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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gang aft agley

As in, the best-laid plans of mice and men. "Go oft astray," if you're not Scottish and want to know what the phrase says.

The best plans for a quilt often go astray as well, which is the subject of today's blog.

I'm making a king-size quilt for my Daughter. Against impossible odds, I managed to piece together a quilt made almost in it's entirety out of quarter-square triangles, despite never having successfully got the points to line up prior to this attempt.

They all fit as near-perfectly as any quilter could hope.

I discovered, however, to my dismay, that it's actually easier to get rows of 5-inch blocks to line up straight than it is to get three 103-inch strips to line up properly when I began to piece the back. Now I know why my friend D makes such complex backings for her quilts!

I very carefully oriented my one-way pattern so that it was in the middle of the back and would look correct from the point of view of someone lying under the quilt. It's got lots of little hearts in it, and they all point in one direction you see. This was the center strip, the sides being of a different fabric. I had intended the back to be all the one fabric, but made an error in my calculations, so I was obliged to find a complimentary fabric (the one with the hearts) since I could no longer obtain my original choice.

That was the first "gang aft agley" on this particular quilt.

Then I discovered, when I had all three strips sewn together, that the top edges were not even with each other. Big oops! In the end, I had to piece together several 5-inch widths of my one-way fabric to make a strip to go across the top.

Second "agley."

My friend D, bless her heart, came and helped me sandwich the beast. It was a labor-intensive process, since I did not have access to a king-sized table on which to perform the deed! I can describe the process, just don't ever ask me to do it by myself!

One finds and marks the center points on all 4 sides of the table. We used masking tape and a pen. Then we lay masking tape from point to point to get the cross in the middle of the table, and that found us the very center of the table. We then used a quantity of masking tape to hold a great big hatpin point-side UP at the center point.

D, being less afraid of the iron than I am, proceeded to iron a crease down the centers of the top, back, and batting. If I had attempted this, I'd still be doing it. She showed me how to hold the folded edges together and let the fabric find it's own center and fall freely, and that THAT'S the part you iron. She then marked each center with pins, forming a cross.

Then we proceeded to carefully put the center of the backing on the hatpin sticking up from the table. D, having done this before, was adept at this. We gently coaxed the backing to lie flat, making sure the creases lined up with the center points on the edges of the table.

Then we lay the batting down in the same manner, and pinned the two layers together, not just where the creases met at the table's edges, but also further away, aligning the creases.

Finally we handled the top in the same fashion, and so ended up with all three layers pinned and straight. I used my basting gun to then secure it, and one scant hour and a half after starting, we were done.

I'm still in shock. That part, at least, went without a hitch. Except for the two crossed pins I found embedded in the batting while quilting the center a couple of days ago. Since I wasn't about to take out the basting, I cut the back to get them free and darned it up again. So that would be the third "agley."

I finally began quilting this week, and got all the leaves of my "Tree of Life" pattern in the center done, and outlined the lovely giraffe that's nibbling on the leaves. This morning I went hunting for my bicycle clips so I could hold the quilt all nicely rolled up while I continued to work on the center. I was admiring it on my bed, the edges rolled up to the central medallion, the hand quilting in the leaves, when I saw the latest "agley."

To my horror, I saw the backing fabric, the one with the one-way hearts, going across the central medallion, not up and down. (For those of you who play bridge, that fabric was supposed to be going north-south, and it was in fact going east-west.

This means that a person lying under the quilt will not see the hearts lined up going down to their feet, but facing one way and going across their middle.

And the 5-inch strip at the "top" is now along one side.

For me, the project is way too far along to pull apart. I don't think I could face trying to sandwich it a second time. My poor Daughter will just have to live with an odd-looking backing fabric going the wrong way across the quilt.