions from a kid. I love this last one and I can guarantee that trying to make something a kid has requested will challenge your creativity. I recently realized that the thing I love most about making is the problem-solving involved. If I want something to look a certain way, I have to figure out how to make it happen — that place between inspiration and creation is often my favorite part of making.

Betsy’s book, Craftivism, focuses on using craft to make statements or express a viewpoint, often in a very public way, whether it’s to tell a personal story, making a political statement, or engaging your community in a discussion. Betsy feels that craftivism is all about creating a dialogue. The book includes essays, interviews and photographs of a wide range of crafts. Whether it’s an intricate needlepoint image of a still frame from the Columbine shooting, making handmade nets for neglected basketball hoops, or yarn-bombing an airplane, these images and stories send a powerful message and often bring people together in the process.

In Strange Material, author Leanne Prain shares the stories from those who create textile art with meaning. In her introduction she says “Narrative is the binding thread of human experience, and stories are the medium that we use to know one another and ourselves.” Her interviews and essays include artists working with embroidery, knitting, sewing, and quilting. As she points out in her introduction, stories told with textile art are often those of the disenfranchised throughout history — women, slaves, children. Textiles are often the only available means of communication for these groups. I highly recommend this inspiring book that blurs the line between art and craft.

 

#instaquilt

instaquilt

How far do your quilts travel? Quilting and technology have converged to create an online sewing community that allows us to find inspiration, share our process, and get instant feedback on our ideas. Recently, I realized that my finished quilts were stacked in a closet while my photos and blog posts continued to reach people. It made me question whether the finished object or the digital image was more important.

We take photos of quilts as they are pieced together, on our laps while we stitch, or with our children and pets snuggled up on them. We share the image and it becomes a digital object, a separate work of art created during the process.

Sarah Phillips of Intown Quilters and I are hosting an activity in the Makers Tent at the Decatur Book Festival this weekend so we decided to expand on the idea of image sharing to create a collaborative digital project where everyone will create their own quilt block, photograph it, and share the image through social media. Then we’ll compile the images into a digital “quilt” that we’ll share online.

How can you participate?

Begin with two 10” fabric squares and create a half-square triangle block. One fabric square should be a neutral white or linen while the other piece may be patchwork, hand-dyed, embroidered, or made with any other creative technique you’d like to use. Or you can simply choose your favorite fabric. Then take a photo of your half-square triangle block and share it on social media with the hashtag #instaquilt. We’ll then assemble the photos and share the collaborative digital quilt both here and through social media.

Add your block to flickr here, pin it to Pinterest, share on Instagram, post to Facebook, or share it any way you choose.

And for those who are willing to contribute their finished block, we’ll sew them together and make a quilt to be displayed at Intown Quilters. You can drop your block by the shop or even mail it. Please note that we may cut down the blocks if necessary to make the quilt a manageable size. We’d like to get all of the entries by the end of September, so make a block today!

If you live near Atlanta, come sew with me and Sarah Phillips from Intown Quilters at the Decatur Book Festival this weekend! We’ll be in the Makers Tent on Sunday at 3pm. We’ll have fabric, sewing machines and other supplies so that you can make an #instaquilt block with us. But don’t worry if you can’t make it; anyone can participate in the project!

For instructions to make half-square triangles, click on the image below for a .pdf excerpt from my book 1, 2, 3 Quilt.

hst-instructions

I made a couple of samples using my new Framework fabric and solids below. Of course if you use the technique above, you’ll have two blocks so you can start a quilt. And if you’re just photographing it for the project, the block could really be any size. Let’s make an #instaquilt!

instaquilt-samples

1, 2, 3 Quilt of the Day

Lopsided-Squares-Quilt-FULL-SHOT

Today’s quilt is from the Squares chapter of 1, 2, 3 Quilt. This Lopsided Squares Quilt is partly improvisational and requires very little measuring, which makes me happy. The mix of brights and neutrals is still one of my favorite combinations.

Squares-Chapter-Opener

lopsided-squares-quilt

Hand quilted by Diana Taylor. Photographed by Laura Malek.

1,2,3 Quilt of the Day

Cluster-Dots-Quilt

Here’s the Cluster Dots Quilt from my book 1, 2, 3 Quilt. This one features appliquéd circles made using a freezer paper technique for neat circles. I machine stitched them with a zig-zag stitch for speed and durability.

Although it looks like this is a whole cloth quilt, it’s made up of individual blocks. If you used patterned fabrics for the background pieces, this would make a very different quilt. I used a combination of quilting cottons and Liberty of London lawn fabrics. This is a 72″ x 90″, or twin-sized quilt.

Cluster-Dots-Quilt2

The very talented Tia Curtis did the quilting on this one with simple pebble quilting to echo the circle design of the fabric. Photos by Laura Malek.

Here’s a detail:

Cluster-Dots-Quilt-Detail

 

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