Fifty Simple Steps To An Awesome Quilt
We've talking so much about Rocket Boy and his quilt, that you may have forgotten about another UFO I've written about here, commonly known as the Rail Fence Quilt. Well, I've been working on it. I've made some changes to it, and, by golly, it's a pretty handsome quilt. I think my design process really had a lot to do with the results, if I do say so myself. So I thought I'd share with you, dear readers, my patented, guaranteed-success design process. I call it, "An Awesome Quilt in 50 Simple Steps." Here it is:
While working your way through junior college by clerking at a local fabric shop, make 42 misguided and misshapen rail fence blocks from mystery fabrics.
When in college, realize you have no time for quilting and give away all 42 blocks plus all quilting materials and supplies to friend of mother.
Seventeen years later, decide to take up quilting again and purchase 58 plaid shirts at local thrift shop. Store in basement.
A year after that, really decide to take up quilting again and track down lady with rail fence blocks. Get them back. Store in basement.
A year after that, really really decide to take up quilting again. Start putting blocks together.
A few days later, realizing that something needs to cut the '80's calicoes, start cutting up thrifted shirts in a blind frenzy. Add to blocks.
Lacking any design space, thumbtack flannel to a bookcase, rendering all books unuseable for the next three months.
Go fabric shopping in the dead of winter. Fall in love with a great Kaffe Fasset and decide that must be the backing for the quilt. Buy exactly 18" too little fabric.
Go back to fabric store, still while in the dead of winter. While buying an additional 3 yards of Kaffe Fasset to compensate for the 18" shortage, decide to add some other bright colors to cheer the quilt up. Add to ever-growing pile of mish-mashed blocks.
When quilt is exactly too big to be a lap quilt and too small to be a bed quilt, decide you can't piece another &(*%$%$(@!! rail fence block if your life depended on it and declare the quilt finished. Finito. Done. Forever.
Decide to machine quilt on home machine. Waste 5 2/3 hours on Internet looking for good advice on how to prep a quilt for home machine quilting. Realize equipment is needed.
Go to fabric store. Buy five dozen celebrity-branded special basting safety pins, size 2.
Move heaven, earth and all the furniture in your studio to lay the backing, batting and top out on the floor to try and pin the quilt together. Crawl around on the floor for four hours pinning quilt together with pins about 10" apart. Fold quilt up and restore studio to natural state.
Ignore quilt for holidays.
Make New Year's Resolution to finish quilt. Unfold quilt. Look skeptically at pins, which are about 10" apart.
Waste 3 7/8 hours on Internet trying to find more information about bin basting.
Go to fabric store. Find and buy book on machine quilting.
Come home. Read book. Realize that current pinning strategy is completely inadequate and will result in horrible quilt disaster.
Go to fabric store. Waste 3/4 of an hour trying to decide if you want to pay a premium for bent basting pins or will be happy with regular. Buy 500 regular brass safety pins, size 0. On clearance.
Spend 14 1/2 hours over two days unpinning and repinning 1/10 of the quilt. Stop due to extreme muscle fatigue and a completely wrecked manicure.
Waste 1 1/3 hours on Internet looking for advice on pinning.
Go to fabric store. Ask for Kwik Klip. Endure arched eyebrows and disbelief from teenage clerk. Leave empty handed.
Make the long trek to the big store across town. Buy Kwik Klip.
Spend 27 2/3 hours over next week unpinning and repinning 9/10 of quilt. Decide you will wing it on the last 1/10 because if you ever touch another safety pin you will take a life.
Contemplate shoving the seemingly 50 yards of fabric through your tiny home machine for quilting. Decide to work on it next week when you've had time to regroup.
Shove quilt in corner. Ignore it's reproachful looks.
Two weeks later, tired of looking at sad, unfinished quilt, shove it in project box under work table.
Three months later, in a post-fabric-splurge euphoria, sign up for a long-arm quilting session. Prepay fee. Mark the calendar with the long arm class, two weeks out, with four asterisks and a note about the 24-hour cancellation policy.
Twelve hours before long arm session, remember that you have to have a quilt top to sew for the class project.
Spend 14 1/2 minutes deciding whether or not to eat the session fee.
Spend 37 1/8 minutes speed piecing a new quilt you're more excited about. Give this up at 10:00 p.m. as futile.
Remember the rail fence top, still pinned and folded in the project box. Get it out. Unpin it and fold.
Watch prerecorded season finale of Dancing With The Stars.
At 11:00 p.m., go back to studio. Look again at quit top. Realize that it's exactly too big to be a lap quilt and too small to be a twin. Decide you really want a twin-size quilt.
Take top up to bedroom to measure. Wake up toddler who only wants Hubby to go back to sleep. Alienate Hubby.
Return to studio and cut quilt top into strips, forever ruining any chance of an easy solution to the impending long arm session.
Realize that you don't have enough of the the fabric you were intending to insert. Reconfigure plan to include multiple fabrics.
Get halfway done and fall asleep at sewing machine at 1:30 a.m. Decide to get up early and finish before the 9:30 a.m. session.
Wake up at 8:35 a.m.. Slap the rest of the pieces together without regard for straight seams, even sewing or frankly, anything approaching craftsmanship at all.
Realize the backing also has to be extended. Carefully measure and rip (no time to cut) a swath of fabric to insert in the back.
Realize this fabric is polyester when it melts instantly into brand-new iron.
Grab the only piece fabric even remotely in the same color family with enough yardage left on the shelf, a home dec fabric. Eyeball, rip and insert into backing.
Press with old iron.
Race out of the house at 9:35 a.m.
Stumble into long arm session to find that quilt shop owner is sick and wouldn't have known if you missed it anyway.
In a stunning display of bullheadedness, spend two hours loading quilt top into machine and one hour waiting for technician to fix bobbin case.
Quilt. For three hours.
Stumble home with a mix of complete victory for having completed this task, pain from the giant muscle spasm that you idealistically call your back and that sinking feeling as you realize the quilt still isn't all the way finished.
And voila! One cool, fun, scrappy quilt! Wasn't that simple?