February 2014: Polaroid Block

This post is part of Hive 2 of the Stash Bee.


What is your name? Abigail Cashelle

Where do you live? in the United States

Tell us about your family. I’m single 20-something girl. I grew up as the oldest of three girls in a fairly traditional evangelical Christian home.

Tell us about how you got interested in quilting. I’ve wanted to quilt for as long as I could remember. I remember going into my mother’s crafting book stash and secretly reading pages on quilting that were in there. She had a Sunbonnet Sue book that I practically memorized. But I never actually started quilting until I started graduate school in 2011. By then, I had summoned up enough self-confidence to dare to learn to quilt without a teacher (or really knowing anyone who quilted.)

How do you organize your fabric stash? It’s organized chaos really. I have a set of drawers with current works in progress, including projects that I have in my head but haven’t even seen the light of day. I have a big box of fabric scraps that I’ve collected from various projects, from a sewing friend, and from remnant bins at various fabric stores. Then I have a box of stash fabric (not organized, just folded.) On top of all that, I collect vintage sheets, so I have a box of those, organized by color.

Who is/are your favorite fabric designers? For a while, I loved everything that Cosmo Cricket came out with. I love Sarah Jane‘s style and have used some of her prints here and there, primarily for baby quilts. Mostly I just love anything with a retro flair or that reminds me of someone that I’m quilting for.

What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting? I wish I realized how creative sewing is. I’m not an exact person (as you will come to find out), and so I always imagined that sewing would be impossible. To tell the truth, I am learning to be more exact, but I’ve also discovered that quilting has a tremendous amount of creativity and freedom to it. You don’t have to follow a pattern to the hilt and there’s no exact requirements for the length and width of a quilt. It helps if all your blocks are the same size, but if they’re slightly off, people can’t really tell once it’s on a bed and definitely not when they’re sleeping under it.

sewing edges for block #3What is your favorite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out and buy it? It took me a while to hop on the washi tape craze, but it’s come in really useful for quilting. I’ve used it to mark a 1/4″ sew allowance on my sewing machine. I use it to tape my schematics to the wall or to tap the rest of a fat quarter package back together. It’s super nice also to make those packages seem extra special when you’re mailing a quilting gift to someone. Right now, I only have green washi tape, so it would be nice to have another color. But this girl quilts on a budget, so I tend to go for the basics. Plus I figure that if I’m frugal on the tools, I can spend more money on the actual materials!

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? I’m a huge Jane Austen fan. I’ve listened to Pride and Prejudice as an audiobook so many times that I have entire sections memorized. However, I still discover new things in it every day. To the high school English teacher who said that it was not a work of literary merit, I would have to say that that put it in a special category for me and made it one of the only books from high school that I still go back to all the time. I love all the movie/TV adaptations that I’ve seen, including the two BBC versions and the Kiera Knightley version. I think I like the Jennifer Ehlre/Colin Firth version. I’m a devoted fan of the Lizzie Bennet diaries; I love the way in which they’ve adapted the story to modern life and the ways in which they’ve interpreted the characters’ personalities. I’ve read a ton of fan fiction but am not a fan of the zombie/vampire twists (simply because I avoid that genre altogether.)

A few other things to note about myself:

– I am a historian by trade. I specialized in the antebellum South (which means the era before the Civil War and the area where slavery was legal.) I’m fascinated by tradition and by modern adaptions of the traditional.

– I have a chronic illness which has had a fairly significant impact on my life. I’ll be at a medical clinic undergoing more diagnostic evaluations for at least part of the month of February. Although I might be a little harder to get a hold of than usual, I’m really, really grateful for a distraction as preparing for the visit and even thinking about it has been kind of stressful (and scary). [My blog tells you much more about this journey.]

