Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Maze Quilt

Another One Bites the Dust! This one is the quilt for my impending niece. Carlee Ann is due to be born at the very end of this year. Some would say that it's utterly uncharacteristic of me to be working ahead like this. I would have to agree. But, I have to get these quilts finished while I have the time.

This quilt is certainly the most fun of all my quilts. Note that I'm not saying it was the most fun to do, but that in and of itself, it is a fun piece to look at. And hopefully sleep under. Incidentally, it WAS fun to construct.

As you can see, the maze design worked out. Hurrah for Electric Quilt! I did end up using some commercial fabric, but you can see the red button fabric that I created. And that blue maze fabric with all the circles? That's my creation, too! I used washers and sea salt for that effect. I strip pieced the design, then quilted it in concentric squares.

Here's the fun effect that you CAN'T see through the magic of a digital camera. The thread I used to do all the quilting: GLOW-IN-THE-DARK! This is also the thread I used to finish the edges, and inscribe the label on the back. So, little Carlee with have a surprise when the lights go off!


Dear friends, I have learned a most valuable lesson. That fuzzy fabric that's oh-so-soft, right next to the polar fleece and flannel? The one that makes your hands rejoice because nothing, nothing has ever felt so soft? The fabric that doesn't SEEM too stretchy when you pull on it in the store? That fabric, no matter what the precautions you take, is impossible to work with. Here's my experience with it:

I picked out a lovely red color of this fabric to use as the border and backing on the Maze Quilt. I love using soft fabrics like this on a baby quilt, but I think I got lucky on the first quilt I did. I found fabric that was amazingly cooperative, and I was still basting with pins, so I didn't run into the same problems. This time around, things were very different.

The red fabric sheds massive quantities of red fuzzies when it's cut, meaning that my furniture, my floors, and the insides of my sewing machine were covered in red fuzz. The edges then curl, making the art of lining up edges almost impossible when adding a border to the quilt top. And forget about ironing the seams. Already, I was having misgivings.

Then I went to make the quilt sandwich, a process that involves layering the backing fabric (enter more red fuzzy fabric), the batting (fusible batting), and the quilt top (the pieced maze). This was the first time I was going to work with fusible batting, but it basically goes like this: apply the steam iron to the top of the quilt to fuse the three layers together. They remain fused together while you quilt, meaning that you can skip the nasty step of pin basting the quilt. It's supposed to be a big time-saver. Supposed to be.

As I was actually quilting, unbeknownst to me, the backing was separating from the batting, and bunching up underneath my stitches. I was more than halfway through quilting the top before I figured this out, though. ARGH! Now, I've had to rip out all of these stitches, find a new backing fabric, buy more batting, and try again.

Just when I think I have my act together and that creating THIS quilt will go smoothly, I encounter another "learning" experience. I can only hope that the more experience I have, the less disastrous these opportunities for learning will be.