the benin quilt. the end.

Attention! This site is no longer being updated as of Nov 25th, 2013. Please visit if you’re still curious about what I’m making – on an electric sewing machine this time.

thebeninscrapquilt01Here it is! The quilt, and also the end for this little blog. But don’t be alarmed, I’m still sewing, just elsewhere – at Kalali, my new sewing journal. So for this last post I’m ending with 95 photos… sorry… not really, since it is the end, after all. Just keep scrolling if it gets boring. The order will be the making of the quilt followed by the quilt photo shoot and finally concluding with memories and details of each quilt block.

thebeninscrapquilt02Once I arrived back in Texas I threw all my scraps onto a huge bed and organized them by rainbow colors. 9x each of each square.

thebeninscrapquilt03Then I paired them up with my white/neutrals lace, 9x again of each square.

thebeninscrapquilt04Then I drew and sewed 2 diagonal lines making little print/neutral sandwiches.

thebeninscrapquilt06I chain sewed to save time.

thebeninscrapquilt05My little grilled cheese sandwiches!

thebeninscrapquilt07Then I received pretty welcome home flowers from a mister mister :)

thebeninscrapquilt10The sandwiches opened up to little squares, which I had to then trim.

thebeninscrapquilt11Nice and perfect 90° angles.

thebeninscrapquilt14I really killed my rotary blade… and my cutting board… but most of all my fingers and wrist.

thebeninscrapquilt13But it was worth it as they were all nice and perfect squares.

thebeninscrapquilt15Then I sewed them into rows of three.

thebeninscrapquilt16From baby sandwiches to baby flags.

thebeninscrapquilt17Then those rows were sewn into columns.

thebeninscrapquilt1845 individual blocks!

thebeninscrapquilt19Then all those blocks were sewed into rows.

thebeninscrapquilt20Then each row was sewn to another row.

thebeninscrapquilt21Aaaaaaaaaaaaand finally there were no more squares or blocks or rows or columns – just one HUGE rectangle of a fabric!

thebeninscrapquilt22Except. That was just the front. I still had a back. And I still had a ton of scraps leftover.

thebeninscrapquilt23For the back I didn’t really care. I worked hard enough on the front, this was my time to just wing it. And wing it I did! I sewed all the similar colors into long rows.

thebeninscrapquilt24Pressed them. (BTW there was also a lot of pressing during part one, I just didn’t photograph those steps. But pressing happened after every sewn line.)

thebeninscrapquilt25Sewed all those rows together. Taped them.

thebeninscrapquilt26Added a batting with lots of pins.

thebeninscrapquilt27I repeat. LOTS of pins. Almost 1 per little square.

thebeninscrapquilt28Rolled it up.

thebeninscrapquilt29Stuck it through the machine.

thebeninscrapquilt30Trimmed off some excess.

thebeninscrapquilt31Made a binding. (PS yes, my machine had a little growth spurt…)

thebeninscrapquilt32Sewed the binding on.

thebeninscrapquilt33AND DONE!!!

thebeninscrapquilt35Here’s the back!

thebeninscrapquilt34What better place to do a photo shoot than my mom’s garden, where she has over 90 loofahs drying out? If ever you need something easy to grow, consider loofah. Safe at home is where this Benin journey ends.

thebeninscrapquilt36That took forever even if the photos make it look like 5 minutes. I purchased a quilt pattern because this was my first time making a quilt and I wanted some handholding, but not too much since I wasn’t about refined perfect techniques here – I just wanted a presentable quilt.

thebeninscrapquilt37The pattern I used was the Retro Half Square Triangle Quilt by Red Pepper Quilts. I chose the pattern because it wasn’t very “claustrophobic” to me. Many quilt patterns out there are too busy for me, and I wanted my fabrics to shine instead of being jammed and crammed up against one another.

thebeninscrapquilt38I have an entirely new level of awe and respect for quilters. I’ll admit that before making this quilt (and the entire reason why I even decided to make a quilt) is because I thought quilting was just sewing a bunch of squares together. Easy no brainer quick afternoon activity right?

thebeninscrapquilt39Wrong! So much measuring! Cutting! Taping! Perfecting! Repeating! Accuracy! Angles! Calculating! Math! Straight edges! Rulers! Batting! Binding! Which is why I went completely freestyle for the back and didn’t match anything up. One side of effort was enough for me, by side two I just wanted to be done and go back to garment sewing.

thebeninscrapquilt40It makes a nice oversized scarf.

thebeninscrapquilt41Also, even though I put 100% effort into making the front as accurate as possible, I still had some blocks that were way off and they most definitely are not matching up perfectly. But hey, from this distance, you can’t tell!

thebeninscrapquilt43One of the most amusing things for me is that when I was searching pinterest and google for inspirations, there were so many photos of quilts being held up with fingers and feet sticking out.

thebeninscrapquilt46I don’t know why, it’s just super funny to me so of course I needed to join in on the fun for my photo shoot. I guess it reminds me of Thing from the Addams Family.

thebeninscrapquilt42This quilt is quite versatile. Interpretive dance? Check.

thebeninscrapquilt44Giant skirt? Check.

thebeninscrapquilt45Head wrap? Check.

thebeninscrapquilt47Bull fighting bait cloth? Check.

