Monday, December 31, 2007

It's New Year's Eve...

...and I need to open some bottles of something so I can put my new wine stoppers to good use!

Brother Mad Max fulfilled my wish for "something made from birch wood" even though he complained that birch does not have an interesting or very visible grain, and is very hard to come by. "I don't care," I countered, "The Birch Lady needs something made of birch!"

He came up with the clever idea of trying birch plywood, and what stunning results that produced. But I like the "plain" one too. Now I have "color coded" wine stoppers - a dark wood one (similar to ones in this post) for reds, and these for whites - Thanks! (Proper hand-written thank you note is speeding on its way via Pony Express...)

And Happy New Year!

December Journal Quilt

Here is the final journal quilt of the year, the last of the series based on themes and quotations from a 2004 calendar entitled "Simplicity: Inspirations for a Simpler Life." December's theme is "Insight" and the quotation from Aldous Huxley: "The smallest fact is a window through which the infinite may be seen." I didn't have to think twice about what I would use to interpret this. I'd saved an article from the September 2007 issue of Quilters Newsletter by Margit Morawietz about "Folds, Pleats, and Tucks" which showed how to manipulate pleats to reveal diamonds of fabric - a little like Cathedral Windows blocks. I didn't expect to see "the infinite" through my "windows" but at least I might gain some insight into a new dimensional technique.

I started by picking two fabrics: the green would be my main fabric and the multicolor batik my contrasting fabric to be revealed. Here also you see the magazine article with Margit's intriguing quilt using this technique.


Her measurements struck me as a bit fussy, so I rounded them off a bit. Essentially, you cut the fabric to be revealed twice the width of the top fabric and add 1/2" for seam allowance. In my case that meant 2-1/2" strips of the batik and 1-1/2" strips for the green. I cut the two outer green strips slightly wider to allow some wiggle room in case things shrank in the stitching.

These strips were alternated and sewn together into what looks like a stripset. I figured accurate straight seams were important, so used my trick of pressing a small PostIt note pad next to the presser foot as a guide.

Next, seams are pressed open. I used another trick of mine - draping the piece over a tailor's seam or sleeve roll. This effectively keeps the seams on either side of the one I was working on out of the way of the iron.


Here's the pressed strip set ready for the next step - folding and pleating.


It's difficult to get a picture of this first fold, but if you look at the top, what I've done is folded back the green strip right along the seam line. Each seam line gets the same treatment.


Now for the pleating. Margit likens this to box pleats you find in skirts (maybe you have to be of a certain age to remember those?). I finger-pressed a short fold on either end of the batik strip to mark the center of it. Then the fold along the seam is brought over to that line and the pleat it forms pressed into place. This was a tedious and time-consuming task, I discovered.


To hold the pleats in place for the next steps, it was necessary to pin, then sew lines of basting across them.


Here is where the process started breaking down for me. Normally, this pleated section would be inserted into a larger quilt top design. In this journal quilt, it WAS the whole design. Before doing the tucking part, I was supposed to "complete" the quilt, i.e., layer it, quilt it and bind it. The pleated section was to have no quilting on it. Well, that wouldn't do, so I set my machine to an undulating decorative stitch, put in some gold metallic thread and stitched two horizontal quilting lines that divided the top into 3 more or less equal sections. I sewed on binding to hold the edges in place, but didn't totally complete it because of the way I print a label and fuse it on as backing once I've completed all the sewing on my journal quilts. I still had technique to work through, so was lacking all the information I would want to put on the label. I also wasn't sure if I'd be doing more stitching all the way through the layers. If so, I wouldn't want that happening over the label and obscuring the information there. I'd just have to hope I could continue on.

Up to this point, the directions had been very detailed, but now that I needed specific information, the directions went general: "Using a thread color of your choice, tack the edges together with a few stitches..." I could see from the photos what I was to do, but there was no suggestion of how to secure those tacking stitches. I tried several things, and eventually realized I could leave the knot on the front because it would be hidden once the tuck was taken and stitched. A backstitch along the side of the tuck followed by pulling the thread through the loop to knot it didn't show much, and I could pull the thread end into the fold. Nowhere could I see that you were to run any stitches all the way through - the entire pleated and tucked section just sits on top of the batting and backing unsecured. I am really uncomfortable with that.

