Monday, August 11, 2014

A patchwork table runner


This summer was all about the kids, as it should be. We had four weeks of swimming lessons, weekly trips to the library, get-togethers with friends, lots of time outdoors and lots of time playing together at home. We did crafts, drew and painted and modeled things out of clay. We kept up on our homeschooling too. I like to think I've got a pretty good little summer camp right here at home, only less expensive. All this kid-centric fun comes does come at a price, though: my own creative pursuits have been on the back-burner. I really like for them to see me doing creative things because I think it sets a good example: keep your hands busy, make things instead of buying them, develop your skills and create attractive, unique things for the home. I hope this is what I model for them, but of course they could just be picking up on the grumbling when I've made a mistake.


Back in April, I started stitching together some patchwork strips I hoped would eventually become a table runner - or something. I didn't really have a plan. I just needed to sit at the sewing machine and create some patchwork. I was going through one of those anxious/worried/jittery phases which are never very pleasant but which have always been a part of who I am. Crafting helps me work through those feelings. I'd been collecting small squares of fabric in a bag for a few months; when I got a new fabric, I'd cut a few squares for the bag. I'd reached a critical mass with the bag and decided to work with some of the squares. This is what I got that afternoon: a stack of pieced strips and a much clearer head.


Later that week, I'd finished the runner - except for the binding. I sandwiched it with cotton batting and a basic calico backing and I tried some machine-quilting.


This is my first real attempt with machine-quilting. It was fun, actually. I have to practice a lot more, but I liked the feeling of whizzing up the rows, it was relaxing and it created such a nice effect with so much less effort on my part. Then I put the runner down, folded neatly on the buffet in the dining room, and didn't look at it again for more than three months. The school year was winding down, teacher gifts needed to be finished, plays and musical performances and recitals were popping up all over the calendar and I needed to be in four places at once. Sewing was not a priority.


Last week, I noticed the table runner on the buffet. I'd been crocheting most days all summer, working on the GB's flowers-in-the-snow blanket, which was finished by then. I like to crochet when the children are around the house. It's easier to be present with crochet, I think. I can sit wherever they are, engaging with them as I work. But I decided it was time to finish the runner and I told them what I was going to do. They seemed agreeable so I left them to their own activities and set up my sewing machine. It was fine. It was more than fine, it was relaxing and pleasant. I only needed to sew on the binding, which I'd already made, and it was a quick job. I should have done it much sooner. I shouldn't have worried so much. But I did, because that's the way I am. I'm nothing if not a work in progress.


I'm happy with it. I'd been wanting to make something bright and cheerful for the dining room for awhile. I had such a pleasant experience creating the patchwork back in the spring. Most of the fabrics are 1930's reproductions, others are just random bits from my stash that I thought would work with them. I was looking for kitschy, and I think I got it. Adding an antique crystal vase (a wedding present) with fake roses stuck in it and pink candles sort of ups the kitsch factor: homey meets fancy. I like to change my table decor around frequently, with the seasons or with my moods. The patchwork runner is sort of all-purpose; I think it will work with just about any decorating scheme. That's one thing, among many, that I love about patchwork.


Things were going so well that I got out my bag of squares. This time, I sewed up a six-by-six square of patchwork pieces. I think I want to make a bag. Maybe for the GB, but mostly to try my hand at making a bag. I'll make another patchwork piece and think about lining and gussets and all that another time. That day, it was just nice to whip up some more patchwork. I shouldn't have waited so long but it's a real dilemma for me (and for others, I think): this balance between giving to others and making time for yourself. It's a weighty issue. All I know is that I finished the runner and I was on such a high for days afterward. I'd peek at the runner from the kitchen, feeling a little thrill over finishing it. I'd finished the blanket recently too, but this felt different: I'd taken the time for myself but even more importantly, I'd let go and it was freeing and satisfying and energizing. "I made that," I think to myself, and the world didn't cave in.

52 comments:

  1. Your table runner is absolutely gorgeous!
    Tammy x

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  2. Your runner turned out so well! You did such a good job on it. It gives such a charming feel to the table.
    You've shown your kids that you take time out for them, but also that sometimes they need to let you have time to do things like this. Good for you!

