Friday, December 7, 2012

Quilt Blocks Recycled

Last Thursday daughter G. reminded me that the baby shower for our friends'
daughter was being held on Sunday.
At some point in time I'd been aware of that and thought, 'I should make a quilt for Ellie's baby.'
With the baby's arrival a comfortable 2 months away, the project wasn't on my front burner.
When G. relayed that Ellie's Mom was particularly hoping I would attend, my brain went into high gear.
In the wee hours of Friday morning I was considering what I might quickly produce.
With breakfast cleared away, I headed downstairs to my big sewing room, built a fire and began poking about in boxes.
I was considering that my best option might be to cut strips and create 9-patch blocks, when
I happened upon a box of 'Flying Geese' left from a gift quilt created perhaps a decade ago.
At that point my preferred way of sewing was to slice up piles of fabric, put in a CD and start winging through a great number of blocks. When I had stitched up an over-whelming amount of them I began experimenting with different setting, often making a large quilt and then several smaller projects.

The quilts I have made for babies are simply smaller versions of traditional patterns.  I don't do pastel and I don't do 'cutesy.'
I tumbled the Flying Geese out of the box and discovered there was a satisfying assortment. I laid out 5 rows and began stitching them together, adding the vertical strips of a rust/red fabric in a print of tiny houses--something I'd had in my 'stash' for several years.
Needing to balance that section, I made a row of geese for the top of the quilt.  I added a plain bottom border of the red print--if I'd had more time to plot this out, I would have pieced another border--possible turned some of my 'geese' in the top strip in opposing directions.
By the time I needed to quit sewing and prepare supper, the quilt top, 48 inches square, was complete.
Saturday evening I drove to Wal Mart--our only shopping option--to buy a batting--from their very limited selection.
I laid out the quilt sandwich, hand basted, and then put a big safety pin in each 'goose' for good measure.

I wanted a flannel backing and rootled through yet another bin for this sprigged navy blue fabric.
Having such a contrast between the fabrics on the front and back of  the quilt meant different color threads for bobbin and needle--a recipe for problems.
In spite of adjusting tension and experimenting on scraps, there was just a tinge of the blue thread pulling through to the top in places. I would have much preferred a neutral hued backing.
With the tension adjustment as fine as I could make it, I began stitching along the edges of the red strips.
I find this very fatigueing--an hour or so of stitching and my shoulders feel as though I had been shoving heavy objects around on a resistant surface!
Sunday morning I tackled stitching around each 'goose' triangle.
I was pleased to see that all was going smoothly--no tucks or wrinkles front or back.
I finished the quilting with about 45 minutes to spare, and applied the binding strips.
I'm aware that quilting purists contend that hand stitching is the only way to finish a binding!
Since I have made a great many over-sized quilts I have usually machine finished the binding--hauling great wads of quilt through the machine, disentangling cats who have decided to take a cozy nap in the folds of trailing fabric.
Sometimes this process goes reasonably well--at other times it does not.
It was quickly apparent that this was one of the 'other times.'
I picked out stitches, started over. For whatever reason there were too many places where the stitching hadn't quite caught the binding strip on the back.
The cats came and looked at me.
J. stomped through to do something in the other part of the basement.
My son rang up.
"I am trying to finish a quilt!" I said, feeling mildly harrassed.
I hurried back to the sewing table.
The phone rang again.
It was G. 'Are you ready to go to the shower?'
I rubbed at my aching shoulders, tried to work the kink out of my neck.
I found a broom and swept up the pile of thread snippets, turned off the iron and the sewing machine.
I found a clean shirt, brushed and re-braided my hair.
I took an Advil!
I packed the quilt, along with my thread, scissors and needle, into a tote.
'You drive,' I said to G. [not something I usually suggest!] and found my second wind during the 10 minute drive to the party.
We were greeted with hugs, introduced to the guests we didn't know, handed plates and shepherded through the buffet of appealing food.
While Ellie opened her gifts, I sat and began hand finishing the binding.
I promised Ellie that she would have the quilt in a few days. I wanted to wash it with one of the color-grabber sheets to make sure the red fabric didn't run.
Ellie has the quilt now--a sturdy colorful quilt for a baby boy.
As usual I'm not quite satisfied with the workmanship. My Janome has a feature which ties off and clips the thread at the end of a seam.  This was handy for quilting the 'geese' as I could quickly move from one block to the next. The downside was that the neutral thread used on the top showed in the little tie offs on the back.
I also feel that I could have been more accurate in my starting and stopping points quilting around the geese, but--there you have it.

My other project of the week was comparatively leisured and simple.
My son, setting up housekeeping on his own these past sevral months, grumbled that he had no potholders. I offered to construct some, and went back to my assortment of 'extra' patchwork block.
I decided that by adding another round of 'logs' these chevron blocks would become decent-sized potholders.
While I had fabrics out, I hemmed some squares to be worn as 'neckerchiefs' by H.'s beloved Katie dog.
[If Katie doesn't like them, H. will have an odd assortment of colorful table napkins and Katie will have to make do with her tattered bandanas.]
Working with these blocks created 10 years ago, I realized that my accuracy in piecing has improved.
Practice, of course--I spent many hours stitching in my quilt shop job.
I expect that while  working with other clever quilt makers I absorbed various helpful hints--and I also wanted more than ever for my work to be equal to the high standards of the shop.
I still have a collection of stray blocks. They may yet come in handy for small experimental projects or practice at machine quilting.
If nothing else, I can turn out a collection of quilts for my cats!


  1. Gosh, You might feel that your work was not quite up to your usual standard, but I think you are just amazing and I am quite envious of your ability to accomplish so much so quickly and creatively!

    By the way, your Sadie could be a twin of my Callie, and Sallie is a pretty close match too.

  2. I love what you made! not only do I like flying geese, but your choice of colours are very much to my taste too.
    You did a great job with all those lovely points!
    I bet Ellie was delighted with her quilt.
    I was fascinated to know you have that feature on your Janome, how useful that must be.

  3. What a lovely quilt you created for the baby boy!

    I like those pot holders too.

    Have a nice weekend ~ FlowerLady

  4. I love the baby quilt and the story of how it went together. Isn't it wonderful to have such a stash of things that you can turn into beautiful and useful items.

  5. Love the flying geese blocks, MM. Very beautiful color choices. And your gifted talant.
    Have a wonderful weekend for creating.

  6. Love the quilt, as always I admire your skill and patience.

  7. Wow ...I love that quilt ...i think it will be kept long after it is not needed to be in use. You are so clever and the baby is so lucky.xx