Saturday, September 29, 2012

Baltimore Album Dreaming

I have ALWAYS wanted to make a Baltimore Album quilt.  Ever since the very first time I set my eyes on one I thought they were amazing.  Beyond the obvious awesomeness of the workmanship that goes into one, the quilt as a whole is a very impressive entity.  The first time I saw one I was about 24 years old and quilting was not an everyday part of my life.  I had made quilts, with my grandmothers tutor-age, but during that time of my life I had other things keeping me busy and sewing didn't play a part.  But even though I didn't quilt then, I was amazed by this beautiful piece of textile art in front of me.  It was at Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts where I happened on a traveling quilt exhibition.  I loved almost all the quilts on display, but the lone Baltimore Album quilt stopped me dead in my tracks.  I stood there for a very long time mesmorized by it's beauty.  I examined each block and wondered at the detail and fine needlework.  Each block told a story in one singular seen.  I knew, then and there, that one day I would make one - and probably only one.

Flash forward 20 years (give or take) and I still haven't made a Baltimore Album quilt.  I've been afraid of applique for a very long time.  I always thought it was beyond my skill set.  All those small, intricate stitches that are almost invisible (if done right...) intimidated the hell out of me.   However last year, for the first time, I attempted some needle turn applique.  This happened because a woman in one of my quilt groups is a master at applique.  Whenever she would show at a meeting with a new applique project I was right there beside her to watch and comment and drool.  She urged me to try it and I always said it was too difficult for me but she persisted.  Finally she took me under her wing and showed me the ins and outs of needle turn and let me go.  I have to say now I love it.  As I've always been a big fan of hand work and any project that is mobile enough to be carried with abandon from my sewing rooms to parts unknown, applique fits the bill perfectly.  And now that a year or so has gone by since Judy so graciously urged me to give it a go, my mind is starting to edge toward the thought of tackling the ultimate in applique - the Baltimore Album quilt.

I know what kind of scenes I want in it.  Sticking with tradition I want an American eagle.  I want the cornucopia of plenty, I want fruit baskets and wreaths.  And I also want to add parts of me and my life.  I want to put the Statue of Liberty in my quilt.  I want to depict a house filled with love.  I want scenes of relaxation and activity.  And I probably want to put my two beloved pets Daphne and Bella in there somewhere.  I have all these visions in my head of what I'd like to put into textiles but I just don't know if I have enough skill to pull it off.  Anyone who knows me well knows I never start anything as a beginner.  I'm just too impatient for that.  If I see an intricate quilt I like that I want to made, then I want to make that quilt.  I don't want to work on a beginner quilt to work my way up to that quilt.  It's all or nothing for me.  I know what I start my Baltimore Album (and I can feel its going to come soon), I'm going to work on the all or nothing blocks I have in my head.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Craftsy Month

To my pocketbooks detriment, Craftsy, the on-line instructional video site, has been running a sale on all their offerings.  Any class for $19.99.  Their classes usually run anywhere from $35-39 each.   Not that this is outrageously expensive for genuinely good tutorials on a wonderful range of techniques - it's certainly not.  I'm just cheap and would rather spend the money on fabric I don't need to add to my ever growing stash of more fabrics I hardly have the room to store anymore.....  Anyway, when classes are only $19.99, I'm there.  I've purchased four in two days.

I will now be spending a lot of time watching: 

  • Machine Quilting Negative Space
  • Color Play for Quilters
  • Inspired Modern Quilts
  • Thread Art
 I love modern technology because not only can I watch these tutorials anytime I want through my computers (I use the plural here because who doesn't have more than one computer anymore?), I can also watch them anytime I want on my iPad.  And my iPad goes everywhere with me - even to bed.  It's a sad truth that when the husband and I head into the bedroom at night more often then not we both lie there each with our own iPads propped on our laps deep into whatever interests us most.  It's usually quilting for me and bicycle stuff for the husband.  This is the way of the modern marriage. 

OK, it's isn't always iPad time.....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Like it was yesterday...

The new World Trade Center Memorial Fountains
Today is September the 11th - a very significant date for any American and a New Yorker for sure.

I remember when the World Trade Centre was under construction.  I remember school visits there.  I remember bringing my husband there for the first time and then resting with him outside in the buildings statue area while eating a piece of Godiva chocolate purchased in the shop within it's walls.  Most of all I remember seeing those beautiful towers from the Staten Island Ferry so majestically rise above all other buildings in the skyline.....

I've never written about this before and I find it hard even now to write what little I have.  It's still painful.  Perhaps one day I'll come to a peaceful place about it but today isn't that day.  Too many innocent people died for no reason.  No reason at all.  May they all rest in peace and their families find solice for their loss as the years pass.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Decisions, decisions....

I'm in a quandary.....

I'm of two minds lately with the project I just started, which is the Grandmothers Choice block of the week by Barbara Brachman.  As I've of late become very interested and active in the modern quilt movement I'm thinking I should approach this project with the idea of making it modern and fresh.  Then again I love reproduction fabrics (and have loads of it...) so should I use the William Morris fabric I have to create this quilt?  Decisions, decisions.....

My solution, since I couldn't make a decision is that - I've made a decision.  I'm going to do both.  If I'm going to be a fence sitter on this then I'll be a committed fence sitter.  Here are my first two blocks (only one block has been posted this week, but I'm making two each week for two different style quilts):

William Morris fabric in blues

Modern solids in greens

There are going to be 49 blocks in all at 81/2 inches each so at the end of the project I'm going to have two lovely quilts in two very different styles.  I'm going to hand quilt the traditional and machine quilt the modern.  I'm hand piecing both because that's what I enjoy the most.  Truly sitting at a sewing machine for any length of time gives me anxiety.  I much prefer to bring my piecing to a sunny, quiet and comfortable place and leisurely work my needle and thread through the fabric while contemplating life.  THATs relaxation to me.  So making two blocks each week is no big deal.  I did both of these blocks in two days (a day for each).

My idea for the traditional quilt is to keep to the color theme of blues, greens, greys and a little white.  And for the solids I'm going for every color under the rainbow with each block in one color.  The block above of course is in greens.  I'm also playing with the idea of making the modern quilt a quilt-as-you-go by adding a small border, sandwiching it, and then machine quilting each block as I compete it.  I haven't decided yet though.  I do know that the next time I square off my blocks I'll be more gentle with the pinning of the solids as the pin holes really show up (they blend in with the prints).  Hopefully once I add a border you won't see the pin holes.

So, this is the beginning of my year long project.  Yeah!