Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Old quilts, old people...new quilts, old people or new people?!?

I am stuck in a quandary about appliqued center medallion blocks...if you make them more modern, does that make them weird?  Does human applique on a quilt have to look antique to be considered serious?

I have many favorites inspired by old quilts...like "Phoebe"...and there are so many delightful versions of this medallion out there.

These pictures are from Melinda in NSW, Australia.

Or this one from Kel in Australia.

That quilt has such a lovely, pastoral center, but the setting is what I call old-fashioned or dated.  If the figures were wearing more modern clothing, would it ruin things?  Would it make things seem more cartoon-ish?  

I find versions where the fabrics are brighter and updated, but the style of clothing still remains a little dated.

As I experiment with drawing medallion centers, I have to admit that dressing women in long dresses or skirts allows me to overlook and avoid certain details of anatomy and style that are difficult...like legs, nice shoes, etc.  

And big, floppy coats on the depicted men make things easier, as well.

This example is from Mayleen Vinson of the "Q is for Quilt" blog.  It was machine quilted by Jan Hutchinson.

This all made me start to think...does it diminish or undervalue the work to make the clothing more modern?

I have a hard time drawing life-like people...I get annoyed by the simplicity and cartoon-ish quality in my own work, yet I find it completely charming and lovely in the work of everyone else (we are all so self-critical, aren't we??).

This is the "center" of a center medallion quilt that I started for my parents' 40th anniversary quilt a few years ago (minus the embroidery details, that I still need to do).  It is a part of a larger center medallion that I started the fall before the accident and I showed it to them Christmas 2013, right after their big anniversary, since I obviously had not finished their quilt...

I drew them in the kind of clothing they often wore, and even gave them both stethoscopes, as they were both doctors.  They are surrounded by motifs that depict their interests, accomplishments, and beautiful home that they built together.

Drawing them in antique clothing just seemed wrong...they either wore hospital scrubs, jeans, or outside work clothes.  I put the piece away for two years and recently got it out to consider how to finish it.  Now it will be a much smaller project...a wall hanging, I think. It was going to be a queen-sized bed quilt.

Here is the whole center medallion, minus the embroidery details, which I still need to do...this square will be 34 inches finished.  I will think of some kind of border to put around it.

Every motif has meaning...the oak tree (property is covered with them), the pink dogwood (Mom's favorite tree), the peacock (we had one as a "pet" when I was in junior/high school), the chicken (they had them), the bird in hand (Mom fed every bird in the northwest corner of Alabama), the hammer (they worked on or built every house they ever lived in), the daffodil (favorite flower), the pine tree (it's Alabama...), the fish (had a catfish lake), the garden items and the animals.

The blue bird of happiness at the top of the piece is pulling a banner that will read, "The Good Earth," which is the name of the project.

Boy, I really need to go in and do all the embroidery details...that is a lot of "blind" animals and unfinished-looking artwork!

I've drawn and appliqued other people in modern garb...when I made Steve's "Boxer Rebellion" quilt a few years ago, from his old boxer shorts, I depicted him...from the waste up...without garb...

My 'totally-supportive-of-my-quilting-obsession' husband used to joke "that quilts should only be made from old clothes and scraps, like the pioneer women used to do."  Well...his boxer shorts were looking pretty ratty and thin, so I bought him new undies and made him this wall hanging (to hang in his office cubicle) from his old undies.  Ha-ha-ha...

I even quilted him "six-pack abs!

...take that, you cheeky bastard, LOL!  I won ribbons on that quilt, but I think the best thing was all the people that walked by it at the quilt shows and read the story about it on the tag.  My husband's undies were hanging in quilt shows...and in his office at work! Priceless...

But I digress...

The blocks currently hanging out in my blog header depict me and Steve through the years, and I drew us in mostly modern-looking clothes. This project is called "Contentment."

I am also wishy-washy on whether to embroider facial details or not...since I have done it on one, I will probably go back and do it on the others...

No faces on the next two blocks so I don't have to make a decision about whether to embroider faces or not!

I have designed a 16-inch center medallion for those seven blocks, along with five other 10-inch blocks to join the previous seven around it.

