Quilting

  • Tis the Season!

    by Sarah Curry

    YEEEEE-HAH!  Major League pitchers and catchers arrive today for spring training!  Now, what does that have to do with quilting, you ask?  Well, it happened this way.

    I’ve been a rabid baseball fan since I was 7 years old.  And it was FINE with my daddy (who was a 4-letter jock in high school and loved all sports, for all his life) when I showed serious “tomboy” tendencies.  And so, Daddy played catch with me.  And showed me how to “get down on” a ground ball, and even how to bunt.  Back then, TV barely existed, and only for rich folks – but Daddy and I listened to the Baseball Game of the Week on the radio every Saturday afternoon.  In 1949, a lot of the broadcast games involved the New York Yankees – they were doing pretty well.  Maybe that’s why a little girl in Hobbs, New Mexico fell in love with the Yankees.  And I have no other reason to explain my lifelong love of “TTELTH” (The Team Everybody Loves to Hate   ).

    Back then, Little League didn’t exist (especially for us “delicate” girls), but I played a lot of street ball, and sandlot baseball, and pickup softball, and was even in a “mushball” league one summer while I was in law school.  I was a good infielder, a good hitter (never could hit for power, but I had a “good eye”, and nearly always got on base).  But unfortunately, my kids refused even to consider baseball, so I froze my butt off in a hockey rink for 11 years, grumblin’ and cussin’, and wishing to “have a catch” with my boys in the summertime.  Oh, well.

     

    In ’96 or so, I discovered the quilting newsgroup, RCTQ (which stands for rec.crafts.textiles.quilting), and after “lurking” for less than 24 hours, began to tell my stories there, and just chat about stuff other than bias binding and perfect corners.  That same year, Derek Jeter was a rookie.  I don’t remember how the subject came up, but one of the quilters near Seattle mentioned that the Mariners had a pretty good rookie, too.  We got into a little squabble about which was the better-lookin’ young shortstop, and when it turned out that my Yanks played Janet’s mariners the first game of the season, she said A-Rod et al would whup Jeter’s Yanks.  I suggested that she “put your fat quarter where your mouth is,” we shook virtual hands on the bet, and next thing we knew, the RCTQ quilters who were baseball fans came swarming out of the woodwork, wanting in on that action.

    Good grief.  There was a horde of them!  I had nothing to do with the mechanics of it (and was out-voted about the name – hmph), but out of that little snarl evolved the “Baseball Swap.”  Anyone can get in on it but for almost 25 years, we quilty baseball fans have picked a major league baseball team to back (one from each league if we wish).  We have a “Caller,” who announces things (including who’s playing who, today), and a “Statistician” who has designed a spreadsheet that figures out exactly who owes whom, for every single game of the MLB season.  EVERY SINGLE ONE.

    Squares

    Y’see, this isn’t really a “swap,” it’s a BET.  On every single game that’s played.  If my team beats your team today, you owe me one 6 ½” square of fabric.  If my team beats yours tomorrow, you owe me another.  If your team beats my Yanks tomorrow, it does NOT “work out in the wash.”  I owe you a square.  At the end of the regular season, the Statistician sends us the final stats, including what each person owes every other person.  She even sends labels we can print if we want to.  I bag up how many squares I owe (no duplicates in the baggies), put a label on a baggie to each person I owe.  Pack up the baggies (alphabetized) into a Tyvek Priority Mail bag and send them to the “Chucker”, who sets up paper bags and chucks the little baggies into the correct “bin,” then mails them all out to the individual “swappers.”

     

    We usually add a little “graft” (a fat quarter) into the bag for the three volunteers who do the work, often pay up some side-bets, add little prezzies like Cleveland Indians pencils (I still use mine), and what FUN it is, to open the “payoff” bag and find allll those little baggies of FABRIC!!!  And in all these years (I was the Chucker for several years, and got to see ALL the fabrics, not just the ones from Yankees’ opponents), I have seen only one duplicate in the squares.  Amazing.  Our Statistician hasn’t reported this year, but her figures show that we’ve “swapped” over ten THOUSAND yards of fabric over the years.  But best, we’ve swapped stories.

    Major League Baseball is about to begin again!  And while I like most all sports, baseball is this quilter’s game, and the Baseball Swap is a slurp of gravy.

    ...

    Our glorious guest blogger, Sarah Curry...

    "3d-generation quilter, 3d-generation grammarian/teacher, born and raised in Hobbs, NM. NMSU, twin sons (and when they started coming in litters, I was done with that sort of project), happily divorced since 1977, UNM Law School, civil litigation for nearly 20 years, now retired, 4 grandsons,  but still quilting – these days, almost exclusively from a legendary stash.  AllieCat and I grow old together, but she’s still an excellent “Quilt Inspector/Block Re-arranger”."

