April 11, 2013

Fun Project for a Dreary Day!

The gloomy weather persists here in the Dairy State only now high winds have been added into the mix. A good day, I think, to tie up an unfinished project that had been started last summer when my daughter was lamenting that her husband's t-shirts were taking over and he didn't have the heart to part with many of them in spite of the fact he no longer wore them.

Back then, I convinced SIL (son-in-law) to give me some of his t-shirt collection and promised to put them to good use. He then further surprised me by donating a pile of his abused work jeans!

Inspired by the Quilts of Gee's Bend as well as some pins found on Pinterest, I set out to repurpose SIL's jeans and t-shirts into a small quilt (finish size is 54"wide x 58"long) that their family might use to sit on at their local summer concerts, picnics or watching fireworks on the 4th of July.

This was the only photo taken along the way of the project. It shows three rows laid together, waiting to be stitched. Since this photo, the top and bottom had been completely pieced together. After months of sitting in a heap in my craft room, all that was left to do for today was to tie and bind the quilt.

The quilt top was made using nine t-shirts. I first cut out the main design from each t-shirt, then measured the largest design and used that dimension as the basis for the block size. The smaller designs were "built up" by adding strips of material cut from the remaining part of the t-shirt. Once all the blocks were roughly the same size, I then had to further build up the top by adding strips between the rows to have the same overall size as the bottom layer of the quilt.

The quilt bottom was made from about nine pairs of men's (SIL's) jeans. Obviously, the bulk of the pieces came from the legs of the pants. Though I couldn't use most of the the jeans from the crotch up, I did take care to include the pockets and seams for extra interest and texture. I really wanted to work the zipper into the design but I felt it was too bumpy for sitting on. This was pretty fun to put together as I didn't worry about straight pieces...the irregular shaped strips add interest as well...a' la Gee's Bend.

As an added bonus, the center pocket and the smaller half pockets can be used to hold whatever items might be called upon for the event!

I found a very cute "bandana" double-fold bias tape years ago at Wal-Mart which was perfect for finishing this very fun quilt. Rather than hand or machine quilting the layers, I tied it all off with red yarn.

The finished quilt feels pretty heavy (not so great for lugging around) but I think it'll be a durable piece to sit on and certainly a conversation piece, hopefully making it worth taking along!

Nothing says fun and relaxation faster than t-shirts and jeans!

 Hope they all enjoy the second life of SIL's favorite castoffs. Hurry up summer!

April 9, 2013

Today's the Day!

Today is my youngest child's 31st birthday. After stepping on the scale this morning, I realized that I weigh exactly the same today as I did this day in 1982 at my pre-delivery weigh-in at the hospital. Coincidentally, I had gained 31 pounds during that pregnancy!

Because I'm not presently 40 weeks pregnant, this discovery is a bit disheartening...and more than a bit motivating.

Today's the day!

April 8, 2013

Cabin Fever

Cabin fever, more so than bears or blizzards, was the scourge of the North Country. Months of isolation and confinement to small spaces, living without sunshine, often produced unexpected and bizarre consequences. Murder, suicide, divorce, child abuse, wife beating, and insanity were all common.
Arctic Homestead: The True Story of One Family's Survival and Courage in the Alaskan Wilds 
by Norma Cobb, Charles W. Sasser, 2003

Okay, things may not have yet escalated to the point described by Norma Cobb of her homesteading experiences in the quote above, but I certainly can relate! For me, each winter, the lack of sunshine proves to be my undoing. I am indeed solar powered.  Mr. Johnson from Wisconsin has, on more than one occasion in recent past winters, "gently" suggested that I might be well served by sitting under a bright light from time to time. (Actually, I suspect he was thinking he would be well served if I sat under a bright light.) These remarks were most commonly returned to him with an icy glare. It appears that this winter, he's dropped this strategy and employed the more practical and realistic approach of just stayin' the hell away from me!

It didn't start out like this. It was all quite lovely back in December with the new and fresh-fallen snow.

We went for drives all around our lovely towns and countryside and gasped, "oh how pretty the snow is!"

Even in January, it was still all fun and games in the snow...

But February and March dragged on and exposed a slightly meaner spirit...

Then one day, out of the blue, the sun appeared last week for a shining moment and there, again, was hope...

But now we're back to...

April showers may bring May flowers, but I'm pretty sure May flowers need sunshine too!

April 4, 2013

Hope Knows no Bounds

I want to paint - in spite of the fact that I seem to have no talent to paint. Yet paint instructors, paint instruction books and others invested in painters share the mantra that "we all have the ability to paint." After taking several painting and drawing classes, reading many books on the subject, and purchasing carts of supplies, this optimistic idea has yet to be proven to me. In spite of my history of failure with painting thus far, I did feel a spark of hope* while using watercolor paints with 3-year-old Maia the other day.

Here's what we produced:

As Picasso said - and Maia's work supports - "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."

I don't know at what point in my life the artist in me left but I really want her back!

As Maia and I painted together, I was amazed at her confidence and how she went at the work without hesitation. She dipped her brush and fingers in the paints and applied it all to the paper resulting in, what seems to me, a very beautiful and energetic composition! I sat for some time staring at my paper before I could even choose a color! I have a feeling Maia is going to be my most inspiring instructor.

In the meantime, I'm thrilled to actually recognize the figures I had intended to produce and I consider this a promising step forward as it had never really occurred before! Obviously, I have a long row to hoe, but, you know, hope is the thing with feathers...

*hope: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. dictionary.com