So I made my usual yearly goal of tackling 12 projects for the year. I’m pretty behind on the goal – it’s been a rough year for my family, so I’ve not done as much crafting as I might have otherwise – but I’ve gotten 4 quilts finished and this is the first of them.
This quilt followed no patterns, it’s just a set of Carolyn Friedlander Botanics charms and Kona cotton charms matched to the Botanics line mixed randomly with the white charms to make it a decent size. (It’s about 63″ x 72″.)
I wanted to use this lap quilt to practice free motion quilting, but I didn’t want it to take a decade to quilt so I did the white all in orange peels and then did different quilting in all the colour squares. This isn’t all of them, but it’s pretty close…
This is probably the visual equivalent of Too Long; Didn’t Read. But I enjoy trying out different things with the free motion quilting and this gave me lots of chances to try things out.
The backing is a wide width crosshatch, also a Carolyn Friedlander print. I like this quilt a lot and I’m so happy to have it finished.
So my January goal for both All People Quilt’s 2018 UFO resolution and One Monthly Goal hosted by Elm Street Quilts is a very old quilt top that’s been waiting for me to pull up my big girl pants and get it quilted.
I didn’t really have any half-way decent photos of it before (or even now.. most of my current shots have been taken at night in artificial light), but here’s one showing where I’m at this morning.
It’s pretty hard to tell in the picture, but this is a rectangular throw quilt and that yellow square nearish the top is actually the centre point on the quilt. I’ve finished about half the quilting in the centre patchwork portion and am going to run out of thread – Aurifil 6723 – before I get there. After that, I still have both borders to complete. So…. there’s a good chance I won’t finish this before the end of January,… but who cares!? I’m closer to finished than I’ve been in 7 or 8 years! I can’t complain.
All the fabrics in this quilt as from Tula Pink’s Plume line, which was maybe her last line for Moda. I loved it so much that even though I had practically no money at the time, I bought a layer cake and the yardage for borders and backing. I had sold a part of the backing material online but was lucky enough to still have enough fabric to do the backing without dipping into other Tula Pink lines.
So this is what most of the back looks like. The light isn’t great in this photo and it’s making it a bit yellow (I mean, it probably doesn’t look yellow to you, I just know there’s a yellow cast over this photo, which I can’t figure out how to fix in Flickr’s photo editor). You can also in this photo really see the quilting motif that I’m using in the centre portion of the quilt. (I’m planning to do proper feathers in the large outer border and I’ve got two different ideas for the yellow border, which I haven’t made any firm decisions about yet. I need more thread before I can worry too hard about it.)
So I’m basically using an all-over feather-like pattern to quilt in the centre portion. I learned this from a Craftsy class – Ultimate Free-motion Feathers – by Patsy Thompson. I’m really enjoying working on it – it’s a lovely flowing pattern that can tuck into any space you need it to go into and it makes a really beautiful texture over the quilt. My quilting is still somewhere in the learning stage, sometimes things come out beautiful and smooth and nearly perfect and then sometimes they are a bit stiff and awkward and too small, like the feather in the pic below.
Anyway, that’s where I’m at with that. If I get around to it, this weekend, I should also post about my January finish! (Yes, I actually finished something this month! Started and finished!) And then also about the five thousand quilt blocks I made this month. Something to look forward to…
Well, it’s been a lot longer than I meant to be! But I’ve got a finish to share:
I’ve finished my pink and coral and orange and black quilt made using fabrics from Fabric Spark‘s January blogger bundle, which was put together by Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches. Back in January when I first got the fabrics, I talked a bit about how I found it sort of mystifying collection of colours.
