Monday, February 2, 2009

I am at war

OK, so a couple years ago, my dad got a wild hair and decided he wanted a fleece/flannel quilt.

A queen-sized fleece/flannel quilt.

A queen-sized fleece/flannel quilt made from plaids.

I'm pretty sure I know what happened. He was in a JoAnn's Fabric Store for whatever reason; you never know with my dad. He can go from the gun range to a fabric store without batting an eye, and is one of the few men on the planet who does not believe that fabric stores are outfitted with SWAT teams of wild-eyed, needle-toothed women whose job it is to pounce on any male who walks in the door, emasculate him, drain his body of testosterone, and liberate his wallet. Annnnyway, so Daddy's at the fabric store and spots the Blackwatch fleece. He likes cuddly things, so he always gravitates in the direction of fleece and flannel. At some point, either a KMF (kindly motherly figure) or a PCH (perky cute hottie) noticed his attention to the fleece. (He responds to both of these archetypes, mind you.) He may have asked about the possibility of a quilt made from the fleece, at which point I have no doubt that the KMF/PCH assured him that it would make a gorgeous, fabulous quilt - maybe even the best quilt in the history of the world. Or the KMF/PCH suggested a quilt. Regardless, someone assured him that it would be (a) awesome and (b) soooper-easy-peasy to do, and subsequently sold him the fleece.

Aside: If I ever find out who this KMF/PCH was, I will kill her. Then I will revive her with CPR, and kill her again.

I have fought with and been intimidated by this thing for ever, it seems. I was supposed to have it done for Xmas 2007. Then I was supposed to have it done this past Xmas. He provided me with the Blackwatch plaid fleece and a couple of big flannel plaid sheets for the backing. I kicked in the cotton batting. Even though the top did not require a great deal of cutting and piecing, it's fleece, and the fuzz factor jammed up one of my sewing machines so badly that my sewing machine cleaner guy gave me the "Have you lost your mind?" speech. Also, being fleece, it stretches like crazy, making the annoying chore of matching plaids an exercise in molar-grinding frustration and creative swearing.

Then came the loading-the-quilt-into-the-quilting-frame-part.

My quilt frame is the John Flynn type: a three-rail system that, to use effectively for machine quilting on anything bigger than a 45-inch-wide quilt, one must have a sewing space about half the size of an Olympic swimming pool, as well as a quarter-mile of horizonal workspace on either side of your sewing machine. Think of an old-fashioned manual typewriter, the kind where the carriage chugged out to the side as you typed, and required you to hit the little swing-bar thingie at the end of each sentence and shove the carriage back into place. With the Flynn frame, the quilt backing is rolled onto two 2x2 rods, the top is rolled on a third 2x2, and the batting sits in between the two lower rods. The quilt is sandwiched together, and as you sew, you roll your three-rail frame along a few pieces of 3-inch PVC pipe that acts as both rollers and support for the frame, going back and forth in a motion that is reminiscent of the old manual typewriter carriage motion.

The rods required for this quilt are nearly eight feet long, so one needs at least that much space on either side of the sewing machine. Think about this for a moment.

EIGHT feet on either side of your sewing machine. Even the uber-quilters I know (the ones who have their own climate-controlled sewing spaces outfitted with TVs that play sewing and quilting shows all the time, with their fabrics all tidily arranged by color, enormous cutting tables, enormous sewing tables, etc.) do not have that much space to work with. The only reason I do is because (a) my sewing space is in a barn (yes, a barn; an un-insulated one in which you could slow-roast pork during the summer without bothering with a fire, and keep your roasted pork in cold storage during the winter) and (b) I took over the barn aisle because the width of the barn isn't broad enough for me to have that much space on either side of the sewing machine and still be able to get in the door.

I will not discuss now many times I have attempted to load the plaid flannel quilt back onto the frame. I will say this: plaid flannel sheets should be illegal, or the companies should be required BY LAW to print the plaid on the frigging grain of the fabric. This flannel backing is not printed on the grain, and to add to the frustration factor, the sheets I pieced together have a different stretchiness factor - in spite of being the same style from the same manufacturer. I have accepted the fact that the plaid lines on the back of this quilt are never, ever going to be straight.

Although I have on many, many (manymanymanymany) occasions fantasized about burning this quilt and the John Flynn frame (simply because he makes it look so easy on his video as he works on a frigging Barbie-sized quilt maybe one-eigth the size of the one I need to do) in an elaborate Pagan ritualistic fashion, I have decided that I will not let it get the best of me.

I have decided to go war with this bloody thing.

I have borrowed another long folding table to add to the two long folding tables I already have. I have figured out a way - I hope - to get the backing loaded onto the appropriate rods -- a process that I may or may not describe later. I have loaded a dozen bobbins with matching thread. I have resigned myself to the fact that the back of this mother will never look straight to the eye.

My goal is to have this done by Feb. 13. Dad, my bro and my nephew are coming to visit on the 15th for Bro's birthday party/cookout.

If I do not have this thing finished by then, I will likely burn it on the grill and throw myself upon the flames.


  1. You are hilarious! From the sound of your organizational skills and engineering abilities, you will be coming out with your own quilt frame that will compress a king size quilt to a postage stamp size and allow the user to quilt effortlessly. I am looking forward to the competition. John Flynn

  2. Once again you have given me a great laugh! Hope it all works out for you 'cause I would love to see the finished product. Or even the process.

    Better yet, take up spinning. It takes much less room. : )

  3. John, now that I've set up this space, I think it just might work. I'll keep you posted.

    Darcie, you are just eeeevil, trying to lure me into spinning like that! :-D

  4. hahahaLOL!!! I can't say anything to this one! Its just too damn funny!