Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chunky Log Cabin

It was 1998, my second year of college.  A new girl in the dorm had a really awesome patchwork quilt on her bed and I asked her about it.  She said she made it with her mom that summer, they bought all the fabric from this cool fabric shop where she lived.  Would I like to come home with her for October break and check out the fabric store?  (WOULD I?!?)
 Of course I thought I was already a quilter, seeing as I started hand piecing this quilt in high school, but I hadn't finished one yet.  I didn't have one on my bed.  I started thinking about how cool I could be if I had a quilt that I had made, on my bed in the dorm.  What a status symbol!  It would proclaim "I make things!" and "I'm awesome!"  So of course I had to do it. 
She took me to Portsmouth Fabric Co. and after fawning over the bolts for what seemed like ages, I bought a handful of fabrics from the scrap bin.  I must have measured out the rectangles with a wooden school ruler, drew stitching lines on in pen, and cut them out with scissors.  I pieced the log cabins together on my aunt's sewing machine, stopping a few times (that weekend?  another weekend?) to go fabric shopping-- once to JoAnn's and once more to PFC.  The black squares have iridescent print that looks purple in one direction and green in the other.  I loved it. 
 The "binding" is actually a 1" wide border, stitched to the front, and the three layers were pillow-cased together and whip stitched across the bottom.  We tied it with embroidery floss at my aunt's house over Thanksgiving break.  My friend told me to stitch in the ditch around the border to keep the batting in place (polyester low-loft, of course), but I skipped that step.  That and only tying it every 5-8" is probably why the batting has completely shifted out of some places and sits in big lumps in others.  In the picture above you'll see where I left in the non-dyed white edge of the selvage on one of the logs.  A selvage quilter before my time..
Check out that whip stitched edge.  I think it measures 3 stitches per inch.  Niiice. 
All in all, this quilt only spent one semester on my bed in college.  I took it home and it lived on the abandoned top bunk in my sister's room for the next 3 years, only loved by our long haired cat.  I rescued it before I got married and it has lived in some form of storage til last year, when I draped it lovingly over the chair in my sewing room.  Until today it sat nicely buried under piles of quilts, ufos, and fabrics that didn't make the cut during auditions.  I'm glad I still have it but I think it's too fragile to use.  A while back I showed it to another trusted quilter and asked if I should take it apart, re-sandwich and really quilt it.  She advised me to leave it alone and move forward.  So that's were it stands, for now.

The quilting techniques I've learned since 1998:
Um, everything.  Pre-wash fabrics.  Use a 1/4" seam allowance.  Only piece with cotton thread.  Basting.  Hand & Machine quilting.  oh, rotary cutters!  quilt labels.  cotton batting..  the list goes on.

As I go back to title this post though.. it occurs to me that in the last week I have been working on another chunky log cabin, and since 1998 I have made several quilts in this colorscheme.  I guess this first quilt tells a lot about who I am as a quilter, I just didn't know it yet.

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