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Monday, June 15, 2009

I Gave Up Painting For Quilting ~ Part 1

I have been sitting on this project for a while... Keeping quiet for a couple of months while I work on it in secret.
Now, that the quilt(s) are complete, I can share the story. Also, in the nine years I have been sewing, I have never documented a project from beginning to end. I tried to this time.... I got most of it. I did not get any pictures while the quilt was actually getting quilted at Quilt-N-Sew. Bad timing.
The story behind this Memory Quilt:
A good friend of mine has 2 daughters, Allison and Annie. Both girls and the Mom are attorneys. Allison married Shelby about 15 years ago. Shortly after that, Shelby's Mom passed away after a river rafting trip of an unknown disease. It was VERY unexpected and still undiagnosed. The day of her Memorial Service, Shelby's Dad dropped all of her clothing off at a second hand store.
Well.... My friend wanted a piece of her clothing to save... So one of HER friends spent a couple days going through all the stores merchandise until she finally came up with a baby blue shirt of Shelby's Mom!!!
This shirt was cleaned, pressed and then stored out of sight, out of mind for NINE years in the back of the bottom drawer....
Here is the shirt before I started cutting. I really liked the pin tucks down the front, kinda like a tuxedo shirt. When added to the quilt, it gives dimension and interest. You all know how I enjoy interest, texture and dimension in my work. LOL


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So now I kinda wanna share HOW I make quilts. Just keep in mind that I am self taught and I take or make shortcuts. I just wing it, I guess. If any of you reading this are REAL quilters, please do not discipline me. I do the best I can. :0)



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All the supplies and tools I would be working with. Including a published book of short stories and poems pulled together after being discovered on Grammy's computer.


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First, I had to carefully cut the main attraction of this quilt into perfect 5" X 5" squares. The buttons had to go, as well as the buttonholes.

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I use my straight edge and rotary cutter to get them perfect.


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After cutting a 5 inch strip of fabric, I then line that strip up and take off the selvage and cut at 5 inch intervals to make 5 inch squares. Just basic.


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I love my cutting mat, straight edge and rotary. I used to cut by hand and none of my squares would match. LOL Not only that, but it was very time consuming.

Once all my squares are cut and stacked, I can start making a pattern. I like to choose which fabrics compliment each other as well as those that conflict, or add depth. Making sure the balance of the finished product is right is almost as time consuming as making it.
Here is the grid system I use when doing my layout. It allows me to see which fabrics will touch and it looks like a mini version of the finished product.

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Once satisfied with the layout, I stack each row and then stack them. One little neat stack of 5 inch squares!!

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I love this pic.

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Starting with the first row, I sew one strip of squares together, always with right sides together. Sometimes I used my serger, but this time I wanted to be sure my seams were all exactly 1/4 inch, and durable. I don't always trust my serger for strength like I do my New Home digital machine. Everyone has their preferences.

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I line up my finished strips, or rows, as I call them. When all of the rows are complete, they will be stacked in opposite order with the bottom row on the top.
Don't forget to iron all seams flat, or the quilt will end up with puffy squares instead of flat ones.

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I lay the next row to be attached face down over the bottom row, lining up the center square, and stitch together using a 1/4 inch seam.
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Once all rows are together, I iron from the back to make the seams flat, then I trim away all the loose threads and strings to make the back pretty. :0)
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Almost done with the top!!! Can smell the finish line!!
Since you can never be perfect, the edges of the quilt need to be evened. Fold the top in half and trim the edges to match.
((The next step is not pictured))
To finish the top, I used a light weight denim that I bleached a light blue to match the shirt. I cut 4 - 3inch strips and attached them to the perimeter of the patchwork to frame up, or contain the inside design. I always feel that a quilt looks like it would just go on and on if it were not contained with that little piece of framing. So, you will find that all my quilts are framed in just a little bit, so they look finished.

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Done for the day!!!
I gathered up my quilt top, my batting and the backing to get over to the quilt shop. They will layer all three parts and use a large machine to sew all three together, making this quilt an indestructible piece. It will last forever, through wash after wash and can be handed down through many generations in its new family.