I expect it was a bit mystifying to me because I’m not generally a very big fan of pink and I don’t really like pink and orange as a combination and I don’t generally like florals and even though I think a splash of black is a good addition to almost any colour palette I sort of found it hard, mentally, to slot this much black in with such sweet colours and prints. But I decided to do something with it straight away and decided on a pattern from McCall’s America Loves Scrap Quilts Winter 2014/2015 magazine, Dutch Breeze by Susan Guzman. I didn’t follow the pattern except to see what width to cut my strips; it was designed for scraps to create a larger quilt and I didn’t want to use more than my original 12 fat quarters, so my fabric strips weren’t going to match up with the pattern in any way (other than width).
Twelve Fat Quarters turned out 36 blocks (with very, very little fabric waste) and then I had to figure out how to make it all a little bigger and also not square. I didn’t want a square quilt or a baby quilt, but I didn’t want to add too much fabric either, so I figured out that if I used a centre block with 5×6 blocks, then I could put my remaining 6 blocks around the edges to squeeze another 16″ in width/length out. And I could do it using only 1 yard extra fabric.
It took a little creative piecing of the borders, but I did it! Originally I was going to put five blocks up in the top corner and just one in the bottom left (well, this picture is sideways, because I hung it sideways on the fence, but if you turned it clockwise to stand it on end, then this explanation would make sense…), but I would have had to piece the border fabric in chunks and this way let me use 4 panels cut to 8.5″ x 40.5″ – no extra seams necessary! (Other than adding on the blocks, of course…)
I had wanted to use one of the 12 original prints as the border fabric, but I wasn’t able to get enough from Fabric Spark of any of the prints I was leaning towards, so I wound up choosing this Honeycomb in Marmalade from Bonnie Christine’s Sweet as Honey line. This was probably the better choice in the long run, since it’s uses the colours from the bundle, but also didn’t blend in with any of the blocks that might have butted up against it around the edges. And it had a lot of white, which I thought might help tone down some of the PINK ORANGE FLORAL-ness of it. I’m not sure that it worked in that way, but I can live with that anyway.
I constructed the back using yardage of one of the prints from the front, split up with pieced together scraps left over from making the blocks. I’m not sure why, but somehow I convinced myself that the scraps strips were going to be enough seperation that it wouldn’t matter if I lined up the back when I pieced it. Hahaha no. It looks terrible! But I’m reminding myself that it’s on the back of the quilt and most of the time it’s going to be hidden. What does it matter really, in the grand scheme of it all if the back side is a bit ugly?
I tried to think of this project as a practise piece for free motion quilting, since that’s something I’m always wanting to get better at but rarely willing to really practise. I wouldn’t say I did a great job – there’s lot of little jigs and jogs and I’m not very good at regulating my speed and stitch length or the scale of my quilting.
But I tried to have fun with it. I like spirals, but it took me a while to figure out how to deal with the weird awkward bits where one spiral didn’t fill in to the next space. I’ve still got a long way to go in perfecting them, but I like how it looks finished and I’m just not going to worry too much about the bits that didn’t turn out “perfectly” (because done is better than perfect).
I bound this quilt using a black and white dot from my stash (and a little scrap of honey comb in the corner).
I still haven’t washed it, so it might shrink up a little bit yet, but I think it’s going to look good finished (even if I am a bit iffy about pink and orange still!) And I’m just glad to have it done – it wasn’t a project that should have lasted 3 months, but I guess I’m pretty good sat distracting myself!
Some quilt stats
Name: Pink and Orange Windmill Quilt
Pattern: Dutch Breeze by Susan Guzman
Size: About 56.5″ x 64.5″
Fabric: A fat quarter bundle chosen by Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches, including fabrics from Cotton + Steel, Jeni Baker for Art Gallery Fabrics, and… others. The border is Bonnie Christine’s Honeycomb in Marmalade from her Sweet as Honey line.
Batting: Quilter’s Dream Wool
Thread: White Aurifil (piecing and quilting)
Backing: Amy Butler’s Pressed Flowers in Carmine from her Cameo line.
Binding: A black and white dot.
This was my March goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes, so I’ll be linking up there and with Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, hosted this week by Janet at Simply Pieced.
