Wednesday, 23 January 2019

A maker's musings

So we're into the deep freeze up here in Winnipeg,
and in the depths of the creative season on the Canadian Prairies.
My city has vibrant and creative cultural communities--
writers, musicians, artists, artisans--
and lots of people say its because of a long winter where we have time to perfect our art or craft.


I certainly sew and quilt more in winter than in summer
and my creative output often prompts the remark:
You get so much done!
or I can't believe how much you make!
or another variation of that.

I don't want to appear defensive,
but why do I have to defend making stuff?
I've been doing it since I learned to sew doll clothes at age 6
on my mother's new Elna Supermatic,
I've had really productive times
and times that are less productive,
but face it, I'm a maker.
I also hear the subtext of their remarks that they don't have time to quilt.
I hear that it's not important to them to take time,
and maybe even that I have nothing better to occupy my time with.


Do musicians and artists and novel writers get those kind of comments?
I don't think anyone is telling Miriam Toews or David Bergen,
two award wining writers from Winnipeg,
that they like their books, but  (sigh) they don't have time to write. 

I like turning bits of fabric into something
and touching fabric
and figuring out how to make an idea in my head come to life.
My son is studying engineering, and taking courses on design
and reverse engineering, and material properties,
and project management. 
Those are all skills quiltmakers have.

But I'm not despairing. Just wondering.

I'm energized by making stuff
and I like sharing my makings with others.
But I'm tired of the comments about my output.


One answer is I have a really fast sewing machine and I know how to use it.
Another is that I have 50 years of making stuff,
so my hands are practiced at what they do.

Maybe it's just the speed of social media
and how quickly a finished project can be shared with the world.
That's why I'm not posing this question on Instagram,
where I have followers not interested in quilts (gasp!)
but here in Blogland,
where only quilters hang out because they care about making.

I love being a maker.
I don't want to feel guilty about being fast or good or prolific.
Makers gotta make, right?

What do you make of my makers's questions?

Friday, 18 January 2019

Random finishes for Friday

I took out these string flying geese from several years back1
and last week finally got them into a top.
I decided to go with two hues of orange
and now the top is done.
It measures 48 inches square.

I made some carry bags for Singer Featherweights.
This one for Krista Hennebury of Poppyprint 
incorporates free-pieced letter in hand dyed fabrics against a background
of a snow-dyed feed sack. 
The orange fabric top and bottom is from a woven Danish tablecloth
that had holes in the centre.
I've made one more FW tote from it and cut two more.

Just in case anyone is wondering what's inside,
I free motioned the word "featherweight" on the other side.
I love these vintage half-sized sewing machines,
but the cases can have problems
like the clasps not closing properly
or the handle wearing out.
So it is safer to carry the case in a bag.

I oiled and lubed and fiddled with the tensions on my choir of Singer Featherweights last week.
They were ready to use for a workshop last weekend 
sponsored by Winnipeg Modern Quilt Guild
and for a retreat in a week from now.

My oldest son vacated his room for several months.
His furniture is still there,
but there's room for my folding table-turned cutting station
and my choir of Featherweights and other storage bins underneath the table.
The added benefit is there's more room in my sewing space now.



I took Krista Hennebury's class Speed Date with Improv last Sunday.
Those are my blocks at the far right.
She demonstrated several improv techniques
and then encouraged us to put the all the parts together.
I've made many improv quilts before, but not in this style.
I was quite deliberate in matching up colour changes and lines in this piece.

It measures about 19 by 37 inches.
We were required to bring 5 inch squares in white and black and one other colour. 
I chose a light green that reads as a medium value, 
to contrast with both the black and the white.

I'm linking up with other Friday finishers at

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Making little things

I've been playing with little bits, mostly in wool, for the last few weeks.
First up are little houses, about 2.5 inches tall,
made from felted wool and wool felt and melton,
and cut out with a die cutter.
In the past, I've hand stitched them together with a blanket stitch,
but this time sewed them by machine, using a dark thread
to outline details.


And then I made a few more VW buses,
also by machine,
even outlined the windshield with stitching.
These have all found new homes,
and I made 10 more which are part of a Christmas garland.


I've added some beading along the roof line to look like Christmas lights
on these bigger houses, also cut with a die cutter.


I posted 12 Days of Christmas Tree quilts
on Instagram (@brendasuderman) earlier this month,
and here are all 12 quilts (actually 13).

This is my latest tree quilt,
made entirely from 2 inch HST from my scrap box.

This hand dyed tree made with an easy cathedral window technique
and a linen background was my other 2018 tree quilt.
It measures 9.5 by 12.5 inches.

