I have a big pile of quilts that my family uses every day. Sometimes, those quilts are folded in a neat stack next to the couch, but more often they can be found in a crumpled heap, or my kids are dragging them around the house giving their stuffed animals rides on them, or one is crammed underneath the ottoman, or one’s in the washing machine because somebody spilled on it. And I love that: In my opinion, all of the above are what quilts should do. I adore having that pile available for whatever purpose anybody wants them to serve, whether it’s staying warm on a chilly evening or building a fort for the American Girl dolls.
Know when the most recent of those quilts was made? 2012.
Because somewhere along the way, I started taking quilts to trunk shows. And sending them off to fabric companies. And sometimes getting them professionally quilted by superstars whose work are true masterpieces, so you certainly don’t want to drag that around on the floor. And people said things like, “That quilt was in a book! Take good care of it—it’s special!”
Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. Love it. I’m not apologizing for attempting to make money on my quilting, or implying that turning my hobby into a job has taken the passion out of it for me. I still love what I do and feel incredibly lucky to have this dream job, even after spending the last year working a little (okay, a lot) more than I might have liked and feeling plenty burned out after Quilt Market this spring. And I still put my heart and soul into everything I make, even my “working quilts.”
But. There’s just no substitute for making a quilt that you know is going to get loved to death by your family. No substitute for making a quilt that’s going to get super soft and crinkly from a hundred trips through the washing machine. A quilt to sit on while you watch fireworks or have doll tea parties. Isn’t that what makes a quilt truly special, not the fact that it was in a book? Whenever I’m making a quilt, my girls always come to oooh and ahhh over it, and invariably they ask, “Do we get to KEEP this one?” And by that they mean, “Do we get to have this one in the pile in the family room, instead of squirreling it away in a corner of your studio, only to be taken out for trunk shows?”
Enter Amy Gibson’s new book, For Keeps: Meaningful Patchwork for Everyday Living. You probably know Amy from her Craftsy classes or her blog Stitchery Dickory Dock. Her gorgeous new book has reminded me of the importance of taking time out from things that are designed and made strictly for my business, in order to keep making special quilts for the most special people in my life. It’s a tough balance to strike of course, because there are only so many hours in the day, but it’s important, after all!
And what better place to start than that scrap quilt I’ve been itching to make for months?
I was initially thinking of an Irish Chain quilt, but as these little pairs of squares have started coming together, I’m now leaning toward a postage stamp quilt—a postage stamp quilt of 1″ squares, you guys! Just the kind of beautifully torturous project that you want to keep forever and ever and let your family use and abuse. : )
My goal is to use at least a small portion of every single print in my scrap bins. Every one of them! I’m sure some will get culled eventually, but it’s the working goal for now, anyway. I’ve divided my scraps roughly into 8 color families and my goal is to do two colors a week over the next four weeks. The reds are already done, as you can see. : ) Then I’ll lay them out into a big ol’ scrappy rainbow and spend the next decade or so sewing them all together. Good times.
While my particular “balance problem” might be unique to bloggers and pattern designers, I think in this day of Pinterest and beautiful photos online, we can all be tempted to get off track and make things for the wrong reasons. Or to believe that everything has to be absolutely perfect in order to be “good enough.” For Keeps hits the reset button on all of that. The projects range from classic quilts to playmats and pocket pillows that hold books—all written with Amy’s trademark sense of humor and illustrated with beautiful photography that reminds you that the simple things in life are often the best. : )