A tale of two quilts

Monday, January 25, 2016

When I found out that two friends are both expecting babies in March, my first thought was "yay, I get to make more quilts!"

Since Ryan has been good friends with both couples for many years, he wanted to help out, so off we went to My Sewing Room to choose fabrics. This store is amazing, by the way. We probably spent an hour wandering through the kid's fabrics, and came out with the following selection:

This is what happens when you bring a man to a fabric store without a plan.
These quilts might end up a bit nuts.

Because I started working on these quilts really late the fabrics are so busy, I decided to keep it simple with the design. Inspired by a quilt at the shop, I began playing around with simple square blocks with sashing in Inkscape, an open source vector graphics program that I used to make most of the diagrams in my thesis. This turned out to be a great tool for quilt design - you can basically draw, cut up, and rearrange shapes exactly the way you would with fabric.

Quilt #1

The first attempt looked a little too busy, to say the least:

If it's this crazy in solids, what'll it look like with prints?

The second design was more similar to the one I saw at the shop and included a bit more negative space for your eyes to rest:

A less distressing layout

This became the layout for the first quilt, and I really liked how it looked once I added the borders:

Finished quilt top #1!

I quilted it in a big lazy meander to keep it soft. I haven't done any free motion quilting for a while, and I'd forgotten how fun it is! Especially on a 40" square baby quilt, this came together really quickly. This was also my first project using Aurifil, and I never thought that thread could make so much difference. I didn't have a single thread breakage or snarl and it just felt smoother, though perhaps I need to do a blind test to make sure I'm not just influenced by the price tag.

Large scale meandering
For the borders I used an orange print that has the same print as the blue. I was going to use blue in one quilt and orange in the other, but that turned out to be too much orange with the sashing. Fortunately, I forgot to buy border fabric so I could use the orange footprint for my borders. I was also a bit tight in calculating my yardage requirements - check out this overlap:

Next time I'll add a bit more margin of error
Finally, I put a little label on the back. I just wrote on a scrap of white using a Pigma Micron pen. I was impressed with how well it wrote on the relatively rough fabric, and it survived the first wash nicely. For some reason I really like the look of big running stitches, so that's what I used to sew the label on. I really should try out sashiko some day...

Baby Lund doesn't have a name yet :-)

Quilt #2

For the second quilt I wanted to do something similar, but not identical. I went back to Inkscape and basically just rotated everything by 45 degrees:

Design for quilt #2
To create this layout I kept the same size squares as quilt #1, but I shrunk the sashing a bit. The final design is only 32" square so it needs borders, but I figured enough with the drawing board, I want to cut this out!

I ended up shifting the blocks so that the blue was the dominant colour, not the green. It's the least "noisy" of the prints so I think it makes sense for it to be more prevalent, though I am using lots of blue for a baby girl (gasp!).

The final layout
I haven't done a lot of quilting with triangles and bias edges, so it was quite satisfying when it lined up nicely:

Alignment yay!
However, all those bias edges gave me a bit of grief when it came to adding borders. I also blame some issues I had with this orange fabric. It's Andover Chambray, which adds a nice textural element and is a bit more interesting than a plain solid, but for some reason I could not cut it on the straight of grain. I usually align the grain using this method but no matter what I did the grain just seemed... off. I basically gave up and just cut it perpendicular to the fold, but the ultimate result was detrimental to my borders:

Wobbly borders :-(
Fortunately, the folks over at the Calgary modern quilt guild offered up some good advice on dealing with excess border fabric, so I went ahead and quilted in lines radiating outwards from the middle:

Border quilting detail

My pictures are a little out of order here, because I also wanted to show my binding. For quilt #1 I did my first machine-stitched binding and while it worked okay, I didn't do the best job stitching in the ditch. I don't have a proper foot for it, but for quilt #2 I tried using the blind hemmer foot. This worked pretty well!

Using a blind hemmer foot to stitch in the ditch
 It still isn't quite as nice as a hand-sewn binding, but is probably more durable and certainly a lot faster if you're on a deadline. The baby shower was midday Saturday and I finished binding this quilt, added a label, and stuffed it in the wash at around 9 PM Friday.

A final picture of quilt #2
I had a lot of fun making two matching quilts! I hope the babies enjoy them.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic!
    By the way, once upon a time pink (aka pastel red) was for boys , and calming blue was for girls.