Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Little Patchwork

For the past few weeks, there has been no creativity in my life. I finished the girls dresses and then... nothing. Summer is here, and the girls and I are so busy that I have been missing things. Swim class? Oops. Occupational Therapy? Oops. And that's not like me. So J and I made some time yesterday for me to do some sewing (which is a much bigger challenge than that sentence reflects). I've been curious about the disappearing 9 patch, so I decided to make a little pin cushion. I've always thought I would like a nice cute pin cushion. Ever since Blue took a pair of scissors to the old strawberry, anyway. So I got my scraps out and laboriously cut out 4 one-and-a-half inch squares. Whaaat? Nine patch needs 9 squares. Get the scraps back out. Where was my head? I just don't know. So I sewed, and I sewed, and I sewed. And let me tell you - when your squares are 1.5 inches, that 1/4 inch seam needs to be accurate. Well see? I'm learning already.

So I cut and arranged and arranged and arranged and sewed. And now I have the smallest pin cushion on the face of the earth.
I think it is so small it doesn't even show off the prints well. But it does hold pins quite well.
Part of what got me interested in patchwork was this little bit of my past. I have had this quilt since I was a teenager. I think it came from my grandparents' house after they died. You can't tell from this picture, but it is in sorry shape. I don't know if it was my storage method (I was young, I thought a plastic bag was a good idea) or what, but it has deteriorated badly. Every time I touch it, it rips a little here and there.
And here is the back. As a kid I was amazed that the back was made up of the same print in different colors, and I also wondered why the person who made it would have bothered using two different colors. I didn't come from a family that talked about fabric or quilting or that sort of thing.

Incidentally, since the quilt is falling apart, I can see that it was pieced onto muslin. I keep staring at it, trying to figure out the order in which the pieces were sewn, wondering what the person who made it was thinking about as she chose pieces. I have always been fascinated by scrap quilts and the history of the fabrics that make them up.
Now lastly, as I was looking at this quilt, something reminded me of a quilt I had started long ago. I haven't thought of it in eons, but today I managed to dig it out of a box in the attic. When I started it I had just moved to northern Minnesota (north of the lake...brrr) to live with my new boyfriend/old friend. I didn't have much of a job, and I was stuck out in the cold north woods, so I decided to make a quilt. And being me, I decided it had to be a recycled quilt. Every Wednesday I would go to the $3 bag day at the thrift store and buy a bag of shirts to cut up. I would then spend the week cutting out the pieces, one by one, with scissors, using a foam core pattern piece. Then I would sew them all together. And rip, and sew. With an old black sewing machine that I bought in Duluth for $20. 
Then we moved east, and I bought some scraps of fabric at Crate and Barrel and made some more blocks, but then we were getting married and then we had kids and the next 9 years disappeared in a flash.
I bet you're thinking I had some fancy intricate pattern I was making, right?

Nope. Just a good old nine patch. But just use your imagination for a moment and you will see me with my tongue sticking out the side of my mouth toiling over this thing. 
I put them all out in the sun for a few minutes today for pictures. I absolutely hate some of the fabrics I used. But the feel of them brings back such bright, young, falling in love memories that I don't want to mess with them. Not even the sparkly trees. Not even the lavender plaid.
So I was thinking about finishing it. I can either sew it up as is, or I can 'disappear' the squares. I'm undecided but leaning toward disappearing them. I don't actually like the look of it right now. Part of me wants to just plow ahead with something new, even though that wasn't my initial plan for it. Part of me is indecisive and terrified. I think it would be healthier to just slice them up. Or I could just shove the impotent dregs into the attic again. Wouldn't that be a shame? For me, I mean. To turn down this opportunity for growth and all that.

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