But what bothered me even more was the way the whole piece buckled as soon as I tacked a tuck. My three sections, as you can see below, undulate like swells on an ocean. The thimble placed in one of the "windows" gives you an idea of how deep they are. I don't think this will flatten out with ironing - if it does, I think it will change the look of the tucks to something undesirable.


Bottom line: This is far more dimension than I am comfortable with. It uses a lot of fabric and takes a lot of time to sew and press. And unless I missed something, I can't imagine how you could ever have a nice flat and well-hanging quilt inserting this kind of dimensional accent. I doubt that this is something I will ever use. As always, clicking on any picture will pull up a larger view.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Redwork Cross

When last I reported on this project, I was scrambling to finish it by Christmas, along with the normal holiday preparations. I indeed completed it to present to its new owners on Christmas Day. See these posts here and here, for info regarding adding the borders and the quilting process.

I tried a different way of applying binding that incorporates the pocket as part of the binding. It was devised by Gretchen Hudock and detailed in the September 2001 issue of Quilters Newsletter Magazine. Gads, I didn't think it'd been THAT long since I saved it to try. Maybe I put it aside because most of the quilts I made up until a few years ago were going into shows requiring a 4 inch hanging sleeve. This method produces a narrower sleeve well suited to smaller wall quilts that may be bypassing the traditional exhibit route. The instructions are still available in pdf format on QMN's website here.

Basically, this is a french fold or double fold binding that is cut twice as wide as normal. The extra that ends up on the back doubles as a sleeve, top and bottom. Some quilts benefit from the weight of a rod along the bottom.

The direction said to cut the binding strips 5 inches wide. I would normally cut mine 2 inches although I know many people who use 2-1/2 inch strips. I decided to go with her directions on this trial piece, but I think a 4 inch strip would have been wide enough for me. Press in half and sew on with a 1/4 inch seam allowance as you normally would. Here's a picture of the back before turning the binding over it. It will cover up much of that border quilting.


When the binding is turned to the back, the sides are turned and pinned first, then the top and bottom. This is different than the normal way which folds to reduce bulk at the miters. It is what allows a rod to be run under the binding. The binding is then held in place by stitching in the ditch from the front. This also catches the ends of the binding where they were folded under - see picture below.


The picture also shows the loose flap that results. The directions didn't say to stitch this closed, but I knew from experience this would forever be catching the rod. Since the extension of binding had to be hand stitched in place anyway, I continued all the way up and caught the fold on the underside as well - see below.


It was at this point that I remembered that I like my sleeves to have a little ease in them, not lie flat against the quilt top. Otherwise, the rod can cause a visible lump across the top of the quilt. I decided there was no reason why I couldn't create a little fold by pulling up the binding a little before stitching it in place. Here I have the fold pinned about 1/4" below the edge of the binding. You can make out the top stitching on the right side.


Here's a closer view of the pinned fold.


And here you can see how much of a sleeve it makes and how nicely it lies without pulling on the quilt at all.

I decided not to make the fold on the bottom sleeve. Here you can see how much wider that makes the sleeve.


I generally use 1/4 to 3/8 inch wooden dowels to hang my smaller pieces. Here you can see how nicely this sleeve-in-a-binding works. The angle of the miter leaves plenty of dowel exposed to rest on push pins or nails to hang.


As with most methods, there are pros and cons. You could not easily use this method on a quilt unless there was one side at least 16 inches long. When you join the "tails" of the binding on an angle, that 5 inch width suddenly stretches, and you need a good 10 inches between where you started and stopped stitching to maneuver in. Also, this methods provides no extra protective layer of fabric between the rod and the quilt back. There's always a chance that a wooden dowel will emit acids that will stain the quilt, which is why I usually use a tube-style sleeve. This problem is easily solved though. Gretchen uses fiberglass rods used for electric fence posts which have the additional benefit of not warping.

