Cloth Encounters of the 4th Kind

2020 Whimzie UFO Challenge

Space’craft’-ing my way through a galaxy of quilts and quilted projects started but not yet finished


When I started my 2020 UFO Challenge, COVID-19 wasn’t really on the radar yet. And in many ways, the quarantine hasn’t changed my life – I mean, with my husband retired and me running my craft business from home, we rarely left the house even when we could. (Now that I can’t, of course, I desperately wish to! I miss fabric shopping in person.)

Nonetheless, the worldwide interruption of day-to-day existence has had a surprisingly strange impact on me creatively. I find myself wanting to start project after project, but I have little desire to finish anything. I’m pretty bad at introspection, but my best guess is I’m reacting to the fact that there are so many tragic endings right now, trying to counteract them with new beginnings. It’s manifesting as a crazed burst of creativity ~ at least 4 more quilts and 2 oversized pillows are now on my list of UFOs.

After six weeks of quarantine, though, the quilt tops were really piling up so I finally put one on the long arm machine. I am finding the repetitive stitching calming, which I pretty much needed, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep with it… I already have at least 1 more quilt top I want to work on and 25 countdown calendars ideas swirling around in my head!

In any case, between all those new projects, I did force myself to finish 16 quilted checkerboard games for my Etsy store (all started in 2019). If you laid them out in a 4×4 grid, the square footage would be approximately as much as a queen quilt, so I added a 4th gold star to my 2020 Whimzie UFO Challenge board to represent them ~

Picture4star

 


Here’s the deets about each of the finished quilts if you want to know more ~

*Deep Space Mine*

*15 Years and Counting…*

*Holly Bear-ries*

*16 Quilted Checkerboard Games*


 

Meet My Newest Custom Funko POP

2ndgrade

My actual report on Greece from elementary school (circa 2nd grade)

IIRC, it’s usually around second grade that kids start to study the Greek myths in school. Those first lessons baited the hook… but once I found a copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology on my grandmother’s library shelf, it was all over. I’d begun a life-long love affair with the stories of Zeus, Hera and the other gods and goddesses from Mt. Olympus.*

Naturally, as a little girl with an extreme love of learning, Athena, the goddess of wisdom**, was my favorite.

Now that I’m an adult, I have additional obsessions, one being collecting Funko POPs. They have a line of myth-themed POPs, including creatures like Cyclops and the Minotaur. Since there are no gods or goddesses yet, (and, as usual, way more male characters in the line than female,) I’ve had to customize my own Athena POP ~

AthenaFunko

hippolyta

She started as a Hippolyta figure from DC’s Wonder Woman movie. I wish the hair had been curlier, but the body of the doll was pretty close – Greek-style clothing, check; body armor, check; sword, check.

Although modern research shows that statues of gods and goddesses were often brightly colored, when I was first learning, images of Athena always showed her dressed in white. So I painted most of the clothes on my doll Titanium white. And painted. And painted. You would not believe the number of layers of white paint there are on her! Eventually, though, it was opaque enough and I could move on to other things.

To personalize her a bit more, I fashioned an accent for the bottom of her cape and a breastplate from modeling clay (some Sculpey I had leftover from another project worked great.) After baking, both were spray painted gold and then attached with Zap-a-Gap glue. I also changed her hair color to black to more closely resemble women of Greek-heritage.

Finally, it was time to focus on the most important part ~ her aegis, complete with Medusa head! I knew I didn’t have the skill yet to create a monster-headed shield out of clay, so I started searching for an option online. Eventually I found a Medusa pendant on Etsy that was the right size and splurged on having it shipped from Turkey.

I had to cut the bail off the top and sand it down, but once that was finished, the piece was really starting to resemble a shield. After a couple layers of gold paint, I added the black accent and glued it to the figure. From the front it looks like it’s always been there! (If you look closely at the side, her arm as molded isn’t actually holding it, but you work with what you have…)

In the end, my Athena POP looks just like little 7- to 8-year old me would have imagined, if I could have seen into a future where Funkos existed. 😀 I couldn’t be more pleased!

 


*Just FYI, I get my mythological fix nowadays with Jason and Carissa Weiser’s Myths and Legends podcast. Highly recommend!

**I had forgotten that, in addition to being the goddess of wisdom and war, Athena is also the goddess of crafts! No wonder she’s my favorite! 😉

Are You Game?

