Monday, April 21, 2014

The wedding

Time flies when you are having fun and lately I have been doing just that! My nephew got married couple of weeks ago in Toronto. My mom and brother's family flew in all the way from India, as well as my kids from all over to attend the wedding. Although, professional pictures of the ceremony are weeks away, if not months, I thought I would give you the glimpse of the day.

I must warn you, this is a picture heavy post.

My nephew, Chintan and his bride to be, Lisa  

I got to see my kids all dressed up for the occasion.

Yes, that's frozen lake in the background! Burrrrr....It was so cold and windy, we were trying so hard to fight off the wind!

We got to experience both, Indian and Jewish ceremony. Lisa looked amazing in both outfits. Can you tell her dad is a big Elvis fan? He also performed as Elvis after the wedding, I must say, he was pretty good!

Happy couple!
 The knots were tied, literally :)

My sister, Kalpana and Lisa

My contribution in the wedding was to design the containers for the return gifts for the henna ceremony. I put my age old henna drawing skills to work and my sister in law glued the beads. We had fun catching up with each other while working on them.

I will come back with more pictures on that ceremony another day.

Henna design by a professional artist.
After the ceremony and dinner it was time to party! No pictures of me dancing here but trust me when I say this, my sisters had to drag me out from the dance floor. I am the only self appointed dancer, designer and the photographer in the family since the beginning of time! 

Us three sisters with mom and sis-in-law, Heena. 

Whenever I visit India, days are too short with many people to visit and places to be, we hardly get to sit down and just talk! I can not tell you how good it is to have mom here in north America again. Glad I stayed back extra days at my sisters' to spend some one on one time with her. She talked about my dad, my grandmothers and her childhood like it was just yesterday! I wish her stories stay in my memories forever so I can pass on what I have learned to my children.

Kavita with her baa
By the way, Lisa loved the quilt! It was a perfect gift to welcome her to the family.

It has been a very busy week since I got back entertaining family members and guests. No time to sew or even to think needle and thread!

Not for long though!

Monday, March 3, 2014

S words

Sewn with small salvaged scraps. 

Squares and rectangles and few long strips.

Confetti, 16 1/2'' x 18 1/2''

Stitched with Perle Cotton thread.

Sewn with salvaged bias strips for binding.

Had some serious fun while shooting pictures.

"Spring is around the corner" they say...

 I don't care what the weather is like today. 

Original pattern by, Jeanna Kimball

I am stitching away...
Keeping my thoughts aligned with my stitches.

As far as I am concerned... 
Spring is here!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

First finish of 2014 and Reflections on Machine Quilting

My first quilt of 2014 is complete! Thank you all for your encouragement on machine quilting. It's been helpful to know that I am not the only one who gets stressed out over this whole process.

Although this wasn't my first ever machine quilting experience, I realized that the time in between two projects also dictates how I feel when I start these projects. I am almost certain that if I were to baste and quilt another quilt this week, I wouldn't be so worked up about it.

LeeAnn suggested using a thinner thread. It's a great tip! In the past I have used the thinner thread, it helps a lot since you are not refilling the bobbin as frequently.

I would also think little harder when I choose the color of the thread. With busy patterns and vibrant colors of this quilt, it was difficult to see the variegated thread I was using. I am okay with variation in the stitches but when I don't see the pattern forming with thread, it was hard to navigate through stitching.

My stitching was better when I could see the design and on darker or busier surfaces I was almost blind stitching. If that's even possible!

Handling the Quilt on the Machine
Most of my stress comes when I am working on the center of the quilt. Bulky quilts are hard to maneuver on a home machine. I was feeling the tightness in my shoulders, which was then slowly and surely creeping down onto my hands. I was pressing down the quilt so hard that it was holding me back from guiding it gently through the machine. As soon as I let go of that tightness, the quilting was better.
I guess that glass of wine must have helped but I don't drink wine so I settled for some music. Listening to CNN was not helping at all!

Owning it all!
In my earlier post I said my quilt was ruined. That's true, that's how I felt then. But the fact that I have still kept it the way it is, some how it suggests that I am thinking of someday redo the quilting. . Even if I said that to any of you, I know, it's never going to happen. I would rather be making new quilts than tearing old ones apart. They are truly the marks of my journey as a quilter. I like to be reminded on how far I have come from the first baby steps I took in 2006 with machine quilting. But the fact that I haven't bound it, suggests that I'm not owning it. Guess what I will be doing this weekend?

Why Machine Quilt when I enjoy Hand Quilting?
Belinda said she has 25 quilt tops hanging in the closet. I do too! Barb says she machine quilts some quilts for the assurance on wear and tear on the quilt. Nat Said she sends some of her quilts out to a professional machine quilter.
They all have good points. I need to have some of my caterpillar quilt tops turn into quilts. Unless I choose either one of the options of quilting, they are not magically turn into a butterflies. And there is no way I am going to quilt all of my quilts by hand. Then there is this theory I followed for a while - I would be okay with all stacked up tops! Now it's starting to bother me too. Not because of the number of quilt tops I have but because they are all folded and stored away, out of sight. I want to see them more often and use them as quilts.

The Stack!
I love my stack of finished quilts.. Not only they keep us warm in the evenings but they bring such excitement in everyone's eyes when they see them. I want that for myself for my old quilt tops in suitcase. I want them to be new quilts in the family room. This winter has been so cold, we have practically used every single quilt I have.
I have sent my quilts to the long-arm quilters in the past and still planning to for some of the large quilts.
If I were comfortable with my machine quilting, I would make more quilts for charity and for gifts.

