Five years, I say. You ask, so “where’s the short cut”? They’re throughout the quilt you see. And the cumulative nature of all of the supposed short cuts made a project that could never end and that I despised working on… right down to binding the blasted thing. Here is a list of the mistakes I made and the “short cuts” thought I was taking to fix them–which resulted in more mistakes–which resulted in more shortcuts–lather rinse repeat.

  • Picked a pattern and cut pieces over several weeks as I had time–at some point I started making my cuts not from the instructions but by looking on what I cut in the last cutting session. Which evidently at some point I had screwed up on, so the blocks were no longer going to be proportional for the pattern I had wanted.
  • No biggie, right, take what I have, sew it up and see what we’ve got. But when you don’t know where you’re going, sewing up it a wee bit more challenging.
  • Stop sewing and start arranging the mismatches and decide on what I’m doing.
  • Re-sew several not comporting with my new plan. Finish sewing the rest.
  • Lay them out. Have my then four-year old insist that she wants the squares arranged a certain way. Detest the layout. Detest the red. Detest that fact that I had long ago destashed all of the fabrics that made up the pieces I was using–no extras, so use what I have. Detest the Red.
  • Sew together. In incorrect order, evidently without precision in my 1/4 inch seam. Sigh. Unpick, re-sew. Do this 3 times over the course of a year and a half while I’m in law school.
  • It’s together. Hooray. Let’s slap some borders on it. Let’s play it by ear. Let’s take my then 5-year-old to the quilt shop and as I’m looking at fabric, in innocence answer her when she asks what we are looking for. She has a decided opinion. I hated the fabrics she wanted then. One of them I’m still lukewarm on but it actually goes well with the quilt. The polka dots I originally hated–too bright! I love now.
  • Slap them on the quilt, study it and think–I don’t think that’s square.
  • Bring then 6-year-old daughter to get backing fabric–have her insist on some unplanned for flannel on the back with monkeys and other critters. See the quilt that could have lasted her until her teens now have a more childish shelf life. Buy–just enough. (See the monkeys under this other blanket??? At my old house even!)
  • Sigh. Extra sigh. Still be living in our postage stamp sized place and decide to baste it with 505 spray on an autumn afternoon on our porch. With dead leaves swirling everywhere. With dead leaves falling onto the 505’ed areas as I struggle to get the layers squared. After a particularly huge gust of wind, decide that it is “good enough”. Realize later when I go to quilt it that the backing is too small on one side. Decide we’ll cut the borders down to match later.
  • Start quilting one afternoon in our postage stamp sized house–even with my fancy new machine, the quilt is hanging over the edges of my sewing table in a way that is pulling on the needle as the fabric is going through. Try stippling though it’s been years and years since I did any. Disaster. Disgust. Roll it back up and put it in a tub.
  • Move.
  • Have phenomenal sewing room. Have unsightly tub that won’t close because the quilt is in it.
  • Decide to quilt it. Unbloody pick the bit of stipple I did and instead try Oh Franson’s loopy flowers. But on my quilt they’re “sloppy flowers”. Have my 14-year-old niece comment that it’s so cool I wasn’t fussy and making them look exactly perfect because that wouldn’t look cool. Right. I totally planned that. Go to Oh Franson’s tutorial a few times and covet her ability to make things look like she didn’t freehand. Remember to do some half flowers falling off the borders so it looks like they extend to the edges of the quilt. Get tired of making the flowers pretty fast. Do them a little too far apart.
  • Finish quilting and remember to cut the borders… by just over an inch on most sides–effectively destroying the half flowers I had made in the prior step.
  • Take purchased bias binding strips I’ve never used before (I have historically always rolled my own). Pin it on, discover that I’m roughly 30 inches too short. Since I didn’t roll my own–I don’t have any of this fabric to make more from. Sigh. Decide it will be a whimsy (which I hate) corner with interest and use a different fabric. Spend a bazillion years and unpicking time before I admit that I no longer remember how to sew down binding or mitered corners  before I get a book out say “Ooooooohhhhh!” and finish. Stay up late on a work night hand sewing it down. Throw in laundry. Have it NOT bunch up all crinkly and lovely.
  • But have the child loves it just the same.
  • Feel like a free woman out from under the weight of unfinished project.
  • Turn to baby blanket I MUST finish!