My winner (via Random.org) of 42 charm squares (cut from my scraps! and a close match to my hashtag quilt!) was Leanne Parsons of Devoted Quilter. I had to laugh a little about that because Leanne was the host of Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday in that week and she popped over to thank me for linking up. Leanne is apparently from Newfoundland, one of only 2 provinces in Canada that I haven’t visited! (The other being PEI. Sorry island provinces! One day I’ll get there!) I lived in Nova Scotia for 2 years (ten years ago… ack!) and kick myself for not having travelled more when I was in the approximate neighbourhood!
I’ve got just 12 blocks left to finish and all they need is to have their last seam stitched up! After that I need to cut my borders, plan my layout and get the top put together. I’m not working this weekend (in theory! I’ve had a supremely frustrating work week, having stayed 11 hours on two days and now I’ll be going in for at least 4 hours on a sixth day – but I’m going to go in early this evening so that I can come home and sleep before it’s too stupid late and then at least I’ll still have Saturday and Sunday during the day for myself).
I had planned to use one of the fabrics from the top (actually, that floral print in the finished block above) for the border, but Fabric Spark didn’t have quite enough left, so I wound up choosing the honeycomb fabric, which combined the pinks and oranges that were prevalent throughout the bundle. I’m hoping it won’t be too white for a large border, but if it is…. oh well. This quilt is getting done using what I’ve got one way or another! The large scale print below the honeycomb print is going to be the backing fabric, though I’m hoping to break up the backing a little bit with a narrow row of pieced scraps – I’m going to use as much of that original bundle of fabric as I possibly can! And finally, that Denyse Schmidt print on the bottom was meant to be the binding. When I ordered it, I had forgotten that it’s an off-white print, rather than a pure white one, so I’m not sure if I’ll wind up using it. I LOVE that print, but I don’t want it to look like a dirty line around the edge of my quilt (which, let’s not forget is being bordered with that very white heavy honeycomb!) so it might get swapped out for something whiter or something blacker. We’ll see what I’ve got in my stash.
For once I even have a quilting plan! And because I enjoy this quilt but don’t love it in some devastating way where I can’t bear to ruin it with crappy quilting, I’m even going to try something new. This quilt isn’t meant for anyone and I think it’s always easier to be a bit free with things when it’s kind of…. meaningless in a way. If that makes sense?
Yeah, I don’t know what to call this quilt, but the fabric is from the Happy Go Lucky line and the quilt pattern is called Confetti.
The first five blocks are pretty much a variation on this: two joined hexies and one lonely one floating on an enormous, mostly empty block.
I won’t show all five blocks. But they’re all pretty similar – one hexie in one quadrant and a set of hexies in the opposite quadrant. I tried to make sure none of the blocks had the exact same placement, so hopefully they’ll seem a bit like confetti tumbling around.
I’m only just working on the next four blocks, and haven’t stitched down the hexies yet.
I’m off-and-on quite nervous about that backing fabric, which is a Kaffe Fassett shot cotton (I think in Jade, though I forget the colour name for certain). It’s not a colour that really appears in the line at all, but somehow it just seems to work sometimes. And then sometimes I’ll look at it another way and be convinced that it can’t possibly come together. I’m sure it’ll be fine, though I can’t begin to imagine what colour thread I should use to quilt this. (The backing is going to be largely navy – the navy print with the multi-coloured pom-pom dandelion things. The binding I’m undecided on – I ordered two different fabrics to test against the shot cotton, one which dark grey on light grey and the other which is I think dark blue on light blue.) Maybe I’ll just use a variegated grey – I know I’ve got a new spool of that and it wouldn’t stand out too much in any case. Dunno. It’s going to be at least another week before the backing fabric arrives – I hope it’ll work, because it’s getting a bit difficult to find Happy Go Lucky fabric (in large quantities, that is), and I don’t really want to use the shot cotton as a quilt backing. Things to think about, anyway.
