We’ve had some thoughtful responses to our call for sharing. This month, we asked two questions, and we’ll start out with this one:
Question 1: How has your fabric shopping changed since Covid-10 hit? Do you do more online shopping?
Gayle writes: I have long been a devoted online shopper of fabric, to the point where I sometimes need to motivate myself to get out and go support our few local quilt shops. So my habits haven’t changed. It’s not hard to make sure that your purchase reaches their threshold for free shipping and sometimes it’s as easy as adding a spool of Aurifil to get me to that point. Many sites, like fabric.com, automatically offer suggestions for coordinating fabrics to go with what you’ve chosen. I also shop clearance on any site I use looking for economical backing.
Judy has a story about picking up fabric at JoAnn’s: I was furloughed for 6 weeks starting the 3rd week of March and though I was lucky to continue to be paid during that time, I didn’t know how long that was going to last and then didn’t know if my job would be there at the end of the furlough. I determined to be more frugal and use up the fabrics that I’ve collected for “something someday.” A lot of those fabrics went into masks. I’ve been pretty successful with this “use what you have” strategy but there is always something that’s needed to complete a project and I struggle with the Amazon vs. utilizing local resources dilemma.
The first time I waited in my car, in a long queue of other cars, for curbside pickup at Joann was an experience. I had my car turned off (Prius engines stop when you’re not moving) but others had their cars idling and I thought, “How is this better for the environment than ordering from Amazon?” and “Joann isn’t a local mom and pop store” and “What am I doing here?” The lone girl delivering orders to peoples’ car windows was a frazzled wreck and I determined to stay home next time and choose projects I already had fabric/notions for. Who cares if you topstitch in light grey vs. the exact match?? Are there topstitch police?
I’m very happy to report my job is intact. But, I’ve learned something: I can sew for hours and hours, days and days and never tire of it. I really enjoyed my time at home to sew. It has become therapy to me and helps drown out the world as I can hardly bear any more of the news. And, I no longer fear being bored in retirement!
Lynn’s thoughtful response has had me thinking. She writes: To understand where I stand on this issue, I diverge to larger, more pressing issues on my mind. Let me explain. I am feeling immense urgency, pressure, and concern for our world. So many movements are boiling over. Protests about climate change, Black Lives Matter, mask wearing in the throes of a pandemic, an upcoming presidential election, and so many more that have taken a backseat because they happened yesterday, like the Me Too movement, LGBT rights, pipelines, clean water, severe weather events, fires, gun control, medical care for all. The list goes on. To respond in a productive manner, I have lumped all these issues into one bucket: We have the responsibility to provide a decent quality of life for all beings on this planet.
The question is always, “What can I do?” The answer is, “What are you good at?” The world needs all of us, each doing our part at what we are good at doing. Some will write articles, host podcasts or TV shows, design solar panels, conduct scientific experiments, protest, pass laws, run for office, or any number of tasks. I personally am good at making quilts.
So how does making a quilt help?
I have decided to focus my efforts on my art, making and sharing visual statements about the beauty of our planet and the urgency of issues facing our survival. I need fabric to create my quilts. I also make daily choices to strive for a sustainable lifestyle. That means, limiting excess, reusing what I can, buying only what I need, and choosing purchases that will contribute to a sustainable society. So back to fabric shopping. I love shopping for fabric. I love the gorgeous colors, unusual patterns, and feel of the soft cotton. But I cannot justify buying fabric because I like it. Fabric is one of the major contributors to pollution on our planet. I have a closet of fabrics. I have made a pact with myself to use or reuse fabrics already bought, whether by me or someone else. I will only buy new fabric for a specific purpose that cannot be achieved with stash on hand. Since I have a rather robust stash, I rarely shop for fabric. My habits have not changed with COVID-19.
Debi combined the two prompts into one answer: It’s been very easy for me to sew during Covid-19. Since the activities I’m used to participating in are all cancelled, I’m home most of the time. Might as well sew! I am on a quest to use up scraps, so I haven’t purchased much fabric. I did order some on line, and I have gone to a couple of the local shops now that they are open. There will be a lot of scrappy charity quilts in the future.
Question 2: Has it been harder or easier to sew since the quarantine? Both? Neither? In what way?
Candy tells the tale of surviving Covid isolation: What have I done in Covid Quarantine? Who ever thought we would be in semi-isolation for nearly six months, with no real end in sight? When I returned from QuiltCon, I cleaned up my sewing room and finished a Mystery Quilt. On March 16, I started looking at mask patterns (spent the first couple of days just looking at patterns) and emailed my community quilt membership to see if anyone had elastic. One member gave me a packet of 1/4” that she had in her sewing supplies. By the end of the week, our club was looking for elastic, so I got online and purchased more [and] also picked up that great soft white elastic you told us about. After the 144 yards was depleted, I ordered another 100 yards and picked up some at Quilter’s Cocoon. I still have most of the last 100 yards.
