31 Jan

Aloha Pineapple Quilt Along: part 2

 

Project Introduction here

Part 1 (supplies) here.

 

Aloha Pineapple PDF Foundation

Above is a PDF link for the paper foundation. Make sure your printer is set to 100%. The printed square should be 7.5″ from dashed line to parallel dashed line. The linked text should open a PDF file of the same pattern. Again, print it out and you should get a 7.5″ square including the seam allowance indicated by the dashed line. The finished blocks will be 7″. Choose whichever file works best for you and your printer/computer.

Today in class we dove into paper piecing. If you are familiar with paper piecing, you can jump right in. Your biggest decision will be whether to use your solid fabrics in the un-shaded logs for a more restrained look, or to use the scraps in the un-shaded logs for a scrappier look.

If you are new to paper peicing, bear with me as I try to explain. This is one of those techniques that I think is easier to show in person and then jump in and try. No matter, the seam ripper is your friend and practice does make perfect.

The un-shaded areas will be your dominant fabric. Most of us in class chose to use our scraps here, but there is no right or wrong answer. It is your preference (block 1 mockup in my last post). The shaded areas will be the less dominant fabric (block 2 mockup in the last post).

Fold your solid fabric selvedge to selvedge and cut three strips across the width of the fabric, 1.5″ wide. This is for your logs. You will eventually need more, but this is enough to get started and then you can cut more strips as you need them. If your solid is your dominant fabric, cut a strip 3″ wide as well for those big corner triangles. You can cut your scraps into strips too unless they are already small, manageable pieces. If your block centers are going to be a specific fabric (like block 3 mockup), cut a bunch of 2″ squares. If you are using scraps for the centers, cut 2″ squares, or just grab pieces about that size.

By the way, the finished pineapple blocks are 7″ square. If you are planning on a lap or crib sized quilt 49″ x 63″ without a border, you’ll need 63 blocks and therefore to cut 63 center squares and print out 63 paper foundations. I’m playing this by ear right now. We may end up with fewer blocks and a big border, or just a smaller project, depending on how much we can get done. That’s why I think starting with a few strips and a few foundations until you get the swing of it is a good idea.

OK. I’ll give you a little time to print out foundations and to cut strips and then I’ll get to the sewing instructions tomorrow.

29 Jan

IBOL3 in 3D!

OK, it’s not really 3D, unless you count that it’s happening again in real life and that is naturally, 3D.

So, yes, an opportunity has arisen and it’s time again to bust out your stash of fabrics and notions, box them up, and send them to your faithful army guys (and women) in Iraq who have a plan to distribute ASAP. All the details are on Tech Support & World’s Greatest Husband’s, AKA, IBOL Guy’s, website. Go. Now.

28 Jan

Kudos to Michelle Obama

After reading Gerrie’s comment yesterday I hurried to the TV to watch Oprah’s show about American’s bravest families (gotta love varying time zones!). I have to admit that I was dismayed by the first half. I do agree with her message — no, Tom Brokaw’s message — that 1% of Americans are sacrificing a lot in the name of our country and the other 99% are pretty much unaffected.

The first two families profiled are undeniably brave, and deserve our respect, but I feel like dead and wounded soldiers are the easy ones to showcase. They make the best TV. Their suffering is graphic and obvious. I felt like Oprah took the simple way out. I was admittedly a bit pissed — and I do hate myself for begrudging these families who are dealing with so much loss. It’s part of the tremendous guilt I feel for being as lucky as I am.

But then came the second half of the show and I could breath a little. Michelle Obama “gets it!” Though thousands have died, and thousands more return injured, the vast majority of our fighting forces make it home from war without obvious scars. Only to deploy again. This is going to sound harsh, and maybe that’s the unfortunate result of being a military wife for 16 years, or maybe I’m just insensitive (again, guilt), but the families of the dead and seriously wounded get to stop and deal with that reality.

The vast majority of families who still serve actively don’t get to stop. They must continue to live with the constant uncertainty of the next deployment and the next move. They need to find that emergency contact to put on the kids’ school paperwork though they’re new in town; they run households alone that were intended to be run by two; they are hundreds or thousands of miles away from friends and family; they’re forced by necessity to depend on people with whom the only thing they have in common is that they are all in the same situation; they’re lonely but can’t date like “real” singles; they have to learn their way around unfamiliar places; and just as soon as they get it worked out they have to move and start over again; and they worry about their soldiers.

