All Arts Challenge

All Arts Challenge: Quilting

Quilting was a new craft for me, and I may actually continue to make pieces. This one was a surprise for me, because I don’t particularly like sewing. I walked in to my local quilting store, Capital Quilts, and found a woman working there named Kat. I said “my experience with sewing is making a chocolate chip cookie pillow in fifth grade home economics, and trying to hem my work pants and accidentally sewing the leg hole closed. I need you to show me how to make a quilt, sew a tote bag, and make some clothing for this crazy challenge I’m involved with in the County Fair.” Kat is like a Fairy Godmother of sewing. Clearly. I highly recommend this store, and the women who work there. Because I was a lost cause. 

The craft: I thought quilting was the very act of making the quilt. Apparently, it’s a single step. First, you have to piece your top. Then, you can use either a single sheet of fabric for the bottom, or piece that too. You sandwich the top and the bottom with some batting in the middle. And then you run stitching over the three layers to hold the batting in place. This step is the quilting step. Technically, a piece needs to have three layers and the quilting stitch to be called a quilt. After you’ve quilted your piece, you need to bind the edges, first in front by machine, and then in back by hand. 

My piece: I have a 1930s Black, White & Yellow theme in my kitchen, that extends to my dining room. I even restored a 1930s Magic Chef cast iron stove, cutting out the piping and converting it to a sideboard. And I am trying to have every piece I make for this challenge be something I will use. I knew I wouldn’t use a quilted blanket. Not with years of crocheted afghans in the house. So I decided on a table runner to match my theme. Now there are patterns for some completely awe inspiring table runners out there. I just wanted simple strips of fabric, randomly pieced. And I wanted to piece the top and the bottom to make it reversible. I chose a “hero fabric” (channeling Gordon Ramsay, who is always talking about the hero of the dish – the item that is the star on the plate and the other items support). My hero fabric is a black and white tree pattern with yellow sparrows. I love sparrows. All the other pieces of fabric were chosen to support that one. 

My Hero Fabric

The work: Capital Quilts has a classroom, where, if a class is not in session, you can rent a really nice sewing machine for $5 an hour. I decided Mondays would be my work day for this project, and roped my dear friend Lindsey in to coming with me, for professional quilting advice and moral support. I really need to buy her a latte. The first Monday, I got all my fabrics chosen, and all my strips cut. I even managed to piece my top. The next Monday, I pieced the bottom, adhered the batting with adhesive, sandwiched the three layers, and ran wildly Bohemian quilting lines over the top. I was ecstatic. My last visit, I chose a fabric for my binding, evened out the edges, and machine bound the piece. (On this visit I also picked out a pattern and fabrics for the Accessories project tote bag, cut it, and sewed it together!) That night, during two episodes of Game of Thrones, I finished the hand binding part and almost cried tears of joy with how happy I am with the piece. It’s not perfect. It’s clearly a beginner piece in fact. There are some strips that are a little thick to thin, because my seaming was off. But given my prior experience, and my professed abhorrence for all things sewing, I was surprisingly at peace with the work. There were times I was frustrated. But the end product makes me so happy, I may actually make another piece. 

Going forward: I need to go back to Capital Quilts to do my Clothing entry. But as I was pinning projects on Pinterest I came across a lot of beautiful pieces, and now, in the back of my head, I think I may find myself back at Capital Quilts even after my Clothing piece is finished… 

Tools:  Everything I needed for this project was purchased at Capital Quilts. I don’t really know enough about the varying tools and products to recommend them to you – consider finding a local quilting store near you and getting a wonderful person to help you with your first piece. 

Laying out the strips of fabric
Quilting the three layers together
Quilting the three layers together
Binding the front by machine
Binding the back by hand.
Binding the back by hand.
It's not perfect, but it's my first piece, and I love it
It’s not perfect, but it’s my first piece, and I love it. You can really see the swirling lines of the quilting stitches over the three layers in this picture. That was a lot of fun to do!
Perfect for my little dining room

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