Right before Christmas my sewing machine made a horrific clunking sound and then quit on me. Now, I like to knit but I need to sew; there’s something about my psyche that needs a regular visit with my fabric. I live in my head, and cutting and sewing patchwork is one of the few things that gets me out of my thinking mode, which is something I really need. I learned this during the time I was living in NYC without my sewing machine, and I vowed to never be without it again. Having it crash and burn was kind of traumatic, truth be told, especially during vacation time that I had hoped to spend finishing up some projects.
Happily the machine was fixable, and finally this weekend I had time to get reacquainted. I’ve had this machine for at least 10 years and never had it cleaned, and the lightbulb had been burned out for so long that I’d forgotten there was one on the machine. Surprise! It was none too soon for sewing, either — not only do I have numerous projects in various states of completion, I needed to start another one. My quilt guild runs a program called “Friendship Squares”, where each participant writes their name and the type of block they want on a piece of paper. They can specify an actual block (I requested log cabin blocks last year), a color, or a theme. You draw names, and you make six blocks (two per month for three months) for your friend. In turn, someone makes six blocks for you. At the end, you’re supposed to make at least two additional blocks and sew the top up.
Last year, I wound up with someone who wanted Asian-inspired blocks. I don’t normally buy this type of quilt fabric, so I marched off to the quilt store and bought several fat quarters of fabrics. I sewed up “T” block squares which, with the Asian fabric, looked like little kimonos. The recipient made a really lovely quilt and I considered the whole experience a success. (I continue to kick myself for not getting a picture of the finished quilt, especially since the woman is no longer in the guild.)
This year, I drew “1930s” – yet another aisle of the quilt store I never visit. These are prints that are based on fabric designs from the 1930s, many with cutesy animals on them. Not my thing, really, so Saturday morning I took advantage of the ridiculously unseasonable warm weather and walked into town to the quilt store to find some fabric. It was really hard to choose a plan for these blocks; the store had a lot of really great red fabrics that I liked but what if the person I am making them for hates red? I decided I really should go for a variety, and came home with this:
The next challenge was to find a block. Years ago I got smart about managing my growing stash of quilt magazines, all of which had one pattern I wanted to try someday. I ripped the one pattern I wanted out of each magazine and stuck it in a red three ring binder, recycling the rest of the magazine. Hardly a genius move, but I’m telling you this simple thing has become my own personal quilting bible. After much browsing, I found this block – which unfortunately I can’t credit because I have no idea which magazine it came from (I’m guessing from the style it was probably Quilter’s Newsletter). It’s not terribly difficult, but it does require some precise piecing of the triangles. I made two blocks today, the red one below and a blue one. I worry that maybe the style isn’t quite right for the fabrics, and maybe there’s too much white. I have to decide whether to scrap this altogether, continue on, or use these two blocks but find other patterns for the remaining fabrics. Thoughts?