Thursday, July 28, 2011

Blog-nesia (not.)

Ok, I have no progress to report on the Lavender chuppah (which I'm really starting to think should be called the Purple Chuppah). But lest you think I have blognesia and forgotten about the blog, I haven't. I just have gotten into a little procrastination area because it occurred to me that this chuppah might lend itself to some nice Hebrew embroidery--the only thing is that I haven't yet purchased the embroidery software that will allow me to embroider in Hebrew. Also, I haven't embroidered anything in over a year. So I need to Just Do It.

My plan is to get my embroidery unit checked out at the sewing machine store in the next week (I think something wonky is happening with it) and then purchase the software so that I can experiment with Hebrew. In the meantime, chuppah designs are dancing in my head and I may just start working on another chuppah top before the purple one is finished. Recently I read something about an Amish tradition (don't quote me on this) that supposedly a young woman would make 13 quilt tops, but not begin to quilt them until she was going to be married. So creating more chuppah tops can only bode well for love, right?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lavender Chai Chuppah

Here is the Lavender Chai Chuppah. "Chai" refers to the Hebrew letter in the center of the quilt (not to be confused with 'chai' the drink lol as my friend pointed out. Chai means life, and translates to a lucky number 18 (if you read the About Me section you'll see that Chai was the inspiration for this meshuggenah blog itself.).

This was a good excuse, btw, to set up a 'design wall' again (just a simple white sheet tacked to the wall so that I can get a good view of the work in progress, and attempt to take decent photos for you :))

Last I left off on this chuppah, I was trying to figure out the quilt design. I had started to quilt the outline of the Chai on the white center piece. The white fabric is silk, the periwinkle border beyond that is also silk, and the outer purple fabric is cotton.
The chai in the center was cut out from silk (I think) and then topped with an experimental blend of Angelina fibers topped with tulle. Angelina fibers are these very, very thin fibers that almost look like cotton candy, and when heated they melt and bond into a fiber with iridescent qualities. It's not quite as shiny as the photo suggests but it still has a magical (I think) effect.

Should I continue to echo the Chai quilting lines and if so, extend them beyond the white area? Or maybe some free motion or flowy quilting would be nice on the purple areas....any ideas??

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Step Inside my Chuppah Time Machine!

I thought I’d show you some of the chuppahs of the past before I get rolling on the current chuppah (ingenious procrastination, you ask? Well maybe. I would prefer to think of it as a little show and tell.)

~ Here (above) is the first chuppah I made and the lovely couple who said, “We trust you!” when I asked if they would kind of like to see it before it was completed.

Interesting factoids:
• Inspiration: The couple, Danya Underwood Rivlin and Eyal Rivlin, are ridiculously talented musicians who have a magical Hebrew Chanting CD called Coming Home. The heart in between the two figures at the center of the quilt actually is an 'open heart' pocket in which the couple could tuck vows or something special from their wedding day.
• Amazingly, the chuppah was featured in an online article I was interviewed for about eco-friendly Jewish weddings for the Forward.
• Lessons learned: Make sure you sew the ties that connect chuppah to the poles holding it up really well. It almost (almost) blew away during the beautiful lakeside ceremony. Also, each chuppah is the expression of that couple’s unique love—or as  my friend Gayle put it, the chuppah tells a story (thanks Gayle!).

~ The next chuppah I made wasn’t for anyone in particular, and it was my first time working with silk.

Interesting factoids:
• Inspiration: A sketch I did. (though I did not invent the ancient spiral pattern)
• Appeared in: a guest blog post I wrote for the Green Bride Guide.
• Lessons learned: Getting design from your brain to fabric can be harder than you anticipate! Also, sewing on sequined fabric—maybe not such a great idea.

Next Time: I will open the chuppah vault and show you Chuppah #1 for 18chuppahs: the lavender chai chuppah I started last year and hope to finish now. (Does an unfinished chuppah age like fine wine?)...

How I Learned to Sew (or, Let’s Talk About Grandmas)

As I’m embarking on this blog I’m starting to think more about how I came to love quilts. I sat down and thought about what gave me the idea to make my first quilt. I think I was still a teenager. The pattern, Irish Chain, was from a book I’d gotten at the mall called Country Weekend Patchwork Quilts. (It should have been called, Quilts That Take Two Years to Finish because I started it in Brooklyn and finished it in grad school in Madison, WI.)

While I’d like to say the rest is history, my quilting/fabric art path didn’t exactly get off to a flying start. I felt like Betsy Ross as I made my first quilt because I did it all by hand. I’d never touched a sewing machine (despite the fact that my grandmother’s Singer sewing machine, in a lovely wooden cabinet, had been living downstairs my entire life.) But, my grandmother had taught me to hand sew. I have a distant memory of her showing me how to stitch on a piece of flannel, and the pincushion that looked like a tomato…and the thimble she wore that swam on my thumb when I tried it on.  (More on my creative Grandma later.)

I finally bought my first sewing machine about 10 years later on a dare (I dared myself) at Walmart. I quickly realized I had no idea how to even *thread* a sewing machine. But, I finally got the hang of it and began making a few small quilts. I had tamed the sewing machine, sort of. The thing is when you put your foot on the gas (pedal) you really never knew what was going to happen or how fast you’d be going. Still, it kept on working and I completed my first chuppah on it…even when I decided to free motion quilt it the weekend I first learned what free motion quilting was. No pressure there!

A few years back I finally purchased a computerized sewing machine, the kind where you put your foot on the gas and generally know what’s coming. (I like a little spontaneity in my life, but not when I’m about to stitch a silk quilt). I decided on an older Husqvarna Viking Designer I sewing/embroidery machine. We’re still getting to know each other.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

You Are Here

Despite my love for all things handmade chuppah, I’ve noticed a little bit (ok more than a little bit) of foot-dragging and procrastination in between moments of inspiration. Even though I’ve rolled my eyes a little when it has seemed like everyone has a blog, here I am. I’m kind of curious to see what happens when I have a goal to make more chuppahs. I came up with the number 18 (“chai”) because it’s a lucky number in Judaism that means life. I know, I know, I wish we had a luckier number that was a little smaller.