In February of this year, I found myself in a deep dark place both mentally and emotionally. Things started getting a little better for me in March, but come late March after the pandemic began, I slowly began spiraling down that rabbit hole of lost hope again. Working from home, I felt like a prisoner in my own home, and my once safe place (safe place away from work) was no longer safe. Whenever I looked at my den, that once made me oh so happy; I just wanted to cry.
By early May, I had gotten really bad, I was always crying, and I couldn’t focus on a single task. I felt like I was drowning, and I would never see the sky again. I knew it was time to find help, so on May 7th, I got in my car and drove to the Psychiatric Urgent Care clinic. The previous day I had spent calling around trying to find a therapist, without anyone calling me back that day, and I knew I couldn’t wait any longer. I’m not sure if all cities have a psych urgent care center, but I feel so blessed that I was able to get help the same day I needed it.
Mental health is critical, and I know it can be tough to talk about. I hope that by sharing my story, I can help you to be stronger to seek help when you need it. I have struggled with depression for over 20 years, it’s part of who I am, and I know when I need to seek out help.
In the past, sewing has always helped in times like this, but I was having trouble even doing that. I needed something that was mindless sewing, something more meditative; this is where sewing a quilt top came to be. I’m not a quilter, I’ve always said this, but I am a fabric collector. All the Art Gallery Fabrics Bundles that I had been purchasing from Phee Fabrics were a mini fabric collection on their own. I loved looking at them all but didn’t know what to do with them, then I saw this quilt on Instagram and fell in love. Taking time to choose each fabric, then putting them together to make a single quilt block brings me so much joy. And then how full of joy I feel when I get my quilt back from my quilter is even greater. Yes, I said my quilter, that means I love making quilts now!
I started with some of the AGF Bundles from Phee Fabrics, and ordered an additional bundle, then got my backing and binding fabric. Below is all of the fabric I used:
- Geometrica Bundle
- Eight of the ten fabrics in my quilt top, one of those was a background fabric.
- Katarina Roccella Edition No. 1
- Five of the ten fabrics with one of them as a background fabric.
- No. 13 Light & Shadow Edition
- Five of the ten fabrics as the background – I did cut the darker fabrics, and when laying out the blocks, I didn’t like how much of a contrast there was between the light and dark of the background, so I pulled them out.
- Written Bundle
- Five of the ten within the quilt top (two were part of the group of background fabrics), and one fabric for part the binding.
- Animalia Bundle
- One of these, in my background.
- Deep Black Solid
- This stuff is super black; it’s so amazing! I used it for the majority of my binding with one strip of an accent fabric from one of my bundles around one corner.
- Roses & Letters
- While working with my quilt blocks, this fabric kept made me smile every time I saw it. The fabric was in the Written bundle, but I wanted yardage of it to use for my quilt backing. I instantly contacted Phee and asked if the fabric was available for them to order. It didn’t take too long for the owner Melissa to get back to me and let me know that it was, and it could go on pre-order. When you need enough fabric for a queen size quilt back, you know the pre-order will go through because that was at least 8 ½ yards of fabric. I went with extra fabric to make a couple of pillowcases to match, which I need to get on top of.
The pattern I used was Starshine by Modernly Morgan. If you want to make your first quilt, then I highly suggest using one of her designs, as they are straightforward and easy to understand.
What I Learned
- Double-check your measurements before cutting.
They always say cut once, measure twice, but they don’t tell you to double-check your measurements on the pattern before cutting. I continuously measured twice before cutting my background fabrics (the white and blacks) as I had a minimal amount of extra fabric for the size I was making. Well, instead of cutting 5 ½” x 3” rectangles, I cut 5 ½” x 5 ½” squares. I cut down the squares and then pieced the fabrics that blended well together, although I wasn’t able to piece some of them.
- There are no rules in quilting.
Okay, maybe one rule, use a consistent ¼” seam allowance, but other than that, you can do whatever you want. Other than that, you can do whatever. So if you don’t want to follow the pattern for the fabric placements, you don’t have to. I wanted to spread my fabrics out more, so I did my own thing.
- Art Gallery Fabrics fray the least amount from any other fabrics.
Of all the fabric I’ve used in my life, I noticed that the handling of the AGF barely frayed at all! If you go back up to my “double-check your measurements” bullet above, I did run out of background fabric and pulled in some stuff from my stash that who knows how long it was sitting there. I wish I could have used all Art Gallery, but it wasn’t going to happen. Those other fabrics frayed so much while I was working with them, I couldn’t believe the difference.
- Hand sewing a quilt label takes forever but looks so pretty.
Check out this sweet hand embroidered quilt label that made. I used the same fabrics that were used the blocks. This thing took forever, but I love it, and I will continue to hand embroider labels for quilts.
- Matching corners and seams take practice.
I’ve noticed that with each block I make, the more precise my corners from half-square triangles (HST) and seams start to match up better and better. This doesn’t mean I don’t love my wonky crooked seams and cut off HST corners, because I see them in my quilt as a learning and healing process.
- When using a mixture of low volume fabrics for the background, don’t overthink placement.
I kept overthinking my placement for where my low volume fabrics were, yeah, I know not all are super low volume, as I went more for black and whites, yet I have a couple of navy and whites mixed in, but you get it. I kept thinking this is a “scrappy” quilt; it needs to look that way, then I finally said forget it and just started sewing. It took a lot of the stress out of the fabric placement of the background out. I then divided my lighter backgrounds among my blocks and then my heavier, as well as my mids so that they would be evenly distributed among the quilt. When working on each block, I just focused on how the block made me feel.
- Choose fabrics you love or bring you joy.
I had one fabric, I wasn’t super in love with, and when I went to match this fabric with others for one of my blocks. I then pulled this fabric from the piles of the different cuts and went on.
- Sew and extra block if you have the fabric.
I sewed an extra block just in case I wanted to make a matching pillow cover or aren’t happy with one of your blocks. I love all my blocks, but the extra block I didn’t add, I just couldn’t figure out where to put it in my quilt “puzzle” when I laid it out. I’m planning to make a matching throw pillow for my bed with it.
- If you’re making a bed quilt, buy extra backing fabric to make pillowcases.
I love the back of my quilt so much, and now I need to make pillowcases to match it, as well as pick one of the colors on my quilt to paint my bedroom walls.
Thank you for sharing your story, Stephanie. And you are so strong and resilient.
Pingback: My Mental Health + Sewing - S-Renee Designs