Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Finished Baby Quilt

Two months ago, I blogged about the baby quilt I was making, a little disappointed in how it turned out.  Fortunately, I like it a lot better now that it is quilted, bound, and washed!

Child's Play, 28" by 36"

I made this little quilt using leftover solids from a bigger project.  I did the quilting on my domestic machine, quilting diagonal lines with a walking foot.  I really wanted to quilt in the ditch in the diagonal seam lines but hesitated because of the need to keep the line so precise so quilted parallel to the seam lines instead.  The quilting lines, combined with a little bit of shrinkage in washing, give the quilt more texture and softened the edges of the piecing.  

The backing fabric is an alphabet print from Robert Kaufman in flannel; it is soft and cuddly.  And a darker gray solid for the binding. 

Done in time for Christmas!

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Re-Appreciating Hand Sewing

Did you notice my new look?  I wanted a cleaner, custom look for my blog so I hired a professional, Rebekah Louise.  She made the re-design process so easy, I wish I had done it sooner.

I made a couple more rosettes for La Passacaglia.  While these two don't look like they go together at all, I am confident they will coordinate better once in with the rest of the mix.  This quilt can be a real mashup though I am confining myself to a specific color palette.

I also cut and pasted a lot of pieces, ready to go with me on some travels in December.  One of the good things about this project is its portability, so different from most of my quilting which is confined by the sewing machine. As I sat there sewing, I got to thinking how similar this project is to my start in quilting.  Well, not the complexity, really just the hand sewing aspect. 

I took my first quilting class in 1982 or '83, an evening adult class in the local school district.  We drafted templates out of cardboard, used them with a pencil to draw both the cutting and sewing lines on the wrong side of the fabric, cut out the pieces with scissors, and sewed with a short running stitch.  I enjoyed it but after making two throw pillows for my living room and a small wall hanging, I retired from quilting because it was too time consuming.  I was working full time, playing in a tennis league, doing volunteer work, and frankly, husband-hunting.  Any sewing time was spent making silk shell blouses to wear with my power suits (it was the dress for success era).

Then sometime in 1991 I happened to be in the vicinity of the quilting supply store (Quilters Barn in Allentown, NJ - long since closed) and went in for a look.  They were advertising a quilt in a day class.  I asked how that could possibly be and was introduced to the new quilt world of rotary cutting and machine stitching.  I signed up and made a log cabin quilt that became my first nephew's baby quilt. And I was hooked!

Except for occasionally hand quilting a smaller quilt, hand sewing fell by the wayside as I embraced the speed of machine sewing.  Long-arm quilting and pre-cut fabric have added new dimensions to speed quilting.  While I love the gratification of finishing a quilt in less than a year, and the time to make all more of the designs I want to try, it has been relaxing and fun to get off the quilt highway and into the slow lane for this project.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Behind The Scenes

It isn't just the hand sewing that turns making a La Passacaglia quilt top into such a time consuming endeavor.  The cutting and glue basting require a lot of attention as well.

This picture shows some fabric I fussy cut in order to get the look I want.  Of course, you could make this quilt without doing any fussy cutting, but fussy cutting some prints greatly adds to the complex look of this quilt. I've been fussy cutting my striped fabric as well as cutting specific motifs from a large floral print as well as a couple of paisley fabrics.  Without fussy cutting, these larger scale prints would have looked randomly chopped on the small pieces in this quilt.  Whenever I fussy cut, I need five diamonds for the center star and 10 pentagons for the outer ring.  

I'm rounding out the fussy cut fabrics with lots of pieces cut from tonal prints that can be cut in the conventional (and much faster) way.

Then there is the glue basting step.  Each cut piece of fabric needs to be basted to its paper backing.  I use a Sewline glue pen on a rotary cutting mat, My Olfa mat is square but I think a round rotary mat would work even better.  The rotary mat makes the job go faster because you can turn the piece being glued, rather than trying to turn your body or twist your arm around a stationary position.

And there is a lot of gluing to be done!  Here, I'm gluing the star points that connect all the rosettes together to make the final pattern.  There are 1368 of these in the quilt; they are about 1" long.  
I better get cracking!