Thursday, August 25, 2022

Little Pieces Usually Add Up to Bigger Pieces With Time and Patience

Quilting has been pretty erratic for the past week or so. Lots of applique here and there whenever I have a free moment and so far I have about 60 of the grandma fan blocks stitched down. Been working on them for well over a month. Since I didn't use the proper pattern pieces, the sides of the fan will eventually have to be trimmed to square. It should only increase the wonkiness factor which of course is a big plus for me.

Always more hand work
I've also been working on the layout for Lillabelle. It looks like I'm going to go ahead and do the same thing here that I did with the previous Circle Game quilt. Just want to see how it looks in different colors! Once the center area is sewn together then I will figure out the borders. I'm sure they'll be quite, quite different. 

Getting ready to add the sashings
Finally got Love Apples quilted and first phase of the binding stitched down. I did something a little unusual for me, using the same fabric for binding as used for backing. Nothing else in the stash totes looked remotely good, so why not? It always tends to make the back of the quilt feel more boring {matchy, matchy}, but in this case, I think the texture of the hand quilting will show up and distract from the other issue.

Ready for the hand stitching on the binding
Next up in the hoop is the Roman Stripe quilt, now called 'Chrysalis'. It's not the quilt that I thought would or should be next, but it should be a great no pressure quilt for the time-being. Dog days of summer and all!

Current quilt in the hoop!
I managed to spend some time in the quilt room contemplating the latest AHIQ challenges. There was just something about the first of the year #AHIQColorPalette prompt that didn't 'spark ideas' with me at the time. I think it's because I'm almost always working from a color palette first and then the design second. How to make this prompt work for me in a way that still feels like a challenge?

Another fabric stack
After months of thinking maybe it was just never going to happen, I saw a painting on one of my sisters walls. Hmm... I've worked with a similar palette before and know exactly how tricky this one could be. I love how the flowers in the painting pop against that blue background. They looked so joyful and carefree! The green makes me wince a little, but hopefully I can find the proper amount to use, so as to work hard but not dumb down the look? As per usual, I intend to use only fabrics that are found in my stash, so that pic above is the current fabric pull. Crossing my fingers the design will start to seep into the corners of my brain soon. Mostly I want to end up with something that has the same vibe as the painting, not necessarily a replica of the elements involved. We'll see if that's even possible!

An inspiration pic
More questions for the quilt history coming right up! My answers have been very long and wordy, but feel free to skip it all. This is just for my own amusement and I'm happy for those who choose to follow along!

4. How many quilts have you made in your life? Are there any special times when you made more quilts? When did you make your last quilt? Did you make more quilts when you were younger? If so, why do you make fewer now? Do you make more quilts now? If so, why?

When I go back through the various lists of completed quilts, gifted quilts etc. for the 27-28 years that I've been quilting, the count is at about 230 quilts. Not counting doll quilts or quilted pillows etc. Pretty mind boggling actually! 2013 was the first year that I completed a total of 12 quilts in one year and that number slowly increased until my average a year is now somewhere between 15-18. You can go to my Quilt Gallery to check out the last decade of quilt finishes if you like! 

The quilt stacks are getting a bit out of control!
I tend to complete more quilts in a year when I'm gifting baby quilts {of course} as they are so small and can come together quite quickly. Mostly, I pay more attention to prep work and making the most efficient use of my quilting time than I used to. It's amazing how consciously utilizing that precious time {so, so much better} and having better habits, has paid off for me in the long term. Do you really love quilting? Gotta put the work in or you'll just piddle away your year and never accomplish very much! Working on several different phases of 5-8 quilts all at the same time, I can have finishes on a regular basis throughout the year, keeping my quilty energy going and also, spark all kinds of ideas and solutions. 

A dark corner of the bedroom works good for this quilt stack

My last quilty completion was just last week, another one of my famous {or infamous} tulip quilts. It's not the most complicated quilt ever made around here, but I think you'll agree that it's not a carbon copy of anything else you'll find floating around on the Internet! The 'keepers' get stored in darker areas of the house unless I'm decorating with them. When the piles get too high, then I have to seriously think about which ones I'm ready to send off to another home. 

5. What other crafts do you practice? How does quilting compare with these?

Before the quilting bug hit, I sewed some of my own clothes and also, I enjoyed a little cross-stitch. Sewing clothes was fun when I was young, had a little bit of a 'style', and oh yeah, the body was in better shape. After having kids and trying to hide problem areas, it didn't seem nearly as interesting! Meh! Much better to go try something on and just say yes or no rather than put a lot of time into something and still feel very dissatisfied.

The cross-stitch was also a great hobby for those years before having kids because I never had to worry about the floss containers being dumped out onto the floor or tangled up and dragged off. Another thing that I struggled with after having children, was the big fat oops that happened as a result of too much distraction. And happen it did.... 

As I've said before, the quilting efforts started off slow around here. At the time when I really, seriously started getting into the details of piecing etc., I was feeling desperate for something artsy and crafty to do with my hands and ahem! my brain. Years of young children? You know exactly what I'm talking about! With quilting, I could lose myself in the love of colors and ponder quilting ideas, problems and possible solutions while I was washing dishes or cleaning house. Cross-stitch didn't have design problems, it just was! It was also easier to justify the expense {on our very limited budget} when many times, the intended quilt project was intended to be a gift.

