Monday, August 19, 2013

Hand-quilting Hexie Quilt

Thank the universe and libraries for books on tape! Without them, I don't think my Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt would ever get quilted. Last week, thanks to "Uncle Tom's Cabin," I got one corner finished, probably about 1/20th of the top. Here's how it looks (click picture to see details):

As you can see, the quilting around the petals doesn't show much, because I made a conscious decision to more-or-less match the thread color to the fabric. To me it seems the quilt is "busy" enough with over 400 different fabrics in it. I want the design, the placement of the flowers, leaves, and pathways, to be the dominate feature of the quilt, downplaying the hand-quilting.

Truth be told, there's another reason for downplaying the hand-quilting. I'm not very good at it... actually not at all good at it.  It feels like I've captured a bit of the fabric on the back with each stitch. Yet later, looking at the back of the quilt, I see "skipped" stitches where the thread didn't catch the backing fabric. Also, my stitches are uneven. I hope to improve as I continue quilting.

The pathway of my quilting stitches is shown above in hot pink. I'm emphasizing the flower shapes rather than the hexie shapes, which is the more traditional way to quilt hexie quilts. These are only 3/4 inch hexies, so the quilting is fairly dense. It probably isn't necessary to quilt around the white pathway (or outer flower petals). So I tried a couple of them just to see if it made a difference in the over-all appearance. Since it looks better that way to me, I'm going to invest a couple hundred extra hours to do it.

I really like how the quilting design looks on the back side, with the embroidered flower centers and the outlines of the petals and leaves in different colors. Isn't it sweet?!

Since I'll be listening to dozens of audio books (from a great selection at our local library), I thought it might be fun to give a little review of each one as the quilting progresses.  So here are the three best I've heard so far, all of them rated Thumbs Way Up in my opinion:

"Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe, narrated by Richard Allen

Although very slanted toward Christianity, Stowe tells it like it was, developing characters and plot from real situations and people during the slavery years just prior to the Civil War. I learned a lot of history, both sad and hopeful. Richard Allen did a fantastic job of narrating this unabridged version of the book (16 CDs).

"Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert, narrated by the author

I very much enjoyed reading Gilbert's memoir shortly after it came out. It has a lot of meaning for me, as I am dealing with some similar issues in my own life; plus I enjoy her frank, often humorous, honest narrative. I wanted to hear the audio version of the book because I wanted to hear it in her own voice. Thumbs way up on her reading skills!

"Animals Make Us Human" by Temple Grandin, narrated by Andrea Gallo

Dr. Grandin concentrates on the emotional rather than the physical life of animals, although the two are clearly related. I was especially fascinated by her discussions of the "seeking instinct," described for dogs, cats, horses, pigs, cows, and wild animals, the roll it plays in their lives, and how we humans can understand them better and improve the quality of their lives by giving them opportunity to gratify this instinct.