My 20 in 20 Finished Quilt Top

Well, here we are in 2021, with January mostly gone!  I have used the last couple of months to stay fully focused on life at home, and for quiet introspection and goal setting in this new year.  There is so much to come, but first:  my 20 in 20 finished quilt top!  

You may recall my sewing goal for 2020 was to spend at least 20 minutes sewing, every day.  Little did I know that a pandemic would send most of us home to do lots of sewing, or that all the changes would have my creativity coming and going at random intervals.  I could never have predicted such random schedules (or lack of them), or so little personal time.  Still, I kept sewing.

Gratefully I included hand sewing in my original plan.  There were MANY days that it was the only kind of sewing I could fit in, or the only kind that sounded nice. 

I made a half rectangle triangle block for every day of the year, with a neutral solid on days I didn’t manage to sew at all, and a yellow on Sundays.  Aqua meant more than 20 minutes; blue was 20 minutes of sewing, and green was less than 20 minutes.  Red was for when I was following a pattern, pink for working on my own designs, purple for old WIPs, orange for hand sewing.

I planned my 20 in 20 quilt to be a celebration of color.  It became something of a journal as well.  After a week or so of watching everything shut down, I decided to record things.  I started adding a few words for events that felt significant.  Weeks turned into months, and I continued adding highs and lows through the rest of the year.

I stitched with two strands of DMC black embroidery floss. It’s done VERY simply (and sometimes sloppily, in a hurry) over my penciled words.   Sewing the blocks was easy, and completed on New Year’s Eve.  The stitching took a few extra weeks.

When I look at my 20 in 20 finished quilt top, I see the celebration of color I planned.  I see the way quilting blesses my life.  In addition, I see the struggle of 2020, the things I wept and prayed over, as well as those I celebrated.  What a year!  I’m excited to quilt this one, and I hope it will become a treasure to my family.



Grateful Melody Applique Blocks

A couple of months ago I joined the Naive Melody Sew Along, hosted by Lucy Engels.  It’s an applique quilt pattern consisting of 100 blocks, which resulted from her 100 day project earlier this year.  I watched that project unfold with great interest.  When she released the pattern I eagerly bought one and jumped in!  I’m calling my quilt Grateful Melody because with each block I focused on something I’m grateful for even – or rather, especially – in a pandemic.  

Each of the blocks is hand appliqued using the needle turn method, and some of those shapes are awfully small and skinny!  I am enjoying the process of stitching these blocks and hope that my applique skills will be sharper for it.

It’s a fun idea – to take a bunch of shapes and use them differently on 100 different 6″ squares of fabric. Now that I’ve been sewing for a while, I have found myself adding a few blocks of my own.  I’m going to add a new shape or two in my next batch.  The color scheme is a fun experiment, and I’m also enjoying the idea of stitching my gratitude in abstract shapes.  While I know not every block will remind me of a specific blessing as time goes on, there are a few that I will always remember.

As I become increasingly interested in using quilting for storytelling, this project is a great experience for me.  I LOVE the exercise of preserving my story, feelings, and experiences in the grateful melody applique blocks I make.  What are you grateful for?  How could you include that in a quilt?  What colors would you use?  It’s fun to ask these questions, and then start stitching.  I’ve got another set of grateful melody applique blocks to start on, and I love the challenge of doing it this way.  It also makes my sewing meaningful, helps me focus my thoughts positively, and opens new avenues of creative thought.  I highly recommend it!

“A Prayer for my Country” quilt top

We’re experiencing quite a year with politics and social issues in the U.S.  I have watched and read, thought and prayed, and tried to listen.  We are so blessed.  We are so broken.  It is scary.  There is hope.  All kinds of issues, so many opposites.  I started sewing in January, before Covid, before protests, before the election.  I had a small piece done, then left it hanging on my design wall as 2020 unfolded and I went back and forth with ideas for my little block.  Finally I gave myself a deadline to finish a small quilt top before the election.  As I was working on it last week, remembering all the thoughts I’ve had this year, the title for this quilt came softly but clearly:  A Prayer for my Country.

That’s what it is.  So many hopes and worries stitched into fabric.  I have nothing to say here about politics.  My biggest concern is how we treat each other.  My prayer for my country is that we will begin again to really look at each other and actually SEE.  See past the bad labels to the real person with hopes and dreams a lot like mine.  We must reject being pitted against one another.  We need to see each other, to be seen, and communicate respectfully from that place.  To see fellow Americans, and remember what “we” feels like on a large scale, instead of “us versus them”.

This quilt top began and ended with these thoughts.  Made entirely from scraps in my sewing room, it’s mostly solids.  It’s simple and complex, orderly and messy, despairing and hopeful.  Kind of like this year.  A lot like my heart.  

I keep praying, and I hope you will too.  Together we can face the challenges of our day and be better for them.  I know we can.  We must.  I photographed this piece on one wall of my Grandpa’s house, my Grandpa who lived through the Great Depression and fought in World War II.  His generation faced crisis and came together.  I miss him, and draw hope from his example.  

May we all be of good cheer and face the future with hope, learning from the hard things of 2020 and growing into a better, kinder people who see each other with compassion and humanity.  

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