The Quilt Tutorial

My first memory of a Polaroid camera is a Sunday School class when I was four years old. One of the teachers owned a Polaroid camera, and they would come up with crafts that involved taking a picture of each of the students. My four year old self loved the idea of instant photos and watching the photograph develop. In sixth grade, we spent at least one week in art class altering photos we took with a Polaroid camera. We discovered that if you used toothpicks or q-tips, you can draw rings of fire around your subject. The bride at the first wedding I attended as an adult used Polaroid cameras to take photos of the guests for her guest book. So lots of memories!!

I’m excited about the possibility of a Polaroid quilt, one that can showcase some fun prints, can bust part of your stash, and can celebrate the past (and the present)!

fussy cut: block #3
Note how close to the edge of the fabric this picture is. Remember that Polaroids are a form of amateur art, so it’s totally fine if part of the image is missing, which is good since this scrap of fabric I bought from another crafter doesn’t include another full image of this scene.

The final block will be 9.5″ square (including seam allowances). Your block can showcase as many Polaroids as you like. I’m asking that your background fabric be at least 75% green or blue. Prints or solids both work; I just want to keep a color theme going. Keep in mind that Polaroids are not professional photos, so if your subjects are off to the side or partially cut off, it’s part of the theme!! (I told you I wasn’t exact.)

All measurements are merely suggestions. If different sizes or ratios work better for your particular feature fabric or your 9.5″ square block, be creative!!

1) Select a feature fabric. Find something that you can feature in your photograph. The broader the spectrum of choices, the more fun for me!! Cut out a square or a rectangle. My pears are about 3.5″ by 4.5″ plus seam allowances. The initial “A” is about 3 inches square plus seam allowances.
February 2014 block

2) Using a white or cream solid fabric, cut strips about 1″ wide for three sides of your fussy cut piece. Sew the opposite sides to the piece and then sew the third side connecting them.

3) Cut another strip about 1.5″ wide for the remaining side and sew that down.
making it a polaroid

4) Now you have a Polaroid (in fabric)! This is the perfect moment to square the edges if you want to.

Decide at this point whether you would like to feature multiple Polaroids in your block. If you do, follow steps 1-3 for each Polaroid. (Keep in mind that if you’re appliquing the second Polaroid on, you won’t need as many seam allowances when you cut the strips of white/off-white fabric.)

5) Select a contrasting or complementary fabric for the background. It can be a print or a solid, but please make sure that at least 75% of the fabric is green or blue.

adding the sides

6) To add the background, add strips of fabric to two of the sides. Then add strips of fabric to the other two sides. I intend to cut these blocks at an angle with a final side of 9.5″ square. If you make your blocks somewhat bigger (maybe 12″ square-ish), that will give me enough room to manipulate my ruler.

block #3: ready for trimming
7) To add a second Polaroid to your block, I would suggest appliquéing it to the block you completed in step 6. I used Steam-a-Seam to attach the “C” to my “A” block and then zigzag stitched it down with white thread. It could have been cool to use blue or orange thread although I didn’t think about that until later.

applique ready

8) Please mail me your block without the final cut. Once I have everyone’s block, I’ll make the final decisions about angles and placement and then cut everything all at once.

finished block

Polaroids came in different sizes and shapes over the years, so draw your inspiration from your feature fabric. I’ve seen Polaroids taken with the thick edge off to the side. I’ve seen square and rectangular Polaroid prints. I’ve also seen mini Polaroids taken. Use this as an opportunity to celebrate the spontaneity of layman’s art and don’t be over concerned about the tiny details. Just make sure that I can actually fit my 9.5″ square ruler over your whole block!!

I’m so excited to see what you all come up with and I can’t wait to put this whole quilt together. This is definitely a quilt design that makes more sense in a bee because it thrives on the diversity of stashes.

Email me directly or post questions to Flickr if you run into trouble as you piece these blocks.

Best wishes,

P.S. Please be sure to use my name as it appears on the address list. It’ll help the mailman get less confused!


Stash Bee Blocks!!!!

