Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Journal Quilt #1

But first things first. I had a lovely Mother's Day. (They seem to get better as my children get older, oddly enough. {wink, wink}) Nothing warms my heart more than to see that my adult children are happy and healthy and progressing with their lives. I was really worried about DS#1 as I thought he might be homeless again. I hadn't heard from him in two weeks when he called on Mother's Day. Turns out he won't be homeless anytime soon afterall (whew!). He plays drums, you see, and his housemates were tired of the noise. (He plays very well but it does get loud.) He and his bandmates have rented a practice studio, complete with carpeting on the walls and ceiling, so that solves that problem. Meanwhile, DD and family technically are homeless as they are between houses. SIL is in the Navy; they are waiting for base housing to open up. But they are able to stay with SIL's mother for the ten days or so that they were told they would have to wait. So they are okay. Third child is still living at home - we won't go into that - so I know he's okay too. He and his dad went out Saturday and procured gift certificates for me to my local bead and fabric shops and bought me two bars of the expensive organic chocolate I can eat. So it all turned out well in the end. :- )

Now about that first journal quilt... I had wanted to do a series of quilts for some time. I now have the time, thanks to MCS. But where to start? What direction to purue? I knew I wanted to work intuitively as that is my favorite way to work. I decided on an 8.5" x 11" vertical format (not without much deliberation I assure you!). I also decided to include my current favorite shade of green in each journal quilt as I'd heard that green is the color of healing and renewal. And I wanted to give myself permission to play with my beads and found objects.

My original goal was to make 10 quilts in 12 months. I figured that extra two months would compensate for the way Life tends to get in the way of our plans. In the last few days I have signed on to be a part of the Bead Journal Project (check out Robin Atkins' blog Beadlust) so now I am committed to 12 quilts in 12 months. Based on the success I've had with my first two journal quilts I think I'll be okay. (Do I hear evil snickering in the background?!)

My journal quilts will be pieced by machine and embellished by hand. I haven't machine quilted either of the first two but am open to that technique if it is called for in the future. So far I have bead-quilted them for lack of a better term. I create the top (the front of the quilt) and lay that on top of a piece of Warm & Natural batting. Then I stitch the beads on, going through the batting and the fabric. Once I have all the embellishments on I apply the backing and binding. If I feel an area needs extra support I can always put in a few tacking stitches through all three layers.

Subject matter for these journal quilts is the big sticking point for me. It's all well and good to work intuitively, but it sure helps me to have some sort of goal or purpose in mind as I work. I'm not particularly inspired by all the "normal" things that inspire artists. Sure, I could do landscapes or leaves or whatever but I wouldn't be enthusiastic about it. And one of the things I think the MCS is here to teach me is to pay attention to myself and my needs. So these journal quilts are probably going to be an exploration of who and what I am, what makes me happy, that sort of thing.

I find it fascinating that I have a passion for working with needle and thread and that my birth initials spell the word 'sew'. (My sister's birth initials spell 'law' and I think she would have made a good lawyer. Of course that leaves my poor brothers completely out of luck as their initials don't spell anything at all!) Having recently discovered Tonya's blog, Lazy Gal Quilting, I thought a good place to start might be by creating my birth initials using her free piecing tutorial. That took care of 3/4 of the quilt. I rummaged around in my bits and pieces of randomly pieced fabrics and found a free-form Log Cabin block to fill in the last quarter. I beaded around the letters (covering up some of the wonderful wonkiness of them unfortunately) and then had to figure out what to do with the Log Cabin block...

I outline stitched the seamlines in a varigated floss - another favorite technique - and then got into my beads. S, E, and W are not only my birth initials, they create the command, "sew." Reacting to that I used my letter beads to finish the command - or encouragement, as the case may be. When I was a little girl my aunts called me Susie. The one surviving aunt still does. I don't feel like a Susie, but the endearment makes me feel loved so I thought it would be appropriate to use on this piece. Then I included the charms to remind me to use my imagination, trust my instincts, and create something fun. The final touch was the "bluebird of happiness" sequin, once again reminding me that sewing/stitching makes me happy.

It's my own personal motivational poster!


  1. The journal quilts look fantastic. I agree with you about inspiration - landscapes and nature don't do anything for me at all either. I love Robin Atkin's work - I'll have to go check out her blog.

  2. What a neat quilt! I didn't "see" the letters until you pointed them out and then, of course, they became obvious!


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