Sunday, March 8, 2009

Report from the Fringes: Real UrbanAmish Legend No. 2

My friend Marta surprised me Sunday evening with an email chronicling her very first piecing adventure. She had Pamela and I laughing and chuckling for quite a while after reading it.
We thought any quilter at any level would enjoy reliving their early piecing adventures through Marta's intimate encounter with the Indian Hatchet UrbanAmish Lesson 1.

Marta is a very accomplished knitter hence the title: Report from the Fringes. She is also a very accomplished gardener hence her preoccupation with the direction of stem growth in her block. But we digress: read on!

Subject line of the email: Hatchet Quest.

"There once was a knitter with a designer friend. Designer-friend said, "Be an Urban Amisher." So with designer-friend's cool pattern and fabrics, knitter (that's me) set out on the quest. Note for readers: I learned how to sew for a Girl Scout badge about 40 years ago. (Where does the time go?) Yes, I can thread the machine, but my sewing generally consists of zigzagging edges for hems.

Nice pattern. I liked having the pre-made templates. Lazy I am. And good thing the instructions included checking the scale and how to change the printer settings.

I chose designer-friend's English Garden (floral), A La Mode (Stripe) and a plain green from the stash. Okay, are all the stripes supposed to go the same way? I cut extras so that they would.

Am I supposed to pin these? And why are there pointy bits hanging over the edge? I suppose in spite of the triangles I should center the two pieces. Yikes! Should be right sides together. Bet you quilters were screaming when you saw that.

Maybe it's time for a tea break. Does anyone have any chocolate?
(Editorial comment: Marta does not know this but her pinning style will probably cause some squeals from quilters also. It's best to let her have her tea and chocolate in peace.)

I'm worrying about those triangles.
(Editorial comment: I'm still worrying about the pinning.)

It's really going to be a pain to have to finish each of these off. The reverse button on my machine is stiff. I really think I need to read something about quilting.

Okay, I made one seam. Here is the reverse side.

But I think the flowers look like they are growing the wrong way. Does direction matter? Knitter-gardener can't stand it if the flowers are growing upside down.

Why God invented the seam ripper...

Is there a technical term for this? I'm starting to wonder if this is called the Indian Hatchet because you want to throw yourself on it.
(Editorial comment: Glad we didn't mention anything about the pinning before. We can tell she's at a fragile junction now.)

In Yolanda and Barbara's book, Holiday Quilts I read about chaining.

That makes piecing go much faster.
(Editorial comment: Not sure, but do you think there were some decorative stitching attempts on this one seam? I don't remember that being included in the chain-piecing instruction.)

Maybe quilting is like swimming. So dangerous it should only be done with a buddy present.
(Editorial comment: We are also glad her scissors seem to have short blades. Should curtail any possible damage.)

How I learned to chain. And which way to press the seams.

Press toward the darker fabric.

Aren't they cute? I'm not sure if I should press as I go...

Oops, never watch TV while cutting out your pieces.

Well, if there's extra, I guess I can just slice it off.
(Editorial comment: Interesting. She's not using your typical quilterly see-thru grid ruler. The things we take for granted.)

Do I change thread colors?

They look like Tibetan Prayer Flags.

A digital camera was handy when I was trying out Yolanda's variations: Variation One, Parallel.

Two: Flipped and Mirrored

Three: Mirrored

Four: One Quarter Flipped

Five: Parallel and Flipped

Six: Inverted and Mirrored. I flipped back through the photos on the camera and decided I liked Flipped and Mirrored, Variation Two.

Hmm. Now is that saying, "Measure Once; Cut Twice? Oh well, hope I can make up for it at the machine.
(Editorial comment: I know I've muttered that very prayer once or twice myself.)

Well, it's done. How do you quilters get all of the little corners to line up?

I know it's weird, but I really like the back."

This docu-drama was contributed by Marta McDowell, botanical lecturer and author of Emily Dickinson's Garden.
Marta is also my co-author on A Garden Alphabetized (for your viewing pleasure) a book of twenty-six images and twenty-six essays is for all lovers of flowers and gardening. Marta wrote the essays, I made the images.

Visit her very entertaining and thoughtful gardening blogspot at:

This book and Emily Dickinson's Garden available through Amazon.

Coming next: Lesson 2 and tales Real UrbanAmish Legends Nos.1 & 3.

Having your own UrbanAmish adventures? Tell me about then. Tell us all!

Become an UrbanAmish Legend in your time!

To get UrbanAmish Lesson 1 as a free download: Click here.

To get the UrbanAmish Lesson 1 Template set as a free download: Click here.


  1. That was a fun read! The little taggies bother all of us until we turn it over and press ... voila... they disappear :)

  2. Great fun. Being a newbie quilter I really chuckled along with Marta's and your comments. Thanks!

    Nikki in Virginia