Something to Think About

Quilting in the Time of Covid-19

Angel Death_Sculptor

Like so many of you, my life feels right now like this sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, placed in the American Wing; we seem to take a photo (or five) of it everytime we go there, so that it ranks it right up there with snapshots of anything Monet.  It is titled The Angel of Death and the Sculptor, by Daniel Chester French.  The sculptor is mid-stroke and the Angel gently takes his hand — stilling him —  as if to say, “You’re done for now.” If this work seems familiar to you, French was also one of two sculptors who created our Lincoln Memorial.

I came slalomming down off my very enjoyable time with the Orange County Quilters to a buckets-of-rain day, one where I’d normally stay in, but that day I went to two different grocery stores, trying to stock up our house.  In two-days’ time, our world came roaring to an end with the advent of the novel corona virus, also known as (and always in all caps) COVID-19.  I had it easier: one of my friends was in Brazil at Iguazu Falls, and did about a 28-hour turnaround trip back home.

Yesterday I sent a letter out to some friends and the outward flowing of goodwill back towards me, and to others on the list, has helped me deal with this isolation.  I was feeling undone by the contant drumbeat of bad news and sadness and worry about our hospital workers on every level and the deaths and the lack of tests and misinformation and too much information and should I make masks and will my neighbor give the disease to me? sort of stuff.

So to get myself back on track with doing something creative, I’m listing here some of the projects I hope to undertake.  These are quilting projects only.  I have lists and lists of finishing up the house, regular stuff, and the burning question (which, feel free to comment on) is whether I should have the house painters back to finish up the details on their recent big job?  I’m calling it Quilting in the Time of Covid, with apologies to Gabriel García Márquez.


  1. Finish quilting and binding a quilt I’m referring to ReJiggered.ReJigger

It’s a variation of City Streets, just in different colors.  I’d thought about the name Vitrailed, which means to set with stained glass, because the Tula colors are reminscent of our trip to La Sagrada Familia a couple of years ago:


2. Totebag with Spectrum Pattern on side

Spectrum Tote Bag EPP.jpg

I’d made this for an EPP workshop I taught last August, and gave it away.  I’d like to try another, in different colors.

3. Make up Azulejos in a tangerine/indigo version

Azulejos Quilt_1

Fabric gathered — check
But that’s all.

4. Work on the quilt that I’m calling Eridani (no image yet).

If we all ever get back our lives, I’m supposed to teach this in October of this year.  Stay tuned.

5. Make face masks.  

Face Mask Orange Dot Quilts

So my husband and I had this conversation this morning while getting ready for our Stay-At-Home Church, and it went something like this: If only the people who get sick are supposed to have face masks, yet all hospital personnel have face masks, should we have face masks to protect ourselves, too? Yes, but…the big caveat is if you are using a purchased face mask, then no.  I’ve chosen Dora’s version (above), and will be making a few for ourselves and family.

ToDo_March 2020

In cleaning out I found a  To-Do List pad which only has 3 lines on it per day.  So I have to choose only three things to accomplish.  Last night when I couldn’t sleep, I made a week’s schedule, listing only three things.  But then my Frantic Self addded more and more, writing in the margins and on the back.

Why is it that in this time of coronavirus, we still feel the push to do?  I think it’s because we want our routine back, of Mondays at the grocery store, Tuesday at the Quilt Shop Sew-day, First Mondays with my little group of angel sewers, Tuesday-then-Friday-then-Saturday meetings with my guilds.  We just didn’t see that Angel of Corona Virus headed our way, stilling our blur of activity, asking us to stop.

So I write this hoping to find a new balance, a new routine.  I found it helpful when my Gridsters in the group letter talked about what was their experience during this time, and what they were working on. While I’d enjoy having a giveaway from any comments you might write, the problem is that I’d want to mail everyone a little treasure, instead of just two or three (and even though I love my USPS and need them to keep us connected, I won’t do that). However, I’d love it if you’d share what steadies — not stills — and how things are in your COVID-19 world.

Happy Sewing!

17 thoughts on “Quilting in the Time of Covid-19

  1. Thanks for sharing. I, too, live in So Cal. I have watched too much tv, walked daily, read, prayed, and cooked more than ever. I don’t like to cook and getting together with friends is a social and eating experience. Not possible. I want to do some sewing projects but so far nothing. Stay well.

  2. It is indeed a difficult time Elizabeth. I am glad to see you have plenty of fabulous projects planned. I love that photo Sagrada Familia.

  3. Thanks for you fab post today. I am wondering about sewing masks as well and have read a lot of conflicting information about them. I know they are not nearly as effective as proper N-95 masks but it seems like they are being requested by several individuals, and soon, likely by clinics and hospitals too. I’m wondering if you have tried the pattern that you linked here, the one from Orange Dot Quilts. Thanks!

