Sunday, November 20, 2011

Quilt – Pinning the layers and starting to sew

I suppose I ought to do a little catching up on my quilt progress. I haven’t been blogging much lately because our internet has been bad, but we have actually been busy with different things. My quilt is progressing. I had finished piecing it in September, and then had to wait a bit for some supplies to come through the mail, but I did get to work on it. Here’s what I’ve done and what I’ve learned along the way.

First, it helps to have a large flat area in which to pancake the layers for pinning. I had my pieced top, a layer of batting, and a bottom layer… not an easy job to get the three aligned and flattened properly. A few extra hands is helpful for this task.. extra paws are not so helpful. I pretty much had to just throw everything out on the floor so they could get their exploration needs sated before I dared start any work on it. I didn’t even try to iron before letting the cats have their turn.

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What does this “Get off and stay off!” mean??

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Ok… eventually, all the layers went together, pinned with some nice brass (no rust) safety pins, and I gathered up my gear to plan the actual quilting. I rolled up the ends so I could begin sewing in the middle of the quilt. I will work my way out to the edges (to make sure any bulge-y bits can be pushed out from the center as I go).

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The next step is to eat the pattern.

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…If you’re a cat. If you’re a cat owner, the photo above is just an example to show you why you should have scanned in all of your pattern pieces so you can make copies in case of unplanned ‘incidents’. (yes, I did)

Actually, my next step was to organize all the little motifs I plan to quilt. There are 96 5x5” squares in this quilt and each one will have a different cat motif. Some I found as gifs or jpegs on the internet, some I made from photographs. I used Corel Paint Shop and my Wacom tablet to make line drawings.

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Also, I plan on tracing all of the yellow and blue ‘stars’ on the quilt.

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Some motif pieces I can cut out and trace directly on the front of the quilt, but tracings on the cat pattern fabric are too difficult to see and sew, so I have been working on the ‘front’ of the quilt when I have a square of the brown fabric, and then flipping the hoop over to work the motifs that go on the cat fabric squares from the ‘back’ of the quilt. In order to line up my motifs properly, because the piecing is on the other side and all I see on the back is the solid fabric!, I baste around the patterned fabric squares with a bright color so I know where my square is supposed to be.

Actually, ‘trace’ is probably not the right word when it comes to transferring these motifs. I trace the outline, and then freehand the details from the drawing… I didn’t use any special paper or tissue… these motifs are printed on plain printer paper.

Don’t forget to taste your erasers. Or, you know, not. I’m finding that a good chalk pencil is handy on the brown fabric in front, and a silver pencil is good on the cream colored backing fabric.

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Below is a finished motif. Actual cat used to show scale. I decided to use a blue quilting thread and it shows up nicely on the brown fabric. The sewn motifs do not really show up on the cat pattern squares, on the front, but they show nicely on the back.

Before I started sewing, I laid out all of the motifs and organized them. Some pictures are more detailed than others, some are more cartoonish, some more realistic. Five of them have names that I will embroider (front only) as well. I wanted to make sure I had them spread out in a pleasing manner. I decided to keep the orientation of each motif the same. I numbered the motifs according to row and column, and the stack is kept neat in a baggie with the rest of my supplies.

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The fun part…hand quilting. And it is fun. I was worried that 96 motifs, plus all of the stars, might be a bit much, but each one is different and I am having fun with it. I get a lot of encouragement from my family and felines too, not to mention very close supervision…

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Sometimes too close

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It is fascinating.

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and cute.

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Besides, as inconvenient, and sometimes painful, as my ‘helpers’ might be at times, they have good input… all quilts should be made with love.

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8 comments:

Nomads By Nature said...

I think this is going to be a fantastic quilt! It looks like you all are enjoying the process of it - can't wait to see the finished product!

Betsy said...

I love all the kitty action going on! Lots of love and happiness going into your quilt.

Jeff said...

Connie, what a great project, and what talent, too. Very nice! I found the cats' antics hilarious, mostly because we have 3 that are oh-so-similar in their curiosity. Yes, better to indulge them in satisfying it (to a point! LOL). Good stuff.

Connie said...

Nomads by Nature - I am enjoying the process! This is still a new hobby for me and so, while I was started off by a good teacher, this is really my first time going through it!

Connie said...

Betsy - It's all about kitty action in this house. Probably why the family voted on this fabric selection! The kids had a lot of input to the images I used to make the motifs too.

Connie said...

Jeff - With these cats being barely adult... just over 2yrs old ... they are very kitten-y still, very playful, and incredibly social. They are driven to be included and involved in everything! Often, that just makes them very good company for whatever we are doing, but they do get overly revved up about some things... like string!

Nicole Gamble said...

I just love your cats! You must be very proud to have them!

Connie said...

Thanks Nicole! We lucked out with these cats :) They are chock full of personality!