Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Quilt Top for Malachi

I am a minimalist and have in past times discarded scraps of fabric that were not big enough for another project into the trash - yes - the trash - but a few years ago I took it into my head that I could make quilts with the scraps I thusly got rid of with such lack of thrift and creativeness. So I began to save scraps that were decent-sized, until I accumulated a whole tubful. In a fit of organization last year, I divided all the scraps into different bags, labeled by color family - blues, greens, neutrals, pinks, etc. I enjoyed that. I like organizing things. The fat rows of bags snugly packed back into the tub gave me an ecstatic thrill.

A few months ago, I spent a half hour per day for a few day successively, tearing some of the scraps into 4” squares. I figured if I had the squares already torn and pressed, I would be more likely to actually sew a quilt top with them. I was right. In the course of a few days in December, I made Judah a 9-patch quilt, twin-sized and tied. It made a very very very small dent in my squares. And an even smaller dent in my scrap fabric stash.

I was getting sick of seeing piles of squares everywhere in my sewing area. They seemed to breed and multiply. No matter how I put them up, or into what dim and dismal drawer I might shut them, they somehow escaped and reappeared. I ignored them. They silently screamed at me. They made their way into the towel cupboard, the laundry baskets, on top of books on our bookshelves until I could ignore them no longer. I had to use them up.

Last week, in spare time between sewing up David’s overalls, I pieced Malachi a quilt top. I meant to make one for him anyway but planned on giving it to him for his 2nd birthday. Due to the insubordination of my scrap squares, he is getting it sooner. To use up as many squares as I could, I made 9-patch blocks with sashing in between the blocks. I did not alternate them with plain squares, like I did with Judah’s quilt. I used up a good many squares this way but I still have a lot left in more “girly” prints and colors. I guess I’ll need to make another top pretty soon. I was happy with how it came out although not all the seams match up like they should. I didn’t try to coordinate anything in the quilt so it is a true “scrap” quilt. Some of the colors clash, and some of the plaids and prints are downright ugly, but altogether I am pleased with how it looks in the end. Since Malachi still has his baby quilt that he sleeps with I am going to take my time in finishing it. I would like to hand quilt all of it instead of tying it. I don’t know how long that will take me, but I think it will look nice in the end.

Since this week is the last week in February, I’ve been scrambling to get all my outside sewing projects done. I didn’t think I’d had much to do over the winter but it turned out to be more than I thought. My goal was to get it all completed before the end of February so I could focus on sewing for our own family after that. I finished my friend Katherine’s summer sheer dress this week and made her two petticoats for beneath it so that is done. Today I finished up some clothing items for a little 5 year old boy in our reenacting group.

I knew since last fall I’d be making him some things over the winter but it took me a while to figure out exactly WHAT to make for him. He could possibly wear tunics at this age, or button suits, or even dresses but it was hard to find a balance between what would be common in the period, and yet acceptable to his parents and to himself, that is, not too girly looking or too different from the clothes he wears in modern life. And in all this, the garments had to be big enough to fit him until the end of the season, allowing for growth and expansion, as needed.
I settled on some side-opening trousers (a style that can be worn by little boys), a few basic square cut shirts, a sack coat and a cloth cap and some button-on braces to hold the trousers up. All together he has a red plaid cotton shirt, a white cotton shirt, brown twill full length trousers, gray corderoy and also black cotton twill short trousers, cotton canvas braces, a fully lined gray corderoy sack coat with black cotton trim, a black cotton twill cap with a flat sewn taffeta bow tacked on at the side and a blue and white spotted cotton necktie. I didn’t make him any under things since they weren’t requested and I’m not sure what sort of under things he is used to in modern life since he is currently in the process of being fully potty trained. I hope these will last him til the end of the fall!

I feel very happy and fulfilled that I have finished all this before the end of February. Now I have a few more days “extra” in the month. That is always a good feeling.

And to keep me company, please allow me to introduce a certain gentleman who has been staying with us these past seven months. He is a gentleman of clean and quiet habits and, if perhaps tending a bit too much to indolence and lethargy, we acquit him of these charges in lieu of his polite manners.

