Tuesday, August 11, 2015


My house is still in disarray.  My sewing room is crowded with stuff that doesn't belong there.  I am quilting black on black, which is frustrating because it is hard to see.  I need the magnifying thing that fits over my head and that is a nuisance.  I took a break and sewed a different spot with red on top and black in the bobbin (backing is black, top is orangy).  When I looked at the back it was clear that my tension was off so I ripped it out.  That's my day so far, and we all have those days sometimes.  Life is just that way.  OK, I'm done venting!

I was reading a very uplifting article in American Quilter by Thomas Merton, "Transformation: Art from Within."  He tells about how several churches got together to provide opportunities for prisoners in a local correctional institution to do creative activities.  These activities also had a spiritual side beyond individual beliefs, time for discussion and much more.  Can you imagine having to log out every piece of equipment used for a project, and then log it back in when the session is over?  I will never look at my sewing tools the same:  seam ripper, stylus, scissors, pins.  The inmates respond positively to the chance to do something creative, and I am sure some of them never imagined they could create anything.  The goal is to help them transform themselves as well.

The article mentioned two particular women from rival gangs who ended up sitting together because all other seats were taken and they had no choice.  These women learned about each other and found common ground, which broke down engrained barriers.  In many ways creating something of beauty was freeing for them as it is for us.  The art that the inmates have created will be on display at the San Jose (CA) Museum of Quilts and Textiles from September 12 through November 2015.

This is what keeps me sewing, drawing, painting and taking photos.  It is so uplifting to create something.  It doesn't matter if you use a pattern and sew together traditional blocks or if you start from scratch and design your own.  We each have our own talents and inclinations so listen to your inner voice and enjoy your creativity.  It truly is a source of freedom and accomplishment, even on a bad day.

Wild Gaillardia aka Indian Blanket - work of the Supreme Creator
BTW after my session with the seam ripper I put red thread in the bottom, tightened the tension and sewed up some nice looking quilting.  Was that cheating to put red thread in the bottom just so any glitches won't show?  Of course not.  I am looking to make my quilt and my quilting look the best it can with the skills I have.  Besides, that fire-red stitching looks great on the black backing (especially with the adjusted tension!).

TIP:  They say you shouldn't go to bed angry.  When training a dog you always want to finish a session with something she does right.  Try to rectify at least some of a sewing mistake before you quit.  You'll be more enthusiastic about returning to a project if you are ready to move on.

Creativity is allowing  yourself to make mistakes.  Art is knowing which ones to keep.  (Scott Adams)

Sew some happy seams this week.


  1. What a nice post. I live a few hours from the Textile museum in San Jose and have never been there. This sounds like a great display. TIme for a road trip! Thanks for letting us know about it. Glad you were able to clear up the tension issues. I have quilted black on black two times and it was not fun. Very hard to see what you are doing and where you need to go next. Good luck with your project.

    1. Thank you Bernie. I would love to see some photos if you get to the Textile museum. I think it is such a worthwhile project.

  2. I enjoyed reading that post and the tips at the end. I found this post from scrolling down from the post where you showed the quilting on the back of your bird wing, I'm assuming that is where you switched your bobbin color from black to red, if so, I just love it and glad you switched. :) Looks amazing.

    1. Thanks for the comment. The red is the backside of the bird's wing and was done long before. The white McTavishing is background filler, but it didn't look good on the front so that is what I ripped out. Come back next week and read about the whole disaster!