300 Quilts

Wealth of Days • Quilt Top Finish

As a culture we are in danger of falling out of touch, not only with objects, but with the intelligence they embody: the empathy that is bound up in tangible things….A well-made object is informed by thousands of years of accumulated experiment and know-how. Whenever we make or use an everyday tangible thing, or even when we contemplate one seriously, we commune with this pool of human understanding. ~Glenn Adamson, from the book Fewer, Better Things

I’ve been reading Adamson’s book, Fewer, Better Things, and have underlined quite a few different passages. Not everything in the book is a home run, but I love having books on craft, on quality, or on making available around my house, for just a few lines here and there can re-center my quilting universe. Like this one:

“William Morris, the great craft reformer of the late nineteenth century, was one of the earliest writers to espouse environmentalism, over a century ago. ‘Surely there is no square mile of earth’s inhabitable surface that is not beautiful in its own way,’ he wrote, ‘if we men will only abstain from willfully destroying that beauty.’ He also famously asked his contemporaries to “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” This sentiment still rings true today, particularly if we add the idea that objects should be meaningful. Let’s not think of things as ends in themselves, props to put on the mantelpiece. Rather, let’s consider them as points of contact between people.”

Last week I was in the overwhelmingness of QuiltCon, a series of “mores.” More color. More shapes. More wokeness (this got to be a little bit much, frankly). More quilts. More ideas. More fame. More longing. More more more, until it was just more exhaustion. I loved it all, and am so glad I went to this virtual presentation (Karen and her crew did a fabulous job), but by the end, I was kind of glad they took it all down, freeing me to escape that blotto-in-the-brain feeling for a few days. Sorry I missed you all last Sunday. It’s sort of like this:

Like the moon, we go through phases of being full and we through phases of being hidden.

And then I got an idea.

This idea has been preceeded by a long slow couple of months, as I was worn out by allthecovidstuff, and my bandwidth to accomplish or do things, or even to reach out was limited. So my idea was to set a goal to finish up at least one quilt from the past — and I chose my temperature quilt, newly renamed Wealth of Days (I’ll explain in a later post).

And my next idea was to use up all those triangles that I’d cut and were leftover from piecing together the quilt top, and turn them into a border somehow, because I felt like just the triangles in the center weren’t enough. So I just sewed and sewed.

And began to realize I had some problems.
I’d started making this way back in 2019 (obviously) but it was right after my second shoulder surgery. Rotary cutting is pretty much out of the question after a surgery like that, so in the beginning everything that was cut was scissor-cut. And this little imperfection of scissor cutting had — as quilty problems do — spread throughout the quilt. Some of the problems I could fix on this go-round, as I squared up and trimmed little slivers off the new flying geese to get them straight and true (above).

The center is the original series of triangles from my 2019 temperature quilt.

But…it started to look like the gimpy triangles in in the main quilt weren’t going to match up with the new, refined flying geese in the border.

Color placement planning.

Nevertheless, she persisted — and then decided to re-think some things.
It became obvious after all my sewing that I really could not fit the borders to the quilt. I started sewing the slivery-est of seams over and over along the outer edges of the inner section of the quilt, trying to ease in the extra fullness of those out-of-shape geese. I took off that lovely aqua skinny border, and cut a darker one:

I marked the new darker border strip every 2″ as I was going to force this quilt into submission, which of course…never really works. (I’m hoping my quilter can quilt out some of the bulk that shouldn’t be there.) I then retooled the inner border to make it really really skinny, and kept sewing those triangles into geese. But then. The corners. What to do? I fiddled and sketched and browsed, but when I couldn’t come to a solution, I took Steinbeck’s advice:

This is what the committee of sleep came up with. I’m happy with it.

So here it is. Wealth of Days quilt top all completed. I have a few moving parts for the backing, then I’ll call my quilter and hope she can work miracles with the limpy-gimpy triangles, evidence of my craft at that time. I will explain the quilt title when it is finished, and I can do a proper showing off with the fun stuff for the back, too.

stained glass version, taken from the back of the quilt

I did a search for #temperaturequilt trying to see how people finished off their quilts. I came to the conclusion that not too many have finished off their quilts, but I want to finish mine. Working on this quilt this week, remembering my physical self in January 2019 and allowing that woman’s imperfect making to be a part of this quilt, made me realize how vital making quilts is to me. It is not only a noun — as Adamson notes below — but a verb.

When we casually dismiss craft as a vital factor in our lives, however, we miss out on many satisfactions….When many people hear the word “craft,” they think of humble, decorative things: pots, baskets, or macramé plant hangers. But if we consider “craft” in its active form, treating it as a verb rather than a noun, we immediately realize it is much, much broader than that.

When we say that someone crafts an object, we mean that they put their whole self into it, body and mind alike, drawing on whatever skills they have acquired over the course of their lives. This is a deeply meaningful human activity, which can be observed not only in suburban garages and hobby shops, but also in factories (where people craft machines and prototypes) and fine art studios (where people craft paintings and sculptures). All these process-based experiences imbue materials with associations that resonate far beyond the act of making itself. ~Glenn Adamson, from the book Fewer, Better Things

Happy Quilting!

15 thoughts on “Wealth of Days • Quilt Top Finish

  1. I am finishing my temperature quilt. 2020 seemed so long but when in the quilt it was the same 365 days. Love your border.

