Monday, November 15, 2010

The Quiltening 3 - This Time It's Personal

Rumpled quilt
In case you missed it, here's part one and part two of The Quilting. It's an epic saga of thread and fabric and rib pain.


All caught up? Okay, let's go.

Apparently, it's not just enough to make the fancy, painstaking quilt top, and then baste it together by hand. Oh, no. You then need to sew all the layers together. This is apparently what quilting really is. I had considered doing this with my sewing machine. I love my little Elna, but after the ordeal that was stitching the top strips together, I decided we both weren't up for it. There was also the not insignificant detail of the squares not lining up. How exactly was I going to stitch all this together?
The answer came from an unlikely source: Alicia Paulson's new book, the Embroidery Companion. One of the projects is a darling wall quilt. She quilted the layers together with a simple straight embroidery stitch. It looked charming. I could do that!
Because the quilt was so large, I decided to embroider only the white squares and hope for the best. And so it began.

If you've never embroidered on something so bloody huge, let me tell you what it's like. You stretch the rolled up quilt over the couch lengthwise, and you try to keep various animals from jumping on it and ripping out the basted stitches. Of course you are doing this on the couch. Are you telling me you don't want to watch reruns while you do this? Then, you need to hold the area you're working on very taut, because you don't have a quilting hoop. After you're done with one square, you need to push the quilt down the couch to begin working on the next. And so on. And so on. Until you die. Er, get very hot and needle callused and decide that you've had enough for one night.
It's not all bad. First of all, you get to watch tv while you're doing this. But since you're making something, it's totally not wasted time. Tv without guilt! Secondly, the needle slides in and out of the layers of fabric with a really satisfying, albeit almost inaudible pop. Thirdly, it really is delightful sewing by hand. And if it was winter, you'd be snuggly warm.
(Of course, I was doing this in early fall, which is still pretty warm around here.)
Patchwork quilt
I finally finished the hand quilting segment of this project on October 20th. Mark it on your calendars! The day the hand quilting was at last vanquished completed. Remember how I said I thought I was done with the rib pain portion of this project when the basting was done. BOY. WAS I EVER WRONG. The slight hunch forward required to do this turned out to be excruciatingly painful. Hence this part taking weeks. Hence the celebration when the hand quilting was finished.

[caption id="attachment_2299" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Sewing on the binding"]Sewing on the binding[/caption]

Next came the trimming of the edges (a cinch), and the pulling out of the basted stitches (also a cinch). The final step was sewing on binding tape to finish up the edges. This was easy, and you know me and straight lines. Maybe everything just seems easy now in comparison to every other step of this project. Some final trims of sticking out threads, and boom! I was DONE.
Queen Sized Patchwork Quilt
Really DONE!

[caption id="attachment_2295" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="There, now it's complete."]Pugs on a quilt[/caption]

As in MISSION QUILT COMPLETED!

[caption id="attachment_2293" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="The quilt works! It makes pugs sleepy."]Patchwork quilt puts pugs to sleep![/caption]

This was by far the biggest, most complicated, longest, most rib-hurtingest project I have ever tackled. I started this project on Sept. 9th. I finally finished it on November 5th. That's 57 days. (Of course, I didn't work on it every single day.)
I'm proud of myself for actually finishing this difficult, not always fun project. I'm amazed that I was able to make something practical (and pretty cute!) for our home.
However, I don't think I'll be diving into a project this large again ever. Or, at the very least, not until the memory of how hard this as fades. I think it's time to make a potholder or something.

8 comments:

Eerika said...

Oddly enough, I'm sort of tempted to make a quilt myself now...
Maybe it's just that you've shown us that quilts don't have to be ├╝ber-perfect to be beautiful and full of character. You did a really super job on your quilt, and like I said, it's beautiful!

Also, hello puppers! :)

Claire said...

Thanks so much! That's incredibly kind of you. ^_^

Leeanna Butcher said...

The quilt LOOKS GREAT and I love the colors that you used!

I know how you feel- every time I do a quilt I tell myself never again... and then a year goes by and I do it all over again. Selective amnesia is the key. ;)

Claire said...

Thanks Leeanna! I didn't know that you quilted! I'll have to check out your Flickr. ^_^

Kellyi said...

I think this is excellent - I've only just found your blog but so inspired! I am too scared to make a quilt...been day dreaming about it for ages and even have the fabrics all saved up but it looks so hard.

Going to re-read your three steps and take heart.

Awesome. Well done!

Claire said...

This is a total cliche, but it's true: "Hey, if I can do it, anyone can." Go for it!

clara said...

Bravo for completing this! (Applause) You deserve to be really proud of yourself! Are your ribs better?

Claire said...

Aw, thanks! Now that I'm not aggravating my ribs all the time, they really do feel better.

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