now a flimsy

I realized lately that I like projects when they start, when they are small. The end, when they get big, I like them less.  Handling larger yardage is ungainly at best and difficult at worse.  This quilt, as all of my quilts, self-identified its size. In other words, I worked on the blocks until I had played out the ideas I had. Then I put it together and it accidentally became square.  Most quilts most functional if they are rectangular. For that reason, I added some extra fabric on the top and bottom to make it more rectangular:


When Steve and I went to the fabric store, (yes, my husband will go the fabric store with me with very specific limitations: I cannot be “just looking or shopping”, I must have a very specific list and only get that. Also, there can be no football games of interest playing on TV at the same time.) and he got a good look at the overall proportions, he said the bottom and the top were too large. At most, he felt they should be the same size as the inner blocks, 10 inches (the size of my largest square ruler). I decided to go down to 12 inches. I am not sure if the difference is that great for me, but it gave me some extra fabric to play with and reduced the size of the quilt a little. I will get a picture of the changed proportions soon.

You can see (or maybe you could if I hadn’t cropped out the coffee table sitting on the couch) that this quilt is too big to lay out on my living room floor without moving a several pieces of furniture. I am going back and forth about whether to pin it at my house. I am 47 years old so crawling around on the floor pinning a quilt is starting to be uncomfortable.  It generally takes me 45 minutes to pin/baste a quilt. I am thinking about going over to church and using their large tables pushed together.  There are also problems with this: most related to the boredom of pinning a quilt. You can see why at this point in the process I procrastinate a little bit. Like writing really long blog posts, watching SNL skits about Donald Trump and prowling Facebook.

In any case, Steve picked out the fabric for the back:


Since the quilt was larger than 45 inches wide, I needed to piece it anyway we decided to get two different fabrics. Although these both are beautiful fabrics that work well with the front they are very different.  Yesterday, I decided to add some pieced section and the purple fabric that I cut off the top and bottom of the quilt. This will create a buffer of gradation between the two fabrics. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture so I will leave you a cliff hanger. Not as big of a cliff hanger as the Walking Dead (we just finished Season 6 on Netflix and are in heated discussions as to who, if anyone, got killed in the last episode – I think it was Spence).


another cat block


This is the third cat block. I took the pattern from pinterest:  These kinds of blocks are somewhat tedious to put together, but they are so impactful when they are done, that I periodically get sucked into one. I think this one took me about three weeks of fairly feckless sewing.



Finished this purse a few weeks ago:


Lately I have been about quilts as garments and this was a first idea.I have the beginning of a jacket as well. The inside of pockets and the bag lining are bright orange.  This was Steve’s idea. I love this idea and am still amused by the little surprise of the the color. I used small bits of it on the strap as well. The strap is intentionally not even, creating a sinewy sensual line. I usually wear it across the body, so it is a nice semi vertical line. I also used several polymer clay objects that I had made a long time ago. By and large, I am happy with it, although it could be slightly bigger inside.  Next time I will spend some time thinking about making a flat bottom so more items will fit inside.

kitty cat quilt

So as the valentine quilt starts to complete, I working on this quilt that I have been thinking about.  I have one block done already here. This quilt I am taking ideas from pinterest where there is an unlimited amount of cat blocks. The second block I made was an adaptation from this stained glass piece I saw on pinterest:


cat quilt

The question that I am still debating is whether the cats should have faces.  I have started a third block also- more to come.

new dress

I have been working on this dress for a couple weeks and finished it last week.   I wore it to work and got a lot of good feedback- which gives me the courage to post it here.


I added the little blouse which matches pretty closely and has little beaded edge.


Here it is without the blouse- unfortunately, the horizontal stripes are better when they are broke up by the jacket or they widen me a little bit. Also, it turns out if I have to take more than one picture I start to get cross.  I should probably be nicer to my photographer.  He took quite a few more and I always have that slightly angry face on which means I was “saying hurry up already”.

I drafted the pattern from a dress that I have that I loved that got a hole in it.  I used Alabama Chanin techniques to hand sew it. In the process of sewing the neckline either stretched or was slightly too wide. I had reinforced the neckline with hand basting, but in future, I may fuse some fusible interfacing to the neckline to avoid stretching. It gapped when it was finished. I ran a line of elastic thread by hand in the binding right in the center front, hence the gathering.

Julie from my church gifted me this fabric. Originally it was cream and brown, I wasn’t too fond of the cream so I over dyed the fabric, first red then black.  As you can see, there must be some polyester in the fabric because I didn’t get a super dark color either time. It took dye unevenly, resulting in the lighter stripes in between the wide stripes. I like this, too.

I will definitely remake this dress, it is super comfortable.

Heart quilt

It is getting very close to done. I love this quilt. Visually there is a lot going on.

It is fun to look at, with its wonkiness and energy.  It is interesting to me, having worked on it and started with so much red, how much the addition of the pink has changed and lightened. It is very improvisational, and that comes through in it.  Now, off to the fabric store to get fabric for a frame.

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage book review

I listened to this book on the way to North Dakota and if you saw a somewhat hormonal middle age woman weeping while driving on I-94, it is the reason why.  Well, that and construction.

