Quilting: three quilts

I’ve been away for a few days, working elsewhere and on other projects. But it was time to return home, and get back to work.

I finished the tops of these three quilts almost a month ago… NO, it’s exactly a month ago.  Today I got to finish them.  I need to work on my edge-binding techniques.  I still don’t get it right.

And I’m eternally grateful to Beehive Sewing for teaching me how to sew in the first place, and giving me the confidence in my abilities to tackle projects like these. (Fiber Arts Boston Resource and Innovation Center [FABRIC] is also a great place to learn to sew). It’s a good idea, if you’re new to sewing, to take a basic introductory class, and then a few supplemental classes. That’s often enough to get you started with some sophisticated work. Not always, but usually. 

So these quilts are done. What can I say about what I’ve learned?

First, the edge-binding process is difficult. There are a dozen ways to do it, all of them are fiddly and require a lot of attention.  I often don’t have enough patience for the finishing, though I’m getting better.  It’s meditative, really, when you get into it for real.  At the same time, it’s a lot of fussing with a fiddly double-folded strip of fabric that doesn’t ever want to do quite what you want it to do.  So I need to get better at that.

How do you get better at it? Make more quilts, curiously enough. Do it more times. Try again, read a few articles, fail, and try again.

Second, the question of pattern is exceptionally complicated.  If you look at the first quilt, in black and white, you can see that I attempted to create a pattern with my black and white striped squares. That’s great, as far as it goes.  But if you look in closer detail, it emerges that the black and white fabrics have their own sub-patterns. It’s not just black and white; it’s black and white with subtle contrasts. And at a distance, it makes the overall design… murky, even random.

That’s less true with the first quilt with blocks of color.  Joann Fabrics effectively chose these colors for me, when they packaged them in a set.  I don’t think it worked out too badly, but it’s still a little wonky.

The blue-black-gray-white quilt, I think is my favorite.  It sort of has a boyish vibe to it.  Yet it’s got some floral elements to it, so it’s not completely ‘masculine’ as our current society understands it. Again, some pattern-issues emerge when I look at photographs of it that I didn’t see when I was making it.  And I need to learn to do a better job with quilting a quilt — stitching the three layers of a quilt together.  This is something that takes a lot of patience and practice, I’m discovering.

The last photograph shows one of my feet sticking into the frame.  In some ways this is an error, but it also gives you a sense of their size.  It’s not purely 30×40″, an infant-size quilt should be… I’m struggling a bit with the question of sizing of quilts, I admit.  But it’s still a good marker of the size I’m working with.   I’ve found that it’s a bit difficult for me to work with larger sizes than this, underneath the needle of my new machine, though. So I have to think about whether this is the largest that I’ll go, or whether I’ll try my hand at making a queen-sized quilt.

I’ll likely be posting two of these quilts to my Etsy store as For Sale items later this week, along with some tool-roll pencil cases.

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