I believe the families we need to open our eyes to are the ones who look for all intents and purposes, just like us. We assume they are fine, but underneath, there is a lot more going on, and will continue to go on as long as their service member is in the armed services. It’s these families we need to try to recognize. Kudos to Mrs. Obama for looking past the dramatic and finding courage in the everyday.

As for what I expect the civilians of our country to do, I don’t know. An all volunteer fighting force has many advantages, but perhaps we need to consider requiring all citizens to serve in one way or another — be it military, Peace Corps, or teaching our children. How’s that for a Sputnik moment? Every American serves their country for a minimum of two years. Then perhaps our leaders would do more than bicker at their partisan differences.

And war is freakin’ expensive. It’s not just bullets and fancy airplanes. It’s the fuel trucked thousand of miles to power the war machine. It’s the extra trucks using more fuel that make up the convoy to make sure the fuel gets to it’s destination. It’s the food brought in and the barracks built. It’s the cost of sending families overseas with their service members and all the accompanying schools, stores, hospitals, and their staffs to make these families comfortable. It’s the contractors hired at much more cost to fill in the jobs for which there are not enough military members to do. It’s all the support staff everywhere. It goes on and on. Civilian Americans could do their part by giving up a little of their hard earned cash to pay towards those who are giving up their hard earned lives. How about a war tax. Sure, we could cut our national deficit by cutting defense spending (and yes, there is fat to be cut), but as long as we are supporting war (which we are as long as we elect a Congress who chooses to support war) then why ask our service members to do more with less while we sit at home unaffected? How about a war tax to offset the enormous cost? Yes, that would mean a rise in taxes, but I’m sure Americans would love the feeling of repealing them once we’re out of Iraq and Afghanistan and could consider cutting the defense budget back to Clinton era-ish levels.

I suppose that’s what we could do. In the mean time, I do appreciate everyone who thanks my husband for his service. And I appreciate Michelle Obama’s commitment to military families and support her efforts.

27 Jan

Apropos of the Army Wife Aprons

I started The Army Wife apron series as something of a statement about my experiences. I may have assumed subconsciously that they would be cathartic as so many artists say that they’ve been able to work through issues with their art. Nope. I don;t feel any different. The aprons have, thus far, been more of a way to focus what I feel — something that’s difficult to put into words.

I just read a book though, that does a great job of explaining what so many military spouses go through. We will recognize ourselves or acquaintances in the book, and civilians will undoubtedly gain insight into the military life. “While They’re at War” by Kristin Henderson follows the stories of two wives in 2003 while their husbands are deployed, but also weaves in the experience and expertise of many others along the way, and includes many facts and resources in her explanation. The book was published in 2006 and focuses around the time of “major combat operations” and most of the soldiers entered the military post 9-11. The intensity has changed since 2003, but so much remains relevant.

As I read the book (admittedly with a lump in my throat) I wanted to write my own version of each chapter. My experiences: my man joining in the nineties, having been stationed overseas, pre-war deployments, etc. are different than the women in the book, but deep down, a lot is the same. I was thinking of writing about it here, but now, a few days later, I’m thinking not. I’m continuing with The Army Wife series though. I have big dreams for it when three of the aprons return from “Beyond Comfort.”

25 Jan

The Thing About Yellow

Not long after we got to Hawaii I bought this tie dye skirt — it was cute AND on super sale! But, I had nothing to wear with it. I envisioned a mostly white blouse with a big Hawaiian print in the browns and yellows of the skirt. But yellow is hard to match. It’s very sensitive to warm and cool and purity and tones.

The closest fabric I found was too beige, but I made a cute top anyway that I wear with other bottoms. Then I found a nice big print, and I had hoped the brown and white would force the blue to coordinate better, but it doesn’t.

Then I saw yellow fabric with flying birds on it and thought that would be pretty. But when it arrived, it was far too yellow.

So, inspired by the modern aesthetic, I turned to Amy Butler and bought “Martini” in yellow. The yellow was acceptable, but the pink looked out in left field.

Tia had a blog giveaway, which I surprisingly won, and one of the Kaffe Fasset fabrics from her had potential with a rich brown to match the skirt.

