Monday, March 4, 2013

Quilt My Heart Out

Alright, folks.

My sewing dabbling is being kicked up a notch. I'm officially throwing myself in deep...with blankets. Like quilting. And duvet covers. (Yeah, were you thinking coats and dresses? Are you new here?)

Last time I visited my parents, my mother begged asked me to bring my sewing machine for a weekend of fabric choosing and the soft whirring hum of a busy machine. Of course I complied and look at the beautiful result! 
I regularly watch the craft blog a compilation (pre-Pinterest days) of crafts from around the web- holiday, kid-friendly, crocheting, knitting, decorations, you name it, it's there. A few weeks ago, there happened to be a list of 30 simple (and FREE!) quilts- so I saved a bunch to look at later. 

While at my parent's I realized that as much as I had the desire and the determination to start a quilt...I lacked the resources. No fabric! Being a sewing newbie, I was astounded at the amount of effort (both monetary and time-wise) that goes into a project! Mom came through and let me peruse through her fabric stores (much like Barney's bag of crafts, anyone?) and pick out what I liked. Among all of the beautiful cotton prints and fun patterns I found an entire stack of similar-colored Christmas fabrics and the idea was born. 
I've crushed on the chevron fad as much as anyone, but I've been hesitant to put it to use anywhere in my house. So a small holiday quilt seemed perfect- I get to use a bunch of fun fabrics I wouldn't normally choose and I can commit to the chevron only for a season- just to make sure I like it. 

Following this tutorial, I chose 9 alternating red and ivory/cream colored fabrics- some fun, others serious. (This also matched the bulk of my Christmas decorations!) We ran down to the local fabric store (The Crazy 9 Patch: a small farmhouse that's been renovated with shelves and shelves of fabric and a large teaching area with space for classes) and grabbed a cotton print in varying shades of green. We totally lucked out because we forgot my printed fabrics, but the green was PERFECT! My mother is a color-coordinating machine.

Once home I ironed.
And ironed.
And ironed.
Sewing is so much ironing. This is actually a good thing, because it encourages me to slow down and think about my project (something I have a hard time remembering to do).

Then you cut (so much geometry, too!) all the strips needed (9x2 patterns + 18 background) your pieces.
Then you sew each patterned strip to a background strip (green) so you have 18 pieces total.
Mo' measuring, mo' cutting, less problems.
Once you have strips, cut them into 5.5 x 5.5 inch blocks, 14 blocks per row. Arrange the blocks in the pattern. Chase all of the dogs in the house AWAY from your pattern- the ones who actually live here know the wrath of mom and her quilting. The ones who don't (RIPLEY) will try to chew bones all over your fabric. This must not happen. 
Sew, sew, sew. This part was the most fun, but also the most tedious. You have to line up each square and the seams, making sure that everything is straight and CORRECTLY PATTERNED. We may or may not have seam-ripped occasionally (my delete button). My mom taught me a trick once you're done sewing each diagonal strip: to iron the fabric of one strip "up" and the other strip "down" so that when you match each strip together, the seams will meet together but won't be bulky. This didn't quite work like we planned (because of the middle seams of the blocks), but it was helpful knowledge.  
After sewing most of the day and deep into the night, I was determined to have this sucker done by the time I went home! Only the front, that is...
This is not how the pattern should look first diagonal row was one square off!
The only hiccup I ran into was when I realized I had added one square too many to the wrong end of the zigzag pattern- while all the other ends lined up on the right, I was missing an entire block...found on the other end of the zigzag. Seam rip, re-pin, re-sew and trim! 
Now that I have the front officially trimmed and square and lookin' neat, I need to find batting (that inside stuffing) and pin the whole thing together. A quilt is a fabric sandwich: the top, the stuffing (thick or thin) and the backing. Safety pin the layers together so they won't slide when you quilt, then bind the edge to finish it off. So while I've created a beautiful front in only a day, this might be a project that lasts a bit longer than that (next time I visit). 
But so far, it was so easy! I could make these all day! And go cross-eyed doing it....The chevron pattern was a little complicated to keep straight- and that's with a floor big enough to hold the whole thing. I can't imagine how I'll do this in my own home when floor space is non-existent. 

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Mrs. E