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Pandemic Quilting

2020 has been a year that has brought many changes. No one expected that we would be in the middle of a pandemic and would be asked to "shelter at home," avoid crowds, and wear masks when out in public. We learned to interact with friends and family over virtual meetings. We looked for new activities to keep us busy while we spent long hours at home away from other people.

Hi, it's Carolyn Beam here again; I'm the editor of Quilter's World magazine and the person who writes this update. Thanks for joining me as I share my thoughts about quilting with you. As always, I'd love to hear ideas and suggestions from you as well.

With each update, I will select a book or pattern to accompany it that I think will be of interest to you. With this update, I'm suggesting the Trellis Quilt Pattern. This pattern is perfect for precuts or for just using fabrics from your stash. The pattern comes in finished sizes from crib to queen/king. Now is the perfect time to dig through your stash and pull out a rainbow of colors to make this quilt and brighten your day.

While I would normally have relished the extra time that I could spend in my sewing room, I wanted something different to fill my time in addition to my sewing machine. First, like a lot of quilters, I made masks for family, friends and local businesses. AccuQuilt has developed several dies for masks. Since it looks like we'll be wearing masks for the foreseeable future, you might want to check out one of these face mask dies.

Masks completed, I looked for other things to do. I discovered a love for puzzles, which I think many other people did as well since, all of a sudden, puzzles were almost impossible to find. Someone in my neighborhood organized a puzzle exchange, which worked out great, and I traded with other friends as well. One puzzle that I had a lot of fun with is the Thimble Blossoms puzzle by Camille Roskelley.

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Thimble Blossoms puzzle

I also turned to crafts and projects I had put away while my boys were growing up and my time was more limited. I had started hand-quilting a quilt many years ago and thought that now would be a good time to bring it back out. What a shock it was to discover that my new stitches weren't quite as small or as even as they used to be! Cross-stitch was also one of my favorite crafts, and I started a cross-stitch project (based on a quilt design, of course).

Fortunately, the warmer summer weather gave us the opportunity to be outside. Many long walks were taken, and we were able to visit with friends and neighbors from a distance. I remember one evening when my husband and I were sitting on our porch. We visited with neighbors as they were walking by who live down the street, but we hadn't seen or talked to them in years! Rekindling the connection was priceless!

Now that the cooler fall days are here, we'll be back to spending more time indoors. I reached out to friends in the industry to see what they've been doing and sharing with their followers, and I wanted to share some of their ideas with you. Maybe they'll encourage or inspire you to try something new!

Nancy Mahoney
Nancy Mahoney

Designer Nancy Mahoney hasn't been traveling and teaching at guilds and shows this year and has taken advantage of the time at home to cook and try new recipes. She also has enjoyed a free Zoom Zumba class twice a week to keep moving.

Here are five suggestions from her that you can do for free while at home:

1. Sew together with quilting friends via Zoom, Google Hangouts or other online video conferencing options. Everyone can work on the same project or on different projects. It's a great way to finish a class project and get help from friends.

2. Watch YouTube videos to learn a new technique. Listen or watch quilting podcasts.

3. Spend 30 minutes each day learning a new skill, such as machine quilting. Every day you'll build on what you learned the day before.

4. Sort through your UFOs. If you don't want to make an entire bed-size quilt, make a smaller crib or throw-size quilt and donate it to a charity. Or use the finished blocks to make pillows, table runners or table toppers. Small blocks can become mug rugs. Give the finished projects as Christmas gifts.

5. Organize your fabrics. You may find a wonderful fabric that becomes the inspiration for your next project.

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Nancy's organized fabric Nancy's sewing and pressing area
Kimberly Jolly of the Fat Quarter Shop
Kimberly Jolly of the Fat Quarter Shop

Recognizing that people would be spending more time indoors, the Fat Quarter Shop has increased their offerings on YouTube from their free Ultimate Beginner Quilt Series to livestreams for quilting and cross stitch. The Sewcialites quilt is their newest quiltalong, and it's free to join. They've enlisted 18 different designers and present a new block each week in three size options: 3" x 3", 6" x 6" and 9" x 9". This quiltalong will run through June 2021. You can find other quiltalongs on their YouTube channel also.

Moda Fabrics also has some free sewalongs that might be of interest to you. Their Block Heads 3 blocks have been available for free each Wednesday and are also available in different sizes. The Stitch Pink blocks were a daily free block during the month of October and links to each block can be found here.

You can also find free ideas in these updates. Last month's update included a pattern for a one-block quilt and previous updates throughout 2020 included patterns for the Awash With Color Mystery Sampler quilt.

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