Thursday, November 13, 2008

Frustrations In Fabric

I took my pile o'charm squares (that I showed a couple of posts ago) and sorted the browns and neutrals into a "coffee and cream" theme. What else would you do for a friend you call C is for Coffee? But it was too blah. I needed something to pop it out. Something I had a lot of. (Turns out that not as many people participated in the brown and neutral months of the swap. Without another color C is for Coffee's lap quilt wasn't going to cover her lap!) I thought about what our coffee dates are about - how we celebrate our families and life triumphs together, how we dream, how we chase the blues away by being friends and talking. As I was thinking my hands were sorting out the aqua and blue squares. Hmmm. Ok. That looks kind of cool! Then I started making nine patches. I love nine patches the way I love log cabin squares and flying geese. They are the epitome of the traditional quilt look in my mind, but you can do so many interesting things with them.

Here is a fantastic quilt blog I found where I got the idea for what to do with my nine patches (i.e. how to slice them and reassemble them). She does a MUCH better job of the step by step documentation. I got so excited about cutting my squares up that I forgot to take pictures.
<---Here is the layout I used. It's sort of random but it's also symmetrical. So far so good! (Well except that several of the charm squares I most wanted to use were 5 3/4 " instead of 6". A couple were bizarrely cut on the bias instead of square on the weave. I guess whoever was cutting lined her ruler up with the print and not the actual fabric? That is the problem with a charm square swap. Not everyone is on the same page. One of the ancient ladies in my guild swap cut all of her charm squares with scissors and templates. Forty squares every month. It probably took her the whole month to do it! She doesn't trust rotary cutters. We all have our own quirks, don't we. I try to be compassionate about it. Those squares I wanted to use so badly? I think I'll make a coaster out of one of them to give with the quilt.)
This is what the top looks like all assembled and hanging on my makeshift (<---ha ha ha - the first time I typed that I left out the 'f'!) design wall. (Please ignore the half built glass wall - it's a work in progress too.) I bought a very soft (plush even) backing fabric (totally forgetting that it wouldn't be quite so snuggly when it was quilted - er, still working on that.) I got the whole thing layered and sandwiched. (<-- Which I do with a Dritz basting gun because safety pins are too laborious to put in and obnoxious to take out in the middle of machine quilting; I gouge myself when I try to use straight pins the way Ruth McDowell does; and hand basting is NEVER going to make sense to me.)

I made a few muslin squares to work out my coffee mugs and cup designs on. I limbered up my fingers on those and threw in some bonus practice stippling. I laid out my pictures, made my chalk marks. Perfect. Everything was set. I was ready to machine quilt! I love machine quilting. Rather, I did. This morning it has been a mess of broken threads, tangled bobbin stitches, and deformed shapes that don't even qualify for my beloved "folk art" label. I am so frustrated I want to scream. It is probably something to do with my bobbin tension, but I'm sick of trying to figure it out and too scared to muck about with it too much for fear of ruining all the adjustments. I am out of patience for the ratio of three minutes of stitching to 8 minutes of detangling and rethreading. I'm tired of switching thread colors based on which one works best in the machine instead of which one works best with the design. Grrrrr. I'm taking a coffee break to try to get in better space. Do you think they make a "Zen Patience" flavor creamer?


Chessie said...

~ Sarah

Sandra Glewwe said...

The frustrations and tangles and SNAFUs are worse when the deadline is close. I know all too well! But the colors are beautiful and the layout is wonderful; tears will be shed upon receiving this!