Postcards for my peeps

My job WAS working with seniors who are living at home with dementia. They come spend a day with me and their peers and their primary carer gets some time off. But since COVID, all I can offer them is a weekly care package that includes a letter, some puzzles, reading material, coloring pages, jokes, candy and a small gift. Last week I made quilted postcards that they can either keep or mail to a friend.

There is 1 for each person. The top card shows the place for the stamp and writing.
These two are my favorites.

I started a quilt for my grandson (who lives in Germany) that he can use when he is here visiting. They will be staying in our basement which is cold. I think he will be able to use it.

Not sure why the colors are so washed out. Must be the lighting. Basically the colors are more true primary colors.

Kaleidoscope hexagon quilt done

The latest quilt is done. It is intended as a cuddle quilt for the couch. My mom got it.

I’m happy with my piecing.

I’m happy with the quilting.

I’m not thrilled with the color choices on the front…or the back…but it was all thrift store or stash material.

I’m not happy with the zigzag stitch used to put the blocks together. I thought the wider stitch would “frame” each block and make them stand out. It just isn’t that pretty.

But, it is functional. And I learned from it so that’s good.

Canada Day 2021

Last Thursday was Canada Day…The equivalent of the 4rth of July for Americans. For many, it is just a day off of work. For some it is working for time and a half pay and a banked vacation day. May be it is the launching of summer holidays. To some, it is an excuse to get together with friends and family…COVID messed that up last year but it is slightly better this year…at least where I am.

Some people actually take the time to consider why we like Canada. The land itself is lovely with loads of scenic variety. We have plenty of resources: water, farmland, and oil to name a few. I’m pretty fond of our democracy and our health care system. We are known world wide for being fairly decent humans as a whole (but I’m the first to admit that not everyone is the stereotypical polite Canadian. We have our share of “butt orifices” too.) By enlarge, Canada has treated me and mine well.

But this year Canada has been forced to look at our butt holeary in a historical sense. We have to face the fact that in the not so distant past, Europeans sailed over here and looked around and thought “this is a nice place…I can use this.” And they started taking things: pelts, land, women…. And they abusively used the land, the people, the plants and the animals for their own gain. To the indigenous peoples, the colonizers were cruel, even when they thought they were being kind. Trading can be a nice thing…except when you are ripping people off and dealing in things that was ultimately harmful (alcohol for example). Sharing of ones culture and faith can be a nice thing if it is a mutual sharing but not when it is rammed down someones throat!

The ultimate example of this “ramming” was the residential schools which were started in the Victorian era (1890’s I believe) and continued into my life time. The idea was the Europeans weren’t going anywhere and in fact they were moving in like cockroaches. The indigenous would benefit from an education that helped them adapt to the Western way of doing things. Nice concept…NOT! The residential schools ripped children away from their parents-often under threat of incarceration if they did not comply. The children were stripped of their home, family, community and then stripped of all reminders of that. Their clothing, hair, adornments and mementos were removed. They were punished for speaking their own language. The treatment in general was neglectful at best and commonly it was abusive.

My ancestors were here for the start of this. Were they actively engaged in this? I don’t think so. Were they unaware of this process? Possibly. If they were aware of this, there is a good chance they thought this was a good idea. And that idea is unsettling. But, we Canadians can not say, “this was the past. Don’t hold our fore father’s past sins against us”. We can’t say it because this was going on, to some degree, in my life time. There are still people alive today that had to go to residential school and now are living with trauma. There are people alive today that were raised by people who were ripped from family only to be abused. How do you learn to parent in those conditions? The negative repercussions have rippled across generations marking the people even when they themselves haven’t been to residential school.

So why are Canadian’s thinking about this now? Because unmarked graves are being found at these residential schools. Some are saying “don’t automatically think they died from abuse and neglect”. That may be true but the questions remain: Why unmarked graves? Did they get an honorable burial? Were the people that loved them there? Did their loved ones get satisfactory information on the life and death of this child? Did the family get the opportunity to bring their loved one home for burial? Did they get the opportunity to set up a grave marker? And the ultimate question…why weren’t they safe at home in the first place?

So in their grief and outrage for these children and in the relived memory of their own trauma, the indigenous community spent Canada Day saying out loud that the creation of this country has not been a good thing for them and theirs. Colonization has not been a blessing. And the symbol of colonization…Queen Victoria…got knocked off her pedestal in front of the government building in my location.

Honestly, I’m surprised she has stood as long as she has. People around the world have begun to look at statues celebrating people and victories and realizing that not everyone is happy about the results of these memorialized events and people. The confederate statues in the States are the most obvious examples of this.

