17 March 2007

Double Irish Chain

Five or six years ago, I won my quilt guild's Block of the Month raffle. You get one chance for each block you submit; I made two, and ended up with mine and everybody else's -- 22 blocks in all, almost enough for a queen-sized quilt. The pattern is called Double Irish Chain. I'm not much into traditional quilting these days, but the compulsive, checking-items-off-lists part of me was whispering insistently "Finish it!"

That's easier said than done; "finishing it" involved piecing two additional blocks, which was insanely tedious. NPR, my default studio sound track, barely put a dent in my boredom; I had to resort to my iPod and full-out rock 'n' roll. Then I had to sew the blocks together, four across and six down, lining up all those tiny squares along the edges. Matching seams and corners is exacting enough when you're piecing your own work, but each quilter interprets a standard 1/4-inch seam somewhat differently. Ergo, a 15-inch block might actually measure anywhere from, say, 14-1/2, if you're generous with your seam allowance, to 16 inches if you're skimpy. Reconciling the individual variations means ending up with seams that are stretched in some places and wavy in others. No matter how much "easing" you do, some squares just won't line up. There's a reason I don't do much traditional quilting anymore.

But the worst is over. Too late, I realized that one contributor made a big mistake in assembling her block. There it is, the only one with a tiny white square surrounded by blues, just to the left of center. If I'd noticed in time, I would've moved it to a less conspicuous spot. Oh well; I remind myself that quilting is a folk art and imperfections add character. I was such a novice when I acquired these blocks that the possibility that someone else might actually have put theirs together incorrectly never entered my mind.

Now that I step back and look at the top, it's actually an intriguing pattern with a lot more interest than I expected, thanks largely to the various contributors' fabric choices, their individual interpretations of "medium" and "dark" blue. I'm thinking it wants a triple border in different shades of blue. That'll go fairly quickly, once I get in the mood to sew something mindless. I have plenty of blues in my stash, and matching seams won't be an issue.

The big issue is how to quilt it. A queen-sized quilt is at the outer limits of what my sewing machine (and its operator) can handle, though it's not completely out of the question. I'm certainly not going to hand-quilt it, not in this lifetime, anyway. I know I could shop it out to someone with a long-arm machine, but I'm resisting the idea because then it won't be 100% "mine".

I'm delaying the quilting decision for now. We really don't need another queen-sized quilt. But I don't want to give it away, since it's a keepsake from my old guild, and so many of the signed blocks are from good friends without whom I wouldn't have gotten sucked into quilting in the first place. I'm considering alternative uses. Shower curtain? Room divider? Table cloth? This is so not a crisp blue-and-white house. A friend suggested overdyeing it (light green or violet might work), which I thought was a brilliant idea, but it seems sacrilegious, somehow. I'm mulling the possibilities.

1 comment:

Gerrie said...

Wow! It looks great, Reva. I think a traditional quilt folded at the end of a non-traditional bed is always a winner. In your old age (which is years and years from now) you will be happy to have it to comfort you.