Patching Things Up

A little while ago, I decided to make a quilt. Let me state upfront that I have never made a quilt before, have no idea how to make a quilt, and I don’t know how to sew. Yet, there I was, wide awake at 3 am one morning, considering the numerous pairs of old jeans currently in my closet, as one does, and wondering what to do with them. “I could make a patchwork quilt,” I decided, with the confidence of someone who has never made a patchwork quilt. But I am nothing if not determined, so here are the steps I’m following.

First, I had to decide how many squares I would need. I lay there at 3 am, doing math, and if that doesn’t tell you about my level of determination and/or boredom, I don’t know what will. So, a king-size bed is 72” wide and probably the same in length. No, I didn’t bother to actually MEASURE it at any point during this process and have yet to do so, and that’s just fine. Anyway, I need a 6 “ drop on either side, so this quilt will be 84” square. And if the patches of denim are each 4” and I have to cut them at 4 ½ so I have a hem around each one, that’s…well, I don’t know, but it’s a lot of f*cking squares. After some painful mental gymnastics, I finally resorted to using a calculator and discovered, to my horror, that I will need approximately 441 squares of denim. At first, I didn’t believe it, then I counted the number of squares on the patchwork quilt my mother-in-law made us and it was just about the same. How many pairs of jeans IS that? Am I actually going to have to buy more jeans just to make a damn quilt? Luckily, I have 14 pairs as well as a few of Kate’s old jeans, so I might be OK. Otherwise, they sell them cheap at the thrift store.

Next, I had to decide how to cut the squares. Note that at the time of this writing, I have not yet cut the squares. But when I DO, I’m going to make a cardboard template that I can trace around. Or maybe two. I need the squares to be 4” but as I said before, I need a border or something that I can sew, and it should probably be like a standard width or whatnot, because I don’t want people to think my quilt was made by an amateur.

Me: So when I make my template, should I make a big one and a small one, or a big one with holes at certain spots?
Ken: What are the holes for?
Me: So I can take a Sharpie and mark the places where the pins need to go. Ooh, I have to buy pins!
Ken: Can’t you just fold the fabric over the smaller piece of cardboard and mark it that way?
Me (scoffing): You obviously know nothing about quilting, Ken.

Now that the squares are hypothetically cut, I have to sew them together. Normally, I just use a staple gun when I work with fabric—in fact, I recovered all of our breakfast room chairs a couple of weeks ago and all I needed was a pair of scissors and a staple gun. At first, I figured I could just hand-sew the squares, like the way I sewed up a rip in Kate’s leggings the other day. But when I considered the sad state of my sewing basket (it’s actually a Quality Street tin with a hotel sewing kit in it) and the time it took me to thread the needle, let alone the ten minutes to stitch up a 1 inch rip, I decided against that. So I needed to buy a sewing machine. And wow, those f*ckers are expensive! Luckily, I was on Facebook Marketplace and saw an ad for an old Singer that some woman was selling for thirty-five bucks, which seemed like a good deal. And in the ad, to prove it worked, she was demonstrating sewing a piece of denim! Talk about kismet.

On Thursday after work, Ken and I went to pick it up. What should have been a quick trip took a little longer than I expected because, even though I had already e-transferred her the $35, she hadn’t accepted it yet, and insisted that I wait while she booted up her Commodore 64. Then she got the answer to the security question wrong, even though I had messaged it to her and then told it to her AGAIN while standing in her kitchen, causing the transfer to fail which meant I had to resend it. Finally, she tried to print me off a receipt, even though I kept telling her I didn’t need one. Was she lonely? Maybe. Did she talk about making horse blankets and barn coats the entire time I was there? Yes, she did. Was that helpful to my quilt-making endeavours? No, it was not.

Sewing Lady: I have so many machines, it’s time to get rid of a few.
Me: What do you use them all for?
SL: Well, I use some of them to sew barn coats and horse blankets, but some of them are just for display. I really like sewing machines. I’ve been collecting them for years.
Me: Well, lucky for me you’re selling this one.
SL: I’ve taken off the plate and oiled it and set up the bobbin for you.
Me: Those are all English words, yet…
SL: It’s easy to use. See?
Me: That needle looks very sharp.

At any rate, the sewing machine is now sitting by the door where we left it. Today, I’m going to buy some pins and cardboard, and I will be giving regular updates on the quilt. Hopefully by this time next year, my mother-in-law will have taken pity on me and made the quilt for me. And that, my friends, is how you make a patchwork quilt.

Update: I have not yet purchased either pins or cardboard. Maybe tomorrow…

54 thoughts on “Patching Things Up

  1. barbaramullenix says:

    OMG That’s the same sewing machine I used in Home Economics back in 19(mumble)! They were extremely easy to use because all they did was sew. No button holes, (I did have to do a zipper – probably why I no longer have a sewing machine), no fancy zig-zags…..like an old fashioned telephone, if all you need it for is to make phone calls. I could probably even remember how to thread it, all these years later. Although refilling the bobbin I forgot completely.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. lhoke2016@yahoo.com says:

    Good luck with your quilt. Sometimes taking on a totally out of character is the best way to go. We find out just how talented we can be, figuring out how to do something new.