I’m really excited about being a part of a quilting bee. It’s my first one ever, and as a historian, it’s pretty exciting to be part of an American tradition.

I’ve just finished sewing my blocks for this month and next month!! Here’s a sneak peek at what I’ve been working on.

January 2014 block
January 2014 block
block completed by Abigail *after* mailing
Feb 2014 block #1
appliqued on!!
Feb 2014 block #2 (with my initials!!)

Woefully Behind but…

I know that I’m woefully behind in posting this month’s PFAM blog roundup and just updates in general, but I have an honest-to-goodness excuse.

I interviewed for, got offered, trained, and started a cashiering job all in the past week.

I’ve already worked four days, and they have me on the schedule working 40 hour weeks. Since I already have two part-time jobs that want me to work more hours than usual, this has been kind of ridiculous. Mostly I go to work and then I go home & figure out what I need for work the next day and then I go to sleep. But it should be less crazy next week once midterms are over and no one wants to hire a tutor!!

Other exciting news is that I signed up for my first virtual quilting bee!!! I had forgotten that I had applied for that, but it should be exciting. I’m looking forward to it (and hoping that I find the time & energy to come up with an idea for my month, which is February!!)

More news soon. For now, it’s time to sleep.


Quilting in Public

the hexagon quilt I was working on
the hexagon quilt I was working on

I did it!! My first time quilting in public.

I’ve been working on a hexagon quilt, and I’ve been piecing the whole thing together by hand. I brought a portion of it with me to my therapist’s appointment. I knew that I would have some random downtime (10 minutes here, 15 minutes there) and so I figured that I could make some progress on the quilt. And I had a really grand time.

Because I was quilting in a public space where most people just sit there waiting for their turn, a number of different people came up to me and asked to see the quilt. My therapist wanted to see it, and I got to show her how I incorporated different fabrics that held different meanings for me. Other patients and some of the staff stopped me to take a look. I even got to show the project to a little girl.

All in all, it was really cool experience. I definitely plan to continue hand quilting projects so that I can craft in public. I finally figured out what Future Girl is always raving about!!

I’m really excited about the opportunity. I feel like there’s this whole part of me that hasn’t really emerged outside my room and maybe the internet. I read a lot of blogs and books to get ideas, but I’m mostly making things up as I go. It’s awesome to get validation for what I do. But it’s even nicer to put that creative side of me out for the public to see. I think it’ll be a while before music really emerges again for me, at least from a performance perspective. But this is something totally new. Something I only picked up because of my illness. (Well, I always wanted to learn to quilt. But illness finally created the time and the patience to teach myself.)

A pretty happy day overall,
Abigail Cashelle

Reflections with Dr. Samuel

I met Dr. Samuel earlier today to say goodbye & to touch base with him before I leave town.

We talked about my time as his patient & came away with several conclusions. (I’ll list them here so I don’t forget later!):

  • I started graduate school with pretty bad depression that sometimes took over my life. We got that under control within the first few months, and I’ve been doing pretty well since then.
  • I need to have someone continue to monitor the depression & continue prescribing the meds. Weekly talk therapy also seems called for, just because my life (with the chronic illness) is pretty tough.
  • Depression seems much more like a symptom than a root cause. I don’t necessarily need a psychiatrist to monitor the condition as the meds seem to have it under control, therapy should continue to help, and there are other things going on here.
  • One of the major blessings of having Dr. Samuel as my physician has been that any time someone brings up psychiatric origins of my illness, I can say that I have been evaluated by a psychiatrist over a period of time and he does not believe that to be the case. Dr. Samuel says that he would be willing to continue to be that person even from afar.

