Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Constant Quilting

Well, today is the last day of school and instead of making me excited for summer, it always makes me melancholy.  The kids are another year older; we've had to say "goodbye" to teachers, classmates, and friends; and our nine-month routine is about to go out the window.  It's an inescapable reminder of the steady march of time.  Clearly I'm not good with change.

But because change is inevitable and, try as I might, I can't stop time, I've had to find a way to slow time down... yes, it's quilting.  Planning, cutting, and piecing while listening to music or with Pride and Prejudice playing in the background (for the 20th time) I'm able to forget.  For a few stolen moments I don't have to think about the fact that my daughter will enter high school next year or that my son will have to face junior high without his best friend.  With my mind on the quilt taking shape before me I can set aside my sadness that I have only one child remaining in the village school that has been at the center of our lives for 9 years and I can ignore the nagging worries about how I'm going to entertain 3 kids and a dog for 2 months.

In quilting, as in life, the colors and fabric, the patterns and textures are ever changing.  But unlike life, the process of quilting remains constant -- always rhythmic, soothing, and familiar.  And so for the past few days, instead of singing the blues, I've been working on a small quilt for a favorite teacher.  Call it avoidance, call it escapism... I call it healthy.

For Mrs. Johnson - 14" x 14"

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

And the Verdict is...

I recently decided to have some of my quilts quilted by a long arm quilter.  As a dedicated hand quilter, this was not an easy decision to make, but a huge backlog of quilts awaiting quilting was enough to finally put me over the edge and give it a try.  Remember this block of the month quilt? 

It's the first one back from the long arm quilters' and the verdict is... I love it!

Here's a look at the finished product:

Actually I've had the quilt for a couple of weeks, but between baseball and lacrosse games, puppy school and a submission deadline, I didn't get around to starting the binding until yesterday. 

I'd like to say that I'm finished with the binding, but in the interest of full disclosure, I should probably tell you that I'm still working on sewing it down on the back.  Sigh...

But back to the quilting.  I love how the stippling in the inner border makes the appliqué pop...

I think the pattern on the setting triangles is really pretty...

And I especially like the "piano key" pattern in the outer border...

The drape is a bit stiffer than with a hand-quilted quilt, but my mom assures me that it will soften with use.  And it is a very different look than hand-quilting -- although no less pretty.  In retrospect, I might have chosen a less visible thread color for the blocks and setting triangles, but short of changing the thread color to match every block (and probably driving up the cost) I'm not sure what would have looked better.

But all in all I'm very happy with the finished quilt -- the operative word being "finished."  Let's be honest, it would probably have taken me a year to finish by hand (IF I finished it at all) and I would never have attempted that outer border.  Quilted and bound in less than 2 months (well, almost bound) all while working on other projects and without sore fingers.  I'm sold!