Reporting In

One thing I want to try to do better this year is blog. I’m a great reader of blogs, but I pretty much only consume. I should try to contribute more.

SO. Without further ado…

January has been a quilting frenzy for me as I have worked very hard to get my sewing room set up and functional now that we’re back home in our new-again house. It’s been rearranged several times, including yesterday, but I think I have a setup now that will work for me. I just wish that they had fixed the squeaky floor in here — as it is, I’m directly over Helen’s head so I have to stop working when she’s trying to get to sleep at night. I can go back after she’s asleep, but it sometimes breaks the rhythm.

In any case, I’ve still managed to get a lot done, mostly because Jerry is very patient and recognized that I needed time in the sewing room to start to feel normal again. It’s definitely helping. I need to remember that next time I get seriously depressed — just go hide in the sewing room and make something and I always feel better about my place in the world.

So. I have finished three quilts so far in January, which is a huge record for me. I finished 11 pieces in all of last year, and most of those were mini-quilts, mug rugs, or pillows. I think there were only 4 quilts total. Granted, a lot happened last year that kept me from sewing, but still. I managed to build up the UFO pile and not finish a lot.

Here are the three so far this year:

January Finishes (so far)
1. “Start As You Mean To Go On”, 2. Something Out of Nothing, 3. Helen’s new bed quilt

The first one was started December 30 when I was sucked in to the #scrappytripalong vortex on Instagram and Twitter. I finished it in just over a week, including the binding. It’s 60″x72″ and the perfect size for a sofa quilt. The design is Bonnie Hunter’s Scrappy Trip Around the World, and be warned: it’s very addictive! Like Lay’s Potato Chips, you can’t stop at one! I already have the second quilt top assembled and waiting for a backing, and the third one has strips cut already. It’s really difficult to stop. They’re quick, they’re FUN, and they use up scraps. As long as you have a piece that’s 2.5″x16″ you can use it. And anything goes, really — even the ugliest fabrics will look fantastic sewn up in this manner. If you have a few minutes, you can browse the Flickr group that was created for the quiltalong. Lots of different varieties there… Some very controlled (like mine — I used a single fabric line), and some really scrappy and wild. To be honest, I like the really scrappy ones the best. I think “scrappy” is going to be my theme for the year when I’m not being arty. I’ve got to use up some of my stash before it completely takes over. Hence, I named it “Start As You Mean To Go On.”

Start As You Mean to Go On

I made a “kitchen sink” backing for it out of every last piece of the remaining fabrics in that collection, and quilted a simple wavy diagonal. It was very quick to quilt, and I think that the effect is fantastic.

Kitchen Sink back of Start As You Mean To Go On

closeup of the quilting

The quilt in the middle has a neat story… 3 weeks after our fire I went to a retreat at the Red Rooster. We had been in the rental house for about 4 days before the retreat, so not all of our items were back with us — including my fabric stash. Friends had been so kind as to take all of my fabric and wash it for me, and that process was still happening as I have a lot of fabric. As a result, I only had a few things to work with that weekend. I had pulled a few bagged fabric lines out of the sewing room before it was packed out because I knew they didn’t get smoky through the bags, so I had those. But when I got to the retreat I wasn’t in any state to plan or design something, so I didn’t want to cut into them. I just needed to sew mindlessly. The restoration company had brought back four gallon-sized zip bags full of batik scraps that they had pulled out of boxes and bins when they packed out the house. Some of these scraps were very small — around 2″ square. Some were larger chunks, but all had odd angles and pieces missing out of them. They were, for all intents and purposes, unusable for a usual quilting project. I also had two odd-sized pieces of White Kona cotton, so I cut that into the largest squares I could to create a foundation for a string quilt.

And then I sat down at the retreat and just started to sew. I sewed scraps together until I had enough to work with and then I attached them to a white foundation. At the end of the weekend, I had this:

Something Out of Nothing

It sat in a stack for a long time, waiting for a backing, until a few weeks ago. I created a backing out of more odd-sized difficult-to-use batiks that have been lingering in my stash for too long.

Kitchen Sink backing of Something Out of Nothing

And then I quilted it, with flames. Of course. Why wouldn’t I?

Flame Quilting

I love the way it turned out. I even love that I ran out of the blue binding and had to improvise with a small section of teal in the same value… Can you see it?

See the binding scrap?

And the last one… I had made this quilt top for Helen before the fire, and it was buried in a pile of other fabrics and quilts so it was unharmed by smoke. I just needed to put borders on it and then quilt it.

quilting the borders

I got a lot of it quilted at the rental house, and then we moved back here and my efforts were put on hold. I needed to finished the last 2/3 of the pink border and put a binding on it. So I just hunkered down and finished.

Helen's new quilt, finished

I’m especially pleased with how the quilting in the middle turned out:

closeup of quilting

When I finished sewing the label on it, it was after 11pm… Jerry and sneaked downstairs and replaced the old quilt with the new one so that Helen could discover it when she woke up. She was very happy, because she’s been waiting for this one for a long time. She had her new room painted to match it so she’s been asking since September when her quilt would be finished.

Next up… Alice’s new bed quilt is in the process of being quilted now, and I have another one layered and ready for quilting… So hopefully I’ll get at least one more finished this month. Think I can do it?