Designing a Quilt Back

After completing the quilt top for my big project of 2017, I surveyed the remaining fabric and thought it might be really nice if I could take the remnants and design something for the back. I knew I did not have enough for the entire back but I should be able to do something creative before shopping for additional supplies.

I turned towards my EQ7 quilt design software and reviewed my options under the various libraries. Here, I discovered a quilt layout section that included an option for medallion quilts. I selected a churn dash design  and proceeded to play with fabric placement from my leftover stash. There was enough of the floral print to use as one 35 inch square with fabric to spare for the corners.

Unfortunately, no matter how I arranged the remaining fabrics, I did not have enough to complete the process. If I used the brown in the corners, I did not have enough for the border.  Figuring I would use the brown only in the border, I tried putting the pink or the blue in the corners in place of the brown, but that did not leave me enough for the inside strips of those colors. In addition, I did not have enough of the remaining material to make the binding.

As it happened to be April and the Maine quilt shop hop was in progress, my daughter and I decided it would be necessary to go on a road trip in search of border fabric. The brown would be hard to match, so I decided that maybe I could find a green that might compliment the green from the front of the quilt. This would not be a problem since the two greens would be on opposite sides of the quilt. We visited three quilt stores that day and I successfully found a perfect color at one store and a suitable fabric for binding at another shop.

The next day I finished the backing but now I had no place large enough to take a decent photograph. One of the advantages of taking on large projects in the winter is that the snow serves as a nice back drop for these types of photos. While crocuses were in full bloom, coltsfoot flowers were peeking through the earth and the yards in the rest of our neighborhood were devoid of snow during this second weekend of April, our property still had plenty to spare. It was enough for me to get my picture.

The assembly was now done and ready for quilting. I think this one will be the first quilt I send out to a professional longarm quilter. Fortunately, my daughter fits the bill for that.

A short stroll along the Belfast Rail Trail

After our difficulties hiking in Tanglewood during the melting season, we decided to find some place that would get us outside and not be so taxing on us, physically. This would be tricky, for not only were we dealing with slushy snow but we were approaching mud season; a most unpleasant time for exploring hiking trails. In fact, the forecast for the next day was another 3 to 5 inches of snow, letting us know that even though the calendar said April, winter was not done yet. I finally suggested that perhaps the Rail trail in Belfast would be manageable as it meandered along the Passagassawaukeag River and was more exposed to sun.

Since I last visited the Belfast Rail Trail, the path has been connected to the downtown area of Belfast. With this in mind, we decided to park in town and walk along the paved path by the river towards the pedestrian bridge and the Rail Trail. We encountered many people enjoying their stroll within the confines of the town; a clear indication that “if you build it they will come”. It certainly served to get people outside even though the trail conditions in other venues were no longer ideal.

Once we passed the pedestrian bridge and continued underneath Route 1, we were pretty much on our own. The Rail Trail was created with fine gravel, so I thought this would be better than hiking through slush or mud but even here the snow was still firmly in place along the trail. Although the snow was a bit slushy, it was not as arduous as our hike through Tanglewood the week before, however, given the consistency of the snow, we decided that we would walk to the next parking area before turning back towards town.

It was pleasant walking along the river, so we stopped a few times to admire the view; a stream running down the hill towards the river, the remnants of an old bridge and the vegetation beginning to bud. Along the way, I discovered a leaf that had left its impression in the melting snow. It was amazing that the dark color of the leaf was enough to cause the snow under it to melt faster than the surrounding area.

We soon reached our turn around point, where we paused for a moment to look further down the trail before turning back towards town. Even trails like this will just be easier after the snow is gone for the year.

Design to Construction

After spending time playing around with my EQ7 quilt design software and creating test blocks to determine the accuracy of the software’s cutting measurements, it was time to move on to the construction phase of this year’s big quilt project. I still was uncertain about the amount of fabric required for the border, but I figured I would construct the bulk of the quilt top before tackling the border problem.

I’m not sure if it was the thrill of the quilt design package or the sudden awareness of accurate measurements but I found that I proceeded with extra caution during the construction of the blocks. I needed four different blocks to create this quilt and with each block, I took additional time with measuring before and after cutting. I have found that the more pieces needed to construct a block, the greater the chances of ending up with the finished block being the wrong size, so when I approached the nine patch block, I measured and trimmed during each part of the assembly process. Finally, the blocks were assembled. Miracle of miracles, they all measured within acceptable tolerance of 11.5 inches. Hurrah!

When I laid out the blocks to prepare for the final assembly, I found that something just didn’t feel right about the design. Something seemed a little disjointed with the flow of the pattern. I studied the quilt for a minute before rotating the corner pieces so that the blue fabric made a continuous circular path around the outer edge of my creation. This one little change made the whole thing more aesthetically pleasing. Now it was time for the final assembly.