His proper name is Nathan Bedford Forrest, but we affectionately call him “Kitty” or “Cat” and only rare use his full title. David brought him home as a wee thing, perhaps only three or four weeks old, back in September. He and three sisters were left inside a pipe leading into our church and no mother was seen and so, a few days after the babies were discovered, David brought our little boy home. He is a striking kitty, mostly white with a silver tinge and darker silver on his striped tail (it looks like a coon tail) and on his face and the tips of his ears. His eyes are still blue. And we all love him. Judah and Malachi use him for a pillow and he has never hissed. Being raised with our boys since an infant himself, our Mr. Cat does at times display the fact that he feels himself quite on an equal level with humans, but that is forgivable.


  1. Your kitty is the express image of my cat that I had in high School, his name was Micker. What a remarkable resemblance!

  2. What a beautiful cat. I love the quilt and the outfit. You're sooo talented.

  3. I love the quilt! Makes me want to use my scraps in some useful, non wasteful way.

    Your kitty is just gorgeous! He reminds me of my mom's cat back when I was a girl...Azure. I might forgive that sweet puss anything just because he is a beauty ;-)

    Hope you are well!
    Sommer..oh and I think Rowan might finally be getting close to the size for fitting that lovely dress you made her...though it might be a tad big yet.

  4. Nice looking quilt and nice looking cat.

  5. love love love the quilt! scrap quilts are my favorite!

    and what a lucky little man to be able to wear such great clothing!

  6. Oh Sarah I love your quilt and my sister, mother, and I are about to finish another quilt this week. My mother made all the squares, bethany sewed the top together and beth and I have finished hand quilting the top. I am working on finishing the binding tonight and the rest of the week. Its for reenacting and use in our home as well. I love how yours turned out and your cat is adorable!

  7. Your quilt is beautiful -- I am quite partial to scrap quilts. Likewise Nathan Bedford Forrest!! He reminds me of my Siamese cat, Basil, who resides with my parents. Such beautiful blue eyes...

  8. Dear Sarah,
    Nathan Bedford Forrest the Kitty Cat: you can tell he has character by the direct look he's giving the camera! He knows he's a little man :}

    He's part Siamese, perhaps, makes me wonder due to the shape of his head, his thick coat, and his coloring. My Zip Zip was, too...Siamese are often so devoted and affectionate, and talkative, and assertive, and funny.

    I love how your boys use him as a pillow -- that's adorable. They will care for him, and he them, and it will be good to grow up together. Noah and Christopher hug their Ladybug each morning, and give her a kiss on each of her little black ears. She can get nervous, but waits for this to happen each day -- I think she looks forward to it.

    Happy quilt, too!



  9. Your cat is beautiful!

    I have all my scraps organized by color in small, shoe box sized tubs. A really good way to use up those squares is to do a simple pattern alternating white and patterned squares. It looks quite nice and requires very little thought. The white squares help break up the potential "clashes" in colors and patterns and you don't need to cut stips for dividers or anything. I love using up my scraps this way and the quilt will go with any room decore because it is so varied in colors!

  10. You have a really beautiful cat! I love the quilt too, you are so talented Sarah xxxx

  11. I like the quilt, it turned out nice. My mom loves to save all her scraps but some times there are so many. I really like the little boys outfit you made it turned out very nice. Did you make your own pattern for that or did you purchase a pattern?
    Faith G.

  12. Beautiful quilt top! (And beautiful cat...sure wish I still had kitties...sigh..)

    You're reminding me of how lacking I am of thrift -- because I have a bad habit of tossing seemingly unusable bits and pieces from my projects. :) It's a great idea - you never know when you might need those odds and ends to make a quilt for winter.

    Amy, who is regretting having taken a day off work because she's now buried under piles of it.

  13. I love the quilt. I have a cat that look like your cats sister but a bit older. I was told white tiger stripe cats eyes will always stay blue.

  14. Oh! I want to curl up in a quilt like that!! It looks so comfy.

    I love your cat. He has such an expressive face, you can see that he has personality. What a fun addition to your family!

  15. What a wonderful idea!! My mom made me a quilt for my first birthday out of the scraps from all the little dresses she made me. It is a true treasure!


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!