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.