Have you got a bucket list? Is making a quilt on it?

posted in: WIP (work in progress) | 22

I have a bucket list.

It includes things like seeing all of Shakespeare’s plays, taking an Art Foundation course, and doing voluntary work in Africa. It also includes a few sewing projects. Here are three of them.

  • Make a kimono
  • Make one knitted garment and wear it
  • Make a quilt

These are all very challenging projects (for me). The kimono will have to be a faithful reproduction of a Japanese Kimono, made in silk and probably painted. The knitting has been tried many times and I still have two unfinished jumpers/cardigans in my cupboard right now. The third is the quilt.

Last week I saw an amazing quilt on Ruth’s blog – modestly pegged to the washing line behind her SWAP catwalk show.  I didn’t realise she had made it herself. Isn’t it gorgeous? I love the colours and would be so proud to have something like this. She, on the other hand, tells me it is her “learning quilt”.

Ruth's amazing quilt
Ruth’s amazing quilt

The quilt in my imagination is hand stitched and rather delicate. On a trip to a National Trust property, more than a decade ago, we looked inside the daughters’ bedroom. Two dark wood single beds stood next to each other with a washstand in between. And on them were two identical Suffolk Puff bedspreads, in lovely, soft vintage fabrics.

This was the type of quilt I wanted to make. Handsewn, it is based on circles, where every circle is gathered and pulled up to make a little “puff” (or “yo-yo” if you are American). The finished quilt is light weight and airy – almost lace-like – because the pieces  only touch rather than attach.  The sheet or blanket underneath can be clearly seen. It doesn’t give much warmth but gives a feminine and subtle look if light colours are used. This one is photographed to reveal the gathering. The quilt can be used face down or up.

Suffold Puff quilt
Suffolk puffs

So I have a dilemma here. I started making the quilt, using recycled shirts in soft cottons. I guess I have 200 or so but probably need around 2000. I quite like the colour scheme, but I don’t love it. I don’t think I am going to finish this project. As I am Kondoing I am inclined to chuck them out. There is quite a lot of work there but then this quilt isn’t ever going to look right,  so carrying on would be throwing “good money after bad” for me.

Should I discard it? Anyone want it? Should I finish it – given I could easily introduce new colours? For example the warm pinky brown is the colour that is discordant. If I discard this bag of bits will I ever make a quilt? And then I also wonder if we would use it. We have a plain white Zara home quilted cover on our bed and there is nothing wrong with it. In fact I like a white bedroom.

Please give me your views.



22 Responses

  1. Kbenco

    I think this is a very personal decision, but I don’t think there is any problem with finishing with a project before it is technically completed.
    I made a baby quilt from flannel scraps some 20 years ago, then started a quilt at lessons. I was very keen and worked quite hard on it for 3 months, cutting it all out, making lots of different templates (it was a learning quilt) and piecing 13 different blocks, then quit the lessons and the quilt, as I was suffering from morning, all day and evening sickness and could only barely keep up with my job, let alone anything else. Just last year I gave all these blocks and fabrics to my mother, an avid quilter, having realised that I no longer wanted to make that quilt, or probably ever take up quilting. It was a very freeing decision, and she made a charity quilt from it so I received extra warm fuzzies as well as more space in my fabric cupboard.
    I couldn’t have got rid of it any earlier though. It took a long time for it to crawl off my bucket list.

  2. Lyn

    Personally if you don’t love it I’d scrap it! How about a couple of cushion covers instead to make use of what you have already done? You just made a memory pop into my head though. I remember making a quilt with my mum and grandma as a girl. We cut the pattern pieces out of newspaper. They were hexaganal and brightly coloured scraps of cotton. I remember it being on a spare single bed. I really like the silk one above but don’t have a desire to make one!

  3. Anne

    I like Lyn’s suggestion of cushion covers. Or a wall hanging? It doesn’t sound as if you will finish this as a full sized quilt; nor is there any pressure to finish it as such if you don’t feel that’s the right thing to do. So I think a small project or Kondo it to a quilting group. I hear the good money after bad dilemma – it’s one I’m all too familiar with, yet still find decisions difficult, but very freeing when made.

  4. Demented Fairy

    OOOH the Quilting Question. I made my one and only foray a couple of Christmases ago, when I decided to make as many pressies as humanly possible. I also wanted to stash bust. As I find it next to impossible to throw any fabrics out, unless they’re too small to make a doll’s waistcoat [I don’t MAKE any, that’s just my scrap size criterion] I did some crazy squares. The patchwork turned out to be fun, the quilting left me stone cold. Hmmm I think I need to blog on this as well now, look what you and Ruth started! [PS, chuck ’em]

  5. mrsmole

    Unless you love it, are passionate about the finished project…stop right now. You have permission to give them away and let someone else derive inspiration from them. You can probably find 100 other projects to get excited over and like when I worked in a quilt store for 5 years, it convinced me that cutting fabric into little squares and then sewing it all back together was not for me.Sometimes we get dragged along into a project and realize at the end…whew…this was just work and cannot even enjoy the finished project. Bag those little yo-yos up and give them away and create a vacancy that can be filled with something wonderful!

    • fabrickated

      Bless you. This comment has indeed given me permission to move on. Not only will I ditch the quilt pieces but I think I may take the quilt off the bucket list. Not sure what to do about the darn knitting project!!

