Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May for Me - Guest Post from Carolyn!

Hi I am Carolyn Meuser.

How special to be invited to tell my story here at Marcia’s May For Me Event.  But just as I began to think about it, unexpected distractions, interruptions, and disruptions took a lot of attention.  Now suddenly it’s way past mid May!  

But there was one happy project amidst all the confusion – making tote bags for three lovely ladies in my family for Mother’s Day.  I just had to make an extra for me.  It’s a handy size with 4 x 12 base.

 I love to give gifts, and I had been thinking a lot about gifts as I was making the totes.  Sometimes, I know just what is right for someone and just happen to have it on hand.  But usually the intention and the idea are waiting for the reality to catch up.  Maybe there’s just the intention and no time to wait for the idea or inspiration and no time to shop.  Maybe there’s no time to comb through supplies on hand if an idea does come to mind.  No time to make something.
I suspect everyone can recall gifting experiences and the frustration and maybe even desperation of coming up with a gift on to short a notice, and wondering if it would actually be welcome.  After all, so many people do already have a lot of stuff.

So I thought of starting a trend – a gifting wall.  I even thought of making it a regifting wall, because I've often noticed people enjoying regifting, both on the giving and receiving end.

I first got the idea from a friend who was facing a cross-country move.  She had set up a shelf on a screened in porch to display the giveaways.  Partly it was a fun social thing for anyone visiting to view the knick knacks, dishes, etc. and share their history.  And partly it was to offer a gift of whatever someone might express interest in.

I thought the concept of a gifting wall could even be expanded to a lending library of stuff.   It could be pictures and wall art available to lend if you didn’t want it taking up space, but no one was ready to acquire it for sure.

I have appropriated some shelf and wall space primarily to display gifts as I make them and have them available to offer when someone admires them.  I already did that with some little stuffed owls.  I had sent red and orange ones to grand nephews and nieces.  Later, when they were here for a visit, the little girls, 3 and 6, spotted lavender owls.  They played with them off and on during the evening.  The girls even had one in hand as they were leaving.  The 6 year old, with little sister by her side, explained to me that they didn’t have any owls that color.  Of course, they went home with the lavender owls.

Whether for gifts or just a sewing and craft activity, there are many possibilities with fabric and thread.  As you know, loving fabric and thread can lead to accumulation.  It’s been great to try complex projects with quilting and embellishment and learning special techniques.  But it’s always tempting to acquire fabric and thread faster than I can create.
I've come to realize that I need to transform my stash into useful results, and that has now been leading me away from the intricate, exquisite projects.  I’m trying to focus onto more practical items that are less time consuming.  So that’s my current direction as I think about replenishing the gifting wall.  I’m trying to make a big dent in my stash by doing what’s practical and simple and quick.  Maybe it’s something I'm doing for me to avoid the stress of last minute gifts.

For a lot of quilted gifts that need to be made quickly, I use what I call the Basic Potholder Method.  It’s what has already been done by everyone; I just gave it a name.  It works for table mats, runners, placemats, coasters and mini quilts, and camper quilts, as well as potholders and full size quilts.  And it avoids the tedious, time consuming task of binding.  It’s a method I like to share with a beginning quilter, especially a young child.  A small project like a potholder is sometimes a good project for a beginner.
I like to select attractive fabrics for a pot holder top and backing and place them right sides together.  Then add batting to complete the sandwich.  Stitch around with a ¼ inch seam allowance, leaving an opening at one end to turn.  Trim corners to reduce bulk, turn, whip stitch opening closed, and top stitch around the edge.  Machine quilt with some straight or decorative stitching, and the item is done.  Pot holders like these four were made that way.

Two fat quarters can be used to make six pot holders 7 x 9 inches, using whatever batting you choose.

Potholders are such a basic part of everyday life. Someone’s always reaching for a potholder whenever they're in the kitchen.  We have a drawer full, right beside the oven and microwave stack.  Easy to flip through.  You can just take your pick, thick or thin, large or small, and move on to serving “somethin lovin from the oven.”

Some folks are into scrapbooking, creating albums of memories of wonderful events and experiences.  Quilters make memory quilts to capture the essence of a family time or event.  I thought how I have a drawer of potholders – some associated with favorite people or pastimes, some with holidays, some have favorite colors or designs and stitching, and some are merely utilitarian.  All of this led me to the conclusion that you can tell a lot about a family by observing their potholder collection.

