Your mother’s death influences you in ways you couldn’t ever anticipate. For me, one thing that impacted me after my mom passed away in January was the process of dealing with her fabric stash.
My mom has always been a collector of fabric. When we were kids she had a sewing room in our basement, and the floor-to-ceiling cabinets were full of fabric. Back then she made clothes for us, and then sometime in the 80s she transitioned to quilting. (There was also a brief stint of making animals.)
As a scrapbooker who’s been invested in my hobby since 1995, I understand how supplies pile up. You see something you love and want to do something with, you buy it, you intend to use it by making the thing, but sometimes (ALL THE TIME) other things also grab your attention and then over the years you just accumulate a whole bunch of stuff. Some gets used but not everything, and if you saw my scrapbook stash you’d understand why I’d never judge or criticize my mom for her fabric stash.
But when my sisters and nieces and I went through her fabric, it was…stunning. We gathered fabric from all different corners of her house and piled it into different colors, and by the end her entire basement was full of fabric. A lifetime’s accumulation. She had made quilts for each of her granddaughters when they got married, and for great grandchildren as they came, but in her house she only had three finished quilts.
As we sorted and shared and discarded yards and yards and yards of fabric, that contrast hit me: so much accumulation, but only three quilts in her house. This made something shift in my crafty psyche. It made me feel determined to accumulate less and to make more.
Plus, I think that quilting was a way of processing my grief while feeling a connection to her. She didn’t teach me everything I know about quilting, but she taught me enough to have the confidence to learn and to develop. I’ve been quilting off and on since I was pregnant with Haley, and (obviously) much more since I got my own machine in 2004. (Before I had my own I would go to my mom’s house and use hers.) But this year was a year of quilting.
I didn’t finish everything I started. I have a fat, fluffy flannel quilt I made for Jake that I just need to bind. I have a Halloween table quilt that is pieced and pinned but I feel intimidated to quilt. I made *some* progress on my black and pink quilt but I didn’t put it all together. I found a pattern and bought the fabric for a quilt for Kaleb but I didn’t start piecing it yet.
But I did finish quite a few things.
I wish I had blogged more about the process of making these. Hopefully in 2020 I will accomplish that goal, too. But I’m glad I gave myself the time this year to make things, to sit at my machine and let my thoughts wander while I pieced and measured and strung fabric together into made things instead of just accumulating raw supplies. Here's my list:
1. Book Print Mug Rug #1. I made this for a bookish Galentine's swap I signed up for. I sent it with a copy of Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin. I'll probably sign up for this again in 2020!
2. Rag Baby Boy Quilt. I made this for my friend Jamie's daughter Rachel's baby. The dark blue flannel on the back came from my mom's stash.
3. Book Print Mug Rug #2. I made this for my friend Mindy when she left the library. She is one of my favorite people I've worked with and I still miss her every day! I bought a TON of this book print fabric and if you look closely you'll probably notice it in a lot of the scrappy things I make.
4. Emmy's baby quilt. A big log cabin for my grand-niece Emmy. Read more about it HERE.
5. Running Shoes Mug Rugs. When I went to the Skirt Sports retreat, I needed to bring a gift for a basket some of the ambassadors were putting together. I decided a mug rug would be good, but why make one when you can make four? Actually I made five. I think because of the corners being cut on the bias but I had the hardest time getting the binding corners to look nice on these. Hence the fifth one because the one I kept was THE WORST for corners. I gave one to Becky, one to my friend Lynne, one to someone else I don't remember! :)
6. Ian's Baby Quilt, Midnight Feeding. I decided I should start naming the quilts I made. I didn't actually name them all but I'll share when I did, and this is the first one I named. I made this for my grand nephew Ian. It's backed with a dinosaur print flannel because his grandma, my sister-in-law Cindy, told me she hopes one of her grandsons will love dinosaurs.
7. Gus's Baby Quilt, Imagination. This is actually one of the first things I made after my mom passed away, but Gus (another grand nephew) wasn't born until the spring and I didn't give it to him until July! This took me FOREVER because I was learning how to make log cabins and didn't know the ways to make them faster. I have a half-written poem called "Grief Cabins" inspired by making this quilt that I hope to finish in 2020. It's backed with a flannel cowboy print.
8. Hot Pad for Sarah. I made this for a family friend's daughter who got married this fall. We've known her since she was five or six! I paired it with a bundt pan, a cake stand, and the recipe for the chocolate bundt cake I used to make and take to their house when they had us over for dinner.
9. Aiden's baby quilt, Summer River. This is for another grand nephew, same sister-in-law is the grandma! It has some of my favorite blues and greens from quilts I've made for Kaleb, Jake, Nathan, and lots of other babies. It's backed with pieced flannel and a few other squares.