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert is a follow up memoir to Eat, Pray, Love.  In Committed, Elizabeth and her lover are forced to marry if they wish to live in the United States. Although they are in love and had even made a private commitment to each other, both had bad divorces and so neither wanted to marry. The book documents the period they were waiting for the paperwork to clear so they could return to the United States and marry.  She thinks about marriage and researches the subject on several levels, culturally and historically. Ironically, in the past few days, Gilbert has announced that she and the man from this book have separated.

I was visiting North Dakota to celebrate my aunt and uncle’s anniversary, so the book was particularly poignant.  While I was enjoying their celebration, I also reflected on my parents’ marriage – both are notable in their longevity – and how they move through space in an lovely synchronous way. I also watched my sister and her husband in the frantic chaos of child raising – the part of marriage where every decision has to be balanced against the welfare of children.

My husband and I fall somewhere between: in the transition of our nest emptying and all the mixed feelings that emerges. This transition is causing us to renegotiate our marriage contract in a different way.  For that reason, I love this section of the book where she says: “I started thinking about my parents’ garden- which is as good a metaphor as any for how two married people must learn to adapt to each other and to sometimes simply clear out of each other’s path in order to avoid conflict…they have divided their garden in order to keep some civility.. In fact, they have divided the garden in such a complicated matter that, by this point in its history, you would practically need a United Nations peacekeeping force to understand my parents’ carefully partitioned spheres of horticultural influence.” My husband and I agree on 85 per cent of the course of our lives, we have 10 per cent in tentative agreement and another 5 in active renegotiation. As our children become adults we spend less time focused on them, we are turning more and more to each other and thinking about the future of our life together.  Now everything is up for renegotiation, as the relationships and needs of our children shrink, our needs can take center stage again.

Gilbert writes about her grandmother’s marriage in Minnesota and the trade offs her grandmother had made to her personal freedom. Her grandmother is contemporary of my grandmother. I still love the story my grandfather told me of how he met my grandmother.  He was a soldier in World War 2, patrolling the beaches of California.  He saw her on the beach in her swimsuit and thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. This is still one of the most romantic stories I have ever heard. My grandfather was from North Dakota, and when he brought her home, I am sure it was a shock for her, between the weather and the landscape.

If you want to spend some time contemplating marriage, I recommend this book. Whatever stage you are in, you will find some wisdom.  Even though it didn’t work out for Gilbert, her thoughts on marriage are still poignant and true.

new projects

Several projects that I have been slowly working on.  This first one is near my heart.  It is corduroy and so far just two fabrics, one my husband’s old shirt and one my sister gave me.


It is a wonky log cabin.  It is so much more successful than this block that I was also playing with:


Several errors here. Since is it was play I probably won’t redo it.  I was frustrated with it because it caused a lot thinking to put it together.  Someone with more patience than me would need to put a whole quilt of this pattern together. I get so much more enjoyment out of the wonky blocks instead of trying to force the pattern.

The last one is a bag I am making.  I just have a vague idea of how this will go together but I love the trajectory:





I never meant to cause you any sorrow. I never meant to cause you any pain.  -Prince, Purple Rain

You did cause sorrow- with your purple passing. This one death hit me very hard, and I am not sure why. After all, I never met Prince, never even went to a Prince concert. We thought we saw him on Lake Street once, but more likely it was someone dressed up like him- his presence was so pervasive in Minneapolis.  I hadn’t really been a hard core fan. If you asked me what his most recent album was,I couldn’t tell you. Even though he is gone, I can still listen to his music the same way as I always have.

The beautiful ones
U always seem 2 lose   – Prince, Beautiful Ones

Yet, I am sad. Why?
Prince really embodies the 1980s for me, and his passing has felt like a closure of my youth- not that I have been really young for a while. I am steadfastly,flat-footed middle-aged. But it sure feels like a door closing on my youth with his passing.

So what did Prince mean to me?

His wonderful, overt sexuality was attractive to me.  Of course, for me, I was 16 years old when Purple Rain come out; full of curiosity about anything sexual, without any understanding of the actuality. Prince tapped into my budding sexuality. Besides that, he sang about love and he is the perfect lover full of intensity and devotion.

On another level, he really embodied the idea of a gender spectrum before it was really even a thing. There were men who dressed like him, but they were mostly gay, not straight. There were men who were overtly sexual , but didn’t look like him.

They say two thousand zero, zero
Party over
Oops, out of time  – Prince, 1999

He wrote about the end of the world, which every generation since Christ’s has been anticipating as just on the horizon. Of course, my generation grew up under the shadow of not God; but man’s ability to end the world. With the constant tension from USSR, it felt very possible. Yet he took that anxiety and made it into a party anthem.

You may say lots of artists were doing similar things and you would be correct. Boy George and Micheal Jackson overtly and covertly played with gender identity. Sting and Nena wrote songs (much sadder) about nuclear annihilation. Madonna pushed overt sexuality into a powerful woman’s genre. But none of them took these elements and bundled them up into one package- that is what makes Prince so much more complex and multifaceted.

I leave you with a piece I made several years ago, which I have called the “Tiny Angel” quilt. The background was my visual representation of Purple Rain. Now the piece seems even more appropriate:


Goodnight, sweet Prince!