Author Archives: jennifer

Irish Chain Quilt Top

First and foremost, HOW ARE YOU?  Are you holding things together in your little corner of the world?  I’m hanging on here, in spite of all the change that has come to our family of ten.  With all the craziness in our world, sometimes I need to sew without paying much attention to what I’m doing.  I have projects I’m passionate about that I want to work on, but the truth is my brain couldn’t handle one more puzzle piece.  So I picked up my Irish chain quilt blocks and started sewing.  Now I have a finished Irish Chain Quilt top!

I followed the quilt along directions from Amber at Gigi’s Thimble, which were clear and easy to follow.  Now that the sew along has ended, she’s also made free printable instructions that are available here.  My Irish Chain Quilt top is queen sized, measuring 90″ square, which is the larger of two sizes included in the instructions.  I’m so glad I participated in this sew along, even if I didn’t manage to sew along at the scheduled pace.

I made my Irish Chain quilt top with voile and lawn fabrics.  It’s super drapey and lightweight and perfect for summer.  Finishing the quilt top now is an act of faith that summer will be happy, no matter what’s going on in the world.

This traditional pattern is refreshing in it’s simplicity and symmetry.  I have always wanted to make one.  I’ve decided to use lawn for the backing and bamboo batting when I quilt it.  It will be the most lightweight, breathable quilt I’ve ever made.  That’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

Now the question is, how should I quilt it?  Again, I want it to be lightweight and drapey so I can’t over-quilt it.  But it would also be fun to do something cool in the larger white spaces.  Any suggestions for me?  Have you ever made an Irish chain quilt, and if so, how did you quilt it?  I’m already dreaming of sleeping under this one come summer….

One more question for you:  what kind of project are you sewing right now, as the world changes almost hourly before our eyes?  One that takes focus, to distract you, or one that takes minimal thinking so your mind can sort other things?  I’m sure I’ll do some of both in coming weeks!

What Runner Am I?

First of all, I’m not a runner at all.  I think I’d like to be, but right now I’m the lady on an elliptical machine trying to get full range of motion and strength back in her ankle.  It’s not impressive.  Furthermore, I have spent a ridiculous number of hours and dollars over the years watching and funding soccer for my children.  I know soccer, not running.  But this past year brought a new opportunity to me, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.  My daughter is running cross country and track, and I’m learning more about the sport.  I love watching my kids compete; watching Anna run makes me cry.  I leave every meet asking myself, What runner am I?

A Quaker proverb says, “Thee lift me and I’ll lift thee and we’ll ascend together.”  Occasionally I witness moments in life where this is true, but not usually in athletics.  Until now.

One week my daughter ran a race without her coaches there.  Hungry to improve, she asked me to stand at certain points on the course to report her time and push her to run faster.  I did my best, and on every lap I noticed a girl from another school who stayed with her but never passed her.  Anna pushed herself to a 4th place finish in her race and a new PR.  I was so happy for her!

After the race she told me about the opponent who had run just behind her the entire race.  There were a couple of times on the course when she felt tired and started to slow down a little.  Instead of just passing Anna, this girl said to her, “Oh no you don’t!  You’re faster than that.  You can do this!”  She wouldn’t let Anna fall behind but instead pushed her to keep her pace.  Anna laughed as she described feeling tired and out of breath, but trying to encourage the other runner in return.

As Anna shared this story with me, admiration rose in my heart for an anonymous girl who had not just run well, but encouraged the runners around her do the same.  She helped push both of them to a faster finish.  I stood on the track and listened to other runners describe similar experiences, times when opponents pushed each other to keep going.

It reminded me of another race I watched.  At the back of the group on the second lap there were two girls from the same school.  One wore a knee brace and was struggling, but her teammate held her hand to keep her going.  They ran the race together.

So I ask myself as I watch these races, what runner am I?  In the race of life do I run for myself alone, maneuvering around those who struggle to get ahead?  Do I focus on my own exhaustion and goals so much that I fail to notice the runner who falls back?  With the world in turmoil right now, we’re all running the same race, perhaps more than usual.  Who will we encourage?  What can we do to make sure we all finish?  How will we strengthen those whose hearts and courage may be failing them?

Whether in a race, in quilting, in hard times or on hard days, I want to be the runner who encourages others to keep going.  I want to be the runner who says, “You can do this!  Let’s push and finish together.”  So if you’re not sure what to think or do right now, remember that you’ve always made it through up till now.  We’re durable, and society is too.  Together, we’ve got this, because God’s got this, and he’s got us.  He’s counting on us to help each other.

Last Mandolin Block Finished!

I may deserve the title “slowest sewist” where my English Paper Piecing (EPP) projects are concerned.  My Ice Cream Soda blocks still languish, untouched in over a year.  The La Passacaglia quilt I want to make is still just a kit of tiny papers.  But after two years of a stitch here and a stitch there, I finished my last mandolin block!

I forgot that I started with an extra set of papers, so I’ve got 21 blocks instead of the needed 20 to make a quilt top.  That’s fine with me, because there were one or two that I wondered about while stitching them, so I can leave the worst one out.  I shared the first 13 of them about a year ago.  The remaining 8 I stitched in the tiny cracks in life’s transitions, and sharing them also fell through the cracks.

Still, with the last mandolin block done, I can now start on the filler blocks.  I could/should have been making them along the way, but I just never prepped the pieces for them.  That’s my biggest holdup with EPP:  the prepping!  I put it off and then do it in huge batches so I can sew for a long time without doing it again.

I promised myself I can start on a La Passacaglia quilt after I’ve proven to myself that I will actually finish an entire EPP quilt.  Additionally, I started following @alewivesfabrics on Instagram a while ago.  They post amazing Lucy Boston blocks every week.  I might have purchased some papers to make a few of those blocks as well.  That makes four EPP projects in my sewing room, but I resisted a couple others that also appealed to me.  I guess it’s time to cut and glue my filler blocks so I can get started.  I’m at the point that I’m not sure I’ll love my mandolin quilt.  I hope I end up happy with it!

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