I suppose I should come up with more creative names for the things I make, but it’s always just the most basic information with me: a wonky star quilt, made with Modern Vintage fabric. Anyway, it’s my first finish for 2013! The first of several, I hope… (But I shouldn’t jinx myself by saying that.)
I’ve been working on this one since November 2012, I think, which for me isn’t a very long time. It’s rare I finish things within months, rather than within years! It does help to have a deadline, though. I didn’t meet my original one – to have it done by Christmas – but I did get it done before my family comes to visit again (that’ll be end of February, most likely). My parents will be tasked with taking this quilt to give to my Grandma, who I made it for.
A very long time ago I started a different quilt for my grandma. It was an origami quilt, where all the nine-patch blocks had origami flowers made using all the ugly floral prints my mom had bought me. (She used to buy me fabric periodically and half the time it was weird floral prints that wouldn’t appeal to much of anyone, I don’t think!) It was the first big project I ever really worked on, and it had A LOT of construction issues. I mean, I didn’t really KNOW it, but I sure figured it out when I started quilting it.
This photo is from before I quilted it, but once I started… well, the borders were all out of whack, so much so that I actually had to fold-over and quilt down about an inch of fabric on one side. (It hides remarkably well – it happened to be right where there was a seam anyway, and it just sort of blends in.) I had a hell of a time figuring out how to quilt it, and I screwed things up a lot and tried mostly unsuccessfully to hide it. The more I tried to make things work, the more frustrated I got with it, and so it’s spent several years languishing in a closet while I mulled over what to do with it… at least, I mulled it over in between year long bouts of pretending it didn’t exist.
During one of my annual bouts of mulling things over a while back, I realized the single biggest problem with the quilt: it’s full of raw edges. Every single flower has a raw edge on the underside of each petal, which you can see opened up in the photo above. I’ve made a lot (A LOT) of mini-pillows using these, and it’s not such a big deal that they’ve got raw edges, because you’re not using it, you’re not likely going to have to wash it. But how can you wash a quilt with 65 flowers, each with raw edges on all four petals? So needless, I think, to say… I’ve given up on that quilt. I don’t know what to do with it – it seems ridiculous to bag it up and throw it in the garbage, but I just don’t know how to salvage it.
Anyway, I had to make a new quilt. My Grandma has made me a number of quilts – I think I’ve got four from her, which really I should take proper pictures one day and make a post about them. But I’ve never made her something big before, and I thought she’d probably like to have something I quilted, since I know she’s pretty tickled by the thought that I’ve picked up quilting. The few times she’s seen things I’ve made, she’s had a kind of funny reaction. She finds the colours and prints I use kind of bewildering, I think. I mean, why would I want a quilt with black sashing and bright colours when there are so many pretty pink fabrics out there?
Anyway, Bonnie & Camille’s Vintage Modern is a very pretty fabric line, and although it’s not quite my thing, it’s still something that hits points that appeal to me (the interesting prints, like the houndstooth and those sort of circular ones, the colours – red and aqua and grey), but is traditional and pretty enough to appeal to my Grandma.
I made this using a layer cake – a Moda layer cake will give you 21 blocks, I used 20 and the extra may, if I get around to it, get turned into a cushion – and then red and white yardage, plus a little yardage for the border and binding. Using a layer cake (the equivalent of 4 charm packs) means the blocks are a little larger than standard, about 13.5 inches finished rather than 12 inches. Which is nice, because this makes a decent sized lap quilt for an adult, about 63 x 77 inches.
When I started making the blocks, I was a little concerned that the white stars wouldn’t stand out against the grey prints, so I separated out all of the grey prints (there were 8) and made four blocks in all grey, with the red stars to contrast. The red fabric is cherry Cotton Couture from Michael Miller, and is really beautiful feeling stuff. (I mean, I like my Kona Cotton, I’ve got yards and yards of the stuff, but Cotton Couture is just GORGEOUS stuff to work with.)
