All in a snow day’s work

It was one D. Umbridge who said that progress for the sake of progress must be discouraged. I beg to differ.

flying geese ready to be sewn

Sometimes the mere act of verbalizing a lack of progress gives me the boost I need to get going. Then there are those special times when the stars align and this shift in motivation coincides with a Colorado blizzard (and its resulting crash in internet service preventing me from working while stuck at home), creating the perfect storm–literal and figurative–of quilt productivity.

It turns out the snow day provided something I didn’t know I needed: some progress for the sake of progress.

snow day views

snow day views

Thankfully by the time we lost internet we had gotten enough work done to not panic, so I took it as a happy sign that the snow day must be my sew day. I got so much done! I pressed all my center star pieces, sewed said pieces together to make the center star for all 25 blocks, and cut some additional fabric for the remaining borders that will be added to my blocks.

Here’s where most of the blocks stand in their state of half-finished glory (with the last pieces of fabric that will be sewn together for borders lying on top of each finished center star):

center stars ready for borders

The fun doesn’t stop there. I actually continued along my newfound getting-shit-done path this weekend by marking and piecing all of my half-square triangles (approximately one point five bajillion), and then breaking away from pressing all those to sew together one full, finished block (for the sake of my mental health seeing just ONE DONE).

24 center stars and one finished block

Behold my future favorite block:

future favorite block

I’m so excited to see these all come together! But you know what they say: grunt work first, happiness later (I don’t actually know who says that). Appreciate my plight, fellow quilters, as I complete my next task of pressing and trimming half-square triangles. See you in a year…

200 HSTs to press and trim

Terminally chill

What’s beautiful, in pieces, and slower-going than the evolutionary stages of man? That would be my current work-in-progress quilt.

Since the last time I checked in, I’ve gotten as far as finishing cutting out my pieces, agonizing over print placement for a few weeks, changing up my plan and choosing a new background fabric, cutting required pieces of said background fabric, piecing a few dozen flying geese, rearranging some more, and allowing the blocks to relax on my sewing room floor indefinitely. They’re currently vacationing.

slow progress

slow progress

But little progress is still progress! With life being life right now–hasty, happy, and taking no prisoners–I’ve shifted my expectations about this quilt and relented to the likelihood that it will be a post-honeymoon finish. It is what it is, and I’m cool with it. I’m about to flatline I’m so terminally chill right now.

I hope this post finds you happy and afloat in a lazy river somewhere.

xo,
Marta

Why I quilt

In my last post I said I wanted to come talk about the magical experience of making quilts with fabric that could truly be considered art. In mulling this over, I of course got sucked into the “what defines art?” and “is your work being called art even important?” rabbit hole and decided instead to come talk about why I quilt.

WhyIQuilt

My quilts are an expression of personal love rather than of intended Art (capital A). I don’t make them to be hung and examined. Quilts like Jacquie Gering’s evocative “Bang, You’re Dead” are purposeful, and intended to serve as Art with a message. And they do send a message.

…But so do my quilts. Except that my message broadcasts to a smaller audience (the recipient), and is uncomplicated (you’re important to me; I love you). That’s not to say I do not take seriously the importance of the artistic process and aesthetics, and that I am not mindful about my materials–in fact, I obsess over these things. It’s just that my intention for the quilt is different.

In one respect, my quilting is for others–I give quilts as gifts. But in a much larger respect, in my mind, quilting is strictly for me and not for others; that is to say, I don’t need to fancy myself an Artist to feel joy and pride about my quilts. If you want to call me that, fine–I’m charmed! If you want to call me a crafter, fine. I am not demeaned. I simply do what I do and try not to be concerned with which SPHERE my art/craft falls into. I sew because it’s therapy; I sew because it makes me happy; I sew because I love color; I sew because creativity is important.

from Marta with Love | straight-line quiltingDo I enjoy sharing pictures of my projects on this blog? I do. The reasons are three-fold: (1) photography is another of my creative outlets; (2) keeping some sort of archive of projects is important to me–I enjoy looking back and reading what I had to say about past ones; and (3) I love to goggle at and be inspired by the work of others, and I delight in imagining that my fellow quilters could come here, to my humble space, to be inspired–even in the smallest way.