Once the rows were constructed, I proceeded on to the inner borders. Everything was going according to plan. It was now time to figure out the outer border. I measured the green fabric once more and decided to lower that outer edge by an inch to a final border of 5.5 inches. After cutting the necessary strips to construct the border, I was left with two one inch strips of green fabric. Very close, but still enough to complete the quilt top.

After completing the top, I studied the final product once more. I must say I was very pleased with the results. I surveyed the fabric left over from the construction and decided I would try to do something with the remaining pink, brown, blue and floral pieces for the backing. But that must wait for another posting.

A tough slog

Another few inches of snow had fallen, but the weekend temperatures were getting close to 40 and the sun was shining, so what could be better than a walk through the woods! Exploring the Forest to River Trail at Tanglewood seemed to be an ideal place for a hike, but not knowing what the trail conditions would be, we threw our spikes and our snowshoes in the car and headed off towards our next adventure.

The day had warmed enough so that the dirt road leading towards Tanglewood had turned a bit slick, leading to a small driving challenge. However, we did make it to the parking area, where we had to make the next decision of snowshoes, spikes or just the boots on our feet. The snow seemed pretty packed down, so we opted to leave the accessories in the car. It wasn’t long before we realized that this was a big mistake.  Although the snow was packed down where cross country skiers had gone before, the warming temperatures had changed the snow to such a soft, sticky mush that we found ourselves slogging our way towards the river.

My husband kept grumbling that we should have gone back for our snowshoes so that we could have easily followed outdoor etiquette of not treading in the ski tracks.  I didn’t think that the snowshoes would have given us much of an advantage in the wet snow so I kept on going. We continued at a slow pace down through a grove of conifers before turning off towards the Turner Falls trail.

It was only a few more minutes before we reached the Ducktrap River where we paused to observe the rushing water on its path towards the coast. I commented about how pretty everything looked but I heard not a word from my unhappy partner. Finally we turned away from the river and began the slow journey back towards the car. I stopped a few times, waiting for my spouse to trudge up behind me before continuing our return journey. As we finished our expedition, I looked back at my tired partner plodding on with shoulders slumped and sad expression as he labored towards the finish line. The poor man looked like he had been beaten with a stick. Oh well, spring will be here soon and then we can deal with mud season, which is something we did not have to face in this preserve that’s known to be “wet even during the dry season”.

Once home I looked at my photos and realized we had last traveled through Tanglewood exactly one year ago. What a difference between the snow covered trails this year and spring like weather and wet trails a year ago.


Snowshoeing the Hodson Loop

After the snowstorm of March 14th brought a foot of snow to our area, we were blessed with another chance at snowshoeing. Our first thought was to check out the Harkness preserve in Rockport, but when we saw the “No Parking” sign almost directly in front of the preserve we decided to head back and just take a walk around the block. As we got closer to home, I suddenly had an inspiration that we should check out the loop trail at the Hodson preserve, so turning left instead of right we parked along the road and donned our snowshoes.

Shortly after entering the pine forest section of the preserve, we knew we had made the right choice. The combination of shade and sun filtering through the trees and reflecting off the snow was magical. We paused a bit just to soak in the serenity of the scene before moving on.

It wasn’t long before we stopped once more to enjoy another snow covered scene. Here, we stood to watch the water of a narrow stream rush downhill under an artistic covering of ice. The icy blanket was precariously poised on the edge of a downward section of this body of water and I wondered what forces were holding it in place. Further along the trail, there was more sunlight filtering through the trees shining on a more open section of this winding tributary. Surrounded by snow covered banks there was still some magic to be found along the water.

Soon we reached the bridge that would take us across the stream, leaving us the choice of continuing along the Hodson Loop or taking the Rheault Easement to the top of the hill. We realized that we had never really done the Hodson Loop, so we decided to continue along the trail for some new sights and adventures.

This ended up being an excellent decision, for we now found ourselves snowshoeing through virgin snow. Odd that everyone continued uphill instead of trekking around the loop. We soon discovered that we weren’t the only ones who had come this way, for the area was full of turkey tracks. We followed the arrows half way around the loop before these rather large birds decided on a different route through the trees. At some point, we noticed cat prints running parallel with the turkeys but no signs of a confrontation. Then again, I’m not sure a cat could tackle a turkey.

The trail began to loop back along a stone wall. Although covered with snow, I could still follow the line of the wall running through the trees. It wasn’t long before we came full circle and soon reconnected with the common path that would take us back across the stream towards the entrance to the preserve. It was time to end our journey and prepare to host our St. Patrick’s Day Celebration with our neighbors.