More Better

I have two quilts planned for Mom’s clothes.  Since she or I made most of her pants, and when she was well she wore pretty wild stuff, I decided Goodwill would never find a long-legged match for them. Besides, they were beyond “gently used.”  There will be a quilt from her pants later, maybe with a wild sock border. Still pondering.

Mom’s shirts were another story. They were fairly new and I felt a little guilty about chopping them up. Nonetheless, they have been “filleted” (cut apart at the seams, another Mom-ism) and as I work around the stains, I’m feeling better about it.

I knew from the start I wanted a series of  squares within squares set on black with a hand-sewn blanket stitch in black perle cotton around all the raw edges. Not that my Bernina wouldn’t do a fantastic job, this quilt just needed to be needled by hand, slowly, over time, to let the sad out and the happy back in.

So, the last couple of days I’ve been fusing Pellon’s 906F, a very lightweight fusible interfacing, to the wrong sides of Mom’s cotton/spandex shirts and the two pair of LLBean extra long black stretch slacks. I got to cutting the patches out and arranged the first four last night.

Mom's quilt begun

There was something very satisfying about the colors. Each block would be a different combination. It would be bright, and cheery, and… boring.

Mom wasn’t like that. She was wild and exciting. Although she could, she never colored within the lines.  That had already been done before. And she never lined things up! I’m the anal one. I’m Monk. I actually took a ruler and measured all four sides on each square in an attempt to get the patches perfectly centered, one on top of the other! And yes, it DOES bother me that the blocks aren’t lined up in the photo. I can’t imagine how long I would have fretted before fusing. Nope. This wasn’t her.

More better This may not be her either, but as she would have said, it’s “more better.”

I can still see too much me in there, but it’s a start. Maybe with practice I can push a patch or two beyond the boundary of the patch beneath it. That will be my new challenge.

I was thinking of drawing a line 1/8″ from the edge so that all the stitches would be even. Maybe I should purposely make some really long instead. I need to embrace my inner asymmetry. With each design choice, I will channel Mom. What would she have done? Wish me luck!

23 thoughts on “More Better

  1. I like the 2nd set better too. Maybe you just need to add some of the momism’s to the blocks? embroder on her ‘special’ words like ‘more better’ and “orafice means office” or something like that ;-)


  2. Oh, do save your early almost-symmetrical patches and add the others as you and the quilt grow forward during this project. . . the result will be a wonderful, visual blend of mother-daughter personalities (good days, bad days, silly days, somber days, all connected just like real life) ~ such a gift for your daughter… and yes, slow cloth all the way!

    You SO read my mind. Anal at the bottom, wild as it goes toward the top. I was thinking of calling it “From Mom to Am” (her nickname for me), and after I try it out for a few snuggles, Jennie will receive it. Or we’ll ship it back and forth and share.~~Ami


  3. I love the idea of letting a corner of a smaller square overlap the border of a larger square! You are a product of the way your mom raised you, so I think it’s perfectly fine for the quilt to be a combination of your conscientiousness (my word for anal) and her spontaneity. The black really sets off the great colors. What a great project. :o)


  4. I agree with the sentiment that you are your mother’s daughter and the quilt should show that! This is such a nice tribute! I love how you are going to quilt the sad out and the happy back in.

    I often buy shirts at thrift stores to use for quilting. I always pass up the ones with spandex in them because I didn’t know what would happen after washing. The ones I wear seem to shrink and shrink and shrink. Will you be able to wash this quilt?

    Sure hope I can wash it!~~Ami


  5. By the way, I love that you are making a quilt out of your mom’s clothes. I did that when my dad passed away. (Only out of his clothes–LOL. I tried to do that with my mom’s clothes, but it just didn’t work. Alas–I never tired to use iron on interfacing.
    Regards, Peg


  6. You know they say that we all grieve differently and that there is no ‘right’ way. I think sewing our way from sad to happy quilting therapy must be just the same process and that you are doing exactly what you need to do! I bet you can hear your ‘momisms’ coming through loud and clear with every block. Beebe as the mom and then you as the mom. So, yes indeed…both of you are making this quilt. Not only will she be in every block, but she will also be in every stitch of your heart. And like all stitches..from the ones in our sides, to the ones in our hearts, to the ones we make with needles and thread…some stitches are tight, some are loose, some break and some hold tight. You are a lovely example of a caring and remembering daughter who is doing for her mother now, just as you did through her life and her passing. So, whether your blocks and your stitches are straight and tidy…..or wild and wonky, they are all made with love. Making happy blocks is the perfect way to go from sad to happy…stitch by stitch, block by block! Remember to breathe, to sing her sunshine songs, and to always remember her ‘I love yous’ and fill those blocks with all of those feelings of the heart, as well. ((hugs from all who care for you, Ami!!!))


