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.

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