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  3. Your table runner is beautiful. What a positive way in which to work through your anxieties and worries, it is good to know what type of therapy you need. It isn't easy being a person who is easily anxious and worries, there is always something rumbling around in our heads that is of concern. Finding a creative outlet is so good for our souls and also finding balance between the needs of our kids and our own, always a work in progress. I think it is very important for our kids to see us doing things for ourselves. I've found with my girls, now 24 and 21 that they saw me as a person in my own right, not just a mother. I would read to them but also read for me, craft with them and craft for me. It shows them that we MUST look after ourselves in order to look after others. It also teaches them that sometimes they need to find things to do themselves which in turn encourages independence, creativity and problem solving skills. I hope I don't sound like I'm telling you what to do, rather encourage you to look after you without any feelings of guilt as you are helping your children learn in a different way. Have a simply wonderful day.
    Anne xx

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  4. That's a beautiful piece of patchwork. Very inspiring. I love the way you've managed to put into words something I'm sure a lot of us creative types can identify with. The struggle to find balance when you have children. Finding time and the right mood and finally achieving that 'I made that' stage which is far more rewarding than anything you could ever buy. J x

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  5. You know I love the colors that you work with and that runner rocks!!! Those happy squares set the tone for such a fun table!! Great work friend! Nicole xoxo

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  6. Love your runner, it's so pretty and colourful!! I love the thirties prints. Sometimes it's very satisfying and liberating to go with the flow, and don't overthink. Life is all about balance and it's sure hard work.

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  7. Jennifer your runner is stunning! And I'm sure you've set a wonderful example for your children by your craftiness and love of your home, (and them)!
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  8. Your table runner is just beautiful !!!
    And PS - congratulations on the education you give to your children - not enough kids nowadays are being stimulated to be creative.... (Of course it's easier to push an ipad in a child's hands, to keep it busy, but what kind of adult will become of it eventually...) So, thumbs up for you !!

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  9. I just lvE your patchwork table runner. It's funny I have been to the fabric store twice this week wanting to make a table runner for Halloween... However, I was worried it was to take too much time on the sewing machine ... Well, you have inspired me ... Maybe I will try to do it :) yours is absolutely lovely and soo good you got to spend so much time with the kids ... They will appreciate it someday :)

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  10. Its beautiful Jennifer and you are very clever. Your kids are lucky to have such a wonderful mum ☺♥

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  11. I find I really need just a little time to myself to create every day. Always at the very end of the day, when everyone is in bed and the chores are finished. It keeps me sane I think! The table runner is lovely, I really like things made from small squares, they are my favourite. CJ xx

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  12. Quite inspirational, I love the idea of a patchwork runner now that I have seen how beautiful yours is. Its on my list of things to do. Thank you for sharing.

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  13. This is definitely the prettiest table runner I've seen! I feel inspired to dig into my scraps and make one! X

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  14. it's lovely Jennifer x precious memories are created with patchwork I always think, you'll always remember finishing it this summer whilst the children played, and in years to come it will be lovely reminder of this precious time x

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  15. Your patchwork runner is beautiful Jennifer, and you have such a good eye for colour. I smiled when you say you keep popping in to look at it - I do that too, when I create something new! Happy stitching.

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  16. I love the fabrics you have chosen, they go so well together. You have inspired me to make one for a dressing table cover, thank you for sharing x

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  17. Sounds like you gave your children a wonderful summer, Jennifer. And that patchwork runner is gorgeous. Interesting, isn't it, the power in letting go. xxx

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  18. Your table runner is beautiful, I love scrappy patchwork and your combination of prints works so well. It will always remind you of the summer you finished it and happy times with your children :)
    Helen xox

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  19. Your table runner is gorgeous and I am sure is a great addition to your home. It's always tricky to get the balance right of giving time to others, saving enough for yourself to be happy, and doing stuff that has to be done. I find it's easy to feel guilty no matter how hard I try. x

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  20. Your runner is beautiful Jennifer. I love the prints they look so cheery together. You should be really proud of your effort :-) You're right....finding that time for yourself can be hard. I find it really hard to make the time to be creative (for myself) during the day. The biggest wants me to play (I'll be Elsa you can be Anna, but don't sing Mummy") and the smallest will play on her own but also likes emptying the fridge when no-one's looking! I'm limited to nap time and evenings but it wont be forever :-)

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  21. Your table runner is really special. I really love it - so bright and cheerful. I've seen patterns for patchwork table runners and none of them have really appealled to me. I'm in the process of making patchwork table mats - it's taking me ages (only because I never do anything on them for months on end). I tried machine quilting on them for the first time. It was scary! I'd rather hand quilt.

