Friday, June 28, 2013

Some small progress

I am slowly getting my quilt quilted.  It is taking me MUCH LONGER than I anticipated to finish this quilt.  I am a bit more than half way done, but ran into the problem of the backing shifting on me.  I laid out the quilt again and repinned it, ugh!  But, it is still shifting a bit.  I will keep working on it between chauffeuring duties.  My children have had camps at opposite ends of the county this week.

In the meantime, I did get my pillows finished.  I have two square European pillows for the bed that we use to lounge on while we read or watch a movie.  I wanted to get new covers made for those.  Originally, I had thought to use flower prints that I made in the main quilt, but as I got started and was laying the quilt out on the floor I decided that I did not like them mixed in.  Having the flower prints mixed in the main quilt made it too busy looking for my taste.  We have a very spare and modern house, somewhat Scandinavian in feel, so I like spare looking pieces.  So as not to waste the prints, I used two of them in the pillows.  These are prints that I made late last summer.

I used the prints in the middle of the pillow top, and then used the scraps I had left from the quilt to surround them in the log cabin type of layout.  I then sewed them onto a cotton muslin and then made the pillows from this fabric. To fasten the back, I reused the buttonbands from two white shirts.   I know that the fabrics don't match exactly, but the button bands are on the back of the pillows and will not be seen.  Plus, as an "old fashioned" quilter, I prefer to use "old" materials rather than buy new, plus I hate making buttonholes and these served me well.

Finally, I then sewed the binding on around the pillows.   I do admit I bought new fabric for the binding.  Otherwise, I already had the white fabric for the pillows and quilt back left from another project from years ago when I was lining curtains.  And, the shirts were damaged ones from my husband in one of our favorite colors, blue.  (yes, I know, how boring to have the same favorite color as most other people on the planet, but I can't help but love the color of the sky and the deep blue sea!)  Here are the pillows in place, just calling me to use them to finish my latest read, The Language of the Hive by Laurie King.  (Here is a plug for these books.  I don't usually read mysteries anymore, especially since Dick Francis passed away, but I found this intriguing looking book in the new section of my library and looked it over.  The premise is that Sherlock Holmes has retired to the country and meets a very smart teenager and takes her on as an apprentice.  The teenager grows into a young woman named Mary Russell, and comes of age just as WWI begins.  These books are fun, well written, and witty.  I decided to start with the first of the series rather than the one I found in the new book section.  If you are interested, the first book is The Beekeeper's Apprentice.)

Now, back to sewing on my quilt.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

New Quilt

Well, I have fallen well short of my goal to post about redoing my wardrobe.  I should have known I would.  I have to say I do lack a certain discipline when it comes to work.  I work better under hard deadlines.  I also have a tendency to jump around.  I am always amazed at those people that can work with singular determination and concentration on one subject, be it quilting, painting or a particular field of study such as genetic algorithms.  I get, not so much bored, as worn out and needing a change of venue rather than sticking to one thing with single mindedness.

But I digress.  The point being, I have not worked on any wearables in weeks.  The end of the school year is upon me.  I worked all week in the school doing end of year kind of activities with different grades, I have run my son here and yonder to soccer practice, and have tried to get a few things together to send to school for end of year parties and other such things.  I have one more full day of school which gives me one more full day to myself, then summer is here.  I will have little time for weaving or quilting, and will spend a lot of time in the car shuffling children to camps.  I won't miss having to get up at the crack of dawn to get lunches ready and drive to school.  I love a slower pace.  My daughter sure won't mind the longer mornings, she is a little night owl who hates to go to bed and hates to get up early.

In the meantime, I ordered new sheets for our bed, something I haven't bought in years.  The old ones were wearing out, so I replaced them with linen sheets.  Summer is almost here and our down comforter is just a bit too hot to sleep under.  Last year I decided I would make a quilt for our bed and started cutting up old dress shirts that my husband had worn out and that I had been stashing away for a couple of years.  The pieces then sat for a while until last month, motivated by my new sheets I started cutting out pieces again.

 I had seen a beautiful pillow in a magazine years ago made by a quilter named Richard Killeaney.  He was featured in Organic Living magazine years ago, and I cut out the article and saved it.  The magazine went defunct years ago, but is now reincarnated as Motherearth Living magazine.  You can read the article online here,  and here is the photo that got me started thinking about a men's shirt quilt.

The pillow sitting on top of the stack is made from men's shirts.  I loved the look and it stuck in my mind as a project that I might someday get around to doing.  Once I started to think about the quilt, I searched for images online and found another image of a quilt he had done with men's shirts.   I thought this quilt was stunning.  So I set out to make something similar with the shirts that I had onhand.  You can find more of Richard's work here

I cut out 3 inch strips from all the dress shirts I could find, my husband's and my son's.  For a california king quilt I used 10 men's shirts and two boy's shirts.  I ended up sewing it into two sections.  The quilt is about 93 inches long and 105 inches wide (42 strips 2.5 inches wide once sewn together).
Once I had the two sections sewn I laid them out on the floor and found that the one that I had just thrown together was pretty much square, and the one I had started with and sewn with care was totally skewed.  I had already spent two weeks trying to get the quilt top put together, now I had to spend two days taking it apart and two more days getting it square.  I finally got it somewhat square and then search the internet for the best way to put the thing together.  The suggestion was to lay it out and tape it to the floor.  So that is what I did.  I vacuumed the floor, because goodness knows it wasn't clean, and then used a tape measure and string to lay it out square.

Once done with that I put the wool batting on top and spread it out evenly and neatly, and finally I spread out the backing which is a plain cotton cloth.

Finally, to hold it all together, I had purchased 300 quilting safety pins for the job.  I ran out about 3/4 of the way through and had to scrounge for more around the house, but it finally got together.

Now, I am finally quilting the thing.  I thought about having someone else do it on a long arm machine, which may have been a good idea.  But, I didn't want to wait for someone else to get around to quilting it, and I didn't really want to shell out the money to have it done.   I have to admit my quilting skills with something this big are not too good.  I have a bunch of not to straight lines.  Managing a quilt this big in a regular sewing machine  is challenge.  But I am sure that I am the only one (at least I hope so) that is going to realize where all the goofy lines are.  

 At this point, I am almost halfway done.  I have quilted in the ditch, and then down the middle of the stripes.  Next, I will take it to pick out a binding fabric.  I will post the photographs of it when I am done and it is on the bed with my lovely new indigo sheets.