It’s a fine line to walk between making things up that aren’t true and using the truth to your advantage. Both Drs. Samuel & Mark have talked to me about this. It seems counterintuitive, but for a complex situation like mine, it’s important to consider how doctors think and how to best present my case to them. I think of it as giving a compelling description of a product rather than just trying to increase sales.

water flowing & sun shining
water flowing & sun shining
In other news, Dr. Samuel has been a pretty special doctor to me. He’s been the one who has always seen me as a strong & passionate person, someone who has accomplished a lot. A lot of people in my life go about looking for the silver lining in every situation, but Dr. Samuel has a different attitude. He see me primarily as a creative & determined young woman with a sense of humor. That’s something that endures, rain or shine, something that’s not tied to the circumstances. It’s a vision that not many people have shared with me, but one which has really changed my perception of myself. If I had to pick one person who changed my life while I’ve been here, it would be him. Without a doubt.

So I made something for him. Something that would capture the sunshine, the joy, that he always sees & brought to my life. I wrote a note on the back. I gave it to him at the end of the visit. Something to hang on his office wall. Or something cheery to put in his house. He was really surprised and said that it looked really pretty!!

the note
the note
I know that I’m not a visual person. It took me quite a while to figure out how to capture his attitude toward me as a patient and as a young adult. It made me really happy to make it. And to give it to him. Because sometimes words are just not enough.


when life hands you lemons, sew

It’s been crazy, crazy, crazy in Abigail-land. I’ve been juggling family stuff, medical stuff, amorphous blob stuff, large reading list stuff, roommate stuff…. get the picture yet??

But in the middle of all of that, I’ve been sewing. I’m working on a star quilt. I’ve also just started a dress. I saw the pattern in the store. And then I saw the perfect fabric…. The rest is becoming history.

the pattern: Butterick 5642
swiss dot fabric: perfect!!

So instead of boring you with loads of text about how stressful my life is becoming, I’m leaving you with an etsy treasury. Because I’ve altered the saying: when life hands you lemons, sew:Etsy: sewing


Sewing and Pictures

Because pictures are worth thousands of words…

Meet Molly
Meet Molly

I think I loved Molly to much
I think I loved Molly too much

After stitches... we were both tired so the picture is kind of tired too
After stitches… we were both tired so the picture is kind of tired too

Micah, Timothy & Grace's dog, loved his elephant too much
Micah, Timothy & Grace’s dog, loved his elephant too much
Elephant all better!!
Elephant all better!!
I'm working on a new quilt... here are some of the pieces all cut and stacked nicely
I’m working on a new quilt… here are some of the pieces all cut and stacked nicely

Decorating My Apartment

One reader (Lydia) asked me to share a little bit more about my crafty life, so I here now present a non-medical, non-religious post!!!!

Visit us in real life and you can sign it!!
Gretchen and I have decided that our apartment needs more color as in a LOT more color. Grace and Timothy lent us some furniture, so now we actually have living room furniture besides a futon!! Thus, Project Make Apartment Homey was born.

One day when I was feeling downright terrible, I was browsing on Etsy, my second favorite craft site next to Pinterest and stumbled across this thing called the “autograph quilt”. I decided that this would be a great way to add color to our apartment, especially since I had also stumbled across a beautiful quilt kit in a print that I’d be eyeing. So, now, we have a guest quilt hanging on the wall.

Check it out!! I’ve signed it already. 🙂

See? More color.
Furthermore, Diana found out that I like to sew and donated a cotton shower curtain to us. Gretchen took one look at it & knew what we were supposed to do with it. That’s why we have a shower curtain stapled to our dining room wall. (It’s called decorating on a graduate student budget.) It sounds crazy, but it looks awesome. I really like it.

Welcome one, welcome all!! Please come in and sign our quilt. 🙂
Then, I decided that we needed seasonal decoration. That was the one thing I did last year. So we made a field trip out of it on Saturday and came home with scarecrows. I think there’s no question in anyone’s mind that two girls live in our apartment. And I think Aaron might roll his eyes when he sees what we’ve done. (That’s what he gets for living with a bunch of guys.)

Do you see what I see? It’s autumn!!