Tag Archives: quilting

Windowpane Quilt as Allegory for Hope and Patience

windowpane quiltThis is my finished windowpane full sized quilt that I started in 2007.  It’s taken me a whole 7 year cycle to finish it.  I had no idea when I started it that I was about to be the loneliest and fattest person I knew.  I had no idea my old cat was about to die and I was going to go bankrupt and that my son’s problems were going to come to a head.  I had no idea that we were going to spend almost $2,000 we didn’t have to save two tiny kittens from the claws of death.  I had no idea that before I finished this quilt I would start feeling so sick inside I would wake up most mornings wishing I could just peacefully go back to sleep and not wake up again until it was time to die.

windowpane seven years agoI had no idea that I would finally write the novel I’d been trying to write my whole life.  Or that I would take Kung Fu from an unbalanced but brilliant Kung Fu master and discover how empowering it is to punch and kick things.  I had no idea that the town I was living in which treats some people wonderfully would become an iron trap holding me and my family down with our faces in the dirt.  I had no idea just how poisonous a location can be to a spirit.  Nor did I have any idea that such poison could simultaneously inspire such raw creativity and beauty in the people it infects.

trying out for sizeI had no idea any of this was coming.  I just wanted to make a quilt to keep us warm and to cheer up our house.  I just wanted to have fun with my sewing.  Which I did.  I had no real plan when I started it.  I just cut a bunch of rectangles the same size and then started stitching them together.  This quilt was a bright puzzle I put together as I went along.

macro quilt viewIt’s about the joy of surprises and how color and pattern can come together and work in unexpected ways.

quilt five years agoThis quilt was about letting go of expectation and using what I had on hand.

flannel layerWhich is how it ended up with a layer of ugly cotton flannel in addition to the usual layer of cotton batting.  About a day after I took this picture I started basting the layers together and suddenly came down with influenza for the first time in my life.  The real flu.  And not just any strain of influenza – this was the first round identified as H1N1.  Ten days of fever, shaking, excruciating pain, and wracking cough that caused me to break a rib.  I didn’t work on this quilt again until last month, February 2014.

latenight quiltingFinishing this quilt stands for a triumph over adversity.  It stands for creation over destruction.  It’s about never giving up and keeping hope alive with the little things like not tossing WIPs just because so many of them never get finished.  It’s a willingness to see something through, no matter how long it takes.

IMG_20140208_175307It’s the first full sized quilt I’ve ever made, my fifth quilt in all.  I’ve made 3 baby quilts (for Adriana, Ben, and Ivy), 1 twin sized quilt (for Lili), and this one.

IMG_20140304_002007All my animals love it and claim it.  My sister was the first to break it in.

IMG_20140228_014400I re-watched most of Alias (for the 3rd time) while making it.  I stayed up until 3am working on it on more than one occasion because I wasn’t drinking alcohol and consequently have returned to my insomnia.

IMG_20140302_171253I learned to make my own binding and how to machine quilt something bigger than a twin.  Finishing this quilt has set something free, I’m not even sure exactly what.  The past?  Pain?  Creativity?  Faith in myself?  The future?

Maybe it’s an allegory for hope and patience.

I don’t know.  All I know is that a whole lot of shit has happened since I cut out the first stack of rectangles.  I started it in McMinnville, Oregon and finished it in Santa Rosa, California and in spite of all the bad stuff that’s happened, this quilt reminds me of the good friends I made in Oregon and miss.  It reminds me of the blueberries and the asparagus.  It reminds me of the rain and the snow.  It reminds me of Hotel Oregon and the geek techs with M16′s.  It reminds me of the brambles everywhere that make the best jam on earth.

This is my windowpane quilt – finished.

Lili’s Quilt

Lili quilt 12This is the front of Lili’s quilt.  This is one of the main things I’ve been working on this month.  I got it done in about one week from start to finish.  A record for me.  I did almost nothing else during that time.

Lili quilt 6This is the first quilt I’ve ever done machine quilting on.  I’ve been wanting to learn to do this for years.  Lili’s quilt is the biggest of the four quilts I’ve made.  The first three were baby quilts and this one is roughly twin sized.

Lili quilt 10I watched almost all of Alias and the first season of Arrow while making it.Lili quilt 1I had no real plan ahead of time.  I only knew that Lili (a four year old girl) likes pink, red, and purple.  Having found no good purple prints I decided to break up the red and pink with black.  It’s much bolder than I originally imagined, color-wise.  Kind of punches you in the face, but that’s okay because Lili is a girl with major moxie and some day she will have no problem punching people in the face who get in her way.

Lili quilt 3Ad-libbing a quilt allows for all kinds of weird stuff to happen as you go along.  Like stripes that don’t quite match up, not enough of one fabric or another, and good surprises like unexpected cool piecing.

Lili quilt 2This is the back side of the quilt.  It’s asymmetrical.  On purpose by surprise.  The irregularities in this quilt would shame my mom’s sister who is one of those precise quilters who follows patterns and makes every seam match up PERFECTLY because otherwise – THESHAMETHESHAMETHESHAME.

Having been a costumer and a professional seamstress I know how important it is to make things perfect if you’re selling them.  I will rip seams out until they’re just right when making things professionally.  But quilting, for me, is the one sewing project where I let myself just have fun and let things develop organically.  I start with an idea and then let it just unfold.  I do try to do a good job sewing it but I’m not taking seams out when points don’t match perfectly or my lines aren’t ruler straight (though they usually are anyway).  Quilting is my free-range sewing time.  I get to do whatever the hell I want with it.  There are no rules.

I’m really pleased with the way Lili’s quilt turned out.

Now I’m working on the quilt I started 6 years ago in McMinnville.  I broke my machine while machine quilting it.  I’m about half done.  So tonight I’m going to finish the quilting and tomorrow I go to my friend Chelsea’s house to get a lesson in binding.  Because I suck at binding quilts and while I could continue to suck at it I think I would get more satisfaction if I could learn to do it better.

If you don’t have many (or any) spare blankets in your house you should start making quilts.  I have only two spare blankets and only one of them is full sized and it’s shredded to the point of almost being useless.  I am appalled at this whole situation because what if there’s an emergency or an apocalypse and we need extra blankets?

One quilt down and many more to come!