A Perfect Fit: The Fusion Quilt

IMG_0598It’s a project that fits me perfectly.

I mean, I love all the projects I engage in but this one . . .

This one, this making of small squares for a so-called fusion quilt, is a perfect match.

It combines so many ingredients that make me happy.

  1. vintage linens—as I said in an earlier post, in stocking my Etsy shop, I come across a lot of linens that aren’t in good enough condition to sell but that have some perfect detail that I can’t bear to throw away. I had amassed an enormous number of these but . . . what to do with them? Now I know. The perfect details are preserved, framed, highlighted in each square.
  2. hand work—I love a project I can do while sitting in a chair with my feet up, by the lake or in front of a fireplace. A lot of my preferred pastimes—weaving at a loom, quilting at a hoop, sitting at a sewing machine—don’t allow for this, but this project does.
  3. variety—several different types of work go into making each little square so I’m not going to get bored. There’s the pleasure of picking the pieces to work with and prepping them. Then comes the machine sewing, satisfying in that it feels like the potential for fun is piling up. Then I sew, by hand, with my feet up, the blanket stitch around the edges. And finally comes the crocheting, by hand, with my feet up.
  4. nostalgia—Because I love doing handwork, I get so much pleasure from seeing what other hands have wrought. Almost every square I work on bears the work of another loving hand. I don’t know these women but I feel I know what motivated them and I feel we are connected. I seek to honor them as much as preserve their handiwork.

The pile of pretty squares grows. I have about 24 blocks finished and 8 more ready for crochet. Each block makes me smile. Some are subtle, some are simply gorgeous, some are a little odd.

I know that I should be crocheting them together as I go. I know when I am faced with doing that stage, for all of the blocks, at the end, I will regret not keeping up with it.

But I am not prepared to make decisions yet about that final product. I don’t know if I’ll end up with 40 blocks or 150. I find new bits of prettiness that could be included almost every day. I’ll probably keep making squares as long as the squares keep making me happy.

And I won’t know how they should be organized and put together until I have them all in front of me.

Right now, I like seeing the stacks and shuffling through the squares, like a deck of cards, an encyclopedia of needlework techniques done by a sisterhood of stitchers and lace-makers and crocheters.

My work and theirs . . . a perfect fit.

In your world, is there one activity, one project, one creation, that’s simply a perfect fit for you?

81 thoughts on “A Perfect Fit: The Fusion Quilt

  1. Oh I wish I’d known you years ago, when I was sorting through my inherited family linens, most handworked in one way or another. My children weren’t interested, and I had no idea what to do with them. In the end I gave them to our local hospice, which specialises in raising money through selling old pieces such as the ones I had. I’m sure it was the best thing to do but I still sort of regret it. I’d like to know the next bit of their story. You’re really honouring the pieces you have.

  2. I’ve seen you make some beautiful projects, and this one is right up there at the top. These little slices of history are absolutely beautiful. I would love to know your process. I can see that you attach each piece to an eggshell fabric layer. Was the layer put together first and then the hankie attached to the top? Did you attach that by machine or hand? Then is all the work on the sides crocheted? My skills are somewhat limited. I sew, and I do that okay. So, I can make a quilt top but then I take it to the longarm quilter for finishing. I have not attempted hand quilting. Love this project. It should hang in a museum for all to see. 🙂

    • I’m not much in the sewing skills, Judy–if I can do this, you can. My process, in brief, is 1) cut the “fancies”, the batting, and the off-white backing to about 5 inches. 2) decide which “fancies” are sturdy and can be used as is. 3) for the others, use one of a number of work-arounds. Some are too fragile and I iron them on a fine fusible web. Some have edges I want to preserve and those get layered over yet another square of off-white fabric. I handle them differently, depending on whether I want to preserve one edge, or two, or even three. I do as much as I can of that sewing by machine. So, each block ends up with three or for layers, depending on other I used that extra square of off-white. 4) I layer them carefully and sew the stack together, leaving a couple inches open on one side, so I can turn it all inside out. I say “layer them carefully” because I have made so many mistakes and they aren’t right when I turn them. 5) When they’re turned, I use a skewer to poke out the corners and stitch the opening closed. 6) Then, I do the blanket stitch around the edges by hand and then they are ready for the crochet! Jeez–writing it all out makes me wonder what I was thinking, in starting this!

  3. Sounds a bit like writing! 😉 Looking forward to seeing the finished product. How lovely it already is, even in pieces.

  4. I love the thought of repurposing that vintage linen this way. Someone else’s work fused with your own to create a useful and beautiful quilt. Can’t wait to see how many you end up with and how you piece them together.

  5. I love this project so much – I get this excited little kid inside me clapping her hands and jumping up and down. I love it so much I am tempted to start trolling the junk stores and garage sales for old linens……….. But I won’t. Instead I’ll let your best project ever inspire me to use up the bags of left over yarn I have accumulated over the past mumbley-mumble years and crochet beautiful individual squares to make a blanket from. That will keep me almost as happy 🙂 You are such an inspiration! xoxo

  6. Seems like a great way to use old, fancy hankies that are roughly the same size. You could embroider over any stained or holey bits. Yes, leave them unattached until you’ve made as many as you like. Then, trying various arrangements will be such fun.

