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Archive for August 6th, 2003

Giant Novelty Potholder

August 6, 2003

Obviously I’m feeling better, because here’s my latest quilt project, completed this morning. I know I said I was going to start on the memory quilt next, and I did. I just didn’t finish it yet. I got sidetracked by doing this silly little piece for the Hoffman Challenge. I’ve never entered this challenge before, though I’ve bought some of the fabric in years past. I’m not sure what changed, but this time, the fabric just wouldn’t let me alone. It reminded me of a 50’s apron, and I thought I could do something fun and kitschy with it. I collected pictures from magazines and catalogs of aprons and 50’s housewives and made sketches and notes.

What emerged from all this noodling was the idea of making a quilt which featured a woman presenting a Jell-O mold on a platter. I’d make her a dress and apron and appliqué them on, and appliqué words around her, a play on the saying “life is just a bowl of cherries”. I wasn’t sure how I’d draw the woman, so I put the project away for a while. Then I found a fabric that had just the woman I needed on it, which solved that problem. I could scan her face and hands and not have to worry about the drawing part. Excellent.

Even after I had a solution to my problem, I didn’t get started on the quilt because I was busy with other projects. By the time I decided it was now or never if I wanted to meet the submission deadline, it seemed too late to do what I originally planned. Hand appliqué takes time, and I was running out of time. Thus fusible appliqué entered the picture. Fusibles let you iron one fabric to another– quick and easy. Sure, some people think it’s cheating, but that’s their problem. Since the apron was the most important part of the outfit, I’d still do that the way I planned, but I’d use the dress that the woman on the fabric was already wearing, just scan her whole self and fuse her on. She’d be smaller than I planned, because I was limited to the dimensions of the printer paper. Okay, so the words would be more prominent. Flexibility is good.

I edited the scan of the woman to remove her apron strings (so I could add my own three dimensional ones later) and add a heel to one of her shoes (for some reason the artist who did the original fabric left it off, and it bothered me). I also took off the cake she was holding and narrowed her plate so I could put part of a cherry there as my Jell-O mold stand-in. The fabrics for the letters pretty much chose themselves, and I happened across a pattern for the cherry appliqué that filled a space between the words just when I needed it. I ended up using just the leaves from that pattern and cherries cut from the challenge fabric. Once everything was fused and cut out, it was just a matter of ironing it all in place. I forgot to remove the paper from the back of the first word I tried to iron, but once I corrected that silly error, it went pretty smoothly.

Somewhere along the line this little quilt decided it wanted to be a potholder. What? I’m not sure, but I think I might have still been taking Vicodin when this idea occurred to me. Still, I couldn’t get rid of it, so I thought I might as well try. Once it was going to be a potholder, I had to have the silvery heat resistant fabric for the back, and the first day I could drive after surgery I headed off to JoAnn hoping they’d have it, which they did, though I had to hunt for it. I studied the potholders in my kitchen and saw they had rounded corners and bias binding, so my quilt would, too. No matter that I’d never done either before; I’d figure it out. It wasn’t too hard, once I decided to abandon my attempt to make continuous bias binding. I just could not get that to work out and just sewed individual strips together. Maybe I’ll have more success with that approach next time. For an added silly touch, I formed the end of the binding into a hanging loop just like a real potholder. I left adding the apron to the woman’s figure until almost the last step, so I wouldn’t have to quilt around it or worry about catching the loose edges with the presser foot. I’m pretty happy with how she turned out.

I put the last stitches in the label early this morning and shipped it off to California before noon. The boy at the shipping store assured me it would get there in time to meet the Thursday deadline. I don’t really expect the quilt to survive judging and get included in the challenge exhibit, but I’m glad I at least got my act together enough to enter.


One year ago, I was also writing about quilting.

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