Thursday, March 23, 2023

Project Quilting 14.6 Conquer a Fear

After quilting for some 25 years, there isn't anything in quilting that I fear. Avoid/hesitate? Yes. As in life, there are certain things we love to do, and certain things we ... do not! Over the course of the first couple of days following the release of the challenge, an idea was forming, to symbolize fear in a mini quilt, from the debilitating 'darkness' of feeling fear to the release, the blossoming and lightness that happens when you work through it and have such a sense of accomplishment. I wish I'd had more time. I had another deadline, the SAHRR, and so I devoted the majority of my week to that, since Cuba had 'robbed me' 😉 of a week's work on it. In the end, I pulled this together in a few hours. I do love it, and have used it every day since Sunday!

This is my new favourite mug rug.

I built it vertically, beginning with the black area. One good thing about being under rather intense pressure is that I tend to feel a calmness inside me, blockingnoit extraneous ‘noise’, and not overthinking.

As I wrote on Instagram, I chose fabrics and colours that would symbolize the journey of facing a fear. I used improv, which I don't fear, but don't really enjoy.

So, from the lower left of the piece, fear is dark, inhibiting. There's often a spark, a bit of light though, that I feel when I think, 'maybe I can do this new thing.' See the spot of light in the top right of the black area just below the word 'mythique'. I wanted that spark to lead to that word, that was such a heart-swelling moment. It was just a scrap, still sewn onto the plain white fabric from when we recovered my cedar chest cushion. 'Mythical.' Sometimes our experiences when facing a fear can be just that. I'll never forget the elation of returning home from a 10-day trip to France with 42 of my grade 9 students in tow. That was a huge fear, and a risk of epic proportions, not to mention the months of planning that went into the trip. 

Beside the black is a grey rocky area, and in the lower right a deep purple piece of tree trunks, the foundation upon which one builds. Light sparks up from them, lines of connection (yes, a cat faces/whiskers print on its side - Janine knew it). I let the black flow into some grey, and found that orange from a novelty print to symbolize the flash of insight you start to get, and growth in the flower-like shapes of the blue and green. I wanted the orange 'blob' to flow into the orange tree on black (more growth, blossoming) with spirals symbolizing the energy one feels as things take off and start making sense, or flowing. You can see sort of flame-like images beside the spirals, again that energy, that inner fire of confidence building.
Quilt inspector Bella keeping watch

I found the super-tiny birds in the air block I'd made ages ago and just had to make it work into this for that taking off feeling. Those HSTs are 3/4" finished! I let the warm colours flow, doing a little gentle curve improv for flow between the orange and yellow parts of the spectrum. The final top right corner has a small scrap of Art Gallery Fabrics, one of the fabrics in the upcoming magazine quilt I mailed off at the end of February. No explanation of that symbolism needed!

Expressing abstract ideas is often difficult. I originally wanted the piece to be a mini for the wall, with the final top right corner 3D unfurling wings. Only being able to start a couple of hours before the final deadline meant that wasn't possible. Still, I'm pleased with how this turned out. Just seeing the movement from dark to light is pleasing to the eye.

I quilted it with wavy lines using Aurifil variegated 50 wt onto a scrap of Hobbs fusible, though I didn't fuse it. My little Featherweight was a trooper, beautiful tension.

I did a pillowcase-style assembly: right-sides-together, stitch, leaving an opening, turn right sides out, and topstitching around the edge. A tip I learned somewhere along the way is to use two different coloured pins where you stop and start to remind you to do just that!

For the back I used a piece of a stunning Hoffman fabric I used for a stack 'n whack wallhanging I made in 2000 that is currently on the wall in my sewing room. I clearly remember buying that expensive fabric in a quilt shop in Lethbridge when we were visiting MacGyver's brother and his family. Lofty clouds in rich colours further the idea of the lightness of being that comes when a fear has been conquered. I rounded the corners because none of my mug rugs have rounded corners, I wanted it to be different, and it softens the edges. Working to such a tight timeline meant I had no time to root around through the stash to see if there was something better.

