Friday, April 26, 2013

Back Art Revisited

My mother often used a sheet as the back of a quilt.  At that time, there was no fabric 108" wide specifically made for quilt backs. She bought the sheets because she thought they were less expensive and they were big enough for the back.  I really don't know her little fingers could quilt through the layers as a sheet is quite dense and my mother always hand quilted her quilts.

When I started quilting, I was advised to always buy either 7 yards of fabric or 3 yards because with 7 yards, you could always use it for a back and 3 yards was enough for borders.  I followed that advise for a lot of years.  The result?  A huge stash of fabric!  After moving the stash across country a couple of times, I decided to ditch that advice.  I started buying only fat quarters except when I knew exactly what the fabric would be used for.  In fact, I called a moratorium on fabric purchases 5 years ago and with rare exceptions, have bought very little.  However, in the meantime, I've made several quilt tops from the stash trying to use a lot of it up!

For backs, I decided to follow my friend, Joyce's example and start piecing fabric together to make the back.  I've done it various ways, but here is how I did the latest back for a quilt I am making. You can see a couple of other backs I made here.

For this back, I looked to the fabric to guide me.  I had some pieces that had been cut from the back of a previous quilt and they were about 6" wide.  I also found some pieces that were 9" wide and cut rectangles from these pieces.  The rest of the fabric was wide enough to cut 10" strips or rectangles from them.

Next, I started laying the pieces out on the floor in the loft as the back needed to measure 106" inches approximately which is way bigger than my design board.  I laid out all the pieces before I started sewing the rectangles together into rows.  I measured, but not precisely each strip as it was sewn.  When joining the strips together, I just made sure that the top edges were even.  Since the back is quite a bit larger than the quilt top, the uneven edges can be trimmed as I square the quilt.

Part of the fun is using those fabrics that are sort of unique.  The horse fabric above was actually bought when I needed to applique some "hair" on angels and all the manes worked great for that.  There were a few pieces left, so they were incorporated into the back for the autumn colored quilt top.

Pardon the telescope effect from taking the photo from this angle.  I could not back up any further or stand any higher.  I was already on the top step of the step stool and there wasn't enough room for the 6 ft ladder so I could get higher.

This is the back completely stitched together.  You can see that all of the strips were not precisely 106" long, but they are close.

Do you piece your backs or do you buy fabric especially for the back of your quilts?  I figure I get two for one if I piece the back as the back is more interesting than boring plain fabric.  Let me know what you think!

Hope you have an amazing weekend!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Prom Dress 2013

Last week my daughter, Beth, asked me if I could shorten a prom dress for my grandson's girlfriend. Sounded simple enough, so, of course, I said I would. After all, I've sewn for years even making flower girls dresses, bridesmaids dresses, and altering a couple of wedding gowns.

Never assume!  The dress had a lined underskirt and two layers of organza with a specialty hem.  Not quite what I was expecting.  The underskirt didn't phase me, but those two layers of organza -- whoa!

After inspecting the hem, I determined that there was nylon cord inside the rolled serged edges.  I'd never done that before, but I DO love a challenge!

The only way to achieve that flirty skirt was to enclose the nylon cord as I shortened the dress, it just wouldn't have looked right laying limp at the bottom of the skirt.

My serger is OLD, I mean really OLD!  Since it is usually just used to finish seams and not to sew garments, I just never replaced it.  It does, however, with a couple of adjustments do a very nice rolled serged edge.  The issue with a serger is there is a blade to cut the edge.  The trick was to get the nylon cord inserted close to the edge without managing to cut it!

Just to the right of the presser foot is the blade, so the cord had to be held very carefully in order to serge over it without cutting it.  To be honest, I did cut it once, but was able to get the cord lined up so there was not a break in the hem.

Did I mention that each of those layers was 170 inches around the bottom?  That was a lot of concentrated serging, but the above is the result.

Isn't the back pretty?
And here is the lovely girlfriend, Miranda.  She absolutely did not want her face to show in this photo because she had not "done" her makeup.  But, she struck such a cute pose, I could not resist including the whole photo instead of cropping it so that just the dress would be seen.
Don't you just love a happy ending?  Colton will escort this beauty to the prom this coming weekend and they will dance the night away!
The End!
Until next time!