Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored or paid endorsement of a product; I purchased a book and I’m discussing how I used it. Nothing more, nothing less.
Sometime back in January, I had come across a post written by Julie (who blogs at Jaybird Quilts) that was featured on the Swatch & Stitch blog; she was doing a review for a book called “Dare to be Square Quilting” written by Boo Davis. I saw the robot in the book and FELL IN LOVE with it. I then of course asked Jeff if I could buy the book and he said yes of course. I got the book, and sat down and over the course of a few days, I looked and stared and made notes on how to make it uniquely mine with different fabrics -something the writer encouraged in the book- and then once I was done with that, and I figured out my fabric requirements, I went and purchased the needed fabric for the top. I then prewashed it and then it sat aside for a while in my sewing room, while I pursued other projects; particularly, my 3×6 bee block swap. Then, as the first part of March rolled around along with the impending end of my pregnancy -At the time I had 6 weeks left, I’ve now got about 3 weeks or so left- it dawned on me.. I haven’t started Oscar’s quilt! *Hits the panic mode button*
As much as I loved the Robot Quilt, the finished size is something around 60 by 72 inches; which is a twin sized quilt. It also has a ton of pieces, and I realized with the constraints of pregnancy and also time, I would not have it finished by the time he’s born. So I thumbed through the book to find a quilt top that I could modify without doing any complicated math or figuring to bring down to a more manageable size and came across her Blockhead quilt. This quilt was also one that had a finished size of 60 by 72 (and also has little faces you put on the centers). However because of the way it’s pieced together, it was VERY easy to reduce down in size which would result in 18 inches taken off of the width and length.
It’s kind of hard to see -I did that on purpose- but you should at least be able to make out the words “Group 3” above Blockheads and then “Group 4” to the right side of the quilt; these are the two sections that I decided to use for the smaller sized quilt. The next part after deciding what quilt to do instead of the robot, I had to sit down and figure out fabric.. again. Which was super easy. I wasn’t entirely sold on the white, blue black and orange color; so once again, I also decided to do it in different colors. For some reason, I’ve been particularly obsessed with using green, so what i decided to do is pick out 5 different shades of green for the outside of the blocks, and then for the centers I was planning on using one color, and probably something patterned; but I ended up going with neutral solids instead. This ended up saving me quite a bit of money, since the cost of cotton fabric is on the rise, and I wanted to try to keep the cost down to a minimum without sacrificing quality of fabric. Solids are cheaper than printed fabric, so of course, I purchased Kona Cotton by Robert Kaufman. I LOVE KONA COTTON. I could go on and on about it, but that’s for another post. 😉
I already had Peridot and Cactus on hand from when I had originally planned on doing the robot quilt, so I figured all I needed to do was find 3 more shades of green for it to work, and then pick the center colors. I ended up selecting Artichoke, Lime and Forest. I know it probably looks like an odd assortment of colors; however there’s a reason behind it… A) they didn’t have very many greens at the store so I was limited, and B) I’m very specific on how I audition colors. The best thing about having a phone with a decent camera on it is so I can take pictures on it. It also allows me to change the camera to black and white, so I can properly see how colors go together.
After picking out my greens, I moved on to picking the neutrals for my centers. There’s a rule of thumb when creating either with sewing or papercrafting or even digital scrapbooking that I’ve always lived by; and that’s working in threes. I ended up purchasing Snow, Sand and Khaki for my centers.
Well, I came home, washed my fabrics and got to work. Unfortunately, I’ve seemed to have misplaced my notebook with all my notes in it so I can’t show you my notes; but I sat down and paired up the blocks with the center colors. The wonderful thing about the blockhead pattern is that all of the blocks are numbered, so it was easy to make notes to put ‘shade of green’ with ‘shade of neutral’. Working over the course of 3 days, I was able to iron, cut out my fabrics and sew up the quilt top.
It wasn’t pieced perfectly corner to corner; my Juki is slightly off centered and needs to be serviced; something I realized halfway to piecing the top, but at the same time, I realized that if I got it serviced midway through piecing, half of the blocks would be slightly off, and the rest would be perfect or near perfect anyway. So I just plowed on. At this point, I could take a deep breath and relax.. until I measured the quilt and realized it was 44.5 inches wide; and I would have to piece some yardage together to do the back. I was going to go back to the fabric store and buy more yardage, until I had a “V-8 smack a forehead” moment.. I had quite a bit of fabric left over from the front; why not just piece them together and make a scrappy back? So that’s what I did. I then went to my local craft store and bought a twin sized package of Warm & Natural needle punch 100% Cotton Batting. BTW, it’s wonderful stuff; low loft, dense yet warm and quilts like a dream. Grabbed a coupon (yay coupons!) and got it for $8 and some change.
So, the next day, I pieced together my back, trimmed down my batting to size, and at the advice of Cherry House via twitter, I did not square off my back or front. There’s honestly NO point in squaring a quilt off twice; that was our logic. Skipping the first squaring off ended up saving me a ton of aggravation and time. The next hiccup that I came across was how to baste the quilt together. Being pregnant, I could NOT use any type of adhesive spray, and I did not have fusible batting, and I lost all my basting safety pins in the blackhole and void of a mess called my sewing room. I could have loaded it up into my quilting frame; however my sewing room is VERY cramped and when your belly sticks out a foot.. there was NO WAY I was going to be able to fit in there around my frame. Plus I’m too chicken to use my quilting frame despite having it for over a year now. So I did the only thing that I could think of… I took all three layers into the only room with enough clear space; Oscar’s bedroom and I laid out the back -seams up of course- then the batting and then my top. The wonderful part of basting on a carpeted floor is that there’s enough grip and friction between the carpet and fabric to keep it smooth without having to tape it down… however the downside is my only option for basting was to do it the old fashioned way with some thread and a needle and time. The entire process took me about 4 hours. Sitting on a floor cross legged hunching over and basting while around 35 weeks pregnant IS NOT FUN. You get stiff, you get sore and you get bored. Luckily I had twitter to keep me company.
After all was said and done, here was the end result:
At this point, I ran it through the machine to quilt it. I decided to just do improvisational quilting.. the lines weren’t straight, and they did not intersect each other at perfect 90 degrees. The actual quilting took me something around an hour, and I was very happy with the end result. At this point, it was time to square up the quilt! That ended up being a chore in itself, and I wasn’t able to square it up 100% perfectly but it was close enough. The last part of the quilt of course was to bind it. Normally, I would have made my own binding, but I was just tired of sewing and ironing and starching, so I cheated and sent Jeff to the craft store to buy two packages of Wright’s 1/4 inch double fold bias tape in lime, and some matching Gutermann thread.. I love that stuff as much as I love Kona Cotton. I then carefully machine sewed the binding on the front, and then I spent about a week and a half hand sewing the other half of the binding down. This was the most time consuming part of the quilt, but it gives you a beautiful finish, and there’s no machine stitches showing.
And there you have it. The improvisational quilting really shows up in the natural light. It was quite windy outside yesterday when these pictures were taken, but at least I was able to get these pictures! All I have to do now is just wash it up and it’ll be all ready for Oscar’s arrival. Which should be sometime in the next three weeks.. finished just in time!
Just a few notes to add.. the quilt was pieced together with Gutermann thread; and the actual quilting was done in variegated green thread; I believe the brand is called YNI.. I’m not 100% sure though.
EDIT 04/01/2011: I’ve added this button to the post, since I’m entering it into Lily’s Quilts Fresh Sewing day. Basically, it’s a showcase on the first of every month that we worked on in -I assume- the previous month that made us happy. Enjoy!