Monday, 24 February 2014

Quilting for Charity and Emotional Healing

This weekend I decided to let my husband take the reigns with the little one and left me to quilt. I quilted literally all day, from morning coffee to after dinner tea. I accomplished four baby quilt tops. These quilt tops are going to be for the hospital that my quilt guild is associated with, this is what their website says

 "Many OVQG members participate in our ongoing program of providing baby quilts for the premature babies at the Rich Little Special Care Nursery, Ottawa Civic Hospital. This is the special care nursery at the Civic Hospital. These quilts are used for protecting the tiny babies from the lights and noise of the nursery. The babies take the quilts with them when they finally go home. "

When doing the charity quilts I really enjoyed trying different methods for each quilt. This included paper piecing (the cupcakes), improv piecing (the yellow and blue), Y-seams (the blue and pink) and traditional block piecing (the red and white).  I found it makes me a better quilter and is always fresh when I switch methods of quilting. This is not hard to do when you consider how many resources the Internet has for quilters.

The baby quilts really hit a special cord with my family and myself. I had the very best pregnancy with my daughter, completely normal, quick happy birth, no problems to speak of. After the birth of my daughter, I discovered that my husband and I had developed "fertility challenges", meaning I cannot have any more children. For the next couple years I really stayed away from anything baby, it was simply too hard to hide my sadness. When I joined my guild and I saw the charity quilts for babies, I realised how my emotions were really holding me back from living to my highest potential.

I had a revelation, the only thing in my mind worse than not being able to have a baby, is to have have a baby who is sick or in pain. I am blessed with my daughter and her healthy vibrant self and if I can help those who are not as fortunate as myself, then what was I waiting for? No one has more fun novelty scraps laying around! To be honest, while piecing these tops, I felt more at peace than I have felt with my struggles in a long time. If I cannot have another baby, then I will help the babies and their families who are hurting, that is a pain I will never have to experience and I want to help. We need to realize our blessings more and these little quilts really helped me realize how lucky I am with my little one.

I am participating in Amy Gibson's Sugar Block club and for February we are supposed to be trying to show mercy as a personal challenge or affirmation. Thank you Amy for giving me the courage to step out of my grief and step into a place where I can help others. I encourage us all to do the same, if there is something you struggle with, a cause that hits close to home, why not help others you can relate to? It is a great way to make 2014 the best year yet.

Isn't it amazing the emoitional struggles and triumphs quilts bring out? They are so much more than fabric and batting and thread. I never imagined what I was getting into when I jumped into this world of quilting!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Oh Valentines, you simply add to my novelty problems!

The last few weeks I have been sewing pretty steadily. This year has been about accuracy and taking my time with projects, not taking on too many at one time. This has actually been going fairly well I have to say!

One of the biggest parts of this commitment to accuracy has been keeping my fabric room immaculately clean and organised. This means I have been organising my fabric every few days, keeping everything folded and arranged according to size and colour family. Being the mom of a pre-schooler, my fabrics tend to be mostly novelty or very bright colours.
So many novelties.

Valentines Day Runner

The last couple weeks were mostly dedicated to valentines. I made a table runner out of some scraps, but the majority of the sewing and novelty prints were dedicated to the princess of Valentines day!

Also this week I have been reading "Paper Piecing for Perfect Points", a book by Debby Kratovil. Her book has beautiful wall hangings in large sizes.  I am enjoying the book because of the amount of techniques that are used in one wall hanging. The piece from the book I am working on is this pattern;

Taken from the book by Debby Kratovil, "Paper Piecing for Perfect Points"

I decided to make this paper pieced quilt, mixed with some Y-seams, to use up some large pieces of fabric I have purchased and never used. I am using some bright blues and pinks that have a water theme, mixed with some low value purples. This was going very well until I paper pieced them backwards. I do not know how I did this, in fact I may have invented a new way of paper piecing if it weren't for the top stitching that is then visible on every piece. Oh well, part of being accurate with my quilting is 'un-quilting' when it isn't perfect.

That's all to report for today. I am keeping my biggest project a surprise until completion! Keep checking back!

Friday, 14 February 2014

The Old, The New, The History, The Art.

Antique Iron found in a Sunday market.

I have always had a great respect for crafting and the arts. I love collecting old sewing peices and fabrics whenevr I can find them. When I learned how (or taught myself) how to quilt, it was difficult. I loved it, but I did not have any of the fundamentals, I had never even heard of a quarter inch seem. I then discovered the internet where I constantly heard “do as you like” and “there are no quilt police!” As an intermediate quilter now I can tell you that forgetting the rules really gives us room for original and creative quilts. However, as a beginner, without the rules I truly couldn’t make anything I felt proud of. It is just a thought, but maybe in the beginning we really should be focusing on the details, the rules, and maybe anticipate a very kind quilt police woman helping us along ;)! 

A scissor, bobbin and needle set, over 100 years old, Germany

When quilts began in Canada, many rural women did not have the means or time to create their own art, or express their creativity in the ways we have access to today. Their quilts were truly functional, essential pieces of their homes, and they were also one of the only places we can look at these pioneer ladies artworks. These quilts are so exciting to find, inherent and collect because they sometimes were the only 'art' that these ladies may have ever had access to. I believe that quilting is still functioning in that form today, I know I get a lot of people who expect quilts, or love my quilts as gifts, and throughout the year I feel like I satisfy my need to create, and also my need to give to others who are close to me. 

Bottom of my Singer, circa 1930's.

Here in Canada it is said that even men quilted in the pioneer days. Quilting in Canada is also siad to have mostly happened in the winter time when the cold was too dangerous to venture out in. This allowed for some time to stay warm around the fire and quilting became a needed, but also a family event.

Top of my 1930's singer. 

I love knowing that when I quilt, I am participating in an art that all the wives and mothers in the cold Canadian winters also participated in. That is why I feel we must respect the quilting rules, that being said, always remember to be creative and original and not get too stuck on something you are not enjoying. I find I am happiest when I take turns doing a traditional quilt, then maybe a fun modern piece. There is no denying we are in 2014 and the quilt world has changed, but we can not forget where we started!

A very messy day in my sewing room. Some traditional blocks on the design wall.