Sunday, November 25, 2012

Quilts for others...

Recently I've been thinking and musing about some art quilt projects - waiting for inspiration - but nothing has totally gelled for my next big project, so instead of pushing forward I've been spending my time on some pieced charity quilts. One for Quilts From the Heart and another for the Transitional Housing and Education program at the Santa Monica YWCA. I'm also sharing a project with a friend to be sent to Hurricane Sandy victims through a quilt guild in New Jersey.

The most meaningful project, though has been a little pieced child's quilt for Operation Kid Comfort. It took only an afternoon to put together and another day to quilt but in this season of giving and giving thanks, it seems so very appropriate to do something for the kids of currently deployed military personnel.

From the Military YMCA website: "The Armed Services YMCA’s innovative Operation Kid Comfort program creates custom-made quilts and pillows for children of deployed U.S. military personnel who experience grief from missing their mom or dad. Photos of the deployed parent are printed onto fabric and sewn into the quilt or pillow. Each child received a quilt/pillow depending on age. Children 6 and under receive a quilt, 7 and older receive a pillow. Both quilts and pillows contain pictures of the deployed parent. Each quilt takes eight hours of volunteer sewing, as well as $50 worth of quilting materials. The program started at the Armed Services YMCA Fort Bragg Branch as has expanded to serve military families nationwide." for more information, or to volunteer yourself check out the Military YMCA website at

The kit to put together the quilt was organized by the Santa Monica Quilt Guild and included all the fabrics and fabric printed photographs for the quilt - photos of the little boy named Michael with his Marine Corps Dad and the rest of his Camp Pendleton family. I just hope that this little quilt will make the holidays while his Dad is deployed, little brighter.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Quilting Bee? Sort of....

I don't know about the rest of you out there, but when I tell people I meet that I'm a quilter, often the first or second question asked is "Do you go to Quilting bees? " Too many grew up with The Walton's or Little House on the Prairie, I guess. No, not many quilting bees on the Westside of Los Angeles, but last Saturday I did participate in something close.

My local Quilt Guild Westside Quilters organized a philanthropy sewing day to make these quirky shaped heart pillows for recovering breast cancer surgery patients. The pillows which are stuffed fairly tightly with poly fiberfill are placed under the arm of a patient putting pressure to relieve the effects of lymph edema. My mother who was a long term breast cancer survivor suffered the effects of lymph edema the rest of her life, so I'm well aware of the problems with this condition.

And there we were, 30 of us coming and going over the course of the day sitting around a huge dining room table piled high with colorful fabrics, thread, stuffing and finished pillows.

We sewed, we stuffed, we chatted and, yes we gossiped a little now and then. We tried not to talk politics - emotions still running high so soon after the election. We sorted out the problems of the world ( so why don't they listen to us?) while we stitched closed the openings on the pillows with very tender fingers by the end of the day. 50 pillows.... I guess we formed our own very LA quilting bee...

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sometimes it just feels good to sew....

Sometimes it just feels good to sew.... There are times as a quilt artist when you want to relax and free oneself of all those artistic decisions - sorting through all those ideas going on in your head, finding the subject matter, deciding on the right techniques to further your vision, making the perfect fabric decisions, etc. Sometimes you want someone else to make the major decisions. Sometimes it just comes down to "give me the pattern and the templates and I'll sew it". It's just me and  my trusty Viking SE and an old movie or the news in the background and I'm happy. I'm one with the machine.....

So this quilt came to be.... It's from a workshop with Judy Sisneros - her "Circle Pizzazz" design.  I had taken the workshop to brush up on some curved piecing techniques (always a vulnerable area in my  technique).It required purchased templates and very few fabric decisions.  

Deciding to make a scrappy version, I already had a pile of blue to green fabrics including prints, hand dyes and batiks pulled from my stash for another quilt - too lazy to put them away in the pull out bins in  my studio - so I just used a selection of those already out on the table that pleased me. I had made a couple of the blocks in the workshop (in which I had decided Judy's curved piecing techniques actually worked) and came home and in a few days more had enough blocks for a smallish lap quilt.
The one conscious decision I made was to change the layout of the blocks (seen at right). I turned them so the consistently dark blue bands ran in the same direction throughout - instead of in circles as Judy's original design decreed.  I liked the way it moved the eye across the quilt diagonally making it, I think, a bit more visually interesting. 

When the top was pieced I layered it with Warm and Natural batting which I will not do again.... I know lots of people use it, but I'm used to wool and this batting gave me lots of problems. It bearded through the darker colors and poked out of the needle holes on the dark blue batik backing. The free motion quilting was done in Superior Rainbows - a polyester thread that variegated from blue to green.

The final and easiest decision was to donate the quilt to Quilts From the Heart a non-profit group here in Southern California of volunteer quilters, both women and men, who share a common goal and make quilts to donate to disadvantaged children and adults.

The group was started in 2004 by Evie Steinberg and has grown in size to over 25 dedicated quilters with varying degrees of skills and talents from beginning to advance. Meetings and workshops are held on the second and fourth Friday of each month from 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. in the Community Room at the Mar Vista Public Library located at 12006 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90066. There is no membership fee or quilt quota required. The group continues to thrive and grow as a result of the generosity of others through the donations of fabric and miscellaneous items.Some of the organizations that they work with are: City of Hope, Children's Hospital, The Shriners, Good Shepherd, Foster Children, Venice Family Clinic, and the Asian American Drug Abuse Program (AADAP). I'm not a member, but I'm happy to know that this little quilt will go out into the world and help someone....