Earlier this year I took part in a 30 day minimalism game with some lovely ladies who I call the clutter busters. I haven't told them that I call them this, I suspect they know by now. Anyway, one of the things that I was inspired to do was tackle the shocking pile of PHD (projects half done) projects sitting in my studio. Whenever I had some spare time to sew I felt guilty that I had a whole raft of projects waiting for me, and uninspired to work on new designs with them hanging over my head.
My PHD pile before the Minimalism game
I was pretty ruthless and I went through the pile. Projects that I dreaded the thought of sitting down to finish and weren't worth saving the components were chucked straight in the rag bag along with things that people had asked me to do many years ago and I hadn't wanted to do in the first place. I either bought them new ones or told them I wouldn't be able to do it. No one minded, yet for months I'd been feeling the pressure of them waiting for me. In future I'll be saying "no" straight away!
Next I went through the projects that I didn't really fancy doing but I'd spent money/time on. I salvaged what I could, donated what I could and rag bagged the rest. My sanity and peace, not to mention my creativity, were worth more than I'd spend on supplies for those projects.
Finally I was left with a handful of projects and I gave myself until the end of the next month to complete them or consider outsourcing.
One of the items was a pile of Lottie Da fabrics designed by Heather Bailey for Free spirit. I'd bought them while I was pregnant intending to make a single bed size quilt for my daughter so that she could have something special. Fast forward to the minimalism game and my daughter, affectionately nicknamed Elvis, was well over 2 years old and they hadn't even been cut!
With the help of the quilters in the group of clutter busters (Mandy Noble and Roseanne Drewett) and the encouragement of the other non quilter in the group (Anne Jones, cheerleader extraordinaire) I settled on a version of a prairie braid. These ladies held my hand throughout, I genuinely couldn't have made this quilt without their knowledge and expertise.
Shortly after my self imposed deadline I'd finished the quilt top and sent it off to the best Long Arm Quilter I've ever come across, Trudi, with some pretty definite 'suggestions' of how I wanted it quilting. Remember, I'm NOT a quilter and have no skills or experience in this field...but I still knew what I wanted. Full credit to her, she didn't tell me I was ridiculous, thank you Trudi!
I asked for an all over design rather than following the line of the braids, I am not a fan of feather quilting so I asked for a swirly hearty design to echo the quilt backing design. I also sent her, on the off chance, an image of my daughter's real name, Cicely, made up into a heart shape. It was designed and etched onto a pewter tankard when she was born by one of our website clients, and we used it for her dedication invites.
You can just see the quilted 'Cicely' in this photo, it's much clearer in real life so you might need to squint?
A couple of weeks ago I received the quilt back, but then had to go on holiday leaving it sitting as a PHD! (Such a hardship!). As soon as we got back I got on with binding it using strips made from the same backing fabric 'Surrounded by Love' by Deb Strain for Moda. I used the backing fabric when Elvis was little to make her a pair of dungarees for her dedication service, so it was pretty special to us.
I had no idea how to bind a quilt, or to do neat mitred corners so I had to do a bit of internet research, watch a few videos and then I just got on with it cos I was bored of quilting by then.
I machine stitched it onto the back, then pulled the binding to the front and top stitched. I hand stitched my mitred corners before I top stitched them just in case any quilters were able to zoom in on my photos!
It just so happens that it's Elvis' third birthday next week, so I'm going to wrap it up for her to open on her birthday, good timing or what?!
Although I appreciate the fact that I've made something so beautiful for Elvis, and something that she can treasure and take to university (Assuming it lasts another 15 years!), I have to admit that quilting is NOT for me! I found the process tedious and repetitive rather than calming as others have described it. I'm far too impatient to be a quilter and I'm full of admiration for those who do make quilts.
However, as of right now, my PHD pile is non existent, I have one new pattern half way through the design stage sitting in the naughty corner and a few fabrics in my stash with an idea of how to use them, but nothing cut and waiting to be sewn and nothing half finished. I feel such freedom when I come into the studio now and when I have time to sew I feel so much more inspired. In fact, I might make a quilted panel for a bag this afternoon.....ha!
My PHD pile corner as of today - Unicorn slippers awaiting October's bag retreat! The blue/yellow/pink squares of fabric were sewn together earlier to form the retreat interfacing sample packs so they're gone now too!