Monday, August 16, 2010

Binding a quilt - boring or inspiring?

Now there's a question for which I do not have an answer!

I'm completing a quilt my sister started before she died. It's a labor of love and it's at the point where I've had it for about three years now and it's just plain time to get it done. She started by doing individual blocks the size of a bandanna and hand quilted around everything that was on the bandanna (they're all different). Her stitches are small, uniform, and beautiful. Her stitching far outshines mine, but I followed the same pattern of making quilt blocks individually with a bandanna, hand stitching around the designs. Next came the sashing between the blocks, between the rows, and around the edges of the quilt. I did this wrong the first time and put the quilt away, unable to work on it another minute. I finally took it out of its container and used my trusty seam ripper to take off the sashing I had messed up. From there, I made short work of backing, batting, and sashing all edges that needed it. It's still not perfect, but it's done.

Then came the binding. I had cut and pieced 3" strips of the same fabric as the sashing. The method I use is to machine stitch the binding on one side of the quilt and then turn it, pin it, and hand stitch the other side. Unfortunately, I was stumped on the corners. My miters just didn't work out. I improvised. I cut off the point of each corner and rounded it just a bit so that I could go smoothly around rather than fight a miter. After the machine work, I indeed did turn the binding and pinned it to the back for hand stitching. I had a few flaws to cover and the width of 3" was perfect for that. I was able to make it appear as though all edges came together as they were supposed to with the application of the binding.

And now, for the past two weeks, I have been hand sewing the remainder of the binding. I have had short periods of time to sit and sew. Compounded with the fact that my hands just can't take the hand sewing for a length of time, the hand sewing is taking more time than I expected. I stitch and stitch and stitch and my mantra seems to be, "I want to get this derned thing done! NOW!" and then my other mantra sneaks in - "I don't want this to be done; I want to sew forever." I'm winding down a very intense project, filled with emotion, memories, farewells, time, skills, improvisation, frustration, correction of endless mistakes and flaws, and now finally, it's almost done. Amazing.

I probably have a few nights' worth of sewing left to do. I will then snip off errant threads and wipe off any dog hair the quilt has adopted, photograph all that I can, and finally, I'll find a box. It's going to be very difficult to pack it up and send it away. It could be one of the most difficult things I've ever done, giving it away. The truth is, though, it's not mine to give away. It wasn't mine to sew. It was Patsy's and I'm going to have to let it go.

Back to the original question - Binding a quilt - boring or inspiring? I'll let you decide, but do know that most of this was written in my head while I was sewing binding earlier this evening.

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