And when I did my version of the Civil War Bride quilt, called "Life of Riley," I drew a family portrait block of us at the time...kind of coming out of a wall portrait.  Again, I was unsure about embroidering faces, so I just stitched Steve's glasses and hid Riley's face behind a book (which is usually where her face was in those days...).

So I don't know how I feel about the modern versus antique idea of people depicted in quilts.  As people enjoy making new versions of quilts from our past, the dated clothing continues to be the norm. Maybe that is because people are using a lot of reproduction fabrics to make these quilts, maybe the older style of clothing is easier to applique, or maybe I am just nuts to be worrying about this at all!

Do you have an opinion on this??

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Oh my goodness, it is JUNE!

"I'm here, I'm here"...I feel like a student who has dozed off during class.  It has been very eventful around here since the last time I posted!

I think this is the center medallion for my little project called LITTLE TREASURES that uses 6-inch applique blocks that I have been drawing (available here).

I have been so wishy-washy about making quilting decisions.  Too much other stuff going on.  

I feel kind of "quiltstipated" (quilt constipated).  Yep...now I am even making up words to describe my condition...yep, I am a doctors' daughter.  

We made a marathon trip to Michigan and Pennsylvania to see friends, spend time with my FIL, and ultimately get my daughter and her friend to New York City to see the Broadway musical, "Hamilton."  My husband flew up to his Dad's, and worked from Swarthmore for 2 weeks.  Meanwhile, I moved Riley out of the dorm and did all the driving to make the trip happen...whew!

That was a lot of driving, then we came home to get ready for lots of family being here for the week around Memorial Day.

I had doodled this block a while ago, thinking I would use it in another Baltimore album quilt project.  The more I stared at those tiny applique blocks and pieced accompanying blocks from Mary and Ola, the more I thought the center medallion should be a big block.  

I am not going to trim it down for a while...part of me is still not sure. Then, I wonder if the block needs a little something else...like some random pieces of fruit under the vase...or just leave a lot of open space for some kick-ass hand quilting!

I am still struggling with fabric choices for flowers in this project. Using the reproduction fabrics introduces difficulties in trying to add perspective and shading to the blossoms.

Oh yes, and then the blueberries started ripening Memorial Day weekend in North Alabama.  I have spent lots of really early mornings and very late evenings avoiding the heat and direct sun to harvest beautiful berries...

They are so pretty after the rain...I got soaked on this particular morning, leaning into the bushes to pick.  I am working on a drawing to capture the beauty of all the colors that a blueberry can be before becoming tastily ripe!

I have been putting them, dry, on cookie pans, freezing them solid, then putting them in containers, jars, and bags.  I have to work quickly to transfer the frozen berries, but if successful, they don't stick together and can be used by the handful, the "each," or in bulk.

It is Heaven to come in from working in the heat, getting a handful of frozen berries, and popping them in the mouth, one-by-one. Ahhh...

At some point, I want to find a recipe for a low- or no-sugar blueberry spread that I can put up in jars.  Something like a jam. Does anyone out there have a good recipe for something like that??

I am still trying to catch up on stitching all the 6-inch blocks I've created...here is another one from the LITTLE TREASURES Flowers (2) bundle.  I named them Belly Flowers...

Trying to find my groove is continuing to be a challenge.  There is so much to do around the property, so trying to find my own time for designing and sewing is difficult...my own guilt-free time. There is more family coming this month...third and fourth weekends in June.

Plus, my daughter is home for the summer, so we have been playing a lot of music together...her playing French horn or singing with me on piano.  THAT is awesome time together that is well spent!

Many of you have asked about the blocks on my header.  Those are blocks I was working on over two years ago.  We had recently celebrated our 20-year wedding anniversary, and I was in a playful mood, trying to come up with designs to celebrate that event.  Then the accident happened.  

My mojo around that project has been hard to find, but I think I have come up with a center 16-inch block that I love! I am hoping that will motivate me further.  I have seven 10-inch blocks done and ideas for the additional five that I need.

The quilting constipation, or "quiltstipation," in my life has got to stop!  It is time to move forward!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)