Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Quilt That grew

Teasel admires the new quilt while I set up to put on the binding.

The huge [108" x 128"] quilt spread over the extension of my sewing desk and across two chairs, trailing on the floor.

Here it is finished and spread on our wide and high "lodgepole" bed.

Teasel is so beautiful. Her distinctive presence enhances the quilt.

Close up of the stitching pattern [free-hand] used by Sabrina, our machine quilter.
I was inspired last spring to create what a friend of my daughter would call a summer "outfit" for our bed. Customers often leave quilting magazines at the shop and I noticed this very simple pattern in one. The idea was to use up scraps of surplus fabric--something we fabric "collectors" always have. The instructions were for an 8" block. For reasons that now totally escape me, I decided to redraft it to 9 inches. I pulled out stacks of pretty floral fabrics and crouched on the floor for most of a long evening slicing strips of cloth. [I don't usually sit on the floor to rotary-cut fabric and can testify that it is NOT a sensible thing for an aging woman to do!]
I had about 2/3 of the blocks done--ridiculously simple--when I decided that I was terribly bored with the project. I stuffed the thing into the closet, then, several times, took it out, worked on it, decided that quick and easy "big blocks" are not what I really enjoy. When I began at last to lay out the blocks, I didn't like the pattern layout and added "sashing and cornerstones." By this time, the unwieldy thing was haunting me. During a fit of insomnia, I sat at the kitchen table, circled by interested felines, and drew alternate layouts, fed numbers into the calculator and thought I had a plan. The next sessions of stitching the long rows together made me suspicious that 2 a.m. is not the time for math-challenged quilt makers to plot a project.
By then I had named the quilt "Big Ugly". Gone was the conept of flower gardens laid out around a sunny yellow center, separated by paths--the way I had first envisioned the pattern working. There is about a 6 week wait while our machine quilter works her way through the projects signed in at the shop. I didn't have to look at the quilt during that time. I picked it up two weeks ago when she finished the quilting, put it in the closet out of sight until the "get it done" spirit seized me this morning. It took 2 +1/4 hours to apply the binding---that's twice around the perimeter of 472 inches, so allowing that I redid a few inches that weren't quite right, 944+ inches of stitching. The cats got tired of waiting for me to be done and curled up in the trailing wodge of fabric, disgruntled when I hauled in another length and they were spilled out.
In this house, no such thing as a quilt without cat hair.
I suppose since it is no longer summer a "winter outfit" for the bed should be my next goal. There seems to be a goodly fabric stash in waiting.


  1. Hullo MM,

    Beautiful colours.


  2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that combination of colours and it looks so straightforward even I could manage something like that. I'm sure it was worth all the hassle in the meantime but oh boy, sewing that binding on sounds like hard work - I hope there was something good on the radio!

    What a beautiful - and photogenic - cat Teasel is.

    The dark grey tom cat is STILL hanging around here and looked me right in the eyes without running off scared this morning (he was t'other side of the window). I hate to admit I gave him some cat biccies . . . I have been chasing him off all summer as he's just out to rape and pillage . . . Danny calls him Boldr . . . he's into Scandinavian mythology.

  3. Firstly ...doesn't Teasel look beautiful ... and secondly ....that quilt is wonderful ... it is so rustic and homely and would brighten up a room matter the season.

    As for cat hairs ... everything gets covered ... black things worst of all and never really are ever free from it matter how hard I try. Its part of life if you love and house more than a couple of fantastic felines.

    Have been doing some FH and have just found 13 children of a distant ancestor, all born in the years 1766 to 1788 was so exciting ...bless the internet and the mormans!

  4. What a lovely quilt! it might be just the ticket to have on your bed when it's cold and dark out. It was interesting to hear how it evolved, too. Do you handsew the binding on both sides?? I'm considered something of an "old timer" for handsewing even one side of the binding.

    And Teasel is a gorgeous kitty, showing herself off to full advantage, as kitties do. What pretty eyes! and that pink nose with its black outline! Sweet!

  5. Hi Quiltcat: I think your name is Paula[?] I don't usually hand sew binding unless the project is very small. Many of the quilters in our group machine sew the binding to the quilt, then turn it and hand sew the back edge. The "binder" for the shop where I work part time machine sews everything. I do that--not quite as tidily as she does, but I'm getting better. Most of my quilts are made with heirloom cotton batts--if I use a poly batt [because someone like my daughter requests it] then I have to baste the back edge of the binding before machine stitching it--which is a pain!
    Thank you for stopping by--I'm sure you've guessed that I sigh and then allow the cats to wreck the quilt!