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: my own design
Size: 9.5" x 5.75"
Fabric: scraps and stash
Batting: Hobbs fusible scrap
Backing: 'Kimono Collection' by Hoffman International Fabrics
Quilted: pieced and quilted on Billie, my 1947 Featherweight
Threads: pieced with Exquisite polyester, quilted with Aurifil

I did conquer another fear that week. Several months ago I was approached by a blog reader, Cathy, who is the events coordinator for her Kindred Hearts Guild in Whitby, ON. She asked if I would consider being a presenter, virtual or in person, at one of their meetings. She wrote that she loved the deep meaning behind several of my quilts. Well, that took me aback I must say! Wow. We chatted back and forth, Christmas came and went, and we chatted another time, this time to tell me another nearby guild in Port Perry would also like to have me, and they're just a half hour away and meet the next evening, and well, despite being nervous about the entire thing, this week with this prompt I thought, okay, Sandra, you can do this! I contacted her and we had another little back and forth, and I am presenting, in person,  'Quilts With Meaning' (working title) in October to two, and now possibly three guilds! Gulp. Butterflies and bees in my gut, yep. I know, I know, I was a teacher for 30 years, and now a yoga teacher for ten, but this is a first, and well, I'm sure I don't need to go into all the areas that cause me fear over this!

Here are all six of my Project Quilting makes. It's always such a fun start to the year, and helps to make the dreary winter months more bearable! Thanks so much to Kim of and to Trish @quiltchicken for hosting and dreaming up these challenges!

Linking up


  1. Beautiful project, Sandra, and I enjoyed your explanation of how you chose each scrap! That's exciting to hear that you'll be presenting to the quilt guilds. They'll learn a lot from you!

  2. Beautifully done, and so purposefully constructed (yay for the long form description of all the meanings of fabrics and placement in a long form blog post). I hope you have an absolute blast in October - will you be presenting to them all at once or on 3 different occasions?

  3. Beautiful collection of projects.

  4. Fabulous; I love the explanation of how and why you chose each piece of fabric and the stories behind the fabrics. (I have a few of them too - but we know we share the same fabrics :-) ) You will be a wonderful presenter at the quilt guilds. Love your six projects for Project Quilting.

  5. Love the thoughts & meanings behind your quilts & how you can tell a story so well. I understand your trepidation on the presentations, but sure you will do well, though it is still some way off. Thanks for sharing, take care & hugs.

  6. Congratulations on being asked to speak at numerous Quilt Guilds - I am quite sure you will be wonderful. We all feel fear when we have to get up and speak in out of the ordinary situations, but it disappears as soon as you begin, especially when talking about things near and dear to your heart, and you will wonder why you had butterflies in the first place.
    I love the your little mug rug, and hearing all the memories that go in to everything you make. And Bella is sitting there thinking, sew the thing all ready, the Chief Quilt Tester does not like to be kept waiting. Thanks for another lovely post and the smile it gave me.

  7. I loved reading the explanation of the meaning of fabric placement. Congrats on the speaking engagement, you my friend will do well. You got this!

  8. What a thoughtful and thought provoking post, Sandra. All your quilting results are beauties. And a big congrats on your speaking engagements. Long overdue in my opinion as you have a wealth of information, stories and I'm pretty sure an engaging manner that will delight the lucky listeners!

  9. As one of the lucky listeners, so glad you are coming to visit our guild! The symbolism in this simple mug rug just illustrates the deep meaning in all your creations. Looking forward to meeting in real life!

  10. I can't wait to meet you in October when you come to our guild meeting. I'm so happy Cathy has arranged that. This weekend our guild will be making Smooches quilts that will go to seniors in our local community. Seeing we are named Kindred Hearts it seems appropriate that we make heart quilts!

  11. Your mug rug is charming, and I appreciate the meaning you've stitched into it, using color to convey fear and overcoming fear. That backing fabric is unique! I've never seen that print and am impressed with how 3D it appears. As for giving a program, no doubt you'll present spectacularly - because you've been a teacher, and are accustomed to talking to a group; and also because you love your craft. I am exactly the same. Give me a chance to talk and share about my qullts, or quiltmaking in general, and all my insecurities wash away. You'll enjoy planning for those October programs, and afterward will wonder what you were ever concerned about.

  12. Another well thought out project Sandra. I loved the finish and reading your thoughts. Hope you had fun as a presenter.