baby quilt (over on channel two)

i’ve picked back up on my baby quilt project.  it took me ages to get more ballpoint needles after i broke the last one, but i’m back, and it’s getting close to finished.

i’m still going down to the studio when jim comes up to make dinner, but i’ve spent a lot of the last two days finishing the edges of the quilt.

when i left it (let me look back) in early march, i was putting on the border.  i ran out of needles most of the way thru closing the binding on the third side, so i finished up the closing yesterday.  then i turned it over and saw how badly i’d caught all the layers in the binding in how many places (lots of gaps, lots of places to tear out stitches and start again), and corrected all that.  and then i sewed down the edges of all the tops  (i took baby clothes top halves and stuck the clothing down at the edges), leaving the zipper or snap and neck closure free to be fiddled with by some baby’s hands.

that was the end of the pre-quilting part.  and, actually, in sewing down the edges of the tops, i actually was quilting.  but the real quilting begins with the next step.

i’m not willing at this stage to put the whole thing in the washer, because the batting isn’t fastened by quilting stitches yet.  but it’s filthy.  the cats have made a cozy home out of the quilt on the sewing machine as it sat there for a couple of weeks until i went out and got needles.  so it’s black with black cat hair in places.  it’ll all come out in the wash, of course, but i’m going to clean the surface with a damp rag and then continue with the quilting steps.

for the quiltling part, i’m using the addition of yet another layer as the excuse for the quilting pattern.  i’ve reserved a bunch of clothes to arrange on the face of the quilt top and then sew them thru the three layers of the quilt using applique.

the issue is how to arrange the clothes.  i have two feety pajamas and two newborn bubble suits, another bubble suit and two pants and shirt sets.

i thought to have a crowd, but not to arrange them in rows.  so first i put them lengthwise and crosswise, but that was boring.  next i tried them catty-corner on the top, and that was more interesting.  but i’m not sure i like them just laying there in a cross pattern.  it looks good from a distance, however.

so then i tried them running around in a circle, and this is much more dynamic, but it’s not easy to make it look good.  especially from a distance.

so – anybody have any suggestions?

mom’s quilt 2

i’m up at 4:30 in the morning.  i’m up because there are a bunch of college kids renting the house opposite, and as long as the weather lasts they’ll be damned if they’re not out drinking on the porch at 4 in the morning.  the porch echoes.  they hoot and howl.  i called the police on them and am now sleepless, waiting for them to be chased inside by the cops.  maybe they’re vampires and i’m doing everyone a favor.  not that anyone else is up at this time.

anyway.  today i took my tape measure and marked out 112 by 97 on the floor in bits of masking tape, including a central piece where i sorta kinda measured the middle of the quilt.  it’s not going to be that important where the exact middle is, unlike the quilt i did for my sister.  this quilt is going to be a riot to begin with, so precision isn’t necessary in designing it.

i took all the cute stuff out of the stack of moldy clothes from my mom’s basement.  i had a wee baby dress of red velvet, including a pair of old fashioned diaper pants (matching plastic diaper covers).  there were two little dresses for toddlers, and two dresses for older kids, maybe 4 years old.  there was a set of toddler overalls – short pants, a set of 4 year old overalls – long pants, and a pair of jeans for maybe a 6 year old.  i also got out a stripy velour shirt i used to love, a toddler shirt with buttons, and a plaid shirt that i think i sewed a pocket on (hating things without pockets, i must have done one of my first sewing projects on it.  unless it was my sister.  but my sister would have gotten mom to buy her a different shirt, and she wasn’t the type to get creative with fabric.)

there are two pieces of tapestry in the collection.  i’m pretty sure mom is going to have a fit about those, but they never got turned into footstool cushions, they’re just embroidery on linen.  one is flowers on black, the other is flowers on blue.  the big one is 2 feet across, the small one 18 inches.  so they’re substantial chunks of landscape.  i know what to do with the large one, but what can i do with the small one?  maybe put it on the under side?  i can’t cut it, because there go all the embroidery stitches, so i have to use it whole.  and the design i’m working with at the moment isn’t very happy with that.