I like those contrasting stars in the quilt and I’m glad I did it. (Although I think that’s one of those things that will bewilder my Grandma!) I think those four red stars are probably the wonkiest of all my wonky stars, so that appeals to me too. I was really worried that I’d run out of the white tone-on-tone I used with the multi-coloured prints, so I was being very cautious about how I cut them and how much fabric I used. I did manage to stretch the tone-on-tone over the whole quilt, but I think I was only left with maybe 2 or 3 squares or triangles that would still have been usable. (I don’t know how much I started with – it was probably about a metre, but I’m really not certain.)
I don’t have any really good shots of the quilting in this one, but that’s okay because I kind of did it all ass-backwards and would have done things a fair bit differently if I’d really thought it through before I started, rather than doing the first thing I thought of and then having to slot in everything else around it. In any case, I quilted it in a pale grey that pretty much blends right into the quilt. Before quilting, I tried something new to me with the basting, which was to baste on a table rather than the floor! I found this tutorial from My Fabric Obsession and decided that even if it didn’t work out that well, it HAD to be better than crawling around on the floor to pin baste. It was! I had no problems with wrinkles on the quilt back, and it was so so so so so easy compared to doing it on the floor. No aching back! No worries about leaving pin gouges in the kitchen floor! (I probably left some pin-scratches in my sewing table, but I’m really not worried about that.) I’m definitely going to do that again the future, although maybe I’ll finally suck it up and try thread basting.
I decided when I was working on the top, that I really wanted to have a flannel backing, so that it would be nice and cosy to wrap up in. As a lap quilt, I figure it’s more likely to be used off a bad, and thus without a sheet, so who wouldn’t want an extra fuzzy and soft feeling fabric up against them? I thought I’d probably have to use a solid grey flannel, but Vintage Modern came with several flannel prints as well, and I found someone on Etsy who was selling yardage. I really wanted a grey print (I don’t know why, it just felt right) and was very happy to find that floral that you see up above. This Moda flannel seemed to be a nicer quality flannel than a lot of the solids I’ve worked with before. I didn’t pre-wash the other fabrics, but obviously I did pre-wash the flannel because that stuff can shrink A LOT, but it shrunk much less than any other flannel I’ve worked with in the past. It also didn’t seem quite as shred-happy as a lot of flannels I’ve used.
For the binding, I used a striped print from another line of fabric by Bonnie & Camille, Marmalade, which is another line of pretty vintage-looking florals. I had planned to use the red print with white dots that you can see in the quilt, but went with the striped binding instead because who doesn’t love a striped binding? There’s a part of me that thinks my Grandma would probably have liked the dots better, so that part of me kind of wishes I hadn’t switched to the stripe, but I love the stripe too much to seriously contemplate changing anyway.
So now I need to chuck this puppy in the wash. I’m always scared of washing things – what if it completely falls apart? what if the whole thing comes out in a big ball of shredded fabric and strings? – even though I’ve never had any problems. Irrational fears, eh?
Does this chucked on a chair shot look the same as the one I’ve been flashing the last few weeks worth of work-in-progress Wednesday posts?
If it does, you should look a little closer!
Now with 100% more binding!
I haven’t really shown too many full-on shots of this quilt, though I guess there was the one with it draped down the stairs in my kitchen, but if you know very much about this line of fabric – Bonnie & Camille’s Vintage Modern – you may know there isn’t a stripe. (Well, there is, but it’s a very wide stripe with dots in both colours of the stripe.) (In fact, here’s a link to the Moda info sheet on Vintage Modern.) This stripe that I’ve used actually comes from Bonnie & Camille’s newer line of fabric, Marmalade, which is in a very similar colour palette, but also adds orange and yellow to the mix. The reds are the same in both lines, so it worked perfectly!
I think everyone loves a good striped binding, I certainly do, but I do have some slight reservations about this one. I think I maybe should have gone with my original plan and used a red with white dot. Oh well, too late, not changing it now!
