Thursday, April 23, 2009

Exclusivity redefined

Did anyone else get the Pottery Barn catalog last week? I totally laughed out loud when I saw this:
"Designed exclusively for Pottery Barn by Denyse Schmidt, whose iconic quilts have been long renowned for their fresh, unique designs and eclectic color combinations, our hand-quilted bedding makes a bold and artful statement. "
Do any of you other quilters out there recognize either the pattern or the fabric? I don't know about the rest of you, but I have those exact fabrics, designed by Denyse Schmidt in my stash as I type! And the pattern, well, that's the readily available "Single Girl" pattern.
I found the video in the quilts section on the Pottery Barn website fascinating as well. Not to mention really offensive on several levels. Watch it and let me know what you think. It seemed to me that they are trying to sugar coat the fact that every single one of their quilts are imported. Not to mention that they miss the fact that quilts have historically been made in many countries around the world, not just the US.

Don't get me wrong, I really like Pottery Barn, but I think their marketing people need a little reality check if they are going to start spouting off that their mass produced, imported quilts are a historic American art form and try to appeal to those who know and love quilts.
The part where they call it a "democratic art" was especially rich, seeing as how the quilts are most likely made in truly un-democratic countries, under conditions that we would never accept for workers in the "developed" countries. One country of origin may be a democracy, but their labor, health and environment standards for those that make these quilts typically are not. The quilts may indeed be "handmade" but at what cost to the maker?
Should we all buy hand made if we can? Absolutely. Just know that there is a huge difference between individual and mass produced handmade.
That's my soapbox for the month.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Our Planet

Happy Earth Day everyone.

I happened to catch most of Frontline on PBS (Public Broadcasting Station) last night and thought it was important to share with as many people as I can. I found it very informative and eye opening. Even though the program is centered around water issues in the US, it is applicable to people worldwide, as we all face the same environmental issues and are in this together regardless of borders, economies, beliefs, etc.
You can watch the whole episode online here:

I also watched a program on Nature (also on PBS) on Sunday night that was about the last of several of the most endangered species from around the world and scientist's efforts to bring them back from the brink of extinction. One animal, Lonesome George, or Solamente Jorge as they called him I was in the Galapagos many years ago, is the only Tortoise left of his kind. He resonates with me since I have actually seen him. To know that this tortoise sitting in front of you is the very last of it's kind really puts things in perspective.
You can watch the whole episode here:

While both of these shows are important in their own right, what struck me was that the prime issue highlighted in both is the conservation of undeveloped land and habitat. It seems that leaving the land alone and not developing it for commercial and residential use is the key to preserving our water, air and biodiversity.

I also thought the attitudes of some of the people on Frontline about being able to do "what we want" with "our land", regardless of the rest of the planet was very interesting and typical of human nature. It highlighted to me the selfishness that causes the vast issues we are facing today. It also means that if we start thinking of things other than ourselves, that perhaps we can make a difference before it's too late.

I will leave you all with these extremely appropriate quotes that I found on the Glacier National Park blog.

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
- Chief Seattle, 1854

And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell, and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.
- Black Elk, Black Elk Speaks

When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.
- Cree Prophecy

I do not think the measure of a civilization is how tall its buildings of concrete are, but rather how well its people have learned to relate to their environment and fellow man.
- Sun Bear of the Chippewa Tribe

Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.
- Ancient Indian Proverb

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Springy Easter quilting

I finally took a photo of my Bunny's Day Out quilt. Isn't it cute?
It was a free pattern from the manufacturer, and the bonus is that it was actually right! I can't tell you how many of the free patterns are only created electronically and have never actually been made with real fabric. Many of them have totally incorrect fabric amounts, cutting directions, instructions, etc...

I quilted the bajeezes out of the areas around the bunnies because I wanted the bunnies to really pop out. I did a terrible job tacking down the binding on this one though, so once it's off of display, I'll have
to rip it out and re-do it.
I also whipped up this cute little runner out of the Darla and Ava Rose fabric lines from Tanya Whelan. The pattern is the Table Treats for Spring by Bunny Hill Designs. Anne's patterns are just wonderful! I haven't stitched the embroidered handles on the baskets yet, and I'm not convinced that they need them. Thoughts anyone? I wanted to use the mini ric-rac (on the pink polka dot basket), but the curvature of the handle is too great for even the smallest ric-rac to handle. (get it, handle?)
Here's the mini swap quilt that I made for February. I'm pleased with the
way it turned out. The ric-rac on it is chenille! It's really excellent. I was going to photo copy a cupcake on the fabric and enlarge it, but a magazine did it for me, so I thought, why re-invent the wheel, or cupcake, if you don't have to!
I tried to trapunto the cupcake, but I only used Warm & Natural batting as the first layer, so it didn't poof out from the quilt the way I had wanted it to. I think I need to use a poofier, poly batting next time.

The pink chenille ric-rac was a coup. I bought it from when the Hancock's (not the same as the Hancock's of Paducah) closed in Arlington Heights. Binding Guru Karen had used the red chenille ric-rac as ribbon on my Christmas gift a few years ago. It was really a nice touch. So when Hancock's had everything on super clearance I bought up all the chenille ric-rac they had! I really thought the border fabrics needed something in between the pink and the black, so I went to my ric-rac/ribbon jar and there it was!
I really love these mini swaps, it's a good time to try out something new with out a major investment of time or fabric. And you get a darling little quilt from someone else to boot! Everyone sends little goodies with the quilts that are really fun as well. The hubby doesn't quite understand the concept. He said "so they send you crap and you send them crap?" I explained to him that fabric and sewing/crafty items are not considered "crap" by those of us participating in the swap and that we enjoy this crap!
Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Eco and Wallet Friendly Magazine

I have long loved the quilting magazines from overseas, yet they are not easy to find at local stores here in the Chicagoland area. They provide more in depth information about quilters, techniques and quilting what not than the US magazines, which are mostly about patterns. (The exception to this would be Quilter's Home, but that's an amusing and whole different sort of magazine unto itself.)I was excited to learn recently that Down Under Quilts from Australia offers it's magazines online, and for free!!! What more could you ask for?
The only catch is that they don't put the templates for the quilting patterns featured online, so if you really need or want a template, you will need to locate a hard copy of the magazine somewhere.
Of course, don't forget that without supporting your favorite magazines financially, they won't be around. So if you want to support online magazines, be sure to check out their advertisers and their other products as well, such as calendars and such.