Thursday, March 21, 2013

an entirely too long post containing all my many thoughts on my latest completed quilt

I finished a quilt.  It's another story quilt, like the one I showed you in this post.  It's for friends, again.  The next one I make will be for my boys.

I still love this pattern.  I love the idea of kids telling each other stories using it, or parents telling kids stories, or kids telling themselves or their parents stories.  I love the idea of families using this soft thing to keep themselves entertained and connected.  Love love love.  Even if nobody ever tells a story with this quilt, I think a kid would love studying all the different squares, each with a different little picture.  I just think it's a fun idea, and I'd like to make one for every special kid in my life, although many of them may be grown up by the time I get around to a quilt for them.

INCIDENTALLY.  I never told you guys that I had a serendipitous experience with these quilts.   Behold:  I found this pattern in a book by Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle in the Morton, IL library, before we moved.  I immediately wanted to make the story quilt.  I read the bio of Bill and Weeks and saw that they lived in Oak Park, IL.  A couple of months later, we found out we were moving to the Chicago area and we thought Oak Park would be a good fit for us.  The first time we came to Oak Park to check it out, we ate at Tasty Dog, walked by the post office and Unity Temple, then meandered through Scoville Park.  It was only when we walked through the park that we noticed the library was right there.  We walked in and fell in love with the amazing kids section  Then, on the wall in the storytime room, I saw THE story quilt.  The quilt from the book!  Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle had made this quilt to be photographed in their book, and then donated it to the library.  I was dumbfounded to see it hanging there on the wall.  And I'd be lying if I said it didn't endear Oak Park to me even more.  I know that in the realm of serendipity or coincidence it's not much, but it felt significant.
Story time room at the library, with the original quilt displayed.

The Kerr/Weeks original.

So, my first story quilt gave me a lot of trouble.  I had trouble piecing the top and there were a lot of very apparent mistakes in my piecing.  This time around, the top I pieced was flawless.  Well, not FLAWLESS, but pretty damn neat and tidy (for me).  A lot better than the first time around, let's just say that.  I learned from my mistakes on the first one.

My problems this time around were related to putting the quilt sandwich together.  Somehow my piece of batting was not big enough.  Still not sure exactly why that was.  But I didn't know what to do.  Can you sew together batting?  Do you just place pieces of it next to each other and that's that?  I've said it before and I'll say it again: QUILTING..... I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING.  When I realized the battling didn't quite cover my quilt top, I basically shrugged my shoulders.  I tried to stretch it a little, to no avail.  In the end I ended up chopping off a lot of the nice grey border of my quilt top, because the batting didn't come out to the end of the fabric.  Pretty sad but not fatal.

Basting was my other big problem this time around.  I clearly did a poor job of it because I had loads of trouble with puckers and folds on the back of the quilt.  I spent hours upon hours ripping out stitches to try to fix this problem once I realized it was happening.  Even after all the work I did trying to fix it, I still ended up with a few little puckers and folds on my completed project.  It's not that I'm aiming for perfection.  But I know that those kinds of errors can put undue stress on the threads holding the quilt together and I want my quilts to hold up for as long as possible.  Broken threads are the beginning of the end and I want to avoid them.  Next quilt I make, I'm going to try this method of basting and see if I have better luck.
I had these labels printed on spoonflower.com.  I love them!

Okay, last up, quilting.  I wanted to do some free motion quilting on this fella but my machine was just not cooperating.  I would love to have an experienced FMQ-er come to my house and help me address the issues I am having on my machine.  That or buy a new and super expensive machine that was made to do it.  That would solve all my woes.  But that won't be happening for many years, I imagine.  In the meantime, as long as FMQ is not working for me, I'll be doing straight line quilting.  "Straight line" quilting.  The quotes to infer that my lines are actually not straight at all.  They are pretty wonky.  But I'm okay with that.

One more thing.  Look at this back.  Note the grey stripe that holds the label.  That was meant to be straight, not slanted.  When I saw this picture I literally LOLed because I had not idea how crooked it was.  These are the things I need to learn.......  how do you square up huge pieces of fabric like that?  How do you have any idea whether things are lined up straightly when you make your quilt sandwich?  I am so clueless.  I really don't mind that it's crooked, it won't affect how much use my friends will get out of this quilt, so it's okay.  I just think it's funny that I my best efforts to make it straight resulted in this very crooked stripe. 

The best thing about this quilt, in my opinion, is the color palette.  I love the grey with the neon lime stripes, and I love the darker green binding.  And I love LOVE the big floral print on the back.  I hope my friends will like the colors too.  I chose the fabrics with them in mind, but taste in colors and patterns is so personal, I hope I didn't miss the mark. 

I hope this family will use their quilt to snuggle and play for many years to come.  This project is in the books.  On to the next. 

1 comment:

Reyes said...

Nice blog post and such a beautiful quilt Laura! I am not sure if I have told you about how my mom used to buy old quilts that she found at garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores, etc. She loved the history that they captured, even if she had no idea of what that history entailed! I love the idea of a story quilt! Really amazing work! (You must accept this compliment without any self-deprecating remarks, as I am your friend who has yet to sew on cub scout badges for 3+ years!)