© Sue Schlabach

I found a stack of handmade patches at a flea market recently. I had $5 with me and so I had to be judicious is choosing which patches to buy. They were $1 each, and made several decades ago (judging by the styles of the fabrics). I had a reason to love each one, but I could only choose three, if I was also to buy two other pieces of $1 fabric I’d unearthed from another pile.

Though I sew a lot, I haven’t done much with patchwork. This fall I marveled as my mother and a group of her friends sewed in the ballpark of 100 quilts to give to families who had lost their homes and belongings in tropical storm Irene. {This effort deserves a full post, and I promise that one is coming.}

During the full throttle of their efforts my mom wrote me an email late at night, after finishing another quilt. She questioned whether she had missed her calling (she worked as a teacher, writer and editor—not a seamstress), because all she wanted to do was sew and match up fabric squares.

I could relate to this completely.

I, too, love to sew and find myself waking up at night with an idea, or actually getting giddy when I buy a spool of thread in some rich, tasty color that I have never sewed with before. So these vintage patches, with their quirky color and pattern pairings and imperfect piecing, fueled an interest in doing some out-of-the-box patchwork. And the perfect book fell into my hands recently to take it one step further. The book is Patchwork Style by Suzuko Koseki and her 35 designs blend Scandinavian and Japanese aesthetic and styles. I hardly know where to begin. I have a tempting stack of fabric just begging to be patched and pieced.

The sewing machine has different ideas. It is a great machine, but needs a trip to the machine doctor for a major cleaning and tune-up.


Time to hone the hand-stitching skills.