It seems like yesterday that I sat down to write my last post, but I looked up and over 4 months have passed. I have had my hands glued to my sewing machine trying to finish up quilting projects for deadlines, and haven’t really noticed the passing of time other than how my deadlines were looming.
Last time I posted, I was using the above quilt as an example to show you how to make pieced borders fit. This quilt, which I call “On Wings Like Eagles” from a verse in Psalms, was a surprise birthday gift to my only, and favorite, older brother, whose birthday is in February. He lives in Washington State, and I live in California, so I was trying to get it finished to mail to him in time for his birthday. Do you ever stress about mailing quilts and wondering if they will actually be received by the intended recipient? Porch pirates were in the news almost daily at the time I mailed it, but I managed to find a friend of his that was home every day that agreed to make sure it got delivered to my brother. She did a fine job! Thank you, Tiffany. Of course my brother absolutely loved it, but then he broke the news to me that even though he is over 6 feet tall, he sleeps in a twin bed and I made him a queen sized quilt. Well, at least it can be doubled up and keep him twice as warm.
After I finished that quilt, I got to work right away on the quilt for the winner of the annual raffle I run that benefits my church’s youth group. The quilt is custom made for whoever the lucky winner is. This year’s winner at first showed me a picture on line of a wall hanging. I asked her, if she was sure she didn’t want to take advantage of this opportunity to get the quilt of her dreams for her bed, and then I showed her a few of the quilts that I made and kept for myself. She had never considered asking for a quilt for her bed, but was easily persuaded. Since I am the One Block Wonder Woman, I then showed her photos of quilts made in the one block wonder style made from panels with a whole panel placed in the middle of the hexagons. I had never done a OBW that way, so of course, that’s the style she picked. She also told me she wanted a quilt with lots of sunflowers on it and green is her favorite color and she wanted it king sized to fit her bed. This is the panel I used for her quilt. Keep in mind, once the winner tells me basically what they want, they don’t know anything about how it’s going to look until I present it to them at church.
I have not made a OBW for about 2 years, so I was ready to get back to it, because I do love the mystery and excitement of seeing what happens to fabric when you cut it up into kaleidoscopic hexagons. It actually turned out to be one of those, “What was I thinking?” episodes. But eventually, I was able to get it done and no one would ever know the struggles I had with this quilt. Here is a photo of the finished quilt entitled “Sunflower Serenade”.
I took the photo in my best friend’s quilting studio because she has enough space to step back and get the whole quilt in the shot and the lighting on her design wall is far superior to mine.
Once I had the center panel trimmed to the approximate size I wanted it to be, I used 6 additional panels to make the matching hexagons. The challenge started when I tried to attach the hexagons to the center panel. I struggled with how to get everything lined up so it worked seamlessly, taking 3 days to figure it out. Once I had the sections below and above the center panel assembled, I went ahead and sewed them to the panel then trimmed off the excess on the back side. Evidently, I didn’t sew them very straight because after I added the plain green, the quilt was 2 inches out of square. The green….the green was my nemesis. By the time I was finished, I hated this green. The first time I made the plain green hexagons and assembled the quilt, the quilt refused to lay flat. I checked all my measurements and discovered I had cut my green hexagons too large, so I ripped out most of them, and cut and made them into hexagons again, and before I added them to the quilt, I realized I had made the same cutting mistake. I then had to track down more of the green fabric that I had nearly run out of and repeat the process. The quilt has so much green surrounding it because that was necessary to make it king sized since I had run out of hexagons and would have had to order an additional 6 panels to make more.
Once I had reassembled everything, I tried to square up the quilt for an entire day. I thought I had it pretty close, but when I loaded it on my longarm, Greta, to do the quilting, I realized that it was still off quite a bit and still not laying nice and flat. I fixed the problem by doing a lot of dense quilting, especially in the green areas at the bottom of the quilt. The quilting in effect shrinks the amount of fabric, and the more dense quilting you do, the more fabric is shrunk up. All in all, it came out pretty well, and only I….and you…know the quilt isn’t very square.
The photo above is my attempt at squaring up with borrowed straight edges from Dear Hubby’s garage. Next time, I am going to take my quilt to the church or our community center and borrow their tables rather than trying to do this on a hard tile floor.
One of the things I did to the quilt to break up all the green is fussy cut out a couple of butterflies from an extra panel that I had purchased for that purpose. I appliqued them to the top corner areas in the plain green and used a trapunto technique to make them pop out. Trapunto is placing an extra layer of wool batting, which has a lot of loft…or fluffiness, on the back of the quilt under the item you want to “fatten up” and then stitching around that area to secure the batting and finally cutting off the excess batting around your stitches. It’s really a fun and effective way to draw attention to elements that you want to really pop. I also did trapunto to the butterflies and the bird in the central panel. Here are photos of the butterflies in the corners.
The winner cried when we presented the quilt to her, which is always my goal, to elicit happy tears.
I have also finished another OBW, and have started a third. I guess my OBW moratorium is over, but I will save those for quilts for another day.
What have you been busy doing?