Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Never Ending Leaves and a Few Bud Bases

It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.
~Molly Ivins

The US turns to healing our bodies and souls with the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris tomorrow. I will be but early to watch. Let's commit to more than watching though. Let's become involved, especially in local matters and primaries, so horrors like these last few years don't happen again.

Both the 2016 and 2020 elections showed that the majority of Americans did not support the policies of the group that came to power in 2016. By neglecting to participate early, by waiting to see who and what "the parties" promoted, we lost the opportunity to shape those policies. A small group of dedicated, single-issue radicals swung our national agenda shamefully and cost us hundreds of thousands of lives.

Adults know we have to do things we don't want. Sometimes it's working every day, putting on a smile when we would rather go back to bed. Creating equitable political structures is another duty of adulthood - if for no other reason than to keep sadistic, misogynistic, and racist opinions out of the laws of our land.


I cut out all the leaves starting with the smallest fabric remnants to maximize diversity. They were then sorted into four piles like dealing cards so each border has basically the same ratio of each fabric. Here is my set for the second side. Oh, my fingers hurt from all this sewing. Even with a thimble.

A stack of hand basted leaves with pincushion and thread spool
Basted leaves for a quilt border

Of course, the first two sides are shorter than the last two so I started sewing them first. Then the leftover leaves were set aside for the longer sides. It's not a perfect system but maintains some semblance of diversity.  

Again the leaves are blanket-stitched so their stems nestle under the vine. I shortened both the stitch length and the zigzag. My Bernina also has a mirror image function that lets me align the "teeth" of the blanket stitch to either side. That makes sewing easier, too. 

Bernina 1240 set to applique leaves with a blanket stitch
Blanket stitch by machine

Once the leaves are sewn, I re-pin the vines and sew them down. Then it's time to add the flower bases. This template has had the most changes. At first I planned a double-lobed leaf on each side, kind of like a dumbbell. It was too difficult to machine quilt and I ended by including the base with the leaves. Actually it now just looks like a larger base. Whatever. It works. 

A stack of hand basted flower bases with scissors and pincushion
Basted flower bases for an applique quilt border

In the plastic bag the bright pink flowers are cut and ready to be basted next. It's taking about three days to get all the parts basted and another day to pin just the leaves. Then sewing, repinning, more basting. Not a lot to show at the end of the week but I'm sticking with it. It's time to get this top done. I only hope it looks as good as my sketches. 


One of the unexpected joys of the pandemic is the upwelling of internet meetings that allow international speakers and audience to interact. And one of the benefits of multiple program chairs is the diversity of vision they provide. Sue Bianchi, one of our program chairs, arranged a unique speaker for our December guild meeting - Harriet Riddell of the UK spoke on Street Stitching Around the World. Artists must be brave to put their work out for public response but Harriet takes it to another level. She takes her electric sewing machine around the world to stitch the scenes in front of her. The audience in the street power her machine by pedaling a bike. Sounds crazy, yes? What a opportunity to interact with people, build connections, and build a portfolio of ever-increasingly skilled work.

Last week I joined the first lecture of The Black Index: Artists in Conversation sponsored by the Getty Institute. The online exhibition curated by Bridget Cooks and this month's lecture included two conversations. Professor Leigh Raiford interviewed Lava Thomas about her pencil sketches of the Montgomery bus boycott mug shots. The history Lava researched for this series reminded me of Patricia Montgomery's swing coats

After a short break, curator LeRonn Brooks and Whitfield Lovell discussed his drawings of card players. Photos of family and friends playing cards highlighted how the cards are the intersection between the viewer and the subject. Whitfield took time to choose the correct card for each person. In a way, this reminded me of Susan Shie's Tarot Cards althought she did it the other way around, chosing a card and then created images for it. Susan embellishes her work with extensive writing across the surface. 

Interestingly both textile artists wrote on their work while the others did not. Another feature that struck me was the use of well-known people as models versus "the man in the street." It recalled artists who were paid for commemorating prominent people versus Impressionists who sold work using unknown models or family. The various reasons give us food for thought.

Replays of this lecture are available at the Getty and more are planned monthly.

Enjoy the day, Ann


Julierose said...

Wonderful post, Ann. We remain hopeful for better days after the 20th's Inauguration.

Your preparation of the leaves is fascinating and awe-inspiring!!

A traveling machine-sketcher- artist----isn't that fabulous? thanks for sharing your guild's speakers
Hugs from afar--Julierose

sue said...

I am planning how to celebrate Inauguration Day and appreciate your words this morning.

