Wanda Gene's Musings on Life, Love and Loving the Quilting Life!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Making of a Quilter

Hello to All!

I come from a time, place, and family that placed quilting in high esteem.  It was my destiny, really.

We were Scottish and English, although I did not know that for many years.  Our family had been here in America since before the Revolution and were shaped by the rich cultural heritage of Appalachia.  We had been here so long that we forgot to teach our children where we had come from.

Both of my grandmothers were quilters, one from Kentucky, one from Ohio.  They lived about 30 miles from one another, but one considered herself a Southerner, and one did not.  They, were, however, united in their passionate love for making quilts.

Each did exquisite work.  Grandma Ferguson did only piecing and paid others to do the quilting for her.  Grandma Smith quilted from A to Z, sometimes for others, and sometimes even for my Grandma Ferguson.
I own and treasure one quilt started by one and finished by the other.

So I always marvel that my very first quilt that I made when I was just 20 years old was inspired, not by my quilting grandmas, but by the great-grandmother of my DH, Jerry.  She was known as Grandma Simones (sounds French but she was German).  She had made a quilt for Jerry when he was born.  She sheared the sheep and carded their wool to make a batting to warm him during the bitter Minnesota winter.  She pieced flannel for the top and then tied it with more wool.  By the time I knew him, nothing was left of this quilt but a few tatters.

I set out to make him new quilt.  It was huge, green, and tied.  It roughly followed a brick-work pattern.  And it was not quite as bad as it sounds.

Eventually, I went on to make quilts for our sons and more quilts for our own beds.  Almost all of these early quilts have worn out and passed out of our lives.

Now I piece with my Bernina 1230, named Erie Mae after Grandma Ferguson, and I quilt with Emma and Electra, my longarm APQS Millenium with IQ, named after Grandma Smith and my great-great Grandma, Electra Spurlock.  I feel their spirits with me, and the spirit of Jerry's great-Grandma.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Complete with Label and Matching Pillowcases.....

Hello to All--

Here are the extra goodies to go with the quilt that I told you about in my last post.

Beverly made this wonderful label, thus placing this quilt into the select group of quilts that actually have labels.

I wonder what percentage of all quilts actually do get labeled.   Do you think 30%? Or even 50%?  I dare say that possibly more than 90% of all quilts, even today, are lacking in this form of documentation that is unique to our
quilting art.

I have gotten better about labeling than I was in the past.  Sometimes a busy life and laziness get the better of me.  I would say that 80 to 90% of my quilts are getting labeled these days.  For 2010 my goal is going to be to catch up on labeling and then to stay current.

Here are the four pillowcases that go with Bernadette's cat-themed quilt.  I plan on taking the whole set to her when I go to California for Easter.

Oh, and I think that I had better make a label for the baby quilt that I made for my three month-old grandson, Miles.  At least I have a good excuse.....at the time I made the quilt, I did not know what his name would be.  That excuse is past its expiration date!

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I'm Quilting Some Cute Kitties and Big Cats!

Hi Everybody--

I have a great quilt top here  made by my DSIL, Beverly.  She pieced, appliqued and embroidered the top for her sister and my other DSIL, Bernadette.  She sent it to me to quilt on Emma, my longarm quilting machine.  This appliqued kitty is the center focal point of the quilt.

These are some of the machine embroidered cats of all kinds that Beverly has placed in smaller blocks that surround the center cat.  It should come as no surprise that Bernadette loves cats!

Beverly's work is exquisite.  I don't do machine embroidery, so I am really in awe of the detail that is captured in these designs.

Beverly also sent me prepared binding, a beautiful label for me to sew on the back, and several really cool matching pillowcases.  The pillowcases are such a great idea.....I know I want to make some for some of my future quilts!

I'll be showing some pics of the pillowcases and the label soon!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wide Backs--What You Don't Know Can Make You Tear Your Hair Out!

Hi Everybody--

I want to talk about wide backs today....you know, those tempting bolts of cloth in 96", 108", or even 118" wide.

The wide backs that free you from having to piece backs. The wide backs that are wide enough even to please your longarm quilter (she wants your quilt back to be 4" wider than the top on all four sides). The wide back that croons in your ear, "Buy me and spend the time saved by not piecing the back sipping a glass of wine in the bathtub."

If you have never tried a wide back, you need to know the way to prepare the back.

Years ago, I bought a wide back made by a reputable mill and sold by a first-class mail order fabric company. The unfolded back looked like this: / / , instead of this | |. By the time I trimmed the wonkies off of it, there was insufficient fabric for the back of the quilt. I did a little piecing on one corner, but that sort of defeated the whole purpose.

So, preparation starts in the store or on the website before the first cut is made. You have to buy extra fabric for squaring up.

For the fabric to be square the cut edge must be at a 90 degree angle (also called a right angle) to the selvages. If the folded edge is not perfectly parallel to the selvages, then we have a little off-grain problem. The fabric must be re-folded and a new cut edge made at 90 degrees to the selvage.

This is the same principle that applies when cutting our strips across the width of the fabric. If our cut is not at 90 degrees to the fold, we end up with the dreaded V shape when we unfold the strip.

When regular fabric at 45" wide is cut from the bolt and brought home, you might have to square up a little, but it's rarely a big problem.

But think about the wide back. It is folded once, lengthwise, and then again, also lengthwise, to allow it to be rolled onto the bolt. Do you think the factory workers measure and re-measure that second fold every yard or so to make sure that that it is perfectly square with the first fold?
Somehow I doubt it.

What this means for you, the quilter, is that you will need to do some trimming on that wide back. I find that 18" is enough extra fabric when purchasing to allow for trimming. So, if I need 3 yards for my quilt, I buy 3 1/2 yards.

Here is what I do: Wash and lightly press the fabric. Fold in half crosswise so that the selvages meet on both the the right and the left sides. Then fold the two right selvages across to the two left selvages. Carefully adjust the fold so that the back is folded in exact quarters. Everything should line up except the four raw edges, which are probably wildly off kilter. That is the side that I will trim. Use a large square quilting ruler or carpenter's square to establish the line for the cut. I use an acrylic yard-long ruler to make the cut, but even with that I have to cut a bit, move the ruler and then cut some more.

I hope that none of us find that an extra 1/2 yd STILL is not enough to square up that wide back. It has always been enough for me.

If your back is too small after squaring up, there are still a few options:
  1. Add a piece on one side or corner to make it larger.
  2. Use the back for another, smaller quilt.
  3. I can't think of a third one.
I hope that this will help someone out there not to make my mistake that I made with my first wide back!

Happy quilting!