I used to imagine that quilting was the perfect craft for me. After all, I love sewing and graphic design and quilting seems like the perfect combination of the two. I even took a quilting class about 10 years ago. It was a great way to get started and learn the basics. I also love that quilting can use little bits of fabric that might otherwise be thrown away. And over the years I've saved a lot of fabric with that purpose in mind. And now finally I've used some of those fabric scraps!
A year or more ago, I organized the scraps into color groups blues, black, white, prints, etc. And a year ago I started making a quilt with the blue fabrics. My method was completely improvised. I just picked up a piece of fabric found another that was a similar size and stitch them together. I'd then keep adding pieces in a row, occasionally stopping to press or trim. I created a bunch of "blocks" and somehow formed them into a quilt top. I took my larger scraps and formed those into a quilt backing. Then I stuck the whole thing in the closet for a year.
And around the beginning of this year I decided it was time to finish the blasted thing. So I pulled it out of the closet, gave it a good pressing, sandwiched the layers, pinned it together and started quilting. Like the piecing, I went with an improvisational method of quilting. I started out mostly stitching near a seam line but then got a little more creative (and had more fun) stitching overlapping zig zag patterns. My stitching is not even or straight but that's ok. Heck! I finally used up those scraps!!! And now I have a cozy quilt to keep me warm! Or just point to and say, Yeah, I made that.
The big thing I learned about quilting (this is the biggest one I've done) is that it's hard on the body. In garment sewing, there's a lot more moving about. Stitch a seam. Press it. Pin another seam. Stitch it. I usually try to do as many seams as possible before moving to the ironing board but boy I never realized how much my neck and back could hurt from just sitting at the machine.
In the future, if I have a more precious quilt I will definitely look into having someone do long arm quilting for me. For this project, I just used my regular machine fitted with a walking foot and an extension table.
Yesterday I stopped by Quiltcon West to see the exhibits. I unexpectedly had the day off work and the convention was very close to where I live so I just popped over for a couple of hours and I’m so glad that I did. I started by going to the exhibition hall and I was almost immediately overwhelmed by the abundance of amazing quilts. It was so inspiring that I’m almost at a loss for words. It made me want to continue making quilts and experimenting. Of course, I will continue to make garments but there’s a time and place for quilts too. I’m pretty confident in my piecing skills but my quilting needs a little practice. Or the help of a long arm quilter. :)
I still have a bin in the closet with about five different quilts to be made or completed. I hope that the success of this project will help inspire to actually finish some of those. I have a quilt top I made about 10 years ago when I took that class that just needs a backing, quilting and binding. I bought batting for it last weekend. So. Baby steps. Next up the back! Maybe in another year I'll have one more quilt finished.
Via an article on Kollabora I stumbled upon this program for donating small quilts to animal shelters. I really love this idea. I'm adopting a kitten soon so I'm animals are particularly on my mind. I'd love to be able to use my skills to help out and also use some supplies that I have just sitting around. Have you ever sewn for charity?