Tuesday, 29 July 2008

a bit of quilting

Dear Lene,

I'm so sorry. I realize that I've 'dropped the ball' on my end of the blog here lately. It's really just the excitement/worry/planning that going away on a big trip entails. I haven't talked about it much on Fine Stitches, but my planning for the trip to Iceland (I leave on Friday) is just consuming me. I rarely go anywhere, and a trip like this (a big one for me, at least) is taking way more of my time and energy than I really expected. I think you knew otherwise, but were kind enough not to make me nervous by warning me.

A while ago, I took a few pictures of a quilt that I made a few years ago. It's primarily quilted, with minimal piecing. I think if I were to sum up my favorite thing about quiltmaking, it's hand quilting.

This quilt was finished in April 2008. I called it (Not Quite) Twelve Bars, and the piecing is copied from a quilt in Amish Kinder Komforts by Sara Miller. (It's also shown in Amish Crib Quilts from the Midwest.) The quilt is now in the collection of the International Quilt Study Center, and can be seen online HERE.

This is the front of the quilt. It's mostly diagonal cross-hatching, with two feathered wreaths in the center. The borders are undulating feathers. I know I made my quilt before the second book (mentioned/linked above) came out - the first book had less clear pictures of the quilting, and so I just did whatever I felt was right.

Here's a closeup of the border.

And here's a picture of the back - also pieced. I have to admit, this quilt served as a valuable lesson. I used a batting for it that I had never tried before. The batting had gotten good reviews, and so I bought some and used it for this quilt - without trying it out ahead of time.

This was a huge lesson. The batting, 100% cotton (I can't or won't remember the brand or name right now - I think I've blocked it out of my mind) was new to me. And unfortunately, had a tendency to have small lumps in it, which with my dark-solid fabrics pulled out to the front of the quilt every few stitches. It caused little white 'pills' on the front of the quilt. "Bearding", to the extreme.

Never again, never, will I use a batting for an extensive quilting project without trying it out or test-quilting with it ahead of time. I managed to shave or snip off most or all of the offending little lumps from the front of the quilt, and it's been washed - but only once.

At the very least, I won't be trying new battings out without at least a resounding recommendation from another hand quilter. Ever since that project, I've stuck with tried and true battings, ones that I'm familiar with and know the properties of, at least for heavily quilted quilts like this one.

There's another cautionary story related to this quilt - about disintegrating black fabrics. But I'll have to save that for another post. Hopefully I'll be back to more of a normal routine after I get back from my trip in mid-August. I feel guilty about not writing more here, and not doing more work on my Tulip quilt, but life has intervened recently (in a good way - no complaints).


Sunday, 20 July 2008

Almost too bright

Dear Cassie,

Oh, it has been a while since I wrote. First I left to the bookbinding course to the south of Finland and while I was away you were knitting for your trip to Iceland – you lucky one! I know your trip is coming close and you need to prepare your thoughts to be able to enjoy the woolly island the most.
I don’t quite know how you do this to me, but since you picked up the knitting needles, me, the copycat followed right behind you and started knitting again – a lot. Then you talked a bit about spinning and here I am finding myself obsessed with spinning lace weight… I am not blaming you, actually I am having the time of my life with all the crafts, but this is more or less how it went. Once again, you lead the way, I follow behind ;-).

I have put few stitches on the Piney Quilt but none on the Yellow Flowers. I had two Piney blocks prepared and I thought that I would start sewing them but then I realized that I had cut the stems the wrong way. And sometimes the smallest things can grow to be huge obstacles. I am thinking of cutting the pieces to the flowers so that I can start sewing them together and the same time I can sort out my red fabrics. Again, I had no idea I had so many.

I was organizing my photographs the other day and I came across some bright pillows I made a long time ago. There is no better time to upload them than now, in the middle of the summer when even up here the scenery is filled with different bright colours and there are plenty of birds.

Maybe you should go and get your sunglasses…!



Thursday, 3 July 2008

bindings and such

Dear Lene,

I know it's been a while since I wrote - I'm afraid that your being gone for a week has made it hard for me to write anything here. It almost feels like I'm talking to myself (although of course I realize that the blog isn't private and that there are other people reading it).

Right before you went away, you said in an email to me, "Don't worry about the blog nor sewing. Take a break from quilting if you feel like it and spin and knit and relax that way." -- I'm afraid I really took your words to heart. I've spent the last four days maniacally knitting a sweater. A silly sweater (lace) that will be fairly useless for warmth in Iceland, even in August.

But I promised some finished things. Unfortunately, I only have one so far, but I'm working towards a goal of finishing up some old projects as well as working on the tulip appliqué project.

I put bindings on two quilts - the first isn't quite finished yet. It's a quilt I made a few years ago, and the fabrics were so busy I decided to have it simply machine quilted by my friend Bonnie at Quiltville.It's just a simple double four-patch quilt, in two fabrics.

I didn't have enough of the blue left over for the binding, so I chose a solid red. Unfortunately, it's really too hot here right now to work on the binding - it's a twin sized quilt and I'm afraid that our summer weather is making it impossible for me to even think about having it on my lap to finish up the handwork for the binding.

However, I did finish one very small quilt. This was a class sample for an "Amish" color and design workshop I used to teach. Somehow, it got completely finished (with the exception of the binding) and sat around with raw edges for a few years.

I really love this quilt. It's made in Cherrywood hand dyed fabrics, with some from other companies as well. Now that it's completely done, I have no idea why I didn't put the binding on sooner - it only took me part of one morning.

Here's a detail shot of the hand quilting.

I wish there were piles of other projects just lying around that only needed binding. I'm afraid that all of the others are unfinished hand quilting projects, for the most part. I'm very tempted right now to work on a few of them, but I think appliqué is probably the most suitable for the summer heat.

I'm looking forward to your return, and hoping that you are having wonderful time while you're away.