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  • Cathy Stenquist

I'll let you in on a little secret...

Shhhh! Don't tell anyone. Really...


OK, here goes.

I am a closet fabric hoarder.


I'll admit it. Browsing through Joanne Fabrics almost always leads to purchasing a yard or two, just because - with no idea of how I will use it. Once I see a pattern or feel the soft weave of the fabric, I fall in love. It's over. It has to be mine.


A few months ago, I finally decided, at the very least, to organize my yardage by color. This way I could see what I already had and maybe, just maybe... not buy another yard of blue fabric. This worked fine, till I discovered 'fat quarters.'


Ok, seriously.... Can you blame me for collecting these?


The best way to explain fat quarters is going to a dim sum restaurant and seeing all the little plates tempting your eyes and stomach and reaching for just one more. And heaven forbid if they are on sale!


So, over the past year and a half, I have been a "lean mean quilting machine," making 8 quilts and giving them away for various occasions. I definitely have the pandemic to thank for my new hobby. Covid forced many creatives like myself, to find new ways to make art at home. For me? I decided to build off my basic sewing knowledge and teach myself to quilt. I watched 'how to' videos and scoured Pinterest. What did we ever do with out them? I picked up all sorts of short cuts (like using a rotary cutter and mat instead of scissors for those straight cuts and chain stitching) that have made all the difference. I also learned to weave into my quilts, vintage hankies, napkins and tablecloths, clothing from grandparents long since gone, old denim jeans and so much more.


L-R: A quilt made of my grandmothers hankies and lace,

one for my new grandson with bits of his great grandparent's shirt and robe, and two colorful ones for each of my granddaughters.


The process of cutting out the right sizes and shapes of fabric, often leads to "crumbs"- small insignificant pieces which normally would be thrown out. As I grabbed a fistful of the scraps near my sewing machine and reached for the wastebasket, something about the glorious colors made me stop. (Insert angels singing "Alleluia!")


"I think I'll just hang onto them," I mumbled and put them in a box. Reassuring myself that they would eventually find a purpose in a collage or art project with my granddaughter.


The other day, I needed to take a day off from all things writing and publishing and refill my creative well. I scanned my art supply shelves and saw the box,"Quilting Scraps" and gently took it down. I poured the contents out onto my kitchen table and began sorting them by color.


Soon I had a expansive rainbow of inspiration.

Each piece reminding me of a past gift made for someone I love.


I recalled seeing a video somewhere on making a quilt from your scraps and quickly searched and found it. "I can do this!" I told myself, and set the sewing machine up. Find two flat edges and sew them together, it said. Bit by precious bit, the "crumbs" were sewing together into a brand new piece of fabric.


As the machine hummed for hours, I thought to myself that crumb quilting is much like writing a story. You get the crumb of an idea... maybe a few crumbs. Often they need to sit on the shelf awhile till you one day find inspiration form their frayed pieces. Then bit by bit, the writer lays down these crumbs sewing them together into words, which turn into sentences, which turn into a paragraph, which turns into a story.


I have many stories that have been basted together and they, like this new piece of fabric I created, now need some space to sit, to marinate a bit. But in time, like this newly created piece of fabric, I will take it off the shelf and cut it up, discarding the 'little darlings' that don't belong, add a few fresh crumbs here and there, and turn it into something extraordinary.


















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