It’s not perfect…

In April I wrote about a quilt I was making to send to Japan as part of our guild’s effort to help victims of the tsunami. At the time I was cursing my sewing machine, needles, thread, and everything else within sight (except myself, of course) because the needle broke twice while I was free-motion quilting some of the last blocks. How lucky I would have been if that had been the only problem with this quilt.

The next time I sat down at the machine breaking needles and snapping threads were the norm. Although I tried to solve the problem by playing with the tension and changing the top and bobbin threads to different weights, I couldn’t win. So I put up the feed dogs and straight-line quilted the remaining 5 blocks. Then I straight-line quilted the borders. Or should I say I rendered an artistic interpretation of straight lines? There’s virtually nothing straight about these lines. All this made it a very easy decision to wash the quilt before giving it away. Hopefully the shrinking of the fabric will hide some of the flaws in workmanship. 

Okay. Binding time. I was determined to completely machine stitch the binding. Some quilters machine stitch the binding to the front, pin it to the back, and stitch in the ditch on the front side catching the binding’s folded edge on the back. When I’ve tried this in the past I ended up with a dog’s breakfast on the back, with the binding edge seeming to weave in and out of the stitching.

Other quilters recommend sewing the binding to the back and sewing it to the front with a blanket stitch. I tried this and found the blanket stitch was far messier than just straight stitching, so I went with straight stitching. Now it isn’t perfect, but in my opinion having the a single row of stitching occasionally show on the back is somewhat tidier than the gaps and flaps I got when I sewed the binding to the front first. (In the end, there are only about 12 inches of noticeable stitching on the quilt back that ought to have been hidden in the binding.)

The upper image shows the front of the quilt sample, with blanket stitching on the left and straight stitching on the right. The bottom image is the back of the same piece. Here the straight stitching is on the left and the blanket stitching is on the right.

So I’m binding the quilt. It’s stitched to the back and I’ve sewn about one half of it to the front when I realise the binding is pure white and the quilt is off white! How the heck did that happen!? I wasn’t aware that I even owned any not-quite-white fabric, and there sure wasn’t any in my stash when I pulled the Kona bleached white from the shelf. I’d post a picture, but the subtle differences in colour aren’t visible in a photo.

After listening to me beat myself up over this, DH asked if I could cover the old binding with new. Smart guy, because I really could cover the binding with something that would make me happy, I just don’t know if I will. I’m sort of ready to say good-bye to this one, even though it does look pretty good now that it’s done and washed. I think I’m going to call it Hope and Flowers.

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My corner of the quilt show

Spring weather has finally come to town, and in Ottawa that happily coincides with the Tulip Festival and the Ottawa Valley Quilters Guild Festival of Quilts. While the Tulip Festival runs from May 6-23, the quilt show runs only on Mother’s Day weekend, May 6-8, and will be at the RA Centre (click here for Google map). So if you’re going to be in town, or you need an excuse for driving on over, come join us!

 The biannual OVQG quilt show is non-juried, and the only requirements for submitting a quilt are that one of the quilters be an OVQG member and that the quilt never have been shown at a previous OVQG show. As a relatively new Ottawan I had a few older quilts I was able to enter. So for those of you who won’t be here to see them in person, these are the 5 wall quilts I’ve entered.

Amish Wedding Ring (25” x 25”) 1993 . Using traditional Amish colours and non-traditional piecing techniques, I made this small quilt in a class taught by Lydia Quigley and Elizabeth Lake. To create the arch, we strip pieced the “chiclets” and later sewed along or close to the same seam, tapering as we went. The centre of each block is hand quilted, while the quilting that outlines the rings is machine stitched.

Tire Tracks Through the Jungle (27” x 35”). Below, left. This quilt was created for a 1993 challenge run by the Quilter’s Choice in Kingston, ON. The challenge was to incorporate a Mary Ellen Hopkins fabric called Tire Tracks Through the Mud, the red/gold/blue fabric with the black blotches, somewhere in the design. This is one of several quilts I’ve made that were inspired by Mary Ellen Hopkins’s book Bakers Dozen Doubled.

Violet Menorah (23” x 23” 2008. Above, right. All participants in a Jewish art festival were asked to bring an interpretation of a Jewish candelabrum called a menorah, using their medium, and my interpretation was rather traditional. This original design was made by “unraveling” two Celtic braid designs and combining them into the T design you see here, as well as reworking the design at the base to create the stand. Small pieces of plastic under the flames’ fabric add dimensionality. A nine-branch menorah, also called a chanukiah, would be used to celebrate Chanukah.

Home by 4 (42” x 36”) 2010. This simple 4-patch set on point is made mostly of fabric from the Peace on Earth line by 3 Sisters for Moda. I like the warm, homey feel created by the fabrics.

Dancing Shoo Flies I (38” x 38”) 2011. You already know about this quilt because I blogged about it here a few months ago. What I love about this pattern is its simplicity, movement, and spirit.

 Now I gotta get busy. Only two years to make more for the next show.