A place to store and share the things I make.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

start to finish, i made it.

I've made a lot of things in my life.  I still use a pin cushion I made from mom's scraps when I was really young.  I made a stuffed pig in 5th grade (Robyn, I swear I gave it to you).  Boxers in Home Ec in middle school.  PJs, pillowcases, cross-stitch and candlewicking.  I think I made some freaky little faces out of nylons stuffed with cotton, then stitched eyes and noses and whatnot so it was all 3D.  I made a stuffed doll for a book project once too.

When I got into college, I started dabbling with quilts. Then a little with clothes.  And I discovered cutting apart perfectly good clothes to make perfectly great new clothes.  Once we moved to Portland things really took off.  I've made things from patterns and from scratch. I've cussed my way through following said patterns. I've started with scraps and only a color scheme and ended up with something pretty cool. But this, this was something new.

This was the first project that I dreamed up, sketched out even, and designed from start to finish.  Sometime last fall it entered the creative part of my brain as I was trying to go to sleep, forcing me to get out of bed and sketch it out quick in my white journal. A baby quilt. A gift, of course. Greys, with a little pink, I thought. Or orange, that way it can be for a boy or girl. I had a sketch, a color scheme, and a little idea of how I wanted to piece it.  How much fabric do I need? That was a guess.  How big of squares? That worked out. It started with this:

This beautiful pile sat patiently on my shelf through the holiday season, put on the back burner for more immediate projects.  It was always in my mind though.  In one afternoon, I started cutting and piecing, cutting and piecing. I do have to admit it would have been a little helpful to have some guidance; I did it sort of stack-n-whack style, and was going crazy trying to organize the right pieces in the right order.  Somewhere I had picked up 7 1/2 inches to start with, and that was the only number I really had to go on. Lo and behold, after much stacking, whacking, shuffling, and piecing, I had a handful of almost perfect 6 1/2 inch squares.  How. did. that. happen.  These were all shades of grey; I hadn't quite figured out how the orange was going to fit in. In addition to the 6 1/2 inch squares, I also ended up with a handful of 6 1/2 x 4 1/2. Why not add the orange to those? Perfect. At the end of an unruly 5 hour session, I had all but 2 squares worth of a crib-size quilt. It was magic. It looked like this that particular day:

But it didn't stay looking that way. I finished the final two squares and arranged and rearranged the squares to get the look I wanted. I didn't want an open maze. I didn't want a square. Too many leading lines and definitely no zigzags. Symmetry? Not really. This was the most tedious part (more than the shuffling, even). Finally, I just settled. Sometimes, you just do. There are only so many details you can attend to. So I pieced together the squares, chose a cotton backing (I didn't buy the flannel one I fell in love with when I bought the rest of the fabric, and of course it was backordered by the time I got back to it).
I quilted it freestyle with random squares and such, with grey thread. I wanted a little character in the border too, so added some flair there.
I know it's a lot easier to do a cheater binding folding over the edge of the back, but I really just prefer a pieced binding. I had intended to use orange scraps, but I just didn't have enough, and didn't want such a bold border (looking at my runner, I much prefer the grey binding anyway). It's worth the extra hand-work, in my opinion. Plus it left me a bunch of extra 2.5x2.5 inch squares to have fun with.
So there you have it. My first design, start to finish. I love it, and have taken way too many pictures that really just don't do it justice. It turned out perfect and I have no complaints. Which might be the reason it is still sitting on my table and hasn't been mailed yet. This baby lives far away, and I know I won't get to see her much as she grows up, but I hope she appreciates this piece of art I made for her. I'm pretty sure it will hold up under the messes she'll probably make on it until then.

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