I’ve stitched down one short side plus a couple more feet, and am crossing fingers and toes that I’ll manage to get the rest done tonight and tomorrow. I REALLY want this to be a January finish! But January is so very nearly over! I guess I should get back to it – there are certainly worse things I could do with my time on a cold, cold, cold winter’s day than to cuddle up under a flannel-backed quilt while watching tv and stitching.
I wonder how many dozens of threads I’ve woven into this quilt top. Well, all done now! Just the binding left…
(By the by, that’s a self-threading needle. Makes the job so very much easier! Even if you accidentally clip something too close. I did it as I went along, thank goodness, because looking at a quilt top full of loose threads later on can be kind of intimidating.)
I’ve made a couple of wonky star quilts in the past, which I’ve donated to Project Linus in Austin, Texas, but I’ve never made one to keep or to give to someone I know. This one is going to be for my Grandma, if I can get it made in time for Christmas. (Well, even if I don’t get it made in time for Christmas, really.) I started working on it quite a while ago and then the light bulb of my sewing machine burned out and it was surprisingly difficult to sew without the extra bit of light. No matter how I shone project lights over my shoulder or across the table or whatever, it was just too dark and shadowy to sew with any degree of comfort. It took a while to find a light bulb that fit (I finally bought one that is longer than the original but has the right watts and whatever and also the same size base – it seems to fit okay in the machine even though it is bigger than the original), and then I seemed to lose my sewing mojo. (Either that or I just got distracted by embroidery.)
(Please excuse the wildly varying light in this photos. They were all taken after it was too dark outside to use any natural light, but the ones on the ironing board are much closer to the project light I use to light my sewing table and they got a really different colour cast over them than the ones taken a little further away. I tried to fix it using flickr’s photo editor but did a very poor job of it and probably made it look worse.)
The last couple days though I’ve sat myself down and got myself back to work on it. I’m on vacation from work this coming week and really wish I could spend the time sewing, but I’m heading to Saskatchewan to visit family for most of the week, where I won’t have access to a sewing machine. (Well, I suppose I could work on my mom’s machine, but that thing always hated me. No matter what I did, I’d get a tangled wad of thread on the back of whatever I was sewing, and then my mom would try and it would work perfectly. I don’t even know.) My goal right now is to get all the blocks done before I leave, and then hopefully I’ll be able to get the top pieced once I’m back. After that it’ll be quilting… well, acquiring backing and then quilting. Which is always where I get hung up. I’m just afraid of quilting, though I’ve been trying to get myself to do a little more of it. I always seem to wind up with wrinkles in the back, no matter how I try pinning it.
Anyway, the two photos up above show what’s left to be done with the blocks. The block up top is of course nearly finished – I just need to get all those pieces sewn together. The stack in the second photo is the last five blocks, plus all the leftover bits of white I’ve got for making the star points. When I started this, I pulled a piece of white-on-white fabric off my shelves and decided to use it, without measuring or anything, and so I didn’t know if there would be enough to make the whole quilt top. And this close to the end… I still don’t know! I’m really hoping I’ve got enough squares and triangles left to do those last five blocks, but I might have to substitute some other white-on-white print for the last block or two, depending how far I can make it stretch without making the star points really small.
So far I’ve got 15 blocks pieced – 11 of them look more or less like this. The Vintage Modern fabric line also has 5 or 6 prints that are just grey on white and I was worried when I started that the white stars wouldn’t pop well enough with those greys mixed in, so I pulled all the grey fabrics (I started with a layer cake) and made four blocks that are just greys with red stars.
