Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Quilt of Burning Love

What can I say? It was the weekend before Valentine's Day. I had been detoxing all week--no cheese, no wine, nothing!--and I had all of this what can only be called energy. And so it made perfect sense that it was the weekend to start making what I now refer to as The Quilt of Burning Love. That whole weekend, I really went on a tear. Not only did I reorganize the junk drawer, but Robb and I cleaned out all of our drawers, getting rid of bags and bags of old clothes. We order seeds from the seed catalog and did all sorts of barfy couply stuff. And while digging through our laundry closet preparing to go to the laundromat, I remembered an old backpack I had stuffed away in there. And in this backpack was a very large piece of patchworked fabric that I had always meant to do something with. And so, since I was on a tear, I fished out the fabric and tossed it in with the rest of the laundry, deciding that I would turn it into a quilt.

The patchworked piece of fabric, you might be interested to know, was once a room divider between the "living room" and the "bedroom" in my last apartment (which, let's just say, had a rather open floorplan.) It was one of the first things that I sewed when I got back into sewing a few years ago, and it was hastily put together in an emergency situation while preparing for a family visit. I had just moved in two weeks prior to their visit, and somehow, when the realtor had shown me the apartment, I had completely forgotten to look at the bathroom. Friends, it was TINY. Like, you could sit on the toilet, brushing your teeth, and then ever so slightly bend over and spit directly into the sink. If you wanted to change your clothes in the bathroom, you had to get INTO the shower, which was only three feet long. 

This bathroom was so small that I was actually wondering if my Dad--who is not a small guy--was going to be able to USE the bathroom, let alone change his clothes in it. So to avoid a parental nudity sighting, I scrambled over to Purl Soho, spent ungodly amounts on this beautiful fabric, and sewed myself a curtain that was 8 feet wide and 14 feet tall. (I know, tall, right? What this apartment lacked in bathroom, it made up for in vaulted ceilings. I wish we could have made a loft toilet or something...used some of that overhead space!)

Not caring much about seam allowances or evenly cut panels, I sewed that baby together as fast as I could and hung it up. It turned my apartment into a sort of gypsy-esque pasha palace, which I liked. But what I liked best of all was not having to see any of my family members naked.
When I moved into my next apartment, I was happy to have doors, but I no longer had a need for my 14-foot tall room divider. And so it languished unused for three long years, which is basically a crime against humanity. But thanks to my detox energy, I remedied that and finally turned it into a quilt!
My original plan was to just fold the fabric in half widthwise and have it be the same on both sides, but I decided I wanted each side to be a little different. So on one side, you have the original side-by-side vertical stripes of patterned fabric. On the other side, I cut three strips of the patterned fabric and put two strips of muslin between each patterned strip. it's horizontally striped on the reverse!
Can I just talk for a minute about my love of muslin? I feel like it has a bad name. It's basically just an unbleached cotton, and as most people who have watched Project Runway know, muslin is what is used to make "test garments"--like, a designer will literally make a garment using muslin to test how it fits and drapes before they use their super-pricey fashion fabric to make the actual garment. And when they're done, I can only assume that they throw their muslin out like common trash (I am probably wrong about that.) But personally, I think that unbleached cotton is gorgeous! It's off-white with sort of a nutty complexion, and with a little bit of textural and tonal imbalances. I like it. In fact, every time one of my sewing book authors talks about making a test garment out of muslin, I secretly want to ask her to give it to me when she's done. You can keep your fashion fabric...make mine muslin!
Anyway, I can honestly say that I don't know which side of The Quilt of Burning Love I like better. Sweet and Musliny? Or Gypsy Romance? (Those are their names, by the way.)

For the actual quilting, I decided on simple vertical stripes. I love the way it goes against the horizontal panels on the Sweet and Musliny side, and with the stripes on the Gypsy Romance side.

OK, one last thing. I've made a few quilts in my life, and each time, I manage to eff up the binding pretty bad. I just can't figure out how close to sew it to the edge or something. And I pretty much refuse to sew a binding on by hand. Not gonna do it. But on this quilt, I figured out a way to completely machine-sew the binding AND have it look really nice. Here's how I did it:
Cut a 2-1/2" strip of fabric that is the circumference of your quilt, plus about six inches. Iron the whole strip in half lengthwise. Align the raw edge of the strip with the raw edge of your quilt (with the folded part facing up since it's gonna fold up and over the edge of the quilt after you sew it on the first side). Sew the strip to the quilt 5/8" from the raw edges. Then fold it up and over to the other side of the quilt and tuck the edges under so that they perfectly align with the stitch line you just sewed, pinning in place as you go. Then go to your machine and zig-zag stitch along the edge of your binding right where the binding meets the quilt. It will be right on the edge of the binding on both sides, and the zig-zag makes it look cute. DONE!

Oh, and since you're probably wondering, Camper helped A LOT. Especially every time I needed to get on the floor and cut something out. Super helpful. As always.


  1. I love muslin, too. My mom made me a gorgeous hippy-ish halter top with a lace inset (she added beads on the ties) and a gorgeous skirt to wear to a dance . . . in Texas. Of course I didn't look the part because the girls there wore hoop skirts. But I had matching espadrilles that tied up the ankle. I love muslin, too. I will never forget that outfit.

    1. That outfit sounds so SWEET! I would probably wear that today. To a dance (if I had one to go to). Especially those espadrilles that tie up the ankles. Cute!

      So, I've been thinking lately about tie-dyeing muslin. Too much?

  2. I want some of whatever you took before you started with the purging and the sewing.

    1. The answer is not what I took, but what I did not take. And what I did not take is cheese and wine (and fats and sugars and processed foods). It's begin to realize how much your daily sense of satisfaction is based on eating yummy things, and then you have no choice but to find satisfaction in other places. Like making things and cleaning out drawers. It's awful...and wonderful?

  3. First: That quilt is so pretty. Wow. So, so pretty!

    Second: I feel like a loft toilet would have been a bad idea.

    Third: You know that the bathroom is literally the only thing I remember about that apartment? Even though I'm pretty sure we had Thanksgiving there one year? Weird.

    Fourth: Camper!! He's such a good helper!

    Fifth: Your energy level is annoying. (But whatever, congrats on such a productive weekend! I have to tell you about mine with Mom and Dad and Ginny and Chuck.)

    1. You know what, right after I published this post, I thought about that overhead toilet and what a bad idea it would be. Two words that should never go together: "overhead" and "toilet."

      Tell me about Mom and Dad and Ginny and Chuck!

  4. Omg, that is such a lovely quilt! I have only made baby quilts, but one day I will make a full sized quilt. I love the zig-zag stitched you used for the binding. It's a pretty looking solution.