Quilters joke about the annoyance we feel at being asked to hem people’s pants or encouraged to sell our stuff on Etsy. But the reasons above, not pride in the one instance or insecurity in the other, are precisely why I do neither of these. UntitledI don’t quilt because I want to make money.* Nor is sewing–including hemming your pants–my job. It’s what I do to escape my job (I work with lawyers–lord knows I don’t need another job). So the temptation to feel insulted when people imply that your craft isn’t worthy unless you’re profiting from it is great–until you remind yourself that you are grounded solely in your own intention. Cliché? Meh. But it really doesn’t matter what other people think or how they view your chosen outlet for creativity. They can do their thing and you can do yours. I try my best to be kind and honor the creative outlets of others–no matter how “trivial”–rather than place some sort of arbitrary expectation on them and make someone feel bad about what they’re doing. If your creative outlet is Popsicle stick log cabins? GET IT, girl. Do your thing. I won’t suggest you sell them on Etsy.

It’s easy to fall victim to these thoughts of: If my work isn’t as artistically amazing as this or this, then why even share it? How can I possibly compare? How could anyone possibly find my work interesting or inspiring when THIS is out in the world? Well here’s my answer:

CreativeEntitlement

I’ve focused for years–then discovered Brené Brown had articulated it for me much more effectively–on this idea that I will not feel shame about my work, nor allow myself to be shamed by Artists about my work.** I will continue to put it out there, and what I will not do is be preoccupied by the potential judgment of it by others. Again: you do your thing and I do mine. Who am I to tell someone what should or should not fill up their soul? If my kinda quilts make me happy, and your kinda quilts make you happy, then kumba-fuckin-YA. High five. God bless. (Sorry for cussing in public, Dad.)

Now. ALL THAT SAID, do I prefer working with and feel more connected to fabric that I feel was made with thoughtfulness and artistic intention? Yes, I prefer that fabric over chevrons. But I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason I feel that way isn’t because I judge that fabric as being more worthy of the title of art, but because I can feel that the artist whose work this was poured more love and thought into their fabric than is required by the simple reprinting of a polka dot print in a different size and color. And I appreciate that.

 


*I do think acknowledging the value–in time and money–of quilts is a worthy topic, though. Check this post out if you’re interested.

**Edit: It’s important to add to this that I’ve never personally been shamed, nor has anyone ever been mean to me about my work. It’s the fear alone that is enough to paralyze some and prevent them from sharing their work.

So in love in 2016

I’m so in love.

Fibs and Fables bundle and Everyday Style book

Although 2015 was marked by my happiest ever life moment–my best friend asking me to MARRY his dreamboat self–that’s not the love I’m here to gush over (though I could do so, at length, until you all puke. Let me know if that’s something you’re interested in). What I’m really smitten and gaga and cross-eyed in LOVE with is the fabric with which I’m starting my first quilt project of 2016. My heart belongs to Fibs and Fables by Anna Maria Horner (okay, and to my LaMar)!

Fibs and Fables strips

A half-yard bundle of Fibs and Fables was included in my Christmas gifts this year (alongside a copy of Lotta’s new book). And before my belly had even digested our holiday feasts, I got busy planning the quilt for our “marriage bed” (heh) that I would make with my new fabric. I love combining simple, neutral (usually white) bedding with colorful patchwork.

For this quilt, I knew I wanted bigger blocks, with a striking, somewhat traditional-looking pattern that would beautifully juxtapose these modern, saturated prints. So I chose my sweet buddy Amy’s Potluck pattern from her uplifting book, For Keeps. I believe it will be perfect.

For Keeps (book by Amy Gibson)

Potluck quilt pattern from For Keeps book

Side note: remember my sewing table? It’s in here! In a section about useful tools.

The quilt in the book is a 3-block by 3-block version with sashing (the blocks finish at 15 inches). I’m making a 5×5 version without sashing so I had to spend a little time recalculating my fabric and cutting requirements.

I’ve already cut out all my pieces and arranged swatches to pick which prints to use for each block. It may look random, but there is precision, rhyme, and reason in this fabric-picking! I had my little system, which I can talk about in a later post.

Fibs and Fables quilt block pieces

Fibs and Fables swatches

ARE THESE NOT THE YUMMIEST SCRAPS IN EXISTENCE?? A half-yard bundle is plenty for a super-sized version of this quilt. I even have enough for a 30-block (5×6 layout) version.

Fibs and Fables strips

Fibs and Fables scraps

Next time I stop by here I’d like to share some heartfelt thoughts on the process of creating with fabric that comes from true art and intention. It’s a bewitching experience and I can’t wait to put those thoughts down.

Happy New Year! It’s going to be beautiful.