Same Tune, Different Words

**Caution- possible enabling – you have been warned**

I have finally finished up my fiber room (I’ve been in the house almost a year now). I built this giant wall unit of shelves, and well… I didn’t put in quite enough span supports so it kind of sags. As a result I had left it alone, waiting for me to “fix it.” So my craft stuff stayed on the floor of the library and my craft room remained empty (save for my enormous saggy bookshelf). My boyfriend changed all that, he didn’t care about the saggy (the thing isn’t going to fall over) and so for my birthday moved all the craft stuff he could identify into the craft room and put it on shelves for me as a surprise.

So a few weeks ago I finally got around to moving in the rest of the craft stuff and picking up more from my parents. I had with me most of my yarn and most of my leather and beading stuff. I had none of my fabric. Now I have fabric, my great Aunt’s* sewing machine, and whatever sewing notions and tools I wanted from mine and my great Aunt’s stash in the furnace room at my parents, where all such things are living right now. I also got one of the fantastic super plain Ikea desks that my family has had for what seems like forever, which are perfect for crafting on. So now my craft room is usable (if a bit cramped, maybe putting the futon up in here – when I was ignoring the saggy bookshelf – wasn’t such a great idea after all…). And use it, I have!

Bear with me as I jump thought tracks for a second, I promise it will make sense eventually. So my dear friend J. instructed me to sign up for pinterest.com roughly a month ago. For those of you who don’t know – pinterest is essentially a site of photo links that you can organize to your heart’s content and where you can see what other people are saving. (No more folders full of links I don’t remember why I saved). There are many cool and wonderful things that I have been “pinning” there – like shoes, recipes, and amusing geekiness – but mostly I discovered that knitters aren’t the only ones jamming up the interwebs – quilters are a force to be reckoned with. And as I found more and more beautiful and cool things that were quilted I found myself suddenly interested in quilting.

The fact that I got started I’m going to blame on my boyfriend. As I purused the many quilting wonders I found one that looked super easy and said to him “this looks like it would be really easy.” To which he responded that he has always loved quilts and would be very very happy if I made him one of his very own. Now I have been very good about not making him a sweater (which he accepts but only grudgingly) in accordance with the age old supersition about boyfriend sweaters, he has a hat, mitts, slippers, and two pairs of socks, but no sweaters. Now to my knowledge there is no such thing as a quilt curse (and if there is, I didn’t know about it so it can’t apply… or if it does the results should be light in proportion to my guilt) and he is very very supportive of my crazy fiber crafts and he has quit smoking for me, so… next thing I knew I was at Walmart buying a couple of flat sheets and a blanket.  And over the next few days I made a rather messy monstrosity.  I consider it my pre-quilt, it is a quilt in the technical sense of multiple layers of fabric stitched together in the centre.  It is not a quilt in that, 1. it is very poorly done, 2. it is not finished (you can see in the picture that there is no binding) and 3. two sheets and a blanket is kind of a weak excuse for a quilt when one considers what is out there and I’d rather not offend the real quilts (and quilters) of the world by holding this item up as a quilt.  That said, the Boyfriend loves it.  And it emboldened and challenged me to make a “real” quilt.

The back is plain black, here you can see my horrid quilting and lack of binding.

I’m going to also blame this on my sister. She just had a baby. And let me tell you the internet is full of awesome baby quilts. However, I couldn’t make one for her until after the baby was born since cute fabrics are much less neutral (at least the ones I had ready access too) than the sweet blue and white penguin blanket I knitted for her.  And I really wasn’t interested in a neutral project (hello, already made the penguin), so I waited and collected more and more pins for quilts.  But I am not a patient woman by nature and conveniently my boss was having a baby boy, so I figured I could try out more of this quilting thing, with this project, some fabric from the local quilt shop (btw – why are there two quilting shops in the GTM?!) and some of the supplies from my great Aunt’s stash (she had batting or fleece that works for batting in her stash, I say had, because I have now used it all up…).  The results were surprisingly good for this beta project and, well, I was hooked.

All of supplies gathered, the dark blue are the batting.

Here is whole thing pieced together, not all of the flaps are sewn down.  I learned after I had made this that there is a tool for marking circles for this kind of quilt – would have come in handy and made things much more even.

Then I wrote an exam (for a work related certification), I felt very defeated after the exam.  This lead to a little bit of crying, the Boyfriend being very supportive and wonderful, and a late night trip to Walmart, this time to the quilting section because dammit I needed to do something dramatic to tell the world I was still awesome and could do meaningful and useful things. (As a side note I did pass the test, and have been reminded that my normal standard for scoring on a test has only a passing acquaintance with any reasonable or sane measure.)  So I returned from Walmart on Mar 27 with the necessary supplies and on Apr 8 I finished the binding on my first “real” quilt.

