How dare I, indeed! But, I figure, why the heck not? I’m in my thirties, work part-time and am a perpetual student of one kind or another. For the longest time my house had drawers and cabinets full of art supplies. So much, in fact, that it paralyzed me. Which medium do I choose? Too many options definitely trigger my anxiety. I’ve been making art since I can remember; either drawing, painting, or whichever new art form there was to take a class in.
A little back story about quilting; about seven years ago (maybe 2012) I took my first quilting class at the Hyde Park Art Center with an amazing teacher and artist, Sarah Nishiura. I began my first quilt there, which would take me through piecing, and beginning to hand-quilt. Through the years I would take it out occasionally to try to finish it, but I didn’t actually finish quilting the whole thing and binding it until early 2018.
Back to the story; when my husband got a job offer, in spring of 2018, halfway across the country in my home-town state, with about a month to prepare for the move something happened. I, raised as a functioning borderline hoarder, had to purge my belongings. The art room really was difficult for me (not to mention things I’d held on to for my whole life for no earthly reason). I had all of these art supplies that honestly I hadn’t touched much of for years on end. But what if I need them some day? That’s the question that always held me back from tossing them. Along with, “but this was expensive!”
I began watching decluttering videos as encouraging background affirmations while I went through my belongings. What am I currently doing with this paint? Nothing? Donate or toss! My husband and I each ended up donating tubs full of our art supplies to Project Onward at the Bridgeport Art Center of Chicago before our big move.
Most of our belongings, including our dog and cat came with us in the road trip to our new home. A few boxes had to be shipped, including my hand-quilted, queen-sized crazy quilt (you really don’t need a pattern for crazy quilts!) composed of very nostalgic fabrics from various parts of my early adulthood see above. Unfortunately, this quilt (along with other fabrics I couldn’t part with and some other valuables) were lost in the mail. Darn you, USPS! When my mom brings it up she says, “it just makes me sick to my stomach.” This is not really helpful. I try to change the subject and not think about this loss as much as possible.
The following year we spent trying to adjust to life in Oakland, CA and I solely used the Procreate app on my iPadPro for all artistic endeavors. I made lots of drawings and really loved the idea of not having to physically store all of my art. In our tiny, overly-priced studio the lack of storage space is real – along with the lack of privacy.
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One thing I did allow for myself was to buy Flow: A Book for Paper Lovers. I could get a little crafty outside of the iPad, write letters on nice paper, make little collages, and play with piecing patterns.
Luckily, Mom is super wonderful and eventually bought us a sewing machine to share. She set it up in the spare room at her house as incentive for me to visit. My idea was to make a bigger, king-sized quilt, but with more minimal piecing and strictly for machine quilting. I made good headway on this quilt top after a costly visit to Piedmont Fabrics. As a quilting novice, my pattern hadn’t been too specifically thought out and I ended up changing the color theme; opting for blue instead of mustard yellow. Below you can see the original drawing I designed on my iPadPro with the Procreate app and the nearly-complete quilt top.
By the time our lease was ending we were ready to move to my hometown with much more affordable housing and lots of trees to look at for a change. We celebrated preemptively by getting new drawing pads and pens a few days before the move. I love the soft cover blank books from Moleskine.
I will say that narrowing down the sheer amount of art media to work with has been quite liberating in terms of my psychological well-being and my bank account. I even went into the local art store just the other day with an armful of paints and a canvas until collecting my thoughts. I looked at the unruly pile and thought, “No! Put down the painting supplies and walk away.” I like the simplicity of my choices being limited to either drawing with ink on paper or quilting. They can both be as free form or planned out as necessary. With drawing I much more lean towards black and white, but quilting really is a time to have fun with colors.
As I’ve been working on the king-sized, daunting quilt task I’ve also been working on mini quilts as seems to be common practice for impatient types like myself. Above and below are a few examples of my mini quilts for your viewing purposes. First I’ll show the mini quilts I started a couple of years back, but just recently put binding on.
The latest couple of pieces I’ve been working on are mostly me trying to make flying geese patterns using colors and positioning to create different looks. Flying geese are super fun. Though I did realize I’m making it harder on myself by using an extra seam between the middle two pieces of the same color. That could just be one large triangle. I just haven’t figured out how yet. The half-square triangle method is what I’ve been using relatively successfully. You’ll see what I mean.
Half-square triangles are really a lovely, simple way to add variation to simple block patterns. They aren’t super tough and I especially love being able to make two at the same time. If you’re slightly OC about pattern orientation on your finished quilt block, then solids may be a good way to go on these, as the pattern will rotate on half of all of your pieces.
All in all, quilting has been quite a bit of fun. Currently, All of the supplies are behind our dinette table and I have to set up each time, but it’s been working out so far. Well, then when I want to iron we have less counter space to prepare food in the kitchen. Eventually, I want to install a sturdy, wall-mounted shelf for the sewing machine and whatnot. In the meantime it’s all good. Mom got me a gift certificate at Fabric Worm. Between that and the local quilting shop, I’d say the stash is at a healthy size. I will say when I first went to the quilt fabric shop I just got a few fabrics I really loved without a big plan. Then, at home, I was afraid to cut them (pure silliness). After giving things more thought I put together a smallish pattern and did the math. In the course of one day I cut through most of that new (intimidating) fabric and am pretty happy with what I put together.
In my next blog post I’d like to share with you the process for and pictures of the bigger mini quilt that’s coming from these precious pieces of fabric. Thank you for taking a look at the inner workings of my novice quilter brain.