    When I was married to wife 1.0, she was negative about everything I wanted to do…”you dont know how to do that.” After divorcing wife 1.0, I built this for my grandson one Christmas. Her comment was, “YOU built that?” Wife 2.0 said, “Yes he built that, and a lot of other things you never gave him credit for knowing how.”

    End of conversation. 😁

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/Z3LyGERPoY41TcV78

    Liked by 4 people

  3. That’s sth I’ve never learned myself. Not that I was particularly interested or regret it. My granny was very good at sewing, my mom still is, sis is not that bad either, which makes me a black sheep, though I’m totally ok with it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m not a maker; I don’t make things. I was going to say I don’t make anything but coffee but I don’t even really do that. I prepare it, then the machine makes it. It’s a good partnership. I was going to make toast last week but couldn’t remember all the ingredients.

    One thing I did make last week was weed killer! I put a lot of vinegar together with a little salt and dish soap and hit the whole fence line (we got a LOT of fence line). A few hours later the stuff along the fence was already dead and my whole yard smelled like Easter eggs!

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, good luck on with the quilt, that’s awesome! But, I’m Tom, so I have to say it in three paragraphs with at least two anecdotes. Good to be back!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I know how freakin’ heavy sewing machines are so it’s impressive that you not only bought one but managed to get it home, even with Ken’s help. Anyway it sounds like quite the endeavour and I look forward to the updates. Making a quilt seems to intimidating–I think of all the ladies’ quilt-sewing circles, but then I think they were probably doing it by hand. My mother, on the other hand, made me two quilts for my childhood bedroom. The first one seemed like it was made out of random scraps of dark green and plush fabric that was left over from who knows what, and I loved it. My whole room had a rather dark nautical theme with ship’s wheel lamps and a whaling village poster that hung over the bed. Then when I was sixteen she decided to redecorate my room and in spite of my protestations she made an elaborate quilt of bright blue and white with a pattern of hot air balloons and she replaced the whaling poster with one of hot air balloons and painted the formerly green walls sky blue so my room looked like it belonged to a six-year old.
    I didn’t mean to get off on a tangent there but she made the quilts herself with a sewing machine and when I was sixteen she had a job working as a day care teacher, so making a quilt must not take long if you know what a bobbin is.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The nautical theme sounds much nicer than the balloons! I was always allowed to decorate my own room even when I was 9—my parents were great about that. We have several quilts that Ken’s mom and grandmother made—real treasures.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m always slightly bemused by people who make quilts. Mainly because I’m bemused by the idea of quilts. I vaguely remember my mum having some back in the 70s but then we got duvets and, if required, ‘throws’ made of funky materials & patterns.
    And they seem like a LOT of effort for something I wouldn’t ever consider buying.
    So there you go. That’s me being bemused.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. That reminds me of the year I decided to knit a bed cover for my bestfriend. I did know how to knit, but I had only knit scarves before. It took me what felt like an eternity. But perseverance pays off. And I really hope you won’t have to turn to your mother in law 😉 Go gal!! You can do it!! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Oh my! That’s hilarious! Glad to read that insomnia brings out your creative side or something. I’ve made quilts. I have one that I’ve meant to finish for umpteen years. If you ever do make the quilt, there are lots of patterns that are easy…what am I saying? Egad! Enjoyed the woman with the sewing machine collection. Years back I did have several sewing machines. But I got over that. Nice machine you picked up for a great price. Those old machines go for a couple of hundred dollars now. 😄

    Liked by 2 people

  9. You seem to have thought of everything…except, maybe of why no one makes denim bedding. Has anyone ever put on jeans and thought: now these are cozy. I wish I could wrap them around my body like a rough, stiff hug that’s a little abrasive and at the same time eerily reminiscent of something Justin Timberlake got hosed for wearing in the late 90s. It’s ultra heavy and not at all breathable, and will be very tough to wash – at that size, it’ll weight 200lbs when wet!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. It’s too bad we’re many miles and a country apart, because the floor of my closet is just full of old jeans that wore out, that no longer go around my expanding waistline, or that I busted the crotch out of at work (Which, sadly, has happened way too many times!). I’m pretty sure I could provide you with 441 squares on my own…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. As a life-long quilter, I’m sitting here with a stunned speechless look on my face. LOL. I love the last part about waiting for your mother-in-law to actually make the quilt. I’d go for that, Suzanne. Ha ha. Great post. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I made a single size patchwork denim quilt for my son when he went away to school, then my daughter wanted one, so I made one for her. Then I thought, why not make one for our bed? I purchased several pairs of jeans from the thrift shop and made a very nice Queen sized quilt. The only problem was that it is so heavy (in weight, not heat) that my husband and I found it rather uncomfortable to sleep under. Lesson learned!

    Liked by 2 people

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