Sunday, November 13, 2011

Habitat Challenge: My Design

Last weekend, the Blue Valley Quilter's Guild had a day-long retreat in the country. We arranged for use of a church hall, catered lunch and supper, and we got together and sewed all day.

It took me a week to post about it - it has been one of "those" weeks, if you know what I mean.

I had a lovely time at the retreat and got a lot of work done. My main accomplishment was the completion of the top of my Habitat challenge submission (by Jay McCarroll). Modern Quilt guilds from around the country were invited to participate. You received a pack fat 6 fat eighths and you had to use all 6 in the quilt (could be the back). In our challenge, we were allowed to add more of the habitat line, in the same or a different color way, and/or solid fabrics of any line.

I came up with this original design. Here is the top when I finished it at the retreat.

This design resulted from an evolution of ideas. At first, I thought of appliqueing "kerfuffle" on a white background, with a patched border that slowly fell apart (thus making the quilt a "kerfuffle"). But for some reason, that idea lost its charm for me.

I was still fixated on words. Somehow it evolved into a ransom note, in which the letters were "clipped" from magazines and newspapers. "We have your quilt." But then....then, I thought of how many letters that would be. Too much work, because by then, I was down to 2 weeks before it's due.

The design of the fabric that is behind the "s" above made me think of the late 50s and early 60s style. That led to the idea of strip mall signs from the late 50s early 60s. Something like this picture but in which each letter was its own sign on its own pole.  That's what I ended up with.

The letters are machine appliqued using a fusible web and edged with a blanket stitch on my machine in a matching thread color.

When I finished the piecing, I put it up on the design wall. So many quilters at the retreat said they liked it, but wondered why it said "still." Admittedly, it is an odd word to have all by itself. I was attempting to be freely creative and modern...but I really also want to be understood.

Here's why I chose it: the Bible verse "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46: 10) was stuck in my head, and I was feeling a bit agitated when I was completing the design. So, I focused on "still." Additionally, there are only 5 letters to applique and I could use 5 out of the 6 pieces of fabric on the background! Bonus.

I was tired by having to explain the origin of the I decided to quilt in the "Be"

Habitat Challenge, Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild by Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild
Habitat Challenge, Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild, a photo by Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild on Flickr.
Here is the quilt (sans binding) being shown at the guild meeting.  You can see the "Be" in the upper left corner, if you look closely.  I still have to explain it, but it makes more sense to people.

Didn't quite finish the binding.  Oh, and I designed the lettering by using 5 different fonts on my computer. The "still" letters are about 350pt font. The "Be" is like 450pt font. The gray fabric was a practical design decision - I had a bunch of it in my stash and I really didn't want to go buy more fabric.

The quilting turned out much better than I anticipated. I used a design called "Broken Glass" which is published on The Free Motion Quilting Project,  a blog by Leah Day (in Raleigh, NC, my old stomping ground...hey, y'all!). This pattern represents scattered anxiety and stress, to contrast with the calming message of the words. It was quite easy to do and very effective. As an added bonus, it de-emphasized the piecing lines, thus adding continuity to the whole piece. Thanks, Leah!!!

Nope, didn't win the guild's challenge. But, it was quite original and I got some nice compliments.

Here's another look at the top:

I highly recommend viewing all the designs from our challenge on flickr.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Date with Martha

Martha Stewart came to Kansas City last night, promoting her new book, Martha's Entertaining A Year of Celebrations.  I decided to go. I'm not usually much into the celebrity chef/author thing, but lately I've been rather taken with Ms. Martha and her magazine.

Of course you wouldn't know that, looking at my house right now, but that's beside the point.

It was a delightful presentation. The evening was sponsored by Rainy Day Books, a local independent book seller. They do a lot of these events, and I think it's working for them. They attract some really good celebrity authors (and non-celebrity authors) in to promote their books at these events. You get an autographed copy of the book, a presentation, lecture, conversation with the author, and maybe some special things, too.  At this event, there were many giveaways from sponsors:

So, what did I think of Martha?

I was afraid she'd be aloof or cold and it would undermine my impression of her and diminish my enjoyment of her magazines. I was so wrong. She was poised and engaging, professional, polished and kind.  She does not look 70 years old at all and however she does it, it works. The evening was an interview-style conversation between the president of Rainy Day Books and Ms. Martha, in the main hall at Unity Temple on the Plaza in Kansas City. It lasted about 50 minutes. Most of the conversation focused on Martha's favorite things, memories, the gatherings described in the book, and other little anecdotes from Martha's recent history.

It didn't occur to me to bring a camera. Everyone else seemed to think of it... I snapped a few shots on my phone, but I doubt they turned out to be any good.

The book is huge and heavy, filled with beautiful photographs of her soirees and homes. Each chapter is a different event, and many of them are themed on a holiday. The spotlight is on the food, but there's a good amount of space devoted to the table setting, the venue, and her coordinating decor. 

All of the recipes are in the back of the book. There are simple recipes and complicated recipes, for any meal of the day. A selection of cocktails is a part of the mix.

This is not a book I would pick out on my own had I not gone to this presentation. However, I'm glad I have it now. Because it is different, it will make me think "outside the box" for entertainment, decorating, and menu ideas.