10. Patchwork Scrappy Pumpkins hot pads. I totally meant to write a tutorial for these and will do that next fall when it is seasonally appropriate!
11. In the Stacks Quilt. I made this for a beginning quilting class I helped to teach at the library. I have a tutorial all written up so I definitely should write a blog post about it. I keep this on the chair in my craft room.
12. Gloria's Quilt, Aspirations. This one is for my friend Julie's granddaughter. The baby's mom has a fashion degree so I HAD to make something for her with those dresses. I can now whip up a log cabin square in the blink of an eye! I had this one quilted because it needed some elegant curves. I love the way the arrangement of the logs also suggests a circle without actually making a circle.
13. Baby Patchwork Quilt in a Day. I made this one for one of Kendell's coworkers. He was in Denver for a conference and I was going out later in the week to meet him, and I literally made this is a day. It was fun to challenge myself!
14. Halloween Table Quilt. This one ties for the oldest thing I finished, along with #15. I made this quilt top in 2006 I think; when I finished it I didn't love it at all and so I put it in the closet under the stairs and forgot about it. I found it when I was organizing my fabric this February and March and decided, why not use it anyway? I redid the back because it was too small, had it quilted, and then bound it. (I LOVE the binding. Fabrics with prints are my favorite.) It still will never be my favorite quilt I've ever made, and I actually love the back more than the front, but it's OK. I like it because it reminds me of all the things I've learned since I first started.
15. Dancing Skeleton Hot Pad. I have had this little pieced piece sitting in the drawer with my Halloween scrapbook supplies since I made the above quilt. This was my FAVORITE part of the panel and I wanted to showcase it somehow. I think I thought I'd maybe make a pillow, or maybe put it on a piece of wood somehow so it could hang on my wall, but I never did anything with it. When I found the quilt top it matches I decided to pull it out and make a hotpad instead. I know...how many hotpads do I need? but I love her. I backed it with purple polka dots. I didn't remember to take a picture of it before I packed it up with my Halloween decorations, but here it is before I quilted it. I will likely use this image if I ever get around to writing a tutorial about self binding.
16. Hotpad for Margot #1: Anne of Green Gables. I got to meet in person my friend Margot this year, who I've been friends with online for a long time. I gave her three hotpads—one was a Christmas one I made last year—this one, and #17. I picked Anne of Green Gables because we are kindred spirits!
17. Hotpad for Margot #2: Utah National Parks. Margot came to Utah mostly so she could hike Utah's redrock desert. I found this fabric online and it was perfect. I need to make one for myself, too! I had fun setting each park square at a random angle; I wanted it to look like a scrapbook page with photos on it, because she is also a scrapbooker!
18. Black & Pink Hotpad. This is a wedding gift that I still need to get something else to go with and then actually give it to the person I made it for. I have SO MANY black & pink half square triangles because I just keep making them and finding a new piece of black I love and then needing a pink to go with it and then suddenly I have 16 more matches which means 32 more HSTs...so, yeah. Probably a black-and-pink something is in a lot of people's future. I quilted this using masking tape which is another thing I want to blog about!
19. Autumn Leaf Table Quilt. I had so much fun making this and I learned that I can freeform quilt. Not perfectly but clearly what it takes is just some practice.
20. Anne of Green Gables Hotpad for Chris. Chris is my oldest best friend and definitely a kindred spirit AND she has red hair so how could I not make this for her for Christmas?
21. Christmas Table Quilt. I will still write a blog post about this. It's highly imperfect but I love it anyway. And I'm including a photo of the back because I might like the back more than the front.
This is the front.
And here's the back. I love the back so much.
22. Another Running Mug Rug. This one has yoga ladies on the back. I made it for a secret Santa swap.
23. Christmas Tree Hotpad. This made me happy for all the days I had it out—I finished it relatively late in December, though, so I will get more love out of it next year. It reminds me of my mom but it feels like my style. Still annoyed I ran out of the striped background fabric!
24. The Kitty Quilt, or, Misty, Noelle, Emily. I made this because I wanted Haley to have something comfy to sleep with when she was home—home sleeping on the floor because we don't have extra beds! I don't think she actually slept with it, but that's OK. I love it. I will blog about this one too. It was my last finish of a very productive year!
Not sure if I will quilt as much in 2020 as I did in 2019. BUT I do have a 20 projects in 2020 sheet that my local fabric store gave me, so, we'll see. I do know that quilting this year has brought me peace and happiness and a few pretty quilted things, and that is enough.