Unstitched

Yesterday I began quilting a gift for someone special. You may have seen the top before in this post. It’s been patiently waiting while I ventured through the Delectable Mountains, completed (except binding) a project with my small group, and survived Fire and Ice.

Sometimes I have trouble getting the right thread tension, so I checked now and then and it looked very good.

I got done with the first pass of quilting. It’s an area about 16″ x 74″, or something like that. It looked good, went easily. I was happy. I rolled the quilt to advance it on the frame.  And I noticed … there was a big pleatey area all down the right side of the pass. The backing fabric hadn’t been pulled smooth and taut enough when I pin-basted the edge, so I stitched in pleats. 

I climbed under the frame to identify and mark the pleated areas with pins through from underneath. From the top, I found the quilting line that led through the pleats. I free-motion quilt, so the line can range a bit, wandering backwards and forwards, left to right. The quilting line covered a larger area than the pleats did, about 16″ x 12″. I made a fence with pins around it, to define where I needed to unstitch.

An area that took less than five minutes to quilt took more than an hour to unstitch.

Once I finished and removed the pins, I clamped the back fabric to pull it smooth. I sprayed the area lightly with water, on both the top and back of the quilt. With drying, the holes from stitching close up, and the fabric on the back dried taut, not saggy.

Today after going to the gym and errands, I’ll get back to the quilting. Wish me luck!

Ohio Red and White Medallion, Fire and Ice

It’s been rather a slog, but I’ve finally finished the top of this quilt.

Fire and Ice. Unquilted top. Approx 68″ x 68″. Based on IQSC Object Number 1997.007.0797 from the International Quilt Study Center & Museum, a quilt from 1800-1820. March 2017

In general, construction was pretty simple. The delays came in decision-making, especially for the corner blocks. After originally considering making each corner different and including my initials and the year, I decided to make them the same. My first impulse there was to use Ohio Stars. I thought this would work well for style, and it would be a reference to the IQSCM’s belief that the original quilt may have been made in Ohio. I made a test block with an Ohio Star and wasn’t happy with it. I liked the way the star points repeated the hourglass construction of the first big border. However, somehow it just looked like too many small pieces.

After trying a few other designs in EQ7, I chose the modified variable star to center my blocks. It actually uses the same shapes as the Ohio Star but in different proportions. As I said to Jim, I can’t define why I like it better, but I do.

I’ve asked a talented, professional longarm quilter to quilt for me. This piece deserves better quilting than I can do myself.

In the meantime, I have plenty of other things to work on!

 

Ohio Red and White Medallion, Progress

As discussed before (here and here,) I’m creating a quilt inspired by a historical work held by the International Quilt Study Center & Museum. You can find the inspiration quilt here. And you can find more information about it here.

I’m not reproducing the original quilt, but trying to honor it and its maker. In so doing, I’m changing some aspects of the design. The size is somewhat smaller than the original, as mine will finish at about 68″ square, while the original is listed as 79″ x 81″. Also, I don’t have a pattern so my proportions are somewhat different as I estimate from the photo. And I’m changing the center block and corner blocks, while maintaining the feel of the original.

Because of the construction challenges this project offers, I’m building it in parts. Here is a photo of the “parts” so far, laid out on my beige studio carpet. The places where the carpet shows are where more parts are needed, such as for the big corner blocks.

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Because the center block is appliquéd, I’ll finish it before adding any borders. (Nope, it’s not done yet. Today Jim helped me decide the final design for it. He really is the best consultant, as he tries things I don’t think of. Those little squares on point? That was his idea.)

If you’ve ever used traditional piecing to make long strips of triangles for a border, you know it is fraught with lots of opportunity for error. I used my new paper piecing skills to make mine. While the process is slow and fussy, and wastes fabric and thread, it is easy enough and created borders I’m really happy with. I’ll take the waste and the pace in exchange for the quality.

For those corner blocks, I’m considering including my initials in one and the year in another. However, that leaves two more blocks and I’m not sure what to use in them. Any ideas?

I’m really excited about this quilt, as I’m able to honor an amazing piece of art that’s 200 years old, and its artist, while contributing my take on the design and incorporating some new-to-me techniques.

More Drawings I Found

I’m still working on my red and white quilt. There are parts covering my design wall. I’m paper piecing the triangle borders. It is a slow, fussy process, but in fact I don’t mind it at all. Would not want to work this way all the time, but it’s fine for now.

Since it is all “parts” and not much new to show, I thought I’d share other drawings I found while looking for newsprint.

One of the drawings is dated 2003, and the other two would have been from the same general time. Coincidentally, or not, I made my first quilt in late 2003 for the birth of a granddaughter. At the time I assumed — I said out loud, numerous times — that I’d never make another quilt. Instead, I didn’t draw anymore, and I did make another quilt in early 2005.

sketch-boy

A young boy. Drawn from a photo of a painted portrait. The painting was likely from the early 1800s.

The next drawing is of Victor Weisskopf. He was a physicist with a wide-ranging and impressive career, including working on the Manhattan Project and chairing the physics department at MIT. The black-and-white photo I used to draw him was so striking, with beautiful lines and shadows of his strong features.

In these days when science and basic research are threatened, it’s worth noting this 1969 quote from Weisskopf: “The total cost of all basic research from Archimedes to the present is less than the value of ten days of the world’s present industrial production.”

sketch-man

Victor Weisskopf, physicist. Drawn from a photo of him found in a magazine.

sketch-woman

Drawn from a magazine ad.

I’ve had fun looking back at these old pictures, and I might muster the ambition to draw again. But there are always so many things to do, aren’t there?

Are there any arts or crafts from your past that you’ve given up? Did you play an instrument or tat or needlepoint? How about intricate origami? Any of them you’d like to resurrect? 

Looking For Newsprint I Found Something Else

On Friday I took a class on foundation paper piecing. Yes, I’m a little late to the game! I’ve always been able to do what I wanted without using the technique, but sometimes a block is more complex or sized in a way that makes it hard to do conventional piecing. It was time to add this skill to my toolkit.

The kit for the paper piecing class included a pattern printed on “foundation” paper. It reminded me of newsprint paper. It worked easily but seemed expensive. Many years ago, pre-quilting, I took a couple of art classes. I saved some of the supplies; perhaps I had a pad of newsprint with those things.

I didn’t. However, as I dug through the drawings (not terrible for a beginner!) and paintings (no comment,) I found this drawing done with watercolor pencils. Honestly I barely remember doing it. And now I rather regret I didn’t do more.

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