September 29, 2009

Moving along! The quilt is beginning to come together. I am excited about how it is looking, I think the final project will really be amazing. The assembly is being done by the woman who gave me my first Rat Terrier, little Scooter. Scooter will appear on the quilt, looking down at a lizard in leaves. Anita has been making quilts for years and loves doing it. She makes some really nice wall hangings, she has them for each season so she can hang a different one on her wall, depending on the time of year. Her work is amazing to me, a person who struggles to sew a straight seam.

She has made quilts as well and the beds in her house, as well as those of her relatives, all sport stunning quilts. She is an expert at matching the colors and patterns to fit the setting and make a quilt that fits beautifully into the setting it is to be used in.

She has offered to teach me to piece quilts but I'm not sure about that, it is that straight seam thing, you know. On the other hand, my grandmother made quilts for years. I remember watching her cut tiny little squares and stack them by color then stitch them all back together by hand in a colorful pattern. These days it is doubtful you would find anyone doing the stitching by hand but many of the patterns are the same. Actually, I have found the applique part to be fun. I enjoyed making the squares and perhaps will try some wall hangings. Not sure where I will hang them but could be fun to make.

As the quilt has started being set together, it promises to look spectacular. The blocks made by the rescue members and supporters are being framed with black and at the corners, squares of cream color fabric with tiny paw prints are added.
This fabric will also be used on the borders of the quilt. The plan is for the black and the single, subtle print to add a degree of calm to the busy nature of the quilt which is inevitable with pictorial quilts.

Anita's one concession to my busy personality has been letting me design an applique for the quilt
edges. The plan is to apply this design to the cream colored border. The red will not be "red", it will be wine or very dark red, just enough for contrast from the black, to accentuate the twisting of the ribbon and the heart. I am really anxious to start working on this as I want to see how it will look on fabric. I think this will truly be a unique and beautiful quilt which someone will really enjoy owning.

September 25, 2009

Rescue quilt project

For the past ten years I have been a member of Ratbone Rescues, a group dedicated to rescue and adoption of Rat Terriers. Unfortunately, there is very little money in legitimate rescue, in fact more often than not our group is in the hole because normal vet expenses are high and about the time we catch up, a special case comes along. These are dogs needing rescue who have extra medical needs which far exceed the adoption fee we receive for them. Adoption fees, donations and fundraisers are the primary sources of income for most rescues, including Ratbone Rescues.

For several years, one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for Ratbone has been a quilt which was made up of blocks our members and supporters make. When all the blocks were received, a volunteer assembled the top and quilted it so it could be raffled. Prior to last year, I had no involvement in the quilt, in fact I had never even made a quilt square before that. I made two squares for that last quilt and that went well. They were put in a wall hanging that was added to the raffle.

Early this year, it was decided that Ratbone would have a 2009 quilt raffle, the only problem was our volunteer quilter was no longer going to help us so the Board of Directors had to figure out what to do about getting the project from a bunch of cloth squares to a complete quilt. Somewhere in that process, I vaguely recall volunteering to handle getting this done. My grandmother pieced quilts when I was a child and I watched her stitch some elaborate blocks together but my experience at actually working on quilts was almost zero. What HAD I done??

After volunteering is not the time to figure out whether one is up to the job. Fortunately, I have a friend who is quite an experienced quilt maker and she agreed to help with the assembly of the blocks into a proper quilt top. I found a quilter who will then add batting and backing and quilt it together. I then set to making my own quilt blocks for the project. I had great fun with it this year, ending up with 8 squares to contribute to the quilt. One was of my own little Scooter, the others were from pictures of foster dogs or dogs owned by members of web-groups like I even did a pair of squares with American Hairless Terriers (hairless Rat Terriers) on them. These are easily identifiable as they are wearing their "jammies".

All of the quilt squares arrived at my house about 2 weeks ago, then I really did wonder what I had gotten myself into. There were so many. There were different sizes and colors and I had no idea where to start. Lucky for me, I didn't do anything until I talked with Anita, who will assemble the top. She promptly told me "Touch NOTHING!" as she has special tools to cut squares perfectly square and all the same size. I am familiar with the term "special tool"! My mechanic always had one for some job on my car which made it impossible for me to do the job myself. I have a number of special tools myself, mostly related to woodcarving and sculpture, my first hobby love. Quilt making tools? No idea what they look like.

In the past 2 weeks, Anita and I have worked out the best layout for the squares, balancing colors and designs as much as possible. We figured out fabric colors that would go well, be pleasing and keep the overall appearance of the quilt unified and not too busy. This can be challenging when the different blocks contain so many colors, patterns and textures but we found some good option. The top is starting to come together already and my assignment is to design an edge pattern which will be appliqued on each side. I finished the design tonight and I believe I am happy with it. What Anita will think of it remains to be seen.

Stay tuned for updates as this project comes together. Be prepared for a special looking quilt and go to the Ratbone Rescues web site to get your raffle tickets.