Monday, June 6, 2011

Rocky Road To Kansas Lap Quilt

 Here's yet another recycling quilt using larger pieces of blues and creams from my scrap bins, and piecing  leftover batting scraps for the filler.  Even the binding was an old remnant from my first quilt made in 1988.

I emptied another box from my studio, and if that wasn't enough, I used a pre-printed continuous line backing that was better suited for a commercial sewing machine.  Live and learn!
I'm very pleased with the look of the quilt top but equally unhappy with my machine quilting.  My thread choice was horrible (it kept breaking and garbling up), and due to the high color contrast, it shows.  I was able to persevere through the imperfections when I reminded myself this project was strictly for utilitarian use and would eventually wear out without me feeling bad about using it.

The lap size was too difficult for me to manage on my home sized machine.  I WILL NOT DO THIS AGAIN.  Hence forth, anything exceeding small wall art sized pieces shall be passed to local long-arm quilters... so my smile will remain in place. : )

I wanted to learn more about this patterns origins.  History grants us the ability to time travel, (aka 'mind travel'), because we can imagine the past and how some things came to be presently understood.  Many quilt block patterns were designed with specific references to their makers surroundings and experiences.  How they were executed was often determined by their current resources and social influences.  In that regard, not much has changed from generation to generation.

The Rocky Road to Kansas quilt block specifically refers to its early settlement period when it was first thought to have appeared in 1889, over ten years after the Santa Fe Trail was last used.  "Rocky" refers more to the difficult traveling conditions by wagon during the state's early settlement period, than by the actual nature of the road surfaces.

The original pattern is a string ~ or crazy-pieced design developed, some believe, to use up long narrow strips or strings of fabric from other sewing projects.  Variations of this pattern exist by other names as well.

For those wishing to draw from their multi-colored scrap bags, here is the string pieced quilt pattern for the Rocky Road To Kansas.  Several photos of RRTK quilts vary greatly in looks based on fabrics and construction choices. Be sure to click on the photos for larger views.  Scroll to the bottom of this  link to view a photo of a RRTK quilt using strips for the star and the background templates.

The same two templates are used whether you piece strings or not.  My version eliminates the middle seam of the background piece but it does create an inset seam that some beginners may find difficult to piece.  Either version looks nice.

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