Category Archives: Sewing

#SOL21: Point of View


About five months ago, we “seemed” more optimistic. Some pandemic numbers were headed in the right direction. There were more mandates and then evil seemed to form this schism wider and deeper than the Grand Canyon.

Black or white

Empty or full

Nothing seemed quite so simple.

I blogged about point of view here.

As school begins/continues/or is perhaps even delayed . . .

here’s some food for thought.

Give yourself grace. Pause. Think. Take a deep breath. Listen to understand.

Is it really this simple?

It’s not easy. There are multiple “sides/views” of every interaction.

Solutions require us to look each other in the eye.

We must let go of the old and ineffective beliefs and practices.

We cannot grab onto the “new and shiny” promise dangled in front of us.

We must center students and their identities in all that we plan and do.

We cannot let fear keep us from embracing the work needed for our students to flourish.

We must stand together in unity.

We cannot stand by when loud voices take over the bully pulpit.

What can you personally do? What are you WILLING to do?

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Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Tiger, Tiger


Animals exist on so many planes. Which ones are your favorites?

William Blake in his poem says

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake The poetryfoundation.org

You may know Daniel the Tiger, a PBS American/Canadian character with Mr. Roger characteristics, who headlines a show for preschoolers with 30 minute segments.

Where in the world are the most Tigers found? Of course, it is India. Who ranks second?

You may be surprised to find out it’s Texas with approximately 2,900 tigers. Source And then there was the tiger India, a Houston star on the loose in Texas just last week. Source

Two weeks ago I spent some time in the National Quilt Museum at Paducah, KY. It’s worth the time and energy to study the artistic and workmanship qualities of quilts.

There were hundreds of colors, patterns and designs that captured my attention but I returned to this one multiple times. Was it the fact that some of the fabric extended beyond the quilt? Was it the visual characteristics? Was it the fact that it made me think?

See the paw that sticks out beyond the border as the tiger springs through the window!

Every creation has information about the designer/creator/craftmanship.

Was it the challenge that drew me back?

The illusions?

What did I notice?

What catches your eye when you are in a museum? What causes you to return to the same item time after time? What are you willing to spend time on? Where does your curiosity take you?

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Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

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#SOL21: Self-evaluation


I had a plan to construct a 9 x 11 quilt out of 10 inch blocks (raw size 10.5 inches). I had a pattern. I had fabric. 35 different fabrics because I didn’t want a lot of repetition in some of the columns. Column 1 and 9 were organized as planned with just a few shifts to ensure that certain colors were not adjacent. Columns 3 and 7 used fabrics for the most part that were NOT included in columns 1 and 2. Column 5 in the middle was a blended mix of squares combined from column 1 and 3. (After all it’s the middle column!)

Fairly simple. I constructed the squares – each with 7 pieces of fabric. I laid them out on the pool table to check the patterns. I shifted and revised some: flipping end over end broke up a line that wasn’t meant to be or reversed the original pattern. Column 1, after all, consisted of 45 stripes. A veritable vertical feast of colors.

When you view the grid above, it becomes obvious that the placement of the blocks needed to be done in an orderly fashion to match the pattern. But which concerns should receive priority? Blocks with 2 seams, 3 seams, or 4 seams?

I quickly became adept at checking for two or three specific fabrics as my love for them caused them to be included at a higher frequency rate. I knew that checking in advance would keep the dreaded frog away . . .

RIP IT!

Rip it!

RIP IT!

Not my friend. Physically “revising” by ripping out fabric in a quilt.

Last Tuesday, I needed to make a decision. I knew that two blocks bothered me. How much? Enough to rip out? I couldn’t decide. But they did bother me ENOUGH that I decided to construct the quilt rows in two different pieces so I could manage the fabric more easily ( 90″ in width and 60 ” in length).

Here is what I was facing. Two fabric colors were too similar.

Should I replace them? If yes, with what color or pattern.

It wouldn’t be too obvious to anyone else without a fair amount of studying the pattern.

Here’s where the plan failed in execution.

I waged an internal debate.

Who would notice? Who would care? Would it really be that noticeable to others? Was it good ENOUGH as it was?

Would my nephew notice?

And I instantly thought of other times in my life.

Did I settle for good ENOUGH?

Was this about the final product? Or the process? OR both?

I’m not YET jammed for time, so should I do it “correctly” as defined in my planning?

OR should I “LET IT GO?”

PAUSE. Can you name a time when you have been faced with a similar quandary? What helped you make your decision? Did you have any regrets? How would you evaluate your own QUALITY of work?

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Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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Like Paul Harvey

“And now for the rest of the story . . .”

Have you predicted my response to my self-evaluation?

Yes, I spent 90 stinking minutes ripping out and replacing the four fabrics in the block that did not match. I could NOT leave it as it was.