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  22. Your table runner is lovely, Jennifer. You may even spur me on to sew together the pack of squares I bought months ago with the intention of sewing them into a padded mat to go underneath my laptop (which currently resides on a couple of old table mats!).

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  23. It's beautiful Jennifer, I think my very favourite type of patchwork is that made from squares, traditional and pretty.
    V x

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  24. Well done!!!! it's really lovely!!!! I love how happy it looks against the dark wood of your table!!!! Bright and cheery!!! Have a fab week!!!!
    Love
    AMarie xxx

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  25. It's really lovely. One of the things I love about crafting is making something that's one of a kind, no one else will have the same.

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  26. I love your new table runner, Jennifer! You have really inspired me with this project. I got a new sewing machine for Mother's Day and I still haven't used it. I have a great fear of sewing machines. But I would love to have a similar runner for my dining room table. I think I will ask my quilting friend to show me how to make one. I can see why you feel so great every time you look at it!

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  27. Your table runner is lovely, such cheerful colours. I have table runner envy now! Being creative is a good way to deal with the stresses of daily life. I try to do something every day, even if it is just a round or two of knitting. It feels good. Schools back tomorrow! I hope yours enjoy their first day back! Cx

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  28. Jennifer that runner is stunning. I love all the colours, it totally rocks!!! , its perfect and you totally deserve it. Please don't feel guilty

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  29. The table runner is very pretty, and very cheerful. Finding time to yourself is very important but always difficult to balance.

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  30. The colours are so bright and eclectic; they should go with anything! It's such a good feeling to finish something, and how good to be able to do it when the children were around so that they see a crafter in action!

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  31. Your table runner is perfect, Jennifer. Well done! :o)

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  32. A very pretty, (and practical) table runner, Jennifer. Love the colours and patterns and how they completely complement one another for a beautiful and working work of art!

    Poppy

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  33. It is important for your kids to see you making things, cooking, creating and enjoying all of it. I bet your children have had a wonderful summer and I am happy that now that school is starting you will get some time for yourself. Love the table runner, you did a fabulous job.
    Meredith

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  34. What a lovely table runner! I think it turned out wonderful. :)

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  35. Hi Jennifer,

    The table runner is lovely and bright - isn't it is a good feeling getting things done around the home.
    Also read where your chickens are laying and fresh eggs to poach and your home made icecream must have been great.
    Happy day
    hugs
    Carolyn

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  36. I love it Jennifer it's so pretty and cheerful. :)

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  38. So pretty, and you make it look simple enough for even me to try. I can totally get how satisfying it must have been to stitch those little squares into rows, then rows into the runner. It's beautiful.

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  39. Such a colorful and happy table runner... I love it! Your dining table looks so bright and cheerful.

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  40. What a beautiful table runner! I love that line "the world didn't cave in". Sewing can be so forgiving and I too find it very therapeutic. My thoughts wander, any craziness in my life slows down and things make sense again. Keeping it simple helps. I hope you enjoy many more quiet times at your sewing machine Jennifer. Enjoy your day :) Wendy x

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  41. Jennifer, your table runner is absolutely stunning, it really is. All the fabrics are so pretty and work beautifully together. The best thing about crafting is being able to make beautiful, one of a kind things got home isn't it?
    Marianne x

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  42. It is beautiful Jennifer! I am so glad that this saw you through a tricky time and that you were then able to enjoy working on it when things were a little easier. It looks great with your vase and candleholders on the table too! Happy crafting! xx

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  43. I love your table runner Jennifer - beautiful, bright and cheerful.
    Jane x

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  44. Gorgeous! Those fabrics are so pretty ... Bee xx

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  45. Its such a beautiful table runner. So bright and cheerful, well done! xx

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  46. Gorgeous table runner! Love the bright colors!

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  47. I so empathize with the time-with-them vs time-for-me dilemma. It's really tricky to find the balance.
    Your patchwork is great, what's the secret to making it so neat ?
    Jillxo

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  48. Oh such a beautiful table runner. Love the fabrics so much! Gorgeous!

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  49. I love the I-made-that feeling! Your table runner is very cheerful indeed, I love the mix of softer tones with the bright red and pink pops! x

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  50. What a great post! I totally understand that need to find balance between doing things for yourself and for others. Your runner is gorgeous, so colourful. x

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  51. This looks great! I am glad you made some time for yourself to sew. It looks so colourful and I would love to have something like that in my home. My sewing machine is very dusty at the moment! Really need to do some sewing soon, I miss it. :)

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