Mom’s Summer Quilt

I do not remember ever being hugged by my parents (or any of my relatives, for that matter); that would break with tradition and social/cultural practices.  Mom told me once that words were words, gestures were gestures, and I should “just know” that everything my parents did was because they love us.


Mom made all her house dresses: A-line, gathered neckline, raglan sleeves.  It was a simple and easy pattern she found years ago, and she stuck with it, never varying it except with the pattern of the fabric.  I don’t think Mom ever saw a floral fabric she didn’t like; they were the one frivolous expression of her inner life.

I brought a bunch of her house dresses home.  I am wearing one now, a green floral affair soft with age and wear, and immensely comfortable.  Mom, who weighed 110 pounds, always thought she was a size 12, so she made her clothes with generous amounts of fabric.  As I cut up some of her more beloved dresses to make the summer quilt, I see the thinning of the fabric where she sat, the small patch to repair a rip next to a seam, the little bit of adornment she allowed herself in the tiny pleats at the neckline.  And when I hold the fabric to my face, I can still smell her, the particular mix of laundry detergent and the cupboard where she stored her everyday clothes.

The hugs I never had?  I have them now.  I know you loved me, Mom.


Reuse Reduce Recycle Project, Part 2

I spent my internship year at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, a somewhat run-down community hospital in a not entirely salubrious part of town.  The place was old enough that most of the patient care areas did not have air conditioning, and during the summer the nurses would set up industrial-sized fans (the kind they use in gyms) at ends of hallways to help ventilate and cool the wings.  The in-patient population tended to be elderly, and there was a rumor that one of the attendings had the biggest Medicare billings amongst all private practices in the state.  The typical admissions were old, institutionalized, and usually DNR, except when they weren’t — and there were also rumors about certain families who kept Dear Old Mom/Dad/Aunt/Uncle alive in order to collect their social security benefits.   The hospital was strapped for money, so various services went home after 7PM:  phlebotomists, EKG techs, respiratory techs, unit clerks, runners who delivered radiology films (yes, these were the days before everything could be pulled up on screens).  Even the cafeteria closed down by 7, which is how I ended up eating my first, and last, White Castle burger from the vending machine.  On the usual call night  the residents would drown in scut work: drawing blood and ABGs, inserting countless IVs because the nurses were required to give up after two sticks, hunting through the stacks for radiology films, doing EKGs with machines that still used rubber suction cups and required leads to be switched between readings, figuring out settings for respirators, inserting NG tubes and various other catheters into various orifices (because nurses didn’t do those “invasive” procedures, and delivering patients from one place to the next.  I got to the point where I could do ABGs on anyone, and do them in the dark!  I spent years 2 and 3 of my residency in another Saint hospital.  This one was better-run and had money, and I was shocked to discover that all I had to do was WRITE the order, and miraculously it was done!

Anyway, I had a couple of souvenirs from my internship year: scrubs (of course, because how else would anyone know you’re a doctor unless you are wearing scrubs from another hospital), and a couple of towels.  Like everything else from the hospital, these towels were depressing, scrawny and tiny even when new.  I used these towels for years as back-up bathroom mats, and kept putting off turning them into rags.  A few weeks ago,  I attacked the linen closet as part of my R³ Project, and the towels were still there, still scrawny but usable.  And this is what I did with them:

St. Elizabeth's Hospital bath mat

St. Elizabeth’s Hospital bath mat

In my short quilting career, I have still managed to accumulate a large amount of fabric scraps.  In this case, the block was from a quilt top I was never going to turn into a quilt, and it happened to fit perfectly on the towel.  I stitched the quilt block directly on the towel, added a couple of scrap fabric to the sides, turned the towel borders in and stitched them in place.  My memories of St. E are not entirely bad, and this bath mat (and its fraternal twin) makes me smile and think more kindly of that year.

The St. E mats got me on a roll, and for three or four weeks now, I have been reducing my fabric scrap pile.  We have more bath mats!  We have mud mats!  We have kitchen floor mats:

A kitchen floor mat

A kitchen floor mat

I sewed all the strips directly on top of the batting and backing, as in strip quilting.  This small rug has scraps from just about every quilt I have ever made — not that I have made that many, but still.  The backing is leftover fabric from drapes I made years ago that I no longer have:

Reverse side of kitchen mat

Reverse side of kitchen mat

We have place mats:

DH's place mat

DH’s place mat

And the reverse, flannel fabric from one of his old shirts:

Reverse of place mat

Reverse of place mat

These sewing projects reflect my personal commitment to making something useful out of materials that were probably going to end up in the landfill.  I suppose all I have done is shift the landfill day sometime in the future, but for now, it is enough that day is NOT today, or tomorrow, or next week.

