The Cat in the Hat / 2017

Hello Piece O’ Cake People! I am Becky’s daughter-in-law, Lorna. And here’s my first quilt story.

2016 was rough for me, especially the last part of it. Stress was a real issue. So as we went into 2017, one of my goals was to make a quilt. It killed several birds for me: to stretch my mind and learn something new, to do something that made me happy and fulfilled, to connect better to my mother-in-law and my work.

Becky started me on my quest in style. She gave me some fabric she had been saving without a purpose, and pointed me at her fairly new piecing book, Piecing the Piece O’ Cake Way Revised Second Edition. I used the first project, Fields & Fences, for the quilt top. Through the year, I made progress in spurts.

For the quilt top, I “followed the recipe.” Because I had vastly different fabric than the instructions called for, I did get to use a lot of creativity in the color combinations. Once I had everything cut, I would switch the strips around over and over and over. I used the yellow and white fabrics as my accents. I don’t have a design wall (yet), sometimes I’d stand on a chair and take a picture of them from above, look at it, and move them around again.

One of the pieces she had given me had these large whimsical pictures, so I decided to cut them out, frame them with extra strips, and put them on my quilt back. That was totally like unloading the refrigerator and using everything I could to make something weird and delicious.

I did have to run to the store of Becky, and I was surprised and delighted that her gorgeous batik worked to fill in either side of the quilt back.

I made mistakes, I had to fix things, and I learned a lot.

When I texted Becky a picture to let her know I was FINALLY basting, she let me know I was basting TOO MUCH. Then it all moved quicker.

I love piecing, and I think I did a pretty good job. Now quilting… So, I machine quilted on my Singer 401A with the walking foot. It performed beautifully, I performed terribly. I mean, I’m not exaggerating, the quilting is very bad.

But it got done, actually in early November. So I figured I was golden. I had fortuitously found more of The Cat in the Hat fabric for the binding in a thrift store in Fayetteville, AR, in October.

Leading up to Thanksgiving, my dad was in the hospital, and then, you know, holiday stress. Still, I just knew I’d get to it, if not before, certainly by the time Chris went on Christmas break. Duh duh duhhhh. My health had been a bit dodgy through the year, some annoying, inconvenient stuff, but the Saturday after Thanksgiving it really hit, and I’m still dealing with fatigue as I’m recovering.

When the new year rolled around, it made me sad that my quilt was not done. Becky offered several times for Steve (my father-in-law) to hand-sew the binding for me, but I had planned from the beginning to do it all myself. Finally, I asked him. And there’s a reason Steve does most of the bindings on Becky’s quilts. He’s really crazy good at it. It’s the only perfect thing on my quilt.

2017 was another roller coaster, but in all honesty, so much more hopeful and fruitful than 2016. I love my family, I love my friends. I’ve had the opportunity to see beauty and generosity all around me. I’m proud of my world. AND I’m ready to make another quilt!

About funerals…

Let me begin by saying that mom’s funeral (in Sherman) and burial (OKC) really were lovely. Family and friends came. There were more smiles and happy memories than there were tears. My mom would have loved it all.

You know the saying about death and taxes: they come to each of us and cannot be avoided. This post falls into the category of sharing what I learned from mom’s funeral and burial services. Feel free to stop reading if you do not like thinking about death in any way, shape, or form. Only click the following link if you are OK with reading more.

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How fabric shrinks…

I always wash my fabric in the washer and dry it in the dryer before I use it in a quilt. One of the reasons I do this is because cotton fabric shrinks and I like to use fabric at its final size.

Individual fabrics shrink at varying rates. I didn’t think about shrinkage details until I washed a 10″x10″ Layer Cake. Like all Layer Cakes, the squares were perfectly cut and all the same size before I washed them.

After laundering, I stacked the squares with the top and left sides even. Notice that the pieces are not square!

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The pieces are all about the same length (close to 10″ long), but they vary in width. Once I got to thinking about it, that makes sense. Fabric should shrink more from side-to-side (between the selvages) than it does along its length.

I took the top piece off the stack and turned it sideways. The blue fabric is 5/8″ longer than it is wide. Remember, these began as 10″ squares. The shrinkage across 40″ would be 2 1/2″! Some fabrics shrunk less.

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All of the fabric seems a little skewed. I think it’s probably because none of the squares were cut truly on-grain.

So, what is the takeaway?

  1. When you use unwashed fabric in your quilt, don’t be surprised if the shapes skew a bit when your quilt is washed and dried. (It’s possible that air-dried quilts won’t shrink/skew as much as quilts dried in a dryer.)
  2. This skewing effect is likely to be more noticeable on bigger shapes than on small shapes.
  3. You should not count on pre-cut fabric holding its size or shape.
  4. For me, this confirms that it pays to pay attention. You never know when you might learn a new thing.
  5. This is just one more reason to consider laundering your fabric before you use it.

 

My favorite white pencil is famous!

I have used a white charcoal pencil made by the General Pencil Company for as long as I can remember. They are the perfect pencil for marking medium to dark fabric AND they are very affordable! You can find them here and here on my website.

Imagine my surprise when I saw a feature story about General Pencil today in the New York Times! It is a great story, with amazing photos by Christopher Payne, that tells us how pencils are still being made in the US.

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I’m even more impressed now at both the quality of every pencil and the low prices!

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Click here to read the article in the New York Times.

Join me in Lancaster!

Sign-ups have begun for classes at the AQS show in Lancaster and I do hope to see you there! Dates are March 21-24. That’s me in the upper left-hand corner, along with the other teachers who will be in attendance. Click here to find links to each instructor.

You can see the classes I’ll be teaching below, or you can click here to find all of my classes.