Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kansas Troubles

A couple of weeks ago we went down to the Lake of the Ozarks for the weekend. Bob has a friend who has a place down there, and he goes down there quite often, but I'd never been. But this time, when Bob invited me along, I went. He always tells me that I can do the same things down there that I do here--mess around on the computer, read, knit, eat--which is true. I didn't even take the computer, though. I took the Kindle, my iPhone, a couple of skeins of Noro Silk Garden, and I put together a traveling sewing/quilting kit.

I've started sewing again, after probably a couple of decades away from it. I've always enjoyed sewing, but it's a messy hobby, and once the sewing machine is put away, it's hard for me to get it back out, with all the attendant fabric, thread, cutting board, etc.

But awhile ago, when I was out at my folks' house, my mother asked me if I could hem up a pair of jeans for her, and of course, I said yes. So I got out the machine and set it up, and I enjoyed having it out so much that I've kept it out. I sewed gifts for almost all of the women that I gave Christmas gifts to this year--reusable shopping bags in their own little zippered pouches.

I've also made a bunch of cotton "produce bags"--I haven't used them for that, though. I've used them as lunch bags, knitting bags, Christmas gift bags, the uses are many. The pattern says they're produce bags, so that's what I'm calling them. (I asked for permission to make the bags for sale, and paid a licensing fee.)

Oh, so anyway, back to the quilting. I had picked up a quilting magazine recently that had a project for making a pincushion out of fabric selvages, the tightly woven edge of the fabric that is usually printed with details like the name of the fabric line, the designer and/or the mill, and registration marks and dots of color that I assume are used by the printer.

I absolutely loved that idea, so I started going through my boxes of fabric and cutting off selvages. I quickly amassed enough to make a few pincushions, then I decided to make a small quilt with some of them. I didn't like the quilts I had seen that were made completely of selvages, they were way too busy, but I did like the look of them when used as blocks. In my reading about selvages, I had discovered that the Moda fabric company was selling "scrap bags," which were fabric strips left over from cutting their pre-cut fabric squares. I ordered a bag, and I thought that the fabric line that I got (all of the "scraps" in one bag will be the same line) went well with the selvages. It was called "Summer's End by Kansas Troubles Quilters," which I thought was very appropriate!

So I cut the selvages off of the scrap strips, and sewed up 12 squares. I love the sewing part; I don't like the cutting part nearly as much. It's tedious, and it's hard on my back, and it's hard to get motivated to do it. But I thought, hey, I'll take my stuff with me on the weekend, and lay it out when I have less distractions.

So I packed up a plastic box with my rotary cutter, shears, pins and needles, and bought a small rotary cutting mat and plastic ruler. I put my selvage squares in a plastic bag, and brought along the strips from the scrap bag. When we got down to the Lake, Bob went out fishing on Saturday, and I laid out the quilt top. Once I had arranged everything to my liking, I cut out the strips and squares so that it was ready to sew.

I didn't actually sit down and sew it together until the next weekend, and it wasn't until yesterday that I built the quilt "sandwich" (quilt top, batting and backing) and started quilting it. I don't really know what I'm doing, and it's FAR from perfect, but I figure it's better just to do something that to spend forever studying and worrying about it. Anything takes practice, it's not going to perfect the first time, but I enjoy doing it, and really, that's the whole point.

It's a small quilt, probably about 2 x 3 feet, and I'm planning to hang it on the wall in the bedroom. I'm already planning another one that I think would look great on the wall of my office. It's just a matter of doing it. In the winter it's very hard for me to want to do anything when I get home from work, but I think I'll be more energetic and motivated once it starts staying light longer. I'd better be--I need to do something with all the fabric I've bought!

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