I’m into Squares

AQuilt_croppeddvanced quilters will have to refrain from laughing at my puny quilting efforts. Those who want to learn basic quilting, read on. Especially if you’re an experienced garment sewer like I am, eager to expand your horizons into new prints, colors and techniques. Here’s the story of my latest simple quilt.

I have been dutifully trying to use cottons from my acquired stash. It seems to me, though, that to finish projects one has to acquire yet more fabrics because you don’t have just the right patterns, stripes or solids in quantity. This time, I put out a plea to my local recycling Web site: Did anyone have fabric they were not using, so I could “finish up” projects or make lap quilts for charity? Why, yes they did. And they would be more than happy to have me pick it up from their porches or homes. In large bins. All of the fabrics you see in the pictured sample are the result. The bluish-looking solid is actually a spruce green. The red is a floral, the cream is a leafy lattice, and there’s a floral element to the dark green striped fabric. Despite the flora, and no holiday element whatsoever, my quilt looks like Christmas. Which makes it less useful, I’m afraid, as a lap quilt or to give away. I’m less enthused about it myself, in the early summertime, though the colors are lovely.

The real simplicity to this project is the squares. It’s impossible to miss if you’re a really creative quilter. My quilt has only squares! I use a “strip” quilting method, and over time I’ve perfected the quarter-inch (1/4″) seam allowance so that in the sample above, the corners match beautifully. Though I’ve read many techniques for creating triangles, especially ones that won’t distort on the bias, I’ve never tried to cut or sew triangles! There–it’s out now! I can’t be frightened of the technique, which is well explained, but I do fear combining colors and prints. After all, a triangle meets up with another triangle, and each should complement the other somehow. But soon, soon I hope to try a whole bunch of triangles. And maybe some off-set columns (strips). You see, I have a lot of fabric to practice with!


Colorful Charity Sewing

SoundStitches sewing blog charity sewing Days for GirlsHere’s what I did last weekend: I stitched colorful fabrics to help girls stay in school! A co-worker alerted me to a sewing session to benefit a group that believes, “Every girl in the world deserves education, safety, and dignity.” Well, I decided I not only believe in that, but I could spend a few hours proving it! Here’s a bit more on Days for Girls International:

We help girls gain access to quality sustainable feminine hygiene and awareness, by direct distribution of sustainable feminine hygiene kits, by partnering with nonprofits, groups and organizations, by raising awareness, and by helping communities around the world start their own programs.

Practically-speaking, we stitched soft cotton covers and liners that will go into kits with washcloths, soap, and various plastic bags to make these necessary items easier to manage. We also consumed tasty soup, snacks, chatted, and enjoyed the great view afforded by our hostess’ hillside home! The goal of this program is to enable girls to continue attending school when they are often absent for one reason alone. More days in school leads to higher educational attainment and delayed motherhood, which leads to better maternal and infant health, and overall quality of life. Learn more or find a session near you: Days for Girls International

The organizer had assembled ready-to-sew kits. The fabrics were the delightful, high quality, and well-coordinated cottons you see in the picture, making it a pleasure to stitch together various combinations. I hope to attend the next session! This is actually the second session I’ve attended. The first was with school-aged girls, organized by a local mom, and held in a local crafts/sewing studio. Though puberty has not arrived for these girls yet, they were eager to either learn or practice their sewing skills to benefit other girls. And what a great, informal way to learn that the arrival of puberty is a challenge all girls can handle!


Capri Pants with Benefits

These are simple elastic-waist pants with two extra features: side pockets with contrast lining, and side slits for easy movement. “Nice pants,” you might say, “for your boy.” Well, these are for my girl. I had to get her out of some worn-out, hole-destined khaki pants. So you see, I have a tomboy. So the new pants had to be a compromise. Not shown well in the picture, they are a teal-colored baby corduroy. Durable and not too girly. The side pockets were necessary, you see, because every girl needs a place to store her opened cheese stick wrappers and rocks. Something has to protect them from the washer machine and dryer, you see. And she wants to wear pants that protect her knees, so I made them capri-length with slits on the outside legs.

I obtained the fabric from what we locals are calling “Erma’s stash.” In May, a member of our local American Sewing Guild chapter was helping her mom move into an assisted-living facility. She invited us all over to see if we could use the fabric, in exchange for donation to her mom’s cause. Erma is in her 90s and endured World War II. She collected decades of fabric, though I overheard her say “I wasn’t able to get much.” Erma’s two daughters chatted with friends and visitors.

We were grateful to have the opportunity to have met Erma, who bravely came out to see her stash raided. (I actually felt rather emotional myself, remembering my grandmother Mumu who died last September at age 96.)

I collected a number of pieces of fabric that you’ll see referred to as “Erma’s stash” in future. Apparently many members of our sewing guild have been stitching up gifts for family and items for charity using the fabrics. We understand from daughter and guild member Molly that Mom appreciates seeing it all go to good use. This is my first finished garment, perfect for a tomboy daughter.

Quilt for Auction

This lovely quilt was brought to our regular “show and tell” by North Seattle ASG member Jean Meier. The quilt, constructed of blocks to which raw edge circular shapes are attached, will be auctioned at the Spring for Seniors event benefitting the Ballard Northwest Senior Center. I just love the modern mix of colors, shapes and techniques that Jean incorporated.

The event is March 25, 2012 at 5:00 p.m., Leif Erickson Hall. More details on the Ballard NW Senior Center Web site.

You too can show off your garment and quilting projects — and learn from others — by attending a local American Sewing Guild meeting. We have very active neighborhood groups in the Puget Sound area. How about your area? To search for locations, click American Sewing Guild.