Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fast-forward to Now

So you've seen my first quilt; here are my latest...  called Daddy's Ties.


Yes, those are sweet hubby's feet again...  I really must learn to edit photos soon!

These quilts are my latest, commissioned by a friend for her daughters.  Jane brought her late husband's neckties to me and asked that I make quilts for her girls to remember their Daddy by.  (Yes, I'm a teacher and I know better than to end a sentence with a preposition...  but that's how we use that phrase down here!)

Randy was a teacher and wore a tie to work every day.  He had quite a collection of unusual ties.  His girls treasured those ties after he passed away.

Those ties languished in my sewing room for months!  Each time I'd pull them out with intentions of getting started, I'd panic and put them away.  I couldn't bear the thought of ruining them.  But finally, when my deadline was only two weeks away, I had to figure it out!

When Jane first brought the ties to me, I had in mind laying them out in a circle and simply appliqueing them down to a base fabric.  NOT!!!  This didn't work for a couple reasons.  First, I did not take into account the fact that the ties were all different widths and as such wouldn't make a perfect circle.  (Geometry was not my best subject.)  Secondly, the ties were too thick if left unaltered.  After lots of searching online for tutorials and quite a few tears, I resigned myself to the fact that I'd have to take every one of those ties apart and cut them to the same size.

There were 58 of those suckers!!!  52 were regular neckties and the others were bowties.  For my ten-degree Dresden plate template to work, I'd need 36 blades for each quilt.  So I improvised...  I used all the wide ends of the neckties and then pieced the narrow ends to get additional blades.  I also cut the bowties in half and appliqued them to solid fabric blades.

Once I had all the ties deconstructed, I was on a roll.  Piecing the blades was not terribly difficult.  What was hard, was trying to be sure each daughter would end up with part of each of her Daddy's ties.  I don't think I was entirely successful, but I got pretty close.

Each completed circle was machine appliqued onto white-on-white base fabric.  I used a straight stitch along most edges with blanket stitching around the center circles.  (I am certain the quilting police would disapprove, but it was the best I could do under my time constraints...)  Each top was backed with the same white-on-white fabric because I was afraid darker backings might show through to the front.

I quilted these two myself with my new Viking Platinum 16 midarm machine, using white Aurifil.  Until very recently, though, I was quilting on my regular Viking Topaz 30 sewing machine. 

Since the focus of these quilts was the neckties, I quilted them with a very loose meandering design.  (The fact that by this time I had less than 24 hours to quilt and bind both had absolutely NOTHING to do with that choice!)  Binding was done by machine as well, for durability, don'tcha know...  Actually, I've gotten pretty good at doing it that way, so it looked fine.  I wasn't entirely happy with the fact that the necktie circle didn't lay perfectly flat for quilting, but with all those bias-cut silks, it was the best I could do.

What did I learn from these quilts???  First, one should not procrastinate until two weeks before a deadline to begin work on a pair of quilts.  Second, it takes HOURS to deconstruct, press, and recut 58 neckties!  (Refer back to #1.) Third, dead lizard skeletons sometimes live in old neckties.  (Did you hear me screaming in Alaska???)  Lastly, a Dresden Plate quilt isn't nearly as scary as it looks. I look forward to trying another one, this time a tree skirt, with quilting fabric.

The girls were THRILLED with their quilts, so I'm counting these as successes.