slow crafting

Hand-sewing Quilting Bee

Hand-sewing Bee, Block 1

Last August, myself and two friends went to the Festival of Quilts together, thinking we’d see the pretty things and buy the pretty fabric and just generally have a nice day together. Of course we did all that, but I think we all left much more inspired and encouraged than we’d expected to be – full of ideas and plans.

One of the things we actually talked about on that day was forming a little quilting bee group together. I’d watched some of the groups online turn the traditional bee idea into a new modern form of working together on one project, and the idea suited us three very well.

It took some time to start up, with Christmas and deadlines and of course other projects always in the way, but after the holiday crafting was finally finished, we got it started! All three of us are especially fond of hand-sewing, so we’ve ended up being a little group dedicated to making quilts by hand. And our bee goes like this: we each get to make a mini-quilt to hang on our wall, with each of us contributing a third of the blocks to each and two months each to do it in.

The lovely Karen from Henry’s Shed was first, and she’s picked some charming florals and a sampler of English Paper Pieced stars for us each to make. There are 9 different blocks in total; I’ve finished one of my three so far. (And I added thread and little embroidery scissors in to the photo for scale, you have to understand how tiny and adorable these blocks are!)

Hand-sewing Bee, Block 1

We have a few more weeks to make Karen’s and then it will be my turn to make up kits for each of them to contribute to my mini-quilt! It’ll still be months before it’s finished, but I’m still so excited! I’ve decided on a freezer paper applique design, and I love so much that we are all three confident enough in our hand-stitching skills to feel free to try techniques new to all of us – and know that they will all come out beautifully.

I do have other slow crafts in progress, but the ones I’ve talked about this week are what I’m currently engaged with. Because they are so slow, progress is also slow to see and I don’t post about them often. I will try to do so more frequently from now on so you can see them (slowly) grow. Thanks for sharing your slow crafts with me this week too, I’ve so enjoyed hearing about them!

One flower at a time!

Grandmother's Flower Garden WIP

Continuing my show-and-tell of slow crafts, my biggest slow project is definitely my 1930s Grandmother’s Flower Garden reproduction quilt. I first posted about this project last May, when I’d made just one flower. It’s going on a year later, and now I have ten finished, half of which are pictured above. (The other half came out blurry but I have a cold-ish thing and no energy to retake it, I’m afraid. They’re just as cute, trust me.)

Oh, dear. This really is a slow craft, eh? But I do love it so much. I was right in that post last year, it will probably take several years. But as long as I love the process and the project, that’s all that counts. Ever since I hurt my neck a few weeks ago (it’s much better now, by the way), I’ve been working on this project a lot and it’s made me really think about how much I love sewing by hand.

Grandmother's Flower Garden WIP

I know most people don’t have the patience for hand-stitching when you could sew by machine – and it’s not like a quilt sewn by machine is a very fast project for most of us anyway! But I do love the way sewing by hand takes a commitment; you have to really want it to spend so much time on it, and with it. I love how hand-sewn stitches are just that tiny bit more visible, how you leave a little more of a mark of yourself on the project.

Grandmother's Flower Garden WIP

I’ve always assumed I’d make this as a full-size quilt, to cover my double bed. I have a theory that the projects you put this much time into should be sure to never go out of style, and a reproduction quilt shouldn’t. But then a friend pointed me to a hexagon calculator, which told me I’ll need around 2500 hexxies to complete a full-sized quilt. I was a dummy and chose to use 1″ hexagons back when I started just because that’s what I had handy and clearly didn’t think about how long it would take with such small pieces. Well … I’ve got 190 sewn into flowers now, another 30 basted / partly sewn together, and 70 pieces cut and ready to baste. That makes almost 300 – not all finished, but in progress.


Grandmother's Flower Garden WIP

Yes, an extremely long-term project. But if you’re gonna do it, you might as well really do it, right?

(P.S. – My quilt is short a few specific scraps — on the off-chance you’re a 1930s reproduction fabrics fan too, and have some scraps in your stash that you might donate to a worthy project, would be you be so kind as to check out this photo and see if any look familiar? Thank you so much!)