Quilter Quilting Quilts

quilting

A little over a year ago, the four day weekend encompassing Thanksgiving 2019 was the beginning of a year long journey. After a few days off work, I got a little bored. My mom happened to mention (/complain about) the piles upon piles of scraps that come with making a ton of quilts each year (this year, my mother’s production levels included 750 masks, 100 scrub caps, 50 quilts, and more). My mom is a quilter and has been my whole life, so she’s accumulated quite a lot of fabric. Additionally, she and I share hoarding tendencies that mean we would rather hold on to that little bit of fabric left over at the end of a project than toss it. After listening to her complain, I decided I would aid her in the downsizing of her scrap bins.

The process started with a search for yellows and blues. Fortunately, these were colors found in the scraps box(es and bags) in abundance. My endlessly patient mother spent Thanksgiving break pressing my scraps while I created my first quilt.

I’ve been helping my mom with her quilts since I was itty bitty. I spent many years as a second pair of eyes telling her when she’d placed fabrics too close or when the green went with the rest of the quilt better than the blue. As I got older, many of the pictures of my mom’s quilts featured my toes as I stood on the couch to hold up her projects. Around this time, my mom started to make quilts for an organization called Project Linus. Project Linus donates homemade quilts and afghans to children in the hospital or otherwise in need. I won’t even pretend to count how many quilts my mom has made for Project Linus, but there’s been a lot over the years.

My skillset was expanded in middle school when Project Linus hosted Blanket Days where volunteers got together to make blankets and share skills. I attended a few with my mom, bringing the average age down by 15 years at least. I would often assist with the unloading of the car and then find a back corner to sit down and power through Chinese coins. Occasionally, I would be the runner in charge of bringing strips from a quilter to an iron and back. One year, I even learned how to knit, which I promptly forgot as soon as we got home.

Despite the hours put into helping my mom and various blanket days, I had never finished a quilt entirely on my own. In the past, I always passed the quilt off to my mom when it got complicated.

So, when I started my blue and yellow scrap quilt I was determined to do it myself and actually complete it, quilting and all. I worked most of Thanksgiving 2019 and then over my days off throughout December. Unfortunately, scrap quilts require a little of tiny pieces being sewn together over and over. As my mom informed me, the bigger the pieces, the quicker the quilt. As I don’t live with my parents, nor do I have a sewing machine at my apartment, I did all my sewing on weekend visits. This meant that I completed my first ever quilt in June 2020.

The quilting was expedited by using my mom’s retirement toy: a longarm quilting machine that currently takes up my parents’ basement. It makes quilting the quilt a much faster (and much less frustrating) process. With her guidance, my blue and yellow scrap quilt was finished and sent off to Project Linus to comfort a kid.

And just like my mother, I immediately started plotting my next quilt. I knew I wanted to continue on my scrap quilt journey and I knew I wanted to go outside the blue and yellow that I used before. So I went for a rainbow pattern, inspired by a Pinterest post. After another visit to the scrap boxes and a sorting extravaganza, I got started on Quilt #2.

Quilt number 2 again took a decent amount of time to complete. Starting with 8 1/2 inch squares and then building from there. Both quilts were expedited by my assistant (sometimes known as my mother) ironing and rethreading the machine for me. There are some skills I still haven’t mastered yet. Like the first quilt, work was done on weekends and holidays. It took a little longer due to family watches of The Crown, The Mandalorian, Luther, and a variety of films. But after slight difficulties with the binding, we got it finished!

My rainbow scrap quilt is finished and will soon be properly photographed and then donated to Project Linus. And of course, I’m already plotting Quilt #3. Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of scraps to be used up.