As you know, this is the Year of Quilting Fearlessly…
Part of the reason I wanted this challenge for myself is that I have found myself quilting in my comfort zone for quite some time and was no longer happy with the results. I found my quilts becoming too predictable and too much of the same thing over and over again for me to be challenged with my art. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes at the end of a hard day, sitting down to the sewing machine with some mindless piecing is just the thing I need to reconnect with my inner creative Sherri. However, I have learned over the course of my now almost 56 years that the people, ideas, and things I value the most are the ones that challenged me to think out of my comfort zone. The students that I still seek out to stay in touch with and think of fondly are the ones that kept me on my toes the most – in a good way. They were the ones that were always one or two steps ahead of me in their thinking with the curriculum and they were the ones that made me push myself as an educator. The ideas that have had life altering effects are the one that made me think out of the box.
So, as you know, the first thing I have worked with is Santa’s Loading Dock.
I am still working hard on this, but can only do work on this one in starts and stops, as it literally sucks all the brain power out of my head. It’s a detailed quilt with poorly written directions. But I’m having lots of fun and have learned to let Linda and Lisa stay about two steps ahead of me so I can learn from them.
The other type of quilt I wanted to learn to make is a scrap quilt. To those folks who don’t quilt, it may seem like scrap quilts should be the do-all and end-all of all quilts, since a great deal of the quilts our foremothers made were just that – scrap quilts. But to those highly initiated into today’s quilt world of guilds, bees, workshops, Craftsy Classes, and Facebook groups, a scrap quilt is almost a foreign idea. Lines of cotton and flannel fabrics are carefully designed to appeal to quilters and the colors weave their way into a quilt almost seamlessly and the results are beautiful. There are countless lines of blender fabric and basic colors out there to guarantee that your stash is workable and almost any quilt would benefit from some of them.
Heck, I’ve written countless blogs on fabric.
But all the quilt making that I’ve done owes itself to The Quilt That Started It All for me:
Some of you may remember this quilt. This is a quilt made by this lady:
This is my Great-Grandma Perry. I know this isn’t a very good picture of her, but it’s all I have. She made this scrap quilt. According to my mother (her granddaughter), Grandma Perry and her sisters would piece and then get together to quilt or tie the tops. This quilt is quilted with large-ish stitches and the batting and backing were blankets from the nearby Fieldcrest Mill in Eden, North Carolina. I think that it’s the neatest thing in the world that my mom can identify some of the fabric in this quilt. Yes, some of the pieces are Feed Sacks, but Mom can look at this quilt and tell me, “This was from one of my mother’s dresses,” or “This is piece is from one of my granddaddy’s shirts.”
After Mom gave me this quilt, I researched it and wrote up what I know about it. And then it stayed in my bedroom on a bench and every day I would look at it and think, “I want to learn to do that.”
So, I learned how to piece. And then I learned how to quilt. I am largely self-taught, and have made lots of mistakes and learned from each one. However, in these days of coordinated fabric lines and tons o’ material choices, I had never ventured to make a scrap quilt. Frankly, the thought of adding lots of pieces of different values and hues of all colors intimidated me quite a bit. But recently I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a workshop taught by Augusta Cole, whose theory is “It all goes together, honey.”
I had to bring 288 colored squares to this workshop, matched with 288 squares of a background. It had to be scrappy.
For years, I was known as the Fat Quarter Queen because almost every project I made was small. I didn’t have a lot of time as a single mom (at that time) with two kids and a full-time job. Nearly every project I made was small so I could compete it and feel like I had accomplished something. I only made one large quilt every year to eighteen months. So, my stash has lots of fat quarters of all colors. I literally just pulled them off the shelves in random order and began cutting. This was the results.
This is only the first block of my scrap quilt.
There are a few things I want to change, but I can’t tell you how liberating it was to use up most of my stash (!) and to truly see that everything does work together. Scrap quilts are like life – no people are the same, but don’t we all work together to make a world that’s interesting!
I can mark one more item off the list of my Year of Quilting Fearlessly. My scrap quilt will go on retreat with me and I hopefully will finish most of it there. I can’t wait to see it completed. Pictures will follow for sure.
Until later, quilt fearlessly!
Love and Stitches,
Sherri and Sam