Off and on for the last few months I’ve been working 16 quilted checkerboards meant for my Whimzie Quiltz Etsy store. It finally stopped raining here long enough to photograph the finished games this weekend and they are now listed in the Checkers Games section (seriously, this has been the wettest March and April I’ve ever experienced in San Diego and I’ve lived here for 20+ years!)

I know a lot of the in stock games are holiday-themed (I’m a sucker for Halloween and Christmas fabrics!) but there are several that are specifically themed for kids. If you or someone you know needs an activity to keep young ones busy while they are stuck inside during the pandemic, these might be worth checking out… and if the listed price is a bit more than you can manage right now, convo me through Etsy. Let me know you saw this blog post and we’ll work out a discount. Stay safe.

checkerboards

Here’s links to some that might work especially well for kids ~

Kermit the Frog Quilted Checkerboard Game

Puppy Dogs Quilted Checkerboard Game

Race Cars Quilted Checkerboard Game

Thing 1 and Thing 2 Quilted Checkerboard Game

Superhero Words Quilted Checkerboard Game

Sailboats Quilted Checkerboard Game

Horses Quilted Checkerboard Game

Outer Space Quilted Checkerboard Game

Quilt Bucket List 7 ~ The 7 Year Stitch

Today is Worldwide Quilting Day. As is my annual tradition here at Whimzie Quiltz, today I look back on the quilts I’ve finished in the last year and look forward to the quilts I’m going to make before I “kick the bucket”. Business-related quilts don’t count; these are just quilts for me.

I started writing this post over a week ago, and it was going to have a completely different tone. I was so excited about a lot of work I’d done over the past year and had really big plans for the year ahead.

But so much has happened in just the last 7 days that it feels like 7 years of work is completely upended. I know/hope that this disruption won’t last forever, but it is what it is right now, so bear with me…


As my online custom quilt orders slowed last year (thanks for killing net neutrality, Ajit Pai!) I turned to making more smaller quilted items for my Etsy store and found some free time to make several of the quilts on my quilt bucket list.

My 15th Anniversary Quilt, 15 Years and Counting, was a year-long adventure, while Star Trek: Deep Space Mine came together super fast (plus I learned some new techniques for it. Never too late to teach an old quilter new tricks.) Sew Geeky was a tour de force of appliqué, a quilt that took more than 3 years from idea to completion because of the amount of detail in the blocks. Totally worth it in the end though.

All in all, I feel like last year was a very successful year in terms of finishing items on my quilt bucket list, and I had such high hopes for the upcoming 12 months that I originally wrote 

I have the 7-year itch to stitch a bunch of quilts!

My attitude was I’ll use this year to really focus on quilts I’ve been wanting to make for myself; I even created a fun UFO (unfinished object) challenge to keep me motivated. Then the coronavirus hit.

We self-quarantined early because of health issues and even then, I was like “No problem! I use my stash! It’ll be an adventure!”

When my plans for a 50th birthday weekend were curtailed early in March, I poured all my creativity into this quilt top –

IMG_5449

Now, three weeks in, I’m so tired of bad news and even worse news. I’m tired of my small sewing space. I’m tired of not being able to fabric shop. I’m tired of not being able to grocery shop.

I’m tired of being tired.

As I said, I know/hope this is just a phase and I’ll adjust. When that time comes, I do have some quilts I plan to work on, including the Make Epic Ship quilt top (there’s enough fabric in my stash to back it, fingers crossed, but not enough to bind it. Here’s hoping I’ll be able to get out to a fabric shop eventually.)

I also have a half-finished top called Votes for Women that I hope to finish before the election in November. Assuming there is an election in November.

My Steven Tyler memorial quilt – for my rock star kitty cat, not the actual rock star – is still in the mix, too. Honestly, there are plenty of other quilts that I have the fabrics on hand to make, too, so I’m actually really lucky. And at least I’m having a birthday; there’s a lot of people who won’t see another one.

I’m not normally this real when writing blog posts, but the world isn’t normal right now. This retrospective comes at a pretty low time for me and I didn’t feel like ignoring what’s going on and I don’t have it in me to fake being happy right now, either.

Stay safe everyone.

Cozy Cabin Inspired Wall Hanging Quilt

On a recent visit to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I stayed in a cabin and loved the quilt on the bedroom wall… can you make something similar?

I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of the email I received from Annette K. late last year. Requests like this are always great, because you know the person asking already has an idea in mind. And, while I won’t copy another quilt artist’s work, there’s nothing to prohibit using something beautiful as inspiration!

