No, this isn’t my office … but this is sure what it feels like!
It’s been an odd few weeks. Several of my friends are busy cleaning out their sewing rooms and reinvigorating their workspaces. And almost every one of my sewing friends has said they are planning on using up their fabric stash instead of buying more. I’m surrounded by people who are making great headway on their cleaning and changing their quilting spaces.
This has lead to some interesting discussions. Exactly what should we do with the UFOs that fill our sewing rooms? What about the fabric that no longer appeals to us? Or maybe the boxes of rubber stamps cluttering up our office from our scrapbooking days, when we know in our hearts that they will never be used? Oh … and then there’s a pile of block of the month squares that never got made into sampler quilts.
I am guilty of all of the above “sins.” My own fabric tastes have evolved from novelty fabric to solids and tone-on-tones, yet I have plastic bins full of neatly-labeled novelty fabric filling my office. I have two wooden cabinets of rubber stamps. And, not only do I have my own UFO’s, but I also have a bunch of quilt tops that I purchased on eBay for longarm practice, but never got around to using.
It’s a little late for a new year’s resolution, but my goal this year is to purge what I’m not using. I plan to use a combination of selling on eBay, donating to local guilds, and donating to organizations that need craft supplies. I will feel good about myself. And I will have space to breathe and create.
Many of you know that I homeschooled my kids. A popular topic among homeschool moms was the fact that kids started a project but never finished it. Then a wise mother told me that “maybe your child’s gotten everything they need out of that project.” I realized that learning can happen without finishing something. And that some projects really don’t need to be finished.
Our local guild is using orphan blocks as a fundraiser, so I will be making a donation to them. I will also likely finish off my eBay-purchased quilt tops for charity. And I will try to go through my office (including a large stash of magazines) and see if they need to be kept, or if they’ve already served their purpose.
I will keep you posted. I’m not sure that I will ever have a truly neat and organized sewing room, but I know that I can make big improvements.
I think one of the best ways to become a better quilter is to join a “Block of the Month” club. I’ve done this for that last few years at our local quilt shop. Each month we make a different block, using a different technique. At the end of 12 months, you add some sashing and you (theoretically) have a sample quilt top.
I say “theoretically” because my first few samplers would have been very difficult to piece together. All of the 12.5″ blocks were different sizes, especially if they contained half-square triangles or anything else on the bias. My 1/4″ seams ranged between 1/8″ and 1/2″ — and my cutting wasn’t exactly accurate either. No matter. I learned. More than anything else, these sampler block of the month programs taught me how to quilt.
Here’s where the bravery comes in. It can be tough to sign up for these classes when you know you’re not an award-winning quilter. But everybody has to start somewhere! Quilters love to teach and they love to see new quilters learn and grow. This is one of those cases when it’s worth putting on your big girl panties and taking a risk. I’m unusual in that I don’t plan to make my blocks into a quilt. I look upon this as a learning experience, much as I look upon writing rough drafts of an article for publication.
I like taking block of the month classes at my local quilt shop because it’s a great way to meet quilting friends. It’s also a great source of help if you’re stuck. However, if that is not a possibility for you, there are many great block of the month programs on the internet. Craftsy‘s block of the month is well done and it is also free.
I’ve lived on the planet for (slightly) more than half a century. Until 6 months ago, I’d never lived anywhere that had been named a federal disaster area. Now it’s happened twice. The first time was with Hurricane Sandy, which devastated Long Island. This weekend, it was Winter Storm Nemo that dropped a record 30″ of snow on Eastern Long Island. My town — Brookhaven — was once again declared a disaster area.
While my family was safe and warm, the snow and winds were frightening. We had a large tree branch fall due to the weight of the snow, and another branch is hanging by a thread. There were so many abandoned cars that plows had a difficult time getting to side roads and, when they did, many were getting stuck due to the depth of the snow. The Long Island Expressway was closed for an unprecedented two days for snow removal.
Many of my friends took this as a chance to quilt. Personally, I find it difficult to do very much during these storms. They generate a large amount of anxiety as I’m trying to figure out when (or if) we will be able to leave the house, and whether any more trees are going to fall in our backyard.
My daughter is a costume designer and recently made a stylized Canadian Mountie costume. The storm provided the perfect scenery for a photo shoot. She was standing on a wooden platform so that she didn’t sink into the snow. In the background, you can see our beautiful backyard.
My daughter in her Canadian Mountie costume. (Yes, she designed and sewed the costume.)
Those of you who follow my blog regularly know that the last few weeks have been difficult. I decided to shut down my longarm business, had some major surgery, and have been struggling to get my accounting and taxes done. I have not done any quilting in almost 2 months, which is unbelievable for someone who barely went two days without some kind of quilt project.
Well I am happy to report that my dry spell has ended. On Friday, I went to our local quilt shop and collected my block-of-the-month patterns for the last few months, which were all missed due to medical appointments. This weekend, I moved my accounting materials off my sewing desk and (because I still can’t lift anything over 10 pounds) had my husband return my sewing machine to its rightful spot. I have two quilts to submit to Quiltcon in Austin, so went to work making storage bags and doing my labels.
I am sorry that I had to cancel my trip to Quiltcon. I feel like I am still recovering from surgery, and was worrying about how I’d manage to travel half-way across the country and haul around 50 pounds bags of luggage — when I was not yet supposed to be lifting more than 10 pounds. I will miss meeting up with modern quilters and participating in this exciting new event.
I’m still not done with my accounting and taxes, but I hope to be finished by next week. I have really, really missed quilting. It’s good to be back!