Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A voice from the past!

Before the turn of the century I started sewing leftover bits of fabric into 2 1/2-inch squares as therapy.  When things got rough, which unfortunately was happening pretty frequently for a while, I would retreat to my sewing room (I didn't even call it a studio yet) and sew bits together.  It helped, giving me the feeling of holding all the raggedy bits of my own life together.  I would trim the squares using a plastic template with a little handle, and stuff them into a big plastic bag.

Eventually I ended up with thousands of squares, which I sewed into a queen-size quilt, the only time in my life I have ever made a quilt that big meant to actually go on a bed.  As I contemplated the quilt I could identify almost all the pieces -- these came from Robbie's baby quilt, those came from my red dress (I was still sewing garments in those days), these came from my sister's failed quilting projects.

Kathleen Loomis, My Life in Pieces, installation view

The bits were so encyclopedic that I decided to name the quilt "My Life In Pieces, Vol. 4, the 90s."  (There were no volumes 1-3 but does that really matter?)  The quilt was accepted into the AQS show in Paducah, where it was spotted by an editor of the AQS magazine, who was intrigued by the title and asked if they could feature it in the magazine.  So I wrote an article about the quilt and how it was made, along with project directions in case anybody wanted to make one like it.

That was in 2005.  Betty Mlejnek, in Nebraska, read the article and thought it would be fun to make a quilt with her leftover bits.  She too started sewing 2 1/2-inch squares and stuffing them into a bag. Time passed.  It took her about as long to accumulate and process her thousands of little squares as it had taken me, but she finished it this week!

Betty Mlejnek, My Life in Pieces

She says, "Tried to just use scraps from my own work.  I call it my 'nursing home' quilt.  As soon as I can't remember the fabric scraps, it's time to move on to Heaven!!!  I finally finished it today and wanted to thank you for the inspiration!"

Back atcha, Betty -- I want to thank YOU for being inspired, and for sticking with it for a decade, and for FINISHING it, and for letting me know!  It looks beautiful and I am so proud to have planted the idea in the first place.  However, by now the statute of limitations has run out, and the credit is all yours.


  1. Ах, потрясающе!!!

  2. I love it! So glad to know I'm not the only person who sews scraps together like that. I call mine Nothing Wasted. Have usually put them together with no sashing but you have inspired me with yours, so will try that on the next one!

  3. The sashing really sets off those little squares. And such TINY pieces. Holy moly. It looks great though and what a happy feeling to have that on the bed.

    1. you can see why it takes 10 years to finish the quilt!!

  4. I love the concept of this creation over time, piece by piece, bit by bit, bird by bird (as Anne LaMott, the writer, calls it). It's what we do as people - the daily routine. It's how things are made up - in pixels, in atoms. Tiny bits, connected in mysterious way, to create something substantial, something meaningful, something fabulous!