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Archive for November 2010

I think my slump is over.  And I think I finally know what was causing it.  I’m sure all of us at one time or another have had a slump, and we may or may not know the cause.  It may even be days, weeks, months before you find out what caused it, if you do at all.  I have discovered that it is just as important to keep dipping your fingers into your passion, even if you are not feeling all that passionate about it.

With many projects currently “in progress”, it is hard sometimes to focus on quilting, and “just getting it done”.  I think that my problem, was that I knew deep down, that having the tops finished would only end up with a stack of quilt tops, waiting for some money to flow in to buy the batting and backing to get the finished.  So I just stopped working on things.  In reflection, this may have not been the best for me, because I really missed my quilting, and my poor poor sewing machine was going through major separation anxiety.

After a conversation with a quilting friend, it slowly sunk in, that I can still finish, or at least finish a quilt, with what I had!  What did the “pioneer” quilters use for batting?  Did I have some old blankets lying around that I could use?  I mentioned this to another friend, who is just starting to quilt, and she offered two wool blankets she had.  Hey, this may actually get a few of my scrappy quilts completed.

This is the completed top.  Oh the stories I could tell you about this top.  I’m thinking now, that making more of the string blocks would have been faster and easier, but as you all know, I consider my quilting an experience, and I do get a lot of experience.  I suppose it is akin to the “What if…?” question.  What if I did this?  What if I changed this to this?  I’m sure you understand what I mean.  I started making the 9-patch cornerstones first, only to realize, I had made too many, and this ended up with a bit of a fabric crunch, with not enough of the yellow to make the sashings.  I took apart the extra 9-patches, added the blue/yellow/blue bits to the strips.  I even had extra bits left over from cutting the sashings, so these got stitched to other strips.  I was still short!  A quick look through the yellow scraps.. ah ha… I found a piece, now is it wide enough… not exactly squared, but if I trim, woohoo!  It worked!  I ended up with a piece of the blue/yellow/blue that is about 12″ long.

I have also come to realize that my kitty is a camera hog!  She actually poses for photos.  You may remember Tazzie, who would appear as I went to go get the camera to take photos as I progressed through a quilt.  Well, Smudge, waits until she hears the first click of the camera.  Then POUNCE, she’s on the bed, waiting for her close-up.

And not to be outdone, Thunder had to come and see what was going on.

I’ve been working on the blue and yellow string quilt, and so far, I have not a single bit of fabric to put into it.  I considered purchasing backing, but didn’t want to wait until my piggy bank had a few more dollars in it, so I started mulling over my stash.  There were a few pieces, but really wasn’t enough for this quilt.  Who buys 5 metres (yards) of fabric at one time, thinking that it may be useful for a backing, surely not me!  I did have a piece that was 3 metres.  Now what to pair it with.  Did I have some yellow, I could use, yes, but not enough.  Then I found a blue piece.  After cutting it, and then realizing I cut it wrong… I wanted it to finish at 8”… I cut it at 8”… then it was back to the drawing board, so to speak.

In order to determine how much fabric I need for the backing, I used a few of those formulas that are floating around the quilting world.  It’s kind of funny, there are almost as many formulas to find the yardage required for quilt backing, as there are ways of constructing a block.

I laid out the quilt top on my bed, the only place where I can get a good rough idea the dimensions of the quilt top (64½” x 84”).  With these numbers in mind, I started looking at the two pieces of fabric, and what I could do with them, to make a pieced backing that would work.  It seemed to me that 8” strips would work.  So I cut the smaller piece into 8” strips, which yielded 4 strips.  Um?  Four strips, less selvedge, stitched together, is not long enough to meet the length of the quilt top.  Okay, well, if I cut a 8” strip from Fabric 2, and made that an 8” square, four times, I could take the two strips, add the square, and…  Let’s play with some paper for a bit here, I don’t want all the seams of the strips meeting all in the centre.  Okay, so what if I were to cut two of the strips in half, then stitch one of these pieces to the square Fabric 2, then the uncut strip of Fabric 1, then the square of Fabric 2 and the other half strip of fabric 1.  Looks good on paper.  Then I could do three strips of Fabric 2, alternate with the combined strip.  Still looks good on paper.  Now to start cutting.  Oh… measure twice cut once!  OOOH, this is going to be close, with the trimming of the Fabric 2 to ensure that the fabric is squared-up, I am not going to have too much left.  So I cut two 16½” and four 17½” strips.  This meets the width requirement.  Are you following along, just in case you got lost.  17½+7½+16½+7½+17½ = 64½”  Right?  Actually it is 66½”.  EGAD, and GADZOOKS!  I was sorry concerned about the length, that I just realized I may not be quite wide enough.  This was not part of the plan, but you know what, the backing is pieced together, so I’ll just have to work with it, and carry on writing my blog!  Now back to the length dimensions.

The combined strips now measure approximately 88”.  The strips of fabric 2, only measure about 82-84” (I didn’t actually measure, but if the average fabric is 44”-45”, wide, less selvedge Width of Fabric is 41”-42”).  Okay, there was a piece that was about 6”-7” wide, left over.  If I cut that into a 5” strip, that should give me enough (84”+5” = 89”).  This just might work.  Now if we take the width of the outside strips of Fabric 2, they were about 17¾”, double that, gives me 35½”, with about 6” left.  So now I have a square that is approximately 5”x6”, and a piece left over from cutting the 8” blocks… can I… yes I can, and I did.  The extra piece for the centre strip is made up of three pieces of fabric, to give me that extra length.  I had come to realize, after attaching these “extra” pieces, that they will probably be trimmed off once the quilt is completed.  Don’t we always add extra inches to the batting and backing, larger than the quilt top.  For shrinkage, when we quilt?  Which got me to thinking, because it doesn’t really make sense to me now.

For me, oh you shouldn't have.

Is this my best side?

done, he?

When this quilt is sandwiched, with the wool blanket, it is going to be quite a heavy but very warm quilt.  The string blocks are foundation pieced with fabric (thread bare sheets and pillow slips), so it is already quite heavy.  The only fabric I have purchased for this quilt, will be the binding.  I have chosen a black, and I definitely did not have enough in my stash.

-Alice

Food For Thought: Why do we add extra inches to our batting and backing, and not have them the same size of the quilt top?  Would the quilt top not “shrink” from quilting as well?  Would a non-pieced fabric “shrink” more from quilting than a heavily pieced fabric?  At this point, I am not about to test this theory, but it has me wondering and pondering.


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