Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Quilts on Tuesday-Getting Started

Some time ago I mentioned I was going to attempt making a full-sized quilt for the first time in my life. It is to be for Diana to take with her to college. At one point she said she was not terribly concerned about the design so long as the quilt was flannel. That worked out well for me as a mere novice since it means I can get away with making her a rag quilt. Rag quilts have exposed, frayed seams and seem to be a fairly forgiving form. Her design will be made entirely of squares so I won't have to drive myself bonkers making triangles and other odd shapes meet up exactly.




The trick was finding enough flannel in enough colors to go with the design I intend to do. I adapted this for a larger quilt. My mom plugged it into her jazzy quilt software which calculates yardages and then off we went to find flannel. Neither of the fabric stores in my town had anything close to an adequate selection of flannels unless I wanted cutsie baby patterns or matronly Victorian designs. Mom and I did some scouting and found some nice yard-dyed plaids at a place about halfway between where we each live. So my first lesson was in the difficulty procuring what you really want. My next lesson was in the astonishing cost of fabrics. Mom went halvsies with my on the fabric since it was a fair amount more than I expected and I didn't really have any other ideas for Diana's Christmas present. Here's the haul. The three plaids will make up the top of the quilt. The three solid colors will be the back. The white flannel, which is a king size set of flannel sheets I found on sale for $20 (woohoo! doing the great bargain dance...waaaaay cheaper than a comparable amount of yardage off a bolt) will be the center layer of the flannel "sandwiches" which will make up each square.



Now I had to get to work cutting squares. I realize some of my readers are quilters but for those who aren't let me explain the tools. I have a big cutting board with measurements on it and that odd looking ruler/straight edge, also with measurement markings. This all makes it easy to line up the fabric and cut accurately sized shapes. For small projects I have an ordinary clear ruler/straight edge and use a separate cutter that looks sort of like a pizza slicer. For this project, since I knew I had thick fabric to cut through and more of it than I have ever done before I was a little concerned about how Janita (my once demolished but now mostly recovered left hand/arm) would hold up. This new gadget has the blade attached to the ruler so I couldn't accidentally veer off and miscut. Given how much I spent on the fabric I thought that might be a worthy investment to help prevent some fatigue for Janita and costly mistakes as a result. It worked pretty well in the manner I hoped. Lesson 3, however, was in the old adage "Measure twice, cut once." Uh yeah, I mismeasured a few strips and cut them too small. Fortunately, I had enough extra fabric to cover my mistakes. Once the strips were cut I just sliced them into squares.


Here we see 2oo 6 inches squares of flannel cut from 2 of the fabrics. I only have 300 more 6 inch squares to cut and 100 11 inch squares to cut. Then the sewing begins. Stayed tuned to see how long it takes me to get all this done and how many more lessons I have to learn.












Finally, I leave you with a picture that is somewhat symbolic of how this project feels a little like a mountain to scale. I'm realizing how much work it will be and I'm a little nervous but also excited and anxious to look down from the summit of completion and say, "I did that!"

21 comments:

Cocotte said...

I can barely cut a straight line with paper.....looking forward to seeing the progress!

Cooper said...

i see blogger is acting up...yea Google....

Craver Vii said...

What a significant treasure that will become!

Jeni said...

I've yet to branch out and try quilting -maybe one of these days I will do that -just not sure if I remember enough of what my Grandma showed/explained to me about that craft. (That was 50 years ago she did that and at age 14 -or maybe younger than that -quite often we don't pay near as much attention as we should when having a craft explained to us.) I'll definitely be looking forward to seeing your progress along the way as well as the finished product too! Good luck with it -and who knows, your venturing into this somewhat unknown turf may be the inspiration for a lot of your readers to do the same! Hope so anyway!
Peace.

truckdriver_sefl said...

This is very cool!! Unless you really take a look one never knows the work that goes into making a quilt. My grandmother made a lot of quilts but my mother has the most amazing one she ever made. It was for my grandfather and it's called a stamp quilt. There are 1000's of little squares that are the size of a stamp. I can not imagine the hours that went into making that!

KFarmer said...

That gadget in neat-O. Question? Are you going to hand sew or use a sewing machine? Does it make any difference? I think it's going to be beeeutiful! :)

S said...

In all my sewing days, I have only once made a quilt where I cut thousands of 2" squares for a King size quilt, half of them velvet!

Took me a year to make it.

I probably wont ever do it again.

Now at my house, that neat stack of squares would get knocked over constantly by cats, kids and husband. Impossible.

I hope you will take pics and show progress as it goes along!

Suldog said...

My goodness, that's a lot of love!

They actually have quilt software. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. You can find just about anything on the 'net. Wonderful and amazing.

lime said...

cocotte, lol

cooper, what fun..not

craver, i sure hope so

jeni, yes, there have been a number of new ideas in quilting in that span of time.

trucker, i am gaining a whole new appreciation and a stamp quilt?? THAT'S dedication!

kfarmer, rags quilts are pretty much designed to be machine sewed. i am not much for the hand stitching aspect. i love how it looks but don't enjoy doing it.

s, kind sized vlevet made of 2 inch squares...yikes. yep, i am planning to do updates on progress now and again

suldog, i am grateful that my mom has such software. it sure saved me some number crunching (which invariably would have been wrong..numbers and me don't get along)

mssolitaire said...

Wonderful and beautiful flannels!!! :) I think this is going to turn out GREAT! :) I'll be thinking about ya and rooting for ya all the way!

tsduff said...

I have the ultimate (almost worship) respect for quilters - the concept is so far beyond my scope of design and sewing skills that I stand in awe of your project. And was a great send off for college. You are amazing.

citizen of the world said...

I bet that will be cozy when you're done.

DianeCA said...

How long is it before she starts college?? Just kidding. I think you are a super mom and you will give her a gift she will always treasure. Just like your mother did. It is a very good way of keeping a tradition. She doesn't have any flannel pajamas or anything which you could cut up and mix in for nostalgias sake? Good luck with your grand scheme!!

lime said...

solitaire, thanks!

tsduff, hold the praise until we see how the final projects turns out and if i keep my sanity, lol. but this sort of thing is far less complicated than most forms of quilting

citizen, it certainly ought to be warm :)

diane, she goes next fall so i do have a deadline. if she had some flannel jammies that would be a great idea to include them. unfortunately all her things are polyester fleece.

Phyllis said...

hello, Lime.

One word of caution when stitching flannel - it stretches. I learned the hard way when I made my first flannel quilt and the seams didn't line up even though I knew I had cut correctly.

Have fun with this!

g-man said...

Mmmmmmmmm.....Flannel.

Jocelyn said...

What is so cool about this is that you're becoming part of the legacy that you cherish. All that has been handed down to you--not just in terms of the quilts themselves, but in terms of the time and energy and thought and love--are now getting paid forward.

I get a little misty about you sometimes.

Moosekahl said...

I am in awe of your accomplishment. I have all sorts of squares stacked in a box in a closet from a quilt I started years ago. Haven't had the nerve to pull it out and tackle any more of it. What a great gift!

Mona said...

Whoa! That is a LOT of work! You are amazing!

Jazz said...

Wow...

I'm really looking forward to seeing the progress. I love handmade quilts.

RennyBA said...

Your such a clever girl and you know I admire your hand craft work *wink wink* :-)