A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Second Quilt

After my husband's stroke, we were positively overwhelmed, in the best way, by the kindness of people wanting to help.  People brought food, offered to watch the children, donated leave, sent gifts and visited J in the hospital.  One of J's colleagues did all of those things and also sent real, hand-written snail-mail letters to J while he was in acute rehabilitation to lift his spirits and give him something to look forward to.

Those letters were such a small thing but they meant so much to J.  I think they helped him feel like he had not been forgotten or left behind.  I felt, and still feel, so grateful to the letter-writer.  So when he recently became a father, I wanted to return part of his kindness by making something very special for his little boy.

J has been back at work for nearly two months now and it is going really well.  He is walking and driving and providing, and we are finally seeing some movement in his previously paralyzed left hand.  He actually wrote his name with it this week!  Considering that he is only 10 months out from his stroke, this is pretty amazing.

We are really fortunate.

So ... the quilt.  This is actually my second quilt, made on the heels of my first.  The first one is still unblogged as it has yet to reach its final destination - but it will be up soon.

This one is a wonky star quilt, based on Elizabeth Hartman's Sparkle Punch quilt.  I made it using only fabrics from my stash (though I did have to buy the batting). 

I found the piecing fun and relatively quick, but the quilting was difficult.  I think maybe my walking foot doesn't work properly - I don't ever find that it evens out the feed discrepancy of the upper and lower fabrics as much as I think it should.  It's also possible that my expectations are too high.  In any case, I was completely unable to keep my stitch length uniform.  This is not a large quilt - about 40" square - and I tried really hard to support the weight of the quilt uniformly, but it still got stuck under the presser foot quite often because I wasn't supporting it well enough.

This was kind of disappointing because I think I have caught the quilting bug and I'd really like to attempt something larger ... but I am afraid to try something bigger than this little baby quilt.  So if anyone has tips, I am all ears!

The back is pieced from leftover fabric from the quilt.  I don't love it, but I was trying to work with stash and my travels around Internet quilt-land show that this is a common way to make a backing.


My favorite part of the whole process had to be the binding.  I hand-sewed it on, and I found it thoroughly satisfying.

I enjoy a little hand-sewing at the end of a project.  I know a lot of people hate it, but I don't mind an hour's work finishing something in front of the TV.  That said, I enjoyed sewing on this binding so much more than turning up a hem.  It is transformative in a way that adding buttons to an otherwise completed garment is not.  A shirt without buttons still looks like a shirt - it isn't going to look that much different once the buttons are on (unless, I guess, they are crazy loud novelty buttons).  But after you've quilted a quilt, but before it is bound, it still looks very unfinished and very different from the way it will look when that excess backing is cut away and those threads are trimmed.  Sewing the binding on wraps up that mess in a neat little package and all of a sudden you have yourself a quilt.  It is so cool!

So, there you go.  Quilt #2.  I'm already dreaming about #3.  But I just got some new clothing patterns in the mail so I had better go sew some pants or something.



  1. You made a quilt! I am in awe. So wonderful to hear that your husband is doing well, and what a thoughtful way to thank his colleague. I'm sure your beautiful quilt will be treasured.

  2. Masha, I LOVE this quilt!! I have a soft spot for pieced stars, and I just love the slight wonkiness and colors of this quilt! It just sparkles!

    So I have now machine quilted a few quilts, and I find that I have to really get in there and muscle the quilt under the walking foot, like put a hand on the quilt behind and in front of the foot and PULL and PUSH the quilt under the the dang foot, so that it doesn't get stuck on the seams. No wonder it makes my neck and shoulders and arms ache! This also helps avoid puckers under the quilt - I keep my hand under the quilt in the front to feel for puckers, etc. The walking foot is great, but with all of the thickness of a quilt, it is not powerful enough to go over bumpy seams without help from me.

    It helps to set the stitch speed slow and go slowly, with longer than usual stitch length, but I have not yet managed to completely avoid changes in stitch length on the quilt. It is a LOT of work!! I find it very physical. But after several smaller quilts, I managed it with that queen sized quilt I made last summer - it can be done!

  3. Also, I forgot to say - I am SO happy to hear about your husband making such a great recovery! I hope he will continue to see improvement in his left hand and I'm so glad he's back to work. His age is on his side as far as recovery, young people tend to recover faster and more thoroughly than older people, I've heard. You have been an inspiration during this process, and what a lovely gift for a thougthful and considerate friend.

  4. Masha, how wonderful for you to think of someone else with all that you have been through.

    I am so glad your husband is doing better and your quilt is truly beautiful.
    xx Nicole


Hi! I am so happy you came by. Thanks for your comment!