  6. Jenny

    It was quilting that brought me back to sewing full time. I wanted to make one for my granddaughter and I loved it. I have since made many, mostly in a modern, contemporary style, rather than traditional, including some for a charity called Project Linus. They give quilts to babies and children who might find comfort from them. It doesn’t have to be large so you might even have enough now to complete a baby one. Personally I wouldn’t carry on with this unless you love it – you have many hours of work ahead of you. Don’t set the bar so high you that you won’t reach it

  7. Bunny

    Quilting, at this point in time, is definitely not on my bucket list. I was an avid quilter from the 70s to the 80s and I am done with it. As soon as my kids were in school I got back to my true love, garment making. I found quilting was too big of a commitment and stifled my creative urges that pop up frequently. I detest UFOs so nothing would get worked on but that quilt until it was done and it wore me out creatively. This is my feeling, and certainly not meant in any disrespect for the fabulous quilt artists out there. Personally, I believe I suffer from Attention Creative Disorder and need to have the flexibility to express those urges far more frequently than the investment of time a quilt would allow. Just my thing. I do admire quilt artists and am currently enjoying reading copies of QuiltMaker and Quilting Arts magazine that have been gifted to me. Very inspiring work and techniques in those mags, but I always think of how I could apply them to garment making.

    Ruth’s quilt is gorgeous!

    • fabrickated

      This is such a helpful response Bunny and I am grateful to you for making it. I will take it as a warning – maybe I am not at the quilting stage of life yet. I think the UFO thing is bothering me so it probably makes sense to let it go now.

  8. Ruth

    Oh Kate, only you can make this decision – I think you have to consider not just the physical investment of time and effort but factor in the ephemeral, like emotions, memories and happiness.
    Personally, I find the yellow too stark against the muted tones of the other colours although I do appreciate this may be the photo and/or my monitor. What about adding a soft shell, coral colour and another blue?

    • fabrickated

      At heart I don’t like the colours I choose – they are not harmonious – I thought it was the pinky brown but you may be right that it is the yellow. In general I am not really a muted person although what I have in my house and what I put on my person are two different things (my house is full of cool grey-greens and quite a lot of warm cherry red).

  9. Anne S

    You don’t have to make your Suffolk puffs into a bed quilt. I suggest scaling down and making a cushion instead. Then you won’t feel bad about the wasted work and will have something worthwhile to show for it.

    But sometimes life is too short to persevere with the original intention.

    And next time you decide to make a quilt, why not make a lap quilt – this can go on top of a bed without hanging down the sides or over the back of a sofa. Achievable smaller projects you finish are better than UFOs.

  10. Maggie

    If you don’t love it I think you should let it go. If no one wants to adopt it, donate it to a charity shop- I read all the time people super excited about a charity shop find such as this, and it is just their colors, etc.

  11. Stephanie

    I really enjoyed reading the responses from everyone. I agree that this is a very personal decision. I tend to think that there is a “stage” for everything in life, and there are certain things I have put off until the time is right, knowing that they would crowd out things I want to do more if I were to do them right now. If you’re not passionate about it then I would probably give the bits to a quilting group or someone else, as you can always start fresh if the passion arrives one day (says the person who is cleaning her apartment for the friend who will shortly occupy it, realizing that she is in desperate need of a true Kondo-ing and a wiping out of her makers bucket list :)).

  12. Lesley

    I can see the potential in this Kate. Would it work for your grandchild? The colours are really pretty. If you do donate it, I’m sure someone will think its a real score. I have spent 3 years procrastinating over a granny square crochet blanket for Princess – I. will. finish. eventually!

  13. Alix

    I made quilts for many years and have cupboards full of them as well as having given many away. Then about 18 months ago I just thought “what am I doing???” I only have 3 beds and there are only so many quilts I need it just started to seem like busy work – ie filling in hours that could be better spent doing something else. I’ve since gone back to sewing clothes which I am loving cos I can wear them everyday. We moved house 6 months ago and I gave away my entire stash on a sharing website called TuShare. Very freeing and I have no regrets at all. I also gave away 90% of my quilting books and am happy that someone else will be getting use out of them. I still have a couple of tops that need to be made up but there’s no rush and I’m happy to be sewing things that feel more useful. Just my 2c.

  14. Jayne Hilditch

    The knitted item on the bucket list…. I think the trick might be to both keep it modest (hat/socks/scarf/shawl) and use a particularly nice yarn. I’ve been knitting with a Japanese yarn recently – it’s called Noro. There are various weights, but it’s usually a silk alpaca mix, and looks like a homespun (a bit “lumpy”) – though I’m sure it’s actually machined. The most amazing thing about it though is the range of really beautiful colours that come in one ball. It’s a long length, self striping yarn. I currently having fun knitting two different coloured balls together in stripes… So I’m manually striping a self-striping yarn – I’m really pleased with the effect.

    • fabrickated

      Jayne you are a great knitter who comes from a long line of great knitters, so thanks so much for your encouragement and suggestion. I can do the simple items – scarf and hat, baby jumpers, granny square blanket. The issue for me is making a garment – a jumper or cardigan that fits and flatters. I have made a few but they just weren’t wearable. It is the shaping, fitting, yarn and pattern knowledge that I struggle with. I think I will need to go to a knitting class so I can be shown how to do each step.

  15. helen

    Give it up! I don’t think you’ll enjoy making it and the man hours involved are many.
    I’m sure there’ll be somebody who will take this off your hands.

  16. Leila

    Don’t give up! I decided on making a quilt and got so fed up and fell out of love with it so many times along the way. In the end it took four years in fits and starts. And although I don’t love the fabric anymore and the stitching is wonky and I found out about how to actually press things out much too late in the process, finishing it was a wonderful wonderful feeling. I coined it the ‘drunk stitch quilt’ and it was a rite of passage. Introduce some new colours and fall back in love with it. Do it do it!

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