Monday, May 21, 2012

Bloggers Quilt Festival Quilt: Smooth Sailing

I'm always excited when I finish a quilt, but I rarely have been as proud of myself as I was with my recent finish of a quilt several years in the making: my Storm-at-Sea quilt for my very dear friends Talia and Aaron.

When Talia and Aaron were getting married (almost 3 years ago now), I gave them a normal wedding present (a beautiful piece of pottery that I bought at Good Dirt in Athens, GA), but I really wanted to give them something extra special...something made by me! They had recently bought a really neat Amish quilt for their bed, and Aaron's mom had made a gorgeous quilt (hand-quilted) that they got married under following the Jewish tradition of a chuppah, or canopy, that is held by 4 people over the couple as they get married. The chuppah symbolizes the home that the couple will build together.

When I mentioned that I wanted to make a quilt for them, we talked about a quilt design and basic color scheme, and they wanted something they could hang, since at that point they had just bought their first house and had lots of empty walls.  I showed them the fabrics I was considering and had them nix a few, and then I began the process of agonizing over the design and placement after making some of the initial blocks.

The quilt spent a lot of time on the design wall, and I played with a lot of different layouts.  I even had Talia come over to give her opinion.  She told me it was beautiful.  When I look at the pictures of it on my design wall, I think it is funny to see how different it looks!  I wonder if she was worried!

Anyway, many months went by while I worked away on it.  I created all of the blocks, and then sewed them into columns.  Then the columns went together, and pretty soon I had a quilt top.  I got stuck again at that point, because I couldn't decide how to quilt it.  I asked my assistant, but all she said was "meow".  I took it over to Anne's house, and she helped me decide on the final quilting...I followed the lines of the "waves" that the pattern makes, since that is what draws me to this pattern so much.

It's a little hard to see the detail of the quilting, but hopefully this close-up shows off the texture a bit.  The problem was that it was difficult to keep the lines perfect.  I ended up going back and ripping out some portions and redoing them, even though I know I'm the only one who would have noticed the imperfections.  After working so hard to have "perfect" points, I didn't want sloppy quilting to mess up the effect.  I used a variegated blue thread, which I thought was interesting...especially as it often seemed to show up at the right color at the right time, so to speak. 

I should add that I used the TrimPlates that were suggested in the book "A New Light on Storm at Sea" from C&T Publishing.  I can't imagine using any other method for making these blocks.  However, I have a hard time wasting fabric, especially when I'm using some fabrics that I bought in my first quilt shop fabric buying extravaganza about a decade ago.  So...I took the extra step of making an extra seam as I added those blocks to the smaller square-in-a-square unit.  And I ended up with lots of very tiny half-square triangles that will be a cute chevron quilt that I'm going to keep for my future child!  I'll show that another day, but let me just say, using leaders and enders is such a good idea, and the extra quilt I'm making out of the scraps from this almost made this quilt easy to give away...almost!  (In reality, it is a testament to my dear friends that they received this...Pilgrim was not the only one having a hard time letting go!)

I had hoped to present this to Talia and Aaron on my wedding day (April 30th) to bring it full circle, and I had actually finished it just in time, and then I walked out the door without it.  I thought about going back, but it's never a good idea to be late to your own wedding, right?  So, instead, since we got married on Aaron's birthday, we took it to Aaron's postponed 30th birthday party (which gave me time to get the hanger attached, though I still didn't get a label on it - a great reason to visit with a needle and thread!  And for those of you who have asked, here's a picture of us on our big day with Talia and Aaron!  I'll have some more later this week...including some hilarious "blooper" photos!  I love being married to Bryan...he really is amazing!

I'm happy to be part of the Bloggers Quilt Festival Spring 2012!  If you are a new visitor from that, please come back...I have a lot of really cool things planned over the summer, though I'll be quiet for the next couple of months between more wedding gatherings and our honeymoon to South America!


  1. I just love storm-at-sea quilts! I've always wanted to make one. Very nicely done!

  2. Beautiful quilt, I love the curved look of the blocks, made without any curved seam.

  3. It's gorgeous! I don't see many storm-at-sea quilts and I wonder why - yours is so beautiful! I imagine a bunch more will start popping up once people see this one.

  4. J'adore!!! Is *so* beautiful, and the quilting to follow the curving lines of the blocks is just right! I know exactly what you mean about not wanting to mess up the quilting and have it spoil your perfect corners. :-) The range of tone and fabrics you used gives it extra sparkle. also, I like the way you take us through your thought process as you made the quilt; I love hearing how other quilters work through stuff. :-)

    suntred02 at

  5. Your quilt is lovely and I'm sure your dear friends will treasure it always. Congratulations on your marriage and I hope you have a blast on your honeymoon.

  6. It's beautiful! And yay for getting married and having the quilt as part of the full circle. :)

  7. Beautiful and the patience you have.

  8. I love the optical illusion of curves even though all the seams are straight. Great job, it's really beautiful!

  9. Beautiful quilt, truly a labor of love.
    Have a great day.
    Always, Queenie

  10. I think storm at sea has always been my favorite pattern. It was the one I chose as a kid when my mom offered to make me a quilt. My biggest regret is that I picked out pink fabrics! Some day (if I live long enough) I will have one in blues.

  11. It was so nice to meet you today at DC Modern. I had to laugh a little when I saw the name of this quilt. I have drawn up a small quilt that is based on an easier Storm at Sea pattern so I decided to call it "Smooth Sailing"! Great minds. Although, mine is not quite a Storm at Sea. When I get to it, I'll share it with you;) It is big so I can use a Layer Cake with it.

    Take care!


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