Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sewing Therapy

Good Morning!

For the first time in a month, we're home for the weekend. And, since we've barely been home all month, my "to do list" is pretty lengthy. Nothing exciting, just the usual accumulation of dirty laundry, unopened mail, and assorted piles of "stuff" to sort through and tidy up.

Our usual level of chaos is heightened by the realization that we fly to Pittsburgh for International Quilt Market in 10 days. So much to do before we leave, so little time.

Feeling overwhelmed yesterday, instead of doing everything I should be doing, I took the easy route: I did nearly nothing. Matthew and I snuggled, read stories, and watched a movie. Then, we opened the windows to the sounds and smells of spring, wrapped in quilts to warm us from the chilly air, and slept.

After supper, I finally felt able to "face the day". I retreated to the sewing room, intent on accomplishing something. This may sound crazy, but sometimes I use quilting as a reward for each "mental check-mark" on my to do list. Fold a load of laundry... check. Square up the blocks. Unload the dishwasher... check. Join blocks into rows. Tidy the kitchen... check. Join the rows together.

Bit by bit, seam by seam, task by task, I cross chores off the list, and piece my quilt tops.
Later on, with a tidy house and empty laundry basket, I rewarded myself with some "serious sewing time". Uninterrupted, focused, and organized, I made good headway on the "Apricot Morning Bars" quilt top. The hum of my sewing machine and the sound of my music woke Wesley around 2 am, and he wandered into the sewing room. Bleary eyed and tired, he volunteered to square up my blocks & press for me. A couple hours later, our top was done except for sashing & borders (photo left), and I fell into a deep sleep, dreaming of sharp points, and stubborn bias edges.

As I worked, I thought about quilters across the world, and wondered how many of them were also sewing. I'm certain many of our overseas customers were busy stitching. And, without a doubt, professional pattern designers and quilters working with the fabric companies are spending many late nights quilting. In a mad rush to get ready for quilt market, these stitchers are sewing day and night with the newest fabric collections to make sample quilts for market. They face a daunting deadline... they must design a stunning pattern, then piece, quilt, bind & ship their quilts to the show... sometimes with an incredibly fast turn around time.

But, I also thought about a mom with her young kids finally in bed for the night, stealing some quiet time. She's sewing at the kitchen table, careful not to wake anyone. A cup of coffee in her right hand, the pattern in her left, she studies it carefully. She doesn't want to make any mistakes now... it's late and she's tired, but she wants to get her blocks sewn together before she packs up for the night.

I imagined a grandma binding a quilt for a new baby, carefully folding her finished project before she goes to bed. She smooths it flat, and turns out the light. The quilt will be one of the first things the newborn will feel, soft and warm, every stitch sewn with love.

Quilting unites us. It offers us an escape from the chaos, the worries, and the stress of daily life. It gives us the chance to create, to build, and to express our love. For many, quilting is "our therapy"...soothing, healing, relaxing and inspiring.

Have you rewarded yourself with some "serious sewing time" lately?

If you haven't, I give you permission... you deserve it!

My "Reward Sewing" project was this sweet little quilt top, called the "Bye-Bye Baby" naptime quilt. The quilt uses a variety of Lakehouse prints from the "Cherry Baby" collection: a pretty mixture of pink, white, and robin blue. As we tidied up the Lakehouse collection for clearance, I was able to cut a number of "Bye-Bye Baby" quilt kits, and coordinating Diaper Bag kits. I also added backings to all of the other kits in this category, and the short bolts have been measured for 30% "All or None" clearance. With my "scrap pile" I'll plan to make a number of these little quilt tops... I pieced a couple of them last night (one for a store sample, one for a gift), and still have scraps left. Although the finished size is small (28" x 28"), the tops go together quickly, and the quilt will look great tucked into the matching diaper bag. To make a nice crib size quilt, consider purchasing two kits.

I mentioned last week that we keep Rose busy finishing our UFO's (unfinished objects). This week, she was at it again, as Wesley brought her his partially completed Fractions on a Roll quilt. This clever pattern by Mountainpeek Creations uses just two jelly rolls. Wesley's quilt uses the "Citrus Marble" roll, combined with an "Oreo" roll (just black), and the result is stunning. An eye-catching optical illusion occurs when you look at the quilt, as bright rectangles seem to jump off the dark background.

My "serious sewing project" was the "Apricot Morning Bars" quilt, using "Patisserie" turnovers from Moda. "Turnovers" are the newest Moda cut-good, and include (40) 6" squares cut in half, creating (80) precut triangles. If I could hug the clever person at Moda that came up with the "Turnover" idea, I would! I simply love the convenience of these perfectly coordinated pre-cut pieces of fabric. Not to mention, Joanna Figueroa's lovely "Patisserie" fabric collection, her "Pastry Shoppe" pattern book (exclusively featuring Turnovers), all designed in her trademark fresh vintage style.... It's just "Icing on the Cake!"

I made a mental note last night to be sure to mention Aurifil Thread in the newsletter today. In all honesty, this thread has changed my life. (Ok, laugh if you want to... but if you need verification you can ask my quilting friends... because it changed their lives too!) The 50 weight Aurifil is incredibly smooth and lint-free cotton thread. It fills a bobbin so full that you can sew for hours without rewinding. And, the standard 1300 m (1422 yard) spool seems to last "forever"... (Ok, not forever, but a really, really, long time).

The packet shown here is a "Aurifil Sewing and Hand Applique Thread Set", available in a variety of nice assortments. Each packet includes 12 spools of Cotton Mako 50wt 220 Yards each. These are the packets included in our "Aurifil Thread Pack of the Month" club, an auto-ship program that runs indefinitely. Click here to learn about the program.

A shopper recently mentioned that once she switched to sewing with good thread, she had to give away/throw away all of her dime store thread, because she couldn't stand to use it anymore. She said, "I'm hooked for life... there's no turning back!"

Have a great week! ~ Laura & the staff at Dakota Cabin Quilts