Earth Stories: Sewing It Down…or Up…

First you sew it down. Then you sew it up. Once all the pieces are ironed down, I stitch them down with an invisible thread on the top and a small zigzag…here’s what it looks like from the back.

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It took me about 9 1/2 hours to stitch the whole thing down, starting on July 31 and finishing August 5…I took a few days off in the middle for a soccer tournament.

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It’s kind of mesmerizing (or monotonous, depending on how I’m feeling) to do all that stitching, but if I don’t, the pieces don’t stay put. When I’m not actually sewing, I pile it all up on top of the sewing machine, because otherwise cats want to sit on it.

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Sometimes when I’m actually quilting the piece, I’ll find stuff I didn’t stitch down, so I’m not perfect…I try to follow some sort of plan so I don’t miss pieces, but it doesn’t really work that way.

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I have a nice view at least (not that I look up…at all). I had a hard time working on this part last year, because normally I listen to music, but music has memories attached to it and emotional tugs, and that was just not a good thing last year at this time. Hell, it probably STILL isn’t, which is sad…but I bullied through. There are a lot of tears in this thing.

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Once the whole thing is stitched down, I sandwich it with batting and backing. I had to piece the backing…the quilt finishes at 72″ square, so I even had to move the bench out of the entryway to get it to fit (yes, this is the largest empty floor space in the house…I will never be able to move unless the entryway is at least this big).

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Here it is sandwiched…which means no one can come in the front door until it’s pinned. I do have to consider these things (where are the kids and when are they coming back?).

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It took almost 3 hours to pin baste it…on my knees…

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Then comes the quilting. I start with a dark thread to outline the things I want to see…I had all these spools of the same color of dark blue (it’s one I use a lot). I think I used almost all of them up.

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This is outlining, which I do before I stitch any filler stitches.

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I outline anything I want to pop out, so most of the imagery in the quilt.

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This stage is not easy, because I’m manhandling a large, heavy beast through a normal-sized machine…I wear gloves and try to get up and flex my back and shoulder muscles regularly, but usually, once I start stitching, I find it hard to stop.

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I cried a lot during this part too…music again.

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Here’s what the back looks like…that’s the heart (upside down).

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It took 19 1/2 hours to quilt this whole thing. I started August 7 and finished on the 14th.

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There was a lot of little tiny stitching detail going on…

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These figures are less than 5″ tall…

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The stitching details were what made the difference on these figures…

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That section is a whole lot of crazy.

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Sometimes the thread has issues…

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Here’s that crazy corn section stitched up…

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And the International Planned Parenthood Federation logo. I did contact them about this quilt, but they never answered. I should probably do it again with a picture this time.

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Cat and baby detail…

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Vegetable garden (very fun to draw and make)…

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When it was all quilted, I laid it back out on the entryway floor to try to cut it to size. It had to be 72″ square, so that was a pain in the butt…I hate making to an exact size.

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Then I put the 18 miles of binding on…

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Stitching the binding and sleeves took a little over 8 hours (cat involvement!).

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Technically, I finished on August 24 with 168 hours and 39 minutes, started in March. But then I drew on it later…I have absolutely no idea WHEN that was…thought it was January, but I’m not finding any notation of it. Oh well. I know it was after it was photographed. Oh well. I’m OK with that.

Two more posts on this…the exhibit posts and the little quilt…which took a lot less time and energy to make.



One thought on “Earth Stories: Sewing It Down…or Up…

  1. Interesting about the music. I listened to music during my really bad anxiety phase, and now I believe that was to try to drown out the ceaseless questions. And then once I was through the worst I realized that all the music had memories attached now of utter despair, so I couldn’t listen to anything anymore. Now I still have pretty limited ability, but it’s getting a little better. I still have a lot of music I listen to in my head…


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