I’m going to have 21 blocks in the end, though I only need 20, so I’m not quite sure how I’ll decide which to use. I don’t know why, but I always feel like when you add a contrasting element like those blocks with the red stars, then you should do so in uneven numbers, so it’s a pretty good bet that I’ll only use three of them and leave out the fourth. (Mini quilt? Cushion? Piece it into the back?) On the other hand, if I run out of the white for star points, maybe I’ll not make that 21st block and just use all the grey ones. Anyway, it’s obviously not going to be a bed-sized quilt – 4×5 blocks means 48″ x 60″. I did buy fabric for a border, for which I chose the print on the bottom right of the block in the very first photo (that grey/blue circular one), but it just occurred to me now that I probably should have chosen a red-based print for the border, so that those red stars don’t stand out too weirdly. Hmm. Maybe I should buy something with more red, just in case I don’t like the blue. I’m leaning towards buying one of the prints in flannel for the back (so it’ll be cosy), but I’m waiting to hear back from an Etsy seller to see if she’s got enough yardage in one of the red on grey prints for that.
In any case, my goals are thus:
1. Finish the blocks by November 5
2. Piece the top by November 13
3, 4, 5. Baste & quilt & bind by ??? (Have to get the backing fabric for that…)
You wouldn’t think it, based on the infrequent posts in July, but it was the month of getting things done. I finished up two quilts and a small stack of baby gifts, which was pretty awesome, and although I didn’t start working on it until August, I pulled out a third quilt to get finished. It’ll probably take me a few more weeks – all that’s left is a mountain, A MOUNTAIN, of hand-work and weaving in threads from quilting – but I should have it finished by September. (Hopefully! It’s a gift for my grandma, and her birthday is in September, so the timing would be good.)
After that, I think I’ll go back to my mermaid/mod times quilt along quilt. I haven’t looked at it since June!
Anyway, this is a very, very old project, and one that I’m very, very happy to have finished. This project began all the way back in 2005 with members of the Quilting community on Livejournal. Someone had an idea to exchange quilt blocks using brights with black, so several of us joined up and we all made one block for each person, plus one for ourselves. There were 13 of us participating, as I recall, though I think one person had to back out in the end.
At the time I was quite new to machine quilting. In the previous couple years I had only done hand-work and then in 2004 I bought my first sewing machine (which I still have/use). I didn’t really know anything about quilting, and had only done nine-patches and some house blocks (by hand) and some very, very appallingly bad shoo-fly blocks by machine. The shoo-fly blocks had been for another exchange in that same community (mine is in the bottom right corner) and I was embarrassed by them (particularly when I got my exchange blocks of which several were immaculate AND significantly more complex), so I wanted to do something impressive and of good quality. I had heard about but never tried paper-piecing, which was supposed to result in perfect crisp points, so I bought a book – Carol Doak’s 40 Bright & Bold Paper-Pieced Blocks – and taught myself how to paper-piece.
Perfect! This block, called Chris’s Block in the book, has been used by me many times since then (once, twice, thrice, err… four times at least), usually for exchanges because it always makes an impact. More importantly though, it was something I could be proud of to send away. In fact, it hurt a little to send them all away – what if I didn’t like what I got back? Well, of course I did. I loved the way the bright colours popped up against the black and we got such a great variety of colours and block types. Here are a couple of my favourites:
I’d said before that there were 13 of use participating, which would have led to a rather difficult number of blocks to work with. Then one person backed out for personal reasons, so we would, including our own block, wind up with 12, which is not a bad number. But I couldn’t think of a good way, other than putting the blocks on point, which I didn’t want to do, to make the quilt large enough to use on the couch – my plan for it. So I made enough blocks to bring the quilt up to 16. I had some fun doing that – I made two more paper-pieced blocks and two fairly different looking Antique Tile blocks. Here are close-ups of all five blocks I made:
Both red stars are from the Carol Doak book, as well as the turquoise and green block. (The reds are Chris’s Block and Barbara’s Block, and the blue/green is Jenny’s Block. Doak named the blocks after women she was friends with or knew from the publishing company.) The other two are both Antique Tiles, which was traditional and looked easy enough for my then pretty weak machine-piecing abilities.