  2. So happy to see you back! And also good to see you haven’t lost your sense of humor 🙂
    I am anxious, now, to read this book. For so long the phrase “she loved her crafts” especially as referenced in many obituaries has offended me, I think because it seems degrading, like “crafts” are just throw-away trinkets or silly ways to pass time. We all know this “craft thing” is so, so much more than that and thank you for calling it out, so to speak.
    I didn’t jump on the temperature quilt train, but did just finish my own version of “how I got through the early and mid-throes of COVID”: a simple block and circle quilt, steps far too numerous to list, but it gob smacked me in the end and I’m in love. It’s resting now as I contemplate the final quilting (I may send you pics for your input).
    I am glad you persisted! As always, it was worth it!

    1. So interesting! And doesn’t 2019 seem a lifetime ago? Your border struggles are reminiscent of “O Christmas Tree” ! But when I look at them all I only see beauty and craftsmanship and creativity!

      Funny, but I’ve re-embraced what I think of as “craft”. Somehow for me it always includes glue! When my kids were little I had a group of friends that engaged in all kinds of craft endeavors- basketry, doll making, folk art painting- we were open to trying (and often failing, see above: folk art painting) so many new things. The joy was in the making. I have missed that in the busyness of business. Maybe it’s having Madeleine around. With kids around you are forever making believe, getting your hands dirty and glue! It’s really freeing. So gratifying to hear her say, “Ream, yets make something.”

  3. Nice that you are reading a book with quotes worth remembering and for being re-inspired. I’m glad you participated in QCT too, and though it was overwhelming all at once like that, I’m sure you have some great take-aways from the experience. It’s wonderful that you chose to finish your 2019 temperature quilt! Challenges aside, it turned out beautifully. Those skinny and pieced borders add more interest to the quilt center. It was a good decision to take those extra steps. I hope your quilter is able to “quilt it out,” as I know that those words are what a quilter most dreads hearing. However, in your case, I’m sure the needed easing won’t be as intense as other quilts. I finished my temp quilt last May (as I’m sure you know), and bound it with the same fabric as the backing… a rainbow-gradated wideback. I am very happy with how it turned out.

  4. How do you find the most perfect quotes to go with your writing? And the cartoons? I am awed by your writing talent as well as your quilting talent. Our daughter gave my husband a book for Christmas, “Almost Lost Arts”, which is fascinating. I finally finished a hand pieced, machine quilted one inch hexie quilt for my 96 year old aunt who hand pieces and hand quilts everything. Pat on the back for me! 🙂

  5. The quote about keeping only those things with meaning and beauty deeply resonates with me. And even after all the downsizing I have done, I could still find more to remove. That is fascinating. I really like the very dark sliver to offset the borders. Congratulations for figuring out the puzzle, and I hope that quilting and finishing it is a joyful activity.

  6. I think it turned out beautifully. I especially like the stained glass look with the light shining through. That darker border is perfect! I think the imperfections allow us to appreciate our ancestors works so much more. All of their quilts were done without our rulers and expectations of fitting together perfectly. Im sure lots of adjustments were made and lots of points did not match up. Yet, they are still coveted and costly. Enjoy the beauty of your work!

  7. Your quilt is beautiful–I love the colors so much and like that you reversed what would normally have been colors for cold and hot temps. You always find the very best quotes and incorporate them into something always beautifully written–as you craft with words.

  8. I’m glad you persevered with your temp quilt. Using up leftover pieces for borders creates a wind sweeping around the sum of days. Love how it came together. Also enjoyed the quotes. You give a thoughtfulness to your posts that I always enjoy. I like more is more when it comes to my quilting as I use lots and lots of different fabrics in a single quilt. But I’m curious what the more wokeness, more fame comment is about? I didn’t “do” quiltcon and can honestly say I didn’t miss it a bit.

  9. Again, a thought provoking post Elizabeth! Your temperature quilt definitely deserved your attention, it’s going to be lovely. I’m sure your quilter is skilled enough to quilt it flat! I look forward to hearing all about your Quiltcon experience. Maybe I can organise myself to join in next time!

  10. Your quilt is beautiful and I’m so glad to see you did something with the doggone temperature quilt pieces. I haven’t done anything with mine yet 😉

  11. In German we have just a similar word … it’s „Kraft“ … it doesn’t have anything to do with the English craft… it means energy .
    But I think we all need mental and sometimes physical „Kraft“ to do our crafts.
    Yesterday I spent some hours to choose fabrics for a new EPP project.. I tried this and that… wasn’t satisfied with my original plan… at the end I felt so exhausted that I had to step away and wait for regaining new „ Kraft“ .
    Loved reading your post, dear Elizabeth, though I didn’t understand everything but I think I got the main part😘
    And I love your temperature quilt!
    Alles wird gut!!!
    Hugs and regards from Berlin 🙋‍♀️

  12. You said much of interest, but I particularly loved the turn of phrase “the committee of sleep”. Insight is achieved only by diverting the conscious mind. The power of the brain to sublimate important work during the day and put it masterfully together at nikght give us many a satisfying “ah ha!”. For myself, I found that in the morning during the shower or blow drying my hair my brain would burp out the solution to what I had been working on.

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