Sunday, August 16, 2009

I Finished Something!

Believe it or not, I have actually finished something. A quilt. Done. Mailed off, even. And received! (This is nearly a miracle. I think I worked on this quilt for close to nine months -- a labor of love in all senses of the term!)

A log cabin quilt, done in the colors I recalled from the decor of Lucy's room -- Lucy is Starman's niece, and our senior bridesmaid last spring in Yorkshire.

As I recalled her room, it had a pale pink wall, a pale (very pale) green wall, and some deep cerise fluffy pompoms strung on clear line near the ceiling.

This quilt ended up being rather more dominated by turquoise than I'd intended but that turns out to be an easier color to design around than dark green.

The border fabric.

The edging is a batik (or batik-style) fabric I also used in the back.

Which I pieced.

Yes, I am certifiably crazy. The nice men with the nets are coming for me even as I type this. I *thought* it would go quickly, as I was using a technique from the book Totally Tubular by Rita Hutchens; I'd seen it on TV and thought it looked easy. Which is kinda sorta is. I also thought it would be quick, which it kinda sorta is if you only do a wall hanging, such as is feature in her book. I was right on one point, though -- I did realize that because it ended up more-or-less on the bias, it could be made big enough for the backing without any concerns about keeping it square on to the front. I had that problem with this quilt, and I didn't want to repeat it.

Here's the backing:

Unfortunately, I didn't get the dimensions right as I had planned it, so I had to add in solid brick-shapes of the floral fabric and chop up the pinwheels more than I would have liked. I mean, seriously -- it's the BACKING. It didn't deserve the months & months of labor I put into it.

(At the same time -- and this will be my defense when the guys with nets come by -- Starman's niece is at an age where the quilt is fine for now, but it would be nice if she could use it at university and beyond. Flexibility was a consideration. So it's reversible. That doesn't entirely justify the amount of work I put in, but it's part of my thinking.)

Here's your proof that the binding was used in the backing. I know you care about that.

These colors didn't quite come out in these pictures -- again, it's all trending toward the turquoise -- but what I wanted to suggest was a flower garden with a seafoam green connection.

Okay, the guys in the nets can come along now; I'm ready for the padded cell. Except that Starman's nephew, Sam, has asked for a quilt and I've agreed. One thing's for sure -- it's getting a plain back!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Quilting & Cricket

I have been sewing recently, but the Totally Tubular quilting approach referenced in my last post takes forever. It's a bit like cricket, really -- the game, not the insect.

In cricket (as I understand it) there are two teams. One team bats first and plays all its innings right then -- well, over a lo-o-ong time; test matches take three days! -- and scores all its runs before the game switches over to the other team's batting. The second team knows what score they have to beat (usually a 3-figure number) and they start racking up the runs before all their men get out. If they score more runs, they win; if they don't, the first team wins.

Now, imagine this in baseball terms: The Red Sox sends up batter after batter until they've used up all 27 outs. If they've scored ten runs, great. If they've scored only three runs, that's a bit less impressive. Then the Yankees come to bat, and they get 27 outs. If they need to score 11 runs to beat the Red Sox, that's one thing; if it's only four runs, that's another.

D'you see yet how this could be rather boring? Basically one team is ahead until they're not, at which point the game is over. I'm assured by Hub 1.0 that cricket is more interesting than that, but really I think he's confused. Sure any game in which there's a googly, a square leg, a first slip, a maiden, a silly mid-on, a chinaman, a golden duck, and a daisycutter is not all bad, but the quirky vocabulary can't make up for the fundamental flaws in how the game is structured.

Well, the piecing for the tubular back I'm doing is a bit cricket-ish: sew strips together until they're all sewn together. Iron those, then cut them again, then sew some more, then iron, cut, sew, etc., over and over until finally: a huge piece of patchwork miraculously appears. Like cricket, you're not ahead until you're done.

This is discouraging -- while I've no doubt that my work is actually accruing, there's none of the satisfaction from completing a block, and then another and another. The front of this quilt has log cabin blocks in two color ways. I did strip piecing, but at least I got half the blocks done before I started the next set. Then I cut the sashing and cornerstones and sewed the rows, then cut and sewed the borders. At each stage, there was a real sense of accomplishment.

Now, I'm the first to admit that it's the height of quixotic folly to decide to piece the back of this quilt. The reason why I'm doing it is, the quilt is intended to "go" with my niece Lucy's room in Yorkshire. As I recall the room, it's got white, palest pink, and palest mint green walls with some leaves stenciled on one wall in darker green, and hot pink puff balls along the ceiling. I had a hard time finding just the right shades of pink and green, so the log cabin blocks are all bolder and brighter than I would have preferred. The white sashing looks quite bold as well. I like the overall effect, it's just not quite what the room called for.

In my search for the right fabrics, I found one that had some softer colors in a large, rather modern print. This fabric wasn't perfect either, but it was so appealing, I got some. The tubular pattern I'm using alternates large blocks of a solid fabric (the book uses black) and that's where the large-scale print comes in. The piecing is in a fairly simple looking block that would be a pain to do using traditional methods; I have eight different color combinations for that part.

In the end -- if I've planned this adequately! -- the pieced back will be virtually a reversible quilt top. That way if Lucy repaints her room, or moves to university, or whatever, she'll have options for the quilt.

Pictures soon, I promise. But at the moment, it's still a boring old cricket game.