Never say never: my adventure with a rag quilt

I love making.  I love pulling stuff out of my brain and onto paper or fabric.  I struggle with requests for specific colors or patterns.  But because I am baby-quilt woman and every new mom wants “something and grey – very muted” for their babies – I try to find the challenge in the restraint – choosing fabrics and patterns that allow me to express my creativity while still meeting the intent of the brief.

Sidebar:  I get good practice setting boundaries as craft woman – I don’t make t-shirt quilts or hem anything.  I can’t make curtains or dust ruffles or clothes.  I hate saying no, but I have to in order to protect my limited sewing time.  Most quilters reading have just affirmed with an AMEN!

BUT (there always is one), a friend and cheerleader of my work and her beautiful daughter sent me a picture of the quilt they wanted for her pending bundle of joy.  I, of course, was going to make her a baby quilt.  I am, after all, baby quilt woman. And I made one for her older sister that they gushed over… “How did you do it?”  “I love the fabrics!!”  “The pieces are so tiny!”  And then they texted me several pictures of the baby with the quilt.  Some thoughts…

  • Sorry fabric designers for all the credit I take for your gorgeous and creative designs.  People conflate me being bright enough to buy cute fabric with me designing the fabric.  Again, apologies.
  • Pictures of babies on me-made quilts are more precious to me than gold or donuts.
  • I make quilts so that they are swooned over.  No shame in admitting it.

The quilt I was going to make for Youngest Daughter of Dear Friend had been designed a hundred times in my head.  So I was more than a little sad when they had a request for a SPECIFIC quilt.  And that quilt was <dramatic pause> a rag quilt.  In blush and neutrals.  I don’t know how to make rag quilts, I don’t particularly like them.  Because she had a specific request, she offered to pay me for the quilt.  I don’t think I ever will be ready to take money for making baby quilts – too much pressure!

But I am a nice person or have problems setting boundaries (let’s be honest, it’s the second one).  So I found pale fabrics, read how to make a rag quilt.  2 days before the baby shower I was making, making, making.

Boy to the HOWDY! was I wrong.  Making rag quilts is pretty fun.  And not hard.  And blush and grey make a gorgeous color combination.  I am thinking of SELLING them on Etsy.  There is a lot of demand for them!

Anyway, here is a picture.  And I know there will be more coming with a gorgeous baby perched upon it.  Joy.

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6 weeks

The company I work for has an amazing benefit – every few years we get an extended amount of time to focus on balancing our work and our life, while doing some professional development or volunteering.

This is my third sabbatical – after 19 years.  I chose volunteering as my activity and got to make 9 Project Linus quilts.  It was wonderful.  As overly documented in this blog, I try to make 12 quilts for Project Linus every year, and so I got to pack this activity into my break.

The theme of these quilts is COLOR and scrappiness.  I used lots and lots and lots of orphan blocks and scraps.  And yet my scrap pile doesn’t look any smaller.  Would you like to see the quilts?  Off we go….

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See?  Scrappy? Yes!  Um, bright? Yes.  My grandmother (the other one) was fond of saying that things she made were cheep and cheerful.  She didn’t mean anything negative (I don’t think) – just that particular Midwestern, pioneer spirit of making the best out of what you have.  Like when they printed floral patterns on grain bags so farmwives could make dresses out of them.

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Oh, but I love these two.  Pink and flowers are my favorite.

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Another crazy one.  And two rather more composed.  It makes me so happy to convert fabric to quilt.  Especially when I have so.much.fabric.

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And two stunners made almost completely out of orphaned blocks.  The solid fabrics add a punch to the scrappiness.

Making 9 quilts all in a row is fun, but taxing.  I had to put other crafts and pursuits in my studio on hold for the onslaught of press, cut, sew, press, baste, quilt, bind. Here is a pic of the studio on a rather active day.

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Really looks like I need a system!

I did get into a rhythm of cutting and piecing.  I am thinking of writing a post for how to make a scrappy, constrained improv baby quilt for beginners.  Feels like too much to take on right now… but someday.

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What a fantastic action shot!  Almost like a real quilt blogger.

