Skinflint Sunday: Stealth quilting during a lockdown.

Back when Ryan26 was a little Ryan10 -or-11, he asked if I could make him a skull quilt. I replied that when I could work out how to do one, then of course I would.

Fast forward to 2 years ago, when I remembered that conversation and asked him if he still wanted one.

“Hell yeah!” he said, which surprised me a bit.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, Pinterest served up this beauty.

In between lockdowns, Ryan26 had a driving lesson and we went to a local quilt shop. His favourite colour is yellow and while we were there, I got him to pick out some fabric he liked.

“Don’t expect I’ll use it anytime soon,” I said. “After making that dachshund quilt for you last year, you’re WAY down the list!”

So my version of this quilt is going to be all in yellows, with a dark grey background. When I was making Evan24’s quilt last year I bought about 4,000 metres of the grey fabric, so I’m happy to chip away at it.

So how do you make a surprise Christmas present for a person who, due to lockdowns, is ALWAYS around?

Very quietly and carefully, it turns out, with frequent heart attacks when he suddenly walks past the room and you didn’t hear him coming. I haven’t quilted that baby quilt I showed you last week – it’s ‘casually’ lying on the bed in the sewing room with all of the skull quilt strips hidden beneath it.

One good thing is that Ryan26 likes to take a walk almost every day. Trouble is, they differ in length anywhere from 30 minutes to (once) 4 hours. I ‘ll be lolling on the couch reading a book as he steps through the gate, then BAM! I’m in the sewing room, frantically cutting, pinning, sewing… until I hear the latch on the front gate. Then I’m covering everything up and walking out to the lounge room to ask how his walk was.

So far I’ve just about finished piecing the top together. When he FINALLY gets to go in to RMIT to finish the last assessment with his myotherapy course, I’ll be spending those hours sandwiching the quilt together with pins and starting the quilting.

I’ll have it done before Christmas, unless he DOES give me heart failure by poking his head around the door unexpectedly.

One good thing has come from all of this enforced downtime, especially with the lockdown being extended. Ryan26 has designed a quilt pattern!

It came about because I told David27 that he should pick out a quilt design. It was his turn. At first he was like, “Ok, but I’m still using the quilt you made for me when I was a kid.” I then broke it to him that while he only had one quilt, Evan24 had FOUR.

“What?!?” he said. “I call shenanigans!”

“He’s the baby,” I said. “You have to keep the baby warm.”

David27 hit Pinterest and came back with a picture of a quilt he liked. Ryan26 graphed it up for me and in the process of doing that, he changed the design to something that looks even better. He started fooling around with the design software and voila! A quilt pattern was born.

After I test it out by making a couple of quilts from it, we’re thinking that he might open an Etsy store. It could be a dribble of passive income for him, especially because he’s moving into a ‘hands-on’ field of work in the middle of a pandemic. Quilt patterns are pdfs, so once it’s all set up, the process will be automatic.

It’s also been really good for his state of mind too, giving him something else to think about and problem-solve. It turns out that he really enjoys designing. He was starting to get a bit glum with the constant pushing back of the end of his course with all of the lockdowns. This has been very good for him.

For something a little bit fun and frugal, I’ve been using up all of my travel-sized shampoos etc. Every morning I feel like I’m on holiday. Just the thing during a lockdown!

Now that there are only two of us living here, I’m finding that our food is lasting far longer than it did before. When I make something like a casserole, curry or pasta sauce, it’s now lasting two nights + lunches instead of being eaten up all in one night.

These aren’t sausage rolls. (Sorry, Scott!)

We had lemon and coconut dahl one night and I didn’t feel like dishing it up on rice again the following night. I decided to drag out a few sheets of puff pastry from the freezer and use the dahl in them. We had them for dinner that night and it was ok… but there was one left over. Next day for lunch I cut it in half and reheated it in the airfryer and YUM.

As a dinner it was meh… but as a lunch it was terrific. I’m going to make up a few of these and freeze them for those days when we feel like a savoury snack for lunch. It was tasty and not too heavy. Perfect!

I’ve been using Evan24’s old room as a sewing room. I have the machine on this folding table which vibrates if you sew at any speed faster than a gentle trot. It’s a tight fit in this room. Behind me is a double bed which takes up a lot of the space.

My Grand Plan is that when one of the remaining boys moves out, I’ll take his room to use as an office/craft room. I’ve never had one of these and I think I’ll love it. I’ll have a proper, sturdy table for the sewing machine, a design wall and a desk for keeping all of my stationery together. It’ll be heaven.

Yesterday my sister Kate mentioned that she was having trouble moving her 8 seater dining table on Marketplace. It’s a beautiful beech table that looks sensational but it’s simply too big for the space most people have.

‘Hang on a minute!’ I thought. ‘That’d make a perfect sewing table!’

I offered her $300 OR a quilt. She chose the cash. I still don’t have a spare room for it, but fortunately the Man Cave is big enough that we can park the table in there until either Ryan26 moves out or David27 and Izzy move out from her parents’ house and into their own place and David27 takes all his stuff with him. This will be a Pantene thing – it won’t happen overnight but it will happen.

It’s funny how all of the jigsaw puzzle pieces keep falling into place to make The Best House in Melbourne the perfect retirement dwelling!

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