Anyway, I'm thinking pot holders make great gifts!  And so I keep making them for the gifting wall.  I always have a few minutes for sewing on a quick and easy project.  So here’s what I decided to do.  I want to be ready to make use of those minutes to use up and sew down my fabric and thread stash by going with simple and efficient construction.  I know I have some pretty half yard and yard cuts.  I'll get fabric and batting pieces and the right color thread ready to machine stitch whenever I have a little time.

Now that we're into the May For Me Event, I'll be looking through my stash to pick out some favorite fabric to make potholders especially for me.

Sometime earlier in 2014, I ran across Marcia’s blog post about mini quilts, and I discovered the concept of coasters and mug rugs as mini quilts.  I also ran across a little paper pieced block that had been waiting a long time to be finished.  It got a frame and was quickly turned into a mini quilt.

I liked the mini quilt idea so much that I began making a mini quilt to send in my greeting cards, thinking it wouldn’t just be tossed in the waste basket, but would be kept and used.  It would remind friends that they were thought of.  A mini quilt can be sent in a card with a first class stamp, if it meets the envelope size and weight limits, is flexible, and no thicker than 1/4 inch.  I keep greeting card stock on hand, so I can even send a mini quilt in a blank card with a note when there isn't time or inspiration to create a card.  Scraps too pretty to throw away have ended up in mini quilts like these aqua floral coasters.

A remnant of a crazy patch print yielded this set of coasters for use at holiday time.

For 4th of July, I made a set of coasters for my sister-in-law and her mother.  Later, I made some more elaborate pieced coasters and added stitching with decorative threads. The pattern used for that blue paper pieced block is from one of Carol Doak’s books.  I liked it so much, that I used it for this block that I attached to the back of a vest.

I had planned to get back to some free motion quilting during May For Me.  As I was getting ready to cut some plain white fabrics and low loft batting to make small sandwiches, I noticed that both fabrics had fringed selvage edges, which can be used to frame fabric art.  In fact, that’s what brought the vest to mind, because the vest fabric had fringed selvages, which I had used to frame the paper pieced block.  So before I cut the white fabrics for the FMQ sandwiches,  a wide strip of fringed selvage had to be cut off each edge to save for framing.

It was time to pull out some past samples of FMQ.  They were passable, and I felt I could do that well or better with a little practice.  Unfortunately, the darning foot with my newer machine did not work well.  It seemed to drag and keep the fabric from moving smoothly.  The FMQ was so unsuccessful it had to be abandoned.  

Instead, paper piecing is going to be my May For Me activity, using that favorite block, and maybe some others.

Our Arizona springtime has been pleasantly comfortable this year.  Soon, however, we'll be moving into summer with warmer days that find us retreating indoors.  I'll be working on larger projects such as this table mat and quilt top.
I once joined a bear paw swap and ended up with an assortment of blocks.  I decided one would make a pretty table mat, so I added an orange frame and turquoise backing.  I wanted to use a wrap around binding to form a turquoise border.  I found a video tutorial to learn how to do the wrap around and developed it further to accommodate the added frame and border.  Here’s how it turned out.

Eight of the other blocks from the swap were colors that would coordinate for a quilt top.  My stash yielded fabric for one more block to make a tic tac toe arrangement.  But first, I had to add background fabric to some blocks to make them a uniform size.  The blocks which should be 14 ½” ranged from 14 ¼” to 15”.  I had procrastinated about doing that, but finally decided I wanted those handsome blocks in a quilt that people could enjoy and maybe not even notice the minor irregularities all that much.  I decided to add a frame strip in cranberry red around each block and use a strawberry red print for wide sashing.  And so it became my Bear Paws and Berries quilt top.

Now I look forward to seeing what others have been doing during May For Me 2015.  And thank you, Marcia, for allowing me to share in your event this year.

Thank you Carolyn for sharing a post on my blog. I love reading about what others are doing and sharing.

You can leave a comment here and I will forward them to Carolyn.

Do you want to share a post about what you are doing? You can share links to your business and groups and all the places you share!  Please email me your post and photos and I will share them throughout the year .... not just in May!

Enjoying May, one day at a time...



Rosemary B❤️ said...

Dear Carolyn, thank you for sharing your beautiful ideas. I love the colors you chose.
What delightful gifts.
I also love giving gifts of things I have made.
and Marsha, thank you so much for the wonderful May for Me event.
I really enjoyed all of these entries this month.

Sadly, for me this month flew by, I was so busy with my adorable parents.... and perhaps this is also nice, in two weeks I will be a gramma.
Happy last few days of May!!

Snoodles said...

I truly love your Bear Paw and Berries quilt, Carolyn! Thanks for sharing!