When reverse sewing the quilt top, I photographed some of the less than perfect seams. There just isn’t any way the blocks will stitch together and make an even quilt.Being off 1/4 inch on one seam doesn’t seem like much, but multiply that by the number of pieces and blocks and that 1/4 inch is more like 3-4 inches off.
As my readers know, I frequent thrift shops for textile treasures. I spied this colorful batik Boston Commons quilt top across the aisle. A quick look at it didn’t show any rips, stains or bad odors so I decided it was purchase worthy.
Well, hello! After getting it home I noticed the corners. Yi-yi-yi-yi! The quilter/piecer tried a shortcut to stitch the sides to the common. Obviously it didn’t work and it didn’t fit. There will be a lot of reverse sewing going on. I am thankful that the quilter who made this did not cut off the ends at the corners. I think I may have some of the cream tone-on-tone in my stash if I need to add another border and I am sure I can find a good batik for a solid border.
There will be a lot of hours involved to get this ready to quilt. I am on a self imposed hiatus from art quilting and this project is just right for relaxing on the the deck, pick a little, sip a little tea, pick a little, sip a little tea.
I thought it would be fun for you to see a closeup of my very first full sized pieced and hand quilted quilt. I knew NOTHING! But that little tidbit has never stopped me once my mind is made up.
I had decided I wanted a bed quilt. I went to the new fabric store in town and was blown away with all the colors and patterns of fabric. I stacked bolts up in what I thought were pleasing colors. I bought my first rotary cutter set. I went home ready to just Do It!
I had no pattern so I just cut strips and started sewing. I had no idea how this was going to make blocks or what it would look like. I call this my Tootsie roll quilt.
I did not know the rules of quilting either. Can’t you tell by the stitches right up to the seam lines? I had no frame or hoop so this was entirely stitched on my lap without a hoop. It actually turned out that a few years later I taught classes on quilting without a hoop.
Knowing all the rules now I am sure I would have done things differently. And if I knew all the rules, this quilt would have never been created.
Every year the small town across Bull Shoals Lake has town wide garage sales. Its been OK sometimes but other times it is either the dirtiest stuff you’ve ever seen or someone buys commercial things and sets up a show room…not my idea of good sales. It was cold and rainy on Friday and Ron and I had some work to get done at home so we waited until Saturday to go across the dam..
The first place we stopped didn’t look like much but I spied a large jar I thought would be useful in the dye room so I hopped out while Ron kept the motor running…remember it was COLD! That jar was plastic so it wouldn’t do and I thought it was a wasted stop. Then I turned around and under a table was a bin of…….QUILT TOPS. Not vintage yet, but probably from the 90’s judging by the tiny floral calico fabrics used.
The lady said her mother was the quilter and she has over 200 finished ones. She begged me to take the quilts for $20 for the entire box. I didn’t take the time to look closely because they had to be worth a few dollars each, right? I whipped out a 20 and the lady stuffed some strip piecing templates, rotary cutter and mat and sewing machine attachments in the box. What a deal.
The box had 5 tops in it. 2 were king size, 2 twin/full and one baby. The twin/full ones could benefit from borders to make them queen size. I decided to keep this one and have it quilted. It has a modern quilt look to it. My friend Susan Berres is going to help me baste it. Then I should be able to quilt it on my Sunshine 16. There is nothing as cozy on cold nights as a cotton quilt!
This is the Kaffe Fassett quilt I am in love with. I’m not good at doing lots of similar blocks but I like the graphic appeal of this quilt. Since he uses color stories rather than saying ‘buy this much of this fabric” the quiltmaker has freedom in choosing fabrics.
I have been collecting for this one for about a year and finally feel like I have enough to get started. This graphic square piecing is pretty mindless and fits my mood right now. I need to work on some structured piece since my muse has left the building as far as art quilts are concerned.
The bottom photo shows the full range of fabrics. The flash burned it out a little but I hope you can see the lights and darks.
A conversation took place recently about how many art and contemporary quilters feel they aren’t accepted by their local guilds. Some even put their LQS [local quilt shop] in the mix, too. I have to say that sometimes what we art quilters do isn’t the norm and sometimes leaves others scratching their head with a quizzical look on their faces. On the flip side of that, I have that look when someone doesn’t understand what I’m doing and treats it like it is from another dimension. A few people thought some us of feel that way because we want adulation and applause for being so clever. That couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s why I’m writing this post.
Whether you lean towards what we now call traditional quilting or contemporary quilting, it is really all the same. We use time honored techniques such as piecing, applique and whole cloth in our art quilts just like traditionalists do. And quite a few of the traditionalists are making quilts with fusing and raw edges just like the art quilters do. When I thought about this I imagined that the Baltimore Album quilt artist were looked at a little strangely…after all, why would you want to make a quilt pictorial? Or horror of horrors, write on your beautiful quilt with India Ink? And then later, Marie Webster developed and produced her own patterns and designs that didn’t match the pieced and whole cloth quilts others were making. Maybe some of the local quilting bee looked down their noses at these people but now those quilts are considered traditional fare, not art quilt fare.
Tanis quilt Commission
So the more things change, the more they stay the same. I think the art quilters and contemporary quilters are just a step or two ahead of the pack. Give it a few more years and just like long-arm quilting, it will all be accepted practices. If you belong to a guild and have been less than welcoming to an art or contemporary quilter, please think about what I wrote. Nobody expects everyone to do the same thing, just respect the diversity and embrace it.
Just for fun, here is a photo of a very traditional quilt I made for a commission.
My kids were curled up with their favorite quilts on the sofa in the family room this morning. They are very discriminating kids and will pass up anything warm and fuzzy for the quiet comfort of one of my quilts.
Little Lulu didn’t budge as the flash went off, but Bandit raised his head, cracked one eye as if to say “What the heck do you think you’re doing?”.
Lulu’s quilt is one I made years ago from Alexander Henry fabric in the Garden Maze quilt pattern. Bandit’s quilt is an antique tumbler charm quilt. That top piece was bought for $1 at a garage sale and was long and skinny. I reverse sewed enough to make it into a nice rectangle when I put the two ends together. It has soft cotton batting, is tied on the corners with embroidery thread and then hand stitched 1/4″ from the seam around each charm. It is bound with bias seam binding, keeping the lovely curves of the tumbler shapes.
For those of you who are running shreaking from the room that 2 beautiful quilts have been thrown to the dogs…..there is no difference of letting them cuddle with these quilts on the sofa than if they cuddle on my lap when I am covered with a quilt. They don’t rip or tear them or drag them around the room, they have a basket full of baby toys for that and we keep it well stocked! Besides, when I make a traditional lap quilt, I expect it to be used and loved and this picture is a testament to how much these quilts are loved.