Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Double Wedding Rings

The double wedding rings quilt pattern is one of the oldest American traditions. First published by Capper's Weekly in 1928, it came to represent the bonding of two people in marriage. During the great depression, it's popularity grew due to the fact that it could be pieced out of even the smallest scraps of fabric; some patterns called for as many as 48 smaller pieces of fabric to make a single block. For this reason, it has always been considered one of the most difficult patterns to execute.

"Real quilt enthusiasts delight in this all-over pattern but it is hardly the design for the novice to undertake."

So... it turns out they weren't kidding. I, in an embarrassing display of quilting hubris, decided to go for it anyway. My good friends Mary and Justin got hitched a couple of weeks back and I wanted to make them something special; a quilt (maybe not full size, I'm not that much a glutton for punishment!) seemed the perfect thing! Especially because their wedding was bird and origami crane themed and I happen to have just a few scraps of beautiful crane fabric left over. (Fate? Destiny? The inevitability of a Hoarder?) And since I am in the habit of documenting EVERY step of the way, here is my first attempt at a double wedding rings quilt.

Working at Viv Pickle has not done anything to diminish my hoarding sensibilities. On the contrary, I seem to find myself drape over the cutting department trash can at the end (middle, beginning) of every day pulling out scraps of fabric that are too small to use for handbags but too big to be thrown away. (The truth is that I now have several times my body weight in small fabric scraps that I have to move to every new apartment... but it just doesn't seem right to let them go!) Anyway, I have all this fabric, so I decided to use it where ever possible.

Each block is constructed out of 8 arches (4 of each color, in this case green and blue) which connect in the center by a gold square.

Then, 4 ovals and 4 underwear-shaped pieces are sewn on (shown here with an indecent amount of pins holding it in place.)

Once two or more block are completed, they fit together with the rings connecting across the surface of the quilt! Magic! At this point in the quilting, I had to come to terms with a couple of things. 1.) the blocks were damn hard to make! The curves weren't entirely impossible to navigate, but the points NEVER managed to line up right and the measurements NEVER seemed to line up! There was a lot of fudging involved... and an embarrassing amount of easing... so much so that most of rings almost look gathered when you look closely (shhhh.) 2.) the blocks were HUGE! Each block finished at about 25"! I was planning on making the quilt throw-size; about 60" x 60". Instead of the 9 blocks I had planned for originally, I shifted my plan to 4! with a nice, wide border (red recycled fabric) around the outside. 3.) No matter how I cut it (literally) I just wasn't going to have enough crane fabric to use it on the entire background. I settled for using black-themed fabrics on two of the four total blocks.

So I got it all sewn up, prepped a backing of charcoal grey cotton, and basted the crap out of it (Titty Kitty Helped. Mostly by chasing the thread. Which is actually not all that helpful, but the thought meant a lot.)

And I quilted around all the curves. It was like swimming in fabric!

And I made a lovely commemorative patch for the back. (They were married on May 7th, 2009. Get it? 5.7.9) And I blindstitched the bias tape around the edge using the tried and true Kurz Family Method.

Et Viola! Lovely! Colorful! Totally warm and snuggly!

Best Wishes to newlyweds, Mary and Justin Bloch! May your marriage be lovely and colorful and totally warm and snuggly!

And as for me... I think I might wait a while before trying another double wedding rings quilt. I think I might need just a little more practice before I can really do it well.


Elizabeth said...

Oh but this is beautiful!!!

ArtYarn said...

this is beautiful!!