Ultimately, the best part of making a bunch of quilts is being able to photograph them in a neat stack.  So I leave you with that.

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the beauty of vintage

My husband and I had dinner with some dear friends last week. And when the conversation started in earnest, one of them turned to me and asked, essentially, why are you selling jewelry?
 
 
 
 
It is a good question. My life was and is full. I make quilts, play MarioKart with my stepkids, have a great and busy job, embroider, paint, even sometimes exercise. In short, there is a lot going on.
 
Thanksgiving of last year, my grandmother was hospitalized and then moved into a skilled nursing facility. She will be there for the rest of her life. And we need to sell her things. Pretty simple.
 
And not pretty simple. My grandmother could be casually cruel to my mother and me in ways that hurt deeply. Complicated.
 
(And the basic truth is that almost everybody I know has a dark relationship with some or all of their family. I am not special or unique in this, I know.)
 
I was consistently told by her that my (in her opinion) lack of beauty and slenderness meant that I didn’t matter. That the rest of the wonderful things that I had to give (short list: generosity, wit, intelligence, skilled Ninja) didn’t matter. I now know…
 
1. That there is more to human existence, female existence, my existence than being pretty.
2. That I am now and always have been pretty frickin’ beautiful.
 
 
 
 
To make a sale, I am trying to do everything right. Gently clean. Photograph. Edit Photograph. Google to find reasonable price. Describe. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
 
 
 
 
Her jewelry means so much. It reminds me of her presence. Her hobbies. Her sound. Her cruelty. I can remember certain things she said to me while wearing certain pieces. I remember the fear of being close to her, of what she was going to say to me, of how I would be hurt – all while staring at her coral-shaped diamond and gold ring that she wore on her right index finger. Complicated.
 
 
My grandmother was loud and beautiful and sparkled and had more presence than anybody in the real world. Like Dolly Parton. She owned a room.
 
And I am reckoning with that. That thread of sparkle and shine and owning a room is in my core. My dad has it. I have it. And if she wasn’t part of me, I wouldn’t have it. And so I am grateful for her.
 
 
 
 
And I am grateful for the process of cleaning and sorting and photographing each piece of her jewelry. I am reminded of my own sparkle. These beautiful vintage pieces will find new life for women who sparkle. Women who own a room because of their wit, intelligence, kindness, Ninja acumen. The beauty of vintage is a new life, new meanings for beautiful things.
 
 
 
 
I do miss quilting and embroidery and reading, quilting, and quilting – all are on hold while I give my weekends to this endeavour. But I know they will be waiting for me when I am ready. And MarioKart and painting and work still are here.
 

from knitting to drawing to…

have always made stuff. Knitting and then jewelry and then scrapbooking and then quilting. Five years ago, I was fortunate enough to get a brief sabattical from the company I work for. I decided I wanted to pick up a hobby that practioners thereof are smitten with. Hobbies that people put bumper stickers on their cars about.
 
I wanted an obsession.
 
I thought about SCUBA, fly fishing, quilting, disc golfing, regular golfing,
 
But I always knew it would be quilting. My great grandmother quilted, my grandmother quilted, my mom quilts. I live in Kansas City, which I claim to be the “Hollywood of Quilting” because we have so many superstars of quiliting that live and work here. It had to be quilting. (btw, “Hollywood of Quilting” has not caught on)
 
(I also picked fly fishing. But the expense of equipment and travel was prohibitive. Kansas City is not the Hollywood of fly fishing.)
 
 
 
Picture of the most recent quilt I worked on
 
The last couple of years I have been trying to learn to draw. It has been frustrating. What my brain wanted, my hands wouldn’t deliver. And then suddenly I could make things that I didn’t hate. Enough classes and practice, and what came from my hands and brain were similar. I still really can’t draw, but I am working around that.
 
 
 
These are some monotypes – one of the first things I did not hate.
 
I am making some sort of art everyday. It is wonderful and fun. And I am obsessed.
 
If you would like to following my drawing adventures, I am paperloveink on Instagram
 

2018 in review – volume 3

Today I wrap up a summary of all the crafty things I did in 2018.  I am hoping this blog can be more of a journal in 2019, not just an annual report.