Back CameraRANDOM INTERRUPTION in case you need a break from all these quilt photos. I must post these goat photos before I close this blog. Clever goats from Benin avoiding the rain.

Back CameraWhen it would rain you could be sure to find the goats lined up under a tiny overhang to stray dry. Anyway, back to quilt talk.

thebeninscrapquilt49Time to take a stroll down memory lane. We’ll go in rainbow order. Starting with the woodin print I used to make the Lisette 2245 Porfolio dress. Here you can see how this quilt was not well put together as I had to chop off a huge part of the left side. Oh well. Anyway, this was the dress with the amazing pockets that were perfect stashing everything, namely mangos. In the end I didn’t want to ruin it so I rarely wore it in Benin. Also, I hated wearing tights there as well. In the end I saved it for Europe and wore it all the time.It worked over tights, over pants, held all my random stuff in the pockets, layered over teeshirts and layered perfectly under sweaters – I’ll definitely be making more of these soonish.

thebeninscrapquilt50This red contrast fabric was used for both the portfolio dress above and my Simplicity 2594 drop waist dress as well. I ended up wearing this dress everywhere. Easy to move around it, was super breezy since there weren’t any sleeves, and had pockets. It was also the last thing I wore when I said one last goodbye to Bosco. I left this dress in a hotel in Togo as it was getting stinky, I needed space in my luggage, and I knew I wouldn’t wear this outside of Benin.

thebeninscrapquilt51This was leftover fabric from Brownie’s fabric chairs. I never did get around to photographing her chairs, but at least I have some photos of her porch.

thebeninscrapquilt52Ah, the secondhand sheets I used to make the Colette Hazel and the Colette Sorbetto. These were a fun experimentation with lace. In the end I gave the dress and top away.

thebeninscrapquilt53I loved both these makes – the Colette Madeleine and the Colette Iris. One was made with buttons from Jane in Canada and the other was made when Frances came to visit so we could participate in the online pajama party.

thebeninscrapquilt54The Mayor of Ouidah Severin Adjovi fabric. OF COURSE I kept this dress!!! Too good to leave behind. Also good memories of helping Gabriel try and teach computer classes on 4 windows and 3 macs with constant power outages.

thebeninscrapquilt55The Vlisco party peony! It was fun matching with all the CIAMO staff and Ganvé teachers.

thebeninscrapquilt56Oops, I cheated here. This is a tank top I made before Benin but the fabric is still from West Africa (Ghana). It’s a top I made a few weeks before I arrived in Benin, and I wore it all the the time – however I don’t have any photos of me in it in Benin. In the end it was tattered and stained so I cut it up for my quilt.

thebeninscrapquilt57Save as above, but this yellow was from the contrast yoke for the tank top mentioned above. So you’ll have to settle with random Benin iphone photos.

thebeninscrapquilt58Here’s the Amy Butler Lotus Cami. Fond memories of Frances coming to visit, fabric shopping with Frances, Frances terrified on a motorcycle ride, then reuniting with Frances and the other half of this fabric.

thebeninscrapquilt59Nothing special here, just the lining fabric for my Colette Eclair. More random Benin photos to fill up all that empty space!

thebeninscrapquilt60Here’s the Chantilly! I love acting like a fool for photo shoots and having the children question my sanity.

thebeninscrapquilt61And here’s the solid contrast for the Chantilly. Nothing more exciting of the dress so you’ll have to settle for corn.

thebeninscrapquilt62My most hated project, the Colette Hazel with the most crinkly and stiffest and scratchiest fabric ever. Perfect for tote bags though!

thebeninscrapquilt63A highlight. Batik dying a fabirc with Ouidah’s most famous symbol.

thebeninscrapquilt64It’s that pesky Chantilly again! But I gave it away to another Peace Crops Volunteer who fit into it perfectly. It looked so much better on her than me so off to a new home it went! And here is Bosco with my breadlady who knocked on my door every single morning.

thebeninscrapquilt65Rob, the professor on sabbatical from San Antonio. Here was his goodbye present, a kindle cover, from John Mark and me.

thebeninscrapquilt66And John Mark himself with the bazin he bought so I could make a Colette Negroni for him. With the leftover fabric I made myself a peekabo dress for a new year’s party.

thebeninscrapquilt67More Frances love. This was yet another woodin fabric that I made a Beignet skirt with as well as a very inappropriate backless Burda dress which I still haven’t worn out in public.

thebeninscrapquilt68My goodbye party dress.

thebeninscrapquilt69I loved the shorts/top combo I made with this, not so much the dress. Once winter is over I can’t wait to wear this outfit out and about. The dress ended up going to another Peace Corps volunteer to help me make space in my luggage.

thebeninscrapquilt70Sheets and beaded smocking, such a beautiful combination. My first attempt at smocking, and it won’t be my last.

