Sunday, June 7, 2015

Traveling Mandala

Class Project Completion:
Here is my mandala class project, completed within one week of taking the class last weekend. I like the background focus fabric on the outer edges but it gets a bit muddled in the center. Next time I make a mandala, I will have a better idea of the end effect and will choose fabrics more wisely. I do like the clear brightness of the four quadrants though, red, orange, blue, green.

In my previous post I described the two-day class paper piecing the mandala and showed the four quadrants I'd completed. Here is the back of the mandala joined and quilted but not yet bound. I knew I would get to use that orange sky fabric someday! I did a low density minimal quilt pattern on my domestic, basically just a stitch in the ditch along the curved seams of the circles and along the larger compass like points at the outer most edges and in the very middle. I did not stitch in the ditch along all the paper pieced seams. That would have been like making a second mandala. Stitch in the ditch went well for me, no skipping off the seam line. Perhaps it was the practice from stitching along all those lines of the pattern during the paper piecing. The stitch lines look rather interesting on the back.

I liked the boldly striped fabric with all its colors for the binding but it was so graphic I thought it had better be used in small doses so as not to dominate. I decided on a 1/4" narrow binding. I machine sewed it on from the front and hand stitched the back. This was meant to be just a quick project and so I suppose it would have been faster to machine sew it on the back and then flip to the front and machine sew there. But I like hand stitching the binding. It is an opportunity to reflect on the project and clip all those little snippets of thread that somehow get missed.

And now, what to name it? I was bemused by the similarity to M&M colors in my last post but I think M&M Mandala, although alarmingly alliterative, is too flippant a title for a symbol purported to provide guidance on a journey or have a healing influence. The front background has images of travel stamps. The back looks like the view from up in an airplane at sunrise flying through the sherbet colored clouds. So I decided to name this Traveling Mandala. For this small wall hanging I labeled it with a pigment marker instead of my usual grosgrain embroidered tag.

Class Packing:
I wanted this class to encourage me to take others so I had two criteria - other than it being interesting, of course.
  1. I wanted to complete the project I started in the class soon so it did not hang around as another UFO. (Mission accomplished.)
  2. I wanted to streamline my packing so that would not be a deterrent from my taking classes in the future. (Did OK, worked at home between class days without too much hassle.)
Prepping and hauling supplies to a class is a non-trivial expenditure of effort but it is usually worth it. The inconvenience of getting ready for a class should not deter me from taking one.  People who travel often get efficient at packing. Similarly, I am practicing a streamlined preparation routine. Here I am packed and ready to go. I have rearranged my sewing machine with an extension cord so that crawling behind my sewing table to unplug it is no longer a pain. I keep that inexpensive, reusable tote bag from T•J•Maxx packed with some basics between classes.

The tote bag contains a pinning/pressing/cutting combination pad, a travel pressing pad like an ironing board cover, a mini-iron, an extension cord with a surge protector, and an extra lid. I do not remove these items from the tote bag between classes. I just need to add a bag of fabric and a containerized box of tools and I am ready to go. Since this class was small project, I removed my sew steady portable table from the bag and left it home, but it usually sits in there in the tote bag, too.

I have a relatively painless routine for packing (other than the time-consuming fabric selection mentioned in my previous post). I put my tools and paperwork for the class in a square scrapbooking plastic container. In the classroom I take the lid off at it hinges and use it turned inside up as a tray. I pack an extra lid. I find in limited classroom space, it works well to have layers. The lids keep tools, fabric, and scraps separate from each other where table top space is often at a premium. I put my fabric in a zippered clear pouch. These both get added to the large partially pre-packed recyclable tote bag. This was a two-day class and I used these supplies the night in between without too much scatter or fuss to redeploy my sewing machine, fabric, and notions.

Class Bonus:
What class would be complete without some fabric purchases from the hosting shop? Since a grandson is on the way within the next several weeks, I could not pass up these two fabrics from the bargain bin at Wooden Gate Quilts in Danville, CA.  They were 50% off. At over 2 yards each, there is sufficient yardage to press them into service as crib sheets if quilt inspiration does not strike.

Pirates ships! Aaargh, me mateys! There was 2⅝ yards of the pirate ships. Those striped sails just beg to be paired with some striped fabric. That central ship with the black and white sail is 3½" tall.

Vikings are unique and unusual fare for a fabric theme. So far, my grandson-to-be is on the 85% percentile size wise. He takes after his blonde-haired mom who was the tallest kid in her preschool class by a head and was nicknamed "The Viking". I think this fabric was destined to come home with me, all 3⅝ yards of it. Each Viking with his name banner is about 5" tall.

I could not forget the two granddaughters that already are here. One of them will get something made from this menagerie. I put a 2½" tall spool of red thread in the photo to give a sense of scale. Those elephants and llamas are big! I can get twelve 10" squares out of the one yard. Perhaps I shall share the cuteness between the two granddaughters and intersperse six squares with dots or stripes or simple pieced blocks of solids. I rarely work with solids and this may be just the incentive I need.

On second thought, incentive to buy more fabric or to quilt and sew is rarely needed. Right?


  1. So... the first thing I got from this is that you think you will be making more Mandalas, maybe? I so completely LOVE the way these kind of precision-pieced medallion quilts look, but the time and effort that goes into one seems... just so daunting, I'm glad to hear you aren't worn out and thinking "never again" (or maybe you are, but don't want to document it here only to eat your words later). Overally, I do think that quilt turned out stunningly, and I love your backing and binding fabrics, they really add to the look.

    And as for packing... I hate that part too! I'm impressed with your streamlining of procedure, but also thinking "man, that's still a lot of work" to get it all together. Have you thought about keeping a separate travel set? I don't take classes often enough to rationalize it, but a bunch of my friends do, and it seems to work out for them; they don't have the same activation energy to get to classes because their stuff is ready to go, and there's no concern that they may accidentally leave/lose their favorite X.

    Also, all 3 of those fabrics are a blast. I do love that pink-and valentine-y menagerie, and I'm sure either granddaughter would be happy to get something made with it, and I totally agree that the viking fabric (ships especially) would be a good choice for a huge grandson. Remember he may yet come out looking totally mexican, but his mom would get a kick out of viking crib sheets either way :-)

    1. 1) I would do a mandala again, I have lots of jelly roll strips to consume!

      2) Most of the stuff I packed is duplicates so I can leave it packed. The key time sink is the fabric selection, especially when you are determined to use only what you already have. The way around this is to choose your classes wisely so as to minimize your spawning of UFOs. UFOs have a way of breeding like bunnies.

      3) Oh, wait, isn't a Mexican Viking a Vaquero? LOL. Maybe not. If baby grandson resembles his daddy instead of his pale mommy we'd just need to refer to Danik the Fair as Danik the Dark. Hey another name option!