As for pluses, I felt this did take less time to do than sewing on a separate sleeve and I liked the fact that I wasn't stitching extra layers of fabric into the binding area as some sleeve methods have you do. I encourage you to give this one a try.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Merry Christmas To Me

This arrived before Christmas, a little gift to myself. I was ordering some notecards on the Metropolitan Museum of Art website, and popped into the sale page out of curiosity. It is divided up into departments: jewelry, shawls, art books... I certainly don't need more books, but I thought I'd look anyway - they often have exceptional discounts on coffee table books. Once you click on books, you get another page of subdivisions, and there, advertising one of them was this book. I couldn't believe it. I first became acquainted with Signac through an article in the Smithsonian Magazine. This is the painting that captured my imagination and wouldn't let go.

As you no doubt have guessed, it was that background, so reminiscent of fabric, that intrigued me as well as the curving lines. I took it as a personal challenge to test my technical prowess: could I draft and piece a similar background to make a small wall quilt. I used the Hoffman Challenge fabric for that year and submitted it for consideration - but it wasn't chosen. Ah, well, I was happy I made it anyway.
I was in one of my stubborn moods when I made it. Every curve you see, with the exception of the circles, are pieced, not appliqued. One section in particular was nearly impossible to do that way, and to the casual observer, it actually looks to be appliqued. I learned a lesson there about how far to take curved piecing.

I quilted the heck out of it, trying different designs I'd seen used elsewhere, then added lots of beads. The hand didn't get added until after the piece was rejected by the Hoffman Challenge jury. A friend kept insisting I must put that hand in there. Having no faith in my abilities to draw it freehand, I scanned my own arm and hand, then traced the outline from that. At one point I'd considered dangling some of the challenge fabric from that hand, but in the course of making this, it started reminding me of planets swirling in space. I named it "Night & Noon on the Planet Hoffman" and thought of the hand as a great creator bringing a special universe into being. So sprays of beads rising up out of the hand seemed more appropriate.


Since making that quilt, I've periodically searched for more paintings by Signac, without a lot of success. I'm not sure why I am so drawn to his work (what little I've seen), but it speaks to me more than the other impressionists do. When I saw a whole book on him available at less than half price, well, I was willing to take a chance. If nothing else, I knew it had THE picture in it plus a few working sketches to show how the idea developed.

The book is beautiful, I love the rest of his work as much as what I had already seen, and the book also includes works of his contemporaries like Monet and Seurat. I feel like I hit the jackpot!

As always, click on any picture for a larger view.

Friday, December 28, 2007

More Christmas Bounty

Here's another gift, one which wouldn't normally be considered quilt related. The givers might have thought I'd be inspired by the design, but I'm guessing they'd be surprised that my first impulse upon unwrapping it would be to try it as a rubbing plate. Gotta figure out if I can do that without leaving paint on it, because ultimately I do want to use it for its intended purpose - a decorative piece that can be hung outside. It's one heavy sucker - antiqued wrought iron, or something similar. It is beautiful in its form and texture. Thanks!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Bountiful Christmas

I thought I would share some of the quilt-related gifts I received this year. This gift bag isn't exactly that, but it sure is cute. I'm wondering if my mother-in-law made it - she was toying with a Christmas stocking for an addition to the family, so maybe she got ambitious. She'll probably laugh when I ask, followed by a long, 'Nooooooo!" She used to do a lot of sewing and needlework, but not so much anymore.

Of course, before I could find out what I got, I was distracted by some of the beautiful wrapping paper. The two floral ones look like fabric I've seen (and may even have in my stash...). The red snowflake one has a sheen to it not picked up in the photo.


Two friends took a chance by getting me books that might very well have been on my shelf already. But no, both of these are welcomed additions to me collection.


They are even autographed...Note that the one on the left has a name crossed out and mine written in. There's a story there, but I have to wait until that friend returns from her holiday trip.


I can almost guess what the story is by the second book she gave me - all in Japanese! I'm betting she picked these up at a guild "yard sale." Anyone out there who can translate and tell me the name of this one?


