Monday, October 18, 2010

More October Finishes for OPAM 2010

*The following is the story of a quilt that has taken me FOREVER to complete.  Sorry it's a little long, but the quilt took me a lot of time to make, and I wanted to document it for posterity's sake :)  *

I am happy to finally report that this MASSIVE quilt project is finally completed.  Yes, it took me over a year (just barely) to finish it, but it was a lot of work and I am really, really pleased with the end result.
No, you don't get to see the full thing laid out because I don't have a clean floor space large enough to do that!  It ended up about 101 x 121.  Yeah, it was HUGE.

I can't even believe how overwhelming the project had seemed at first.  When she had brought it to me, with all of the plastic storage boxes filled with ziploc baggies containing the triangles of fabric and their coordinating ties, I was very overwhelmed.  It took me about 27 hrs just to unpick the ties. (There were a lot of ties!)

Piecing it was a challenge, as I had never worked with ties before (most of them silks) and I didn't want to interface the backs because I wasn't sure how the fabrics would work together, if at all.  I did end up interfacing most of the fabrics used in the Sisters' blocks, pieces from shirts and skirts and dresses, and they turned out nicely, I thought.

My biggest mistake was picking such a weird size for the blocks:  9.75 inches square.  What was I thinking??  Apparently I was not.  I had to square up each block, then add pieces to the edge to both stabilize and enlarge them to the proper size.  Yeah, like I said: I was a little stupid.

But, the end look is really nice, and I can't imagine trying to sash all of those blocks without having the cotton quilting fabric as a small border around them.  It definitely would have been much harder to keep everything square.

I was really pleased that I had purchased enough fabric, too, as the project took me so long to complete.  I was worried, toward the end, that I didn't have enough of the sashing of sashing post fabric to finish, but I had just enough.

As far as fabric selection went, my client left it all up to me.  I wanted to keep the fabrics I used for the sashing, posts, and border very neutral and not too distracting from the blocks.  Since the quilt itself was so colorful, I opted to use neutral creams/tans/beiges for the sashing/posts.  The border I knew needed to be darker, because she wanted words quilted in it, and darker fabric with a light thread would work so well, I thought. 

Now, I have to add that I am old-school when it comes to mixing brown and black.  I abhor it.  Seriously.  I do.  My husband is not allowed to wear a black belt and brown shoes.  I even have a hard time liking couches that are black leather with brown upholstered cushions (even though, I admit, they do look nice).  I just have a hard time with it.  It makes me cringe a little inside.  But, I am getting better, obviously, because the border fabric is black and brown!  I know, so bold of me, huh? haha

For the backing fabric I wanted something close to the sashing fabric I had used on the front.  I had also hoped to purchase some 108" wide fabric to use.  Unfortunately, that was not to be.  Instead, though, I found this really great 58" wide fabric in a soft, crinkly neutral color.  I think it is in the Kona Crush line (is that even a line?  I don't remember the name of the fabric, sorry!) 

As I got everything onto the machine and ready to quilt, I had an epiphany of sorts.  I had recently quilted a quilt of my own, and had done words on all 4 borders, turning the quilt 2 times to get the text the direction I had wanted it.  To avoid having to unpick basting stitches, I quilted the border area with monofilament thread.  It worked like a charm.

So, why not use that technique here?  After all, I was going to quilt the center of the quilt in an all-over meander in monofilament thread anyway.   Why not just quilt the entire quilt that way?  So I did.  :)

The meander is fairly tight, and it was amazing how nicely all the extra fullness from some of the tie blocks (I had been seriously stressing about it for days, to be honest) worked its way out.  There weren't any puckers or tucks.  Everything was fabulous.  I was very pleased with it.

I added the binding using my longarm.  I knew that there was NO WAY I was going to be able to feed all 442 inches of binding through my tiny little domestic machine.  There was NO WAY.  It went on really nicely, and then my client took it for their mission reunion.

I've had it back in my possession for a few weeks.  I finally finished binding it.  It took forever.  My poor living room was dwarfed by the sheer size of the project as I sat on the couch and watched Amazing Race while I bound it.

But now, it is FINISHED.  And I am so proud of it.  It looks so great, and my client was really happy with it when she took it to the reunion.  It's the best possible outcome I never would have imagined when I first saw how much time and effort would be needed.  (Seriously, you don't know how daunting it is be staring at 2 rubbermaid tupperware storage boxes, 2 large bags, and a couple of grocery sacks full of ziploc bags with ties in them.  Ties that all needed to be unpicked and kept with their coordinating triangles.)  But now it is done, and I am happy, and a little bit relieved, to not have to worry about it anymore :)

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