Sunday, January 20, 2013

I'm sorry...

Oh, goodness.  I'm terrible at this aren't I?  Is October really the last time I posted? I had so many things to write about! But, in my defense, who has time to blog? I'm too busy SEWING!  I have lots of exciting plans for this blog, but I'll keep them a secret for now.  However, there are some things I would like to tell you about.  I'm probably going to be a bit long winded, so I'll break it up over a couple of days. (Famous last words..this may be the last post you read for a while!)

Sometime back in November, I finished my very first non-baby sized quilt.  It was also my first pieced backing, AND my very first long-armed quilting!  It was so much fun!  Here's how it happened. At my favorite (actually only, but it would still be my favorite if it wasn't the only) local quilt shop Rock Paper Scissors (RPS) in Montclair, NJ I belong to a group called the NewBees.  It's all beginner quilters and we challenge ourselves with a new project each month.  Back in August, our project was a "solids" quilt.  We are all so drawn to patterned fabrics, and Beth (owner, group leader, wonderful person) thought it might make us think outside of the box a little to do a quilt in ONLY solid colors.  Well, you all know by know that I am a total quilting wimp and was going to take the easiest way possible out of this.  Enter V&Co's Houndstooth Quilt.  I only had to pick TWO colors, and I still got to get one of my favorite patterns in there. Ha! I win!  I got the instant idea to make a quilt for my mom, my quilting partner in crime, for Christmas. I shot her a quick text asking for her two favorite colors: at that moment, buttery yellow and spa blue.  Hmmmmm....too babyish together. I decided to go with the yellow and a medium gray.  I have been loving yellow and gray combinations in every shade and color from neon and charcoal to the paler shades.  The cutting was kind of a pain in the butt, I'm not going to lie.  Squares that were 6 1/8 inch?  One eighth, really? Can't we find a way to just make that 1/4?  Oh well, such is life.  The rest of the assembly was quite easy and quick.  This is definitely a pattern I would recommend for an advanced beginner. We were allowed to choose a pattern for the background and with the help of Beth and my lovely NewBees friends Courtney and Melanie, I chose the Sweet Field pattern from Madrona Road by Violet Craft for Michael Miller.  I won't bore you with all the crazy details, but due to the directionality of the print, I had to do a pieced backing.  I broke out into a cold sweat and raced right over to RPS where I think I actually startled Beth with my pathetic cry for help.  She gave me some ideas, reassured me that I could do it, and sent me packing. After all, I had a 10am appointment the next morning (at a shop an hour and a half away) to long arm this....aaaaaaand my backing still wasn't done.  Yup, that's how I roll.

I ended up using some of the extra (read: still had to sew a few more) striped squares from the houndstooth pattern to make a chevron across the bottom third of the quilt. I'm still so excited and proud of how it turned out. (Photo credit: Mom)

The long arm part was the most fun...partly because it had to be a top secret mission.  You see, the quilt shop that rents the machines, Olde City Quilts in Burlington, NJ, is about 20 minutes away from where my mom lives.  I had to be down there at the shop, quilt it, avoid being seen, and not say a word.  I thought my brother's birthday would be the perfect day to head down there and get it done before going to celebrate.  What a wonderful, awful idea that was.  Literally, creating the huge stipple that I used, and finishing the quilt in about an hour had me downright giddy.  I had to spend the rest of the day with my mom and not say a word about it.  This may have been the most difficult thing about making the quilt.  I was bursting with excitement and kept opening my mouth to blurt something out before catching myself.  What made it even more difficult is that my mother was asking a lot of questions, "What did you do today?", "Oh, you used your $25 dollar American Express small business credit already? Where?", "How come you couldn't come over earlier?"  Seriously, did she WANT me to blow the surprise?  Even worse, I had to keep this quiet for another whole month. Ugh! It was torture, but I did it!

Just in case you don't know what a long arm is,  it's a huge sewing machine that you use to professionally free motion quilt.  You can just go for it, or you can follow a pantograph (a pattern that you follow by guiding a laser light on the machine). It has a stitch regulator so all of your stitches come out the perfect size.  If you have never used one, I suggest you give it a try.  It is so much fun (and a lot easier and faster than using your home machine) that you will want to use it for all of your quilts.

Pee-Wee the long arm...he is the smaller version, they are actually quite a bit bigger...
When I learned how to use it back in August, I wanted to buy one so bad.  Unfortunately, I don't have a few grand just laying around. Here are some pics of the machine, and me learning to use it. (I meant to blog about this months ago....oh well.)

Clockwise from L to R: The lovely selection of threads, a pantograph, me attempting to follow the pantograph (it was tough!),  my free motion doodles, my teacher Lynn)
I did the binding by hand over a few days, added a personalized label, and washed the quilt to get that yummy crinkly effect.  I really love it and am so proud of the way it came out.  I brought it to quilt guild and actually showed it off. In the picture that made the blog, you can see just how excited/proud I really was!  Here's a great shot mom took of the quilt.

On Christmas, I could not wait for mom to open her present.  She loved it! As a matter of fact, its picture made its way onto facebook with the caption "best Christmas present ever!" Woot! I remain reigning champion of giving the "best gifts ever"!

I think my nephew really liked it too, the way he dove on it face down, sprawled out, cars in hand!

So, there, you have it.  My first larger-than-a-baby-sized quilt! Whew! Sorry, I told you that was going to be long, but I wanted to share because it is something I am really proud of.  I hope you accomplished some great things to finish 2012 too!

Here's to some great stitching in 2013!

1 comment:

  1. I'm amazed by this! It looks so beautiful and the process looks so fun. I'm going to have to grill about it next time we end up at the same meeting together!!