Here's an interesting page from inside, telling how to care for your quilts, apparently.


Ah, the universal language of pictures and illustrations - this book is full of them, making it usable, I think, even though I can't decipher the instructions.


This particular friend wasn't done with me yet. The books were tucked inside this tote bag, which is a bit of a private joke between us. I'd started the block in a workshop with the "Piece o' Cake" ladies who were touting their new line of fabric. We were given kits for the block, and while I loved the brown background squares, I just about couldn't stand the bright striped and dotted fabric mixed with that electric green. I forced myself to finish the block, telling myself it was good practice for learning their unique method of applique (which I really liked), but I really hated everything about it. The pattern style and the fabric just weren't me.

But as you know, I throw nothing away. I kept thinking I'd finish it out into a small wall hanging and donate it to a quilt auction. Yet every time I'd get it out, those colors would turn my stomach and make me put it away. Finally, I pawned it off on my friend, suggesting that maybe she and her mother could figure out some way to save it. Oh, dear. They thought it was as awful as I did! But they didn't give it back, so I was finally shed of it.

Or so I thought. Not long ago, I asked my friend if she'd ever finished out that block. No, she said. She'd been making lots of bags lately, so I suggested she put it on a tote bag and donate it to an auction. She thought that was a great idea. Little did I know she was going to play this prank and "donate" it back to me.

Funny thing is, I think it looks pretty good as a bag. I'm thinking I'll applique some letters in blue along that bottom dark strip - probably to spell out "Spring," and maybe even use it. That is, unless I decide to donate it to an auction...

I also got a fat quarter of motorcycle fabric from another quilting friend who knows how I follow road racing. The way the bikes are arranged, I couldn't help but think of using it in kaleidoscope blocks. It's a sateen, oddly enough, so maybe it would be a fun purse lining. We'll see.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My Condolences...

...to all of you who had to go back to work today. I did not even have visitors, and I am pooped, trying to hold on to the warm glow of Christmas and feeling like doing nothing. Going back to a nine-to-five job has to be a huge shock to the system. It was shocking enough to discover I better get some bills off today - what a reality check!

I have fond memories of "Christmas Vacation" both when I was in school and later when I worked in the public school system. That lovely week between holidays, before the beginning of the New Year, before having to get back to seriousness and commitments, was always full of sleeping in, reading, knitting in front of the fireplace, listening to holiday music. Mom was a teacher so had that vacation too, but Dad only had Christmas Day and New Year's Day off. He worked underground in a silver mine, a physically punishing and dangerous job. That's him on the right, filling in for a shift boss and giving a tour at the 3000 foot level to one of the mine directors (spring 1958). Paid holidays were few, paid sick leave nonexistent. It's no wonder he slept so much on those few extra days off. There were times I could sense the resentment when he had to head back to work the day after Christmas while the rest of us goofed off.

And so it was with great relish that he teased us about having to go to school the day after Easter. Since Easter always fell on Sunday, the mines always gave the workers Monday as their official day off. "What?" dad would innocently ask, "You DON'T have today off?" I suspect he rather enjoyed rubbing it in and having the house all to himself.

In spite of his stressful life (or maybe because of it), dad had quite a sense of humor. When he survived 25 years working for the Galena mine, he tried to brush off the honor by writing a quip on the newspaper article below.


He was lucky to spend so many years underground with only a few minor injuries. He did have a few close brushes with death, and his survival wasn't all luck. I found this 1961 photo with a typewritten note from "Larry" saying, "I appreciate your efforts in keeping your work place with good floors and the necessary safeguards." That's dad on the right.



The mine is still in operation today, men still taking extraordinary risks to support their families. Here's what it looks like on top, no hint as to the dark and dank recesses the miners decend to.



I'd like to think that things got easier for dad as he got older, and we five kids also got older and responsible for ourselves. My brothers are all quite a bit older than me, so I remember many years of feeling like an only child, spending lots of one-on-one time with dad in his off hours. Here we are on vacation in 1968. I think he's trying to suppress a laugh there.