Remember when I said after we painted it that I took pictures from all angles? And that I went down the hall so I could peek around the corner because I was giddy with excitement and just in awe of the warmth of the space? Yeah, well I had almost forgotten, so here is the peeking pic.

And my sewing corner there.

After working in this lovely space for a bit, I still had random fabric totally disorganized. I have all of these clear plastic tubs–have had since we lived in Texas, which was well, now 5 years ago. In our last two rentals there was, as you know, no time for sewing, but in the few moments there were, trying to keep track of what I had and where in the way of fabric, notions etc. was a joke. And the tubs were banished to a cubby hard to get to and nigh unto impossible to lift out all alone. My point being–I had 5 years + fabric, fabric from the past several years and no clear idea of where it was. So last weekend, I spent several hours (not just 2, I mean several) emptying every one of those blasted tubs and sorting fabric as you see below, kind of, into scraps, 1/4 or less, more than a 1/4 yard to just under a half, 1/2 yard to just under 1 yard, 1 yard, and more than 1 yard piles.

Then I went through and acknowledged that while I once loved Thimbleberries and still do enjoy some of it, I’m not the die hard that I was.

I feel like I’m slowly starting to come into my own with regard to style. I was a traditionalist before in both patter and colors mostly because I was so lacking in confidence about my sewing and personal style with it. So it was easy to do the “hospital corners” type of sewing where there was “the way” to do it. I’m still fairly attracted to traditional types of patterns, but I’m much more comfortable with lots of color. Even as I sifted through my fabric I would remember ordering something or buying something and cutting and starting to make something and feeling, well, uncomfortable the entire time–I think because I knew it wasn’t wha I *really* wanted to make.

Here are the post-org pix–see the tubs labelled with the different quantities of fabric?

This is my give away pile. An immense amount of fabric that I bought years ago. I’ve learned through this process that I can’t ever have a bunch of stash–evidently I’m fickle. 😉 We won’t discuss how much money was in the fabric I gave away 😉 But see the small tub and bags ?

There’s still more to come. My father-in-law is making me a custom cutting table 36 inches high (no more back pain!) and with a surface about 4 x6 feet. It will have shelves custom fit to be able to hold my bins on the sides and a “lip” on the end so I can sit with a stool for designing etc. I plan to affix those thread organizers to the wall and put up a few floating shelves once the table is there. So there’s a whole lot more to be done before it’s house beautiful, but it is completely functional and ready to sew in. Stay tuned for this year’s twirly skirts.

And this is what it looks like:


Go to LanieJane’s blog to enter to win this lucious stack of fat quarters!

I just did a tour this week of all the quilting shops in my “area” (read: I drove farther than I’d like to see them all)–my very own shop-hop if you will. And I didn’t buy a thing. Nothing. I almost bought this really beautiful pink fabric with colored flowers with the thought of it becoming another twirly skirt for Peanut, but I couldn’t bring myself to add to my unfinished projects list until I have a better handle on just what is already on that list.

I’m not a “oh that’s precious” kind of gal. Never have been. It astonishes me that I’m into needle arts at all. But I do really enjoy it. It just takes me a while to figure out what types of patterns I like and with what materials. I’m not really a trendy gal either. I love old-fashioned, traditional style quilts. I hate bargello, batiks, and texture trolling. I love the look of classic applique (think Baltimore Albums), but I detest cutesy “countrified” motifs.

I haven’t really sewn in my “new” city even though I’ve been here for several years. I haven’t had the time. So my goal with my little shop hop was to see what’s near me, what the store’s style is, check out the pricing, and to just see what the fabric world has been doing without me. My conclusion is that I will feel 100% guilt-free at buying online from a place that can give me a good discount. All of the stores but two are “cutesy” or “artsy”–meaning if you aren’t a person who can coo over “too precious” fabric or you are a traditionalist, they’ve got nothing for you. And the two that aren’t exactly artsy or cutesy are quite a ways out from my house. And they were just meh, nothing special. I miss my lovely “old” city fabric store. Right down the street from my house, reasonable pricing (not cheap, but not fleecing you either), and a lovely variety of stuff to appeal to all types of quilters. Sigh.