Saturday, November 3, 2007

Quilting 101

It all started with TV.

Back in the day (around about 1990) there was a quilting show on PBS affiliates starring Eleanor Burns. She showed how to sew strips of fabric together, cut them up into sections, and sew those together. I thought the patchwork aspects of this was way cool, so I bought a lot of fabric (naturally) and started sewing. Mind you, I didn't want to make any of this into quilts -- I had this "bright" idea that I could fashion the resulting quilt tops (meaning the patchwork without the batting and backing that makes up a quilt) into duvet covers. (Okay, so I later learned there is a way of doing this, but I wasn't going to use anything that clever.) I bought enough fabric for several duvet covers, and made precisely . . . no quilt tops. Maybe two-thirds of one, and I still have that partially-made quilt top. I'll finish it some day...

Well, as some of you know, in 1992 I went to law school. No quilting there! Years passed, I kept the fabric but did no sewing, and moved on to other crafts. (I'll save cross stitch for another blog entry.) Eventually I stopped being a full time lawyer (yippee!) and Hub 1.0 and I got our very first DVR, a lovely little TiVo with 60 hours of memory. Hmm... what to watch? I'd gotten into the habit of watching HGTV for all their room makeover shows, and noticed that they ran Simply Quilts everyday. I told you it all started with TV!

What I learned watching Simply Quilts was this: There are a heck of a lot of ways to sew three layers together to make a quilt. Innumerable blocks, layouts and designs for piecing, applique, whole cloth quilts, embellishments, crazy quilts -- you name it, someone's doing it. And what was great about the program was that it showed it all: the basics for beginners all the way to the quilts that win Best in Show at Paducah or Houston -- and one program put together a lot of the "100 Best Quilts of the Past 100 Years" -- wow! Talk about inspirational.

So I started sewing. I signed up for a class on machine quilting and bought me a way-expensive sewing machine two days before the class.

Here's the first quilt I did, and frankly the sewing is WAY better than the photography. This is a pattern I saw on Simply Quilts. It's called "There's a Dog on My Quilt" The colors are way off, presumably because we photographed it on our third-floor landing with the light on, and that light still had the hideous 1970s green & yellow plastic faux-stained glass fixture -- so all the pretty pinks and purples look like week-old bruises. But you can still get the idea.

This was a gift for Coffee Jones's daughter, aka the "Beanette." She had a thing for dogs, although she favored West Highland terriers, which even I now think of as "Kirby" dogs because that's what she called her stuffed dog. Still, a brown mutt with rather more hound than terrier -- I think that's okay.

And what with the bad photography, you can't see all the mistakes. Just as well hunh.

Okay, on to the companion quilt!

I made this gift for the Jones' boy child (just known as the Bean?) immediately after the one for the Beanette, and I wisely kept them together until I could give them at the same time. It's called "There Are Two Cats on My Quilt" and it was done the same way as the doggy quilt. Only this time I made an effort to fashion the two cats with appropriate fabrics for the Jones' household cats: India and Duke. [The cats don't need special blognoms, do they, CJ?]

From a techinical standpoint, these aren't bad first quilts -- my contrast is good, color selection is fine, I happen to know my corners don't all match up, but as quilts for kids, I'm not unhappy.

And from a technical standpoint, I've learned a lot about uploading photos to a blog. Step one is -- load all your images first! I'll continue to show my quilts, in chronological order, in future blog entries.

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