Karen writes about life as a Quiltmaker in Austin, Texas; surviving in an empty nest, marriage, cooking, gardening and (did I say?) Quilting...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Good Quilt - That "Finished!" feeling...

"Log Cabin for a Friend"
 One of the best days a quilter has is always the day the quilt is finally finished. It's a day for pictures (for posterity mainly, but also to jog the aging memory down the road!), and also for reflection.

To that end, I'll post several pictures, and share a bit of my thought and work process on this quilt. It started as a means of using up some scraps, and a bit of a guilty feeling that I have not used some new tools bought at last year's Quilt Festival.  I also wanted to make a longtime personal and family friend, who's visited with us in the fall.

I've always wanted to do a log cabin based quilt, and My new year's resolution this year was to hone some skills and try to make a dent in the huge collection of scraps from years gone by and that regretful purchase some years back of a defunct long arm business' scraps (what  a mess - and another story).

A friend staying with us began the genesis of the desire to make a quilt for a gentleman... and so it began. He was allowed color choices, and he favors blue and tan/browns. And, since I like Reds, the red in the cabin centers and borders were a must. Let the quilt begin!

I used Marti Michell's Log Cabin Ruler and highly recommend it. Her book, Log Cabin ABC's was my source for technique. The "logs" are 1" which required 1-1/2 inch strips. Cut lengthwise, and cut to fit. This meticulous method really results in a flat, straight quilt. This sort of thing appeals to my occasional need for precision and control...something which I'm sure I must have inherited from my father - a meticulous Sign Painter. You haven't see precision until you've watch someone hand paint and gold leaf a name on a door... that today would rival something laser cut! I also think I was looking for a bit of control during a time of a bit of personal chaos... a quilt with lots of small pieces, requiring precision seemed just the Rx for the times.

The Quilting Begins

The piecing, 48 squares, with 15 strips each resulted in 720 pieces. Starting before Christmas, it took almost a month of evenings to piece, I originally was working towards at least 64 (8x8) blocks, but the routine nature of the project wore me out... and I decided on a timeless quilter's solution  - the replacement of  another round of blocks with a nice large border - the better to frame those lovely blocks - right!?

Several AAQG Workshops in this spring inspired my finishing: A Day long workshop with  Sharon Schamber got me thinking about how to add quilted feathers to the quilting design. I went into her workshop thinking to do a feathered border, and simply walking foot the blocks. Surprisingly, I came out of the workshop inspired to do something completely different: The blocks are quilted in free motion feathers, with the border done in an all over grid. Only the spines of the feathers were marked, with the feathers themselves entirely freehanded. The strips are used as a guide for each. It went fairly quickly. The grid posed other problems though. I decided to bury threads, and spent almost as much time hiding those ends as it took to do all the quilting! Next time I will do as Sharon advised, and just get it over during the quilting rather than waiting til the end.

Corner Detail
I was very happy with how easy the quilting went though, and how great it turned out. My Viking MegaQuilter performed perfectly.  I am soo happy with this machine as my go to quilter. Yes, I miss "red" my 1929's Singer 31-15, but she was just too temperamental to continue using. What is sad is that Viking had discontinued production of this model. I hope they aren't deserting the quilting machine market. Perhaps they'll just replace it with something better!

Finishing the Binding off with Piping and Blanket Stitch!

A workshop with Susan Cleveland on her great finishing techniques resulted in a tiny blue piped edge and a really, REALLY nice binding. I also used one of Sharon Schambers tricks: the use of  Elmer's WASHABLE School Glue to temporarily hold the binding in place on the back while I used a decorative blanket stitch on the front using my Designer Diamond. Using a tiny bead of glue and ironing the binding to the back provides  much better hold than using pins. It's virtually impossible to keep thing straight. Every time you pull a pin out, you get a tiny wobble... The "edge joining foot" kept everything in the right place as I sewed a blanket stitch from the front.  How's it look?

I decided to back the quilt with some appropriate odds and ends from my stash, with the musical fabric by Alexander Henry and the cherry prints "Life's a Bowl...." a nice bit of symbolism for my friend who loves music and life! My longtime friend, Russ Barnes will get his quilt AFTER I do the July AAQG July Show and Tell!
Back side of "Log Cabin for a Friend"
Label - A spare block, Machine Embroidered.
Feather Quilting Detail: Back
There must be a joke for quilter's about
 the "Two Best Days"... and one of them certainly is the day you finish a quilt... I'll think the other day is the day you see it hangin' in Houston. I'm happy to know both those feelings!   - Karen