Here are the supplies – and I now have a scrap stash heavily weighted to pink and brown…

I used this pattern/tutorial for a nine patch latice quilt from Elizabeth Hartman (just FYI she has a great selection of basic quilting tutorials and I think I’ve used almost every one of them, and also some really wonderful patterns and tutorials – my humble noob thanks).  So here are some specs.  I used 9 fat quarters in pinks, browns, and black, 1 18 x42 precut of the pink harlequin, and 2 2yd mini bolts of magenta and brown from which I cut the back/border and the binding respectively.  I used batting from the stash and have no idea what it was made of, I assume polyester. I measured my lines totally wrong on the sewing machine and as a result sewed .5 inch rather than .25 inch seams so the finished  42 inches wide x 56 inches long is smaller than it should be.  I cut the needed strips using my rotary cutters (handy leather working tools re-purposed) and pieced the top and back on the machine (my inherited Bernia 1001, which in many ways I truly truly hate, but which I will not replace until I find just the right -most likely very expensive- machine as the Bernia does the trick).  I tried to machine quilt it, but it just didn’t work; the sewing machine couldn’t handle the quilt sandwich. Instead, I hand quilted it, in the ditch along the patch work lattice strips (ie. no quilting in the harlequin blocks) and border pieces.  The binding is straight cut, but with mitered joins, and was applied using this method (though I think I should have machine sewn it to the front and then hand tacked it to the back instead of the other way around).  All that is left now (it having been photographed and blogged) is to attach a label and toss it in the washing machine.

Finished quilt.

Back side.

It turned out wonderfully and I’m still deciding exactly what to do with it (or who to give it to).  I found this pattern a while back and knew it would be the first quilt for my new niece or nephew and didn’t my sister go and have a boy (yeah!) so I have drawn up some modifications to the pattern, more on that in a second, and am currently awaiting fabric to get started.  [DID YOU KNOW KNITPICKS HAS A SISTER QUILTING SHOP?!?!?! I am so screwed.]  And while looking for fabric for that I decided that I needed to make something for my brother’s first anniversary (since with all the crazy last year I didn’t get to make him anything for the wedding), so I subjected this pattern to modification as well and ordered that fabric too.  I am going to have a very happy mail day in a week or two.  (As a side note, the site I got the patterns from has a great variety of fabrics and I’m anxiously awaiting the Super Hero Squad fabrics – there will be cute little Wolverine and Captain America quilts in my future!!)

Here are a few of the great things about quilting:

1. Instant gratification – I can quilt much faster than I can knit a blanket.

2. Make use of cool tools I’ve got kicking around: my cutting mats, sewing rulers, rotary cutters, etc.  And things like my zillion pairs of scissors and the sewing machine and iron and ironing board and cool sewing room.

3. Creativity.  I’m not sure why but quilting has inspired me to go my own way much more than anything else I’ve done.  I’ve modified each of the quilt projects that I’m undertaking (beyond the basic colour changes – from adding a boarder to using the pattern motif as the basis of a completely different structure).  And then there is what I’m calling the Epic Superhero Project.  Inspired by the superhero alphabet cross-stitch samplers I’ve seen online I decided it would be cool to quilt a superhero alphabet.  Yes that’s right 26 characters quilted.  Armed with graph paper, pencil crayons, the internet, and the determination that this should be done I came up with a plan.

Here are all the characters (clearly not in alphabetical order).  If you count you’ll see there are 28, I will be leaving out Cap and Robin in favour of Cyclops and Rogue – I’m an X-men girl at heart.  But I’ll find a way to use them at the very least Cap, maybe on the back.  

Last night I made my first hero.  I started with Ironman – he’s only 3 colours and I don’t much like him so if I screwed him up, no big loss 🙂  And it turned out not too bad, if I do say so myself.  I think I will make the rest out of all squares – I thought I’d save on cutting but really its only asking for trouble as my seams aren’t perfect. So next on the list: E for Electra.

Here is Ironman, 1/26.  A good start.

So until next time, let this be a cautionary tale – be very careful around anything that involves fiber and needles… its addictive stuff.  And if you glance above at all the pretty graph paper, you’ll see what your brain looks like on quilting…

*My mom’s Aunt Shirley passed away a number of years ago and mom inherited most of her crafting stuff. Aunt Shirley had remarkably diverse crafting interests and I have benefited from the knitting and sewing ones, since my mom is not a knitter and she has her own sewing things (most of which she isn’t using at all), so I can lay claim to whatever strikes my fancy from this wonderful treasure trove.

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