  • Hooked - How did y'all get here?

    by Sarah Curry

    Sarah Curry

    I don’t mean Here-here – I mean Quilty-here –Hooked-here; totally awash in books (usually bought for the one quilt with those “oooh” colors, teeny-tiny patches, and curves and angles inside); astonished and embarrassed at how those four Fat Quarters of fabric you bought that said, “Oooooh” apparently bred like rabbits (like those old wire coat hangers used to do) during the night, and you suddenly have a Stash.  Hooh, boy. 

    I guess I got the Q-gene from both sides, because both my maternal and paternal grandmothers were quilters – as was my mama before me. Mama’s mother (Nana) was built like a Pouter Pigeon - soft to cuddle up to.  Little wire spectacles. A cardboard box in the closet that held kid-stuff – old jewelry, most of a deck of cards, battered pot lid. She baked with cinnamon. And she made quilts.  Completely UTILITARIAN quilts, made of men’s WOOLEN suits and all were rectangles and squares. And they were tied with red yarn. H-E-A-V-V-V-Y. 

    Grandma Curry, on the other hand, lived in an old Victorian house in West Texis (not a typo – I spell it like it’s pronounced).  I remember the gables, the wraparound porch, the gingerbread, the “hidden” rooms, and that “children are to be seen and not heard". Grandma Curry looked like the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz” (squinchy eyes, hook nose, thin lips), and as far as the grandkids were concerned she was just about that distant and scary.  She made “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” and “Lone Star” quilts with patches that were about the size of a nickel - finished.  All cut with scissors, hand-pieced, and hand-quilted. E-X-Q-U-I-S-I-T-E. 

    Mama was a quilter, too, although she didn’t really enjoy the cardboard-template-pencil-scissors routine.  And her sense of color wasn’t the best.  But she quilted. Also hand-pieced, and hand-quilted.  And WASHED those quilts, every weekend, with the sheets. Not one of her old quilts survived.  But they were definitely clean! 

    By the time my boys graduated from high school and went to college (thank gawdess!  I got’erdun!), I was SO-O-O-O ready to begin the next phase of my life (after a 48-hour nap). That's when Mama burst into the living room one afternoon, laden with all sorts of bags and suitcases and more bags and an ironing board and what looked suspiciously like one of Daddy’s old tackle boxes. Mama travelled like that. She had “discovered” the rotary cutter and mat and was READY to make a quilt for the “Sweet Darlin’ Angel Baby Boy” who didn’t yet have one. 

    So the next morning off we shot to the quilt shop. By noon, we found appropriate fabric for a 6-log “Rail Fence” (blues for a hockey player – no florals), with 1 ½” finished “logs".  What?  Can’t start yet?  Gotta wash the fabric (with salt & vinegar)?  Geez.  Press same.  I became the “cutter”.  Woo-HOO!  Lookit how FAST that is (still don’t understand what I’m doing, but that’s OK)!  As I cut strips (fast), Mama sewed (slowly – she insisted on PINNING every seam).  Then I pressed the strips (Mama was always behind, still pinning).  Then I cut some more.  Mama pinned and sewed.  I pressed and cut.  And had a WONDERFUL time! 

    Finally, about midnight, Mama lurched up and announced that I could quit cracking the damn’ bullwhip, ‘cause she was tired and going to bed, and she did.  I did not.  How COULD I?  The pattern was REALLY starting to show!!!!  YOWZA!!!!!  So, when Mama arose the next morning, bleary-eyed and demanding coffee, there was a finished quilt top laid out on the couch.  Every time she told the story, Mama never forgot to mention the fact that I had pressed those seams “everwhichaway, bless her heart.”  Hmph.   

    And I was hooked.  Beyond just “hooked,” I had bumbled onto the fourth passion of my life. I haven’t a clue how much money I’ve spent on that stash (from which I am working, these days, almost exclusively), or even how many quilts I’ve made.  I did make 6 (SIX!) “Rail Fence” quilts before I “graduated” to “Double Irish Chain.”  Made 6 of those before I “graduated” to another level, and I reckon I’ve averaged a quilt every 2-3 months for 30 years.  Yeah, it’s a Passion.   

    So. That’s how *I* got hooked.  Passionate.  How did YOU find quilting? 

    ...

    Our glorious guest blogger, Sarah Curry...

    "3d-generation quilter, 3d-generation grammarian/teacher, born and raised in Hobbs, NM. NMSU, twin sons (and when they started coming in litters, I was done with that sort of project), happily divorced since 1977, UNM Law School, civil litigation for nearly 20 years, now retired, 4 grandsons,  but still quilting – these days, almost exclusively from a legendary stash.  AllieCat and I grow old together, but she’s still an excellent “Quilt Inspector/Block Re-arranger”."

  • Snip! Snip!