Which is how we got from this:

jacksonholequilt

to this:

WyomingWoodsQuilt

WYOMING WOODS & COZY CABINS
Completed February 2020
Cotton Fabric / Cotton-Poly Blend Batting /  House & Pine Tree Blocks
41″ x 47″

Annette’s personalized cabin-themed wall hanging quilt is more symmetrical, simplified and has a LOT more color – her request to include navy blue really makes the house colors pop, doesn’t it?

Like the original, I lightly echo-quilted the elements in each block, but I added heavy stipple quilting to all the sashes and borders for contrast. And maybe it’s just me, but the small squares along the top and bottom feel like the sun rising and setting as seen from the windows of a home on the range…

My goal when challenged to ‘recreate’ a quilt is to make something close to the much loved original, yet changed enough that the finished piece is clearly personal ~ everyone deserves an original, customized Whimzie quilt! Hopefully, Annette’s new wall hanging reminds her of all the fun of visiting Jackson Hole while still knowing it’s a one-of-a-kind, made just for her.


Seen a quilt you like, but want it personalized? Something custom, something tailor-made just for you or your home? I’d be happy to help… visit Whimzie Quiltz and More to start a one-of-a-kind quilt design today!

3rd Quilt from the Sun

2020 Whimzie UFO Challenge

Space’craft’-ing my way through a galaxy of quilts and quilted projects started but not yet finished


So far this year, I’ve completed 3 quilts and added 3 gold stars to my 2020 Whimzie UFO Challenge board ~

Picture3star

I’ve decided that if I finish 16 UFOs this year, my sixteenth year in business, I’m going to have a star named for Whimzie Quiltz. I know the star naming thing is something of a con, but the idea tickles me anyway. Fingers crossed!


Here’s the deets about each of the finished quilts if you want to know more ~

*Deep Space Mine*

*15 Years and Counting…*

*Holly Bear-ries*


 

This Quilt Was a Bear to Work With

While quilting my last quilt, something seemed off with the long-arm quilting machine. It took a while to figure out what was wrong, but I eventually came to the conclusion that the machine needed to be re-squared (for those interested in the details, I shifted the frame, adjusted the carriage and straightened the leads.)

After all that, the long-arm seemed to be back in fighting shape. But the next quilt on my to-do list was a Whimzie quilt and I’d never test run a machine on someone’s purchase. Instead, I quickly stitched together a lap quilt from a polar bear panel in my stash ~

HollyBearies_Quilt

HOLLY BEAR-RIES
Completed February 2020
Cotton Fabric / Cotton-Poly Blend Batting / Applique
49 ½” x 67 ½”

And it worked! The edge-to-edge long chevron stitching is back to being spot on square! My machine being fixed is such a relief; I’ve already started the quilting on my customer’s quilt and should be right on time for delivery at the end of this month.

But…

While the machine is working and my quilting is once again on point, I did end up with a different problem, which is the reason for the blog title (“This Quilt Was a Bear to Work With”).

Since this was a practice quilt anyway, I decided to use a Minky fabric I had in my stash for the backing. Minky is that super, super soft, fur-like fabric that been popular for a few years now. I love Minky quilt backs because they are so soft and snuggly, but that fabric can stretch. Like s—t—r—e—t—c—h. So it takes a particularly deft hand to long-arm quilt it without causing the backing to stretch unevenly. And I sure don’t haven’t developed that ability yet!

You see in the above photo how the rows on the bottom seem puffier than the rows at the top? That’s not just from the photographic lighting, I actually tightened the Minky on the bottom third more than I did in the top two-thirds while quilting and, when I removed the quilt from the long-arm, it sprang back to normal tension and smushed up the top.

My ultimate goal is be able to offer Minky as a backing on customer quilts, so I’ll keep trying to get it right. After all, I’ve still got a LOT of UFOs (unfinished objects) to get through this year, so I’ll definitely get more practice in soon.

Is the Crafting Renaissance Over?

The Great Recession of 2008 was anything but great, yet, as a quilter and crafter, I noticed a small ray of sunshine in the economic clouds – the number of people who shifted their focus to creative endeavors. Whether it was because they had time on their hands, needed or wanted a side hustle or just used crafting as self-care, it seemed like everyone was making things.

Knitting was hip. Craft blogs were all over the Internet and craft fairs were popping up everywhere IRL. Etsy was on fire, Pinterest was taking off… it was a crafting renaissance.

Lately, though, I’m starting to feel like the renaissance has peaked and, in fact, may be over.

San Diego’s local collaborative workshop, MakerPlace, changed hands a couple of months ago and then unexpectedly shut its doors last week. I say unexpectedly, but really I’ve noticed a lot of turmoil in the craft world recently so this latest closing wasn’t a huge surprise.

