Thursday, March 15, 2012

My second quilt: Rail Fence

My second quilt was inspired by the quilts in Middlebury and Shipshewana, Indiana. In the late 1970’s, after seeing lots of beautiful quilts on display at various places, my husband and I decided it would be fun to make a real quilt. We stopped at Gohn Brothers, a dry goods store in downtown Middlebury. They had a wall of fabric (and still do, reasonably priced), both 100 percent quilting cottons and poly cottons.

We told the clerk “we’d like to make a quilt”, so she drew us a rail fence quilt pattern, estimating the size of the rails, and assisted us in our fabric selection. I remember the clerk fussing that we picked two solid colors and two prints, and wouldn’t we like it better with all solids? (This is Amish country, plus this shop caters to the Amish, so solids rule.)

There were no rotary cutters, rulers or mats. My husband offered to cut the quilt pieces if I would sew them, so it was a joint venture. He drew up a cardboard template, drew individual rails on the fabric and cut them out.

I had never taken a quilt class, nor read a quilting book, but we jumped right in. I even borrowed a quilting frame from a co-worker’s friend.  I loved the colors and was pleased with how it turned out, there were a few “minor” problems with quilt number two, too.

Problem 1:  I left the knots of the quilting thread on the bottom of the quilt. After a few years of use, the stitching started coming loose due to the knots being rubbed off.

Problem 2: I quilted it with Coats and Clark all purpose thread, double thickness, just like I was hemming a skirt. I didn’t know that was a problem until someone in my bee a few years later noticed and asked about it.

Problem 3: I never thought to measure my bed, or how far I wanted the quilt to hang over the edge. I just followed that hand-drawn diagram, so the quilt turned out long enough but not wide enough for our full-sized bed. I kept the short side facing the wall (out of view).

Some people might choose to quilt this again and take out the old stitching, but I’m happy to let it be and move on to other things.  

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