Stitching with the Ladies of Gee’s Bend

Sep 29

Earlier this year, I got a hankering to sew a quilt top by hand. I’ve always pieced by machine and quilted by hand in the past, and I wanted to slow down the top-making process.

Quilt block

This urge coincided with special guest artists at  Fiber College : three of the Gee’s Bend Quilters.

I spent a relaxing Saturday afternoon at the world’s prettiest camp ground drawing out fabric from my stash, ripping off strips, stitching them together by hand as I listened to the murmur of sewing machines punctuated by laughter and conversation (Gale posted photos and a short video from the day). “Doing it your way” was the theme–pick the fabrics that speak to you, let them cozy up next to fabrics that you might not normally put together, but that tell you they want to be together.

Anyone expecting to be instructed exactly how to create a Gee’s Bend quilt was probably let down by the afternoon. But anyone who really listened, who bent her will to the fabric, realized she had, in fact, learned how to create a Gee’s Bend quilt: stitch what makes you happy.

Every now and again, I add another strip to the block. I’m not sure if I’m going to make one large lap-quilt-sized block or make several more about this size and stitch them together. I’m using stash fabric, old cotton shirts, sheets, and the cutest contribution from Amy Lou–the denim-patch fabric includes apples and the saying “I like you” on it.Sajou box


When I open my Sajou sewing box, a beautiful gift from Sara years ago, I see treasures like Cal’s business card, a reminder of watching her sew on a vintage Singer; a thimble from Clementine placed sweetly on my cottage cot pillow; the embroidery knife I purchased in Paris with Sara after we spent hours in the gorgeous Sajou shop pawing over all the pretty things. I love that hand stitching drenches me in sweet thoughts of friends, of places like Maine, Paris, my porch. I love that each fabric reminds me of someone or some moment in time. That’s how stitching this quilt makes me happy.

I’d love to read about a project that’s making you happy–what are you doing your way?

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Jun 12

I decided recently that my life would be simplified immensely if I wore a uniform. Not a polyester fast-food restaurant uniform, but one of my own making. Hence two of the same blouse. It has everything I like in a blouse: comfortable fit, Peter Pan collar, slightly puffed sleeves, pretty details. It looks just as nice with jeans as with a skirt. I can wear it to do everything except work out and garden, although I have done a wee bit of gardening in the white version. Risky, I know.

Dresses feel like uniforms to me. Diane von Furstenberg* was onto something with her iconic wrap dress**. Slip it on and go, and look fabulous to boot.  I plan to do some sewing this weekend to see if I've found the dress I want to add to my little collection of vintage frocks-turned-uniforms. Stay tuned to see my results.

And just because I like a little interaction in the comments, will you tell me what your uniform or go-to outfit is?

*Dudes, she has her own comic book.  Seriously.  Also? If you go to the site, you get to hear Lauren Bacall speak one of her most famous lines.

**This is the one I want to own someday.  When I have a spare $300 to spend on one frock.  I know it will be worth every penny!

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Red Uptown Bag

Jan 28


I love a snow day.  I've spent mine alternating between sewing a Madison Bag owed out as a prize for a Ravelry group prize and doing work for school.  The sewing has been the fun part, by far.  This is the fourth Uptown bag I've made, and I think I need another one for myself.  Or maybe I'll churn out a few for Christmas '09 gifts.  Yes, I am thinking that far ahead.

What have you been crafting?

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Flirty Apron Swap and a Political Interlude

Sep 15

I’m off to the post office to send this apron to my swap partner.  I enjoyed sewing this; I used the pattern from Bend the Rules Sewing, adding a towel loop as well.

After my errand, I’ll be canning tomatoes.  I’ll be thinking about how articulate Eve Ensler is, too.  If you’re alarmed by the Republican VP candidate, you might want to take a look at Ensler’s thoughts on her.  If you love the self-proclaimed pitbull with lipstick, maybe Ensler’s piece will help you understand why some of us don’t care for her.  I’m usually not a terribly politically-minded person, and I don’t like to use my blog to talk politics, but this woman has been keeping me up at night, and this election may be the most important one in my lifetime.  I know Obama is running against McCain, not Palin, but she’s the one who seems to be energizing her party.  She’s the one really alarming me, and Ensler has explained why better than I’m able.

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Midsummer Night’s Apron

Jul 09

I’ve been working away on an apron for a swap-bot Shakespeare swap.  My partner wanted an apron, and I thought I could push the theme a little…I used a vintage pillowcase with a lovely crocheted edging, cut it in half and then cut it to the length I wanted.  From there, I used Amy Karol’s Bend the Rules Sewing for instructions on making the waistband and ties.  Last night at SnB, I embellished the pocket with some yo-yos and embroidery; they’re meant to represent Titania’s bower.  I thought the pillowcase refashion kept with the theme of sleep and dreams.  I have a stack of these vintage pillowcases, and I can get two aprons from each, so I’ll be making more!

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Sewing Soon

May 29

Img_1222Among the many other outdoor chores completed last weekend, Neal rigged a clothesline for me.  It’s a breezy day, so I’ve got the line filled with fabric and t-shirts. 

Soon I’ll take to my sewing machine to get Baby Meadow’s quilt made, as well as a cover for my laptop.  I’ve got big plans for an assembly-line of tote bags as well…prizes for my contest, and early Christmas crafting!

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