I've been couch-bound most of the week, a seemingly innocuous cold turning feverish, and I've learned the hard way that pushing through these times when the body has its hands full fighting off these bugs only prolongs things. Best to succumb to tea, chicken soup, mostly horizontal rest, and when awake, light reading and/or tv watching - the Olympics coverage has been good company!
Yesterday though, I was out of the fog, temperature down, and getting antsy to be doing a little something on the sewing front. I settled on piecing together the binding strips for the baby quilt, as they were already cut and wouldn't take much mental energy (although you'd be surprised at what an effort it was!). When you know what you will use for binding a quilt, sometimes it's nice to have it all ready to go ahead of time. I picked up this trick somewhere quite some time ago for taming and storing long lengths of pieced binding. All you are doing is accordion-folding it about every 18 inches or so and then feeding the folds on one side onto a large safety pin. It holds it neatly together until you are ready to apply it, at which point you remove one fold at a time from the safety pin as you come to it, the bulk of the folded binding resting in your lap.
I love when I get comments on a post, and I especially enjoyed the ones I received about piecing batting. Good to know I'm not the only frugal person out there (remembering what Harriet said was the number one reason quilters listed for choosing a particular batting was . . . it comes in the right size!) There was also a theme there I decided should be addressed in its own post, because it was something I'd been thinking about, even as I went through my process and described it to you. These things I often do that I am fully aware many quilters don't bother with and do not make their quilts any less than mine have their basis in traditional quilt making of BED QUILTS, not wall quilts and certainly not art quilts. The type of join Harriet Hargrave suggests will stand up to a quilt being washed and tugged during use as well as stay mostly invisible. It's a matter of practicality born out of observing how antique quilts have held up over the years and how these methods might help our own quilts last longer under heavy use, or at least to make us less hesitant to take them off the shelf and use them.
|Mill Stars 2002 which won many awards including this blue ribbon at an AQS Nashville Exposition. It is far from perfect and not an original design, but I did obsess over making it as perfect as was within my abilities.|
And then there is the whole quilt exhibit and competition thing, where every single technical and design portion of a quilt is scrutinized to within an inch of its life. You might not be bothered by seeing the faint line of a batting join on the quilt you snuggle under, but a quilt judge will see that and make a big point of it, no matter how beautiful and well constructed and well quilted the rest of it may be. That's just the way it is, and I used to enter these shows all the time. So yes, I was always striving to do my very best on every part of the quilt process, and managed to win a few ribbons in the process! That made all that effort worth it for me.
But I didn't realize just how stressful all that made my quilting process until I left the world of quilt shows and focused on art quilts. I distinctly remember the moment when I realized, with some relief, that no one would be inspecting the quilt stitches on the back of the art quilt I was working on, so I could relax and just worry about the front. With the exception of not worrying about a neat back, I still tend towards neat and tidy and yes, often precise, in my designs and in carrying them out, but that is as much about my aesthetic as it is about my training. But trust me, I have loosened up immensely since my traditional quilt-making days, and do things now that my old self would be aghast and very disapproving of! But when I do get back to making something like the baby quilt or a lap quilt that I know will be used and washed, the old ways kick in.
That you think I work with precision I take as a compliment, but really, I think it is just the way I am most comfortable in approaching all parts of my life, with a certain order and neatness in which I find enjoyment and satisfaction. So methods presented to me early in my quilting that fit my need for order and neatness that were also backed up with reasoning for doing them, why they worked or solved a particular problem really appealed to me and became my standard go to methods. It would make sense that I'd carry those over into my art quilting, even though some of them aren't really necessary for a successful outcome. I DO use spray baste on many of my art quilts, especially when I am concerned about the holes that safety pins might leave, but also because I'm in a hurry. If heavily quilted enough over any joins of butted pieces of batting, that basting spray which will not be washed out should sufficiently hold those joins in place - yes Margaret, God has weighed in on that! ;-) As for the basting tape, Mary, I've not actually held it in my hand to know how lightweight it might be, so am suspicious about the bulk or stiffness it might add to the join. That suspicion might be totally unwarranted, so if anyone has actually used that product, please chime in.
I'm still not quite up to snuff to start tackling the quilting of the baby quilt - just the use of the word "tackling" shows you how I feel about the machine quilting that lies ahead - but I am so pleased with the top and its color combinations that are somewhat unusual for me to use, and excited to try out the ideas I have for quilting it. And I am secure in the knowledge that I have prepared it the best way I know how to make the quilting process go as smoothly as possible.