Monday, August 30, 2010

The Swastika Quilt

Did you see this article in the LA Times a few weeks ago? A 90 year old man came across an heirloom quilt - probably made in the 1910s or 1920s. It was meticulously crafted and still in excellent condition. He ended up donating it to a local museum, who's mission is to "preserve and interpret" the history of their town. To date, the museum has yet to display this work of art.

The pattern of the quilt in question has been called many things, including "Whirligig." But this whirligig isn't the same whirligig that you and I know and love. This type of whirligig also goes by the name "Swastika."

(Photo courtesy of

My Jewish heritage typically makes me recoil from such a symbol, but this quilt was made long before the swastika became a symbol of the Nazis. It was made artfully and, most likely, with a pure heart.

And even if it was made with ill intentions, why shouldn't it be displayed in a museum? History is history, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Who's to say what the current en vogue quilt patterns might represent in 100 more years? Might our current whirligigs or spiderwebs one day have sinister interpretations? Possibly. But will that future interpretation negate the time and love that goes into the quilts we create today? Never. Art is art and should be displayed, regardless of the context in which it may or may not have been made.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Stash #4

Look what arrived on my doorstep last week, all the way from Australia. I imagine that this is what Christmas morning feels like.

A huge shout out to Amy, who has a wonderful store filled with lovely and rare fabrics.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Evolution of a Quilter

Once upon a time ago, I started sewing - mostly basic baby blankets and the occasional bib. I'd turn a yard of fabric into a project, trash my scraps, and start the whole process again. As time passed, I started quilting. But even then, I didn't immediately start collecting scraps. I couldn't put together different colors and patterns and instead relied on full collections from designers rather than mixing different prints myself. I had no concept of using solids to break up a bunch of busy patterns. I didn't know about sashing - the word wasn't even in my lexicon. I exclusively backed in a single print. I didn't own a rotary cutter or a cutting mat. In short, I was a mess.

After I had made one or two quilt tops, I created this one. Oh, I loved the Bleeker Street line and couldn't wait to create with it. And this is what I came up with.

I found this monstrosity folded up in the bottom of my WIP bin. To say that this quilt is busy doesn't even begin to do the word justice. Wow - there is a lot going on here. While I do see that I added some Amy Butler and some Joel Dewberry, this quilt is nothing more than a lot of busy squares with an even busier border. This quilt hurts my eyes on many levels, not the least of which is that some of the stripes are vertical and some are horizontal. I am glad that I didn't quilt it. Had I, though, it would have been very simple straight line quilting. Without a walking foot. Gah!

I loved Bleeker Street when I purchased these prints and I do still love it now, so rather than walking away from this quilt, I decided to dismantle it and start anew. And this is what I came up with.

Today's version is a coin quilt, sashed in Kona Snow. It is light, bright, and modern. It is not overly fussy. It features a pieced back and fun pebble quilting.

I love this quilt so much for what it is, but even more for its history. I'm so pleased with how my eye and techniques have improved over the past few years and am so looking forward to seeing how I continue to improve going forward.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What Every Little Girl Needs

Sprout's BFF is turning two tomorrow and we're off for a lovely morning of playing, crafts, and birthday cake. The birthday girl is the youngest of three girls, all within four years of each other. I couldn't imagine what she'd want or need that she didn't already have, so I asked her mama what was on her wishlist. Mama complemented the crayon wraps that I had given as party favors for Sprout's birthday party earlier this summer, and asked simply for "anything handmade by you."

I'd been itching to make this darling little doll by Emily Martin at The Black Apple and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. And of course, a little girl needs a dress to match her doll's dress. So I came up with this set.

The doll was so easy to make, and since both Bean and Sprout covet that little doll already, I see a lot of them in my future. I didn't enlarge it 150% like the pattern instructed - it was made at the size it printed and resulted in a 9" doll, which is perfect for chubby toddler hands. I haven't stitched in her face yet - I'm lousy at embroidery and am worried about ruining her. Maybe I'll just leave her face blank? Too Amish?

