January 23, 2014

A beginning

Like any quilter worth their salt I have a stash of fabric waiting to be used. Unlike many quilters, I imagine, my stash is made up almost entirely of clothes. My side of this quilting adventure didn't happen by accident. Making quilts from unwanted clothing just makes sense to me.

I am a bit of a hoarder when it comes to clothes. I probably wear the same 10 pieces over and over, especially now with the need for readily accessible boobs and a body still not sure what shape it will take, but I do love clothes. That being said, I also purge clothes quite frequently. I give bags to charity shops regularly. However, with every sort there are some items that never leave and get tucked away in a box or drawer. These are pieces which have meaning and while they are no longer (or never were) wearable, I cannot fathom parting with them.

One shirt in particular has followed me through numerous moves and across the sea. When my grandfather died I took one of his shirts. The shirt itself didn't hold any meaning and if I recall it was just laying around the house, but I took it to have something of him.

It's time has come. I have had an idea for this shirt for awhile now. Like all my quilt ideas it is evolving as I go along but the nugget of the idea remains. I am finally making a quilt for us. For Pete and I. Not for a baby, not for a friend, for us. Our clothes are taking the brunt of the fabric work. Grampa's shirt is taking a hearty portion of the work and some charity shop finds are making up the rest.

The idea for this quilt is to explore some traditional patterns. I had a lot of fun with those geese. I enjoyed the quickness of making a block and I felt some progress could be made in shorter intervals, yet they still allowed me some creativity and the possibility of happy accidents in the final design.

I am starting with some sawtooth stars. I'm not sure why. I don't think the whole quilt will be stars but I will make them until I get bored.  The first is by far my favourite.

I made this one from the shorts my husband wore in Africa, where we met on holiday, and my maternity jeans, the most recent chapter in our story.  Pete's shorts required a bit of work before they were usable. I had to unpick some cargo-type pockets to get a bigger usable space which resulted in the reveal of the original colour of the shorts.

As I smoothed out the pockets to cut a square I felt grit along my cutting board.


It probably isn't from the African continent but, as Pete can't remember the last time he wore these shorts, I like to think they are a few kernels from the beach in Malawi where we first shared a tent or from the dunes in the Sahara when we returned to the continent six years later.  Wherever they are from, it is a testament to my second-rate housewife skills as I am sure those shorts were washed before going into storage.

So many chapters in just one square.

January 9, 2014

Quilted moments

Two months ago today I finished the quilt I started in July.  A day late for the baby's 6 month milestone in November.  The majority of this quilt was sewn in a state of frustration, exhaustion, tears.  None of which had to do with the quilt and all of which had to do with being the mother of a 2-6 month old.

For example, most 'geese' were made one afternoon while my husband took the baby away for two hours.  I had called him home from work because I couldn't face being a mother that day.  The rest were made in tears one night after the baby finally went to sleep a week later at the end of another trying day.  For awhile, the quilt was keeping me sane.  It was something to look forward to in the few moments the baby didn't need me.

This quilt, though not for me, provided me with a connection to who I was before the baby.  A connection that was very weak, still is, and threatening to break completely.  It meant a lot to have it waiting for me.  If it had been for myself it would probably still be on a shelf.  So much I did for myself before the baby seems postponed indefinitely.  As this was for someone else I made myself find the time to chip away at the project.

It was the perfect combination of directed work and improvisation.  The geese served as somewhat mindless work which became meditative at a time I needed to loose myself in something repetitive.  The improvisation, in the form of the layout, came at a time I craved some creativity with minimal mess.  Taping geese to the dining room wall while the baby bounced nearby meant I could work on the composition over time.  I could look at it all day and consider changes or notice happy accidents without having to pack it up at the end of the baby's naps.  The fate of geese for quite a few weeks.

Piece by piece it came together and it was time to quilt and then bind.  A fair amount went wrong.  I had a fair amount of unpicking and fixing and before the baby I would have outlined each one for you with pictures. Post-baby I realize dwelling on and pointing out my faults and mistakes is not only a waste of time but also, occasionally, an exercise in reverse bragging.  Not allowing myself to be proud or excited about each quilt because of imperfections only visible to myself.

Imperfections make quilts the very special things they are.  Imperfections make people the very special things they are.  Perhaps a bit deep for talking about a simple quilt but I find the story that comes with the making of the quilt, makes the quilt.

I pulled the last few stitches of the binding just before the babies were due dinner.  I bundled up my baby, ran up the street to the other baby, delivered the quilt, enjoyed a glass of wine and returned home.  It wasn't until after I put the baby to bed I realized I didn't take a picture of the final product.  The closest I have is a quick Instagram of the dining room wall.

And even in this last moment with the quilt there is a lesson.  So much of my day is getting through the schedule of events to get to the next nap time.  I frequently get to the end of the day and realize I didn't take the time to enjoy my son.  I wake up and he's eight months old and I can't remember when he first grabbed at a toy or sat up.  I do, however, remember the first time he rolled over.  It was the night before I sent him away with his dad while I created some geese.

That moment will forever be locked in someone else's quilt and I will never forget it.

August 12, 2013

Summer Break

Hi!  Ariel and I are going to soak up the last days of summer by taking a hiatus from this blog for a month or so.  You can still follow us at Queen City Stitcher and Chronicles of a Reluctant Housewife, if we decide posting isn't unbearable in the heat.

See you in the fall!

August 8, 2013

Packed away

This time last year I wrote about the B*tch Block. The first block of my first quilt.

How excited and inspired and motivated was I back then?  In two weeks I would find out that my life would forever change.

Today I packed away the squares I cut two weeks ago. They sat untouched for too long, mocking me. I have no idea when, or if, I will get back to them. It is one of the many parts of me that are being packed away for awhile. I think that is the hardest part (after the sleep deprivation), temporarily losing the things that made me, me.

I no longer have time to write, or run, or quilt, or practice yoga, or even dry my hair.

I will try to keep writing here, but it will not be about my own quilting adventure for awhile yet.  I may have been too ambitious to think I could return so soon.

August 5, 2013

Finished: Meow Quilt

Another finish!  I know, things are getting pretty crazy around here.

I made this quilt for my friend Kelby, who had worked on some graphics for me.  She asked for some embroidered projects in return, which I gave her, but I wanted her to know how much I appreciated her work and her friendship!

This is the Meow pattern from Aneela Hoey.  It's so fun and easy!

I used 16 different prints, mostly black because Kelby's cat is black with green eyes.  With a block this large, it was great to showcase prints without having to fussy-cut or compromise larger repeats.

I backed the quilt with a print from Anna Maria Horner's re-released Hand-Drawn Garden.  I hate the skinny stack in the middle, but you have to have a seam somewhere, right?  It adds character.

I quilted in straight lines around the cats and on either side of the seams.  I started quilting in free-motion loops but the white thread interfered with the black prints too much.  It's amazing how 10 minutes of quilting can lead to two hours of un-quilting!

Kelby got this on Wednesday and loved it!  She said it's her favorite gift ever and that she'd never use it, for fear of getting it dirty.  I assured her it can be washed over and over and I can fix it, so she should love it instead of just looking at it!

What'd you finish this weekend?