20 January 2011

Quilt One (2010–2011)...

The rest of the story...
At the end of 2010, I decided 2011 would be the year I'd make a quilt. 2010 became a year of considerable fabric acquisition. I got hooked on fat quarters and quilt fabric shops. I mean, really, how much trouble can I get into only one little rectangle of fabric at a time? Fat quarters made excellent little purchase to supply my Christmas gift sewing, so I was especially happy to discover them. Organizing them becomes a whole hobby in itself.
As it turned out, waiting until 2011 to start the quilt was not happening. A couple of days after Christmas, I started scanning some fabric and 'building' my quilt in Photoshop. I chose these three fabrics—one yard each of the stripes and two yards of the plaid. Over five years ago I bought them from Hancock Fabrics as part of their then-sponsored St. Jude Quilt of Dreams partnership. This fabric sat around as a good intention all these years. One of the reasons I probably never did anything with it before now was that the color palette was not my favorite—perfect for practicing.

I arranged the scanned layers of cloth into a simple blue stripe and green stripe checkerboard in Photoshop—three-inch squares. I then added the plaid panels in different sizes over the field of striped blocks. Everything moved around and I settled on my design. I then divided up the design into nine-unit blocks—five across by seven down.

Once I had the layout, I created a spreadsheet in Excel to determine if I had enough fabric to complete the design. I numbered each 3x3 block; counted how many of each size block I'd need, and so forth. This is probably not the normal procedure, but my left brain jumped in and insisted she'd be in charge. I humor her as much as possible.

I started cutting and sewing and pressing and was well on my way to finishing the top in just a couple of days. One thing I discovered along the way was I had not taken uneven stripes and pattern orientation into consideration. There were definite east/wests in the green stripe and north/souths in the blue stripe. I had a stack of blocks 'done' and had to rip and resew almost half of them. But I'm glad I did.

I stumbled through choosing batting and finding nice, wide backing fabric. I opted to hand-tie the layers together. Thank goodness for the hot tub cover. It's an expanse almost 8x8 feet and at a good height. Down the road, I'll send one out to be stitched down. No plans to buy any quilting machines. For now, me and my 1975 Lady Kenmore machine have done fine.

Insert the 2010 Oklahoma City Quilt Show. I figure I was risky—about to finish my first quilt and think I was invincible! I attended last Friday and came away with a clue or two how to do the binding. Turns out I had just enough information to be dangerous and wound up adding a detail I hadn't planned. Ah, my best friend, serendipity. I finished by hand-stitching the binding over a couple of days and finally finished it two days ago. And at the end of the day, it feels so good curling up with, yet, another finished project!

Hmm...what's next? Maybe some time for drawing some Zentangles; organizing my fabric for real and on my iPad (my newest tool toy); sewing up a tote bag or two; deciding on something to make for upcoming newborns coming into the the world; planning that next great quilt; or maybe, even, dismantling my office and repacking it with a bit less clutter. We'll see!

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