Thursday, April 23, 2020

Are you dressing for success these days?

As a business woman in the 1990's, I was conscious of dressing for my role as a quilt show owner and teacher.  It made me feel professional and I believe it impacted other people's perception of me.
So this morning, when I got dressed I did it for success -- to make myself feel perky!
I put on my favorite spring blouse and a lovely shawl that I knit two years ago.
Then I went up to the sewing room and got to work!
A couple of ideas influenced this morning's decision -- if I don't wear my spring stuff at home this year, I'll miss wearing it at all given the current circumstances.  And I know when I dress too casually, I feel . . . . . how do I put this?  
Sloppy, lazy, unmotivated, yukky.
Right now that is the last thing I need!!

My (huge) cutting table is actively engaged with several projects right now -- all of them vital to my existence (I think).  At times, I've gone through feeling guilty about getting so much personal pleasure from my career -- not often, but when someone rants about how hard or boring their job is, I feel guilty.  When those feelings rise up, I find it helps to reflect on all the good I'm able to do through my sewing skills.
I'm not making dozens of masks like some of you, but I am covering my people -- family and friends.
I'm still producing small quilts to donate to folks when I am able to do that again.  Making these little sashed 9-patch blocks is fun and when I get three more finished, it will make a nice wheelchair size laprobe.  All the fabric is from my scrappy 2 1/2" square stash.
There's also been almost daily stash tidying as I pull fabrics for the several projects in progress and that makes me feel good.  Look how tidy the blue shelves and the red/pink shelf are!?!
The greens continue to be a mess but I think they are next.
I love pulling little fabric combos out of my stash -- makes me feel like I'm back in my shop.
This set of tea wallets are headed to one of my Instagram knitting mentors for her to include in her many generous yarn giveaways.  I was very flattered that she asked me to make some for her. 
 I finally found the book with the Halo block pattern!! 
This is my prep area at one end of the cutting table.  I made templates and am tracing around them and hand cutting most of the fabric pieces.  As I tidy up the studio, I'm cutting a single piece for one of the pattern shapes from everything before I put the fabric back on the shelf.  This gives me a very random assortment of fabrics to use as I lay out each block and that's what caught my eye about this quilt in the first place!  I know it will work because all the fabrics in my stash have been chosen by me and will reflect my taste and style.  That's one of my reservations about buying bundles and kits -- those collections of fabrics are lovely, but they don't reflect my preferences. 
All the curves in this block might put you off but the blocks are going together very smoothly.
Here's a series of pictures I shared a couple days ago on Instagram to illustrate how I handle curves at the sewing machine.  
(This approach is based on my experience teaching drunkard's path with Marti Michell's tools.)

One pin is all you need -- more just get in the way and make it awkward.
Center the two curved edges right sides together with the convex curve piece on top.
When inserting the pin, just prick through a few threads as close to the seamline as possible -- this makes it easier to manipulate the top layer as you stitch.
Now line up the end of the arc with the corner of the bottom piece - corner to corner. 
Take two or three stitches and stop with the needle down. 
Now I use my fingers, but if you are more comfortable with a pointy thing like a stiletto use that, I push the top layer to the right and line up the edges as I work my way to the pin.
Don't worry about the ruffly appearance of the top piece but if you are getting little tiny pleats in the top piece along the seam line, that means your seam allowance is slightly more than 1/4" and you need to adjust the seam allowance.  Remove the pin. 
Match the corner of the top piece to the corner of the lower layer at the end and pin to hold it steady.
Taking the time to do this ensures that the arc doesn't stretch distorting the finished unit. 
Continue to match up the edges and stitch to the end. 
Press the seam allowance towards the arc for the flattest result.
The finished unit is square! 
I've had to activate the design floor to see how the blocks are progressing.  The sew-along is advocating piecing two blocks a week for a total of thirty-six blocks and is currently in week four.  I'm piecing the arc units as sew-offs while making masks and then setting together a block every evening as my "reward" for getting through the day!?!  I'm not sure I'll make it to thirty-six blocks as I often lose interest in a quilt design once I've mastered the piecing but at this point I enjoying the process a great deal and hope to make it to at least twenty blocks for a 36" by 45" top.
And so I keep pushing through this period, doing what is familiar and comforting, helping out as I can.  It doesn't feel like enough some days and yesterday just when I was beginning to feel a bit more normal, I learned a friend is hospitalized in ICU with it.  Hard news!
And unfortunately, it likely won't be the last.
(EDIT: 4/27/2020 -- My friend has been moved out of ICU and is recovering!!  Hooray!)
So "dress for success" and keep soldiering on!

I'm going to change into my gardening gear and go wipe out some English ivy!!



  1. Mary, I'm so sorry to read about your friend. That is hard news, indeed. It is inspiring to read how busy and active you are keeping yourself. I'm still in sloth mode, but yesterday I did trim my quilt, made the binding and sewed it on. This morning, post shower, I will turn the binding to the front and finish it off. I always machine stitch my binding so it will go quickly. And following that, I have a BOM that I'm now two months behind on and I've been loosely following Rachel Hauser's Quilter's Guide to Color and I have a lot of catching up to do with that. So ... hopefully, a busy day. Very rainy here today, but it's a typical spring day so not, to me, gloomy.

  2. While I might not be as well dressed as you are today, I have found that it definitely helps my motivation when I get up, shower, and dress in my "uniform." (That would be jeans and a t-shirt, for me!) All of your blocks are coming along SEW nicely, Mary!

  3. Your growing quilt blocks are really really neat - I don't know that I have seen one like that. Glad you are doing well - so sorry about your friend

  4. Love your block with the circles! Just discovered your blog. Such fun. Stay well!

  5. I was just contemplating staying in my PJs all day, but I think you have talked me out of it.
    Hurrah that your friend is out of ICU!