Making masks was not very exciting, so I would make 50 and them make a quilt, then go back and make another 50, etc. So far, I have made approximately 300 face masks, and have another 20 to make for an LPGA tournament in Rancho Mirage next month (I volunteer in the scoring tent). Probably the most productive 5 months I have had making quilts, I think I have made eight quilt tops this year. I have three waiting to be quilted.
Alan, my husband, and I should have made a list of all the shows we have binge watched since mid March. He ordered Acorn so we could watch more British/Australia shows. Oh yes, and while I social distanced from my daughter and her family for the first eight weeks, I realized she need some help with my granddaughters so I have been spending a few hours each week so she can get a few zoom meetings done without an 18-month old interrupting.
Lastly, I have cooked too many dinners. We started out trying to order for curbside pick up a couple of times a week, but it is just easier to cook.
Gayle writes: As I consistently complain, I’ve continued to work through the pandemic and it has been stressful. By Saturday I’m often to the point mentally where there is nothing I can think of doing other than changing out of my pj’s into what our family calls ‘comfy clothes’ and taking my big mug of coffee straight to my sewing room. I stream a podcast or audio book through my Bluetooth speaker and only come out for meals. It is the best therapy ever and in addition to making some new quilts for charity I’ve managed to finish a number of UFOs along the way. I’d say it’s easier to dedicate a day this way since we have no social plans! It’s been almost two years since we converted our spare room into my sewing room, although with the queen sized wall bed I can be guest-ready in twenty minutes. It’s my zen place.
Elizabeth writes: In the beginning of the shutdown we did a lot of grocery shopping. A lot. It wasn’t that we went to the store more often — in fact, it was less often — but we bought so much more food. (Luckily we had a supply of toilet paper already!) And it seemed as if every day I’d struggle to sew even just a seam, or a small thing.
My husband and I both read news voraciously, and I have many screenshots of the United States as the cases started popping up all over; it was was like watching a train wreck, and I couldn’t turn away.
So, yes, sewing took a hit. I watched all my Guild bookings disappear at first (I’m a teacher and a presenter at many Southern California Guilds), adding to the sense that my carefully constructed little world was falling in on itself. But slowly, I started trying to finish up an old project, or work on a smaller make. My first posts on my blog, OPQuilt.com, in that time sound like a person trying to recover from drowning. And eventually I did. I figured out to survive in a pandemic, and finding a picture of my grandmother as a young woman in 1918, wearing her mask, helped to bridge the gap of what to do, how to live, how to move forward. She survived. I will, too.
Somewhere in the last couple of months, I figured out how to pick up my teaching, first figuring out Zooming my presentations and then figuring out how to teach live-online, as I called it. In others’ responses, above, I read that as they recovered their more normal life, they were able to go forward, to construct/reconstruct their daily patterns of living. I knew I had turned a corner when I was able to charge into my sewing room in the morning like a woman on a mission. Other days, I do very little, but now I cut myself a lot of slack. After all, we’re in a once-in-lifetime pandemic. We quilters will carry on.
Dancing Russian Guy, a favorite meme from this time–Click HERE to watch.
There will be no more prompts for discussion. Instead, the comments are available for you to leave your responses on this post.
One thought on “Our Guild Members Write…”
Somehow I missed or forgot about these requests to share.
Question 1: I hadn’t been buying much fabric before the pandemic because I had already made a conscious decision not to buy any unless absolutely necessary. For one thing, I have such an awful lot already that I’ve run out of space to put it, but also because I was in the midst of a total reorganization of my sewing space (i.e. my entire downstairs except the library). After the pandemic hit, the thought that I could very well be dead within six months increased my realization that “you can’t take it with you.” So I’ve had a total moratorium on buying fabric, books, doll stuff or pretty much anything. The one exception has been the fabric kit for Angela Walter’s upcoming free motion quilting challenge. I am currently living with my 90 year old mom, with whom I have been quarantined for six months, so I don’t expect to be able to use that kit any time soon. It is, however, my talisman of hope.
Question 2: Yes, it is much more difficult to sew during quarantine because I am not in my own house and my time is not my own. My mother was released from a hospital stay on March 8th and, because she needed round the clock care, I moved into her house for what I assumed would be a short recovery period. But once the lockdown began, I realized that since we are both in high risk categories, I was going to be here for the long haul. My mom is no longer able to live alone, and there wasn’t going to be any respite care until the risk of Covid-19 was over. So I squeezed my Bernina 1090 into her tiny art room and set up an ironing board nearby. I have nowhere to cut or measure anything, so I brought over a tub of strips and strings so that I could work on Wonky Courthouse Steps blocks. It’s the ideal project for when you are brain dead and seldom have more than a few minutes at a time to work.
I definitely feel wistful when I see how much my fellow quilters are accomplishing while stuck at home. But someday I’ll be able to assemble those string blocks into a Corona Quilt and it will remind me of my mom.