19 July 2016

It's About Time

Back in the days before smart phones, Internet and Pokemon, my sewing machine was a quillow factory. I was going through a divorce, adopting my second older special needs child, changing venues, changing jobs, and recovering from a motor vehicle accident that destroyed all my camera equipment. I had to find a way to feed my adopted kids.

My new job was in the biggest office in which I'd ever worked... something like 120 employees! And we had more offices all over the country. About 900 employees nationwide.

Many of my co-workers had kids. They liked handmade things. When they found out I could whip out a quillow, a quilt you turn into a pillow by stuffing it into a pocket on its back, in a couple of nights, I was in consignment heaven. I started buying every single quilt panel I could find and turning out two or three quillows a week, which I'd then sell for $25 or $50 each, depending upon the price of the fabric.

Do you remember when fabric was that inexpensive?!?

Back then, my personal "office" at work was a closet, and I could work on craft projects when there wasn't any proofreading to be done and between calls while I manned the office switchboard during lunch and after hours. I could do the hand-sewing while I was at work. Back then, there was lots of hand-sewing because I didn't know how to free-motion quilt at all. I'm not sure it existed then!

I think this may have been the oldest WIP in my collection.

Eventually, I moved into a higher-paying position at the same office. By that time, everyone I worked with had quillows. I could finally sew for my own kids instead of always sewing for other people's kids. Both my kids ended up with at least five or six quillows on their futon beds!

I still had a bunch of panels I hadn't used. For years! A wildfire in California brought the call for Project Linus quilts. I whipped up almost everything remaining in my panel stash into 18 quick flimsies (because there were size requirements, and some of the panels weren't big enough without additional sashing or borders), and the women at church crafted them into tied quilts which then were donated to families who'd lost everything.

A few years later, I joined Ravelry's quarterly quilting WIP challenge in an effort to finish up non-panel projects that had become so numerous, they were denting my creativity and taking up too much valuable space. The goal is to finish at least one WIP every quarter. One early quarter I finished a small wall quilt that wasn't on my official list, so it didn't count. (Although it still got cheered!) So I pulled out every single project I could find and made a WIP inventory list so every finish from now on will count.

I did not remember buying this fabric or making the three Dresden plates, probably my first Dresden plates ever. I did not remember hand-sewing the Dresden patches onto blocks cut the same size as the cheater panel blocks. I didn't remember piecing the blocks together, and I definitely didn't remember setting aside the last remaining cheater panel block for the quillow pocket. I snapped a photo of the finished flimsy for my official WIP list, then set the project aside again until this year.

This year's personal goals include finishing enough WIPs to give all 13 cousins a quilt at Christmas. (All the existing nieces and nephews got quilts last Christmas.) After revising my WIP list in January, I decided I should try to finish as many of the really old projects this year. I pulled out this charmer, working name Long Forgotten, and noticed the pillow pocket block for the first time since stashing it away two decades or more ago. My goal was to finish it by June. But I wasn't sure I wanted to make another quillow. The project got set aside again, but this time, near the sewing machine so it wouldn't be forgotten again.

Once I settled into the idea of finishing the project as a quillow because it would be quick, it took me only a few hours one night to complete it. I pieced a back from the remnants of the Dresden plates, then pillow-case seamed the layers and hand-stitched the opening. I sandwiched the pillow pocket layers and pillow-case bound them. I (rather sluggishly once again) practiced free-motion quilting on both the quilt and the pillow pocket. Every time I take a many-month break from free- motion quilting, I feel like I have to start all over again learning to set the machine and smoothly move the fabric beneath the presser foot. Some of the stitching is fairly jerky, but if I work on another free-motion quilting project again soon, perhaps I can develop a steadier hand once again. Any improvement would be welcome!

After finishing all the quilting, I machine-stitched the pocket to the back of the quilt. Back when I was doing these to supplement our Ramen noodle diet, I hand-stitched the pockets to the quilts. Talk about speeding up the process!!!

Which might be a good thing because when I pulled this project out again in January, I discovered not all the "remnant" fabric matched. There is yet one more long forgotten quillow panel in this particular stash, and I'm highly suspicious my quillow projects pulled some hanky panky while stuffed away in a dark basement. I think they multiplied and reproduced to prevent extinction!

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.


  1. lol damn that hanky panky. Great you could fall back on it to eat too and feed the kiddos at your zoo. Guess some points in life we have to make things work for us. But much better when we can just do it for ourselves and those we want.

    1. That's true, Pat, being able to do thing for loved ones instead of for pay really adds a splash to life!

  2. I didn't know Ravelry had a quilting group - what a fun thing to do.
    The first time I bought retail fabric I had total sticker shock - I use mainly thrifted fabric and thread for my projects.
    I took up quilting so I could make gifts that people would cherish.

  3. Nothing wrong with using thrifter fabric, Tami. I do that too when I have the opportunity.

  4. Beautiful quillow, and a fun story behind it! Whoop whoop for a great finish!

    1. Thank you, Sarah! What a thrill to see you here!!!

  5. Funny how fabrics do that ... is it something to do with survival of the fittest? :)

    You're going to bring quillows back into fashion at this rate!

    1. Wouldn't that be cool, to start a new fad for a new generation!


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