I'd also like to think that he never forgot the good times interspersed with the harsher ones. This is one of my favorite pictures of mom and dad when they were courting in 1937. He was in the Civilian Conservation Corps at Pactola (South Dakota) and she came out to the camp with her church group which put on dances for the boys.


Thanks for indulging me as I drifted off into a family memory. I meant to tell you how I dreamed of spending this week catching up on my reading. like in the days of my youth. But since that isn't going to happen, this little sidetrack was a very pleasant substitute.





Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas


My sister-in-law, Jackie, picked up this card for me at an arts and crafts fair in Southern California. The artist is Yvonne Rice of "One Winged Angel Company" in Redondo Beach, CA (y.rice@verizon.net).

May many angels watch over you as you travel and spend time with friends and family this holiday season.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Other Side of Winter


In this post of a few days ago, I showed you my lake view reduced to winter shades of grey. When I turn from the lake and look north back towards my rental house, this is my view (not so inspiring, huh?). We'd had two days of brilliant sunshine, and this particular morning was quite cold and crisp. The mountains beyond the lake looked very much like they had on Sunday. So I was quite surprised to turn and see this swath of white against a very blue sky. We'd gotten no new snow, yet the mountains, often shrouded in clouds, obviously had. That's right, I remembered. Although the greens and riot of colors that permeate spring and summer quite disappear for the most part once winter sets in, a winter sky can still provide a spark of color in a shade seldom seen any other time of year. Set against the pure white of new-fallen snow, the effect is brilliant and one of the reason I love winter.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Zentangle


I posted this sketch to one of my on-line groups recently, and thought since I don't have much else to share at the moment, I'd post it here to. Someone had pointed us to the zentangle website with the comment that here was something she'd been doing forever and didn't realize it was a learnable, marketable technique! I'd just made this sketch, trying to capture from memory the plowed fields I'd seen driving through the Palouse on my way to Thanksgiving dinner. (Go here to see a photo of the real thing.) Gee, I thought, is THAT what I was doing? Drawing those curving lines certainly was a meditative process, I have to admit.

I was working on cards this afternoon when the sun broke through the clouds and flooded the room. Oh, I do so like quilting in natural light, and it was killing me to stay at my desk, my back to that wonderful sunshine. So I set priority aside and hand quilted on the cross piece for about an hour. Ah, sinful bliss!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holiday Break


I've had to succumb to holiday preparations for a few days. Not much creating until the packages and cards get out, and a few decorations up - you know the drill. I'm squeezing in a little time here and there to finish the cross quilt which was auctioned on Sunday. I was right - they really didn't care that it wasn't finished yet, and I was pleased with both the final bid and the winning bidder.

So while I'm on hiatus, enjoy the above photo taken Sunday morning. The quality of light is so different in winter, and as other artists have noted, everything is reduced to shades of grey. However, this shimmered with more of a silver quality.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Quilting Coming Along


I spent some lovely time hand quilting this afternoon. As near as I can tell, the 505 Spray Baste used to hold the layers together is doing just that and is not causing any drag on the needle. The untested batting is behaving as well. I may need to buy some of this and make up a real sample, one I can test both hand and machine quilting on, then wash to see how it reacts. It appears to have good stability while maintaining a lightness and needles easily.

The book showed two ideas for quilting: crosshatching (hand quilted) and meandering (machine quilted). One of the reasons I chose handquilting was because of the difficulty of manuevering around the embroidery by machine. I wanted to outline various parts of the cross with stitching comparable to stitching in the ditch - something I felt much easier to do by hand as in the picture above

My first stitches, however, were taken in the ditch between the panel and first border. Everything I read when I first started quilting recommended quilting from the middle and working to the edges. I started to question the necessity of this once I purchased a full-size quilting frame. It was made by Grace and rolled the quilt from one end to the other. I just knew my quilt would be skewed in some way because I wasn't quilting from the middle out, but it was not. I questioned more when I read of women like Suzanne Marshall quilting full size quilts without benefit of any hoop or frame. I had to agree with the logic that, if I quilt were properly and thoroughly basted, shifting or bunching would not be a problem so it shouldn't matter where you started quilting. This theory was reinforced once I got into machine quilting. I was taught by Harriet Hargrave and Diane Gaudynski that my first machine stitches should be ones to stabilize the main vertical and horizontal seams of the quilt. Once done, then I could start quilting any section in any order.

