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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The beginning of a new obsession

The beginning of a new obsession

This is where the obsession started. My very first quilt. Growing up I spent a week or two with my Grandparents every summer. I remember watching Grandma hand piecing her beautiful creations as she sat in front of the television each night. Everyone loved Grandma's quilts. Each of the Grandchildren received at least one and everyone wanted more. My oldest son had a particular quilt that my Grandmother had made, it was made as more of utility quilt. My parents had used it in their camper for years, and after they sold the camper I had confiscated it and had also used it for years.  Then my oldest son at some point ended up with it on his bed. It was well over 20 years old and had been washed probably hundreds of times. It was worn out! Stains had turned the white fabric a dull yellow and the fabric was disintegrating. I tried to buy him a new quilt at the store, but he refused. There was no way he was giving up that quilt unless he could have another home-made one like it. Grandma was no longer with us, and there was no one else, so I ended up volunteering for the job.

First I had to design a quilt that was similar to the original, but with no "girly" fabrics. At this point I really didn't know anything about quilting.  I had been sewing for 20 years, but the closest I had come to a quilt was some pot-holders I had made for Christmas one year. I didn't know you could buy quilt patterns, or where to look for them. I just took out a piece of graph paper and started drawing. Once I had a basic idea of what we were going to do I had to start collecting fabric.  I had a large stash of cotton fabric, but most of it was flowery "girly" fabrics. After collecting the fabric and cutting out all those 3 1/2" squares our life was suddenly and dramatically turned upside down and the quilt pieces were put away before I could sew a single stitch. A few months later we had moved into a much smaller house (almost a third the size of the house we left), most of my stash was listed on eBay and sold I had started selling my machine embroidery designs and life was starting to calm down again. I found the plastic baggies with all of those little squares and decided that sewing them together might help me deal with all the emotional upheaval. I found I really loved sewing the patches together. If my seams didn't line up perfectly I didn't really know enough to care. When I made mistakes of which fabric went next in the row, I didn't really think anyone else would notice, so I didn't really care. I was enjoying myself and that was really all that mattered.

When I finished putting the top together I had to quilt it. The original quilt was a queen-size, but this one turned out to be a large King-sized. I bought the batting and fabric for the backing. I had a basic idea of how I was supposed to put it together, but I did not have an open space anywhere that was that large (this was before I figured out the driveways are an awesome placed to pin quilts). So I laid out the layers on my queen-sized bed. Now this in itself would probably not have been that bad, but our bed is not like a normal queen-sized bed, the top of the mattress is over three and a half feet off the ground (I have to use stairs to get into the bed)! So here I am, on top of an unstable step stool, trying to get the whole thing laid out straight on a bed that is considerably smaller than the quilt. After several hours I finally had all the layers pinned together, now I had to figure out how to actually quilt this monster. I had a little cheap Brother sewing machine with a throat space of about 4 1/2" maybe 5". I knew I was supposed to start in the center of the quilt and go out towards the edges, but how in the heck do you get to the center of the quilt? I ended up rolling up the sides and fighting, stuffing, shoving until I had the whole thing quilted. If you turn it over and look at the back it is a mess! Puckers and pleats everywhere! But it was done and I was never going to make another big quilt like that again, that was for sure! My neck and shoulders hurt like crazy for days afterward!

But as the days passed I thought about all I had been through to make that quilt and I was happy I had done it. I really enjoyed the piecing, and maybe the quilting part wouldn't be that bad if the quilt was smaller. Within a couple of weeks I was drawing up a new design and planning out the next quilt.

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