Lots of baby quilts in 2018… here we go…

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A bit of improv and a lot of my favorite colors.  This quilt was donated to Project Linus.

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An orphaned block that I turned into a quilt for Project Linus.  Tying quilts is always more work then I think it will be.

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A quick Project Linus quilt using strips and fun Carolyn Friedlander fabric.  Not happy with the quilting on this one.  But living is learning.

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A yellow-and-blue beauty for project linus when I was serious about using up my scraps.

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More serious scrap usage for Project Linus.

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Probaby my favorite quilt of the year.  Used up so many wonderful scraps and I love the effect of the improv on 1/2-square triangles.  This one will be delivered to a friend this week as a gift to a special little guy.

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I almost love this one.  Almost.  Made for a friend to give as a gift.  I so wish I had used a lighter grey for more impact.

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Some orphaned + new trip-around-the-world blocks made into a Project Linus quilts.

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One of my favorites from 2018.  Based on a class by Elizabeth Hartman on Craftsy.  Love the effect.  Gifted to a sweet woman at work for her brand new baby boy.

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This one was my most-loved quilts on Instragram.  Made for the granddaughter of a dear friend.  I do love it.  But oh so much work.  It will be well-loved for years though.

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A Project Linus quilt.  Blocks made in 2014.  Quilt top put together in 2016.  Finished in 2018.  #progress

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Made from lots and lots of scraps for Project Linus.  A cacophony.  But a cheerful cuddly cacophony.

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A quilt I made for a friends baby boy and then I wasn’t sure it was good enough to give to her.  Ended up finishing as a Project Linus quilt.

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My last project linus quilt to hit my goal for 2018.  The pinks and yellows are in the wrong places in some rows.  And that is ok.

I had lots of lovely backing fabric for baby quilts in 2018.  Here are some snippets.

That is 14 baby quilts in 2018.  14.  That is a lot.

I did some other quilt making…

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I made a thing to remind me to hustle.

I made a tiny teeny little miniature quilt for my aunt’s dollhouse.

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I finished a big quilt – a Colorado memories quilt.  I don’t have a picture of it with the binding.  It has blue binding.

I finished another big quilt – a queen size for our bed, using french-inspired fabrics and Denyse Schmidt’s big charming pattern.  Missouri Star quilted this one.  Putting on the binding was a big charming battle.  I wish I had used more fabrics and colors in the squares, but it still has a sweet french vibe.

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And I made some pillows for our living room.  I didn’t make the cat, but I help keep him alive.

2018 OUT!

 

2018 in review – volume 2

Next up –  BAGS!

 

First, is letter-writing kit bags. This became my go-to present in 2019.  I even created one for myself 🙂  It is super handy to have a little bag in my work bag with all I need to drop a note to someone – including stamps (that seem pretty elusive in the modern world).

I made 26 (TWENTY SIX!!!) letter-writing kit bags.  That is a lot.  I love them, and now have a backlog of bags for gifts.  And I made so many I restocked my zipper inventory.

 

I also made two goat-related totes for friends.  Goat-related totes are cool.  I love the little detail of adding a chain purse.

I made 3 carryin’ bags.  All of them are noodlehead patterns.  I will never work with leather again.  Way harder than it should be. I do love the 241 tote though – I made this one for my mom and am thinking I will make one for myself pretty soon.

And I made myself a little needlebook.  Because.

2018 in review – volume 1

The beginning of the year!  When I am conscientious about moisturizing and blogging.  Here goes…

I made a lot in 2018 – lots of baby quilts, of course.  And finished up a lot of WIPs.  And I also did this magical thing where I abandoned projects I didn’t want to finish.  Very scary and liberating.  Just deciding not to do something I don’t want to do.  Hear me roar!

This is the first of a series of posts recapping my crafty accomplishments…  first up, stitchy and embroidery projects.  I wanted to do more seasonal decorating in 2019, so a couple projects are related to that…

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I made some sweet little felt hearts to celebrate Valentine’s day on my Valentine’s day tree.  Pattern from Purl Soho.

