A few of the squares…

Now that the wedding is over and we are adjusting to the idea of Thomas and Belle moving to Seattle, I thought I would use my evenings to start assembling the “Wish Them Well” quilt that I put out for the party here at the house in September and also at the picnic the day after the wedding in Arlington, VA. This way I could envision, while working on it, them seeing the messages that their friends and family wrote for them in their new apartment in Seattle. Their new apartment is all white, as most apartments are and I see this bringing some color into that space and helping them settle in. I envision them either hanging the quilt on the wall to look at or using it on the sofa to snuggle under while they watch movies or TV.

“Wish them Well” table

Today, I thought I would share my progress on the quilt and let you in on the fun. To start, this is an old idea. Quilters call this type of quilt a “signature” quilt and they have traditionally been made to commemorate a special occasion. I thought of doing this for my own wedding but didn’t. My idea at that time was to use it as a guest book instead of an actual book. To have guests sign a square as a way to know who shared our day with us. I have now seen, on the web where folks have done this idea to send off a co-worker, to welcome home a soldier or to share memories of grandparents. So it was only fitting that being a quilter, I wanted to do one for my son and his new bride to begin their life together.

Four inch white cotton was cut with the seam allowance drawn onto the square. Markers were put out in a basket and the sign to write them a message and we collected about 25 squares for the finished quilt. They are wonderful with some of them actually taking the time to color a drawing for the couple.

photoshop map of layout

I use photoshop instead of any fancy quilt software to layout anything that I want to work on and I put together a quick layout of how I want the squares to be placed. A twin sized quilt is about 96″ x 72″ so I used that size to scale the pattern for the squares. I am not sure if the quilt will end up a twin size or a lap quilt when it is finished because there is some white space that I need to design for and I don’t know yet what to put in there. I can be a “quilt as I go” kind of quilter sometimes. So, the wishes will be the whites squares and each of the green squares will be a traditional quilt square to add interest.

I am looking for traditional squares that might have some meaning to beginning a new life together. There are some really adorable cat and dog squares in the book that I am using and some on the web that I also want to add for their pets and a house square for their new place in Seattle. I have favorite patterns that I have enjoyed making through the years and I will probably add some of those. I have about 34 squares to play with so I am sure I can find lots of interesting options. I will get all those squares done and lay out the quilt on the floor before assembling all the squares together. This way I can make sure that there is a balance of color throughout and not have a concentration of too much of one color in any area of the overall design.

I’ve attached a gallery of the squares that I have so far and I am using my evenings to do a square a day. Not sure if the quilt will be done to ship to them for Christmas but I can certainly try. Over the years I have hand quilted all of my quilts but I may take this one to the quilt shop and see if I can have them quilt it for me. My hands are needed for other projects these days and the love that will go into the squares will show through without the added ache of putting all the stitches into the finished piece.

Enjoy the photos and let me know if there is a favorite square that you would like to see in the sample of squares surrounding all the wishes for a happy life in Seattle, WA.

Wishing Them Well…

Revealing the “bird”…

Every year, Herb has fun by pretending to have gotten me something really crazy for Christmas and telling me not to look or go into the garage. This year, for a while it was a bird that he had to go out and feed. Then he finally told me he had gotten me a potter’s wheel. A new ploy to throw me off by really telling the truth, but because that has been the previous years’ story, I didn’t believe him.

For 30 years, I have wanted a potter’s wheel and this year for Christmas, Herb was able to find a used one on Craig’s List to get me for Christmas. The photos here were taken in the pottery studio at Berea College in, probably 1978, where I was in the apprenticeship program for a couple of years. Ironically, I decided that I didn’t like doing production and became a TA for the remaining two years. I now do work that requires major productions of  printed items.

So I have had visions of pottery pieces dancing in my head for several days now. I was actually able to throw a pot on Christmas day and out of 5 balls of clay I kneaded up, only one didn’t make it off the wheel. It got two soft and wobbly and collapsed. Another made it off the wheel but was dislodged as I was trimming the bottom, so I now have some practicing to do. Looking to the web for inspiration, I first went to my college pal, Steven Sommerville’s site because he has such awesome work. And then I went to WordPress to try to find some blogs of potters that I could use as inspiration. I went to Etsy but I am not really impressed with the quality of the pots that I found there. Nothing I really want to try to emulate for now.

