Sew as Sew Can

I used to sew so much more. I constantly had a cross-stitch project underway. Small designs, large designs, designs for myself, designs for family and friends. I don’t actually remember a time when I didn’t know how to sew at all. I’m highly specialized. I adore counted cross stitch on aida cloth with dmc floss, occasionally embellished with beads or metallic thread. But I used to try other stuff and my mother knows more about those attempts: latch hook rugs, monk’s cloth pillowcases… I stuck with plastic canvas – 2D and 3D projects – for a while as a kid but ultimately returned to my cross stitch love. I sewed while watching tv, movies, riding in the car, chatting with my best friend. My BFF also sews, she’s good like me, but we both make way too many to really frame and hang. Our walls would have no paint or wallpaper showing if we did. So mostly we iron and stack away in drawers and tubs. All those hours nearly forgotten from memory until we take them out once in a while and go, Wow, yeah, I guess I did that! Before my family moved last year, the living room sported several framed pieces: dragon, carousel horse. I had my name made out of cats in my bedroom.

But this year I missed cross-stitching so much, I committed to get back into it. And in addition to the usual sewing for myself, I’m making gifts. Friends had their first baby so I found a ‘birth announcement’ design that coordinated with their woodland babies nursery theme. I delivered it to the house recently and they hung it right away; it looks great on the green wall. I hope lovely baby likes it when she’s old enough to appreciate the decor.

I chose designs from a seaside pattern book to sew Christmas gifts for friends who fish  and love lighthouses and the beach. The larger one I had professionally framed, big bite out of the budget, but beautiful, but the smaller one I’m self-framing with a pres-on backing. Good luck to me!

Now, back to the beginning of 2018…

Actually it was a week before Christmas 2017, I started to sew an amazing historic tall ship that I imagined was a whaling vessel, having just watched the movie “In The Heart Of The Sea” based on Melville’s inspiration for writing his novel Moby Dick. The design featured several areas of sparkling blending filament that’s more difficult to work with, but worth it in ‘wow’. Also there was a ‘medallion’ that required a challenging Turkey Stitch that would make the rope around the anchor appear to have frayed ends. I stressed over that, practiced the stitch and finally performed it for real on my actual aida cloth. And here it is! I finished my ship in May.

Then in June, I started my second quilt block piecing. My first quilt block, for the Quilt Show Contest in 2017, went alright. I didn’t win and didn’t expect to. I combined a cross stitched aida cloth center with a cotton gingham pieced frame. This time, for 2019’s contest, I was piecing a more intermediate design of a celebratory layer cake on a stand. This first picture is of my original plan to use an ivory fabric for the background. It turned out to prove too thin and too floppy. I found a better white fabric I’m currently revising into the block. Oh, I hope it works out! I’d really be shocked if I could sneak into 4th place in a field of near-professional quilters.

And since I’m late to the party in the progression of the contest themes – the quilt show is 16 years running and the block contest has 14 years now, I’m looking to complete past themes as I can end up with a sampler wall quilt. I have lots of work ahead of me! But also lots of ideas (and a growing fabric stash! That’s a new addiction unto itself…)!

I also decided to sew little kitty mini pillows for a humane society fundraiser. That was fun, but too much work for the perceived value by customers. I devised an embroidery stitch to sew the little kitty faces. Mom machine sewed the fronts to the backs and turned them out. Then I stuffed and sealed them with a ladder stitch. At the fundraiser, people hoped they were cat toys, not ornaments, so for the next fundraiser sale, I’ve found instructions and made little fuzzy goldfish, stuffed with catnip and embellished with jingle bells. They took a lot less time and can be sold for the same price as what the pillows will probably move for.

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