The Downton Abbey Sew-In

On my way from my cubicle to the kitchen for a cup of coffee this morning I was a few steps past the office of McCall’s Quilting art director Ellie Brown when I heard her call my name. She was smiling and almost giddy. “You know what I’m going to say, right?” Ellie asked.

“I’ve got the theme song running through my head as we speak,” I replied.

poster downtonabbey3 The Downton Abbey Sew InWe were, of course, both talking about the return of “Downton Abbey” to U.S. television this Sunday night. Ellie and I are not the only DA fans here in the office, but during season 2 we liked to check in with each other on Monday mornings to dish about the previous night’s episode. Now that the holidays are over, it’s nice to have something fun to look forward to.

I know I could have watched season 3 online a few months ago if I’d wanted, but I didn’t want to. I’m old-fashioned enough [read: born prior to 1982] to appreciate the ritual of tuning in to watch a show at a predetermined time when pretty much everyone else is, too. Again, it’s something to look forward to. And watching from the comfort of our family room or bedroom is preferable to sitting at my desktop computer.

season2 world style 06 lg The Downton Abbey Sew InWhen season 2 aired last year, my younger daughter was only a couple months old and didn’t take to sleeping alone in her bassinet for long stretches. She and I got into a routine of cuddling on our bed during DA so I could watch uninterrupted and she got the comfort (and sleep) she needed. At the time I would get frustrated thinking about all the things I wasn’t getting done because she’d scream if I tried to move her, but now it’s become one of my favorite memories of her first winter.

However, she is no longer an infant but an active toddler who regularly goes to sleep in her crib. I think having a little bit more breathing room in the evenings is going to become one of my favorite memories of this winter, and it comes just in time for DA’s third season (as long as we don’t hit a bad teething patch, that is).

But just because I have a little more time to myself doesn’t mean I have a lot of time to myself. I still have to cram too many things into too few hours here and there, and the new year makes me want to tackle all of it all at once. Which is not possible. However, I think I’ve come up with a plan to combine two activities that will go well together. When I get home from work today, I will inform my husband that I’ve declared the next seven Sunday nights to be reserved for the Downton Abbey Sew-In. And now that I’ve blogged about it I’m going to have to do it, because now it’s for work. (See what I did there?)

I have a very old UFO that I want to finish this year. It’s a double Irish chain lap quilt that I strip-pieced years ago, intending to hand quilt it and give it as a Christmas gift. It still needs borders before I can move onto the quilting part, but before I do that, I’m going to have to do some re-stitching to fix some problems with the construction that I just can’t overlook. Let’s just say that my 1/4″ seams were less than precise when I made this top.

But aside from re-working some of the piecing and then adding some simple borders, most of the work on this quilt — deciding on quilting motifs, marking the quilt top, basting, hand quilting — can be done in front of the TV. My goal is not to finish the quilt before season 3 ends. Just setting aside a couple of quiet hours a week to work on it while enjoying well-made entertainment is enough for me right now. A glass of wine might also be included in the proceedings — you never know.

So that’s my plan. I’ll report back next week with an update on whatever I was able to accomplish. But if nothing else, I’m just looking forward to seeing Shirley MacLaine go head to head with Maggie Smith. Let the games begin!

UPDATES: Click here for the Week 1 update.


About Mary Kate Karr-Petras

Mary Kate is an associate editor at Quilters Newsletter. If you ask her what type of quilter she considers herself, she'll answer, "Slow." Favorite techniques include hand quilting, both traditional and big stitch, but she also loves her walking foot and keeps meaning to get better acquainted with her open-toe embroidery foot.
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15 Responses to The Downton Abbey Sew-In

  1. Betty Moubray says:

    I’d say, “Free Mr. Bates!”

  2. Debbi says:

    Shirley McLaine vs. Maggie Smith should be great!!! I am planning on hand quilting a twin quilt for my son and your idea of Sunday night Downton Abbey quilt time sounds perfect.

    Enjoy the show!

  3. What a great idea. I love Downton Abbey and just started re-watching seasons 1 & 2 to refresh my memory for Sunday.

  4. chris says:

    I am so in.Can’t wait!!

  5. pippa says:

    What a great idea, I’ve seen the 3rd series being in France with UK TV and all I can say is be prepared with some tissues :)

  6. Viola says:

    I will be there for sure! I can’t wait :-)

  7. Judith Barnett says:

    My granddaughter, Emily, who is a mother to a almost 3yo, love to watch DA. We so like the clothing that they wear. Including the hats. So for Christmas I bought her a cloche hat. It is black wool felt with a pleated satin ribbon encircling the hat. the pleats flare out over one ear and she loved it. I even got one a little bit different in gray wool with a wool rose fastened to the side of the hat brim. That was fun to buy and see her excitement.

  8. Not sure if I could do any quilting during the show … my eyes will be glued to the t.v. Not sure how we will react to watching them only one episode a week – last year I purchased both seasons through iTunes and we watched them one after another after another. Waiting a week between episodes is going to be torture!

  9. Linda says:

    I loved reading this – and find that your working on the double Irish chain is more than a little appropriate) and ironic given the Downton storyline. I am also a quilter who loves Downton Abbey – I hosted a Downton based challenge here in NH last year, and I’m hosting a second one here this year as well. If participants wish, they can donate the piece to support our local public television station. Enjoy – I’ll be thinking of you on Sunday, and hoping your daughter lets you watch in piece.

  10. Betty Moubray says:

    And at 8pm tune in to learn about Highclere Castle!

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