Sprout generously agreed to love on the doll model the dress for me. It's a pattern created by Varenia at Whole Grain Baby that I love and use often. As for the print, I do love the calico but it's not typically something that I would use to make a dress. That said, I think that the print will be warmly received by the birthday girl and her mama.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hello, Beautiful.

First Dana blogged about her new labels here. Oh, how I coveted them. But woven labels are a real expense and I simply am not at that place yet. Besides, although they are lovely, they aren't really appropriate for quilts. Since I need labels for both clothing and quilts, I decided to hold off.

Then Faith over at Fresh Lemons blogged about her new labels. They are so pretty and the cotton twill works so nicely for a quilt. They come from Mommie Made It, and supporting and Etsian while getting adorable labels is icing on the cake. After browsing her site, I found that she also makes sew-in labels - perfect for clothing. Bingo - I decided that I *had* to have them.

I commissioned Lisa, another Etsian, to create a little chicken logo to match my "chickenjulie" moniker. And this is what I now have. Oh, aren't they so beautiful? I am in love.

I do love my little chicken - a huge thank-you to Lisa. These labels look so nice on my quilts and the cotton twill is so soft that it just blends into the softness of the quilt.

Off to sew some dresses so that I have a reason to use the sew-in labels.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Giveaways Galore

Oh, I am feeling the love - so many amazing crafter/bloggers out there hosting giveaways of gorgeous fabric. How lovely of them to share their amazing stashes.

Do you follow Faith of Fresh Lemons? She has such amazing style - her quilts are consistently stunning - clean, fresh, and modern. She just redesigned and relocated her blog. To celebrate her new digs, she's hosting a giveaway of gorgeous Amy Butler prints.

I've been admiring FlossyBossy's work on Flickr for a while and just found her blog. Her creativity is simply boundless - I wish I could come up with the ideas that she's always implementing. Wow. To celebrate her blogaversary, she's come up with this giveaway.

Lastly, Elizabeth at Oh, Fransson! is hosing a Monaluna giveaway. What a great opportunity to get your hands on this new line of fabric! I've learned a lot about quilting from Elizabeth - she's an amazing resource and her blog is full of helpful hints and great tutorials and often features the newest lines from top fabric designers.

I've thrown my hat into the pots and you should, too. Good luck!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Birthday Favors

I don't know about you, but I'm so over party favors. It's birthday season here and I can't begin to tell you how many little trinkets we have lying around - it's like Oriental Trading Company exploded in my playroom. Everywhere you look, there's detritus from goody bags long since forgotten about.

Sprout's second (!) birthday just passed. Her party was a small affair so I decided to whip up a few crayon wraps for the kids - something that I hope they'll be able to actually use. I increased the size from how I typically make them and filled them with slightly chunkier (and triangle!) crayons that are easier for little hands to grasp.

And while we're on the topic of birthdays, can we talk cake? Specifically, frosting. Goodness, I love good frosting. Sprout requested carrot cake and I whipped up a batch of my easy-peasy cream cheese icing. It's a block of softened cream cheese and enough sweetened condensed milk (just shy of a full can) to get the consistency right. Oh, I do love it, and the best part is that there's that leftover bit of sweetened condensed milk that's just begging to be polished of with a very large spoon.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Stash #3

We all have those prints (or collections) that we totally missed the boat on, don't we? I know I could name a bunch prints that I'd love to have yardage of but are long since discontinued.

When I first became a sewer, long before I became a quilter, I worked with two Kaffe Fassett prints - the Venetian Glass in Circus, which is a bright orange, and Bubbles in Grey, which relies heavily on purple tones. While I'm not typically a huge Kaffe fan, I was drawn to both of these fabrics and made lovely little blankets for children other than my own. As I said, this was long before I was a quilter or held on to scraps, and I'm saddened to think how many precious bits I threw out when my projects were completed.

Years later, I realized that I'd love to get my hands on these prints again, but they were seemingly impossible to find. Every now and again, I'd scour the web for those bubbles, only to come up empty handed. Until now. Behold, look what arrived in my mailbox this week. Yardage!

I am in love.