I don't do a lot of sewing, mostly because I'm not very good at it. In fact, my middle school home economics teacher took early retirement the year following my matriculation in her classroom, and I've always suspected it was because of her despair over my failure to achieve proper bobbin tension. I still have a lot of guilt to work through.
Every once in a great while, though, I like to slap together a quilt (that one up there in the photo is one I made last year). Nothing fancy--I'm less interested in intricate patterns than I am in the plain old practical idea of quilts. I like it that they had a simple purpose (keep the family warm) and were usually made from scraps (don't waste anything), after the chores were done (be useful even when you're sitting still). And here's the best part: all this practicality ends up in something pleasing to the eye.
Beauty plus pragmatism: watchwords for life.
The colors and patterns I like best are the ones that look like they were cobbled together on evenings by the fire when the plains winter was howling outside the door. It is in winter, in fact, that I usually make quilts, which is a holdover from grad school, when I used to piece and quilt them by hand (fear of bobbin tension drove me to machineless sewing); few things warm you better in a room heated on a student budget than spreading a quilt over your lap as you work on it.
Maybe because it's winter and the plains wind has indeed been howling outside our door lately, but I've suddenly got a hankering to make one again. But first, I needed to address a problem that's been bugging me for the past couple of years, namely that there isn't really a good place for my sewing machine in this house. (Yes, that's right, I finally mastered the machine a few years ago. That's not to say I especially like it, but it is a lot faster to make a quilt with a machine than by hand, and remember, the pragmatic nature of the exercise is a big chunk of what appeals to me about it.) The same holds true for where I place my rotary wheel cutting mat. Coffee tables are too low to be comfortable, kitchen tables are too high.
So since the winter weather was prohibiting me from working on my planned holiday project, a compost fence, I decided to start a quilt, and I decided to start it from scratch. That is to say, before I spent one more day being uncomfortable at the sewing machine (therbligs again), I was going to build a pull-out shelf in my study for the machine and cutting mat. I've worked on it for the past couple of days, and here's the finished product:
I used full extension drawer slides rated to hold one hundred pounds, scrap wood, and some left-over yellow paint (Laura Ashley Gold 3, if you care to know). The shelf is just the right height to sit in my back-friendly study chair while working, and there is still enough room to store two filing cabinets below it. I plan to use it to support my drawing board as well, since my knees aren't what they used to be (I usually draw sitting on the floor).
Now on to the next step: the actual making of the quilt. But first, you must excuse me while I go check my bobbin tension.