Gone Fishin’

It’s been a year. Can you believe it? I’ve been working at the quilt shop and learning this quilting stuff for a full year. It’s gone by too fast. I would have expected to consider myself beyond a beginner level after a year, but somehow I’d say I’m still pretty new to the actual nuts and bolts of sewing. I haven’t even gone beyond making squares. But, hey, let’s give me a break. With work, a dog, planning a wedding and buying a house this summer, I’ve been pretty busy. But I’m back in the game as I finally unpacked my sewing room last weekend. Granted, it’s still painted two-toned magenta shades courtesy of the six-year-old girl that occupied the room before me, but at least I’ve got all the required stations in place. Give me another three months (that’s about the speed I’m workin’ at these days) and I’ll get around to making it feel like my own space.

In the past year, I’ve worked on a few quilts: my first quilt from a layer cake (that now migrates between my couch and bed at home), two shop samples that are hung very, very high on the wall to hide the shameful sewing I did, and a few unfinished projects that bounce back and forth between active on my sewing machine and being “on deck.” I can thank my poor attention span for all the back-and-forth!

Here's all my "on deck" projects....will they ever get finished?!

Look familiar? Yup...those are some blocks from City Quilts "City Lot." After sewing my sashing with WAY, WAY TOO BIG seams, every block has been an angry battle to complete. I'm just aiming for "finished" sooner or later. It will be goofy. It will be donated. And that's just fine by me.

If you can remember, I made quite a fuss about one of the store samples I made needing to be perfect, but in retrospect, the pressure of making a store sample does not compare to my current projects — quilts as gifts. I know that one of the joys of quiltmaking is planning a project with a very special person in mind. However, TALK ABOUT PRESSURE!

The first gift quilt I planned was for one of my nieces. She is turning three this Halloween. So, really, she doesn’t care what the quilt looks like, but I DO. It had to be perfect. After a few days of restlessly cruising our patterns, I decided to give up. It was useless. No matter what I chose, I would never feel it was perfect. So I just went home, chopped up a few fat quarters and sewed them together. It’s basic, but it’s done! One of our mottoes around here is “better done than perfect” and I think I learned my lesson. I am just finishing up that quilt for her birthday present this year. Look familiar? I used it for our Binding Blog photos.

It was a good thing I learned my lesson on stress-free gift giving, because there’s no way I could have said no when my very own dad asked me to make him a quilt. Being my dad (and a guy), I can’t say I expect him to be disappointed when my corners don’t match. Heck, he probably won’t even be able to tell (as long as he doesn’t show it to my mom, who is a quilter!)

Wonder where I get my love for animals from? My dad raised these chickens from when they were chicks. They loved him!

Even with the pressure off on the actual sewing, I still felt the fabric and pattern needed to be tops. My dad is retired and is lucky to live in a beautiful lakeside cabin in Northern Wisconsin. He spends his afternoons in his rusty old rowboat, fishing on the lake. My mom has the house fully decorated with all kinds of Northwoods details — bear figurines, “gone fishin’” signs, and even a wooden raccoon hanging off the side of the house. They’re cabin people. I knew my dad’s quilt would need to fit my mom’s decorating as well as my dad’s interests. BINGO! We have trout fabric.

I’m mid-project and am excited about how it’s turning out. I’m using one of our free patterns meant for a layer cake. It goes together pretty quick and really features the fish fabric. When I get around to finishing the top, I’ve got plans for some fish-quilting and cozy minky on the back. Northern Wisconsin gets wicked cold in the winter and I’m sure there’ll be nothing better than warming up by a fire under this quilt with my dad.

Phase 1. I cut all my fabric and matched my "centers" with my "borders." It's kind of hard to believe this small stack of fabric will eventually spread out to make a whole quilt top!

Phase 2. Half of my "borders" sewn to my "centers." My fiance was at a hockey game, so there was NOTHING to distract me from making serious progress on this project. Onwards!