I don’t know the long term plans for this statue. I hope it isn’t destroyed. It is part of history. But have it displayed in a museum with perhaps the paint still on her (because that is now also part of the history that shouldn’t be lost).

The name of my blog is a play on the words “I want to be Victorian.” But in actuality that isn’t true. They health care then was dreadful. Though I would be part of the “in crowd” (white, middle class or better, and Protestant) I’m still a girl and therefore would be little better than property. If I lived in the Victorian era with my current world views I’d be even more horrified by the crap I would see in the 1800’s than I am seeing now! And I’d likely be put in a mental institution or jail for my radical thoughts. If I were Victorian, I’d have no internet (heaven forbid!), Netflix, electric sewing machine with dozens of stitch options, and no car.

I just like the clothes, furniture and architecture. But these things didn’t come about in a void. The clothing styles demanded top hats for men, which demanded beaver pelts, which demanded the fur trade which demanded the colonization of North America, which demanded the native population “problem” be dealt with.

I want to be respectful to the trauma of the original peoples. I’m not sure that the respect of that trauma wont taint my enjoyment of Victorian costuming. That’s were I’m at. Wondering how I fit into this fu*ked up world.

Sneak peek

I’m working on a quilt for my mom. Each block is made into a hexagon and it is done by having enough printed fabric to have 6 repeats of the print.

You cut the 6 sections apart and carefully stack them up so each layer is exactly lined up with the layer above and below. Then you cut 60 degree triangles. You sew each stack of 6 triangles together to make a kaleidescope hexagon. The next step is to back and quilt each hex before zigzagging them together. Below are a few of my favorite blocks.

The wedding gift is done

I finished the wedding gift for my son and his future bride. I’m mostly happy with it. From a distance (from which most people will see it) it looks OK. Up close, it wouldn’t take long for people to see the thousands of mistakes: the places that are less than ideal because of the lack of skill, the racing through steps, the cost saving choices and the poor design choices, which is all part of the learning curve. Also, most folks (my age anyway) would not to decorate in those colors and with mermaids. I get that. But I love color and working with color. My son is an artist that deals with fictional and fantasy characters so he will appreciate the mermaids and the color. And the bride-to-be had a say in the colors (though she had no idea she’d be stuck with this thing in a few months LOL!) Anyway, I am counting on the love my kid has for me, the understanding he has for how much work goes into creating things and the fact that it isn’t the only gift they are getting to help him get past all of the mistakes. That and the fact that he is male and isn’t genetically programed to notice decor. His bride will find a use for it if not as the focal point of their bedroom.

Do you like the sea themed pictures in the background of this photo? Appropriate to the mermaid theme…especially the manatee picture.

I made a pillow to go with it.

This is the back. In retrospect, I should have reversed the colors. But the original plan was to do it all in the light blue but I ran out of fabric.

I enjoyed the process and I am already planning to start another quilt. This time, in tamer (but possibly more “old lady-ish) colors. The next quilt has a few new skills and techniques I want to try. And I’m going to invest in the more expensive batting. That was one of my cost saving choices in this quilt but I can see, now, why quilters usually choose the more expensive batting that has the low “loft”. The fluffy stuff is cheaper but is a pain to work with when you are doing quilt-as-you-go. It also coats the entire house in a fine film of dust when you cut it. I’m not sure the massive long arm quilting machines would love that stuff either. This next one, I think, will go in my room. If hubby agrees….

Tie cases are done wedding quilt progressing

I finished the neck tie cases with oodles of time to spare. I really like the race car one! I know just who will get that one!

They ain’t pretty-especially side by side-but individually they look and feel OK.

Speaking of ties. Remember the tie skirt?

It is cute on the floor and on a hanger but it looks terrible on me. If I carried my weight on my hips it would work but I carry it on my gut so a short skirt (especially with stripes) makes me look like a beach ball. So this one is destined to be deconstructed and the silk used in some sort of quilting project. I’m half playing with the idea of trying a MUCH LONGER ONE to see if that improves the look of it. That would mean buying more ties. I’d also consider taking the points off and making a straight hem and I’d line it. That silk was a bit too sheer. You didn’t need much of a light to see the shadow puppet show my thighs were putting on….

I’m making some good progress on the quilt I want to make for my son’s wedding. Pictures to follow.

Family reunion

This week I worked on a quilt for my son’s wedding. I made good progress but not worth sharing yet.

