Is it safe to say I’m not the only one who wants to look back at 2020 with only one eye half opened? What a year! Despite a global pandemic and countless other challenges, I’m finding the bright side – and the learning opportunities – from this year. Here’s a look at my personal quilting journey through 2020.
QuiltCon 2020 in Austin, TX
There’s something special about QuiltCon. There’s the awe-inspiring quilt show, vendors and sew-lebrities, classes, lectures and so much more. Those things are wonderful, but what makes the show so very special is the people. I had the opportunity to meet, connect with and grow friendships with so many quilters that I’ve met online and now in real life. I took a chance by throwing out a call for any running quilters to join me on some morning runs – those were definitely a highlight of the year! Many of those people are now dear friends and they’ve been especially important as a sounding board and support during the pandemic. Oh yeah, and that's the last time I traveled or did anything with a group of people this year.
|Running Quilters at QuiltCon 2020
Accomplishments for Myself
Everyone’s goals are different and the definition of success is in the eye of the beholder. For myself, I was pleased with the following accomplishments I actually made in 2020.
1. Guide was displayed at QuiltCon 2020. I made this quilt for the MQG & Riley Blake Fabric Challenge in 2019. It was the third place finisher for that challenge and was also accepted into QuiltCon 2020.
|Guide, a quilt by Jessica Plunkett
2. Disappearing Act was selected for the Curated Quilts HST themed Mini Quilt Challenge and was in the Issue 12. I made this quilt weeks into the pandemic as a stress reliever. HSTs are my jam and I was pleased with the final result.
|Disappearing Act, a quilt by Jessica Plunkett
3. My daughter's quilt was selected for the Curated Quilts Youth themed Mini Quilt Challenge and was in Issue 13. My daughter is always drawing and bringing me new “quilt patterns.” One of her drawings really struck me for how quilty it was – I could clearly see an HST, several circles and a clear quilting plan. My daughter isn’t old enough really to sew on her own, so I put her in charge of cutting out the circle shapes, drawing the line for the HST, removing the “clippies” (Wonder Clips) for me, pressing the scissor button on my machine to cut the thread and lots of other little tasks so that we could make the quilt together. It was such an enjoyable and memorable experience!
|A mother/daughter collaboration for Curated Quilts
4. I gave my first lectures. Last year, a few guilds reached out and asked if I would do a trunk show lecture about my journey and interest in unique background colors. I was able to give a few lectures in person before the pandemic hit. The rest of my booked lectures were cancelled for 2020, but many have rebooked for a future date. I’m excited to explore more about how my journey can inspire others.
5. I finished quilts. In August, during the throws of the pandemic when I was feeling particularly low and drained of creative energy, I stared at the top shelf on the far bookcase in my sewing studio. I have let quilt tops accumulate for years. When I don’t have a direct reason to finish it, I just move on. I decided I couldn’t avoid it anymore. I took stock of how many quilt tops I had at that exact moment in early August. There were 39. I decided one of the quilt tops will have a different purpose and I set out with the intention to quilt those 38 quilt tops. Now, some were for actual current projects and some that had sat there for six years. I gave myself no timeline – and spoiler alert – I am not done with them all. But, to date, I have finished (quilted + bound!) 35 of the quilts! Woohoo! For 2021, I am considering documenting and doing something with the WIPs pile next (cringe!).
6. I was the featured quilter at Madison County Airing of the Quilts. Each year, the Iowa Quilt Museum hosts an Airing of the Quilts event in their county. Many of the quilts are displayed at their famous Bridges of Madison County. I was asked to feature my quilts around the county courthouse in the center of the town square. I was able to attend with my immediate family (it was outdoors in the summer!) and it was really magical to see so many quilts hanging up outside being enjoyed by so many.
7. I had my first-ever published quilt in a magazine. My Altered State quilt appeared in Issue 34 of Make Modern Magazine. Also, I had a Quilt of the Month with the Modern Quilt Guild. My Signal Quilt was featured in the May Modern Monthly resources.
|Altered State, a quilt pattern by Jessica Plunkett
|Signal, a quilt pattern by Jessica Plunkett
Here are a few facts and details on things I made this year.
1. I quilted 53 quilts. This includes the quilts from the list above, plus other quilts I finished before August.
2. Don’t ask how many projects I started – I have no idea – ha!
3. I also made 3 pillows, 5 totes and 3 various project bags. I have more tote bags to make in 2021! I published two new or updated patterns and am in process on a third. I hosted a quilt along. I made lots of things!
|Range Backpack, made by Jessica Plunkett. Pattern by Noodlehead Patterns.
I took a lot more risks this year with projects and I’m excited to see what I can create in the future. There are so many specific projects I’d love to share more about (I’ll leave those as future blog posts). 2020 has taught me to look critically at what brings me joy and try to direct my efforts to those things. Late this year an idea sparked to commemorate one of the positive things that has occurred for me in 2020. I made a Virtual Sewing quilt – it’s from my perspective of sitting down in a sewing space, logging into zoom and sewing with my friends. While certainly I’d rather see people in person, virtual sewing has become a way to stay connected, engaged and inspired with some truly magnificent people. It’ll be an interesting reminder of both the joy and the hardness of 2020.
|Virtual Sewing, a quilt by Jessica Plunkett