Thursday, October 8, 2009

Working From Home

Stenciled motifs have been cut to size [3 1/2"] and two squares of fabric laid together and gridded for making components of "quarter-square triangles."

Stitching each side of the gridded lines.

Cutting apart the resulting units.

A finished quarter-square-traingle unit being trimmed to exact size.

The finished wall quilt [25"x 25"] after being machine quilted and bound. I attached the binding by machine and finished it by hand.

The owner of the quilt shop where I work part time, has a love affair with western-themed fabrics. Several years ago she entered into an arrangement with a fabric "rep" who twice yearly sends 5 yd cuts from the advance "run" of a new fabric collection. In return, we design, or modify existing patterns, to create quilts which he can take to "market"--a huge national show which previews new fabrics, patterns and gadgets to wholesale buyers. We have previously had about a 7-14 day turn around from the time the fabric is received until the finished items must be shipped. It is not a time that we look forward to with huge enthusiasm, as it means long hours, bringing work home to meet the deadline.
Prior to receiving the yardage we have no idea of the colors or design elements involved in the current collection. We have come to anticipate that many of the motifs will be large and/or directional in style requiring to be "fussy cut" to best advantage. [Fussy cutting is just what the term implies--time-consuming positioning and cutting to free an image of a horse, a bull, a cowboy, rather than random strip cutting.]
In short, these are not fabrics which a beginning quilter can best use.
We had word two weeks ago that the newest fabrics were "out" and we braced for the race against time, looking at back issues of quilting magazines or fabric ads for inspiration. Days went by, the fabric didn't arrive and we began to make frantic noises of "How are we going to get this done?" On Tuesday I went in to the shop to find that the fabric had arrived mid-morning--and that our samples had to be mailed out on Thursday. The fabric rep had graciously conceded the obvious--that there wouldn't be time for the pieces to be quilted and bound.
I chose to work with a "panel" which was comprised of a large design of horses [I didn't use those] and several different "border" elements, including the small black silhouettes. I picked up the three shades of mottled/checked pink and the black from the accompanying coordinates. I had to abandon my initial concept when I discovered that the small black motifs were not evenly spaced along the border. I grumbled bitterly and stood staring at the fabric hoping for inspiration. When another idea struck, I pulled a quilt book from the shelf and reviewed the method, complete with math charts, for making quarter square triangles. This method creates 8 at a time and I needed 16. Once I had made these units it actually was fun to piece the center rows and then play with the border "stripes" cut from the panel. I ended up rather pleased with my creation. Since it was a small quilt designed to use as a wall hanging, my boss took it home and quickly quilted it on her long-arm machine, then ran it out to my house so I could do the binding.
Meanwhile, being a day ahead [!] I cut chunks of the other fabrics in the pink and green colorways and using a pattern from a quilting magazine put together a twin bed sized quilt--about 8 hours from cutting to sewing on the borders. It was not to my taste--large clunky pieces and nothing challenging or inspiring in the process, but it does showcase some of the fabrics. My daughter came in and saw it spread out and said she would like one--it is apparently a style which inspires a younger generation.
I didn't take a photo of that one. I showed it to my co-workers, who have each finished a lovely quilt in two days, and everything went into the box for the fastest means of shipping.
I came home, made spaghetti for lunch and announced that I was done for the day. I turned my back on the grumpish weather and snugged up in my battered wing chair with a large mug of tea, a large attentive cat [Mrs. Beasley] and finished the latest Diana Gabaldon. Of course the book ended with all the major players in life-threatening situations and we must wait 3 more years to learn their fate!


  1. Hullo MM,
    Looking at the photos i was intrigued by all the mathematics apparently going on before I got thropugh to the text. - I'm quite visual really. But that doesn't mean that although I recognised the geometry and the like that I ever liked maths at school. I hated it and had to work hard against that lack of appeal and inspiration to pass exams. I have also been of the opinion that in reality apart from Arithmetic, maths is of very little use. So, I gues, Your post proves me wrong.

    Don't worry. Many women have done that to me over the years!

    kind regards.......Al. lol

  2. That is an amazing piece of work, as does the other that we did not see, sound... everyones tastes are the chap was in wonder that you all finished them.

    From your pics I am beginning to see how it works BUT there still is so much work to it and only very skilled hands like yours could create these works of art.
    My sort of scrapping is childs play againt what you make.

  3. Math has never been my forte. I can manage enough to halve or double a recipe, sometimes balance a checkbook or nowadays to draft a simple quilt block to a standard size. I HATED maths in school and as my parents had both been clever with arithmetic, they wondered aloud how they had begotten such a dumby!