And so you see, with a bit of confidence, I stitched around the border seam first, then stitched around the ouside of the cross, then went back to complete the border. It has the most "fragile" marking, and I wanted to get those areas quilted before any of the markings rubbed off - easy to do when rolling and turning the piece to get to the middle section. Having the border quilted first will also help me know how much quilting to put into the body of the cross. I could stitch along each embroidered line but I don't think that will be necessary or even desirable.

As far as what I quilt with, I am using Coats & Clark 100% cotton hand quilting thread with a Roxanne #11 between needle (very short and fairly thin). I also use a Roxanne Thimble. I'd tried several different thimbles and brands of needles, but after watching Roxanne's daughter demonstrate the thimble and her method of hand quilting, then trying the thimble myself, I was sold on the advantages. My stitch length immediately shortened and the strain on my hands and fingers nearly disappeared. Yes, I'm a convert, but unless you do a lot of hand quilting, you may not want to make the investment as those thimbles do not come cheap. And as long as I was sold on the thimble and her basting glue as well, I decided to give the needles a try. Here is the website where you can see all the products and learn more about "that perfect stitch."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Moving On

Now that the pink quilt is done and gone, I've dived into finishing out the redwork cross panel. The goal is to have complete it for the church auction on Sunday, but since I didn't get going on it until yesterday, I'm not sure that's realistic. However, I'm not letting that stop me, and even if it isn't totally finished by Sunday, it's going into the auction, and the successful bidder will have to be patient.

The book doesn't give specific directions for finishing these panels, just pictures of several ways the author has done it. Using a ruler and a good guess, I estimated that she had added a half inch inner border and a two inch outer border, proportions that looked good to me. After blocking and squaring up the panel to 9-1/2 x 11-1/2, I added the borders, butted, not mitered. Now it was time to consider the quilting design.

It was the friend I visited at Thanksgiving that gave me the idea for quilting the panel itself: lines radiating from the cross arms and circles echoing the redwork center circle. These I drew on using a silver Berol Verithin pencil, ruler and compass. Then it was time to search my files for a border pattern.

I've been collecting quilting patterns and ideas for quilting for nearly 15 years, dutifully filed away in this folder. There's no way I will ever use all the patterns in there (let's not talk about all the books I own with quilting patterns in them), yet I rarely cull the collection. That's the thing about quilting - you just never know what idea will suddenly be just the thing for your current project. I was actually looking for a Greek Key design for the border, but instead, I found the border idea cut from a Piecemakers calendar a long time ago, and this is the first time I've had an opportunity to use it. It perfectly picks up the design elements in the cross itself. (Click on the picture for a larger view - it is the strip to the left of the panel.)

It took a little figuring and fudging to come up with a dimension for the triangle that would fit evenly in both the top and side borders - cutting a strip of paper the two lengths and playing with folding them yielded the dimension that would work. I used this Omnigrid triangle ruler as my template, placing a piece of painter's tape on the back side where I needed to line the ruler up to the border seamline. Spacing of the inner lines were a guess - what looked right. The semi-circles were drawn with a compass. Simple simple simple. No templates to make, no stencils to cut. I've used my absolute favorite white marking pencil (that is, when I need more permanence than soapstone or chalk can give me). It is a Nonce pencil, inexpensive, easy to sharpen, but soft enough to mark easily. Most important of all, I've never had any trouble removing it when the quilting's done. It can be rubbed off or washed out either one. I've had the same good luck with the Berol pencil.

