Monday, September 1, 2008

UFO Discovery

I was rummaging around in the projects closet, and came across a UFO I'd completely forgotten about. How many years ago did I piece this quilt-top together? 15?

I remember I'd cut a gazillion strips to make a log-cabin something, and had so many left over I cut a few more and put them together in this zig-zag pattern. Here you see it folded in half and draped over my ironing board.

Seeing as I could use another blanket-type item for when my sisters come visit in mid-October, I thought "hey, maybe I could cobble together a back to this and have it quilted in time to use by then." Maybe.

Wanted to do something more than a plain back, partly 'cause I have a few largish pieces of fabric in the stash, but nothing with enough yardage to make a complete back, even for this smallish quilt (finished size will be approx. 66"x78": nap size, rather than bed size, but adequate for an extra layer for one person).

Along with the UFO top, I also found several longish strips of blue and brown check border: alternating 1.5" squares. And about 3 yards of a flame-colored orange tonal print ... and a navy fish theme fabric (where you do you suppose that came from? and why do I have 2.5 yards of it???) with lots of oranges, so the colors all go together nicely. Can't say orange and navy, with out without fish, is anything close to my style, but I really don't care. Goal is to DO something with this quilt top to get it closer to off the UFO list.

So, step 1: I cut some long strips of the flame orange, 8, 9, 10" wide, then cut them lengthwise sortof in half on a slight diagonal, and put the checked strips in the gap:

Step 2: Lay the quilt top out on the carpet in the bedroom... hey, look, there's just enough clear floor space for it, that's nice.

Step 3. Pinned bright yellow poly ribbon (from the gift wrap stash, I've got a 100-year supply of ribbon) to the carpet along the outside edge so I'll be sure to make the back bigger than the front by a few inches.

Step 4: Picked up the top, and lay down the first long strip, on a bit of an angle.

Step 5: Add more strips. The crosswise ones don't go all the way across (didn't have enough linear inches of the flame/check strips). They've been cut into sections and the ends tucked under the edges of the lengthwise ones. Hey, look, I've got just enough for two cross-wise and two lengthwise ones. That's nice.

Step 6: Fill in the gaps. This is where that fishy print gets used up (what else am I ever gonna do with it?). I've rough-cutting shapes here, freehand, making sure everything overlaps by at least an inch or so, for wiggle room.

Step 7: Stitch it together. I had to scratch my head for a bit to figure out how to get it from rough layout on the floor to (reasonably) accurate seaming on the machine. The orange edges are all nice and straight, so the trick is to fit the blue fishy pieces to them. Decided to pin more ribbon along the orange edges:

At that point pieces were picked up a few at a time. I measured out 1/2" from the yellow ribbon on the blue pieces (ribbon marks raw edge of orange, so 1/4" out = orange SA, another 1/4" for blue SA), used the rotary cutter to trim edges straight, and sewed the first batch of seams together. Trimmed the inside long edge to straight again (it needed tidying) and added the first lengthwise flame strip. So far so good.

Getting the rest of it done so the crosswise pieces lined up in the right places and at the right angles took a little more finagling and pinning and head scratching and double-checking -- with frequent breaks because it was a hot day and the temp in the west-facing, no A/C bedroom by mid-afternoon was a steamy high 90s, and I needed freqent ice-water-and-fan breaks.

Anyway, the free-hand layout, guesstimate piecing all seemed a bit iffy, and I'd half expected a hair-tearing, head-banging, swear-inducing nightmare by the time I got to the far side. But it turned out okay:

Things moved around just enough so the finished product isn't quite a much wider than than top as planned, but I can either add a small strip to the sides of the back or trim the front border a little when I get to the next stage.

So now the question is whether to send it out and pay someone else to quilt it for me (if I can find someone who can get it back to me in no more than 5 weeks -- and for a reasonable price -- or to put the whole thing back in the closet until I get a new sewing machine that will enable me to quilt it myself. That's still undecided.

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