Sunday, May 1, 2011

quilt if you dare

Whew! Am I glad to have this behind me? In a word, yes!

Even though I had never made a quilt before, my blind ambition led me to exclaim to my husband, "Oh oh oh, and I can make a huge quilt for everyone to sit on!" Now, you're probably saying, "huh?", I shall elaborate...
The topic had arisen a few weeks ago. "What do you want to do for your birthday?", my husband asked me. I had no idea. I had been seeing so many great photos of outdoor picnics online lately and I really wanted to throw one; Hawaii is the perfect setting for outdoor dining. So I told him I wanted to have a picnic, but in the evening, an outdoor dinner. And while I busily went on telling him all my ideas for which park we could have it at and what kind of food I could serve, outdoor lighting options and all the finer details a crafter like me can dream up, it kind of slipped out, "... and I can make it 10' x 10', wait... how many people will fit on that size blanket?" "I should make it 12' x 12', and not to worry, we can use it later for the beach and our own picnics! We could even use it as a bedspread in a guest room—if we ever move. *Oh, and I can even post pictures on my blog, kind of like a tutorial!" *(hence the photos)
So, yeah. You probably caught what I innocently missed as the wave of creative madness swept over me. 12' by 12' FEET is HUGE. As I look back on it now, I think I went temporarily insane. An insanity that continued through going to buy the fabric—how I didn't put it together after buying 10 yards of ONE fabric pattern and 1¼ yards of NINE other fabric patterns (ALL of them for the same project), I'll never know.

The fabric sat in my studio, naively, for about a week and a half. I kept saying things like, "I need to start the quilt for the party." and, "I've got to cut the squares for the party quilt."
The squares. Yes, I had gotten on my trusty computer and drawn up an image to scale of the quilt, trying to make sure I had purchased enough fabric to make a 12' x 12' square. Being the stellar mathematician that I am—not—I had used my trusty iPhone calculator at the store, but now a bit of reality was setting in as the clouds had begun to part and I started to realize (ever so slightly) the enormity of the project.

I don't know why, but I thought, "I need to make the squares on the patterned side smaller so I can get the most out of the 1¼ yard that I have of each pattern." Yeah, this is me using my brain in combination with any sort of math. Well, I made them small alright, 8½" small. Small enough that I could get 20 squares out of each piece. Never mind that I'd eventually have to sew those 20 squares together... 9 times. Let's see, 20 x 9 = 180. Again, I stress, insanity.

But do I start as soon as I make my nifty little diagram? Nooooo... I wait another week.

I start cutting the fabric on Tuesday the week of the party, which is on Friday. I cut 180 squares, the first of which I expertly cut 1" too short on one side because I am looking at my cutting mat numbers wrong. I realize this and have to cut more pieces to sew to the squares that are too small—whew!—crisis averted. Ha! I continue to cut and iron cut and iron...
When all the small squares are cut, I move onto the pieces I need for the back side, which are all the same pattern, a nice red and white checkered picnic pattern. Each of those 9 pieces was suppose to be 33" x 46" (according to my computer drawing). After they are cut and ironed—oh snap!—I forgot to mention, in the weeks I was procrastinating on the quilt I realized I needed a large space to lay this sucker out so I could pin it all together! I knew my "little" 36" x 80" crafting table wasn't going to be big enough, and lucky for me, in the interim, we are about to put new carpet in our bedroom, so SWEET! I'll just take the furniture out early and use the empty 12' x 14' bedroom... it'll just fit.

Only when I start to lay out all the pieces I realize how horrible my math is. All that mess of fabric doesn't lay out to be 12' x 12'. It's more like 9' x 11'. And even if I cut the long side off and add it to the short side, I've run out of the 8½" squares. Pause...

This is the moment where I snap to full reality. Standing in the center of our practically empty bedroom, surrounded by all the fabric squares, I become fully aware of the task ahead of me. I'll spare you the details of what went through my head, heart, and stomach in those short moments. All that ever need be said is that I kept on going... sewing, ironing, sewing, ironing, sewing, ironing. Finally, I had finished sewing all the pieces together! YAY!!!

I had bought a roll of batting that was big enough for a queen size quilt. I laid it out on the floor of the bedroom, thanking the Lord that I didn't need to sew pieces of it together. I placed the backside piece down on top of it, right side up. Then I laid the patterned piece down, wrong side up. On my hands and knees, I carefully cut away the excess batting. Going around once again, this time scooting on my rump, I pinned the edges of all three pieces together. Then careful not to poke myself or dislodge the pieces, I carried the quilt into my studio and began to sew around the edge—thankfully remembering to leave about 12" of open edge so I could turn it all inside out. Once shaken all out, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. It's beautiful! I canNOT believe I'm almost finished. I go back into the studio and sew one last seam about 2" in from the edge all the way around and call it a night!

I decided to wait to sew all the inside quilting until after the party. Mostly because I didn't leave myself enough time to do that part before the party, but it's alright if you can't actually call it a quilt just yet... it was still ridiculous!

Oh, and if you dare to use this post as a quasi-quilt tutorial... Here is a great quilting resource. Tell me again why I didn't review this myself? Oh yeah, blind ambition... that's how I spell success ;) Hey, I got it mostly right!


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