  4. I hope that sewing brings you some joy and relief in these uncertain times. I’m not looking forward to venturing back out to the grocery store tomorrow night (my last visit a little over a week ago was enough to put me off until all the fresh things were eaten… time to at least get some more apples and green things for us), so my plan is to offset the trip with a little sewing therapy time. ❤

    1. Today I participated in Gudrun Erla’s (GE Designs) Quarantine Quilt Along and made a lap size quilt top. For too long I have worked too hard and have not had time for being creative. I hope to make or finish other quilts while I am banned to the house. FaceTime with my grandson, family and friends is helping with the isolation.

  5. Here is what steadies me when I feel my mind spinning with worries (my niece is an Emergency Dept nurse near Seattle), and plans, and possibilities (we are a high-risk household): I stand in front of a framed print in my sewing room that bears the simple words of my favorite scripture, 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Then I try to go forth and act out of love, using my mind (and science), both of which give me power.
    I have to repeat this exercise daily. This may be because I am a slow learner. It appears I will have time for work on this.

  6. I forgot to say, with regard to the house painters, that a different niece, in Florida, has been having some work done on her kitchen. She is also a nurse, and wants to be careful to maintain social distancing, but worried about these workers who might find that all of their customers were cancelling, leaving them without any income during a very insecure time. So she worked out a plan with them in which they would confer by text & photos, and correspondence would be left in an assigned spot if it needed to be okayed or signed, or a check needed to be left. So far she has been very happy with the way things are going and these workers are able to continue to care for their families during a time when they might otherwise face great instability. She will, of course, scrupulously clean the new countertops after the installation is completed, but she is confident she can handle that. I don’t remember if yours is an outside painting job, but that would make things a lot easier in that regard. In any case, this is simply one option in a situation that is new to all of us.

  7. Like many, my days are spent trying to regain my routines while also trying to play this “I have no outside commitments for weeks and weeks so let’s get every project in queue started”, the squirrel, right. The things which help settle me down are taking the pup for short walks, calling older family friends and talking about good memories/good people/good books, and hunkering down on a quilt project and refusing to get distracted. I have noticed that my husband, who is always “steady Eddie”, has had trouble staying focused. Two days ago he ventured out to get mulch, lime, lumber – 3 stops – and returned ready to tackle his projects, much happier. And we have this large timber frame screened porch which (think lovely dinners outside once the pollen has stopped) has been out of commission for a year now (long story). We’ve had no success in finding someone to sand it (a task husband tried but to which his asthma said NOPE) – and I felt there had to be someone who needed the work more now than ever and sure enough, sanding starts tomorrow. And like many, I am making masks, with the first group going to a nursing home in upstate NY and another batch requested for non-patient facing workers at a local hospital. Helping others – with calls, or grocery pick-ups, making masks or giving work to help keep workers employed, sending puzzles and books to house-bound friends in another state – helping others in any way seems to be our best medicine.

  8. What steadies-
    1.Faith in God, that His angels are racing around and helping us out during this time.
    2. Working together with my family.
    3. Going on early morning walks to see a beautiful sun rise.
    4. Connecting with friends.
    5. Chocolate.

  9. That is such a beautiful piece of art at the top of this post. Don’t we all want to go like that–in the middle of our work, still productive rather than mentally out of it or bedridden? I love the idea of making masks. However, I also think it’s okay to wear ones you have purchased if you had them before this crisis. I don’t think medical professions want the opened package of masks that we bought for travel last year. (My husband often gets a bug on planes, so we thought they might help him.) Finally, I absolutely agree with Simone’s list of what steadies (see her list in the comments above), and I especially appreciate #5.

  10. Thanks for the encouragement. I made my short list today and “reset” my sewing area so it was clean again. I’m planning to be quilting in my afternoons now. For anyone who sees this, Joann Fabrics is now providing face mask kits and delivering completed ones to facilities that want them–a very timely charity project.

  11. I downloaded the pattern from Orange Dot, ordered her set of aluminum nose wires, AND purchased one of her patterns, to thank her. I have made a couple of masks from other patterns, in order to learn how, in case our hospital here in NC requests them. Our county (about the population of Riverside) now has about 20 cases, but numbers are rapidly increasing now that tests are finally available, although they are still very scarce. My daughter and son-in-law are both doctors, and I’ve been staying home, on their orders, for two weeks so far. My daughter is an infectious disease specialist, so she had me staying home well before it was ordered.
    My quilting friends in Fresno and Torrance are making masks, which were requested by their hospitals and local nursing homes.
    If the social distancing continues, which my daughter says is essential, I am going to give my bimonthly housekeeper and monthly hairdresser paid “vacations”. They are young and have little reserves, I’m sure.
    I am home alone, but my cat is a big help, demanding play time and attention, as is communication with friends and family by text and email (and blog!).

  12. Walking outside is steadying me. I am going on much longer walks than my usual 20 to 30 minute ones. An hour, more brisk than usual, seems to suit very nicely.

  13. It’s good to have concrete goals, since there’s so much we can’t control. I especially like the title “re-jiggered”. I think I’ve made several quilts like that!

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