Friday, November 17, 2017

Quilt Beginnings, Endings & In Between: Without a List

One Sweet Baby Quilt Ready to Deliver

Week 2 with No List

Welcome back to another weekly narrative of living/working without a list. I've gained unexpected insight while purging the house of too much stuff, and am eager to share it with you. I keep hearing in the comments how many of you are on the same journey, and feel I'm in good company. 

The Sweet Modern Baby One Patch is finished and delivered. (I wish all my own deliveries had gone so smoothly.) The red binding was a cheery zinger on a traditional design that still feels modern as a one patch.  

Low Light Colors Our World Differently

Just to show you an overall shot, I took this picture on the studio design wall. I didn't switch to my photography bulbs so you would see that even with 100 wt. daylight bulbs it's still drab. These are the colors, and this it how our eyes see things most winter days in low light. It's not just the photograph. Our world is more dull right now as we are near the darkest time of the year. For someone who loves long, bright days, I'm still trying to embrace it. After the winter solstice the days will lengthen once again. Light makes me happy.

We all like the way pictures turn out when shot out of doors. Bright, true colors! Let this be a reminder to you that you need the light, too. If low light brings you down, just getting outside for 15 minutes each day can actually help lift your spirits. 

I have a wonderful southwest porch that is protected from winds most winter days, but gets strong light. Even on the coldest days of winter I've been known to go out in shirt sleeves, and sit with my face turned up toward the light. Light feeds my soul.

All quilts I make intended for everyday use get a machine stitched binding. I've watched little fingers pick at a thread until they could work a seam apart, but not on this one.

Toy Sewing Machines

Before old sewing machines were on my radar, I didn't give the old toy machines much thought. About a year ago a friend showed up with two toy machines she had come across cleaning out an attic. She said she thought of me, and they would be well kept in my studio. They've become very dear to me, and I've started watching for them myself.

I had just worked on an older Necchi machine with tension problems the week this toy model showed up. 

This Gateway was my mother-in-law's machine as a child. She gifted it to my daughter, who allowed it to languish in her closet when she grew out of toys. I moved it to a place where it could be appreciated until she reclaims it.

My own mother never bought me a toy machine, but that may have been because I was always playing with her working Singer. Nothing fascinated me more than sitting on the floor at her feet cutting out doll clothes while she sewed most everything I wore. 

Counting Down My Last 
Customer Quilts

I thought quilting for others would be a quilter's dream job. I've done many customer quilts on my Handiquilter Avante these past few years, and have gotten a solid education. But longarm quilting takes a lot of time, is hard on your body, and eats away at your own creativity. I found that I either had to squeeze in my own projects at the expense of a customer waiting, or found I was starting to avoid going to the studio at all. You might have seen I did several piecing projects at home these past many months. 

Nature Abhors a Vacuum or Empty Your Cup
Personal Purging

Working for others brought out the perfectionist in me, and she is not always a happy person. So, after my last stack of quilts is done for the year, I have suspended taking in any more outside quilting for 2018. While too many personal items in our house becomes clutter, too many obligations in our lives can too. Like purging physical stuff from our homes, we tend to be very careful about bringing more unwanted things back in. Freeing up one area of our lives we seem to be stuck in may allow something more joyful things to occupy that space. 

Slow, Joyful Stitching

Something I intentionally wanted to create more time for is hand stitching. I compare this kind of work to eating potato chips. It's hard to stitch just one! I can sit and stitch contentedly for hours, and come away feeling relaxed.

One of the best things about a small project like this is the portability. I've moved down to a tiny frame, and only carry exactly what I need. It's ideal for a travel project, and to fill those otherwise wasted moments. 

The House Purge

Where did I start? I started with my own closet, and then the largest and mainly holiday things I knew other people could use immediately.

What happened? I no longer have to look through all my clothes to find the ones I like or fit. Getting ready for the day or packing a bag are a cinch. There are far fewer clothes in the closet, and everything freshly laundered has a space to be put away immediately. No one has tripped over a laundry basket since. I am actually looking forward to a little holiday decorating this year.

What's next? Don't laugh, but I've avoided a dreaded list in this project, too. Instead, I started using my eyes and my heart to 'see'. I needed to get back on the treadmill for some exercise, but it was one area of the house I hated. Looking at the room, the treadmill was surrounded by boxes of homeschool books and materials I was waiting on someone to come get. I called and politely set a deadline. If they didn't get them, I would take them to a non-profit. I've been on the treadmill several days this week.

There are places in our homes, garages, etc. that we quit looking at. We hurry though them. For me, they are places I've stashed things. The huge box of mailers I've gotten books in. (Do you know how expensive those are?!) There are bags of canning jars in the middle of the pantry, and a stack of plates beside them. I found baby shoe strings--new ones, in a drawer the other day, and in my old sewing room was part of a down comforter I cut up to pad couch cushions with--uh, 20 years ago. These are things that have no relevance to my life anymore. They are stuck energy or like the kind of harmless splinter that doesn't fester, but still hangs around. It all takes an effort to confront and sort. One thing at a time I am clearing my home, and surprisingly it's changing me inside as much as outside.

I would love to hear your story if you want to share it. We are approaching the giving season. How do you plan to handle more material things in your lives?

Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.

Linking up with~
Crazy Mom Quilts


helenjean@midgetgemquilts said...

Although trying to keep a fairly minimalist house , one of my regrets is we gave my daughters toy sewing machine to a charity shop . It seemed the right thing st the time , now I'm sorry . And whilst I'm thinking along those lines , I wish I'd kept my toy/real typewriter too from childhood

Kaja said...

These posts are great, Julie. I moved from a big house to a much smaller one about 5 years ago, shed lots of stuff and found the process very freeing, but you remind me it's probably time take another pass.

Anja @ Anja Quilts said...

Thanks for sharing. I'm playing catch up, so need to go read your earlier post. I, too, need to get on this purge wagon and get my house in order.

Barb Neiwert said...

Your baby quilt turned out great - nice and cuddly and wonderful fabrics! And your purging is liberating! Don't sweat the small stuff; just take care of it!

Kate said...

It's amazing how much light affects the way we see things. I don't like the gray days, but you appreciate the clear ones after several of the dark days. I've been purging just a little bit each Saturday. My closet was first, after losing 50 lbs, it needed some significant clean out so I could determine what I really needed to buy. Since then it's whatever cabinet seems stuffed too full. We are off the week after Christmas, I've already enlisted My Guy and the SIT, the attic is a must do!

The Joyful Quilter said...

Congrats! on completing that lovely new baby quilt. Kudos to you for taking a closer look at your home and choosing to remove a layer or two of unused stuff. Every little bit helps!!

Sandy Panagos said...

Light feeds my soul, too, and it most definitely makes a difference in photographing our quilts. The toy sewing machines are so cute, but the one that belonged to your mother-in-law as a child is really very special. Thanks for sharing that!

audrey said...

Love your latest baby quilt. So lighthearted and sweet. We went through and purged our house in 2014, so it's been awhile. It was hard work and yes, so emotional too, but wowsers, did we LOVE the end result. My husband is a clutter bug so it's gradually regained some of it's previous clutter. I try to stay on top of things like our clothes and it helps that I pack seasonal stuff away in totes. Then it's easier to make sure everything hangs in the closet properly when it's time to rehang stuff, plus I can more easily make the decision if it's time to toss something too well worn to last another season. I know it's time to go through my quilt room once again as it's getting crowded on the counters again. It's such a little space, I have to stay very organized and when it gets super full and crowded? There is just no choice but to go through everything and start tossing. Ugghh.. It's the hardest room for me to clear out.....