Time Off For Quilting

So here’s the deal: Restaurant Salaam is closed for the week of Ohio University’s spring break so we can do renovations, cleaning, maintenance and have a bit of rest. This is pretty standard practice here in Athens–lots of restaurants close either for the entire break or part of it, so that employees can spruce the place up, and have a vacation themselves.

It is pretty nice.

There are some possible changes coming at Salaam, but I can’t talk about them now, exciting as they are. (I really, really want to blab, but I will restrain myself! It’s hard, though.)

So, instead, I will show you what I finished last night.

And no, you can’t eat it. (Well, I reckon you could, but I doubt it would taste very nice, and ithe chewing would be a little hard on the jaws.

This wallhanging, which I have titled, “Stargazers,” is a patchwork pieced out of cotton flannel. The backing is also flannel–the same fabric as the binding and the golden triangles in the “Ohio Star” block in the center.

I finished the top of the hanging five years ago, and have waited this long to finally layer it with its backing and the cotton batting and machine quilt it. It represents the first of my quilts to be finished from beginning to end completely by myself.

The reason there was such a lag between finishing the top and the quilting was in part because right after I finished this quilt top and started another, I had a miscarriage. The quilt I started right after this was a baby quilt for the baby who wouldn’t be born. Because of that sad circumstance, for years, I eschewed quilt making even though I really had enjoyed it. The association between sewing and the grief of losing a baby was too strong, and it took years for me to work my way past it.

The other reason I took forever to get around to quilting it is because I was scared I would mess it up! I finally decided to get over myself and just do it, so here it is.

It is funny, the lag time between making the top and finishing it is so great that it is almost like having a history of my piecing and sewing skills. If you look closely, you can see how inaccurate my piecing was in the beginning. This was in part, inexperience, and in part, the fact that the machine I was using didn’t have a presser foot that helped me sew an accurate 1/4″ seam. All patchwork patterns allow for exact 1/4″ seams, so when they are off, the entire quilt gets out of whack. Now I know ways to ensure that, and I have a great newer machine that works much better than the old one, so my piecing is much more accurate.

I also discovered during piecing and especially during the quilting process, that flannel is a pain in the rear end to work with. I hated it. Well, no, I love the feel and look of it, but I hated working with it–intensely. It creeps, stretches, fills the machine with linty-fuzzy-icks which make it jam, it is thick and dulls the needle quickly and it is generally behaves in an unruly and persnickety fashion. So, I had to nurse the machine through the last bits of quilting by cleaning it often and petting it and generally being sweet to it.

There is a close-up of one of the cats–you can see how it is pieced together.

My Mom’s favorite cat in my childhood was a Siamese named Missy, and she still holds a fondness for them, so that is why I chose this design. I picked the Ohio Star in the center because I live in Ohio, and it is one of my favorite star patterns–stars are my favorite patchwork patterns of all time. The colors were chosen to match Mom and Dad’s living room which is heavy on blues and burgundies, and to match the generally “country” style decor of their house.

So there it is–“Stargazers.”


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  1. Sweet. I’m glad you didn’t leave it to languish. It will bring joy to your folks.

    You got a shout-out on Michael Ruhlman’s blog today.

    Comment by Kitt — March 28, 2008 #

  2. As an unwilling member of the club (as are we all) I find that many years later the grief for the shadow-child is balanced with love as they grow up and we create shadow-memories. Blessings to you, Bean.

    Beautiful work—I like the pattern in the cats!

    Comment by wwjudith — March 29, 2008 #

  3. So beautiful…I don’t see any inaccuracies, just lovleyness! I am glad you returned to it.

    Comment by Diane — March 29, 2008 #

  4. I’m glad you got back to the Cat Quilt. Even though it is attached to the loss of your child, I think it is interesting that it is of cats because you now have Kat.
    Hey, we made the Beef with String Beans and Sweet Pepper on Friday. Hoo-Boy, it was good. We are going to try it using tofu this week.
    Enjoy your time off.

    Comment by Sue — March 30, 2008 #

  5. I love reading your blog. I, too, was working on a baby quilt when I lost my 13 year old daughter. The quilt was for a cousin’s baby, and I haven’t been able to pick up the pieces since. I was barely able to make some quilted Christmas stockings this year. Wow! I can’t believe that I typed that. I love seeing Kat grow up on the blog. She’s such a cutie! I think it’s time to start cutting some fabric. You have convinced me. Have a great day!

    Comment by gollygwhiz — March 31, 2008 #

  6. I found your blog while searching for a recipe, and this post really grabbed me. As a fabric junkie myself, I can attest to visceral connections we can have with the textures and touch of fabrics. I’m glad you were able to complete your project as it is quite lovely.

    I’m off to make some Tom Kah Gai…

    Comment by The Ardent Thread — April 1, 2008 #

  7. I am glad you have gotten back to quilting since it makes you happy (although it is of course now, somewhat bittersweet).

    Ironically, I was out with a friend for dinner last night and she mentioned that she has always wanted a quilt. She is moving to NY soon and I would like to get her one as a going-away gift. I know homemade is probably best, but if I wanted to purchase one for her, would you happen to have any ideas where I can find one to buy?

    Comment by Teresa — April 2, 2008 #

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