The Quilted Life with Carolyn — quilting for beginners

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Inspiration Abyss 7

Hello all! I’m back this week asking for your help again!

Lately, I’ve been seeing amazing quilts everywhere. My Facebook and Instagram feeds are full of them, they’re hanging on walls at quilt shops, they’re at quilt shows, and they’re all over our Why I Sew contest.

When I see one I love and want to replicate, I take a screenshot, snap a photo with my phone, save a web link, etc. That way, when I get started on a new project, I should, in theory, be able to refer to that picture and figure out how to make that quilt.

Because of all the inspiration that surrounds me, I'm sort of in a state of inspiration overload. And all those "saved for later" items fall into the inspiration abyss.

I suppose the real problem lies in that I am faster at getting inspired than I am at sewing. So I have a backlog of inspiration to get through, and I need a way to keep myself organized.

Here is what I need your help with: How do you organize all those screenshots, photos, and links so that you can actually find them again when you’re ready to start a new project?!

Pinterest is great for web links, but my screenshots and photos get lost down my camera roll on my phone, never to be located again.

I used to save patterns and pictures in a 3-ring binder, but I’ve moved away from paper and don’t even own a printer anymore.

Does anyone else save things on their phone and then struggle to find them again? What do you do to keep things from falling into the abyss?

Help me out!

Q1 Winner Profile - Sandy from Michigan (USA) 0

Hello hello! I’m extremely excited for all of you to read today’s post, because it is all about our Q1 Why I Sew winner - Sandy! You’ll remember her from her amazing patriotic quilt submission and the lovely story that went along with it - check it out here to refresh your memory!

As our first quarterly winner, we wanted to get to know Sandy a bit more, so I had the pleasure of speaking with her on the phone and asking her a few questions about her sewing hobby (addiction?!). It was immediately like talking to an old friend, a kindred spirit - I think it is often that way with other quilters!

Sandy mentioned in her original submission that she loves to make things for her family. She is married and has two grown children who live nearby, along with 7 grandchildren ranging from 7 to 18 years old. If you can believe it, despite having only begun to sew 8 years ago, Sandy has already made a quilt for each of her 7 grandchildren! Truly impressive.

Prior to retirement, Sandy had no experience with sewing other than owning a machine and taking a class to try to make some clothing items. Much like me, Sandy found pattern reading difficult and making clothes didn’t compute for her. She threw in the towel and only hand-mended until retiring 8 years ago, and now sewing is something she does every single day. What a drastic change!

I was very curious about how one could go from not sewing at all to making it a daily habit, and the answer was similar to how sewing became a hobby for me. Sandy has a friend who is a great seamstress and mentioned making a quilt. She thought Sandy should give it a try, and the rest is history.

Sandy kept the first quilt she ever made. As a matter of fact, she and her husband have 3 of her creations in their home - a fact that stunned me. How many of us can say we’ve kept 3 of our own projects?! I think more of us should gift quilts to ourselves. We work so hard on them, and then give them all away! As a quilter myself, 99% of the quilts in my house were made by other people, because all of the ones I make have left the building… who can relate?!

I also asked Sandy about how she likes to quilt her creations, and let me tell you… I want to live like Sandy! She assembles the quilt tops, and then has someone else quilt them. Quilting a quilt is my very least favorite part of the process, and if that’s not something you enjoy or something you don’t feel you’re good at, sending it out to be quilted by someone else is a fantastic idea!

If you’re interested in having your own creations quilted by someone else, do like Sandy and check with your local quilt shop for resources in your area. Sandy’s local quilt shop closed, but she has kept in touch with a woman she met there who does all her quilting, and Sandy said it is a wonderful partnership and collaboration. 

YouTube is a go-to for Sandy for learning new sewing skills, and she loves Pinterest for inspiration, but the woman who quilts for her has been a sounding board and has helped her pick patterns that will work well. Quilting as a community effort is so enjoyable, and when you find someone you work well with creatively, it can be so satisfying to collaborate! 

(Reminder - if you want to collaborate with the Quilter’s Mart community, me, and Nancy the Quilting Goddess, click here to read about our big project!)

If you recall from Sandy’s original submission, she was working on some embroidered towels for Christmas gifts. I had to check in on progress - and she’s all done! She has also made 3 “paw towels”, pictured below. How cute are those?! They’re towels to use to wipe off muddy dog paws, with the dogs’ names embroidered on them. Such a cute idea, and if you have an embroidery machine, it’s one you can easily copy!

Sandy also mentioned she recently made some book pillows for a handful of grandchildren. They’re pillowcases (Sandy used 16 inch pillow forms) with pockets on the front to hold books. Sandy used her embroidery machine to embroider cute reading phrases on the pockets, and voila! Such a cute idea for a gift to encourage reading for children.

As you may have guessed, Sandy loves to embroider as well as quilt. She even upgraded to a sewing machine which does both traditional sewing as well as embroidery. I didn’t know that such a thing existed, not having embroidered before myself, and when she told me about this high-tech machine, I felt like we must be living in the future!

Having just made over my own sewing room, the final thing I had to do was find out about Sandy’s sewing room. At the beginning, like many of us, she started sewing on her kitchen table. This quickly became impractical, as you can imagine! Sandy moved her hobby to the basement with shelves and a table, but even that wasn't ideal as she discovered that she would be sewing daily. 

When the grandkids got a bit older and didn’t need as much babysitting, Sandy ultimately arrived at her current setup - she converted the grandkids’ room to her sewing room and now has a quilter’s paradise with a dedicated cutting table, storage bins, a 5-drawer dresser stuffed full of fabric (a fellow hoarder, my friends!), and she loves to organize it all with labels, labels, labels!

It was such a joy getting to know Sandy and learn about how she started sewing, what she loves to make, and more. Happy sewing, Sandy! Thank you so much for sharing with all of us!
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