Saturday, 12 September 2009

houston, we have a quilt

A year ago, when my mum was visiting, we shopped together at various thrift stores for the fabrics to make a quilt, inspired by the one on the cover of Vintage Fabric Style: stylish ideas and projects using quilts and flea-market finds in your home. My mum is visiting again and this evening I finished the quilt. Yes, absolutely finished the quilt, removed it from the 'I'm busy with' list, it is utterly and completely done. HOORAY!!

I estimate that it has taken me a year to make: the squares were cut out and some sewing was done at the end of last September; in October the top was all sewn up but it took me until December to deal with the batting; by the end of March this year I had the top and batting all pinned together and the backing ready to go; in early April, much sooner than expected the quilting was done; and then ... well, somewhere along the line I must have sewn the backing to the top/batting and that is where it remained until today.

What a story of delay and procrastination! Although, admittedly and in my defense, several of the, ah, pauses in production were the result of not knowing quite where to go next and some leisurely consideration of options and possibilities. I was put off at times by not knowing what to do next, but hey, I've made it through.

A couple of quick notes about the construction of this quilt:
  • I quilted only the top and batting together. This was because the top has so many different coloured squares and I wanted to use an appropriate thread colour on each but didn't want a riot of thread colours on the backing (because I always like to match my sewing and bobbin threads). It only occurred to me later that I could indeed have substituted in a different, matching-the-backing coloured thread in the bobbin. Oh well.
  • Following examples in Make Your Own Contemporary Quilts, I then sewed the top/batting and backing together, right sides facing, leaving a gap of about 20 centimetres. I then turned the quilt inside out and ... well, that was April.
Today, in the glow of my recent advances with the doily quilt, I finally stitched that opening together using blind stitch (which is kind of like mattress stitch for sewing). I also stitched the junctions in the pieced backing to the corresponding junction in the quilt top to anchor the whole thing together. I did this in four places. I could have done it in sixteen places but I chose four, that's it. And, last but not least, top stitched around the edge.

It was the details of this last one that has had me held up since April. I was struggling, again, with what colour thread to use. I had toyed with ideas of changing top-stitching thread colours for each of the squares on the top but finally took my friend Di's advice and just chose the darkest colour thread to go all the way around. However, I actually put this darkest thread into the bobbin and did the top stitching with the quilt backing uppermost in order to top stitch in red on the red sections and in blue on the blue sections (not Di's advice, my compromise).

Given all of the above I'm sure that you'll understand that making this quilt has been a real learning experience, but also a real thinking-it-through-and-figuring-it-out-for-myself-(and-asking-for-some-advice) experience. No wonder it took so long! And still, after all the hours that I have spent looking at it and thinking about it and thinking it through, I still love it.

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