With piles of other fabrics and a variety of patterns, I started organizing what I’d make with what. Digging around in my stash for fabric I had set aside for a skirt a few years ago  — what did I find? A big floral in browns and yellows, with white! The perfect fabric was in my house the whole time!

Yellow Blouse

I’ve since tired of the first two blouses. The bird fabric did get used — as a skirt for my daughter. And I don’t remember what I did with the Kaffe Fasset fabric, though I made pajama pants with another fabric in the bundle.

And finally, two years later, I got around to finishing the yellow blouse! It’s based on a cowboy style blouse and I added the ruffles. I had JUST enough fabric, so I know it was meant to be.

24 Jan

Aloha Pineapple Quilt Along: part 1

 

You can read the introduction to the quilt along here.

Today was the first day of class at Ho’ae’ae Park. After catching up on who was coming to class and who wasn’t and why, and comparing notes on the geographic inaccuracies of Hawaii Five-0, we got down to the real business of what fabric we needed and how much. The class supply list is basically the following:

Basic Supplies

sewing machine with universal or microtex needle size 80
thread for sewing (all purpose polyester or 100% cotton 40 or 50 weight)
scissors
rotary cutter
cutting mat
clear quilting ruler)
pins (thin pins are best)
postcard or similar piece of stiff paper with a straight edge
paper foundations, 1 per block (downloadable next week)

Fabric:

approximately 3 yards of a solid colored fabric
a total of three yards of assorted fat quarters, quarter or eighth yards, or scraps of Aloha fabrics (or the fabrics of your choice)
cotton or low loft batting slightly larger than your quilt top
approximately 3 yards fabric for backing and binding

Because we’re focusing on using aloha prints, I decided that a solid fabric would be a nice foil to all the tropical busy-ness. My samples use chartreuse, but aqua or turquoise would work similarly. A neutral taupe, chocolate, or caffe au lait would really make the brights stand out and still tie them in to decor with lots of woods or other neutrals. Orange would make a wonderfully juicy quilt. Red looks great with aloha fabrics! White is a good option, as well as black, for a bold look.

I am excited to see what everyone brings to class next week. A crib/lap sized quilt that is 7 blocks across and 9 blocks down will need between 2.5 and 3 yards of the solid fabric. We’ll see how far we get over the next five or so weeks and then start making plans for the final size of our quilts.

Depending on whether you use your solid fabric on the horizontal and vertical logs, or on the diagonal logs will affect the balance of solid and print. Solids on the horizontal and vertical will showcase more of your scrappy print fabric, while using the solids in the diagonal pieces will give more emphasis to the solid fabric. It’s up to you which way to go. If scrappy kinda scares you, put the emphasis on your solid (second photo above). I want to emphasize the aloha prints, so I’ll use them in the diagonals (first photo above).

Of course, you don’t HAVE to use aloha prints. You could use contemporary florals from your stash, or how about shirt plaids? Deb in our class loves animal prints, so she could use a bunch of animal prints, combined with red solid for a wild quilt! (Her stash isn’t quite big enough for that though, but I’m betting that a bit of leopard sneaks into her tropical garden!) Another suggestion was japanese-esque indigos, which I know would look super classy with taupe.

Making the center of each block the same can add some spark to the quilt. I think red can stand up to just about anything. If a colorful solid for the logs of your blocks seems too much for you to live with, a bright center with a neutral (taupe, grey, chocolate, navy, etc.) for the other solid logs could be just the ticket! A half yard should be more than enough for all the centers.

So, gather your scraps, pick a solid you love, and we’ll meet next week to wrap our heads around the paper piecing process.

23 Jan

More on The Army Wife

Have you been to the Crescendoh site? Today, curator of creativity, Jenny Doh, has profiled me for her “Legato” department. Though initially attracted to my rooted houses, Jenny has highlighted my Army Wife aprons on her blog, much to my satisfaction. Check out mine and the other Legato interviews for an inside peek at a variety of artists loosely related to the mixed media category Crescendoh champions.

Thank you Jenny for allowing me the opportunity to share my work with a wider audience.

22 Jan

Enjoying the Piecing

Work in Progress

I’ve almost finished the blouse I’ve had in the to do pile forever. I’ve taken a slight detour to paint and construct a small desk for my daughter. So, this morning I rewarded myself by spending some time with the project I really, really, want to work on. It’s taking some twists and turns, but I am enjoying watching it slowly unfold.