Monday, February 13, 2012

Quilting


My first exposure to quilting was when I was about four or five years old at the side of my great-grandmother.  I remember the evening well.  My mother and I were visiting her at her house on Edison Drive -- an old, white Victorian with a turnkey door bell which I loved, much to everybody's aggravation.  She was born in 1875 so she was close to 80 at this time.  We sat in her living room waiting for my dad to get off work and she and my grandmother were piecing a quilt top.  They weren't using a sewing machine -- although she did have a lovely treadle model -- they were using a needle and thread as they sat and rocked and talked.  The fabrics they used weren't  co-ordinated lines they purchased at their local quilt store -- they were scraps from sewing and old clothes.  They were making utility quilt tops to be put aside and quilted out when somebody said they needed some cover.  I was fascinated with the fabric and the process and even tried my hand at it that evening.  Although I didn't start quilting until much later, the fascination stayed with me as did my love of fabrics.  So, when I started quilting, I started with a sewing machine and modern tools although I did hand quilt my first quilt.  I love most of the process and the instant gratification of being able to get a quilt finished in as little as a weekend was certainly appealing.  A few years ago I purchased a fancy new quilting edition machine that has all the bells and whistles.  It is great but....it is in the laundry room so if I want to sew in the evening that means I am in the laundry room and Hubs is in front of the tv.  Not a good scenario so I decided to revisit the idea of hand piecing.

A year or so ago I decided I wanted to try some English paper piecing, a common pattern being Grandmother's Flower Garden.  I downloaded the page of paper templates from an online site and started cutting out hundreds of little hexagons and making little fabric hexies.





I sat down one evening and started sewing and couldn't believe how quickly you can make millions of these little things.  Then I decided I needed to see how easily they go together and I made a few of those (bottom photo).  I am going to applique them onto squares for a baby quilt after a get a few more.  I think they are so cute!

Of course, doing everything by machine these days is the way "it is done" but recently, however, I have noticed in the quilting magazines that there seems to be a trend toward handwork again so I decided to try it.  I wanted to buy the Marti Mitchell templates but I couldn't find them locally and they were pretty pricey so I opted for the Omnigrid 3" square template set which has a square, a half square triangle and a quarter square triangle template.  They are heavy acrylic with the seam allowance already included.  I also bought a quarter inch ruler to mark my sewing lines.  I put the whole thing aside for a week or so until the other night I decided to give it a go.  I fished around in one of my many drawers of fabric and found some pre-cuts that I wasn't in love with -- not sure why I bought them except to maybe have some experimental fabric -- you don't really want to experiment with quilt store fabric -- that stuff is like gold.  Anyway, I did a bit of marking with a plain ol' mechanical pencil, did a bit of cutting and a little bit of stitching and this is the result.  This may end up being my first real scrap quilt!

front of some really random fabrics sewn into four patches

backs of same four patches

Front of quarter square triangles

Backs of quarter square triangles -- clearly not ironed yet

So, that is what I have been up to the last few days -- I even opted to do this rather than look at the snow last night! This is truly addictive and very relaxing.  I might never get a quilt finished but at least it is cheaper than therapy!