Wednesday, July 1, 2009

recent addiction: quilting

i know, i know. i said before that i hate quilting. but then, remember? i said it wasn't so bad. and then i said it was actually kind of fun. so fun, in fact, that i've made a couple more. and i've started to buy quilting supplies and gadgets and tools. it's bad.

here is a picture of my first quilt. hah! just kidding. that's just a blanket made with a cheater cloth. i don't have the patience for those curved seams and tiny squares.

this was my first real foray into quilting. i made this about eight or nine years ago. (brian: why are you taking pictures of that? it's not like it's new or anything.) a bit ambitious, don't you think? yes folks, that's my king-size bed. a cal king. nothing like going for the gold on the very first try. i mean, how hard can it be?

i love the log cabin pattern. it is so easy to cut and piece and it doesn't really matter if the seams come out a bit wonky, like they did on this one. you can't tell once the blocks are set. traditionally the center square is red or yellow, representing either the hearth of the home (red) or a candle left burning to guide one home (yellow), and the values radiate light to dark on either side to represent happiness and sorrow, symbolizing life in a home. at the time i had no idea of the history behind log cabin quilts - just about the light and dark values - so i chose blues for my quilt. the setting is very similar to the popular sunshine and shadow setting though i did not know that at the time either.

i don't know that i would truly call that one a quilt, because i didn't actually quilt it. i toyed with the idea of tying it (now i know that is the traditional manner of anchoring a log cabin quilt) but i didn't want to spend the money on batting. hey, i was a poor college student. and i was insanely frustrated by how slow it was going. i'm kind of an impatient seamstress. so i simply backed the top with two sheets (one to protect the raw edges) to make it into a duvet.

my second "quilt" i did the same thing with. i'm sure this pattern has a name, but i don't know what it is. i like how it looks like geese flying, kind of like that mc escher drawing.

you can tell how frustrated i was by the blue log cabin quilt because the squares are much bigger in this pattern and it went quite a bit faster. i made this one about three years ago. again, it's not a true quilt, because i just backed it twice (once to protect the raw edges) to make another duvet instead of actually quilting it. that one is our "winter" quilt and will go on the bed later in the fall. it's nice to change things up once in a while and the colors make me feel so cozy.

and of course we all know how the baby quilt turned out. that one was a sampler which i like in a small quilt (45" x 54") but i think would be too busy and distracting in a larger "bed" size. it was fun trying out all those different patterns though. there is a log cabin block in there also, the far left in the second row from the top.

i was so inspired by the baby quilt that i decided to make a quilt for a friend as a wedding gift. i think that log cabin pattern is my favorite and it's pretty easy, so i decided to make hers in a log cabin also, only in the colors of her wedding (somewhat). sorry i didn't get the red in there, jess. the colors also made me think of oregon, where she lives, so i thought that was appropriate. it turned out a lot prettier than i thought it would be. at first i was not thrilled with the colors - they were not what i would have chosen, but that didn't matter because it was not for me. i really love how it all came together in the end and i think it is beautiful. i almost didn't want to give it up. it's a nice two-person "snuggle" size, 60" x 60".

after i made that quilt i started doing a little research on the history of log cabin quilts. that's when i found out about the red or yellow center square - jessika's yellow center square was not planned, but a happy accident. i'd like to think it's so she and b can always find their way home to each other. the arrangement is a very simple setting called straight setting, and i love how elegant and rhythmic it is. i actually quilted this one, before i learned that log cabin quilts were traditionally tied and never quilted. i had no idea what pattern to quilt it in, so i tried a technique called stippling. even though it is a bit unorthodox, i love how it turned out, but the stippling was harder than i expected and i don't think i would try it again. i used a cotton/bamboo batting for this quilt and really like how it makes the finished quilt feel. i've used poly batting before in other projects (like quillows) but i don't think i'd use it again now that i have discovered cotton batting.

the most recent quilt i finished is also a wedding gift, for my girlfriend alice who is getting married in august. i arranged the blocks in a broken dishes setting which i find quite intriguing and beautiful but caused much swearing. i could not for the life of me set those blocks together properly. i have never ripped out and resewn so many seams in my life.

this quilt was tied, partly because i don't have a machine with an arm long enough to quilt it easily nor the skill to do so, partly because it is more traditional that way. quite a bit of love and energy went into this project (and money, which brian is complaining about), but she is my best girl and deserves it. i really love the colors and if she weren't getting married i'd keep it for myself. it looks gorgeous in our guest room. maybe i'll get more fabric and make us one.

my latest project is a patchwork scrap quilt for our bed. this is an ambitious project, not only because i have a new baby but also because we have that cal king bed. i have most of the little squares cut out; it's just a matter of piecing together the top, mostly. oy! i'll post pictures when i have something substantial to post pictures of.


Jaimey said...

I have stippled too, and without gloves (sticky pad quilting kind) its nearly impossible. and on a regular machine for a quilt that size forget it. So good job. I only stipple baby quilts at home, I will send it out or do it on the long arm at the shop down the road for anything bigger. I like my machine too much to beat it up like that. :) (my old machine I used to attempt but it usually ended badly...)

Sarah @ said...

I know absolutely nothing about quilting, nothing, but can I just comment on the California King bed thing?


That is all.

Anonymous said...

Wow I know very little about quilting, but I am so impressed. Great work!

Jessika said...

I LOVE THE QUILT!! We've opened about 10 presents (it's what happens when you live apart and the place where the presents are is post-wedding-storage-central) but yours was one of them (don't worry, the rest will be opened probably this weekend).

B was SO touched. He loved it. We're keeping it in the box until we move (hopefully within the next month!!!), and then it will have a place of honor on the fEames or on the couch. It will go so nicely with either. Or maybe in the bedroom... we'll see. I love it.

A card of thanks will follow... but oy, you should see the carnage that is B's apartment. LOTS of boxes. Just ask Kerry. LOTS.


Kelly said...

I love all of these quilts, but most especially the last one.

I am so not into quilting right now because it takes soooo long to get a final product, but dang you are making me want to start one.