Sunday, November 13, 2011

Re-quilted rectangles

Having finished the ripping and re-basting of the rectangle top in record time, I immediately started to quilt it with parallel lines.  This was actually my first instinct for this quilt--and I thought about it a lot while I was piecing.  When I got it on the frame, however, I didn't follow through.  It's pretty easy to do straight lines on my longarm.  I have channel locks and a stitch regulator, so I just pop them both on and go from side to side.  Straight line quilting is one of my favorite patterns but it can expose of lot of irregularities in your piecing, especially where the shapes aren't straight.  This is why I was reticent to use straight lines from the start.  But, I am glad I took the time to rip and re-do the quilting here.  I think the straight lines work with the piecing design--they actually add more rectangles to the top, instead of taking away from them.

After I finished the binding, I washed the quilt with retayne on a hot water cycle.  I had noticed while piecing that some of the darker fabrics were running even from the leak in my iron.  To avoid some serious bleeding, I put a very generous dose of retayne in the washer.  I dried it for a few minutes and then pinned it (while it was still damp) to my large cutting mat to block it.

I am not sure what I'm going to do with this quilt.  I think that's why it was so much fun to make!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Giving In

Driving home from a quilt guild meeting yesterday, I had the most acute desire to work with some Cherrywood fabrics.  It may have had something to do with the fact that I sat behind our sales table and looked at our stacks of Cherrywoods all during the guild business meeting while waiting to speak.  Or, it may have had something to do with the fact that I do not often have the time to kick around and sew something for fun.  And I have been longing to do just that.

So, even though I walked in the door to a very hungry family, a pile of laundry and a stack of groceries that had not yet been put away, I did not allow myself to be deterred.  I got dinner in the oven in record time and immediately went downstairs to start cutting.  Luckily, the nature of my job allows me to keep a fairly large stash of fabrics in house so I was able to satisfy the urge to work with hand dyes.  I dug into my bin--thanks to my handy contractor I no longer have to de-stack an entire pile of bins to get to the one I need--and got out all of the colors that grabbed me--which incidentally amounted to almost every single color in the bin :-).  I knew I was not going to be able to allow myself a lot of time for this project.  Therefore, I did not want much to keep me from getting from point A (the contemplative stage) to point B (the sewing stage) in a hurry.  The sewing of this project was not going to focus on color or design. It was all about putting the fabrics together.  I was going to start, and let it play out and see what happened.

When I brought all the fabrics to the cutting table, I somehow knew that I should start cutting rectangles.  First I cut 5 1/2" strips and then subcut them into 1 1/2" rectangles.  Then, I started sewing them together in pairs.

I could have strip-pieced these rectangles, but I like the variety you can get when you sew them individually, especially when you are making a small piece.

I had all of the pieces cut and many of them sewn together that evening--which is unusual for me.  I woke up today thinking about this quilt and decided that meant I should finish it ASAP.  It's not easy to parcel out  a chunk of time to sew something for pleasure.  In fact, at a guild meeting earlier this year, someone actually asked me if I ever get to sew things I want to anymore.  I answered yes, and then realized while driving home from that meeting that I really do not take enough time for free creativity.  (I guess the drive home from guild meetings is a prime time for me to do some reflective thinking).

I actually took the time today to sew this top together.  It ended up being wall-sized--just what I wanted (and what I had time for).  Here's a picture before all of the rectangle pairs were sewn together:

After I made a few minor changes, I sewed everything together.  Here's the finished top:

I was so happy with the way it turned out I decided to put it on the longarm right away.  And, not wanting to delay the finishing process, I started quilting.  Here's where I ran into a snag....I decided to do a free-hand square meander.  Now, I normally REALLY like this quilting design.  But as I finished the third or fourth minute of quilting, I knew I was not happy with the way it was looking.  I felt the quilting was too distracting....I wanted the rectangles to be more obvious than the quilting.

Before I knew it, I had the seam ripper in my hand and I had started to take out the stitching.  I have to take a moment to say that I HATE ripping out quilting--and I have done my fair share of it!  The mere fact that I was willing to put myself through the ordeal of "unquilting" meant that I really would not have been satisfied with the finished product.

I always play little mind games with myself when I have an arduous task to do.  In this case, I counted the number of rectangles I had quilted over:  12.  That meant I could do two at a time and then take a break in the hopes of making the job more palatable. It would only take me 6 trips back to the machine to finish up.  The six trips are almost finished as I am writing this....I have punctuated ripping with roasting a chicken, starting this blog post, mixing up a batch of wholegrain honey oatmeal bread, cleaning the kitchen, and watching Olivia! with Maggie.  Stay tuned for the "re-quilted" rectangle top...hopefully by the end of the weekend!