Scrap It: Confessions of an Undisciplined Quilter


Some call it creative, artistic even. But the truth is that I do not have the patience to fiddle with the rules. I caught the bug while expecting my third son. My other two boys had been given handmade quilts as newborns but it was looking like being up to Mom to provide the third. Overly ambitious as always, I concocted a red, white and green confection that was way too thick to be practical and sported mushrooms and ladybugs. It was the seventies, you understand. The colour scheme worked well for a December birthday, and it was warm. Mission accomplished.

The original owner of the "Christmas Mushroom" quilt, cozily bringing in the New Year, 1978

The original owner of the “Christmas Mushroom” quilt, cozily bringing in the New Year, 1978

Then came the grand babies. What to do, what to do? I know! Let’s rework a bad job done by my revered Grandma for the new babe’s Daddy. I can’t say it was any better done the second time, but  it got a new and colourful binding, Baby’s name and birthday embroidered upon it, and it held together for laundering this time. Next grandson, time to redo the Christmas quilt. Okay, this is a November baby, so the colours are still appropriate. I re-sewed some seams and completely replaced the batting and backing. It was also personalized, as have been all my quilts since. I still have my eldest son’s baby quilt, as he has not had children, and forty-two years later I am still puzzling over how to refurbish a worn whole cloth quilt.

In the intervening time, I have experimented on a number of grandchildren, grand nieces and grand nephews.  Some have turned out better than others, but all were made with great love and haphazardness.

"Growing Things"  My first original quilt since 1977. For a niece.

“Growing Things”
My first original quilt since 1977. For a niece.

I followed a pattern once. Last summer I had the privilege to create a quilt for my first great-grandchild, and decided it was time I grew up and followed some rules. I bought the yardage specified for what turned out to be a larger quilt than I’d planned. I cut all the little pieces with my rotary cutter on my marked cutting mat, using my marked quilter’s rulers. I measured three times and cut once.  I sewed them all together to make

A block from "On Turtle Pond"

A block from “On Turtle Pond”

each block represent a turtle. I stitched them all together, with banding in between to look like a pebble-strewn pond. Lovely, you say? You are absolutely right. It was beautiful, and I was so proud of it. Turtles facing in four different directions in a pond was exactly what I had envisioned and hoped for. And that was what I had. So what’s haphazard about that? Nothing, if you don’t expect it to be the same proportions as the pattern specifies.  I had put the turtles’ heads on the wrong sides of their shells. And there they will remain for the life of this quilt. I made a few more of the blocks to correct the length-to-width ratio and finished the thing. I certainly had enough fabric to make extra blocks. In fact I had enough of the backing fabric to make a crib sheet to coordinate with the quilt. Needless to say the non-sewing recipients of  my gift were duly impressed. I am still proud of it. Even when I aspire to follow the rules, there is something in me that says, “Let this be an original.” And it always is.


5 thoughts on “Scrap It: Confessions of an Undisciplined Quilter

    • No time like the present, though one thing I did not mention about my process is that I think about every project for a very long time before I begin working on it. My husband laughs at me because I refer to this part of the process as “percolating.”


  1. You have done well. I had one or two lessons – and still have the bag full of goodies to show – but have done nothing since. Too busy with other things but I do go to Quilting shows and admire the work of others. One day I will find someone who wants my bag of goodies. Great work.

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  2. Pingback: Tuesday Try This #11: Crafty | Betzcee Rambles

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