The last scrapbook store in SD closed its doors over a year ago. There are 4 million people in the greater San Diego area and not a single brick and mortar scrapbook store to serve them. Zero.

As a quilter, though, I’m most aware of changes to local fabric stores. When I started quilting professionally 16 years ago, there were almost two dozen San Diego fabric shops, each one bursting with new fabrics. I’ve lost count of the number that have changed hands, closed completely or been bought by larger chains – and of the ones that are still around, most have cut back drastically on their stock.

Craft shows I attend are getting smaller and smaller. There’s usually a few long-time participating crafters, but new booths are few and far between (and some of the spaces feature nothing but mass-produced crap. At a craft fair.) Even the San Diego Quilt Show is on “hiatus” this year. After 38 years, there isn’t enough interest to even hold the premier local quilting event of the year.

It’s even worse online. It seems like every day I get an email announcing another online fabric store I’ve purchased from is closing. I click on interesting Pinterest tutorials and find that the original blog hasn’t been updated in 2-3 years. Or I see a fabulous creative piece I want to buy only to learn the Etsy shop is on “permanent vacation”.

I know the economy is doing better and more people are getting jobs and other opportunities, which means both fewer customers for craft suppliers and fewer people sharing and/or selling creative output. And the stock market is up, so store owners who can now retire are choosing to, closing up shop or selling to the highest bidder.

Then there’s the changes to the Internet and the demise of net neutrality. Algorithms that used to bring the world to you now assume you only want Amazon. Searches that would return random crafty websites now only bring up ads (and what small creative business can afford to buy in against the big-pocketed big guys?) 

The good old days of a maker putting themselves out there with a self-programmed webpage and still connecting with customers are gone. Etsy has more people selling off their stash of craft supplies, or just selling craft supplies alone, than selling something made with them. Even without staying up to date on the constant changes, updating Facebook and Instagram feeds is a full-time job – and if you spend all your time updating social media, when do you get the chance to actually make anything? 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for everyone who now has a job, or has retired, or has just decided to take a break from creating for a while. I’m less excited about structural changes and lost opportunities, but I realize change is a constant in life (and the Internet is going to Internet.)

Still, I’m sad to see the vibrant craft scene that I’ve enjoyed for the last 10+ years diminish. I truly hope this craft renaissance isn’t over, that the environment for creators will revive – and thrive. The world needs more makers, artists and crafters, not fewer. And I’d really like a local scrapbook store to visit once again.

Craft Apron WINQ

As a quilter, I sew, of course, but I’m not a seamstress (and, yeah, trying to explain the difference to non-sewists is a fun conversation to have.) But I needed an craft apron for when I’m using the long-arm quilting machine so I decided to give this cross-back apron tutorial and pattern from Purl Soho a chance.

apron

Turns out all the straight seams made it easy for this quilter to adapt 😀

I chose to use a twill instead of the recommended linen, which made some of the seams overly thick but the finished apron feels sturdy and comfortable at the same time. You can kind of see how deep the side pockets are in this photo ~ I will be able to keep so many long-arm quilting accessories close while I work! And I’m thinking about adding an embroidery to the front to personalize it, but haven’t decided yet what might work.

Maybe I’m a seamstress after all.**


**Just kidding. Don’t ask me to hem your pants.

It’s a FAAAAKE! :: ‘Fabric’-ated Plant WINQ

A person cannot quilt 24/7/365. At the very least, I need to stop to eat and – briefly – sleep. And, I’ll admit it, I sometimes get a thrill out of cheating on my quilts with other crafts. I call them WINQ projects, or things to do When I‘m Not Quilting.

Sorry for titling this post with an obscure Star Trek:Deep Space Nine quote, but I do love that particular episode (In the Pale Moonlight). And even though the scene had nothing at all to do with the mock fabric plant I was making, while working on this WINQ, the actor’s over-the-top line reading kept going through my head over and over until it stuck.

In any case, the real reason I decided to make a fake plant was that our kitty would eat any real ones I put out. So I pulled a bit of fun green fabric from my stash, found myself a tutorial online and made this cute little addition to our living room decor ~

plant

It’s definitely a fake; no one’s going to mistake it for a real plant. But it’s just what the coffee table needed and was very easy to create. In fact, I’ve started looking around to see if there are any other spots in the house that could use a splash of pseudo-succulent color. This may not be my last ‘fabric’-ated plant! 😀