Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Finally


I have finally accomplished a major roadblock in my quilting life.

I have pin basted my unfinished quilt, my Garden Charms quilt, which has been lying around for more than a year. It was initially a Craftsy project, a class taught by Lynette Jensen.

I followed the pattern completely, except for picking my own colors. Finishing this quilt has been nagging at me for such a long time that I have been in such a quandary over it.
 

My quilting life had to take a backseat to my personal life—I have just had too many other responsibilities that have kept me from doing the activity I love. I’ve had a hard time getting back to it. 


  • The piecing gave me fits. I re-did several steps in this multi-step process. The pattern was complicated, but that is also what made it lots of fun to complete. I even made a table runner out of a couple of the pinwheel blocks to practice. It turned out great, so I was more comfortable with all those points. It came out imperfect, but not bad. I wrote about this in a previous post

  • Over a year ago I ordered eight yards of fabric for the quilt back. Until very recently, it remained in the bag in which it arrived. Finally, just a month ago, I measured it and cut it, sewed it, and turned it into my quilt back. 
  • The most challenging part of quilting for me is the small space for which I have to work. I watched several videos about laying out and basting the quilt in a small space for inspiration. Finally, the other day I bit the bullet, I cleared off my small dining room table, (a feat in itself) purchased a few small clamps to keep things taut, and some curved safety pins, and set out to pin baste this quilt. 
Alas, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought. This is the largest quilt I have ever attempted, so it was a bit unwieldy to put it onto my small dining table without wrinkles and without the constant help from my four cats.

I know it is going to be a challenge to machine quilt this quilt, but I am determined. I know I’m not the first to be intimidated by this. Most of the free-motion projects I have done have either been ‘quilt as you go’ projects or small pieces. The biggest quilt I’ve ever machine quilted was a baby quilt. That was a breeze, so I figure this is just like four of those, albeit attached.

I’m not sure when I will start this, but I’m getting rather excite. My next step is to take a picture of the various aspects of the quilt, print it out as a line drawing, and design quilting designs. I think I’m going to use all white thread, since the quilt is so colorful. Or, perhaps I’ll use hot pink, which might be fun. I’ll have to figure that out too.

I look forward to a subsequent post which will answer those questions and report on my progress. Wish me luck.


Sunday, December 9, 2018

I’ve always believed that quilting was good therapy. But as of late, I know it.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my husband had a debilitating stroke almost four years ago. He is now getting around in a power chair. I do love when he can wheel over to where I left the remote or can bring glasses into the kitchen when I just can't imagine leaving my comfy spot on the couch.

But, his illness has left more chores to do, so I am busier than ever before. And somehow, I’m not getting any younger. I have little time or energy for quilting, though I have two projects I’m anxious to work on. One is to be hand quilted; the other to be machine quilted, yet all three layers are not yet put together. My imagination has seen better days and it seems my creativity quotient is running in the negatives. I’ve even had some bouts with anxiety lately that exacerbate my fears of the ‘what-if’s’ and the ‘oh no, another birthday is coming around.’

I am making progress however. The other day I cleared off the dining room table, pitching all the junk mail out, and made a space to work with. I got took out the 8 yards of backing fabric that I ordered more than a year ago for my second project, a Craftsy quilt that is rather large. I pieced the backing fabric, and spray starched and ironed it along with the quilt top. They just need the batting, which remains rolled up in the closet. Oh, and then there is the dreaded basting. I’m not fond of this step, which is probably why I haven’t done it yet. I have only small spaces on which to work and I’ve yet to find a satisfactory way to get this done. I’m leaning toward spray basting, but I also just purchased some new curved safety pins.



I have also begun working on my hand quilted project, a Dresden Plate quilt that I started ages ago. I’ve found that hand quilting isn’t as easy as I remember. I think the multiple layers of those little wedges are a deterrent, but I’m convinced that I want this traditional quilt to be hand-quilted. In just one afternoon, I broke 3 needles. This is not the way I remember it.

But much to my surprise, I’ve found that physically putting the needle to fabric isn’t the only way to satisfy my quilting fix and relax my ever racing mind. In general, I’ve been watching quilting videos.

In particular, I’ve been watching The Quilt Show (TQS) hosted by Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. I had not been acquainted with Ricky, but was a big fan of Alex through her work on “Simply Quilts,” her television series several years ago that inspired me to actually make my first quilt. I consider Alex Anderson to be a quilting mentor for me. Her hand quilting is wonderful and as a 30-year quilter, she is also a wonderful teacher.

I’m almost ashamed to say that even though I subscribed to TQS I had only watched a couple episodes.

One day I returned to the website, already listed as a favorite on my browser toolbar, only to learn that my current subscription had run out. I hurriedly renewed it and started watching the current episode. It had the same appeal that had always endeared me to Alex Anderson, except this time, I was so intrigued by Ricky’s approach to quilting. Not only is he a renowned quilter, but he is a musician who writes and performs the kind of music I love.

I found that as I binge-watched a couple episodes, I was feeling relaxed and even inspired by the wealth of information presented by so many quilt artists.

I began to watch shows whenever I felt the least bit stressed. I’ve started watching from the very beginning—in 2009, season by season. It is fun to see how far quilting has come and the myriad ideas that have and continue to shape the quilting world. Every now and then I will notice I’m watching a rerun of a show I’d already seen. No worries. It is always nice to brush up on skills, tips, hints, and trends. So even if I’m not doing as much quilting as I’d like, I still feel as though I have my hands in it, so to speak. So once again, Alex Anderson for leading the way for me. And Ricky, I love what he does as well. He brings a fresh, new, artistic approach which perfectly complements Alex’s more traditional work.

Watching TQS is no longer limited to those moments when I feel a panic attack coming on. I now watch just because I love it.