Friday, August 15, 2014

Bad moments in quilting

So here it is August of an even-numbered year, and people all over the world are frantically trying to finish up their entries for Quilt National.  This has been my "summer vacation" since 2002 and yet again I'm wrestling with big rolls of quilt.

This one is being done with my usual parallel lines across the short way of a rectangular quilt, with my usual neatly rolled package that can (sort of) easily be manhandled through the narrow harp of my machine.  I can't tell you how many quilts I've done just like this, and you would think that I wouldn't make dumb mistakes any more.

But no, the drapery-weight fabric I'm using as backing is acting passive-aggressively, probably because it's a hand-me-down and its previous owner apparently put it through the washing machine.  That made it limp rather than stiff and thus prone to pleats on the back side.

In fact, the very first line of quilting that I sewed resulted in a pleat on the back side, which I had to unsew and restitch.  Off to an inauspicious start.  So I was kind of paranoid, checking the back of the quilt after every row of stitching to make sure I had done it right.  That lasted for days, but yesterday afternoon I got complacent.  I'm more than halfway through, getting toward the home stretch, and I guess my eagerness to be finished led me to move too quickly toward the next row and the next without checking the back.

Then I did check the back and OOPS!  I had not only sewed a big pleat into the back of the quilt, but I had crossed it with six rows of quilting.

I had a brief conversation with myself as to what to do next.  Option 1 was to do nothing, and if I were a Real Artist instead of a fiber artist that would have clearly been the preferred approach, "sloppy craft" being all the rage these days among the Art Establishment.  But even as I was considering whether I could live with myself under Option 1, I found myself with a seam ripper in my hands, going at it.

I took out all the seams to about three inches either side of the pleat, spritzed it damp and then pressed it flat.  Basted all through the area that had to be resewed, then flipped over to the top of the quilt and cut and sank all the thread ends.  Finally, restitched the ripped seams -- this time checking the back after each one to make sure the pleat hadn't reappeared.

This whole foray into non-sloppy craft occupied three or four hours.  I felt exceedingly stupid.  But now it's all fixed and I've finished that whole section of the quilt and moved along.  Had this occurred one week before the QN deadline I might have chosen Option 1, but I guess I'm glad I did Option 2.  After all, I would have known, even if nobody else did.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Out the door!

Ken's cousin and his wife visited last week and she mentioned that her main volunteer project is the food bank at her church, which mainly serves homeless people.  She said that they also collect clothing and although it is the dead of summer, she's starting to search for warm winter things.  That made me happy, because we own lots and lots of clothes that I would like to give to people who could use them, but I have a hard time finding a charity that will accomplish that.  Most of them seem to sell the clothes you donate, or worse yet, send them to Africa and sell them.

So I spent a half hour going through our closets finding things for Dee to take home with her.  Then I asked if she would like to have some afghans.  She said that would be fabulous, and that made me happy too because I have lots of them lying around, usually made from leftover yarn that I got at grab bag at the fiber and textile art group.  But there's more -- when I searched through a closet in the guest room I found two quilts neatly folded on hangers.

One of them was a project from decades ago in which I recycled an old skirt, a torn pillowcase, a couple of old shirts, some sewing scraps and a lot of threadbare boxer shorts.  I really liked the looks of it -- the old fabrics had a lived-in feeling that seemed restful and calm.  We used it a lot as a lap throw but it had been in the closet for years and I was more than happy to part with it.

the recycled quilt -- front...

...and back

The other was also decades old but I don't think it was ever used, probably because it was downright ugly.  Where the recycled quilt had a coherent character, this one was just a miscellaneous mess, because I hadn't learned much about design in those days.  It wasn't even quilted, just tied (but the binding was neat).

the miscellaneous nine-patch

Here's the loot, just before it was loaded into garbage bags.  One old and three new afghans, one old and one new quilt, and a lot of clothes, some of them even new.

Leaving us with a good feeling and a lot of newly empty drawer space.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Signs of the week

Don't you want to know a little more about that first landing?