Phase 3. PEOPLE! I am not a fast sewer, but I think I had Della's wind beneath my wings as I was sewing these blocks. I cut all my fabric and sewed ALL my blocks in the same night. It's kind of a record for me. I think I'll go ahead and give myself a little pat on my back. The hardest part, as always, was strategically arranging all my blocks while deterring my curious dog from laying right on top of everything.


P.S. I was foolish to think this would be my last gift-quilt for a while. I recently got the news that BOTH of my older brothers’ wives are pregnant. And here’s the kicker — one of them is having TWINS. Looks like I’ve got three sets of baby quilts and baby gear to whip up before next summer. Any suggestions to get me started?

What are some perfect quilts you’ve made for your special people?

— Posted by Stacy


7 responses to “Gone Fishin’

  1. The quilt looks great, Stacy. And your sewing room too!

  2. And don’t forget Nani….

  3. Elizabeth Jensen

    I’ve been sewing a long time (over 15 years). I believe my first sewing class was when I was 9 years old. Quilting has always been my favorite. But the thing I love the most is making quilts for other people as gifts. I have in many ways a catalog in my head of people and color schemes, and sometimes when I find fabrics I love I go to that catalog, and come up with a quilt design on the spot so I can buy the fabric. I am not a perfectionist by any means in my quilting. Although in the past 5 years I have definitely branched out and started trying to improve my technique and do more interesting patterns.
    A couple of recommendations for the baby quilts since this is something I have made quite a few of, and this year since I’m expecting my first have also been the recipient of. Most people making baby quilts go with the typical pastel color scheme. While I have good luck with that, I find that after you’ve made several pastel themed quilts it gets boring. Also other people who are making quilts for the same special baby will most likely be using the pastels. Using brighter colors can be a lot of fun. The quilt I’m making for my son is mostly teal with accents of orange, brown, and red. Doing something a little bit “different” will make yours stand out. You have to remember it’s a baby quilt, it is not going to stay in the nursery, it will be carried and dragged throughout the house, so it can ultimately have any color scheme you want and not have to match.
    As for perfect quilts I’ve made for special people … the people I give the quilts to think they’re perfect, regardless of if they really are or not. It’s the thought and the effort you put into it that counts the most. That’s why I love giving handmade gifts to people. Because it feels like you are giving them so much more than just another gift.

  4. Have much fun with those 3 baby quilts! Remember to add, maybe in big embroidery, a personal message just from you, like ” I love you, Aunt Stacy”. As they grow up they will always look at their quilt with that message in mind. And even if you don’t live near them, they will “know” who Aunt Stacy is!

  5. Good for you Stacy. Don’t ever think you’ll get all the projects done. they seem to grow as time goes by. I’m still trying to figure out why.
    Neat quilt. I’m sure both parents will love it.

  6. Stacy, the baby quilt that got the most gratitude was a simple “Turning Twenty” (easy, big cuts, little stress of piecing) in BATIK–pink for a girly girl Mom’s precious daughter. I’ve done a blue for another friend. The Batiks are wonderful for color variation, & different. They hold up to lots of washing..

  7. My first baby quilt was for my Granddaughter Isabella. The pattern was Yellow Brick Road which sewed together quickly. The fabric I chose was lime green and pink with hot pink ladybugs, Darling! Carol Caba quilted it. I agree wih Elizabeth on the baby quilts. The last baby quilt I made was for a football coach’s first son. I found a wonderful piece of fabric with football players in various colors and that was the start. I added some football fabric, black and white stripe for the refs and the back is a very soft green and white stripe for the field. I’m sure that little boy will carry it around until it falls apart. But the quilt pattern most near and dear to my heart is the Lasagna pattern, 4 inch strips sewed together in various links. My husband was diagnosed with lung cancer and had a brain tumor. He was unable to do crafts that he loved, woodworking and making glass beads. I turned his creative side onto quilting. In 10 months he made 8 lap quilts 5 of which were the Lasagna pattern. These quilts were legacy quilts for family and friends who now enjoy the warmth and memories. I had purchased fabric for 3 others but he wasn’t able to sew on them and I have since finshed and delivered them. Such a rewarding experience. I’m a quiltaholic!

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