Friendship Star

When we lived in Doha the first time, Desert Storm started, and a lot of Americans left, I didn’t know anyone, and I had a lot of quilting time. I decided I would make a lot of half-square triangles so I would always be able to whip up a baby quilt in a very short time, and I spent days cutting the fabrics, stitching the half-square triangles, ironing, sorting . . .

I made a couple baby blankets, but I still have a lot of half square triangles left. We moved to Kuwait, and I put a quilt together that I could hand quilt at our Tuesday Stitch Group, where I always liked to have hand work to do when I didn’t have a binding that needed stitching on or something.

For all those weeks . . . I didn’t get a lot done. Finally, I machine quilted in the white squares, and then I did some practicing for some new techniques in the star centers. It doesn’t make a lot of sense thematically, but the quilt is done, I’m giving it away and I don’t have to think about it any more.

Finished! Out! Out!

Advertisements

Happy Ending: Art Nouveau

Heidi Shelton taught Stack and Whack in Ramstein back in 1999, and I took her class, cut out these blocks, and stitched them together. She had advised us to use bright fabrics, but I just felt like this art nouveau fabric would make great blocks with graceful flowing patterns.

I love the blocks. I love the blue backgrounds. I could hardly wait to get it all together, which went very quickly.

But once I got the blocks together, and hung it up on the project wall, it was just . . . so . . . . BLAH. I was almost sick, I was so disappointed. I looked at it for about a week, at a total loss. I couldn’t think of how to fix it. I added a wide outer border with the original fabric – I like to do that with a Stack and Whack, because the inner blocks look so different from the original fabric. Then I looked at it for about a week, folded it up and put it away.

I pulled it out and looked at it every now and then, at a loss. It is rare that I am so stumped.

Maybe a couple years later I pulled it out. I knew it needed something red, so I put a narrow red band as an inner border, and added an outer border. I didn’t really add a lot of border because I didn’t want the quilt to get too big.

At least every time I moved I would pull it out and ponder what to do. I often pulled it out and asked my quilting friends what they would do. No one really had an idea. “Add an applique!” one friend suggested.

By 2009, back in Doha, I had some time. I had decided on an applique pattern; I designed it myself. Yes, it took me a while, but that is because I wanted it to be consistent with the Art Nouveau feel of the fabric. I love irises, and I had this great hand-dye fabric, not my favorite color, but a color which would brighten the somber mood of the quilt. I used freezer paper and hand appliqued the iris.

Once again, it didn’t do it for me. I love the irises. Somehow, to me, they are not what this quilt needs, but I don’t know what is. And 13 years is long enough, time, I figured, to just get on with my life. I need to get this quilt finished and OUT.

Here is the hilarious part. I ended up teaching Stack and Whack when we started the Qatar Quilt Guild in Doha. It was quick, it thrilled the beginners, and gave me a chance to teach a lot of skills (rotary cutting, the 1/4 inch seam, chain piecing, etc.) and technique while they produced a quick, usable quilt. Every time I taught it, I ended up with another stack and whack for myself, so I ended up with a lot of them – while the first one I ever learned, this one, languished, unfinished, on a shelf in many quilt rooms as I tried to figure out what to do to make it work.

Finally, I just decided to finish it, unsatisfactory as it may be. Even finishing it was a problem for me, tension problems in the quilting of the border, lots of “unstitching” and restitching to get it right . . . will this never end??

Now the good part. I had my daughter-in-law in my quilt room to show her Sheherazade, but she couldn’t keep her eyes off the stack n whack.

“I love it!” she exclaimed. “It’s Art Nouveau!”

I thought of explaining all the things that made this an unsatisfactory quilt – to me – but then I shut my mouth and thought – one look, and she got it. She got the fabric, she got the iris applique, she totally got it. Guess who gets the quilt, thirteen years after I started it? 🙂

Sheherazade: Magic Carpet

I don’t finish quilts as quickly as I once did, and I’ve been working for a while on this one, but oh, what fun. I loved choosing the fabrics, I loved designing it, and I loved figuring out the quilting motifs for all the borders.

I had a conversation with a quilter in our small group who quilts exquisitely, both by hand and machine. I told her I was giving up on machine quilting. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but I found myself thinking that all I needed to do was to slow down and practice. I hated machine quilting when I started, but I got so it became acceptable. Taking it to another level is going to take some commitment. I’m no where near where I want to be, but I’m working on it, practicing, trying some new things, and there are elements that make me really happy.

This is the finished quilt:

Here are some close-ups. My favorite element is the paisley that turned into a minaret top in the purple hand-dye border.

I modified a technique my friend Paramjeet taught me. She encouraged us to go outside the lines, to try new things, anything we could think of. Nothing is out of bounds. The minaret tops have bands of zig-zag quilting, using a Coats and Clark metallic. I know there are people who say Coats and Clark is trash thread, but I have tried a lot of metallics, and the Coats and Clark metallics seem to break a lot less frequently than others.

For the yellow segment above, I made an iris template from some Indian design books I have. I really love it, and used it again in the fuchsia border, which is supposed to carry a carpet-border sort of feeling. I used a contrasting thread and went over designs more than once.

The quilt is designed for a baby girl coming who is very special to me; I want her to grow to be a strong and clever woman, so I made her a strong quilt.