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And I made some wee felt eggs just in time for Easter.  Pattern and materials from Purl Soho.  I am feeling less like I want to do seasonal decorating in 2019 – and then I see these little sweeties.  I am torn.

I  finished several embroidery projects that I am very pleased with…  mostly Namaste Embroidery patterns.  In fact, all of them except the circles on the pillow and the pink bouquet.

 

And then there are 3 other random stitchy projects…

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An abstraction of my wedding boquet, because I wanted to try fabric painting.

A floaty scarf with tassels.  This is another Purl Soho project.  I love the scarf.  I HATED making all those tassels.

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A tiny dresden.  Just because.

Taking things slowly

I am hearing the lesson of slowing down, doing less.  There are parts of my life that are full – and I can’t change that.  But I can put less pressure on myself to move quickly during my down time.  In 2019, I am going to do more of I want on a less-agressive pace.

I am going to do some slow projects.  I have been knitting again.  And there are some quilts I want to finish that will take a while.

I also am just going to play if I want to.  I have been doodling and drawing. And watercoloring.  I am not putting pressure on myself to become good at drawing.  Just going to do it as long as it is fun.  So 2019 will be slow and fun.  I like that.

 

Another baby quilt recap…

My destiny is baby quilts.  Which is ok – because I love them.  With a baby quilt, you can finish in a weekend, use fun colors, and try out some ideas.  Here is a recap of some baby quilts I have made in the last few months…

  1.  This is based on an Elizabeth Hartman class from Craftsy.  I love this quilt.  I love the blue and the grey and the composed, funky vibe.  This was made for a friend’s first baby.  The only thing I would have done differently is quilt on the diagonal.  My straight-line quilting always looks kind of meh.IMG_4846
  2. This quilt was started from around-the-world blocks I had from 2014.  I made some turquoise and low-volume blocks to finish out what I needed.  I love making these blocks – but they are decptively time consuming. This one will be donated to Project Linus.IMG_4867
  3. This is one of my favorite quilts I have ever made.  But it did need one of those labels that says “This took forever!”  This was made for a grandbaby of a coworker.  I love this quilt – love all of the fabrics that I picked that should have special meaning for them.  And I loved how much it was loved.  I quilt to make something that will be loved.  And this quilt will be loved.  I also used some precious backing for this quilt.  I love the birds and the roses.IMG_4881IMG_4882
  4. For a few weeks I was on a kick to get all of the quilts done for my 2018 Project Linus goal.  This one had been pieced forever.  I finally got it basted, quilted, and bound.  I just love this quilt.  So pink and pretty.IMG_4908
  5. Last, and probably least, is this acid trip.  I had all of these orphan blocks I wanted to use up.  So I threw them all in one quilt.  Included are some abandoned curves, a wonky trip-around-the-world block, and a stopped EPP hexagon project.  I know it is a lot.  My grandmother used to use the phrase “cheap and cheerful”.  I love that phrase.  This quilt wasn’t exactly “cheap” when you consider the fabrics used, but it is cheerful and it used lots of scraps. This will be another donation to Project Linus.IMG_4909

Five baby quilts recapped!

Improv

Hi – I had a lot of fun making two improv baby quilts.

This goal for the first one was to use about a bunch of 1/2-square triangle blocks.  I learned the trick from Jenny to sew an extra seam when making 1/2-square triangle blocks so you have a whole other block, rather than a bunch of triangles that are harder to use.

I have made several quilts using this method, so I had A LOT of 1/2-square triangles.  I was able to use them all and added some other improv piecing to make this adorable quilt to donate to Project Linus.

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I love the outcome so much.  The palette and piecing make me so happy.  And I made a boy’s quilt!

When I posted this quilt on instagram, a friend asked me to make a quilt for her niece in purple and grey.  I got about 1/2-way through making a giantized swoon block and then decided I hated it.  The grey was too muddy for the block to have impact.  So I started chopping and adding in some more improv.  You can see remnants of the swoon block shape in the quilt.  It took 2x longer to make than I expected, but I love the results.  Again, I think the restrained (at least restrained for me) color palette makes all the difference.

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I loved making these quilts.  Improv always takes longer than I think it will though – so it may be a bit before I take on any more of these.

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