    • I’ve cut up some damaged hankies to make squares and I have, oh, a zillion or two other hankies I could incorporate . . . eek. I do think playing with arrangements will be fun!

    • Thanks, Deb. I’m just so pleased to have come up with an approach that lets me use these and bring them together in a way that I find appealing. I was close to being smothered by a mountain of damaged linens that now I can use!

  7. Another amazing project, Kerry. I love these beautiful little squares and can see a quilt, but I don’t have the eye to put something like that together. I just finished a pair of little newborn felt slippers for a grand niece or nephew. They’re wending their way through the mail. I like something I can draw, cut out and sew myself. And I like writing!

  8. You inspire me every time I read one of your posts. You have so much love for the work (yours and the makers of these delicate pieces of linen). I love looking at your fine stitching work. I’m not sure why that is so appealing, but it is.

    Please don’t laugh, but I love organizing. You would think I would tire of it since I do it for a living but I never do. Sorting out a drawer, a cabinet or my crafting area gives me so much pleasure. Making a difference for my clients is rewarding as well.

    Getting back to your squares, and depending on how many you have at the end, I can picture a lovely tote bag, perhaps just six squares to a side.

    Now put your feet up. xo

  9. Oh dear, you’ve reminded me that I started one of these fusion quilts early last year with a friend – she finished hers but mine has been relegated to the UFO pile. However, you may have newly inspired me with your beautiful example. I was using a charm pack for the fabric squares but I also have lots of vintage linens and could easily incorporate some amongst the new cottons – maybe that will give me the impetus I need to carry on with it.

    • Oh, my! I’ve been wondering where I first got the idea for this project of mine and I went back and looked at your post–I think it was from you that I first saw the idea of this kind of quilt! I was brand new to your blog then so I didn’t make the connection. I owe you thanks for the inspiration!

  10. You’ve made a lot of progress since I looked last time. These are just beautiful! I’m so glad you could preserve these wonderful pieces from remnants of beauty.

  11. I’m enjoying your enjoyment on this project! The combination of antique pretties and your own handwork is the perfect match. It makes me think of how I ending up quilting, after trying my hand at a range of other projects. Honestly it isn’t something I longed to try, but somehow it was just the right thing. Lucky us!

  12. When my first grandchild was born, I knit him a little pair of socks. Not booties, but a miniature pair of socks like his Mama wears. I told her that when they get too small for growing feet, she can tie a ribbon on them and use them as “First Christmas” stockings. That has been a perfect project for me. After several pairs for family and friends, they are still quick, cute, and fun.

  13. I completely understand why you would want to leave the joining up of this beautiful project until the end – I don’t think you will regret it at all – it will be such fun deciding how to position the squares together, and then you will get the pleasure of seeing it all gradually come to fruition. I’m not sure that I have a ‘perfect fit project’ – in some ways, because I like to be involved in so many different things all the time, it is perfect for me to have a variety of projects on the go – that way I can pick up something to suit my mood. 🙂

    • I definitely like having multiple projects going at once, so I can pick and choose. And, in spite of loving this project, I haven’t touched it in several days. But it’s waiting patiently for me to come back!

  14. I love this conservation project, Kerry! Those sweet details you have saved look so good now you have presented them properly in their own special square. I love detailed, involved work but have nothing on-going at present. I daren’t start anything as I really don’t have the time for anything else and I have enough unfinished work to feel guilty about already! I am imagining how much I would enjoy looking at your finished sisterhood quilt.

    • This is definitely a long-range project. I know it’ll take a long time to finish and I’ve made pretty complete notes of the process because I’m afraid I’ll put it aside for awhile and forget what I’m doing! It keeps calling me back, though . . .

  15. I love this project!! Salvaging the handwork and repurposing it is a worthy undertaking. I love that you mention working on it with your feet up. Now that I primarily sew at a machine, I miss that portability. I liked to knit with my feet up, and also like to embroider with my feet up outside on the patio. I plan to do more of that this summer!

    • I just used the phrase “worthwhile undertaking” with another commenter! It really feels that way! I really, really need a portable project available at all times!

  16. This is such a wonderful project on so many levels! I can imagine the hours of pleasure it gives you as you work and ponder on the histories of these snippets. I agree with waiting before embarking on the final steps. There may be frustration in the amount of repetitive joining, but what joy whilst you place the pieces beforehand! It will be beautiful 🙂

  17. It I was doing this project, I’d also wait until the end to crochet the pieces together. It sounds like so much fun to arrange and re-arrange the pieces.

  18. What a wonderful idea! Both my Mom and Grandma were embroiderers, hand and machine and this would be a beautiful way to honor their work! Thank you for sharing!😊

  19. Pingback: The Perfect Fusion: HQAL and ScrapHappy | Love Those "Hands at Home"

  20. Pingback: Finally, Fusion Finished! | Love Those "Hands at Home"

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