I'm really looking forward to quilting this piece, now that I've got the design figured out. I'm hand quilting it - something that has always been a fairly relaxing way to keep my hands busy. This time I feel like I'm taking a risk. I'm trying two thing without testing them first. I want to quilt this without a hoop, which I've done successfully before, but I didn't want to spend time thread basting it. I've had good luck spray basting smaller pieces for machine quilting, so I'm taking a chance that it will work equally well with hand quilting. But that's not the only risk. I'm using a batting I've not tried before. I've been collecting batting samples almost as long as I've been collecting quilting patterns, and for awhile I was quite diligent about making up batting samples before committing a new one to a project. No time for such a luxury today. The batting in question is a piece of Mountain Mist Gold (50 poly 50 cotton) which I snagged at a quilt show when it first came out. I'm trusting that it will be easy to hand quilt, and since this piece won't be washed, I don't have to worry about shrinkage.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Pink Quilt

Here it is, done at last and now on its way to my grandniece. It is about 43 x 54 inches. This method produces a two-sided quilt, with this view being the "front" or the side I concentrated my design efforts on. My camera had a hard time capturing the different pinks accurately, but I think I tweaked it fairly close.

And this is the "back" or the side I paid no attention to as per pattern instructions. In many ways I like this side better. In truth, I really struggled getting a decent balance. Part of that was the method itself, part of it the limitations of the fabrics I had on hand.

At the end of my last post about this quilt, I was ready to topstitch down the binding strips that would cover the join between rows. Up until joining the rows, construction had been fairly easy to handle. But no matter how you break down the construction of a quilt, eventually you have to deal with the whole thing. Wrestling the bigger sections, and then the whole quilt through the arm of the machine to get the rows together and joins covered was not a whole lot easier than if I were tackling quilting the whole quilt. So while I very much enjoyed quilting the individual 11" squares because they were so easy to maneuver, I still ended up running the whole thing under the needle numerous times. So I'm not sure how much I gained by the "quilt as you go" method. And I cannot imagine making a full size version using this method.


There were no special instructions about applying the binding around the outside - just your typical 1/4" double fold application. I've gotten pretty good at machine stitching the edge that gets turned to the back by making my binding slightly wider and stitching in the ditch from the front. It's a more secure durable ending than hand stitching that edge to the back. I decided to try something a little different this time, in keeping with the stitching already on the other binding. I would stitch from the back, my green thread on top and my yellow thread in the bobbin which should give me the same effect as on the binding covering the cutout joins. It worked really well, except of course, the stitching showing on the front was not perfectly spaced. However, here were these wide strips acting like sashing within the body of the quilt, and then this anemic 1/4" binding around the edge. Again, I thought, thank goodness this is just a baby quilt.

Would I use this method again? I've had plenty of time to think about it. No, I don't think I would on a large quilt. But I might use a modified version of it on something smaller. If I were joining blocks together, I think I'd use the same method as the joins within the blocks (binding sewn to either side of the cutout, then folded over to cover the joins and topstitched down - see here). I really didn't like the wider flat strips that ended up being double topstitched on the front. If I did use them, I'd put those wider strips on the back - I really did like the way the narrower ones looked better. I suppose my biggest complaint about the method is I could not achieve the level of accuracy I prefer. While it's not a big deal on a baby quilt, it would be on a wall quilt or even a bed quilt. This picture shows the worst of my mismatched joins, and I've already complained about the difficulty of keeping the stitching evenly spaced on those strips.


Being a two-sided quilt, if one really did want to have the option of using either side, forget adding a sleeve or label. I was relieved not to have to add a sleeve to this (and without one, I'm hoping the recipient will actually use this rather than it being hung on a wall), but had there not been some plain, light valued fabric in it, I'd have had no way to inscribe it. I found a piece of binding to write the little girl's name and birth date, and my name and finish date.

And last but not least, I had the impression this method used a lot more fabric than the standard way might. All those bias strips always leaves you with triangles of fabric - too big to throw away but hard to find the best economical use of them. Here is one stack of leftover fabrics and bias strips of various sizes.


And here's more on the other end of the table (plus new fabric waiting to be washed, scraps from other projects, potential couplings for future projects, etc. etc. - I don't think I ever clean up 100%.)