Friday, January 11, 2008

A "Real" Quilt

Every once in a while I have the urge to do a "real" quilt, that is, one that actually goes onto a bed. I have a double Irish chain, blue and white, on my bed that I made 20 years ago. It's hand quilted by me and it took 4 years to do the quilting. Let me mention that after I finished that quilt, I sold the frame, knowing I would never be hand quilting like that again. This quilt is getting faded and has a few little rips and the binding is wearing out and I think it's time to retire it.

So I have been pondering what kind of pattern I should use to make a new bed quilt. I'm not so good at doing the exact same block 100 times and some of my sewing skills are a little rusty, particularly the ones for precision cutting and matching points. I've always loved the log cabin pattern and so I decided to use that construction method but not the color patterning. I also thought about buying some commercial fabrics to make this but after looking at all the boxes of fabric I have dyed, painted, screened, printed, etc it would be a crime to go out and spend money on something I already have way too much of.

The room is blue and yellow, a nice combination for a quilt. I cut loads of blue strips freehand and a bunch of yellow strips freehand and commenced sewing it all together without benefit of ruler or concern about the shape that my blocks assumed. Since the strips were not consistent in width, many of the blocks turned out a bit wacky. The final blocks needed to be 9.5" wide, so I just kept adding strips until the blocks were big enough to trim down to 9.5". Some needed more extra strips than others. So after I made 124 blocks (needed 121 but did 3 extra) it was time to start arranging. Not all of the blocks had yellow in them but I wanted those that did to show on the top of the bed so I started with the center section first. Here is a portion.

Couldn't resist doing a few renegade blocks - split circle blocks and 4 patch blocks - after all there needs to be some variety. This picture is only a portion; the center section is 7x7 blocks and now what's left to sew together are the outside edge blocks. Some of those blocks will have small bits of yellow and the rest will be all blue. The final size will be nearly 100"x100" and I am going to hire somebody to quilt it. Some of my guild member friends do long arm quilting and so I've contracted with one of them to do this. I think her prices are quite reasonable; she supplies the batting and will apply the binding. I will be dyeing some fabric for the backing. Although I will have to do the final turn and hand stitch the binding down, it's a whole lot less work than quilting this monster. I would be back in physical therapy for my shoulders.