Tammy Hutchinson said...

Interesting post! Some say to keep politics out of quilting blogs, but we know quilting is art and art is often political. Looking forward to seeing this quilt come together, and to working toward better days. Start small for greater impact, something like string quilting. Hope your day is sunny.

Quiltdivajulie said...

I love the method you use to distribute the variety of fabrics around your leafy areas - akin to my paper plate method for making sure scrappy is really scrappy in some weirdly-even way.

Kaja said...

Like you, I have found a lot of enjoyment in accessing culture online recently. We are lucky to have so many interesting options available. I hope you enjoy the inauguration. I will be raising a cheer for you on this side of the Atlantic. You are taking such care with mixing the fabrics for your leaves, but I'm betting it will pay off and once again you will end up with a scrappy quilt that looks very deliberate.

Juliana said...

I am so glad that you are fearless in your blog posts. I appreciate your speaking out about important political issues. At some point during the campaign, one of the democratic candidates (Biden? Buttigieg?} talked about a program for service in the US. I hope this happens since we need a way to bring Americans together in a random kind of way so that we can get to know each other and can become more tolerant and more open to diversity. Thank you for including the final section in your post about culture. I fell down the rabbit hole of the Getty after I read your post lol.

Ann said...

A new administration and a new page in our history in less than 24 hours. Here's hoping we renew our democratic principles.
I wasn't sure about Harriet's work until her presentation. What a fabulous talk she gave. I was struck by her bravery in traveling to foreign countries, overcoming logistical hurdles, and meeting strangers.

Ann said...

How are you planning to celebrate?

Ann said...

Each country's laws form the basis of their society and reflect what they prioritize. Many of our current policies shame me. I can't keep blaming "them" if I don't get involved from the lowest level. Hadn't thought of it as a form of string quilting but, yes. Start small; use every scrap; fit it into a unified whole that is better than the sum of its parts.

Ann said...

It is like your paper plate method - which I greatly admire. I only have an emergency set and forget to use them but they would have helped contain these leaves much better. Evenly distributed scrappiness - that's what we're both going for.

Ann said...

The online programs remind me of radio shows in the early days. My grandparents spoke of sitting around the radio to listen to plays. Of course, we have more interaction if we want but I feel blessed that we've increased our willingness to listen around the world.
There are relatively few fabrics and each made a different amount of leaves so I wanted them scattered around. If there were more choices, a movement from dark to light might have been interesting. Hmmm.

Jana said...


patty a. said...

Less than 15 hours and Captain Chaos is out of here! It will be fabulous to have an adult in the WH! I will be watching. I just hope it goes smoothly. It looks like you are making progress on that border. You will have a lot of hours in that!

Mystic Quilter said...

I found reading your process here so interesting, it does seem to be very time consuming but well worth the effort to create something special. I hope to be in front of the TV at 6.00am our time in New Zealand tomorrow for the inauguration, praying it all goes well and a new beginning for the United States of America.

Amy said...

Thank you for the great perspective and on this post. I'm looking forward to watching the festivities later today with my family. I also want to thank you for the reminder of the mirror stitch on the Bernina 1230. I have this machine as well, and can recall times where I struggled to get that blanket stitch on the side I wanted. Not a problem going forward.

Ann said...

Everything I write is my own opinion from quilting to books to politics. I think expanding the ways to serve in the US would be helpful to all. In a nuclear age we need more ways forward than war. Only one President never served his country in any capacity before taking office or ever worked for a publicly traded company, so there were few ways to evaluate him - other than his own words and lack of action. Even Hoover organized America's relief effort for Europe after WWI.
Museums can be rabbit holes. Every time I visit one in person, I'm there till they close. Now that they are online, they never close!

Ann said...

It was a beautiful and moving inauguration. What a relief to have competency and compassion in the leaders of our country again.
I've said many times that I need to take more time on my quilts. I have more than enough for several lifetimes and all I will do is start another. Why not slow down and elaborate. Finally doing it.

Ann said...

Thanks, Maureen. I'm sure applique quilters already know this stuff.
The inauguration was a joy and a relief. Competency, compassion, and true spirit of brotherhood in government again.

Ann said...

Thank you, Amy.
I forgot many of my stitches until I re-read the manual this fall while staying home was enforced. Certainly easier now.

PatriciaLud said...

Thank you for your insightful comments. I am so grateful for a fresh new start for our country. I know there are many disagreements ahead, but for now I can take a breath. Sewing has saved my soul this past year, and I always appreciate new information and shared ideas. Thanks!