Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Tale of Two Quilt Backs

. . . with apologies to Dickens. 

Yesterday afternoon, I decided I needed to finish this quilt to display in my booth at The Original Creative Festival, June 13 to 15, 2013 at the Sharonville Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

And so I went to the stack of quilt backings which are all labeled as to which quilt top they belong -- my tops make so many road trips with me that I need to do this to make sure I get them back together with the right backing.

This is what I found (on the left).

That can't be right -- it looks like it belongs with this quilt top (on the right).

And then I remembered!  In a classic moment of distraction, I liked the color combination of the backing fabrics so much that I pulled more fabric and made a scrappy bargello quilt top using Bonnie Hunter's ( idea. 

As I stood there looking at the 3 pieces -- two tops and one backing -- it occurred to me that I would need to make another backing anyway, so I'd shift the finished backing to the bargello top and make a new backing for the windmill.

What does this have to do with the 2013 goal of finishing 13 really projects, you ask? 

Absolutely nothing -- but this project has a deadline and I know what design I'll use to quilt the windmill, so it is going to jump ahead of UFQ #3.  A common cause of unfinished quilt tops, I know.  Something more interesting or urgent comes along and I'm off like a shot.  But perhaps quilting the windmill will inspire me with a quilting plan for UFQ #3???  That would be a nice!

So I'm going to take you on a photo tour of how I made a pieced backing out of stuff I have in my stash and perhaps it will inspire you to try something similar next time you need a backing.  I like using what I have "in stock" for several reasons -- I don't have to spend money and I use up some older stuff that might not otherwise be used by me -- not good for the folks who are waiting for the big yard sale when my stash is liquidated, but good for me!!

First I decide on a color -- and this time it's red -- there is quite a bit of red in the quilt to look good and I own too much red for all the more often I use it.
Second -- I pull fabric.  These pieces are still the full width and the same type of red as is in the quilt.  At this point, it seems like there is more than I need, but pulling on just one factor narrows the field down and makes it easier to decide what I will use.  


Third --  I narrow down the field -- my decisions are quick, impulsive responses to whether I like the character of the print with the prints in the quilt top.  If I can't make up my mind quickly, I assume that means "no" and take it out of the pile.  My main pile is on the left and the "maybe's" are on the right.

Fourth, I measure the quilt top and WRITE it down on a piece of paper!    66" by 75"  So I need a backing that is 70" by 80" and that light piece along the lower edge of the photo is 85" long!  It's only 17" wide (must be left from another backing?) and so I'll need to build about 55" in width.  A little math with the calculator -- 57" divided by 2 equals 29ish".  And I draw a diagram of my plan.  I'll take 29" of the width of each red (put the leftovers back in the stash and now I still have the variety, but less yardage in the red pile -- BONUS).  Once that is done, I measure the length of each red and discover I don't have enough yet.  So the "maybe's" are called into service and I take 29" off the width of those until I get enough to finish my plan.

 Time to iron!?!  The aggravating part of using fabric that has been "stashed" for years is the folds and creases that need to be removed.  I accidently discovered during 2012 that spritzing everything and leaving it hang over the shower rod for an hour or so saves times at the ironing board.  I would estimate that over 75% of the wrinkles fall out.  So that is the next step -- spritz, hang, and go do something else.

After ironing everything, I trim the upper and lower edges of each piece straight, arrange them in a pleasing order and start sewing.   Yes, it takes longer than using two lengths of fabric, but I saved gas and shopping time, tidied up the red shelf, and built good self-esteem!


Here is the finished backing and I'm ready to spend the evening watching a movie and layering up the quilt.

And tomorrow I can start the quilting! 

I've convinced myself it just as important to prevent future "really old UFQ's".

I hope this tale of two quilt backs inspires you to shop your stash for your next backing!!