Friday, June 07, 2019

Five quilts I would save if the house were on fire

Normally I am not one to whine about pregnancy but this one has been a doozy.  I am exactly 3 weeks from my scheduled c-section and I am finally feeling like taking care of an infant is preferable to the current state of misery I am in.  I have issues in the third trimester and this week they were combined with a nasty chest cold.  I've been lying on the couch all week, trying to entertain my four year old and trying to avoid justifying gratuitous fabric purchases from my phone.  I'd rather be sewing, but it would be easier to buy fabric off the internet when I am feeling so miserable.  So far I have withstood the temptation.....  And writing this blog post will hopefully help me remember that I have sewed and I will be able to sew again someday......

I recently completed a few quilts that I am just not in love with...  They are big and I just don't know what to do with them.  They are the union jack quilt and scrappy rainbow quilts:


The Union Jack quilt just doesn't thrill me at all: I fear I made it too big and I have no special affinity to England!  Why did I make it?  I think I was attracted to the pattern because it was an easy foundation paper pieced pattern and it would showcase large scale prints very well....  The scrappy rainbow quilt is fun but I am just not a ROYGBIV type of gal..... 

I am not sure what to do with these quilts, I may actually try to sell them.  They frustrate me when I see them in a stack in my bedroom taking up space.  This disappointment has made me think about the quilts I've made that I REALLY love and why I really love them.

So the focus of this post is to share my five favorites - my love for them has to be strong enough that they'd be the first items to save if we were forced to evacuate our home. 

I pulled the pictures off of my blog as I thought about this topic, there's no strong particular order in what I am sharing:

First, is my Swoon quilt.  When I started this quilt, I made the block in the middle and thought it might just become a mini quilt for my sewing room.  But I had a lot of fun making the block and piecing it wasn't too bad after doing some simple quilt math that eliminated a lot of seams and avoided breaking up the large scale prints.  Before I knew it, I was ripping apart my stash looking for other fabric combinations to make into more blocks.  I cut everything in preparation for a quilt retreat and I sewed it all together in a weekend when I was pregnant with Owen.  It just came together so fast, which was satisfying and somewhat rare for me.  It's scrappy but still has a unifed color scheme.  It's very different than most swoon quilts out there- I put a personal twist on a wildly popular pattern. 

This quilt is practically identical to the tutorial I used.   Usually I like to make my own version of other's patterns, but for this one, I wanted to own a quilt just like Blue Elephant Stitches made for the 2012 Value Quilt Along.  The only thing I ended up doing differently was the piano key border- a happy accident in truth.  I love this quilt because it has my favorite colors: blues, pinks, and yellows.  It's scrappy and the play with value is just perfect. 

I think it is pretty surprising that this quilt made the top five on my list of favorite quilts.  I actually thought I would hate this quilt as I was making it.  It was quite outside my comfort zone- random scraps all squished together as a leaders/enders project.  It was tedious to cut all the squares and rectangles from scraps.... but I just LOVE the end result.  I love to look at this quilt and remember all of the projects these fabrics started with: dresses for my daughter, craft fair items, other quilts, some are scraps that other people gave me, etc.  I would LOVE to create another scrappy quilt that makes me this happy and I've been on the hunt for another pattern that harnesses the craziness of 100% scraps without being too visually overwhelming. 

This quilt has a lot of sentimental value.  It features a few African wax prints purchased in Uganda, where my husband and I volunteered for four months before settling in Massachusetts at the beginning of our marriage.  My husband consistently says that it is his favorite quilt I've made after all these years of making.  It is my own version of "Dotty for Dresden," a pattern found in the iconic quilting book, Material Obsession.  I feel sentimental about it because it was one of the first projects I tackled after discovering "modern" quilting and feeling so excited about using bright colors and was starting to discover my own "voice" when it came to quilting....

Finally, I am so very proud of this Hello Kitty quilt and making it with my daughter are some of my favorite memories with her even though she's only seven years old right now.  We worked on it together not long after the birth of Owen and it was a way to feel connected with her despite the demands of caring for her younger sibling.  She never got tired of picking out the squares for every "grid" block we needed to make.  We went to a somewhat odd longarm rental situation in Colorado Springs to quilt a daisy pattern all over it and she was SO excited!  We enjoyed Wendy's frosties as the Statler Stitcher quilted away....  The funny thing about this design, is that when you put it on a bed- it doesn't look like much....  You have to get a more "distant" view to really appreciate it.  She still loves it now and we found the perfect purple cat face sheets at Target to go with it. 

As I think about these quilts and why they're my favorites, a few themes come to mind:
  • They are made with scraps or at least have a scrappy look
  • The overall design is what is satisfying to me, not necessarily the great fabrics I used
  • I've made a lot of quilts and I never start one thinking, "this is going to be my absolute favorite thing I've ever made."  It's helpful to always be making and exercise one's creativity: not everything is going to be a perfect hit every time but your chances of making something you're thrilled with increases as you just keep on sewing.  Quantity often leads to quality because of the many hours of practice you accumulate.
  • Good quilting does nothing but enhance the project, some of my finished quilts frustrate me because I lost momentum with the quilting step and settled for getting the three layers together rather than investing in the time and/or money to do something besides a lazy stipple or loop.  
  • Making quilts for my immediate family members is extremely satisfying- I don't have the anguish of "giving them away" because they stay in my house and I love sharing my talents with my husband and children.  When they appreciate the quilts and I see the quilts in use, it adds a special feeling to our home.
I would love to see other bloggers tackle this idea- what are some of your all-time favorite makes?  Let me know if you decide to address this question on your blog or IG.