Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back from the USSR (sic)

Well, I am back from St. Petersburg, Russia, where I spent the last 10 days with my wife, daughter, and in-laws.  Mom and baby are still there for another 2 weeks while dad is back home in NYC because of work.  Had a lovely time, and was able to finally finish my Greek Cross quilt for our friends Katya and Sergei.  Before I reveal the finished quilt, let's look back a bit on how I got there...

Here are the 42 blocks laid out on our living room floor.  Between the entertainment center and the couch these blocks barely fit on the floor, and this is the largest workspace I have in the house!  How am I going to finish this thing with another 7 inches for the double boarder on each side, plus allowance for batting and backing?  I was a little concerned.  I could have taken the couch out of the living room while I basted, but ugh!  That's a pain!!!

After figuring out the block arrangement, I sewed them together, laid it out on our bed and admired it while plotting my next move!  Let's see...I need a roughly 100" x 90" space plus space to move around the quilt for basting...I am in some real trouble.  Maybe I could baste half the quilt at a time, but I like to tape down my backing to the floor to make sure it's perfectly aligned and free of any wrinkles, and that would be tough to do.

Very luckily, a neighbor of ours had some free floorspace, which I was able to use to baste a couple of nights later.  This is the largest quilt I have ever machine quilted (queen size), and really wasn't looking forward to it.  The basting took every quilting pin I had, and dipped heavily into the regular safety pin stash I had almost thrown away several times. 

Here's the quilt after I finished basting.  Handy Tip: I used one of those gardening kneeling pads to make all that kneeling less painful.  The only downside to this process was that our neighbor's A/C was out and it was, like, 95 degrees in there...not fun, but it's one way to speed up the process.  I have never basted anything so fast!

For the quilting, I chose the fastest and simplest quilting strategy- straight lines.  Though I think I have most of the kinks worked out of free motion quilting on my old Singer, I wasn't willing to risk not finishing because of skipped stitches, thread breaks, or any other roadblocks (at this point I really only had a few hours of sewing time left before we boarded the plane to Russia).  With walking foot attached, I straight line quilted about 4 inches apart, using Connecting Threads yellow cotton thread, and I was very happy with the result.  Of course, each quilting experience teaches me new thing, and one new thing I am taking to heart is not to regret the mistakes on the current quilt, but to simply enjoy the process and the result, and take whatever "mistakes" I made in design or execution, and not make them next time around.

Well, with maybe one hour of sewing time left before we left town, I decided that hand-stitching the binding would be the best use of time, so I sewed the binding fabric to the front, and packed up needles, thread, and quilt to finish the job when we got to Russia.  Hoping my wife would help, I figured we'd bang out the binding in a couple of hours. Well, to make a long story short, our luggage didn't make it with us, and when it finally arrived the next day, my wife got really sick, so we lost a couple of days work.  Eventually I bound it all myself and we presented the finished product to Katya and her daughter Sasha while at a lakeside cottage outside St. Petersburg.  Here are a few pics.

Here it is on our bed at the cottage.  It's so rewarding to see a finished quilt on the bed!  I have only made three bed-sized quilts, but they are the most satisfying for me to make, as they show so well spread over a bed rather than a lap, I think.

I requested that Katya and Sasha help out with the photo shoot before I said a final "goodbye" to the Greek Crosses.  Oh, did I mention why I chose Greek Crosses?  Well, Katya and Sergei are Russian Orthodox, but the more detailed Russian Cross (also called the Eastern Orthodox, or three-barred cross), seen below

wasn't really an option for two reasons: 1) it was a more complicated pattern, and I wouldn't have had time to finish before we left, and 2) I think such a specific symbol might be inappropriate to paste all over a quilt you would be sleeping under.  The Greek crosses are a bit more generic, but are still a symbol of an Eastern Orthodox christian church, and as my wife is Greek, I thought it was a nice tie-in.  In addition, I chose the 1001 Peeps Orange Towers fabric, with its onion-domed tops to give a Russian feeling!

In this picture you can also see the straight-line quilting.  At first I had planned to do about 3x the lines, but just ran out of time.  Look, I didn't even have enough time to take a decent up-close pic of the quilt :)

Baby Eva is helping display the quilt!

Backed with my huge stash of backing-worthy fabric, and sewn with a racing stripe down the middle!  It was definitely a race against time, but I won!!!  Gold medal for me :)


  1. it turned out gorgeous!! it's my favorite yet of your quilts :) especially the 1001 peeps... perfect. eva is getting so big, too... it doesn't seem like a year has passed since hanover!

  2. Thanks! I am hard on myself when I am putting the quilt together, but I always remind myself of what you said about seeing mistakes from a galloping horse, and all is well :) And yes, time just flies by with Eva- a lot has happened with her since, and probably with Jack, too! Speaking of which, aren't you about ready for #2? By the way, I loved the quilt you made for your MIL- the maple leafs...never commented, but I guess I am now :)