Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Once upon a time, one of my (now ex) boyfriends wondered why on earth I was cutting up perfectly good fabric, just to sew it up again. Completely bewildered that someone would question the concept of patchwork, I spluttered out a treatise on whole-cloth quilts, resulting in a completely blank stare from the boyfriend. In retrospect, that exchange should have been a huge tip-off that relationship was going nowhere.

I have many hobbies, but I must say that sewing patchwork has to be my favorite pastime. I love that moment when, after finally deciding on what to do with a lovely stack of fabric, I turn on music and sit down to start cutting. Next, I head to the sewing machine and chain piece for a bit, and then there’s a quick stop at the iron. Sometimes there’s a trim with the rotary cutter and ruler before I’m back at the machine, sometimes not. Soon, things start to take shape! While the gratification isn’t immediate, it’s a lot faster than when I knit: I can spend two hours sewing and finish off a bunch of squares. I can spend the same amount of time knitting and have two inches to show for my work. But more than that, when I’m sewing I get into this…well, zone, if you will. Totally absorbed, so much so that I often forget to eat (which for me is saying something). Alone with my music and fabric for an afternoon, I am completely blissed out. Even the occasional curse-like-a-sailor moment when the sewing machine stops cooperating doesn’t seem to darken my mood.

So after finishing the hand quilting on the yellow monster, I rewarded myself with a couple of patchwork sessions. First, I whipped up a small crib quilt top using a 40-square charm pack I bought at one of my local fabric stores (this particular one is from a Westminster Fabrics collection). I am here to tell all the marketing people at fabric companies: keep those charm packs coming, because I am indeed a sucker for them. For one thing, charm packs are a cheap and quick way to try out a fabric line, and I wind up using fabrics that I would never choose on my own. They are also good to mix in with leftover patchwork from my own stash, or even to use up stash for borders and backing. In this case, however, after piecingthe squares I marched right back to the fabric store and found one of the charm prints for the border, along with a bit of some fairly shocking solid pink. It’s an experiment, for sure, but I think it works. I added a white folded border that, with the surrounding pastels, kind of tones it down a bit.

Next, I started a new baby quilt. I am a huge fan of Anna Maria Horner’s blog (I am a sucker for pretty people with pretty children who make pretty things) and have been eyeing her fabrics for a very long time. I was REALLY excited to make this quilt, but about halfway through I realized that I had chosen the wrong pattern for the fabric. On the one hand, using a larger scale print for small squares is interesting, because each square becomes unique as only a part of the design is captured. However, in this case, the brown print didn’t give me quite enough of the graphic contrast I thought it would.

I finished the top anyway, and while it’s not entirely my cup of tea it turned out better than I thought it would…a little Victorian, maybe? I want to make another one using a 9-patch square instead of a 20-patch; I think that would do better justice to the fabric.

And, of course, my faithful companion Wilbert was right there with me:

Wilbert and I are heading into our last month together; my sister and her family return home at the end of June and he gets to go back to live in a big house filled with children. I’m glad for him because I really think he gets lonely while I’m gone all day at work. I’m also glad for me because it means I will no longer be woken up at 5 am to watch him eat, or have to clean cat hair out of the tub every time I want to take a bath, or remember to not sit on the couch while wearing black pants. Mostly, though, I’m kind of sad, as it’s nice to come home to something that is happy to see me – if only because he can’t feed himself or dole out his own catnip. Plus, I’ve had him for 2 years now so even though he’s not technically my cat, he sort of feels like my cat -- I’m sure those of you with pets will understand! But assuming all goes well - he adjusts to his old surroundings and my nephew's allergies don't flare up - I'll head over to the animal shelter and find a new kitty. Possibly one without hair.

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