Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rug Done!

I love this rug! Design-wise, I was really winging it, but I couldn't have planned a better result. It actually looks three-dimensional, and the colors flow so nicely.

(Here's my previous post, which records most of the early steps in making it.) I purposely chose mostly medium colors, so it won't show the dirt as much as the larger one. These are entry rugs, so they trap the grit, wet, and general dirt coming into the condo.

In case you're wondering, washing one of these is not exactly easy, but it's not a terrible experience either. After a good shaking, I put it in the bathtub, add a little detergent and warm water, and then gently shove it around to get the dirt out. After several changes of water, when the water is clear and there's no more sand in the tub, I place it carefully into the washer, spin it, and pop it into the dryer. (I have a water-saving top-loader, so I can place the rug carefully around the sides to keep the strain minimal while spinning, and a very high percentage of the water is removed safely. Not sure how it would survive a front-loader.) I use cotton thread for joining the plaited strips, so I'm careful not to put too much strain on these rugs, especially when they're wet. I also overcast the two cut edges at least twice, and put two rows of wide multistitch zig-zags a little way in from the ends.

By the way, if you make one, make the plaited strips almost a foot longer than the desired rug length. After the plaited strips are sewn together, mark a cutting line on each end, do a straight stitch just to the inside of this line, then zig-zag over it before cutting. After cutting, do another zig-zag over the cut edge. If the cut line differs much from the marked line, add another straight stitch row and zig-zag row over the edge. I think that in every case, I've had to resew/recut the finished edges to make them more square. It takes some effort to keep the cut edges from expanding and ruffling. Add the two lines of multistitch zig-zag after you know you have finished edges. At first, the rug will not lie completely flat. It relaxes over the course of a few days.

Plaited rugs are not quick (they also eat a lot of thread). This one took roughly 35 hours (not including the ripping and resewing of the plaited strips, because the first time I couldn't be bothered to pin them), and it's only 28 inches by 57 inches. But they're beautiful, thin and flat, don't bunch up, light enough to wash and dry, and don't shrink or transfer dye to the floor. Definitely worth the effort.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wedding Quilt Photos

I don't much like it, but I have to accept the fact that I disappear from the blogging world occasionally. When the workload gets heavy, and personal commitments multiply, blogging is simply one of the more expendable items. But things are more relaxed now, and I'm looking forward to catching up a bit.

Along with blogging, the wedding quilt got delayed, too. But, it turned out that personally giving it to the newlyweds a couple of weeks late was actually nicer than having it mixed in with all the other gifts. I had time to make a nice label. We got to chat about the fabrics and how I made the quilt. Having the more personal connection was very nice.

This quilt was a perfect fit for quilting each quarter separately and then sewing the quilted parts together. The method is a pain if you need to match the sections (actually, I've never been able to get such sections to match at all), but it's nice when matching isn't an option to begin with. I can't abide leaving overlapped batting in the finished quilt, so there's a lot of fussy trimming and hand sewing, but that's better than maneuvering an entire queen-size quilt sandwich, especially when using straight pins to hold the layers together. (Safety pins are too thick. They break the threads of the mostly tightly woven shirtings.)

I knew right away I'd do an all-over meander. I think it's a nice contrast to the hard, straight edges, not to mention that it's the one type of machine quilting I'm even somewhat competent at. I used leftover thread from my hand quilting of the linen quilt--variegated green and variegated yellow--plus a somewhat strange variegated pink-beige, gold, and green that worked surprisingly well.

This was a fun quilt to make, and I got pretty attached to it. It was hard to give it away!