Archives for posts with tag: quilt

Deconstructed

I’ve been still working away on my crochet wrap. I would love to finish it this week but lately, life has been interrupting and not allowing me a nice long stretch to sit and get a lot done.

Since fabric had been on my mind since last week, I decided to bite the bullet and begin taking apart the vintage quit that was in tatters to see what is salvageable. There was a floral sashing between each of these strips that was so weak, it would tear just by handling it.  While there were originally 5 rows of stripes in the quilt, only 4 are usable at least on one side. The 5th has too many pieces that have disintegrated on both sides.

Cutting into the piece, I still felt like this was destruction rather than deconstruction. Now, however, I am starting to feel like something usable will be able to be made, and that’s a good feeling.

Tattered quilt 1

I rescued this little quilt from the vintage table at a used fabric sale this past summer. I didn’t even unfold it, just felt it needed to come home with me. The label says “Tattered Quilt”, and I thought I might be able to stabilize it and preserve the charming fabrics. Plus, at $1, it almost jumped into my hands.

Tattered quilt 2

However…I have since unfolded it several times, and it is beyond tattered. There is a large tear right down the center, and smaller ones along two of the other pieces of disintegrating sashing. The binding has been cut off and a new one partly sewn on. There is a large patch across a part of it and some of the original fabrics are tissue-paper thin and already torn beyond any salvageable point.

Each time I take it out, I get overwhelmed by everything that would need to be done to make it a whole quilt again as it is.  I am debating whether it is worth the attempt to preserve it as it is, with the possibility that I will not be able to and thus keep it unusable, or doing the unthinkable (to me) and cutting it up to make new blocks from the parts of it that are still strong enough so it can be used and enjoyed. Would cutting it be destroying it, or giving it new life?

For now, it has been folded up again, and put back on the shelf.

 

I only got to play a little bit this weekend.  Many hours of it were spent at my Father-in-Law’s house ripping out vines and weeds that were threatening to overtake his yard, and had almost swallowed his back shed. When my Mother-in-Law was alive, their garden beds were beautiful, starting with seas of bulb plants, then roses, dahlias, all sorts of color.  It felt good to help get it back into shape.

I did have time to play around with different configurations of the half-square triangles I made the other day. Here are a few of the block designs I was trying out. I wasn’t worried about which color combinations to use for these, just playing with the designs.

collage

First set of four squares

First set of four squares

While I was poking through a fabric bin in my craft room I found yet another package of precuts I I forgotten about. These were all blues and yellows so I thought I’d play around with them since it seemed like the pack was complete and might have enough in it for a full project. Yes, I did just finish a WiP just to start 2 more.

When I first started quilting, I thought that each piece always needed to be cut out first, then sewn to the other pieces. I did not know there were shortcuts that could be used like sewing strips together then cutting them to get the smaller squares without having to sew around each individual piece. At a quilt show I attended last year, I sat in on a demonstration about using precuts.  One technique I knew I eventually wanted to try was making half-square triangles by sewing two squares together.

I knew there were 2 ways to do this, one was sewing 2 diagonal lines across the squares and cutting in between them, and the other involved sewing around the squares. My memory from a year ago was fuzzy, so I turned to Google.  Using this tutorial, I sewed the first set of 2 larger squares together, sewed the seams, made the cuts and held my breath.  And it worked!  After that, I sewed the rest of the squares in more of an assembly line fashion…sewed them all, cut them all, ironed all the seams.

I only had an hour to work on this, and I got through 8 sets of large squares yielding 32 smaller squares. I was originally thinking pinwheel for this, but looking at all the options for using these, I may play around with them for a bit.

squares

I seem to have an abundance of precut 10 inch squares in my fabric stash. I started cutting some 10 inch denim squares yesterday thinking of making a rag quilt using the precuts for the top and denim for the bottom.  I had a piece of funky striped denim, but it only yielded about 12 squares. Now I have a decision to make.

I got the denim at the local annual 4H fabric sale where you can get incredible deals on fabric people have donated. The practical side of me knows I should wait until the sale in August to get the rest of the denim I need. However, the part of me that wants to get started on this is nudging me to find some fabric now.  I could use other heavy non-denims in my stash, or hit up the local thrift shops for cheap jeans (although they are more of a pain to cut up into squares).

I may have to go through a bin or two that I have at home to see if there is anything that will work.  Even if this is put on hold for a few months, I feel good having a plan for using some of the precuts I’ve accumulated.

And if you live near Philadelphia, and use any sort of fabric, mark your calendar for August 6-8. This fabric sale is really worth checking out. They also have bins of yarn, books and other craft supplies. Fabric is sorted by fiber, and includes everything from home decor fabrics, silks, vintage, quilting cotton, linen, wool and more.  Information about it is here.

quilt

Although it is not the name of the pattern, this quilt seemed to embody Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong it will. I think I used the seam ripper at almost every stage starting with taking the squares apart and changing the pattern. Real quilters will shudder at all the cheats I used making this. It is half machine quilted and half hand quilted as the machine quilting was not working out at all.  I used the cheater method for binding by folding the back fabric over and sewing that down rather than making a separate binding. All the corners don’t match perfectly and I let them stay that way.