Later on, as my family grew, quilting was an excellent way to fill my time in a positive manner. While waiting on kids during those long practices, tournaments or getting home by curfew, I learned to do something that calmed my mind and helped me to be a better mom and wife. Somehow the hand quilting {especially} was more meditative and therapeutic than anything else that I had ever attempted! At some point, I also recognized something very interesting. My time with the hoop also seemed to be a wonderful time for my teenagers to unexpectedly pop into the living room to have a little chat with mom. I figured out that they didn't feel so much like being under a microscope when I was seemingly 'focused' on a quilt instead of them. Little did they know!

Along with my intense, growing interest in the craft, these were the sorts of things that helped me continue to make space and time for them in our busy lives. With the other crafts, it was really all about the finish, at least in the way that I approached them. Quilting turned my ideas of crafting on its head, helping me to realize that this could be so much more. Even now that my children are grown and raised, I greatly value the calm and clarity that the entire quilting process brings to my life. Yes, I dearly enjoy all the warm, cozy finishes, but more than that, I cherish the gift of getting to play with colorful textiles and doing very good things with my heart and hands!


  1. I made just a couple quilts before 1988 but that was the year I took off - tons of baby quilts at first (the family sure was productive) and then took off into larger quilts on average in the 34 years I have been quilting a lot I would say on an estimate it is around 300-340 finished (I actually only have one quilt waiting in line but that will change to a bit more at the end of the year). Love all the quilts - the wonkiness, the color, the originality - all of it - keep it up - you are an inspiration to the hand quilting world!!

  2. What excellent reading your "answers" provided Audrey. I enjoyed and echo quite a lot of what you said. I was struck by how you work from the colour palette first then to the design. I realized everything I do is the reverse. And I note how much I've enjoyed the hand quilting like you and find it relaxing and also seeing the fabrics up close is so enjoyable. You are a quilting marvel for sure.

  3. I just adore your current projects! Love quilts stacked all over! Even in dark corners!!

  4. I had never thought about how I begin a quilt. Like you, guess, I usually begin with a color thought, then pulling fabric ideas, then a design. I like your newest fabric palette

  5. So interesting to see the picture that finally sparked an idea for the "Palette" prompt. I haven't come up with an idea yet. But, I haven't given up. It was interesting to see how you store your finished quilts. I liked the reminder of keeping them in low light. Mine were layered on beds in the guest rooms and in closets but since my son and his family have moved in I lost 2 double beds and my whole basement so the quilts are "stuffed" in two closets upstairs. Yes, I did a lot of cross stitch before I started quilting in earnest. It used to be a lower cost hobby and it was something the kids couldn't pull out like knitting or crochet. I have a friend in my quilt group who admitted to having 389 finished quilts in her house; that's bed quilts and wall hangings with a few mug rugs thrown in. GASP!

  6. A great collection of pieces, all headed towards warm cosy finishes! I do love all your quilt stacks. But it's your prolific hand quilting that stops me in my tracks Every. Time! Can you say {approx.} how long it takes you to hand quilt a regular sized quilt?

  7. Audrey, your answer to the last question could have been written by me! It is so lovely to think of people having such similar experiences, and now we have the Internet to find out about each other. Am very much enjoying this series of posts. You are a very inspiring woman! Best wishes from the North of England.xxxxxx

  8. So fun to see the quilt stacks filling the corners of space in your house. I imagine there are several more that you haven't shown here. Keepingour treasured finishes away from constant bright light is a challenge, not very many dark corners and empty drawers. One day I'm going to have to try your method finding an inspiration picture and pulling a fabric stack from that. You're definitely an inspiration to many quilters with your dedication to your craft.

  9. Lillabelle, what a gorgeous name!
    And I do like the painting too at your sister's, I could see you coming up with something like that!

  10. Chrysallis is so cool. I've been admiring lots of Roman Stripes and/or Bit Coin quilts lately and really must start one of my own. I just know that I'm going to love your Grandma Fan Quilt too. The wordy background fabrics are right up my alley. Have fun with your fabric pull. Looking good!

  11. Kaja's prompt made me stop and think. I used to trade blocks with friends so learned to use lots of colors I "didn't like." This one pushed me to think about what I see that strikes my fancy.
    Your histories make good reading. Hand quilting might have encouraged my kids to sit and chat but I never got into it much.

  12. Nice post, good to read that you refer to quilting as a gift to play. Quilting also brings together more than just 3 layers of fabric. So lots to be thankful for.

  13. Hello!! It looks like you need to gift some of your quilts so you have room for the new finishes ;-) hehehehe I love the pictures of stacks of quilts! I love the applique on the Roman stripe quilt!!

  14. Audrey I'm only just back to blog post reading yet again. Happy to see that Chrysalis is now in the hoop, I have always admired this quilt even when it was Roman Stripe, I have yet to read your question and answer section of the blog as I seem to only be able to read in short bursts, looks so interesting so back again tomorrow.

  15. Just wanted to say that I love your blog. Whenever I'm heading to a meeting I'd rather not attend or am otherwise procrastinating, I pop in here to look at some beauty. It keeps me going!

  16. Audrey, how did you make the drunkard's path plus stripes blocks? They are gorgeous!


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