A Quilting Update — September 2022

I’ve had two posts about sewing and quilting (HERE and HERE), and the 2021 Holiday Greetings (HERE) had a couple of themed quilts. It’s now time for an update.

Specifically, updates on quilts mentioned before and that have since been finished, and updates on ongoing stuff. This update is limited to large quilts, ignoring, for now, all the small stuff she works on.

I mentioned in the previous post about the difficulties of photographing large quilts . . . well, I came up with something that worked reasonably well (but added a bit of work).

The drawback with that setup is that it’s difficult to get the quilt to hang flat, or, for that matter, to ensure it’s square to the world. Also, it’s inside, which poses a lighting issue, not to mention the pattern of the drapes in the background is a distraction.

I think I worked out solutions for all those issues. . . let’s see if I’m right.

Grand Portage 80″ x 80″ quilt

A brief detour into non-quilting stuff: the setup included my camera mounted on a tripod and a set of powerful work lights on a stepladder. To ensure the whole quilt would be in focus, I shot at ISO 100 and f/22, and that pushed the shutter speed to about 2 seconds (depending on the quilt). I then brought the photos into photoshop and digitally isolated the quilts, and provided what I thought was an appropriate and fairly neutral background. After that, on to Lightroom to adjust brightness, white balance, and other stuff. Finally, I used Sharpen AI to ensure the photos are presentable at 100% resolution.

As usual, you can click on each image, and a larger version will open in a new tab or window. For the full-size versions, the SmugMug Gallery is the place to go (HERE).

Anyway, for the quilts with an interesting (complementary) back panel, I just let go of one corner and reshot the frame.

Not many people go to SmugMug, so I’m also including crops of portions of the quilts to show the details (you can zoom in more in SmugMug) . . .

For smaller pieces, Melisa usually does her own quilting, but these big ones she sends out for quilting. When she gets them back, she then stitches the binding by hand.

The Grand Portage quilt was the first and largest quilt that Melisa made when she was new to quilting, and the one that got Melisa into quilt-swearing . Let me explain . . .

The rectangular blocks that look comprised of three triangles are ‘flying geese‘ (click on the link if you really want to learn how to make them).

When I looked at that link, I laughed at this passage:

The flying geese block is such a great block since it is quick to construct, fun to make, and you can use it in a variety of ways.

Now, I should explain something . . . I’ve been to a number of quilt shops that have large quilts for sale (for a substantial amount of money), and I noticed something . . . whereas Melisa takes great care to ensure blocks match up at the corners, some of the quilts I see hanging on walls of these places (again, with a price tag on them) don’t show the same care.

That’s where the swearing comes in . . . you cut everything correctly, you start sewing, and then, after joining many consecutive pieces, some don’t line up exactly. So, you take stuff apart and redo it.

There’s another aspect of large quilts . . . you have to make them piecemeal, and even though you plan everything out, double-check where everything goes, sometimes you step back and look at the finished product, and … you see a mistake; a block is in the wrong place, or it’s in the right place, but it’s the wrong color.

By the way, as the husband, I’ve learned to not say things like, “It’s OK; no one will notice.” Instead, I reach over and hand Melisa the stitch puller.

Both the above and the next quilt were early efforts (2015) and had sat near-completed — and traveled with us to Hawaiʻi and back — until earlier this year when she decided to finish them.

I think they both turned out well.

The quilt below (shown in prior posts) was actually smaller, but she decided to add a border strip and make it larger.

Tropical Batiks 64″ x 74″
The back was supposed to be blank, but she added those strips for accent.

And here’s a closeup . . .

These next quilts are relatively recent (they were shown “in progress” in the last update), and she opted for line quilting to better match the quit design. If asked, these next two (Arrowhead and Courthouse Steps) are her current favorites.

Arrowhead 64″ x 74″

I’m not showing the back because it’s a solid off-white material, but here’s the close-up of the blocks.

This next one was also shown ‘in-progress’ in the last post, and here it is finished . . .

Courthouse Steps 67″ x 67″

Again, I’m not showing the plain backing, but here’s the close-up . . .

This is where I need to add something . . . namely, that the quilts are a lot more impressive in person than they are in the photos. Their weight, the feel of the fabric, and the design all confer a gravitas that’s missing from the photos.

For example, one of the above blocks is light, and the photo processing makes it difficult to see (I wasn’t paying attention), but not so in real life. Again, the line quilting goes with the pattern of the blocks.

To introduce this next quilt, I’d like to have a recording of Ricardo Montalbán saying “Corinthian” . . . alas, I must do without.

Corinthian Stars 60″ x 72″

And, yes, more fun with flying geese.

I should mention one other thing . . . in almost every quilt, Melisa can point to this or that flaw, this or that mistake, and stuff she’s not happy with. Sometimes the material is at fault (whether it’s cut across or along the weave), and sometimes it has to do with poorly-worded instructions. Occasionally, the instructions omit something or are outright wrong.

In those cases, you do the best you can, and keep going . . . the quest for perfection is a futile endeavor, but it’s what pushes us to improve.

I say that even as I personally practice quantity over quality.

Anyway, those are the quilts that are finished . . . and these next ones are the current works in progress.

Gemstone Solids 65″ x 68″
Gemstone Solids 65″ x 68″

This was another frustrating quilt to ensure the right color blocks ended up in the right place. To them who would naively say something like, “that doesn’t look like it would be difficult to keep straight“, I say: “you’ve never built anything, have you?

Astrodelic” is a new word for me, but I like the pattern (HERE) . . . and here it is.

Astrodelic 42″ x 42″

Once again, one of the blocks blends in . . . sorry.

Again, those are in progress and will be sent out for quilting when ready. There is one quilt that is currently out for quilting, and, unfortunately, I don’t have a good photo of it (it was finished in a hurry to catch a good sale on the quilting).

It was also another quilt where she ran into a lot of trouble with the pieces because of imperfect instructions and also because the material was stretchier in one direction of cutting versus the other . . . and because of a whole flock of flying geese.

Cozy Gathering 78″ x 78″

If you look at that photo, you see a lot of imperfections (stuff not lining up) . . . because the major blocks were not yet sewn together; the pieces were just laid on the floor — adjacent to each other and with a slight overlap — to confirm the arrangement — and the photo hurriedly snapped with my phone.

Anyway, that’s the update on the large quilts . . . the next update (yet to be scheduled) will cover some of Melisa’s other quilting efforts. Meanwhile, please enjoy a slideshow of the above.

Slideshow of Quilting Update – September 2022 (19 photos)

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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