Thursday, January 26, 2006

About 10 years ago I went through a patchwork slump that lasted more than a year. I just couldn't sew on any of my quilt projects. Judy Martin caused it. I bought one of her block books, and the fabrics I saw in there were nothing like the ones I could buy here. If I couldn't make quilts with those gorgeous fabrics then I wouldn't make quilts at all.

I made smocked dresses instead. Hundreds of them, and sold them at markets. There was a lot of embroidery and stitching, and I became the queen of gathering. I could make a perfect piped colllar in minutes, my plackets were a work of art, I could make bullion roses by the dozen. And then I got bored of that too.

I knew I would have to start making quilts again, so I made myself start these Log Cabin blocks from my scraps. It only took a few days, and something happened about 20 blocks into it. I was hooked again, enthusiastic and eager to finish. Which is probably why I sewed the last two rows on upside down, creating the arrow effect. What the heck, it looked OK.

Two new fabric shops came to town, that wonderful American patchwork fabric arrived to tempt me. The top was put aside, while I made other quilts and amassed my considerable stash. But all the time, I was working on the border.

Every scrap from my other projects was cut into 1 1/2"strips and stored in a jar by my machine.
This is a Fowler's 3 pint milk billy, which I just love. It reminds me that even when I think life is the pits, at least I don't have to preserve milk to ensure a supply. (What can it have tasted like?) I do not wish for 'the old days'.

Whenever the billy was full I sewed all the strips into little 16-patches and stored them away, and after a year I had enough to do the border. It's my favourite part of this quilt, composed of the trimmings of a dozen other projects. I'm still saving the little bits and making 16-patches, and I'll build another quilt around them sometime soon.

I also love that this is the first quilt I ever quilted on a longarm machine, my friend Cathy's Gammil. It's not perfect quilting, but I'm very fond of all the mistakes. They are just the start of a tremendous learning curve, and I've loved every minute of it.


Crystal Boudreaux 6:50 AM  

Oh Keryn, I'm so glad to find that there are other smocker/quilters in the world. I was beginning to feel alone :) I have been in a smocking slump since the beginning of last year. And that is when I started quilting. It just wasn't making me happy. I am hoping my desire returns to smock because I really loved doing it (not bragging but I am pretty decent at the whole heirloom thing). If not, heirloom will still always be my first love. Your post has made me think about what I really love about it. I think I'll go post some pics of my dresses now...

Unknown 11:21 AM  

I found your blog via Bonnie's and was reading several of your posts...I think we're married to the same man; Hitler, tsunamis, how the Golden Gate bridge was built, etc, etc... LOL! Your quilts are beautiful!

Evelyn aka Starfishy 12:03 AM  

Wonderful quilt - I love my quilts that had bits and remnants from other quilts - ties them altogether in a way. One of my very favorites has just 1 little 2" square, from a fabric I made a dress for my Mom when I was in my teens, scraps my sister gave to me when I was starting out quilting and had NO fabric and scraps from my Nana too. Mom and Nana are both gone now, so I cherish it this quilt as a reminder - little scraps can be so precious.



Tonya Ricucci 2:55 AM  

I really like this quilt - I think your "arrow" makes it really dynamic. Suspect I probably like it better this way than if it had been the usual layout... Love the border too. Glad you can get more fabrics now.

Bonnie K. Hunter 1:16 PM  

The 16patch border is WONDERFUL! And what a managable way to do it too....

I love seeing what you've been working on, and reading about what has caused changes in your life too. I think we all go through these 'periods!'

keryn 6:42 PM  

This period right now is going to be called The Termite Era. My room is wrecked for the next two weeks while the ceiling is repaired, and it just reeks so I can't go in there. Yechh! Luckily I have plenty of hand sewing to keep me buy. Don't think I'll take up the smocking again until I have grandchildren to dress.....

I'm going to leave heirloom sewing and machine embroidery until I retire; I have to have something to look forward to. Just hope I can still see what I'm doing by then.

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