  7. I’m trying to break away from the precise, symmetrical perfectionist in me…it’s hard. If you haven’t done all the cutting of squares yet might I suggest some non-ruler freehand rotary cutting since these are to be appliqued down, not pieced. Just a bit more outside the lines. And combine some of the ruler cut with freehand cut, in symmetrical and asymmetrical type arrangements.


  8. The blocks set off center are definitely not boring and have a life and joy the symmetrically set ones just don’t have–definitely “More better!” And making the stitiches different lengths is also a great idea! And what about using different colors of perle cotton to do the blanket stitching? Green stitching on the turqoise, black on the blue, turquoise on the green??? The possibilities are endless. The black keeps it all tied together like hugs. Like you I keep finding ways to celebrate my little mother. I have her crocheted hearts and snowflakes hanging on our French doors to keep the birds from crashing into the glass.


  9. My favorite bead store has a wonderful Punch Card system. They file it for you – in a box at the store! That’s really customer satisfaction. Now if I can only remember to ask them to punch it for me that will be really good. Dragon Fly Beads in Manlius NY. Super store, super owner. KBB


  10. The more I read about her, the more I love your mother. Also, I know what you mean about “anal” lining up, etc. I tried making scrap crazy quilts to use up double knit–ended up driving myself crazy trying to put the same color in the same spot on each.
    I have an idea for your squares. How about laying them out when finished and tossing a little heart on each and appliqueing as it lands (kind of like throwing kisses to Beebe as you do it). I’d love to try it on a quilt of my own but I know I’d find myself lining them up after I tossed them, defeating the idea :-)

    On your cards, the punches look like plain old shorthand to me as recognize some of the symbols, just can’t remember what they mean. Give me a break as it’s been over 40 years since I took it in college. I last used it writing letters to my sis–we’d irriitate our daughters by putting some in to make them wonder what we were writing about them. I’m sure I still have the text somewhere if you’re interested.


  11. Ami: YOU ARE NOT MONK! Just because you like things tidy, doesn’t mean your anal.
    Don’t be afraid to do things wonky. Use different colors for the blanket stitching too!
    I agree with the idea of embroidering on “Momisims” It is so hard to remember the funnies as the years pass and you don’t want to lose those.
    It will keep the great-great-grandkids wondering what was up with their wonderful ancestors too.


  12. The inner blocks are so very “square”. I mean, the outer one has to be, so they all fit together. But inner wonkies would be yet another aspect of One’s Personality. (I do wonky well.)

    How is the interfacing working? Is this the “new” stuff? Is it available at our LQS yet?

    BTW, I absolutely LOVE your mom’s colors!


  13. I love your quilt! When my dad died I stole all his flannel shirts before my mom could give them to the thrift store. I cut them up and crazy quilted them to flannel squares and made a lap robe – so mom can still have Daddy’s arms around her when she’s cold!


  14. Creativity is a wonderful outlet for emotions and the tactile nature of sewing. . . handling the cloth she wore, remembering how she loved a piece of clothing, acknowledging her special style. . . is an important part of your personal journey that will help to heal the ache. The process is more important than the product. Cherish and celebrate the process in the moment.


  15. I love the off kilter blocks and vote too for different length stitches and colors of perle cotton. And Momisms…go for those too. And I”ll be thinking of you quilt the sad out and the happy in. Today is my Mom’s birthday, would have been her 83rd. I still miss her but look at her photo every AM and smile and say good morning. I wasn’t quilting when she left 25 yrs ago but I have a quilt she finished of my great grandmother’s and a top waiting for me to do the same. Hugs!


  16. Ami, what wonderful things you are doing with your grief! Thank you for taking us (and teaching us) along on your journey. Regarding your quilt squares, a technique suggested by a good friend to “get in touch with your inner child” is to work with your non-dominant hand. In other words, try doing your blanket stitch with the hand that doesn’t usually sew – your inner child (the one your mom loved, nurtured, and raised) will give you a new perspective to your work. Don’t “correct” her, just let her play.

    Interesting! I’ll get out the bandaids now.. ~~Ami


  17. Love the “more better” block. My sweet father-in-law used that phrase a lot.

    P.S. On other “subject”, I don’t lose my punch cards, I just leave them at home (somewhere).


  18. Love this, Ami – I know your Mom would love you to sew yourself happy – and what Bebee-ism would she name it?? I cherish your mother – as I have come to know her through your eyes.


  19. I love how you have tried to stretch and work the blocks in a ‘tumbled’ way. Maybe this is an opportunity for your mom to help you go ‘outragous.’
    How about trying some of those all so tempting embroidry options on your machine in addition to the buttonhole stitch. The blocks are you (very organized), but the stitches which tie everything together make a bit wonky, happy and interesting like I imagine Beebe was. Can’t wait to see what this quilt tells you along the way to being made.


  20. I think the wonky block looks great. As to worrying about having too much of you in it, aren;t you yourself made of a lot of your mom?So by adding you your adding her? I can’t help it, it’s the way my brain works. Whatever you do this quilt will be a team event. It will be a greatt quilt when it’s done.


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