i made a new quilt & also got a little grumpy

now that christmas is over, i can post about the quilt i made as a gift for david & alana (jared’s brother & his partner).


this is the front.


this is the back.

it’s about seven feet square, give or take–big enough for a queen size bed. it took me a month to make it. i made the pattern up myself after googling photos of quilts & coming across one that had a similar effect, where blocks of four were made of four different fabrics but sewn together so four blocks of the same fabric abutted each other. i thought it crated a cool kind of pixelated effect. all the colored fabrics here are from the same collection, called picnic pals. i had a giant stack of fat quarters, so that’s what i used. i knew i wanted something kind of low-impact for the borders & sashing, but i didn’t want to use just plain white or gray or something. i found an olde-thyme-y newspaper print & used that.

this was pretty fun & quick to sew together! doing the blocks on the diagonal was new for me & more of a challenge than just sewing everything straight across. i had to be really careful about sewing rows together, & more than once, i had to rip out an entire row of stitches because the blocks didn’t line up closely enough. doing the triangles on the end of each row was also a new challenge. i tried to cut corners at first by cutting the triangles big enough to account for the sashing between the triangle & the row of colored fabrics, just to save myself having to sew an extra strip in there. but i did it wrong & had to rip them all out & cut new fabric.

i also had no clue what to do with the back. i thought about doing some giant nine-patches with the leftover animal fabrics, but i also had all these little pieces of leftover fat quarters. & i didn’t really have enough newspaper fabric left to make it the dominant fabric on the back, like i had planned. sewing the big pieces of fabric together was a total cop-out. i was just sick of cutting & piecing little bits of fabric together. but then i hit on the idea of using the smaller scraps for the binding, & i had enough leftover to make these scrappy border pieces, which are intentionally staggered for more visual interest. i filled in the sides with a whole new fabric, not from the picnic pals collection. i think it’s from a collection called botanics or something. it’s a pattern of branches on a background that resembles graph paper. it reminded me of zines from the early 00s, when a lot of people were using graph paper, for some reason.

then i just quilted about half an inch from each strip of diagonal sashing.


my goal was to have it finished in time to wrap it up & mail it to boston, where we were spending christmas. a queen size quilt is big & heavy & i didn’t have room in my checked bag to carry it with me. i busted my ass to finish it in time. i hand-sewed the entire binding, which took three days, but i did it! i even paid extra for guaranteed pre-christmas delivery. & then…it didn’t arrive in time. on christmas, i didn’t have any gifts to give anyone. i had packed a gift for ramona in the box with the quilt, so i couldn’t even give my baby her christmas gift. thankfully, everything showed up before we all left boston, so i was able to be there when the quilt was finally unveiled. i guess that’s the important part.

i haven’t really done much sewing so far in 2014. i have a lot of ideas…i’m hoping to have ramona weaned by the time summer rolls around, & i’d like to sew myself a dress to celebrate the fact that i don’t have to wear separates all the time anymore (for easy boob access). one of my new year’s resolutions is to start packing my groceries into reusable bags, so i would like to make some cute totes to use for that. of course i want to make some more skirts, & a mom from playgroup asked me to make napkins for a photo shoot for “mother earth living” magazine. her turnaround time was too short for me so i didn’t do it, but i read some tutorials on doing mitred corners on napkins (& presumably other things–tablecloths, curtains, etc), & i’d like to try it. i’m thinking about doing a little art project where i make a portrait out of fabric. but i haven’t done anything yet except fix this janky curtain jared made a few years ago.


previously, this was two curtains tacked together with what i assumed were staples. it had all kinds of loose threads hanging from it, which were baby catnip. ramona would crawl across the bed in order to yank on the curtain & chew on the threads. it gapped where it was tacked together & let light in, & because he tacked in such a weird place, the curtain was too short for the window. when i took it down to sew the seam closed, i realized it was held together with STRAIGHT PINS. on a curtain right above where i sleep, which a baby yanks on all day! yeah, that’s safe. so this might not be the most aesthetically-appealing thing i’ve ever sewn, but at least it’s a 100% improvement in safety.

it’s been a weird year so far. i’ve been really grouchy & edgy. i feel like everyone around me made a new year’s resolution to be a complete asshole. it’s just little stuff bugging me, mostly. like a couple of months ago, i made a baby bonnet for someone. she wrote to me just recently & said, “i got the bonnet a while ago, but it’s the wrong colors.” …okay? is there something you want me to do about that? she clarified that she received it weeks ago, but just pulled it out of the envelope yesterday & decided it was the “wrong” color. i didn’t remember us settling on a color. i just knew she liked this fabric i had & i thought she had implied that i could use my judgment from there. i honestly don’t remember what color the bonnet is…green & purple, i think? i guess she wanted green & pink. she was all, “i guess i’ll just give it to my friend.” again…okay? it’s yours now, do what you want with it. it just bothered me that there was no, “thanks!” or anything. just, “hey, i let this thing you made for my kid rot in an envelope for six weeks & now that i’ve opened it, i don’t like it & am giving it away. just thought you should know.” i didn’t actually need to know that, but thanks anyway.

or yesterday, jared said he wanted some time to work on his dissertation without ramona around, so i took her into a different room to look at books. & it was lunchtime, so i gave her an english muffin with some jam (we’re working on weaning, starting with her lunch bottle; it’s going very well so far!). then i turned to go back into the kitchen to put away the jam & english muffins, & jared piped up from his dissertation station to be all, “she’s just gonna make a huge mess if you go wandering off like that.” how i WISH i had room to “wander off” in my tiny 600-square-foot house. i was like, “she’s a baby, so she’ll also probably make a huge mess even if i loom over her while she eats, so i’m gonna go ahead & put the jam away.” it made me so mad. i stay home with ramona, so i actually am not in dire need of parenting advice about my own kid’s mess-making proclivities from the peanut gallery. jared has been on break so he’s spending a lot more time with ramona, which is great, except for the part where now he thinks he’s an expert who needs to give me pointers on all the shit he’s learned in the last two weeks.

one of my new year’s resolutions is to be more patient with people, especially jared & ramona. it’s really not going very well so far.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

2 thoughts on “i made a new quilt & also got a little grumpy

  1. Reusable grocery bags is a really good resolution! I have started carrying a cross body bag (because my wife talked me out of looking for a tiny backpack circa 1994), and carrying a reusable in there. So far, so good. We have a really nice one from the Attic (a queer youth center here in Philly) that I really like, so having that around makes me happy.

    There’s a whole year to be patient, meanwhile the weather is pretty rotten there, and I imagine there’s probably going to be a fair amount of cabin fever going on.

    You should have mail by Saturday or Monday, I’m told. So there’s at least that.

    1. a single reusable bag? yeah, i remember when i could go to the grocery store & walk away with one bag of groceries. those days are well behind me. we have a bunch of random tote bags & stuff but i want to make something cuter in the hopes that it will encourage me to remember to bring them.

      no mail yet. hopefully on monday. & the weather here is supposed to be great this week (almost 60 tomorrow!) so maybe we can get out of the house & do something fun.

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