Practice makes it better, if not perfect
I am not looking for perfection. For so many reasons, I would like to just get comfortable with machine quilting and enjoy it. We all know that everything gets better with practice. I have no doubt that if I continued, I will loose all the anxiety and figure out easier ways to handle the stress in this process and eventually completely avoid it.
I have tried practicing on smaller quilts and it works like magic! But when it comes to larger quilts, it's trickier. So now I am going to practice on larger quilts. I am not the kind of person who worries about the irregularities in my work. In fact, I love that about quilting. I just want to be comfortable. I have machine quilted large quilts before, just not as gracefully, that's all!

Respect for the Process of Machine Quilting 

Kavita's Ferris Wheel, 2011, designed, pieced and machine quilted by Sujata Shah
By no means I think machine quilting is easier than hand quilting or, it has lesser place in my mind. Whether I  machine quilt or by hand, I personally go through the process, I am guiding my quilt, if free motion quilting is done, I am designing as I go, so I do understand that it is still hand work. I am very much involved, almost too involved. I can't look up, I can't talk while I quilt, I am pretending to be listening to the music but all I am hearing is the sound of my machine. It gets tiring and frustrating if I let it get to me.

Julie said it right -" I so respect and admire the work machine quilters do (domestic, mid arm, and long arm - especially those who do hand guided stitching)." I so agree with her.

I made super queen size Ferris Wheel in 2010, it was for my daughter's bed so it had to be machine quilted. I quilted this one with all my mighty! 

All that quilting created heavy texture on the quilt and it's been washed a few times. I love textures of all kinds!

Sometimes you also need that feeling of accomplishment. Machine quilting allows me to do that. I would not have been able to finish three quilts on time for Christmas for my kids any other way.

Snow Blossoms, 2014

Snow Blossoms is done! It's still snowing. Another snow storm is around the corner. Glad I was working on this quilt and not crying over the endless winter other than few occasions.

Thank you! Each one of you, for participating in this conversation by leaving comments on the previous post. None of us love it but we all agreed, it has to be done!

It gave me lot to ponder over which I did by hand quilting one of the mini quilts. That was a great way to wind down from all that machine quilting.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Stitch Therapy

Or is it?

As you all know, I am not a machine quilter. Most of my machine quilted projects involve organic, wavy lines or stippling. That too is so stressful to me, Most of the time I choose to hand quilt my quilts.

Lately, I am working on a quilt that has to be completed by certain time so I decided to machine quilt which reminded me of this old quilt I made in 2005.

In 2005, I had just finished a couple of pink and green quilts and few scraps were calling to be made into a quilt.

When I first pieced it, I was going to hand quilt the quilt. But one day, I decided to give machine quilting a try and since there were no other tops lying around, I decided this one was IT!

It was so stressful! It was the fear of  "what if it did not look good" that was making me uneasy. After working on couple of blocks, I knew my fear had become a reality. I liked this top which was now completely ruined. I thought of ripping the stitches out but that was even more painful. So I left it alone and practiced some more.

and, then some!

It got better with time. I am still not very comfortable but at least, trying new patterns.

 It is still stressful. I would rather be hand quilting.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Instructions for Organized Chaos

 Directions to make a finished 8'' x 8'' block.

For each block you will need -
4 each - 2 1/2'' x 2 1/2 '' squares from 2 different fabrics
4 each - 2 1/2'' x 4 1/2''  rectangles from two different fabrics
2 strips 2 1/2'' x 22'' of contrasting fabrics
2 - 3 1/4 '' x 3 1/4 '' Squares, cut once diagonally to make 4 corner triangles.

I used Kaleido-Ruler by Marti Michell which has markings for blocks starting from 6'' to 16'' finished blocks.

With right sides together, place the square centered on the rectangle.

Sew all 4 squares to the rectangles, press and open.

Place the Kaleidoscope ruler and cut the triangle for an 8'' block. Repeat this with other set of squares and rectangles.

 Piece 2 strips 2 1/2'' x 22 '' together. Make sure that they are staggered about 1 1/2'' at the beginning like shown below.

Strips staggered and pieced

Use the ruler and cut total of eight triangles for an eight inch block. ( I had pieced 18'' long strips and it fell short for the eighth triangle)

Arrange the triangles in alternating order.

Piece them first in quarters.

And then in halves.

Press open the seams to minimize the bulk at the center.

Finished octagonal block
Make at least 49 blocks. I always make few extra blocks to leave room for picking and choosing at the end.

Cut  both 3 1/4 "x 3 1/4" squares once diagonally to make the corner triangles. Do not piece them yet.
For blocks with spokes, you will need total of 12 corner triangles. 

Making the blocks with spokes is nothing but careful arrangement of corner triangles on select blocks in the entire arrangement of block.

Arrange all the blocks on the design wall like shown in the picture below.


Sew the corner triangles on block # 2, 4 and 6 of row # 2, 4 and 6. You want to match the corner fabric to the fabric of the wheel.

Next, you want to sew the corners to the surrounding blocks. This does require extra time and close attention to the blocks on the design wall.

Each block with spokes has extension going into surrounding four blocks - north, east, south and west of it. I know, it's little tedious but oh so much fun!

Those neighboring blocks will not have identical four corners because they  serve as extension for the blocks with spokes.

Hope you enjoy making this quilt. I certainly had a great time getting lost in it. If you do end up making the quilt, send me a picture, I will post it on my blog.