thebeninscrapquilt71This skirt was worn a lot. Weekly, even. Circle skirts and elastic waistbands are all you need to wear in Benin. However, this crazy print is not my style in America so I left it with another volunteer.

thebeninscrapquilt72A blue Uniwax fabric I purchased which I found out was fake later. The counterfeit quality (to me anyway) is the same as the original’s, and I really cannot tell the difference. Also, people in Benin can’t explain it to me either so I was never sure what to look for when fabric shopping. Oh well!

thebeninscrapquilt73More secondhand sheets fun. This was also my first time having something custom embroidered. While it was beautiful, it was also super stiff. Less learned. I do miss all those kids hanging out everywhere.

thebeninscrapquilt74A scalloped hat my friend Innocente made. Well, she cut it out and started to sew it but in the end I realized it was easier if I just finished it for her. In the end the hat was also too small for her so I’m not so sure what the hat is doing now.

thebeninscrapquilt75Hands down my most favorite projects and most worn outfits. These two dresses were just perfect for Benin, and I loved how they worked with either red or blue contrasts. Lots of good memories associated with them as I wore them almost weekly.

thebeninscrapquilt76Again, the bye bye Benin and bye bye Bosco dress, but this time the print.

thebeninscrapquilt77Barnaby! The tailor who helped me anytime I had sewing machine woes. This was a rather stiff purple cotton I used to make a Kimono dress and a shift dress.

thebeninscrapquilt78Ugliest fabric. I didn’t choose it, someone else did. It is the fabric used for the contrast in John Mark’s shirt. I still feel really guilty about this fabric because I thought John Mark bought it and I was berating him about his awful fabric choice… until I realized that he didn’t choose it, and the person who did choose it was standing in the same room. So when criticizing fabric choices, be careful and absolutely sure who chose what and if they can hear you! It’s funny how guilty feelings take a long time (or never) to go away.

thebeninscrapquilt79The purple batik with the reversible zipper saga that has traveled the world’s notions shops!

thebeninscrapquilt80Loved this burda dress. But most of all I loved attempting to balance a tray full of clothes on my head while holding paws with Bosco.

thebeninscrapquilt81The solid side with fish of the batik fabric. I remember Euphreme being really bewildered when I asked him to please not use the stamp on the fabric. After all, making batik is his job and his specialty… how could I ask him to not do it? But he went ahead with my request, and now I have a jacket I love.

thebeninscrapquilt82Oh Jane pants! I love them. Though, I think I am going to convert them to shorts as I feel like a clown if I wear them in the USA.

thebeninscrapquilt83My very first fabric and the sewing projects made from it. The scalloped hat ended up being faded to a very light pink because of all the sun exposure. Better a faded hat than burnt skin, right?

thebeninscrapquilt84Frances again, but this time this is her fabric. I just kept a few of the scraps for my quilt.

thebeninscrapquilt85Shorts! I wore these quite often. Not very special, but it is always the non special ones that are worn the most often often.

thebeninscrapquilt86Mmmmm not my most favorite make, I was just trying to use up scraps from another project. Projects with the sole goal of stashbusting, I have learned, are often failures. I need inspiration, not necessity, to make something I like.

thebeninscrapquilt87This one I love! LOVE! LOVE! I felt so pretty in it. can’t wait for a special occasion to wear it to.

thebeninscrapquilt88I held a Python with this shirt. I think that, by default, makes my Grainline Archer the best out of all the other archers out there.

thebeninscrapquilt89This was Brownie’s fabric when Brownie requested a circle skirt. Request granted!

thebeninscrapquilt90I used this brown solid to make piping and lined pockets for my shorts… but I cannot remember what other project I used this fabric in. ? ? ? I had a whole yard of it, so I know it can’t be this one project – but I honestly don’t remember.

thebeninscrapquilt91Love love this fabric, but didn’t really love my makes. I think I ended up gifting them all away. The memories (and my quilt) are what count most, right?

thebeninscrapquilt92Another ugly fabric, but this one was salvaged by the fact that if you you cut out the zebra print, it ended up making super cute christmas garland.

thebeninscrapquilt93And the fabric for my first ever photo shoot with Bosco. I suppose it’s a good thing I’m moving on and writing in a new blog, it’s still a bit sad for me to have all these reminders of Bosco or to have posts in this blog without any new Bosco news or photos. Thank you Benin for all the wonderful memories! I won’t forget the people, the food, the sights, the smells… not only because it’s all quite unforgettable, but also because it’s all wrapped into one nice big quilt.

thebeninscrapquilt48By the way, did you happen to notice my red dress? Any guesses as to what pattern it is…?

theendIf you guessed Anna you guessed right! This dress marks the end of this blog and the grand opening of my new sewing blog: Kalali. Please click here to see more of the dress and more of my future sewing adventures not in Benin and not on a treadle. Thank you everybody for following along with me during my year as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin – support, even from strangers, is always such a nice thing to have when living abroad. See you over at Kalali?

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