Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I finished my quilt!

I can hardly believe it: I finished my quilt for Craft Hope. On time. And it's pretty darn cute! I am ridiculously proud of it.

Now, that isn't to say it went smoothly. Last you heard, I'd pieced all the blocks, lickety split. And then I sewed them all together the next night. But soon after, I got stalled. The problem was the quilting.

I'd ended up with several extra blocks (after laying it all out, I thought it was too big, so I removed a row). So I used those to practice quilting. First I thought I'd try free-motion quilting. I gave it a shot, but decided I would need a LOT more practice before I could do it on a quilt. So then I decided a squared-off spiral would look good with the pattern I'd chosen. Nope. I kept having problems with the thread bunching at the turns (more on that later). Also, I was surprised at how quickly the quilt got stiff that way--very stiff. Not the feel I was going for. Finally, I decided on diagonal lines, dividing all the squares into triangles. A nice look and feel and better for my novice self, but there was the problem of straight lines on not-perfectly-lined-up blocks. That made me crazy.

I went ahead anyway, using a water soluble marker and ruler to mark the lines. But it was taking forever (we know patience is not my strong suit). So after doing only a few lines, I set it aside and dreaded finishing it. But then, just in the nick of time, Crazy Mom Quilts posted a painter's-tape tutorial. Just exactly what I needed! I pulled out the blue tape, and somehow, it made the line marking so much easier. Plus, she made me feel better about the lines not perfectly bisecting every corner.

But I was still having trouble with the thread. It just kept breaking--strangely, in almost the same spot on every line, about 4/5 of the way along (just when I thought I'd finally finish a row without rethreading!) I was using a new needle, there weren't any particularly bunchy seams, I'd cleaned out all the lint...I couldn't figure it out. But then I ran out of white thread, and had to run out to the drugstore on the corner to get more. I took whatever they had so I could get back to work. And guess what? It stopped breaking. I've been so pleased to be able to be able to dip into my big thrift-store and tag-sale stash of notions whenever I want to make a project, without having to buy new. But it might be time to admit that some new thread would be worth buying.

I thought about various fabric options for binding, but in the end, went with expediency and chose some bias tape I had on hand. I worried that it would be too narrow, but I actually ended up really liking how it looks: the bright turquoise pops out despite its small size, and saves the quilt from being too cutesy pastel. I even love the back--simply solid white, but now, crisscrossed with quilting lines and edged in turquoise, it looks so inviting.

I made mine much smaller than the pattern called for, but even still, it's quite large: about 36"X42". I think it's just right for a baby to play on, though, and will work well for years. I've never been a big fan of tiny receiving blankets; I like something more substantial.

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