Friday, December 2, 2011

Sew to Swap book release

Last month (November) Melanie Sullivan introduced a new quilting book to the FWMQG during our regular monthly meeting. Modestly, she shared with the group that she was a contributor to the book. Melanie has FOUR projects featured in the Sew to Swap book all about quilting projects designed for exchange.
As she began to tell about the book and the projects she contributed to the publication, her passion and attention to detail for quilting and sewing became abundantly clear to me. I thought to myself "Oh my gawd, she is CRAZY for sewing!" I already knew it, but I didn't fully understand it. I realized that she was REALLY passionate for the art of creating with fabric. 
So, for the month of December, I decided to do a blog focus on Melanie. As I write this, I laugh to myself because I have known Melanie since the first grade and I often think to myself, why didn't I know that she was crazy for fabric, creative in every facet of the word and meticulous - or anal - as some would say about her quilting, also - this gal can iron like no one's business!
I hope you enjoy reading about her and her passion for carrying on the time-old tradition of quilting.
Q: What drew you to quilting? And when?
Melanie: Well, I have been sewing since I was a kid, but I had never really taken much interest in quilting until my daughter was born.  I wanted to decorate her nursery in a shabby chic feel and had this image in my head of patchwork chenille bedding and accessories. I began ordering vintage chenille bedspreads on eBay and quickly cut them to make a patchwork crib quilt. With NO previous quilting experience, the end result wasn't exactly what I had hoped for and the project was set aside shortly before she was born. She's in middle school now and that poor quilt is still boxed up somewhere. Attempting to machine quilt through patchwork chenille, batting and backing event with a walking foot, was extremely frustrating for a first-time quilter. I think the first quilt I actually completed was about eight years later, a high school graduation gift for my cousin. The second time around the bright modern quilting fabrics are what drew me in.
Q: What is your passion for quilting?
Melanie: I think there are a number of things that draw me to quilting. I can't resist a new line of modern, colorful quilting cottons. I have always been drawn to bright colors and sparkly things. Many of my high school and college art projects included dustings of glitter and no shortage of sparkly crystals or rhinestones. My quilts are no exception, I love bright, busy and a little over the top. 
I also love using my hands to create. In addition to quilting and sewing, I enjoy knitting and crochet, metal smithing and gardening. I just love to create things with busy hands. Which probably leads me to another draw to quilting and that is to see something I create in use. Seeing a baby cuddled up with a quilt I made just warms my heart! Keeping my family's toes warm on a cold night with one of my quilts or enjoying a picnic on a quilt in the park are all the motivation I need to keep making useful quilts for other to enjoy.
Q: Tell me a little bit about "The Uptight Quilter?"
Melanie: Oh, that! Throughout the Sew to Swap book there are sidebars where the author, Chrissie Grace, asked the contributors questions related to sewing and quilting. My answer to the questions regarding your favorite snack while sewing came across as, well, a little "uptight." I answered with, "I DON'T snack when I sew. I like to keep my hands and workspace free of any potential messes." I think that was the first page I flipped to when I received a copy of the book and saw my answer among the other quilters who enjoy things like Cheetos, M&Ms and goldfish crackers. I think my aversion to snacking while sewing comes from my college years. I majored in fashion design and spent many, many hours in the sewing lab. We were NOT allowed to have food or drinks in the lab and it always made sense to me to keep those things away from your fabric and machines. I attended a quilting retreat with friends from the Dallas Modern Quilt Guild last month and we enjoyed some good laughs about my uptight answer.
If you want to purchase the book, you can click on the link below for your very own copy. Congratulations to Melanie for her published work! Now, eat a bag of Cheetos!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Beast on my Dining Room Table - by Elisa Belmont

Hello to all of the fabulous members of our Guild, and welcome to our new blog! We are so thrilled to have you with us and we hope you enjoy reading our monthly contributions.
If you haven’t met me, I am the Secretary of the Guild. I am a novice quilter – I’m also the one who doesn’t understand why we have to iron everything, and why math ever has to enter the picture while I’m blissfully sewing away, making one crooked quilt after another.  I put so much love and heart into my quilts,  I hope it somehow compensates for the  fact that you have to lean sideways to see my design.
I sew on a 1960’s mint green vintage Perfection sewing machine, and I’d like to tell you the story of my torrid and tumultuous love affair with a machine that some have labeled “The Beast.” 
The true origin of my machine is mysterious and unknown. Some have said that stitches from my machine were found in the couture garments sewn for Jackie O during the Camelot years in the White House.  Others have whispered about unconfirmed sightings of my machine in the jungles of Vietnam, patching and mending uniforms  for our troops.  
I remember my Mom sewing  Halloween costumes for us  when we were little.  She was not the most patient of seamstresses,  but The Beast was always faithful and tolerant of her temper tantrums.  That was certainly good practice for  when I came along. When the sewing bug bit me in my 20’s, I  asked if I could borrow the machine.  Eventually I had  it completely refurbished to the glorious state she is in today.  I have her cleaned and serviced once a month, and I sit by like a proud Mother Hen while my repairman gushes over her.  We both have no doubt she will sew forever.
She is cast iron and weighs about 85 pounds.   Many of you have seen me carrying her from the car for our Saturday Sews, stopping and letting her rest every few feet.   I am always careful to place her on a table that is suitable for her.  More than once I have set her on one end or the other, only to watch her flip the entire table over as she obviously is unhappy with the spot I have chosen.  This is just one of the subtle ways she communicates with me.  She is rarely fussy and would sew through sheet metal if I asked her to.  She sits proudly at the end of my dining room table, and we have dinner as a family together every night. 
She has a great sense of humor.  At our first Officer’s Sew for our newly formed Guild, I sat next to Melanie Sullivan, who serves as our Historian and is the super creative one.  Melanie told me that when her machine runs out of bobbin, a little sad face appears on her computer screen to let her know.  I saw The Beast roll her eyes.  I then explained that when my machine runs out of bobbin, she lets me know by giggling when I  take my entire piece out and it is not sewn together.  Ah, that Beast! So michevious!
She is no wallflower, never timid or submissive. When I press her pedal and stitches are sewn, you are sure as hell going to know it,  and so is everyone within a half mile radius.  Her sweet song has been described as similar to “ the rapid fire of a Tommy machine gun.” 
Obviously, I love my machine more than I probably should.  I am sometimes surprised when I take a piece out and it has come out perfectly, when I never imagined it would.  Please say hello to her at our next Saturday Sew, she would love to meet you all!