Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Quilt Man Hath Cometh

Every quilt begins with a dream.
If you buy one from a popular catalog, that dream began with a starving paraplegic child in Indonesia. I hope those toddler tears help you feel cozy at night.

That was just it, if an orphan with a 50 year old jerry-rigged diesel powered sewing machine could make a quilt, why couldn't I?

So this quilted tangent began in the fall of 2008. What happened in the ensuing years, you ask? Oh buddy, just you wait!
Some folks tell ya you need rulers, rotary cutters and an actual recipe for the quilt, one that is followed. Let me tell you, this ain't true!**Actually, you should follow the quilt recipe, please read below.
The quilting I do is the quilting that would be done if Che Guevara and Pancho Villa had a love child that was born an old lady wearing bandoleros filled with Singer needles. No pins, no thimbles, and no regrets.

Another enjoyable night of quilting under the influence
Quilting after imbibing a delicious libation is always a good idea, because your seams seem straighter when you're seeing double!

Things I learned from quilting:
  • Don't be afraid to fall into an abyss of patchwork
  • Keep things straight and measure if you get a chance (no seriously, this is a good idea)
  • The adage "measure twice and cut once" is actually true, sorry Pancho!
  • Substituting is okay of you are a teacher, but substituting quality fabric with the low dollar bargain bin remnant stuff, or corduroy/denim for linen, or a Budweiser & a machete for a pattern and a quilting class is not okay. Keep it real, quilt like a gangsta.
Okay, so after many months of work, the topside patchwork was finished. All done right? I have finished quilting, no? Well, quilting is actually a type of bedding composed of several layers generally combined using the technique of quilting.
Wait, hold up. Several layers? Yes, this includes a batting and a backing.
That took more time.
I chose a monster piece of black batting that did not have to be pieced together in the middle (the final dimensions of my quilt are 110"x 124").
I chose a flannel backing and a reserved and modest border so that if we had easily-nauseated guests over, we could flip the old girl over and they would not puke at the sight of my patchwork.

So, like an enormous fabric BLT, I had the layers of my quilt ready to go. I found a nice lady on the internet with a fancy machine to piece them all together (Quilt them).
But my dreams were dashed.....crest fallen, hopes ravaged, life over, it was time to burn my quilt in the street and ride a train to Barstow and oblivion. I was told that my gorgeous fabric sandwich was "un-quiltable".

Dear God, they'll never find my quilt or my body.

The problem was, it was too un-square, with lines all over the board. She thought it would be like quilting a square mile of bubble wrap in zero gravity...not possible.

Well, let me tell ya, a second opinion is worth a million bucks. I found another nice lady with an even bigger quilting machine and she said she could easily get it done. Sharon at Old Town Quilting in Fort Collins, CO is a master of quilting. She was able to take my rough-shod first ever quilt and work small "darts" into it. A dart is a small acute triangle folded in order to gather areas where extra fabric exists and quilt over them , helping the end product to conform to a square (sorry, Che!)
Sharon decided a meandering pattern would be most forgiving given the bare-back nature of my work. I had originally wanted a leafy pattern due to my infatuation with vegetation, but I took her advice, realizing that my quilt was lucky just to be quilted.
Another option would have been a "tie-type" quilt, where instead of sewing the layers together, a small portion of thread is used periodically to fasten them together. Old Man Brandy said that is how the Kansas ancestors made quilts, but that is just not my style. Like an extra large, hey, garçon, I said EXTRA large...really, that is as big as they come? Okay. So a true quilt is like a BLT with a thousand tiny staples in it, not a single toothpick stuck in each half. I cringed at the thought of one yarny tie thread holding my whole mess together. Any price was acceptable, I needed that damn quilting!

So it has been a long and sometimes frustrating and agonizing journey. But, it was all worth it.Quilt #2 is in the works, and don't tell anyone, but I bought some rulers and a rotary cutter and a 12 pack.


  1. OMG! Luke, that looks pretty damned good! I can't wait to see your second one.

    We miss y'all!

  2. Ha! Quilting never seemed so fun as with a beer and a puppy to help.

    Looks great!

  3. You are inspiring Luke! I think I want to make a quilt... but I prefer Chardonnay and Courvoisier...I think this is going to cost me a lot more than good fabric!

  4. I have been told many times that I was unquilt-able. You've given me hope.

    Love, Uncle Rusty

  5. You are such a minimizer -- a 12-pack ain't nearly enough to get the rest of us through another Bonsai Goat quilting episode. Thank goodness several states lay between Oregon and Colorado...

    p.s. It's VERY COOL -- truly.

  6. Lu,

    No one ever said you don't work hard! Damn. Impressed yet again by your massive crafty-ness, you happy homesteader you.

    Makes me wanna make something.

    K (big sis)

  7. Lukey, I love your quilt...what a journey. That is a great story. We should make a family quilt...everyone does a few squares, and now you know how to do all of the "quilting." Love you a ton. Sarah

    PS nice new sewing machine, I can tell Barley likes it!