Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'll get to it . . . someday

This week we’re going to take a little survey. Ready? How many of you finish one project before starting another? I see a few hands out there. Next, how many of you buy supplies for one project at a time? I see a few more hands. Last, could those of you who raised your hands find something else to do while we distracted procrastinators have a chat?

If you’re anything like me, you have a lifetime of projects strung throughout the house. Tucked under the sewing table is a quilt that’s finished except for the binding. In a basket in the living room there are two sets of embroidery blocks meant for babies who are graduating from college. A closet holds stacks of never-been-used pizza boxes filled with blocks from past swaps. And the dresser? Top drawer my things, second drawer Grandma’s things, and bottom drawer is relegated to the Great-grandparents’ leavings.

Sound familiar? Pitiful, isn’t it? Every single one of these abandoned objects started out as a fabulous idea. Fabulous until one special ingredient disappeared. Motivation.

Long, long ago in a faraway land—well, actually 14 years ago when I thought I wanted to be a quilt instructor—I led a little class. One of my students loved the design so much she decided to supersize it from crib size to queen. Fast forward to Summer 2010 when I invited her unfinished project to my house. The stack of completed blocks brought back vague memories, but what had we planned to do with the rest of the cloth?

Procrastinator’s Tip #1:
Before you set a project aside, label each fabric with its intended use. Make notes detailing the finished size of your quilt, total number of blocks needed, setting style, and borders. Think of this as a time capsule—someone WILL find it someday. How can you help future archeologists finish what you’ve started?

After fussing, fuming, calculating, and worrying the mystery solved itself—with the help of a photo. I’d completed a similar quilt for a favorite aunt, so I dug out the picture and counted rows and blocks. A little math, a little measuring, and soon solution to the mystery became clear.

Procrastinator’s Tip #2:
Take pictures of your completed projects, but be sure to get a view of the entire quilt. This will help you (or future archeologists) reproduce the original size and layout.

Isn’t it surprising how we can do something for others that we can’t do for ourselves? Finishing my friend’s quilt top was just the kick in the seat that I needed. After I dropped off her project, I came home with renewed vigor and determination to finish my own.

The first artifact to emerge from the catacombs of my sewing room was a project intended to celebrate our son’s high school graduation eight years ago. Pieces had been cut, blocks had been finished, so why had this project been abandoned?

Procrastinator’s Tip #3:
Before spending time and money creating a gift, investigate the recipient’s style and taste.
The graduation quilt was well under way by the time our son got his first glimpse. I could tell by his expression that something was wrong and eventually he admitted he preferred scrappy quilts.
“No problem,” I said, and Plan A joined a crowd of others in the closet while I moved on to Plan B.

Whether you are driven to finish one project at a time or spontaneously leap from idea to idea with abandon, Homestead Hearth has something for you. Our kits and block-of-the-month programs come pre-labeled, so if your attention strays or your intentions falter you will always have a road map to guide you back to simpler times.

Sue & the gang at Homestead Hearth

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


As customers roam through the store we can’t help but overhear snippets of conversation. Sometimes we pick up names of destinations. Other times we listen in on where lunch will be served. But last week we heard something we hadn’t heard before. This time we were treated to a lesson in quality.

“I just don’t know why someone would work so hard on a quilt top, and then put something cheap on the back!” a voice declared.

A long-arm quilter, in town to find a wide backing to finish a project for a friend, shared a bit of her wisdom as she shopped. Having stitched on the work of many other hands, she’d discovered an area that could be improved.

“Your quilt is only as good as the chintziest fabric in it,” she stated.
Her comment brought back memories of a quilt I stitched many years ago. It was a fun project made of simple piecing that produced a complicated result. The colors I’d selected included deep purples, amazing turquoises, and an accent of pure white. That winter we were holed up for several days due to a record-breaking blizzard, so my masterpiece was completed in record time.

Our son loved the quilt as much as I did, and soon he’d adopted it as his own. It traveled with him to college and back, and kept him warm on multiple ski trips. The quilt covered his bed in one state, and then made the move with him when a job opportunity brought him to another. And although I’d enjoyed our son’s visits many times, it was over a decade before I saw the quilt again.

Despite the constant use, the purples were as deep and rich as ever. The turquoises still shone like a winter sky, but the white? What white? The white had dissolved--completely disappeared--causing the batting to hang raggedly where the white used to be.

I must admit, when I created this quilt I had no idea the brutal (but loving) beating it would take. My cloth selections were based on the design effect I wished to create. Had I thought more carefully about the quality of the weave, I might have included a different white. As it is, the beauty of the original quilt is only preserved through photographs.

Quality. As you select patterns and fabrics, think about where your finished project is destined. Will it hang on a wall or a display rack to be touched with eyes only? Or will it be rough-housed and toted from hither to yon? Is your goal to produce something of elegance? Or are you working under the premise of constant use that endures?

This past summer our travels took us to Nantucket Island where tidy rows of houses and shops kept our eyes and feet busy for hours. As we strolled around a corner I was shocked to see a quilt stretched on a clothesline along the outside of a building.

“That’s an antique store!” I sputtered. “They should know better!”
And apparently they did. The quilt was serving an important function. It was an attention getter. Its simple design of squares and flying geese brought attention to the store—and perhaps shoppers through the door!

Quality? Perhaps not what the maker had intended, but a joyful quality all the same.
Whether you are busily creating something that will be passed down to generations to come, or stitching a cover that is sure to take a beating, come visit us. We have lots of quality items ready to be used in your next project. Check out these great brown & pink prints that just arrived:

Share your dreams. Share your inspiration. Share the quality that comes with simpler times.

Sue & the gang at Homestead Hearth