     

    By Sarah Curry

    They’re still there, dammit – a veritable herd of chain-pieced bias squares, draped across the ironing board, waiting to be clipped apart, pressed and trimmed into perfect 2 ½” squares. They glare at me as I pass through the sewin’ room on the way to the bathroom, like a bunch of sullen toddlers who’ve been put in time out.

    This is supposed to be a quilt for my younger Seattle grandson, soon enough a teenager. When I asked about fabric colors for his next quilt, Tyler wanted teal and hot pink. HUH? HOT PINK?! Visions of go-go boots and Laugh-In danced in my head as I processed the notion of a couple of big ol’ hairy-legged jocks wanting hot pink in a high school/college quilt. I couldn’t process it until I learned that the Adidas athletic shoe company had selected hot pink as its color of the year. Oh. Well then, teal and hot pink it is.

    I think I’m one of the few rare exceptions who don’t even think about starting a quilt specifically for someone.

    I begin a quilt just to see what develops.

    I like the old patterns with the fun names, like hovering hawks, log cabin, and puss in a corner - frankly, those patterns don’t have anything smaller than a 45-degree angle.  Those fancy ones are lovely to look at, but I cuss too often and easily as it is and I don’t want to work that hard. I am a big fan of the scrappy look and with a lusciously legendary stash, I have a nice variety to pull from.

     

    When I begin a quilt, I generally drag all the purples (or whatever color I’m feeling that day) off the shelf and start pressing, chopping, and dicing. I get completely besotted as the pattern and colors mesh together and become real. Somewhere along the process, the quilt decides how big it’s going to be, gives itself a name, and chooses to whom it wants to belong. What’s weird is that 95% of my quilts have that sort of beginning. Am I the only one?

    Another irking delay in this quilts progress is that I can’t stand as long to press, cut, chop and dice; can’t sit as long to do some mindless chain-piecing; I have a lot more trouble getting down and up from the floor than I once did (my days of measuring how big a quilt really is by how many beers it takes to pin-baste it – a 6-beer quilt is a king-sized quilt – are limited). I’ve realized that I will not be one of those who “go gentle into that good night.” I’ll have to be dragged, kickin’ and screamin,’ and cussin’ all the way, because everything takes me twice as long now, to do half as much. Probably never was very gentle, anyway.

    I digress. I’d better haul my butt out of this chair and get to clipping, pressing, and trimming or those evil toddlers are going to keep on glaring at me with their sulky, squinty little eyes.

     

     

  • Dare to Dream Big!

    By Patricia Ritter and Julia Mathis

     

    Dreaming big is a motivational push of positive encouragement, an incentive propelling growth and prosperity meant to freshen up your everyday – any takers? If answered with a fat ole’ yes – then hold on to your hat! All of us at Urban Elementz are eager and delighted to release our Dream Big Quilting Designs for long-arm and domestic machine quilters.

    Hoffman California Fabrics designs and manufactures innovative,  imaginative fabrics, including their beautiful digitally printed Dream Big floral panel. This product is STUNNING (in all caps)! The flower seems to burst from the fabric, stretching into each corner of the panel offering itself up as the perfect textural canvas for quilting. And has become all the rage of quilters all over the world!

    And just like every other quilter, we were bitten by the bug!

    So what did we do?

    We came up with twelve amazing Dream Big Quilting Designs. To encourage creativity and unique personalization each design is unique in arrangement and composition but configured to be "mixed and matched". Get more than one and release a current of possibilities and create your vivacious, exquisitely distinct, Dream Big quilt.

    Thank you for providing us with constant inspiration and as always, we love your feedback.

    Head on over to our Facebook @urbanelementzdesigns and our Instagram @urban.elementz to stay updated with our full week of deals.

    Living the dream never gets old.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Stash Guilt

    By Jane Hardy Miller

    I've been thinking about the fabric stash phenomenon lately, mostly because I'm trying to work from my own and minimize my fabric purchases. (Spoiler alert: It doesn't work.) This is partly due to age, mine as well as some of the fabrics', and partly due to space. My own stash has seemingly of its own volition subscribed to the Storage Corollary of the Peter Principle: The amount of stored goods will expand to fill all available space. So I'm trying to make quilts from some of the fabric I have. Luckily I make a lot of scrap quilts so the smaller pieces that I can't bear to toss at least have the possibility of future use. But that's not really the problem; the problem is that even scrap quilts require a unifying factor. Sometimes that can just be value placement, but sometimes you need more of one fabric, and when you're consistently working from your stash you use up the bigger pieces first. The biggest pieces, those large enough for backs, are the easiest to use because the backs don't have to actually match the tops—they just have to sort of blend, and "sort of" can be a very loose term. But the ¾ to 1 yard pieces disappear fairly quickly, or at least are whittled down into smaller, less versatile chunks. In time theoretically all the fabric will be tiny pieces, but even then I could make postage stamp quilts. Continue reading

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