Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Quilts that heal

Recently I was very moved by this powerful creation, a piece called "Caesarean Quilt" made by a mother in the United States called Renee Hoffman who gave birth and experienced a traumatic caesarean in 2010.

Cesarean Quilt by Renee Hoffman, USA

I cried a lot after he was born, partially due to hormones, but mostly due to the events surrounding his birth. At follow up appointments with my certified nurse midwife, I felt like I was told the same thing over and over, as though she was quoting from a script: "Just be thankful you and the baby are healthy, that's all that matters." Never was my emotional damage or turmoil addressed.

I decided to wait a year to heal mentally and physically before doing in-depth research into cesareans and vaginal births after cesareans (VBACs). I met with a certified professional midwife--the very midwife that had delivered my twin brother and I nearly 27 years before--about having a homebirth. She was wonderfully encouraging and supportive. She encouraged my husband and I to find a way that would help us release and express our emotions from our son's birth. One night as I was falling asleep I came up with an image of a woman releasing red waves of pain and emotions into the wind. I had been planning on making a Ticker Tape quilt for a while, and knew the method would work well to turn the image into a quilt.

I wanted to include single words that expressed all the emotions and thoughts I had had since having the cesarean, and wanted to get my husband involved too. We both made a list of words separately then we discussed our lists, adding even more words. As I started quilting the words onto the quilt, I thought of new words and soon there were 70 words! It took nearly a month to complete, and now hangs above our bed. About two weeks after it's completion I became pregnant, and am currently expecting our second child, via home VBAC, in March 2012.

Renee Hoffman, interview on the International Museum of Women's website

You can read more from Renee about her quilt and see several stunning photos here on the International Museum of Women's website and in this post on Renee's own blog.

I was so touched to see how Renee and her husband used quiltmaking to help them on their journey of healing. Sending them many blessings for the upcoming birth of their second baby!

There are two very special women I know who have touched the lives of many people dear to me. Both are wild women, community-minded, creative, passionate and living in the same area (although I don't think they know each other). They too are on the journey of their lives, both on a journey with cancer. I was moved to make them something that reminds them that there are many people who are holding them in their hearts right now. Inspired by Renee's creation, I made two small wall quilts for them.

I created a sandwich of backing, thick double-sided fusible interfacing, batting and a base fabric. Appliqueing small pieces using Vlisofix, I free-motion quilted them down, as well as quilting words of meaning.

I chose to use Laurel Burch's Celestial Dreams fabrics, which I featured in a previous quilt for a dear friend. Laurel was a prolific artist who lived with the bone disease osteopetrosis. Laurel's website describes the motivation behind her art:

In our fast-paced, changing world,” she said, “we need symbols that are a reminder of the ongoing world of the spirit.” On some level, her work was always about bringing different cultures together, and about our connection with the earth and all living things, ideas that have only increased in relevance today.

The universe of her imagination was fertile, burgeoning, uplifting, egalitarian, a place where every flower and dragonfly was transformed into something...magical and beautiful.

For obvious reasons, the subject of healing was always close to her heart. “Being physically vulnerable is, in a lot of ways, a tremendous advantage in terms of human wisdom. My bone disease was my gift,” she said.

Wrapped with love...

Healing energy and positivity is in every stitch of these gifts. Sending both these women much love and support on their journeys.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Off to class with 3Hours Past & Laundry Collection's Sewing School

Sew. Much. Fun.

Steph from 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World ~ Sewing, Pattern Alteration, Vintage Style, Ethical Fashion and more has teamed up with Mel from Laundry Collection’s Sewing School to run a four week Sewing Foundation course in Brisbane. You can read more about Steph on her blog here.

Sewing Foundations- Learn to sew or buff up your skills with a passionate, experienced teacher.

Learn sewing fundamentals while creating a casual outfit you can actually wear! We’ll make a simple shopping bag, Ginger - a versatile A-line skirt pattern, and a Blank Canvas Tee. Skills and concepts covered include:

Understanding basic fabric types (including a swatch kit you can keep)
Grain- straight of grain, bias grain, and knits
Sewing terms
Cutting procedures
Working with a pattern so it fits (we can also lower the waistband on the skirt and play with the neckline on the tee if that’s an issue!)
Sewing a strong, durable plain seam
Interfacing and its uses
Using an overlocker (one will be provided)
Inserting an invisible zipper
Patch pocket application
Hems (Use the same skill to take up pants!)
Basics of cutting and sewing knits- including stitches, needles, and stabilizers
Embellishments (For more comfortable sewists. Whatever you like- stenciling, applique, lace insertion. Try me. :))
Sizing in patterns and clothing companies

I was really excited when I first saw details of this course. I've been lucky to do classes with Steph before (an Amy Butler bag and my birthday workshop), so I know what a great teacher she is. And not to mention, one cool chick (she makes all her amazing clothes and is so generous with her advice).

Although I'm confident with quilting and making kids' clothes, I'm really daunted by adult dressmaking. I am thrilled at the prospect of learning to make clothes for myself that fit well and out of great fabrics. And I WILL conquer my fear of zips!

Earlier this week five of us attended our first class. I was ridiculously excited to be there! There's a real mix of experience amongst us and we are all keen to learn.

The lovely Steph talked us through the projects we will be making, the different kinds of fabrics and extras we will need (cotton knits = good, lycra = bad. See, I took notes), gave hints on places to shop for great dressmaking fabrics in Brisbane and much more.

Our week 1 project was a simple carry bag, made out of re-purposed fabric (in my case, a pre-loved blockout curtain) and embellishments kindly provided by Steph and Mel. Given my addiction to new fabric, upcycling is shamefully not a habit I have cultivated. Crazy, given that the roots of patchwork and quilting lie in marrying thrift and beauty.

I am thrilled with the result, a creative and eco-friendly solution to my need for a swimming bag. Looking forward to more green sewing.

I love this little dude. Must try more to channel my inner, chilled-out gnome.

Can't waaaaaiiiittttt for next week - we are making a t-shirt using Steph's own free-to-download Blank Canvas Tee pattern.

If you are in Brisbane and keen to learn how to sew in a fun way, then run don't walk here to Steph's website for full information on the course.