Thursday, September 12, 2019

Baskets and Quilts

I really love baskets and basket quilts. My recent flea market find was this old basket -

Here's a recent eBay find. Love those scallops.

What is it about these basket quilts? Long ago, there were so many uses for baskets and they were a huge part of nineteenth-century life. It's no wonder they found their way into quilts made at the time. There were market baskets, gathering baskets, berry baskets, flower baskets and sewing baskets.  

"In the 1800s, women's scrap baskets often contained leftovers from dressmaking, as well as pieces of fabric collected from friends and relatives and fragments of dresses worn by loved ones."  
                                                                                                                        - A Prairie Journey    

Do you have a scrap basket? 

A basket for my hexagons

We should all have a couple of basket quilts in our collection, don't you think? That's the beauty of  small quilts -  you can make a variety of quilt patterns without expending the time making a large quilt.

Here are some basket quilts I've made over the years:

Civil War baskets from my book Remembering Adelia.

Prairie Baskets is from my second book Prairie Children and Their Quilts.

My Cherry Baskets quilt is available as a pattern on my website

The one below is a vintage doll quilt. How quirky are those baskets??

There's a pattern for the 4" basket block below in Files in the Facebook group or the Small Quilt Talk group. Go to the sidebar on my blog to find the links to the groups.

The tiny blue and red baskets quilt was a special gift from my friend Marian. 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Making a Plan to Finish a Small Quilt

We all love making small quilts and I know some of you have a dream to create a wall full of them. I post challenges from some of my books each month in my Facebook group to give you suggestions on what to make. It's fun stitching along with others in the group and seeing what they're doing with the pattern. Watching their progress. Every quilt is different, but the same design. 

Our challenge in my groups for September - October is Aunt Sarah's Scrap Baskets quilt from my book A Prairie Journey.  We've been working on some of these quilts for the past year and are now closing in on finishing them up by the end of this year. But the suggestions are all listed in the group Files and you can pick one and make it at any time. 

How do you get started? Every year I try to post my suggestions on how to finish some of the quilts we work on as challenges in my online groups. Give you a little nudge. If you're determined to make a quilt a month from one of these challenges (or pick others to work on) you have to discipline yourself and decide if you really really want to make them.

Great ideas for tackling procrastination and getting things done! Love this free printable to serve as a reminder!:

Some of you can put together a whole small quilt in one sitting. But I sure can't and I know it's not easy or practical for most of us to do it this way. Don't beat yourself up. Just begin. Here's what I know -  if you break up your quilting into manageable chunks of time, you can easily finish one little quilt every month. And, if you keep it up, at the end of a year you will have quite a few little quilts made. 

Here's what helps me - when I need to complete a number of projects (like for a book or something) I buy myself a pretty little notebook and keep track of my progress. This works well if you have a goal to make a few quilts and it's a good way to hold yourself accountable by writing down your quilting goals and doing your best to accomplish some of them. If you can do it all in your head, more power to you. I'm pretty old school at times (or maybe just plain old). Having something tangible, like a notebook, to hold in my hands works better for me. But you can use your phone or tablet if that works. I'm writing a book right now and there's so much to keep track of that I can't possibly keep it all in my head. I need that notebook with my lists of things I have to accomplish every day or week. It feels good to flip through it and check off small goals. The small goals often lead to bigger goals and a good feeling that you've actually done something.

Decide on a few projects you really want to make. If you have one of my books and would love to make some of the quilts in it, thumb through it and pick a few that speak to you, a few that seem manageable. We're talking 2 or 3 small quilts at first. If you overdo it and shoot for 10, you might not get anything finished. Write them down in that notebook. Create a separate page for each quilt.  Then below that, write down everything it would take to make that quilt -  choose fabrics, cut the pieces for the blocks, sew the blocks, pick the borders, sew the borders, do the quilting, put the binding on. Give yourself a month and break down the steps week by week. Take each step one at a time. Check off each step as you complete it. Make notes. Use the notebook as a record of your progress. Keep it for future projects too. 

Before you begin -  clean off your sewing table a bit to make sure you have some room to work. Don't stress about the mess in the whole room if that's a problem. It will only keep you from being focused. Take 15 minutes and move stuff off the table, clear some space and make a fresh start for a new project. Organize the fabric later when you have time.  (That's a whole other post!) 

1. First Week - Spend an hour to choose your fabrics and maybe another hour or two that week to cut the pieces. Put this somewhere in a zip lock bag and keep it where you can easily see it and return to it the next week. Don't pressure yourself to finish the whole quilt in one day unless you want to and have the time or energy. 

2. Second Week - Make your blocks. This also only takes a few hours (sometimes less, because remember, most of the quilts are small).

3. Third Week - Put the blocks together withe the setting pieces if necessary. Probably takes an hour or two. Maybe add the border if you have time or at least cut the fabric for it.

4. Fourth Week - Finish borders, layer your quilt with batting and backing and spend the rest of the time finishing/quilting. This often takes the most time, but if you like handwork it can go fast.

All it takes is a little discipline. I find I work best with a schedule and some of you may find that helpful too. Schedule a time to sew on Wednesday and Friday mornings or evenings, or Saturday afternoons, say. As each week begins, make a plan to sew on a certain day that week. Other things will always come up and you'll certainly have distractions. You just have to keep at it and make this YOUR time. Don't attempt to finish the whole thing in one session. Do a little bit every week. Even a bit of progress can make you feel pretty good.

Bottom line - You can do this!