Sunday, June 26, 2011

How NOT to make a memory quilt

Here's the story of the other commission I recently had. A woman contacted me and said she had several squares of fabric that people had signed at a family reunion and she wanted them put into a simple quilt to be on display during subsequent family reunions. Sounds simple enough, right? So I said, "Sure!"

When we met, she handed me a plastic bag. All I could see was foil. Strange. It was fairly heavy. I didn't think too much of it until I looked at it much later, when I was ready to make the quilt.

Each of the fabric squares were different sizes, and none were square. They were various shades of yellowish beige. They were all separated by wax paper and foil. They had been "signed" with what appeared to be some sort of puff paint. The paint, or something else, had become very sticky. The wax paper and foil was separating the pieces of fabric. I had to peel them off of each other.

Too make things worse, there were stones, large beads, and plastic jewels plastered all over the blocks. And the writing on many of them went right out to the edge of the fabric. What a mess!

I quickly realized that I wouldn't be able to piece these fabric rectangles traditionally. First of all, I'd have to square them up, which would mess up a lot of the wording and designs. Plus, seam allowances would further ruin any legibility. And the glued-on bits were also often right out at the edge. I'd have to remove many of them to maneuver my sewing machine foot. In addition, I was concerned about the paint and stickiness when I went to press it.

So, I decided to raw edge applique. I went ahead and pieced the background fabric the client had given me, as well as the backing and sandwiched everything. I figured I might as well quilt at the same time. This wasn't going to be a functional quilt, after all.

First I tried a zigzag stitch. My foot stuck to the fabric so badly that I couldn't move it! I thought maybe a free motion foot would work better, since it hops up and down. Nope. It also stuck. I couldn't sew a straight line with it. My experiment was on one of the less sticky blocks and my stitches jumped and wobbled. I couldn't charge anyone for the mess that would have been.

In the end, I tied the blocks on. Even that was hard. I could hardly get the needle through the fabric!
I have been struggling lately with not having any sewing desires. This commission added to that greatly. I realized that I haven't sewn anything for myself in years. I think the Birdie Sling was the last thing I did for me. Everything else has been shop samples, class samples, round robins, commissions, baby quilts, gifts, auction quilts, and things for Molly. So, fair warning: if I "owe" you a quilt (or anything else), it might not come soon. I really need to do some fun sewing for a bit or I may never enjoy it again. Link

Monday, June 20, 2011

How to make a memory quilt

So, recently I finished a couple of commissions. I'll talk about one in a later post, but for now, I want to talk about the one that I really liked. It was tricky to put together sometimes, but I think it came out great. I used the Slide Show pattern from Atkinson Designs, but I replaced the large blocks and some of the small squares with photos printed on inkjet fabric. One word of warning if you ever make this pattern, though: the twin size is huge -- much bigger than a standard twin batting. That's why the borders are so small. I had to trim them down to fit the batting!
The other change is that instead of making the rest scrappy, I just used one fabric, which is a mainly purple batik. If a photo didn't crop to a square well, I used the same batik to fill in to make a square (I've heard these referred to as "coping strips").
It was a graduation gift from some parents to their daughter. I am really happy with how it came out.Next time: How NOT to make a memory quilt!