Yesterday I gave a private class to my small quilt group on making Molas. I love making them by hand applique but also have a fast machine made version and for this class. I allowed the group members to choose which method they wished to learn – I usually restrict a class to one method or the other because they really are quite different techniques but my group members were willing to sit through the instruction for each method with courtesy and patience. I had eight students, two made their Molas by machine, the others all worked with hand applique. Five created their own unique designs while three used patterns from the collection I have designed.Our hostess, Jane, was the Superstar completing her machine made Mola from start to finish using a new pattern I had created by her request of a Native American pot; it turned out gorgeous but I – Miss Swiss Cheese For Brains – was so busy helping all the students that I neglected to take a photo of her Mola. I will do so at a future date but for now, I am posting a few photos of my own Molas.We worked and ate homemade coffee cake made by me, chewy gooey oh so delicious brownies made by Jane’s grandson, luscious bundt cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes and heavenly Moonstruck Chocolate graciously provided by a group member who is one of Moonstruck’s leading Chocolatiers. We got to taste a preview of an upcoming flavor being developed for next Mother’s Day along with the last batch of a flavor – ‘Cherry Blossom’ – that was specially developed for the Portland Japanese Garden’s grand re-opening earlier this year. The Cherry Blossom chocolate is being retired and will be seen no more to my dismay, it was delicious.Speaking of things retiring, we capped off the meeting/class with a trip to member Steve’s home for a last shopping trip at what was left of his fabric inventory; he closed his online store One World Fabrics for good last week and gave us all unbelievable deals on the fabric he had left, I wish my budget had allowed me to buy more and I focused on the fabrics I knew were not likely to cross my path again.
Spring is here and it’s time to do a little spring cleaning – don’t forget to include your fabric scrap bag in this task. Most spring cleaning is not so fun (unless you are a clean freak who takes pleasure in scrubbing and dusting) but this project IS fun.
Some of us (ahem) just can’t seem to part with scraps easily and there are a number of ways I’ve seen small scraps dealt with. Some quilters shred them and use them in confetti quilts, others pack the shreds into glass jars and call them ‘Quilters’ Jam’ giving them away to friends as whimsical gifts, a friend of mine saves the tiniest of bits and pieces that a friend of hers uses as stuffing in dog beds she makes and yet most quilters (God forbid!) throw them away into the trash! Ladies and Gentlemen – your grandmothers and great grandmothers would turn in their graves if they knew you were throwing these away! I have gone ‘dumpster diving’ into the waste baskets at some of my quilting classes and found what I would consider YARDAGE!. I have made quilts almost entirely from what I glean off of my guild’s free table -as if I did not generate enough scraps of my own.
One friend of mine showed a lovely twin sized quilt at Show and Tell at the guild several years ago, it was a lovely combination of scrappy stars and when the gasps of appreciation had died down she said “I just wanted you ladies who were at the retreat to see what you threw away”. Lets face it – quilting was born of a frugality by our fore-mothers to make use of every last piece of precious fabrics.
Some quilters don’t have the patience to work with scraps. Ascertaining that the scrap is large enough to get the necessary pieces from, re-cutting and trimming them to the appropriate shape and size can be labor intensive, especially for a generation who prefer slicing off large chunks of fabric from yardage with a rotary cutter and then fast piecing them for instant gratification.
This quilt for my Spring Cleaning Stash Buster class is not so fussy. The scraps are string pieced randomly and quickly using chain piecing then reassembled with larger chunks (yes you can scratch your itch to get out your rotary cutters and fat quarters for this part) into carefree blocks that go together FAST to make quilt tops in any size you wish.
Please consider joining me at this class coming up at Pioneer Quilts in about a week and a half – May 23rd, with your scrap bag and sewing machine in hand. We will make mincemeat of those scraps and you will have not only a beautiful quilt but also the knowledge that those scraps did not suffer the indignity of quietly moldering in a landfill.
Another class coming even sooner is my Machine Quilting 101 class at A Common Thread next weekend. The first session is on Sunday May 21st followed by part 2 on Sunday May 28th. This is an excellent introduction to Machine Quilting to gain the skills to quilt your own tops with confidence. If that schedule or location doesn’t work for you, I have the same class coming up at Sharon’s Attic on two Saturdays – June 3 & 17 and for you Eastsiders at Pioneer Quilts on June 13 & 20 (Tuesdays).