My biggest project to date: Quilt number three, a 90″ by 110″ project.

#SOLSC21: Mathing


“Hello,” I said as I crossed the threshold. Two different detours had made me late. I had thirty five minutes. Timing was going to be everything. I practically danced my way in: one bag carrying two completed items and a second bag with plans that needed some encouragement, some revision, and some clarification.

“In here,” said Barb as I made my way to the first cutting table where she met me. As she oohed and ahed over the first item, I could barely hold my excitement.

And then I unfolded my second ever.

My second ever quilt.

She helped me choose fabrics. She agreed with me that floral elephants weren’t our cup of tea so we changed it. Peach? not so much. What about blue? We seemed in sync three months ago when we first envisioned this pattern in its physical form.

Once the Christmas gifts were sewn, I transitioned to planning for Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. I didn’t have a lot of luck finding fabric for the Derby so it was time to sew.

And sew I did. Straight lines. Rows of squares. Seven rows of ten five inch squares each. Two rows repeated exactly. But I read the rows vertically and horizontally so that no one square was repeated too often. And then hourglass patterns. Five different yellow fabrics and five different blue fabrics. Patterns. Repetitions. More patterns.

Barb asked my permission to take pictures of it, and of course I said yes. After all, the first part of today’s business was “Show and Tell.”

Quilt #2

As I examined the quilt hanging there, some old memories resurfaced.

Quilting day with relatives from Dad’s family . . .

I still remember crawling under the quilting frame as we played while the elders quilted. The long boards held the quilt on top of wooden sawhorses that were spread across from each other. How close to the action were we? I remember that my hair was sewn to a quilt on more than one occasion. Food? Drink? Other kids? It must have been before I was school age!

Once the celebration was over, our attention quickly turned to the next project, my questions, and my concerns. Quickly capturing the ideas on the computer showed me one way that the next quilt might go.

I still enjoy viewing hand pieced quilts but I can’t see myself ever agreeing to sew one by hand (with out any machines or modern tools). Sewing pieces together with a machine involves a variety of skills that seem to ebb and flow with each project and enough complexity for my mind.

The math involved:

measuring, measuring, and measuring again. Each seam, Each row. Each column. Each section. And then piecing the elephants. My most complicated work to date. A square becomes a triangle. Two triangles equal a square . . . Measuring for the binding. Halving distances. 45 degree angles on corners. So many numbers. And the patterns. Yes to a pattern here. No to a pattern here. Some organized randomness. Counting. Counting. Counting.

And yet I’m embarking on the next task. A graduation quilt. From a baby to a six and a half foot young man. Adding to the pattern. Adding to the fabric. Mathing again!

How does math intersect with your life? When are you surprised by the ways that math becomes a part of your life? Is math a big part of your REAL life?

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Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum during the month of March. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL20: Life Lesson


“No, no, no,” I muttered to myself. (There may have been an “Oh, sh#t” mixed in.) I ONLY had two sides left to sew.

“How does a steam iron become a volcano spewing brown crud covering the entire length of my 24 inch piece of fabric . . . FORMERLY WHITE!”

“What on earth caused that?”

“I only had three.”

“Had” . . . already speaking in the past tense.

Already thinking of options. “Is it fixable? Replace with ???”

I’m deep into gift planning and sewing. Christmas will soon be here. I know. It’s not even “mid-September.” (I am one of those.) Before today, three items were complete. Three more waiting for trim, arriving soon via mail. Twelve more begun. Ready to assemble as or when time allows. Probably about 30 of those will be assembled in the next three months. A list. Organized by names and then by colors. Adult gifts.

Today was sewing time. New project. New Christmas idea. Iteration of previous projects. It began slowly.

Envisioning . . . One piece of fabric, measured, measured, measured, and then cut carefully into thirds. Daring in a simplistic design. Eking three out cautiously because it’s such a gorgeous fabric. Now ruined by a recalcitrant iron that decided to spew dark brown lava the entire length.

Scrubbed.

Allowed to dry.

Scrubbed again.

Drying.

Reduced, but still visible.

“Maybe this will be my gift to myself. Maybe this will be mine. Who else will know? But (insert whiny voice), it’s not the color I want for myself!”

Back side

Less visible? Or just wishful thinking?

Front unfinished view

The day after. How BIG of a problem is this in the light of the next day?

Life resembles my sewing. Mistakes happen. Often only the “designer” or “constructor” knows when the plan or pattern deviates. Creativity is stretched to handle the adversity.

When have you had to “fix” a problem? Did you “downplay” the issue? Did anyone else even notice?

How we respond . . . How we recover . . . says much about our own character. Learning to “fix” mistakes. Learning not to give up. Learning to “try, try again”. No, not by choice; but out of necessity. Life continues. Another lesson learned.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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