Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Making Do

I'm in Week One of my multi-quilting experiment.  So far so good. But. There was a little unanticipated problem. Last year, I decided to move most of my fabric from plastic boxes on closet shelves to the six drawers of a low dresser in our guest room. Then when I wanted to make a quilt, I could just open the drawers, see everything at once and pull out what I wanted as I planned or pieced. Well, this week I was planning to start a fall maple leaf quilt. I have a basket of fabric that I had set aside over the last couple of years, and I planned to supplement those fabrics with others from my stash. 

And then it dawned on me. I couldn't get at my stash. 

I have a wonderful set-up for quilting. I move my treadle in front of the dresser, and the whole top of the dresser and a card table do a great job of supporting the quilt. Right now it's all set up for one of my other multi-quilting projects: The Big Quilt. But see those drawers behind the treadle and card table? Oops! 

The treadle is heavy, and I didn't really feel like moving it and the table to get to the drawers. Also, the leaf quilt will take a little while to make, and I would have to remove the drawers from the dresser to be able to get at the fabric whenever I need to. That would make more mess than I want (and already have). So, I have challenged myself to make do with what fabric is available, at least for the interior of the quilt. Besides the fabric in the basket, there are a few pieces that might be big enough in some scrap bins in the closet. Actually, this challenge is kind of fun. And having a limited number of fabrics to work with is even a little easier than having access to many fabrics and more decisions to make. I might have gone with more modern fabrics, but now I'm glad my range was limited because these batik, mottled and tone-on-tone patterns really make me think of fall. Here's what I have done--and I've only repeated one fabric with my limited choices. The first step is laying out the whole quilt. The sewing comes later.

This quilt is a Ruth B. McDowell pattern from her book Piecing Workshop. Although I enjoy and make more baby quilts, and throws or bedspreads, my real passion is for pieced and quilted pictures of nature or buildings. I love the challenge of finding just the right bit of fabric to interpret a scene. And using Ruth's patterns is a good way to practice the freezer paper technique and keep my piecing skills sharp. Next up on this quilt are the blue fabrics for the background. At some point, I may need to get into the drawers (or go shopping, but I think not) because I'm not sure I have fabrics handy that will frame the picture the way I'd like. I'm thinking that when the quilt top is finished, I'll hand quilt the leaves (and maybe the border) and do a tight little free motion meandering in the background. 

So that's one part of my multi-quilting. I've also made good progress on the Big Quilt. A couple of observations about that: first, I'm not a real fan of using a lighter weight thread in my bobbin. I shred it sometimes when I pull it up to the top. (Maybe I shouldn't use my seam ripper for that!) But I don't have to rewind bobbins as much and I'll keep using it on this quilt now that I started with it. Second, I notice that my quilting style with free motion varies a lot when I only do a little each day. On some days my quilting is more relaxed and widely spaced, and on others it's more dense and "tight" even though I don't really feel any different. I'm hoping that the two styles distribute evenly across the quilt so the difference isn't too noticeable. 

Finally, my baby quilt project that I can't share is going really well. I have most of it cut out and about 1/3 of it pieced. In fact, it's a little hard to tear myself away from it to work on the other two projects. 

I would rate the week as a success. I've enjoyed going from one type of project to another, and now I remember why I used to regularly have three projects going--cutting, piecing and quilting (It used to be hand quilting, though). A good combination. (I've even figured out how to keep the messes separate.) But if I want to continue multi-quilting, I will need to rethink the fabric storage vs. treadle "problem." Hmmm...

Here's one flower picture for you this week. We have a volunteer snapdragon in the coleus garden. Don't know where that came from, but it's cute.

I'm linking up this week with Freemotion by the River, Freshly Pieced, Sew Fresh Quilts and My Quilt Infatuation. Buttons are on the right. Go see what else is there, and keep quilting.


  1. Beautiful maple leaves, you may not have been able to get to your stash but the fabric you have to hand has orked wonderfully in them.

  2. Beautiful alternating roses and straight lines on The Big Quilt. I think you'll enjoy working with (situationally) limited fabric choices, too.

  3. Awesome! I'm happy to see another fan of Ruth's work! I love her quilts...You're doing a great job on your rendition of her pattern; nice fabric choices. Picking out the background fabric is going to be fun. I'd love to see it when you have it all completed...

  4. I love your leaves and the colors!!

  5. Pretty Fall leaves! Is Summer over already?

  6. The quilting you've been doing looks darn perfect to me Janine! I love those roses and they look great mixed with the other two designs. I'm incredibly impressed that you FMQ on your treadle. Can you imagine if sewists from "days of yore" could have seen you doing that?
    As a big fan of RBM, I bet your autumn quilt is going to be gorgeous!

  7. Don't think so hard about the differences on the quilting on the Big Quilt. It all looks amazing. I am absolutely sure you are the only one who would spot those differences.
    Are the maple leaves going to be appliqued? I don't quite get how this is going to go together. Love the fabrics tho! I like the added challenge of having to work with a limited number of fabrics. Good challenge. :-)

  8. I wonder if the differences in quilting are related to your mood? I'm glad you are enjoying the multi-project challenge - sometimes when I try it I find it stimulating but sometimes it just scrambles my brain!