I want to develop my own style and I am not sure where that will take me yet. I think first I will just throw some shapes and see how it evolves. Vases, salt cellars, functional, non-functional, mugs, bowls, plates, planters.  There are just too many ideas out there. It felt good to get my hands back in the mud though. Herb said he remembers me with muddy handprints on the butt of my jeans and generally looking like a walking mudpie. I never seemed to wear an apron and my clothes were the place to wipe my dirty hands. You could tell by walking around on campus who worked in the pottery because we all had dirty clothes on. I think we were known as mud dobbers.

I’ll keep you posted but I’m definitely not taking any orders yet. And, I am trying to stay a little cleaner these days.

Matchbox Mouse

Molly Mouse in her dress

From one of the many catalogs that have come to our house this holiday season, Garnet Hill had this item in it and when I went to order it for one of my favorite little 4 year olds, they were sold out. Then I googled and found that every site that had them were also sold out. I can see why considering that they are so cute. So given my famous thought, “I could make that!”, I decided to do just that. While I didn’t document the whole process, I thought I would share how I went about putting mine together. My apologies to the original artist, but, if there had been more out there I would have purchased yours….and not spent two days in my sewing room. (which now looks like a bomb went off in there)

  1. I took the dimensions from the item at the website and went through my house looking for appropriate cardboard to make the box out of. I located some that had been a cover for a book of fabric swatches that an interior designer gave me several years ago. The cardboard is about 1/8 thick and is really sturdy and dense. Plus, it had this great pattern already on it so when I cut out the pieces to the box I made sure I positioned the pattern onto some of the sides.
  2. After cutting the sleeve part of the box, I glued it together and set it aside to dry while I worked on the bed part of the box. This box has to fit inside the sleeve so you have to account for the thickness of the cardboard in addition to making the measurements just right. Then you glue the bed part of the box together.
  3. Then onto the mouse. I had a pair of merino wool socks that had been through the dryer too many times and I could no longer wear but they had been naturally felted due to the dryer heat. Cutting them up into the parts of the mouse worked out because the knitting wouldn’t fray due to the felting.
  4. The mouse is 4 1/2 inches tall so I first drew out the proportions on a sheet of cardboard that I had cut to the 4 1/2 size. Basically, the arms and legs were just tubes with a rounded ended sewn in them for the hands and feet. The torso is a larger tube that the arms and legs were tucked into or sewn onto. The head was a head like shape, basically an oval with a pointed side. two pieces sewn together, turned inside out and stuffed with about a cotton ball size of stuffing. The torso was stuffed as well, but the legs and arms are just the sock material. And the ears are just small circles with a small pleat in them and stitched onto the head.  The eyes, nose and mouth were embroidered on.
  5. Her dress is scrap lace and fabrics. The skirt is a rectangle with elastic in the top and wrapped around her waist and a small snap is stitched in place so that it can be taken on and off. The lace slip is stitched to the mouse so it can be a nighty. And then I tied a satin ribbon around the waist for a waistband sash.
  6. Her jewels are just beads that were threaded on elastic string and small gold wire. I used initial beads for her necklace so I could give her a name.
  7. Once the box had dried, I glued watercolor paper to the top and sides of the sleeve and painted the strike plates on the sides and an illustration on the top. Mine has the alphabet on it as opposed to a fake manufacturer’s name. My little friend is 3 1/2 years old so she can practice her alphabet  reading the top.
  8. I lined the box bottom with fabric that I glued in and made a rectangle square that I stuffed and machine quilted for a small mattress and made a matching pillow. Her blanket is part of a sleeve from a sweater that I stitched satin ribbon onto one end and did a blanket stitch around the remaining three sides.
  9. Once complete, the mouse fits inside and when closed up she fits snuggly inside and can be tucked in at night to sleep in her little box
  10. I have a wooden thread spool that I might include as a pretend stool or bedside table.

I hope that my little friend will cherish this little mouse for many years to come. At $28 in the catalogs, I may have to purchase the next one. Made with love and a lot of time. Merry Christmas, Sophie.