Friday, January 27, 2012

Tipsy Tutorials: Sam's Memory Quilt

OK.  I didn't quite realize how that sounded right off.  No, I didn't mean drinking-tipsy, I mean here are some of my tips for a project I learned from personal experience.  That said, this is a long post …

I took on this particular project two summers ago after Sam went on our stake's handcart trek in July.  (Sorry I have no pictures because it was started before I knew how cool blogging is and how to make my own videos.)  I had just finished my first hand-stitched quilt—for a babydoll.
I had almost worn out my 12-year-old Walmart-special sewing machine making the dresses and other accessories for the trek.  So, we go to the after-event fireside where there are speakers and a slideshow in the gym afterward.  One picture and the accompanying story absolutely captured my imagination. 

One of the speakers put up a picture of what they called “Rocky Ridge”.  Now, you have to understand that there is a real Rocky Ridge in Wyoming that the Martin and Willie Handcart companies had to face.  This real one gains 700 feet in elevation over two miles.  Remember—they were literally pushing and pulling all of their earthly possessions on their own steam—no teams of oxen for these guys.  I know this is a woeful summary, but you get the idea.  The whole point of these treks is to give our youth a greater appreciation for the sacrifices of our pioneer ancestors.  Somehow, in the middle of the Oregon wilderness, someone managed to find a comparable climb.  Not nearly 2 miles long, but definitely steep and rocky.  I’d show you the picture if I had it, but I wasn’t there.  Sorry.

I looked at this picture and in my mind I saw a photo-mosaic.  You know—a big picture that is made up of lots of smaller related pictures.  I just couldn’t get that out of my mind.  Over the next two weeks, I made several sketches of the picture from memory and eventually started playing with it on graph paper.  I knew I was hitting the mark one evening when Sam came up behind me and asked me why I was drawing pictures of Rocky Ridge.  We talked about my idea and refined it over another couple of weeks.

In my infinite inexperience, I decided to make the quilt top out of 2” squares.  That meant cutting around 1300 2.5” squares.  Eventually we decided to use the scraps from her trek outfits as the foundation for the fabrics we chose.  Long story short, I ended up with 4 neatly organized stacks of 2.5” squares sitting on my dresser for almost a year.  By some miracle they managed to stay put.  In that time, I did manage to finally wear out my old sewing machine and my wonderful husband bought me a *sweet* new one for our anniversary last year.  Finally over this past summer I sat down and finished the piecing.

And it sat and it sat and it sat.  I had only a vague idea of how to mark such a large quilt, and then only how to do it with stencils.  Well, I ended up making my own as you’ll see in the video.  I’m excited for how the markings turned out.  I did manage to get the quilt onto the frame Rhett made me this summer, and now all I have to do is spend my evenings with the needle and thread bringing the design to fruition.  I’m sure it will take several more months :) 

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