The neck tie pencil cases for my seniors are still sitting next to my sewing machine. The silk neck ties destined to be a quilted silk pillowcase (?) bag (?) are still laying on the floor of my sewing room in various stages of deconstruction.

This weekend was busy so not much time for high concentration crafting. My father’s side of the family organized a virtual family reunion and we had a great time reconnecting with some family and meeting some for the first time!

In between reunion sessions, I decided to have what could be called a pallet cleanser. As you might guess, costume making produces a lot of scraps. The pieces were to small for another dress but to big to toss out so I stuffed them into a bag just in case I ever needed small bits. To my credit, I did on occasion need small bits but not very often. This is my bag of scraps…

Hot mess!

My pallet cleanser was ironing some of the scraps and then cutting them down to commonly needed square sizes for quilting. The bits get sorted by size and then color.

Ideally, when I am ready to make a quilt I can just go to my stash and select the sizes and colors I want.

I wonder at what I will make with all that fabric once it is all ironed and cut down. I guess the Dollar Store will get some of my cash because if I don’t want to iron those pieces again, they need to be stored better!

Woo Hoo! Look at me go!

I finished my practice quilt. It isn’t pretty but it is functional. Perfect for times a blanket is needed but not a good time for a nice one (picnics, bonfires, children eating Cheesies….)

There were some definite mistakes but I learned a lot. The biggest things I learned are: I can’t cut straight lines with a dull rotary blade and short rulers and my dining room table taught me my Dollar Store glue mat doesn’t work as a cutting mat…

Here it is. Loud and proud! (Those prone to seizures may want to put on sunglasses!)

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I did get a good start on the tie pencil cases for my seniors. I just need to put in some button holes and they will be done. I’ve also deconstructed most of my stash of ties but I still haven’t decided if they will be quilt blocks, another longer skirt, a quilted bag, a coat of many colors….

I also got a start on my next quilt. I wish I could say I didn’t buy more fabric…I used my stash but that would be a bold faced lie!

I decided to try the economy block. Very Victorian! The fabric is not!

The skills I wanted to learn this time around is fussy cutting and using triangle pieces. The fussy cutting is selecting certain parts of a fabric print and cutting around to make a piece. And just like in costume sewing, cutting across the bias in a triangle gives that edge a certain amount of give that can mess up a seam if pulled to tight. I also wanted to not chop off the corners of the mermaid square with the blue bubble pieces. I did not bad with all three challenges and I improved with each block since this first one was made.

Creative juices flow some more

In my previous posts, I explained that I had finished a baby sweater and that made me want to start a new project….a pencil holder made from ties for my seniors at work. Good thing I want it for around Father’s Day because the route there has been convoluted!

I finished fixing some broken jewelry and updated some of my chatelaines for my costuming.

That made it so I could clear off my craft table to make room for my sewing machine. While browsing how to videos for the pencil cases and sorting through the ties I picked up I got hooked on the idea of a skirt made from ties. Got that done but still hadn’t made the pencil cases.

While watching those how to videos, I saw one where they made a quilt using the ties. I thought that sounded like fun…especially now that I had a mountain of ties to work with. But I thought I should try quilting with cotton first before I tackle slippery ties. But I had no desire to go through my fabric stash nor the desire to start hacking up fabric I like for a project that may bomb colossally. I also had no desire to head to the fabric store and buy beautiful expensive fabric for the same reasons.

So I went to the store I casually refer to as Wally World and found some butt ugly stuff that did not hurt me to cut up or possibly mangle. I did a nice job cutting and piecing so quilting was next. I wanted to try a technique referred to as quilt as you go. That is a good system if you intend to machine quilt and don’t have a lot of room to be trying to quilt an entire blanket.

Enter fear, OCD and ideas…again. The fear was messing up the quilting part. The OCD part was looking at the scraps left over from the blocks…I hate left overs. And the ideas part was looking at the quilt pieces and seeing another way they could be sewn together. Soooooo….I set aside the nicely done squares and hacked apart the scraps in a haphazard way and pieced them (sloppily) together. Then I took some fleece and and black fabric from my stash and attempted quilt as you go. It was easier than I thought but I did learn a couple things with the trial run. I’m glad I did it. It kept the scraps OUT of my stash. It burned through some of the stuff IN my stash. And I ended up with a kind of spring themed wall hanging or table runner that will work nicely at work

Certainly not a lovely object but that wasn’t the goal. The goal was practicing a new skill to see if I liked it before I made a more sincere attempt. But the pencil cases still aren’t done.