Saturday, November 1, 2014

Use your words: Hive 4 November 2014

I’m Rachel Trindle, also known online as RST in WA or Rachel, mom of boys. 

I live in Seattle, WA with my husband and 4 sons (ages 20, 17, 14  and 14).  A dog and 2 kittens round out the household.

I made my first quilt some 43 years ago.  Yes, I am old. But I also started quilting quite young.  I caught the bug as a 6 or 7 year old sitting under the big quilts on frames that church ladies were putting together. I remember having the chore of pushing the big darning needles with yarn back up to the top of the quilt whenever one of the ladies lost her grip as they did a tied quilt.  I loved the fabrics, the colors, the designs, listening in on the adult chatter.  My own first quilt measured about 12 by 16 inches, and shall we just say that I was ahead of my time in wonky-improv charm?  I picked up quilting in earnest as an adult when I was in grad school and fell in love with needle turn applique. All things crafty and hobby-related took a back seat when my boys were babies, but I got hooked again when my twins were about 3 and have been cranking out quilts pretty regularly since then.

My stash is extensive, but as I like to point out, I’m not technically a hoarder since I really do use it.  And fabric acquisition is my only vice, so that’s not bad, right?  I keep yardage in big Rubbermaid totes, pieces bigger than a fat eighth but up to a yard in drawers of a dresser (arranged by drawer: black, gray and white / cream, beige and brown/ seasonal and novelty/warm colors/cool colors.)  Smaller pieces, strips, and snippets go in plastic shoe boxes by color.   I sometimes will keep specific lines together in their own very special shoe box-- Tula Pink and Kate Spain get their own places of honor, as well as a half drawer of Kaffe Fasset lovelies I’m hoarding for something truly fabulous someday. I also find that using clean pizza boxes to collect fabrics cut pieces for a work in progress is a nice way to keep things organized and under control – I’m definitely of the school who has many projects going at any one time.

Thing I wish I knew earlier on:  Hmmm.  I think I wish I’d embraced a more relaxed attitude.  When I was first quilting seriously, the ideal was very much about perfect points and exact seam allowances and bias cut borders painstakingly mitered at the corners.  It’s been nice to just throw some of the “rules” I was taught in quilting classes in the 80’s right out the window.  I love improve piecing and relaxed design-as-you-go approaches; it’s made quilting so much more fun!

On a related note, my must-have item or tool is a big design wall.  Mine is made out of insulation boards from Home Depot (8 x 8) and covered with white felt.  I love being able to design and preview my ideas up on the wall.  It’s also a time saver in that I can leave a project up on the wall until I’m ready to assemble.  I’ve been known to press, layer and baste on the wall for smaller projects too.  Insullation board holds up to the heat well.   The felt holds most smaller blocks, but if they’re falling off, a pin into the insulation holds well. Highly recommend a design wall if you can fit one in your sewing space. Mine was under $40 all told  -- 2 pieces of 4 x 8 pink insulation board, extra wide white felt to cover it, hot glue, and some nails and washers to secure it to the wall.

And on to this month’s block. . . .

As hive 4 knows, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time in the hospital with my youngest son.  In January he had a spinal fusion surgery to correct severe scoliosis which was caused by his cerebral palsy.  The surgery just spiraled into one complication after another and he’s currently hospitalized again, with no end in sight yet.  We’re exceeding 100 days in-patient in addition to many days or nights spent in the ER.  Sitting by his side, I have very little I can do for him except to hold his hand, let him know that I’m there, and use my words to encourage him.  I tell him how brave and strong he is, remind him to fight, or rest, or sleep.  But most of all I tell him I love him.  Words don’t feel like much in the face of illness and pain, but they are powerful.

So here’s my plan.  I want to make word blocks.  I’ll let you choose the word.  I’ll let you choose the fabric colors. And I’ll let you choose the technique or method.  I’m not sure what my final project will end up like.  It could be a sort of fabric wordle. Or maybe I’ll come up with a grid layout that works.  Or I may use individual word blocks separately as focal points on simple comfort quilts to donate Seattle Children’s hospital or another organization benefiting kids like my son. Or maybe a special block will become a wall hanging or a pillow.  I’m going to let the blocks themselves dictate what I end up with.  

I encourage you to be creative. Use another language!  Go for a code (see my Morse code quilt on the pinterest board linked below). Consider nautical flags to spell out a word.  If you have a fabric that features letters or sign language motifs or braille, that could be fun. 

I’ll link you to a lot of sources for free alphabets, or use your own favorite method:  piece with a pattern, paper piece, improv piece, needle turn applique using stencils or an enlarged computer font or free-hand letters, do raw edge applique, machine applique, reverse applique, even fusible (but please minimize stiffness by either using a light weight fusible and/or trimming away excess fusible (aka window pane). 

Please use cheerful fabrics-- not too babyish, and gender-neutral is great.  I’d like a white, gray or low-volume background. Tone on tone or solid fabrics are fine for the background.  I’d like the letters to be at least 3 or 4 inches high.  Your final block size depends entirely on the word and the size of letter you choose.

Here are some ideas for words:  Love. Rest. Hope.  Care. Live. Brave. Believe. Strong. Sleep. Grow. Heal. Thrive. Happy. Peace. Joyful. Determined. Breathe.  Laugh. Wish. Faith. Relax. Loved. Precious. Dear. Care. Home!   Or use another word of your choice—something with power to encourage and uplift.

Here’s a link to a Pinterest board that includes a ton of links to many techniques for making alphabet letters in fabric, free patterns, and some photos of word quilts I’ve made:

Please excuse the lack of photos here in this blog post. I’m trying to post this on a borrowed laptop and relying on hospital wifi.  Apparently the photos I had put in a drop box file to use in this post are too large to load, and I don’t have photo-editing software on this laptop. At some later date, when we’re home, I hope, I will try to edit and get some photos added.  In the meantime, let me know if you have questions or points to clarify. Thanks for playing!


Kate Spain said...

Dear Rachel, I'm so touched by your entry and am very sorry to hear about what you're going through with your son. I know what you mean about how words sometimes fall short of what we feel, but when you combine them with actions that express those feelings, they become palpable things that connect us. I hope there are good days ahead for your son, you, and your family. I'd like to send you a little something to get you going on your quilt blocks. If you wouldn't mind sending your mailing address to me at: kate(at)katespain(dot)com . PS: not sure if you followed along with the Moda blog hop "Spell it with Fabric" but you may want to check it out! It includes free patterns to make pieced letter blocks using jelly roll strips! Here's my post to get you started: Have a wonderful day! Big hugs, Kate

Rachel said...

Thank you do much, Kate. I absolutely love the sea glass colors of Horizon. Can't wait to start playing with this lovely fabric.