A couple of days ago I actually got out into the yard to do some work. We have a couple of years worth of dead-fall that I keep promising to throw in a burn pile and every year manage to wait until burn season is over and have to put it off to next year.This year I did make a dent in it (a little dent but better than nothing). As I walked the property picking up branches, I noticed that there was a lot of flora that has supplanted our erstwhile lawn. When we moved in back in 1991, it was the 3/4 acre of lawn that attracted my husband to the property. All I saw was a ton of maintenance but just like a child who wants a puppy, my husband promised he would water and mow it – yeah right! And if you believe that, I have a nice little bridge I’d like to sell you. The first summer, he did mow it quite diligently but it fell upon me to weed, feed and water it. Hours and hours of watering and it still turned brown. We are on a well and fearing to run out of water, I dared not put any more water on it and it would turn brown every summer. As the years went by and I got tired of spending entire days pulling weeds, we ended up with 3/4 of an acre of dandelions. Oh well – at least they stayed green most of the summer.The years went by and as the lawn got more neglect the biodiversity sprang up. The back yard still has plenty of grass run wild at this point – more of a meadow than a lawn, but the front yard has become quite an interesting array of species. Years ago I noticed some wild violets springing up here and there in the shadier spots; initially they were yellow violets but then a couple of years ago suddenly they all turned purple – great big drifts of sweet lovely purple violets have taken over our lawn. This year, they were joined by a tapestry of wild strawberries. Again, this started with just a cluster or two that appeared on their own – I did not plant them, They don’t really yield much in the way of fruit, the berries are tiny (about 1/2″ at the largest), white and somewhat sweet but it would take a barrel of them to do anything with, the plants however are charming. The third tenant to show up is a small carpet of Forget-me-nots. Now these I did plant – about -18 years ago. They seemed to naturalize for a few years then disappeared but now they have made an appearance again. And finally, in the back yard close to the house, I have runaway oregano. I tried to plant a few herbs many years ago, most of them languished and finally died off but the oregano was tenacious and spread. It seems to have reverted to some ancestral species, the plants are robust but do not have a very intense flavor or fragrance, however they (like the dandelions) tend to remain green all summer long without benefit of a sprinkler so they are welcome to stay.Less welcome are the blackberries that are springing up in my erstwhile lawn, they are going to have to be addressed and soon. They took over my back vegetable garden encroaching from the neighbor’s yard and frankly, it became a full time job just keeping them at bay. Round-up just encourages them and Crossbow – while effective – is one nasty piece of work. Remember, I said we are on a well and I am ‘well’ aware that whatever I spray on the weeds, we will be drinking in a few weeks time. Before you wax poetic and say “Oh blackberries – why not just harvest the berries and make pies?” let me tell you that these blackberries are more seed than anything else, I may as well try to make a pie from Chia seeds (except Chia seeds get soft and slippery when wet, blackberry seeds remain hard like gravel). Add to that, I believe blackberries are sentient beings. I have never seen any plant fight back with as much seeming intelligence as those beasts, I am sure they hold conferences at night when no one is looking, plotting on how they will take over the world (or at least Oregon). They are accompanied in places by their ally – Russian Thistle which also fight back on any attempt to pull it up. Those spines can go right through leather gardening gloves! Also not welcome is the English Ivy that I (and the nursery who encouraged me to plant it 25 years ago) am responsible for. How I wish I’d never planted that and at some point I hope to be able to eradicate it (without heavy doses of poison) but I fear it’s a losing battle.I have posted some photos of the multiracial ‘lawn’ I now have along with pictures of my lovely Viburnum that is about to explode with blossoms and a lovely delicate Japanese water iris I have confined in a planter on my deck. I got a start for the iris from a cousin in Washington, I have no idea where she found it but I have not seen it in local nurseries here and in fact the only other place I’ve ever seen it in was in botanical gardens in Maui when I was there a few years ago.After a long hard winter, perhaps spring has arrived.