Obviously I used the same red/pink prints for both blocks. I’m not sure why, though probably I just didn’t have much of a fabric stash then to choose from. Some of the red blocks I sent away had a couple different fabrics in them, and I kind of wish I’d have had one of those alternates, but it’s not something that bothers me really. My favourite block, though, is the blue and green one. If I were making it now (and if I’d known then that I’d wind up using a printed sashing) I’d have switched the locations of my solid and print blacks, but never mind that. I LOVE that block. I wish I’d had tons of that green fabric, but I only ever had a 10th of a yard (or metre, not sure which) of it. And I have no idea who made it/what line it came from. (Not that I’d be likely to find it now!) I don’t know how well it’ll show, but it’s got little turquoise dots on it that almost perfectly match the solid blue. The kind of watery looking print is a batik with a range of blues and the print in a murky mossy green. LOVE.
In retrospect, there are some things I wish I could change about the quilt, namely I’d like to use a solid sashing and a different print for the border. Probably I’d do a 1/4-inch… flange-style framing border rather than the 1-in thick blue one I used. (What are those types of borders called, when it’s a little flap you can slip your finger under? I’ve used them frequently since, since they make a nice dividing line, but are very thin.)
But this quilt top has been completed since mid-way through 2005, and these are the things I choose 6 years ago. I was a starving university student at the time (counting pennies to buy apples!), so my budget was really limited and most of what I choose was on sale or gifted to me or already in my then very small stash. I think I was concerned at the time that a solid black sashing would make the quilt look dreary and too dark, so I wanted something with a print. The blue was chosen specifically to keep a pop of colour around the edge, and also to draw a little attention to the blue in the quilt, since I thought the warm colours were more predominant. The outer border, a kind of murky grey/black mottled print was chosen because I didn’t want a solid black, but also thought a more busy print would compete with the already busy sashing. I don’t know why I didn’t choose a coloured print border (except again for the competition with the sashing). Actually, it seems that the chosen sashing seems to be the sticking point. I could have done a lot of different things, if I’d only chosen a solid or a more neutral tone-on-tone sashing fabric.
I remember taking this project to show my grandma once, probably back in 2005 or 2006, and she wasn’t at the house (my grandpa was), but she was by chance at an Embroidery Guild meeting, though they were quilting that particular day. So I took the quilt – then a basted together top – to the Senior’s Centre to show her. Everyone in her guild all had to come have a look. The one comment I remember was that I’d chosen ‘weird’ colours. Hee.
Anyway, holy long post batman! After that point, the top just sat around. And it sat around some more. I was terrified of trying to quilt it on my little sewing machine (very nearly but not quite bottom of the Kenmore line in 2004), and so it sat. Eventually my mom decided that she would hand-quilt it for me, so the basted quilt went to her house. But it was summer, so she decided to wait until winter, and then it sat. It sat in my old bedroom for a couple of years, and periodically I’d tease her about it (since she often teases me about my unfinished projects), but still it sat.
Then this winter she decided it was time.
And so now it’s quilted. She did it all by hand, probably in the evenings whilst watching tv, quilting in the ditch of every single block and crisscrossing through the sashing. (She forgot to do the border, but for now we’re just leaving it unfinished. Maybe we’ll come back to it in a while and do some criss-cross quilting through that as well.) I’m so pleased to have it all done, and it was so exciting when she came out here to visit and pulled the quilted piece out of a bag. All that was left was trimming and binding. When I cut off the excess fabric from the back, I decided to use it for the binding. It was a strange fabric, a really tight weave and somewhat difficult to sew though. I wonder if I used a poly-cotton blend? I don’t know. (I disposed of the rest of the remnants so that they don’t wind up in my stash of good cottons.) But it works for the binding. I did a small section with some of the blue border print as well, which is sort of visible at the top left of the top photo.
So, six years in the making, I’ve finished my first non-baby sized quilt. (It’s about 6×6′.) And my first for-me quilt. SO happy to strike something off the WIP-list! And it’s not quite my oldest Work-in-Progress, but it’s good to knock something so OLD off the list as well.