Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Fabric Fast Challenge #2: scrap wadding and other existential questions.

How do you sew "yourself"? I've had this question ruminating in my head for sometime, partly sparked by this post, (in which it was just talked about in passing), and partly by my latest quilt. This quilt is number 2 on my Fabric Fast challenges that are distracting me from my burning desire to go fabric shopping. I loved the look of Maureen's Quilt as You Go quilt and followed her tutorial to use up my masses of scrap wadding. Using scrap wadding is SO satisfying because you can SEE that mountain shrink dramatically as you use it. Unlike my scrap buckets which are just as full as they were 6 months ago, just with much smaller scraps.

I cut my strips 2.5" wide, split them into 'warm' and 'cool', sewed them end to end, then cut them 8.5" long. Then I  made these little squares and spray glued them to my wadding.

Then I quilted them really finely (about a 1/4" apart), trimmed them and sewed them together. (check out Maureen's tutorial for more pics and details)
As I was sewing them together, I wasn't convinced I liked the colours together like this. I started to think of ways I could attach sashing (I thought my ideas were pretty clever!) but in the end decided to stick to my original plan so the quilt didn't become huge or take forever, and because maybe like my last scrappy quilt, it would look great, despite the odds. Now I'm not so sure of my decision.

I mean, I don't think it's ugly, or a disaster. I even think it's pretty. And my friend Jo who was holding it for me when we went to the park today (hurray, sun!), said it was her favourite. I just don't look at it and think, "Yes!" or "That's so me!"

I backed the quilt with these flannels and I love the weight and texture. I do think it would make a really fun, robust baby quilt. I used this Seaside print for the binding. It's my favourite binding stripe so I always love when it goes perfectly. This is the first quilt I've bound, unpicked completely and tried again. Ugh! I attached the binding too far away from the edge so whenever it came to the think quilted seams, I couldn't stretch it over. It's still not perfect but it's sturdy! And I did have to put it down for a week just to see if I could find the imperfections a week later. I couldn't find as many! :)

So back to my musings...I feel like I've done a great job using my scraps this year, and other parts of my stash that I bought for specific projects. But now I feel like I'm on the hunt for some kind of self expression, not just emptying those buckets or ticking off lists. I know I've made some quilts like that this year. My Quilt for Moving On is a favourite. And my last scrappy quilt. And both of those used such different formulas. So I'm keeping in mind it's a journey. Some of my very favourites are really early ones, before I read blogs or bought celebrity fabrics lines. I didn't even know what scrappy was, but I just used what I had and loved it how bright and rich and sometimes clashy it was, like my first drawstring quilt here. (I would never use that rare AMH Centerpiece for binding now but I loved it, and still do!)

I'm always glad for good authors like C.S Lewis when I'm stewing about these things. In a quote I happen to have next to my bathroom mirror, he says about individuality and personality,

"The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real self will not come as long as you are looking for it..."
                                                                             - Mere Christianity.

He says the same thing in other books about creativity and joy. The secret to finding myself is to give myself. So I will keep making, taking risks, trying new things, enjoying others' creativity, and my own. And when I'm buying fabric again, I want to think less about celebrity and fabric lines and what's on special, and more about prints and colours I like, and others I've learned I use a lot.

What about you? Do you feel like you've hit a groove and make 'yourself'. Do you know what you like and how to achieve it? Do you even care? (I know not everyone would think this very important.) And do you feel like there's a particular journey you take to get there? And how do you know you don't just like it because it's what everyone's making or selling?

 And look how short I am compared to my friend Jo! ;)


  1. I love this quilt and I love the look on Amelia's face... wonder what she was thinking. CS Lewis is one of my favourites too. The Screwtape Letters & Screwtape proposes a Toast and of course the Chronicles of Narnia.

  2. Love your quilt, Looks so happy and bright!!!

  3. Beautiful! I love it!:)

    Know what you mean about creativity- I have days where I love what I make and others where I just don't even if its pretty or nice for some reason it just dosent have that "ness" about it- not happiness ,prettiness, specialness or whatever it is, its some days just some mystical thing I can't quite put my finger on.

  4. I love your quilt....
    I love!!
    Beautiful work!!!!


    Maria Filomena

  5. I love how this quilt turned out. I've been contemplating QAYG for a while now, and every time I see a quilt like this I'm more and more convinced that I need to give it a try. :) As to making a "me" quilt, I finished a postage stamp for myself a while back and I've definitely felt like it represents the best of me. But I know that someday I made make another "me" quilt as I grow and my tastes change. I'm guessing that as you go along you're sense of who you are as a quilter will evolve - sometimes in big ways, other times in more subtle ways. xoxo

  6. Ok, I'm going back and forth between today's quilt and your drawstring blanket and trying to put my finger on why today's quilt isn't you. I agree - it isn't. It's a pretty quilt, but it's not what I expect to see from you, if I stop and think about it. Perhaps it's too predictable/orderly in the color layout or perhaps it's too primary with no "off" colors? AMH uses a lot of saturated but nuanced colors like berry, burnt orange, teal, etc. which I think is why I'm drawn to her fabrics. Sometimes I feel the a sort of dis-attachment from my work when it's not totally "me". Not frustrated, but not satisfied. Kind of apathetic.

  7. I really love the colors in your quilt and the texture too. It looks like a quilt to snuggle up with and be happy. I feel like I'm just starting to get a glimpse of self expression in my quilts, but it's been a very slow process with a very few hits and a lot of misses along the way! I definitely don't want to just churn quilts out just because I can. I want them to mean something to me even if no one else 'gets it'.:)

  8. I think it's really pretty but I agree with Rachel. Maybe the colour pallette is too limited to be you?! I haven't found my groove but I'm looking for it and sometimes I get close! Very interesting reflections x

  9. Lovely post . Lots of food for thought ; )

  10. he he look at those little legs!

  11. I will have to spend some time musing over what you've said. It strikes a chord, that's for sure. You are talking about creativity, and your comments apply as much to my life as a dance artist as they do to my life as a quilter. Humm......I sense a sister blog post in the works!

  12. A professor in my first year of art school told us, "if you think you know your style now, you don't. You have to wait until the end to figure it out." The end? The end of what? The semester? Art school? Life? Since then, I've taken that to mean, don't let your style define what you create. Instead, let what you create define your style. Then look back, at any stage, and you can say confidently, that your output is genuinely you.

  13. Isn't C.S. Lewis great? I find so much wisdom in his books -- The Great Divorce is one of my favorites.

    Yes, I know what you mean. I think that it's important to remember that our style changes too. There are things that I made when I was starting out that were very "me" then which aren't so "me" at all anymore. I guess we have to give ourselves permission to change and grow. I've also come to realize that while I'm trying to focus more on making things that I love, I'm not going to absolutely love everything I make. And that's okay. :)


I so love your comments! I read all of them and reply when I can. If you don't hear back, I'm lost under a mound of scraps or outside jumping on the trampoline with the kids. Jodi. xx