Sunday, May 6, 2007

Settling In

Now that I had at least practiced rotary cutting, piecing, and quilting, I decided it was time to see if I could put them all together and actually create a quilt. Not a real quilt of course, because I was too nervous about my newly-acquired skills to try anything bed-sized (even small bed-sized; even child-bed sized; even very small child-bed sized).

On the other hand, I wanted to practice making some blocks, sewing them together, and quilting. I finally settled on the idea of a tote bag. I had already made a bag, so I was fairly confident that I could do it. I had in mind that it would be a fairly large tote bag in bright, summery colors. Maybe something to take to the pool.

Anyway, I found an easy block pattern online, then spent a while trying to estimate how much fabric I would need, then finally gave up and headed to the fabric store. I bought a yard of each fabric, knowing full well that I would have a lot left over, but that's ok. More to practice and play with.

I think I did a pretty good job (ignore that stray thread in the picture; why are my house, my furniture, my dog, and my hair suddenly covered in stray threads?). I pieced the quilt top together in a long rectangle. I started quilting by attempting to "stitch in the ditch." I have to tell you that this is a confusing process. Everyone describes it differently. Do you actually stitch IN the seam? That's the way it's often described, but then you read about stitching on the "low" side rather than the "high" side (the low side, if I understand it correctly, being the side away from which the seam is ironed). If you're stitching to one side or the other, how can you actually be stitching over the seam, which is the exact center? I finally decided to stitch adjacent to the seam on the "low side." Afterward, I chickened out on free-motion quilting, and instead just straight-stitched diagonal lines through the squares over the entire piece.

I had intended to add a lining, but decided just to back the piece with the pink polka-dot fabric and let that serve as the lining. I added a decorative line of stitching through each piece of the pink, folded the rectangle together, stitched up three sides, and turned the bag right-side out I rolled the top edge down twice and topstitched it. I bought some pink webbing for the handle(s), but I still haven't decided how I want to attach them, so the piece still isn't finished. Somehow the bag came out smaller than I thought it would, so it will make a better purse than a pool bag.

I'm not showing the back, where I put a block in backwards. I thought I checked and double-checked and triple-checked my block layout, but somehow I missed that. Oh well, I like to think it gives the bag character. At any rate, it was fun to actually create something related to a quilt, even if distantly.

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