Monday, December 5, 2011

Drunken Dragons Update: 100 Blocks Sewn, 50 to Go

7" Drunkard's Path Blocks, 10 in each pile
I've sewn 2/3 of Lars's Drunken Dragons quilt blocks!  If you've missed my earlier posts about this quilt, you can catch up here.  I've got them laid out randomly in piles of 10 to help me keep track of how many I've finished.  I'm starting to get an idea of what the finished quilt will look like, and I like it!

I'm pinning blocks downstairs while I watch television with Bernie at night, and then I shoot for sewing 10 blocks at a time during the day.  Some days I get in the sewing room for an hour or so, and other days I don't, depending on what else is going on that day.  In case you're wondering, the answer to "will this be done in time for Christmas" is a resounding NO!  Even if I finished all of the blocks this week, I still would have to figure out how I'm going to lay them out and then sew them all together.  Then I need backing and batting, which I haven't even thought about purchasing yet, and there's the not-so-small matter of quilting...

Wendy Sheppard's Free-Motion Feathers, photo from Ivory Spring
I wanted to do some free-motion machine quilting on this quilt, but I might chicken out.  Free-motion quilting means lowering the feed dogs on the sewing machine and moving the fabric around with your hands beneath the sewing machine needle to create the quilting designs.  This is a lot like trying to draw a picture by moving a piece of paper beneath a stationary marker, except that with quilting, the stitch length comes into play as well.  Without the feed dogs guiding the fabric steadily, it's up to the quilter to control the length of stitches by moving the fabric at an even speed.  If you speed up and slow down, you get ugly, sloppy looking stitches, some short, some long, some piled up on top of one another in a messy knot.  Quilting goddesses like Wendy Sheppard (check out her blog and fabulous Thread Talk tutorials over at Ivory Spring) make all of this look easy, but that's because she's amazingly talented and has spent hours and hours perfecting her craft on many, many quilt projects.  So when I look at Wendy's quilting and think, "I'd like to do that on my quilt," it's kind of like me watching Tiger Woods on television and thinking, "That looks easy; maybe I should try professional golf!"  Now that I've spent so much time carefully cutting and sewing these blocks together, I'm starting to get cold feet because I don't want to wreck all my hard work with lousy, crooked, uneven quilting.  We'll see.  There's more than one way to quilt a quilt, and this quilt may be a candidate for baby steps and compromises.

Meanwhile, tomorrow's ten quilt blocks are pinned together and lined up next to my sewbaby, all ready to go.  I'm really enjoying these fabrics.  I actually appreciate other people's quilts with more restricted fabric palettes, but for me, I need to mix up LOTS of different fabrics to fight the monotony of sewing so many blocks together and keep it fun. 

One thing I'm discovering is that it's easiest to sew two similar fabrics together on these curved seams.  For instance, the batik fabrics in particular tend to be stiffer and more tightly woven than some of the other fabrics.  The most challenging blocks have been the ones where I have a batik quarter circle on the bottom and I'm sewing a looser weave fabric on top.  So if you're thinking of starting a Drunkard's Path quilt of your own, you might want to keep that in mind when you're selecting your fabrics.

It's time to read to my kids!  Goodnight!

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