Monday, January 11, 2010


Sometimes it's best to pick up where you are, rather than where you left off.

Such is the case with my blog!

It's been a while, but rather than trying to catch you up on all of our terrific travels, domestic disasters, dental deals and holiday happiness, I'll just wish you a Happy New Year, and pick up where I am...

I decided to show and tell my quilting today, since lately it has been consuming my free time! Recently, while visiting my friend, Jen, in Southern Oregon, I picked up a few new quilt patterns. Once I shared them with Jen, she brought out her stash and we busted it (or at least tried to). We spent a whole day together cutting, ironing, and sewing the fabrics together to make us each 2 separate, but very similar quilts, in almost half the time. I had so much fun stitching and bitching together. I finished the quilt top (and back) once I got home, and have already started another quilt, and have another all planned out. I had previously made "name pillows" for all of my nieces, nephew and my boys for Christmas.

I guess after having my sewing stuff all packed away for so long, once I got it out again, it was like opening Pandora's Box... Well, the cat's out of the bag, and there's no stopping me now.

It helps that it's winter. With the freezing rain we had over the week-end, and icy roads I just haven't felt much like doing anything that involves driving or being outside. So I sew!!

Sewing with Jen reminded me that women(and a few men) have been quilting together for many, many years. It's really a great way to share ideas, creativity, skills, and talent. It's easy to gab away while doing it, and best of all, you end up with a beautiful useful item that you made with your hands (and the hands of your friend, in this case). Unlike so much of the housework I do, quilting is a permanent testament to the work I do that doesn't get "undone" shortly after I do it, as dishes and laundry do. Working with another person's "stash" was really a fun way for me to get out of my "quilting comfort zone". I mean, with 2 boys, I probably have more pink in this quilt than I have in my entire stash!! But it was fun to play with flowers and pink. This quilt will also always be a reminder of a fun day spent with my friend. Here's a picture of my/our quilt all ready for its batting and pinning together.

Probably my favorite part of quilting is the planning. This involves everything from shopping for fabric to seeing how the fabric colors play with each other, trying to match that with a pattern and trying to imagine the outcome. Here's a quilt I have planned out to sew next:

Once the plan is made, the cutting and sewing begin. Rotary cutters and cutting mats have revolutionized this act, and made it so much easier. I can't even imagine not having my rotary cutter. Much like a pizza cutter, it makes cutting out fabric a breeze, and the rulers and grids make measuring a snap too! Once the pieces are cut out, you begin sewing the quilt blocks together. Here's a stack of quilt blocks waiting to be sewn together into a quilt top:

Many quilters choose to stop at that step and to send their tops off to a long-arm quilter who uses a special sewing machine to do the actual quilting together of the quilt top, batting and bottom. It's much easier for them to do a large quilt than it is to try to stuff extra fabric through a regular sewing machine's "neck", or "arm". But it costs money, and after we moved to Michigan, I decided to try to learn how to do the quilting myself to save that money. I've been trying out "free-motion quilting" on my own machine now for a little over a year. My on-line quilting buddies have helped a lot with words of encouragement and advice, and several quilt store owners have also helped instruct me and get me going. My quilting "buddy" in Michigan also encouraged me. Surprisingly, I found that I really like quilting my own quilts together. As with many things, often the intimidation of taking on a new skill is worse than the actual learning curve required. Here's a quilt I've started on, and hope to finish soon:

Lastly comes putting the binding onto the quilt to hide the raw edges. I'm afraid it's my least favorite part of quilting, not due to it's difficulty as much as its tedious factor. But once that's done, the quilt is ready to be used, or given away as a special gift. My nieces (and nephew) have all been recipients of my quilts, as I've learned, much by trial and error. My 2 sons also each have 2 quilts now. Other family members have also received quilts, and they're on our bed and walls too. I really admire those quilters who donate their labors of love to charitable causes. I have yet to do this!!

I hope to continue quilting for many years to come. That's another wonderful thing about this hobby.... it can be done over the course of a life time. The skills can also be passed along generation to generation. My grandma, aunt and mom all taught me, and I've helped my youngest son start and almost finish his first quilt. If I can only get myself to help him finish that binding on his, it'll be done!

So what about you? What is your favorite hobby?

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