{start somewhere easy (reverb10 - 6)}

log cabin pencil case

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

How fortuitous that this is today’s prompt! And here I was, thinking I’d have to do two posts today or tomorrow so I could show my pretty new quilted pencil case!

I have to admit, I pushed against the tide of quilting for a long time. I thought it was all bland colors and squares or pinwheels or other boring things. While I’ve been sewing since I was about thirteen, eventually learning how to create my own patterns (read: made costumes for Anime conventions; yes, I am that nerd!), quilting felt like a hobby for moms and grandmothers, not me!

Yes, I’ve attempted it over the years. When I first started making pieces of mixed-media, I quilted together some cute fabrics I found to be the front of a messenger bag I made, and the experience wasn’t...easy.

Okay, everything came out kinda crooked. How was I to know there’s a trick to doing all this? And that it’s actually simpler than I was making it?

So, I left quilting for others and went on making the art I liked making. And then, when I finally figured out how to freestyle stitch with my sewing machine (which is so easy, guys - get a darning foot, drop those feed dogs, and start doodling!), I decided I wanted to maybe do a little more with the awesome fabric I was compelled to buy.

I expressed this to the new shop owner of my favorite local quilting store, and she laughed. Not in a bad way - in a, “Oh, sweetie, how wrong you are!” kind of way. I can’t remember the name of the book she pulled from a shelf for me to page through, but I have to admit - it completely changed the way I look at quilting.

I can make up patterns? Ignore the rules? Make them small? Who knew!

log cabin pencil case (detail)

(Everyone else, apparently!)

I immediately came home and started incorporating my art into art quilts, using the fabric as a frame for the pieces I’d started creating on loose canvas.

And then, at the library a few weeks ago, I picked up a book on cute projects to be done with smaller squares.

Yesterday, I thought, “Hey, why not try something?”

Start small, I told myself. Start somewhere easy. I began piecing together a Log Cabin square by cutting fabric into strips of varying widths. I then started going around in a square, side by side, adding in bits of salvage here and there, until I had a rectangle!

And then, I stitched all over it. Just wild doodles and those lines going all over the place I’ve admired on so many pieces I’ve seen in the art community online. Got my bobbin all gucked up because, while I didn’t add any bias tape around the edges, I forgot to put some muslin on the other side of the thin batting I was using. Changed thread colors halfway through for the bobbin. Broke all those rules I thought I had to follow.

But when I held that finished pencil case in my hand, I was amazed. Did I really make this? Had I figured things out, sewn, ironed, and fought with thread to come out the other side with something I actually liked?

Short answer: Yes.

log cabin pencil case

I’m a pretty lucky woman. I get to fill my days with art and creativity, crafting ideas in my head into a tangible reality. And I love it. In fact, I love it so much, I often feel guilty when I’m still in my pajamas on a Tuesday afternoon when most people are at work. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The issue, then, of finding time to make something in the future isn’t really a problem.

I would, however, like to be able to stretch my own canvas. Yes. While I’m pretty good at picking things up easily, that is one area where I’ve always dreamed but never done. Mostly because I’m afraid of it.

Then again, quilting was pretty scary up until about this morning, so who knows what the future really holds!


PS. I'm going to work on answering comments tomorrow morning instead of tonight, as my pup is giving me a death glare and keeps sighing...yeah, he wants to go to bed!