Tula's Quilt

Tula’s Quilt

Even the Guinea Pig has her own quilt!

London Tube Map Quilt

A year and two machine quilting later, the London Tube Map Quilt:IMG_2457Pattern:  London Tube Map Quilt, from Tikki Patchwork.

Fabric:  Truly a work of scraps from pretty much every quilt I have ever made in my short quilting life.  I felt so very thrifty and virtuous while sewing 🙂

Quilting:  Long arm machine quilting done at The Sewing Circle.

Thoughts:  I balked at cutting out 653 (!) 2.5″ squares of the white background — so quite a few of them were in fact 4.5″ squares.  The actual sewing of the top did not take that long, but shortly after finishing the top and while piecing the back, I lost my quilting mojo . . . .  for about 7 months.

Last month I finally finished the back, and went to one of my favorite quilt stores to do the machine quilting.  Unfortunately, Bella the long arm machine was having fits that day, and the backside of my quilt had many (and I mean many) loops of loose threads — so many that the owner of the shop decided that we (or rather, they) needed to unpick ALL the quilting and start over.  Which they did, bless their collective hearts.  And now, the quilt is finally ready to give to my travel GF in Salt Lake City!  Given the price of plane tickets to London, it may be awhile before we head there again . . . .

Feeling Virtuous

Sometime during this past summer I lost my quilting mojo  —  which was unfortunate because I left the quilt back I was working on taped to the floor.  5 months later, I had to admit that the quilt was not going to be finished anytime soon . . . .  during those 5 months, the masking tape had left a nice layer of residue on my beautiful hickory floor (note to self: use low residue painter’s tape next time).  DH, noticing that I looked like I was about to start crying, spent the next hour helping me lift off the tape and clean up the residue.  Ah, the wonders of Goo Gone!

Two days ago, I finally took out my trusty Singer and did some crafty sewing:

heating pad
My beloved heating pad, after years of faithful service, was leaking flax seeds from fabric weakness. I figured the seeds were still usable, so I decided to make a new heating pad.  I rehoused the seeds in the Rejuvenation bag, which came originally with a bunch of switch plates.  For the outer cover, I foundation pieced fabric scraps to a piece of muslin (recycled from kitchen curtains), and used some leftover flannel from the chemo quilt I made for a friend for the “warm and fuzzy” side of the cover.  Reuse, reuse, reuse:  I feel so very virtuous 🙂

Crafty Sunday

When feeling uninspired, craft away:

A strap cover for my camera!

The fabric strips are mostly from Laura Gunn’s “Magnolia Lane” and “Poppy” collections (many purchased from Mama Said Sew), and were left over from a quilt top I just finished piecing.  I sewed the strips onto a muslin backing, folded the whole thing over, and closed it with a single seam which runs length-wise down the middle of the inside of the strap.  Very simple and colorful, and now I won’t feel like a walking advertisement for Canon!

Funky Fandango Quilt

My second finished quilt:

Fandango Pig!

Pattern: It is not obvious from the picture, which shows Opie loving the back side of the quilt …  The pattern is the Funky Windows Quilt, by Carlene Westberg; I added an extra repeat to the length, for a final size of 72″ x 101″ — DH likes to keep his feet warm.

Fandango Funky Windows Quilt

Fabric: Fandango, by Kate Spain

Quilting: Machine quilted on Bella, the Gammill Longarm Optimum machine with Statler Stitcher, using edge-to-edge “Japonica” pattern.

What I learned:

Sewing is not nearly as forgiving as knitting; it’s OK to keep squaring up at the block stage and beyond 🙂

Two hours to set up on Bella — but actual stitching time … maybe an hour?

Bamboo batting is a thing of beauty!

Spring Curtains

My favorite fabric store, Mama Said Sew, had a bolt of “Veronique” by Alexander Henry.  $8 per yard!  Graphic black floral on tea-stain background!  Mid-century modern!!

I was pretty thrilled …  and so is my office 🙂

"Veronique" curtains