I'm leaving you with pix from some of the little tree quilts 
from other years.
Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!




Friday, 30 November 2018

Making Christmas Trees

Inspired by a tutorial by Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt Company,
I put together a Christmas tree quilt from scrappy HSTs.
These finish at 2 inches. Hers are much bigger.
I run my small scraps through the die cutter and store the shapes in small tins.
Then whenever I need a little project, or some parts I've got them.
This is now pieced and quilted,
and I'll show you the finished product once I have the binding sewn on.

I saw another tutorial for easy cathedral windows.
You know the kind -- where you place a square folded diagonally on another square,
sew the seams, and then curve back the diagonal.
It seems like a good technique, but there are six layers in those middle seams.
I used over dyed white on white fabrics for the trees,
and linen for the background, and put in lots of quilting stitches.
It is quite stiff, which is perfect for a wall hanging.

I helped set up a craft and bake sale last weekend,
and nearly took these folks home with me.
The other volunteers debated with me on the price.
I said $100, but I think they settled on $60.
Too cheap when you consider the amount of work in this.
All the pieces were beautifully knit and finished, and the faces were great.
And it is very tactile.
I debated buying it myself, but the organizer didn't want to pre-sell it,
so I consoled myself with posting pix on social media.

I put together 10 trays of 36 assorted cookies for the same sale.
Two guys in my house donated some, and a bunch of others from my church did too,
so we had 30 dozen cookies to mix and match.
I know bake sales are old school, but these trays sold for $25 each.


And a close up of a progress shot of the tree quilt.
If you're on Instagram, check out my 
#12daysofchristmastreequilts on my account @brendasuderman.

I'm linking up with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict


Friday, 2 November 2018

I didn't believe it could happen, but the scrap bin is empty!


I've witnessed a minor miracle: my bin of dark strings is empty!
For the last four weeks, I've been working on this rectangular string quilt.
My guidelines were: 1.5 inch neutral strip on the diagonal,
bright strings on one side, and black prints on the other.
I had lots of strings and small scraps,
and I even cut a few strips off of yardage at the end for variety.
Check out my process at the String Thing Along Blog.

Here's a closer look.
I made 15 of these diamonds, 60 blocks in total.
It measured 60 inches wide and 54 inches high,
and the piano key borders brought it up to about 65 inches long.
Many of the bright scraps and strings
(see what I did there?)
came from cutting 2.5 inch strips for these mini-trip around the world blocks.
My guild is making blocks in brights and whites
for a charity quilt or two.
Three of us made these 36 blocks last month.
And yes, I know there's a block laid out wrong.
We haven't sewn any blocks together yet.

So I'm proof it can happen. We can run out of scraps.
But I'm not worried. I can always make more!


Friday, 19 October 2018

Lots of little finishes here

I'm on a completion kick over here, clearing out some UFOs and WIPs
and sorting through batting scraps and fabric strips.
First up are two sets of placemats:
The top ones were made from a star die I was testing out with my Accuquilt Go cutter
and finished with some sale fabrics from a recent road trip.

This second set was made from leftover from scrappy trip around the world blocks
my guild is making for a charity quilt.
I couldn't discard the trimmings, so I made a set of placemats
and tried out some free motion quilting motifs.

The backing is leftover from another project. 
I ran out of that striped fabric,
so two of the placemats are bound in yellow.


The star placemats have a coordinating table runner.

I was in a big clean-up mood, so I cut up this machine quilting practice quilt
into potholder filler.

Which resulted in 16 potholders
ready for my kitchen or gifts.


Here's some green ones, using various scraps and fat quarters


and some orange/red ones. 
That boy/girl print in the centre diamond was the backing of the practice quilt.

I used up lots of bits, and cleared out batting pieces too small for quilts 
but too large to throw out.

I'm linking up with


Friday, 28 September 2018

Fairy sewing godmother

I spent some time in the role of fairy sewing godmother
when a little girl close to me announced to her mom 
that she wanted a fairy unicorn birthday party.

I think we managed to make that wish come true.
I made her this two-piece fairy skirt in rainbow colours.
Lots of tulle, lots of shirring, and lots of rainbows.

The fairy princess's mom and I made six more tulle skirts
for the little girls attending her party.
It definitely was a vision of cuteness, 
and one partygoer wore her skirt, fairy wings and tiara with her best dress
to a family wedding right after the party.


Not much quilting going on here,
but I did visit this hexie quilt I made for a friend 9 years ago.

I quilted it on a friend's midarm machine back then.
Although the stitches are big and the motifs shaky,
it is all still hanging together.





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