Quilts and Quilting · Sewing

Unfinished Business


I bought a new sewing machine back in February or March; one I could use for heavy-duty projects involving denim or leather or the like.  I found it a place on my work table – actually on my Dad's old desk – and I unpacked all the accessories into a drawer – and there it sat.  

This is a silly habit of mine sometimes.  I get a new thing and then set it aside until I get used to having it around, and only then will I start acquainting myself with its features.  It is really silly.

Anyway, the other day I finally wound a bobbin and threaded the needle and stitched some fabric together.

The project in the above picture is the pieces of a double wedding ring quilt I decided to tackle within a year or so  after Bill and I were married.  At the time I just worked, and we had no children.  I had time.  And then we went and had children, and all my pieces of fabric took a back seat.  And then a spot in my mental attic.  Under luggage and old furniture and dust.  And eventually the carpal tunnel business started bothering me and holding a needle and stitching all those little pieces by hand (because that was the other thing – I was going to do it all by hand) wasn't a lot of fun.  And I got interested in other things, and so on and so on.  Life.

But I kept all the bits and pieces, intending – some day – to finish it.

After the surgery on my hands almost a year ago, I discovered I could hold a skinny needle and work pins and it didn't bother me at all!!  I was EXTREMELY happy.  I set to work piecing the small "ring" pieces together and it was wonderful to be doing something I'd loved to do years ago.  Like Dorothy walking out of her sepia-toned house and into technicolor OZ, 

But you know what?  No matter how great my hands are now (and they are), it's still a LOT of stitching and I still don't have all the time in the world any more.  I just want to get it done.  So – to the sewing machine!

And I have to say, it's really fun to work up the pieces.  I pin a batch, sew them up, pull the pins, and iron them flat.  Hard to explain how joyful this makes me.  But it does.  I love the smell of damp, hot fabric as I iron down the seams. I even like ironing clothes, but making a quilt is way more fun.

This morning I opened a big Rubbermaid tote and dug in.  I was looking for another old sewing project in particular (which I didn't find) but I found a whole bunch of others.  On one hand, it's overwhelming.  I don't even remember what my game plan was for some of these patterns and fabrics.  But on the other hand, I'm excited.  Where to start???  (I know, I know.  I'm working on the double wedding ring quilt.  Maybe I should start – and finish – there?)

Here are a few pictures of some of the chaos…


Okay, well this is not unfinished.  This is an embroidered picture on a pair of my shorts that I did back in junior high or high school, I imagine.  That person on top of the front mountain is a tiny little Scotsman playing the bagpipes.  I'm pretty sure I was pleased with my work, otherwise I wouldn't have saved them all these years.


This is a sample piece from a workshop I attended one summer weekend in Maine.  There was a class I took in trapunto, which is a sort of filled stitching – you use bits of stuffing or pieces of yarn or cording to add dimension to the quilted stitches.  Pretty cool stuff.


I also learned to do applique using freezer paper, a process I loved and utilized in a lot of projects after that class. 


I concocted these squares with the intent, I think, of turning them into big pillows.  the stars and the letters are all applique.

So were the tulips on this apron…no, wait, never mind that, I guess I didn't take a picture, or I deleted it.  


And this.  It's hard to see, but this is a blend of trapunto and applique, and it's also copied from the cover of the Broadway soundtrack album for Evita.  It was meant to be (and still is!) part of a quilt for a great friend of mine in college and after who HATED the music and suffered a lot at my hands and my record player.  I do not apologize.  It was educational.

Anyway, here are a couple of other squares meant for the same quilt:


Here we have a log cabin variation with denim and flannel on one half, taffeta (I think) and velvet on the other half.  The story involves this dear friend and a middle of the night trip to the grocery store with him in denim and flannel and me in a gorgeous dress with a black velvet strapless bodice and a shimmery blue skirt (that flared out thanks to the layers of tulle underneath).  I wore heels, and my hair was up in a bun and my makeup was over the top.  We put our groceries (we shared a house with another friend, so grocery shopping together was not unusual) in our cart and strolled up and down the aisles (well, I tottered around on my heels, which I very rarely wore) and acted as though we looked perfectly normal.  And I guess "we" is incorrect – I'm the one who had to pretend.  


And this is a game of cribbage. I think we both learned as kids. In my house it was a Sunday afternoon event – various cribbage games between my sister and I and our parents, with some sort of sport playing on the tv and cheddar cheese and Saltines and glasses of ginger ale.  Ginger ale for us kids.  I don't know what my parents had. So anyway, my friend, Ralph, and I played go-for-the-jugular cribbage games way back when, and if you look closely at the faux wooden board above you can see the word "blaze" – something we'd say when one of us, usually me, ahem, scored a lot of points in a hand and blazed past the other person's marker.  

I have a few other squares but these three are my favorites.

And that's enough for now – time to sew some fabric together before the rest of the day gets away from me.


2 thoughts on “Unfinished Business

  1. That rose trapunto is the most detailed example I’ve ever seen. Wow!

    I love the stories behind the blocks. These are the personal touches that make me love quilts. My guild has an annual auction where I’ve picked up many started and discarded projects from other members. I love getting to put my own spin on them. Which reminds me I should get off the computer and go do some stitching!

  2. I do that too, hold on to things I’ve wanted for a while and wait to use them. Not sure why. I received a juicer one year for christmas that I’d asked for and it took me 4 years to use it. I finally broke down and bought a food processor summer of 2018, I still haven’t used it.
    Your quilts are lovely. That is something I’ve wanted to do for years. I should probably learn to sew first though. 🙂

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