i started out with the large black flower tapestry in the middle.  then i arranged the dresses around them, necks to center.  then i arranged the pants around them, waists to center.  then i put the shirts around them, their necks pointing to the edges.  and suddenly i was out of room.


i’ve got twice as much fabric that i haven’t placed onto the floor.  pants, shirts, t-shirts, a wool jacket, a table runner, a scarf.  the t-shirts and the jacket have textures unlike the rest of the fabrics.  what i need is a way to use all those fabrics as part of the background of the quilt.  and i’ve got to find a way of doing it that doesn’t involve a lot of visual confusion, the way layering a shirt on a pair of pants with part of a jacket sleeve cutting thru would be confusing.  it’s an option i might take with some other quilt, like the jeans quilt of my dreams.  but i think for this one i want the clothes on top to be the main elements, and need the background to homogenize underneath.

so i figure i could strip all the rest of the fabrics together.  that is, cut the clothes into a bunch of strips and sew them together length to length, until i have sewn a piece of fabric.  then i can cut this into strips, and sew it back up another way.  and so on.  if i do it long enough, i will have a lot of very small jewel-like pieces sewn together, and this will effectively spread out the color over the background.  i think it will work nicely.  it’ll mean a lot of cutting and sewing, and that’s where straight lines will be important.  i’m not that good at using the rotary cutter to make absolutely straight lines, but i’m going to fudge it during the quilting process.  anything that isn’t lying well at that point will simply be hammered down with sewing needles. (an added benefit is that anything too weak to hold up on its own (remember, 30 years or more of being moldy does not make for great fiber strength.  even the tapestries are useless for their original intention at this point.)   i’m thinking i should use all the fabric to strip quilt the background except for the scarf and the table runner that i’ll need for the border.  or maybe i will use that blackout material the musicians across the street (not the college students) just threw out.  it’s velvet.

the great thing about these quilts, about everything i make, really, is that you can go ahead and toss the thing in the washer.  it’ll bleed, sure.  it was designed to bleed.   it was meant so that every piece interacts with every other piece, and what better way to do that than to share colors?

i’d be wise to wait a few days before i start cutting up fabric.  you never know, i could easily change my mind about the design.  originally i thought i would use the clothes in a sort of tableau of children’s activities.  but i lack a lot more clothes for that, or specifically, toddler and kid shirts to go with the pants, and socks and underwear and things like that.

but one thing i can go ahead and do is rip a few seams in the clothes that are going to stay whole.  or stay half, anyway.  i get a front and a back half out of all these clothes.  that’s a dozen or more pieces of clothing, and i’m going to turn it into twice that.  so what will happen to my design then?  i’m not sure i can fit backs and fronts into the design.  but i might be able to use parts of the clothes, like a sleeve or a pants leg, which would add to the starburst effect.

or i could put them on the underside and end up with a double sided but lumpy quilt.  i can’t imagine it would NOT be lumpy, with so many different weights of fabric, and things like buttons and hooks and zippers and pockets sewn in.  it would make the quiltling process a bit more difficult if i were to make a double sided quilt, because i would risk trying to run the needle thru a zipper, say.  i had some problems with breaking needles the last project i did that included obstacles.  that was that corset, which i gave up as a bad idea.  the thought of me going into production on something as complex as a corset just floors me now, when before it seemed like a great money making idea.  what a fool i am sometimes.

i’ll save this, because the photograph is downstairs still in the camera, and publish it tomorrow when i’ve had a chance to attach the picture.  perhaps the boys have gone to bed at this point.  i don’t know.  last week there was a 24 hour bike race, and the musicians were on their front porch all night cheering them on.  i called the cops on them, but it did no good at all.   i think i wrote a blog entry then, too.

bow i have to go to dharmatrading and get flannel for the middle, and wide cotton for the backing.

for mom’s quilt 1 see here.