Not my best work, and because of that it is no longer designated as a gift. This quilt will stay at the house. It is going to be a ‘workhorse’ quilt and get a lot of daily use. The quilts in our living room get a lot of abuse…from cats deciding they must claim them as their own, to occasional spills from snacking. I love the fabrics in it, and it is the perfect size for using during the summer when the nights get a little cool.

Despite everything, there have been so many positives from finishing this. It has provided me a new challenge. I now want to learn how to use and master the walking foot of my sewing machine and will take the opportunity to practice so that the next time, I won’t run into as many problems.  It got me back into fabric mode and I’d like to keep that momentum going before the yarn calls me back. My fabric stash has been neglected as I have been working on using my yarn stash. Plus, I can make a check mark next to a long-time WiP.

Spring weather returned yesterday and it was cool enough to get back to work on the quilt.  The top quilting is done, it is trimmed, and now it just needs the binding done! Whenever I work on a quilt, I am so happy that rotary cutters and cutting mats are a thing.

Scissors

I am not a skilled quilter, although I have made several. I’m more of a plunge in and figure it out kind of quilter. I started because I love fabric, and seemed to keep acquiring it.  My sister-in-law is an exceptional quilter.  The red and white feathered star quilt she made as a wedding gift is a work of art. Every tiny triangle is perfect. I will never be that good or that patient, but that is okay.

I was lucky enough to see an exhibit of the Gee’s bend quilts a few years ago.  Gee’s Bend is a small isolated community in rural Alabama settled by freed African American slaves.  The women of Gee’s Bend used whatever materials they had, and created quilts as a way to help support their families. They used corduroy scraps from a nearby textile mill, old work shirts, leftovers. You can see some examples on this site.  Seeing this exhibit made me realize that there are truly no rules when creating a quilt. It can be beautiful and symmetrical, or it can be loud and worked in patterns based on what you have available.

While someday I would like to be at the point where I can create a quilt that has perfect seams and even stitches, I know that each one I do is still a quilt. Warts and all.

quilt

Since my sewing machine was out, I thought I’d take my quilt out of time out and start to machine quilt the top.  I am just doing the stitch in the ditch quilting on this to go around the squares. I was able to do all the rows longways, then started the across rows.

With the first row, the mistakes began. The seam ripper came back out. And then I realized…I was hot. And the heat and wrestling with a quilt top were not a good combination. We have been having a heat wave here for the past couple of days. I looked at our indoor thermometer and it was 81 degrees (27 degrees celsius) inside the house. And there I was sitting with a quilt over my lap while I ripped out stitches.

I clearly had made a silly choice for what project to pick up. Thursday the temperature is supposed to drop again, so the quilt is going into a shorter time out, but I can see I need to get this done before summer weather sets in for good.

I am really trying to conquer my huge pile of WiPs. Way back in January I sewed some quilt blocks together to get 90% done making a quilt top. A little less way back in March I purchased backing fabric for the quilt. And then started 2 new crochet projects (and many, many small ones). Distracted Crafter Syndrome.

I went back to the poor neglected quilt and found some border fabric I could use in my stash, and got that all ironed, cut and attached, a good first step. Then I cut and sewed my backing fabric to the right size, and got that all ironed. Side note: it is easier to iron large pieces of fabric before you sew them into shapes too wide for your ironing board. Or so I remembered after I sewed them and realized I had forgotten to iron the creases out. Whoops!

Laying out a quilt to baste can be a challenge if you don’t have large floor space, so step one for that process was moving some furniture.  I was somehow able to get this done and make my “quilt sandwich” while the cats were both napping, which made the job much easier. I did get some help with quality control from one of them after it was complete.

Trudy approves of the pin placement

Trudy approves of the pin placement

I am planning on machine quilting this in the ditch. In the past when I have done that, I didn’t change out the sewing machine foot, but I’ve been reading about how much better and easier it is to do with a walking foot or quilting foot, so I pulled out the little baggie of extra feet that came with the machine, attached new foot, changed the settings on the machine based on the manual and started the first row.

Six inches or so  into it, I realized that something had gone wrong. the stitches were tiny, too tiny, right next to each other tiny. In my enthusiasm to finish this up I had not tested the new settings, and instead had to pull out the trusty seam ripper. Sometimes it is better to walk away from a project when you know you are getting tired, and so that is what I did. But once I get the settings corrected, and play with the new foot a little bit on some scrap fabric, it is all basted and ready to go. At least some progress was made, and I am still excited about finishing this.

Today was a crafty day.  I did many rows on the back panel of my hippie van pillow, but waited too long and the daylight faded for me to take a photo. It’s at a point where I am excited about finishing it though.

Earlier today, I took advantage of a Joann’s coupon and did some shopping for fabric backing of the quilt  top I was working on back  in January.

Fabric

This is the fabric I chose for the backing. At some this week I hope to get back to it.  Weekends are hard for sewing because my husband is starting on a woodworking project and takes over the dining room table with sketches and actual cuts of wood. No room for a sewing machine.  One of us should really be practical and orderly, but alas, it is not the case. I’d rather have us both creating and happy (and messy) and deal with the mess on Monday.

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