"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Inner City Quilting Project

It has been a busy - and happy - several days enjoying my kids while they are in town.   Both girls have gone home and son and daughter-in-law are only going to be with us a couple of more days.  :(.  I took down the Christmas glory, today, and had a nice nap while son and daughter-in-law were out cavorting around the city, up to god knows what. 

Daughter-in-law is an inner city high school math teacher in Manhattan, teaching high risk children.  As a class project, she had them design and sew quilt blocks using some sort of high falluting formula that I would need a pencil and paper to follow.  I'd given her a ton of my scraps some months ago to get started.  The kids designed their own blocks, selected their own fabric and stitched them together.  She had them chalk in the seam allowance to make it easier for them to end up with twelve inch (finished) blocks. 

The first day or so she was here, she presented me with their treasures:


My, my.

Every quilter out there knows what I was feeling - like a racehorse in the starting gate.  And I was tickled to death to have an excuse to get into my sewing room even though I had company.  It is my mental health therapy, afterall!

Like most new quilters, particularly since they didn't have rulers to square up their masterpieces, there was a variety of sizes. 

Some of them just had personality - that is all I can say.  It was so much fun to look at their individual blocks and think about what they were thinking when they put the particular colors together.  I will say this for them - they were daring!!  They seemed to be drawn to checks and stripes - clearly they are fearless.

This MAY be my favorite one (although I really couldn't choose): 

What a gutsy choice of fabrics!  When I was initially pressing them, I discovered that the creator had used staples!  That young alpha male obviously was not going to tolerate any lines getting out of line!

So I started out by squaring them up.

 I ended up squaring them to eleven inches (finished) and I didn't think that was too far off.   

One little soldier was marching to the beat of a different drummer and that caused me to do some head scratching to figure out how to get him to fit with the other blocks.

 I ended up putting him on the outer edge and it all worked out fine.  I loved his fabric choices!  I think he was going for different shapes.  Or it might have been a "she."  

You can see the difference between before and after squaring up:

(the one to the left is still in its wild state - isn't that a gorgeous choice of colors?).

And here it is after squaring up:

Here they all are on the design wall, squared up.

About that time, we took a break to go out to eat and visit the Oklahoma History Center.   I love the blue Oklahoma sky.

This was an exhibit at the museum:

When we got back home, I went back to the babies and put sashing on them. 

Then I added sashing to the outside to give more stabilization.

I was really pleased with how it began coming together.  Kind of looks like primative folkart, don't you  think?

I had to face the fact that even with the sashing to stabilize it, the quilt was not going to hold together for long because of some of the loose stitching in the seams. No problem, I just used some fusible web and muslin on the seams to keep them from pulling loose (when I first started, I did this a lot with my own blocks).

I added a black border to make it pop. 

At this point, I didn't want to give it back.  I just wanted to keep it for myself!

In keeping with the scraps theme, I dug through my old solid muslin and pieced together a backing. 

I did my own version of wild and crazy!

I hope the kids don't mind that the girls came in to help.

My longarm is not set up, yet, so I layered it, birthed it (a quilt construction technique) and if I have time, I'll try to quilt it on my Janome.  Here it is with the batting on top.

I used some fusible web to close the opening where I turned it inside out.  Here is how it turned out (before quilting):

I am delighted with it and hope the kids enjoy it, too.   They did a great job and taught me a thing or two about how pretty things can be when you step outside your comfort zone. 

Happy Quilting,

Penny, Evelyn and Pearl

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Home for the Holidays

We got off to a nail biting start and Christmas has been a wild ride.
To recap and finish the stories:

We were hit with an historic blizzard on Christmas Eve.

The city reportedly set a new record with a fourteen inch snowfall. 

We probably got about 7 - 8 inches.

You can see from the drifts how bad the wind was.

Pearl proved to be a true Samoyed.

Son, Daughter-in-Law and their dog, Martin, drove in from New York City, leaving at around noon on Wednesday. They made it to an hour from the house on Christmas Eve (would have been pulled into the drive around 4:00 p.m.), but the blizzard struck and they had to seek shelter an hour away at a Best Western.  It had no heat and snow blowing into the room. They sent pictures of themselves drinking beer and eating McDonalds from a sack.

Daughter Number One came from New York City by air. She was nearly here on Christmas Eve when they closed the airport and diverted her to Houston. Her cousin was darling enough to pick her up and whisk her home to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with his wife and two tykes. They fed her, gave her a warm home and shower, let her enjoy the holiday with the two babies, and then made sure she was at the airport bright and early Christmas morning to catch her flight home.

Her airline cancelled most of the flights. And messed up the bookings. Repeatedly. So she sat at the airport all Christmas Day waiting to see if her flight would actually arrive and, if so, actually take her to Oklahoma City. She all but resigned herself to simply returning to New York City after all that mess.

Meanwhile, Daughter Number Two and Son-In-Law also flew in from New York but had arrived on the 23rd, then drove to his parent’s home about an hour and a half away from mine. On Christmas Eve, they attempted to drive back to my house but were also caught in the blizzard. They tried for many hours to get through stalled and abandoned cars and wicked road conditions but ended up in a motel twelve miles from my home, with beer and convenience food for their Christmas Eve dinner. They sent a picture.
I’ll admit, Christmas Eve was pretty tough. However Christmas Day dawned bright and lovely.

The kids began trickling in that morning. By one o’clock, Son, Daughter-in-Law, Daughter Number Two and Son-In-Law were here. We had no clue if or when Daughter Number One would make it. We ate Christmas Dinner at my Sister-in-Law’s house and she made the kids feel welcome.

Happily, at 11:03 p.m., Christmas Day, Daughter Number One walked through my door. The Christmas stations had stopped playing Christmas music at 11:00 p.m. so we listened to music from the forties and opened our stockings. We “rebooted” Christmas and celebrated the morning of December 26th.  Daughter had brought a CD of Panamanian organ music by "Lucho."  My grandfather always played Lucho while we opened Christmas Gifts.  It was a glorious time.

After the storm passed, things were just beautiful.

Well, in truth, the storm, itself, was magnificent had I been in a heartframe to truly appreciate it.

The kids (and Husband) were too generous. Son and Daughter-in-Law gave me a Bird Cam that I can’t wait to set up (need to get batteries, this morning) and this darling tote made of gum wrappers:

I think you'd have to see the tote to really appreciate it.  It is adorable.

Daughter Number One gave me a super generous gift certificate to the local quilt store as well as a Dear Jane book I’ve been wanting for a long time.  I had wanted to take a class at the quilt shop and may use the certificate to do that.  It is a thrill to have a gift certificate from a place near HOME that I can actually use! (Heartfelt thanks, Husband, for turning our lives upside down to get me back home).

Daughter and Son-in-Law gave me a wall hanging kit they brought back from a trip to New Zealand, this summer. The fabric is stunning.

I'm in love with this particular fabric:

That is just a sampling of the many gifts I received but the best one, of course, was having my family around me during the holidays.

Happy Quilting,

Penny, Evelyn and Pearl