I've been calling this quilt "Anne's quilt" over the last few months of working on it, because my dear friend from law school, Anne, was having a baby girl. Well, I just heard from Anne that said baby girl arrived yesterday, so I can now retitle this quilt "Aileen's quilt".
|(Forgive the strangeness of the picture - I had it turned sideways when we took the picture on Monday night, but through the power of photo-editing, it is now the "correct" orientation!)|
Anne is one of the first people whom I taught to quilt. It's hard to believe, but that's been almost 6 years ago now. Anne wanted to make something for Cillian's sister, Clodagh, for her new baby, and I confidently told Anne that we could finish a quilt in a weekend, no problem! :) OK, well, we did get the fabric purchased and the top pieced in a very long day, but I might have underestimated the time it would take to make. I'm so glad, though, that Anne got hooked, because she has become my faithful quilting buddy, and I think at this point that she's probably finished as many quilts as I have, which is especially awesome since she hand-quilts them. I love hand quilting, but having finished a huge batik sampler that was hand-quilted over multiple years, I've been sticking to a combination of machine and hand-quilting on most of my recent quilts.
Of course, one thing that also really slows me down is that I like having pieced backs, too. This quilt, though, took the concept to the extreme.
I had a nice 2 yard piece of the white background flower print that I bought with Anne in mind quite awhile ago, since I knew she liked those shades of pink and green. (Part of the hint was a great large bag that she made for me out of those colors to haul around my quilting stuff in several years ago!) But, I really wanted to save that yardage for a coordinating crib sheet, so I was determined that I could make the back using up scraps from the front and the extra fabric we had leftover from making the crib skirt and cushion covers for the nursery. I came up with this design based largely on what fabric I had left, and I actually like the back just as much (maybe even more) than the front.
In this picture, you can see a bit more of the nursery. We made the crib skirt together (and I made it way more complicated than it needed to be, but it is awesome - the pattern continues around the ends, even though it is from a separate piece that overlaps to go around the crib hardware!). I helped a bit with the rocking chair cushion covers, though re-covering an oddly shaped cushion and trying to put batting underneath to block out the former gray cover was way more challenging than I would have expected (or I was having a really off day!). Anne, though, managed to figure out the bottom cushion while I was throwing my hands up and losing all self-confidence, so there you go! And Anne made the incredibly cute pillow all on her own - I love it! She also made a sweet valance that isn't pictured.
These two pictures show a little more detail of the quilting - I did a combination of machine quilting and hand quilting.
I didn't measure the finished size with the binding, but I think it was around 48" square.
The design on the front of the quilt is inspired by Hyacinth Design's Garden Fence, which I first saw in quilt form through Elizabeth Dackson's blog, Don't Call Me Betsy. I'm so happy that both of these quilters shared their work on the Internet, because I just love the design and plan to make several more in a similar fashion. I've changed the measurements slightly to accommodate charm packs and "dessert rolls" (5" by width of fabric strips), and I've been playing with ways to make the piecing more efficient.
Most of the fabric was the gypsy rose colorway of the Gypsy Bandana collection by Pillow & Maxfield for Michael Miller Fabrics. I bought a collection of 12 fat quarters from Hancock's of Paducah for $19.98, and I had a white-on-white star print in my collection that I bought on one of the drives between home and law school 7-8 years ago at Mary Jo's in North Carolina. I used Guterman 100% cotton white thread for piecing and their quilting weight cotton thread for the machine quilting. I did my hand-quilting with a pink thread from Mettler. I used bamboo batting, which Anne and I both love, though I seriously considered a higher loft polyester so that all of those many lines of quilting would show up better. In the end, though, I wanted the breath-ability of the bamboo so that little Aileen wouldn't overheat! I used my walking foot to go 1/4 inch from either side of all of the sashing, starting in the middle and working outward. This would have been so much easier if I were more comfortable with free-motion straight-line quilting, because each 90 degree turn required a pretty major re-shift of the quilt. If I were doing anything larger, I would use a different design (though I really like how the overlapping stitches worked out at various corners).
I'd been reading in Elizabeth Hartman's book The Practical Guide to Patchwork that she (and a lot of other folks in the modern quilt guilds, like Jacquie Gering of Tallgrass Priarie Studio) are proponents of ironing the seams open, so I tried that, because, well, I am really impressed by both of their work, and I'm always looking for a way to improve my techniques. I was really happy as I was piecing the top because it seemed very flat, crisp, and accurate. Indeed, I thought I was going to be a convert (and may still be), but I found I had a hard time when it came time to make the quilt sandwich. I very carefully pressed my top and back (and I had been pressing my seams as I went along, of course), but when I laid my top on my batting and started trying to smooth and position it, I found that some of my seams were flipping around and being wonky. I guess maybe that happens no matter how you press them, but because the piecing was so flat otherwise, it made it more obvious? Also, I missed having the ditch to stitch in - I like how that looks so much, and for a design like this, I think it would be very effective, since there is so much already going on with the fabrics that the quilting was a less important design element. If I were doing an all-over free-motion quilt design, though, I can see where the pressed open seams would be a real advantage. More experimentation needed, clearly!
For the binding, I used an incredibly helpful tutorial from Shelley Rodgers that I must have seen a reference to on someone's blog (I'm sorry that I don't remember which one!). I have always used straight-grain binding before and hand-sewn it onto the back using a blind hem stitch, but I think this quilt will get lots of use and love, so I wanted it to be more durable, and Shelley's arguments about bias binding made a lot of sense to me. Her method is pretty awesome, plus I like doing math, and using her formulas and knowing how much binding I needed and how much of my oddly-sized piece I had left allowed me to cut off the perfect amount and conserve the rest!
I read several tutorials on machine binding, and I am still working on it. I attached the binding to the front first, and I thought I'd be able to sew it from the top without being able to see that I was catching the binding on the back, but luckily I figured out on the first side that this wasn't a good method, so I flipped it over and sewed it from the back. Luckily, the white border makes it fairly unnoticeable on the front, and I was able to fix the couple of places that weren't caught in the first seamline easily.
Of course, I still have some leftovers, so I'm working on a smaller quilt, too, for the car seat or stroller! It's amazing how many quilts can be made out of a fat-quarter bundle and a little yardage leftover from other sewing projects! I'm hoping I can get a good portion of it pieced tonight while my sweetie is at a concert. We'll see if the cat lets me...she'd rather me sit and watch Project Runway so that I can provide a warm lap!
Anne bought some fabric for quilting, too, and she's got a fantastic top put together, too, which I'm sure will be done in no time - Anne is a pretty fast hand-quilter! Be sure to check it out!
Finally, since this is one of my first big projects since I started the blog that I actually have pictures of (thanks Anne!), I'm going to try linking up to the Blogger's Quilt Festival, as well as Finish it Up Friday!