Keyboard in the sky: Mighty Lucky January Challenge

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Yes, I know, it's halfway through February already. I had planned to spend the last weekend in January catching up on sewing projects, including this one. Instead, I got on a last minute flight to Vancouver to say goodbye to to my grandma. While sewing hasn't exactly been a top priority in the weeks since, I wanted to make something in her memory, and January's bias tape challenge turned out to be a perfect fit.

While Grandma was a nurse by profession, she was a musician at heart. She was always playing piano in bands or orchestras, accompanying choirs, and going to various gigs around West Van. My favourite stories were when she was in her 80s and would talk about playing for "the seniors", and how people would remember the music after everything else had faded.

I didn't inherit the music gene like my brother, but I used to put music notes and treble clefs on everything I made for Grandma when I was a kid. I'm sure it was kitschy, but she always made a show of appreciating my efforts. So, here's one last music-themed piece, for Grandma.

At first I was thinking of music notes made out of yo-yos on a stave of bias strips, but then it occurred to me that half inch bias tape would be perfect for black keys, and I could quilt around the outlines of the white keys. I doodled a bit in my notebook and settled on a wavy keyboard design:

Music themed bias tape quilt block ideas
One of the reasons I signed up for the Mighty Lucky Quilting Club is to try to reduce my stinginess tendencies and let loose a little. I have this bad habit of trying to preserve every scrap of fabric, or even worse, saving something for a special project but never using it. When January's challenge said to take an entire fat quarter and make bias tape out of it, my first inclination was to calculate how much I need and cut only that. Instead, I just did what the instructions said and made a whole fat quarter's worth, out of this stripy/spotty purple fabric that I think will be interesting:

Before bias taping
I also used the continuous loop method for the first time - I'm not entirely convinced by it, but I think it was faster than piecing each strip individually. In any case, I ended up with this:

Of course, this is far more than I need for my wavy keyboard, but I think it's good for me to stop analyzing things and just do it, even if I end up wasting a bit of fabric. Besides, bias tape is handy for all kinds of things.

I laid out my keyboard pattern on a pale blue background Instead of going out to buy Wonder tape to secure the tape, I just used washable white school glue. This really does wash away entirely, but holds in place quite well after ironing. It can be a bit messy if you put too much on, but all in all I think it's almost as good as Wonder tape, but much cheaper.

My new favourite quilting supply
After quilting down the black keys I decided to outline the white keys with a big running stitch:

Big stitches for white keys 
While I'd never considered using bias tape for quilting before, I rather like the final result. I'm not quite sure what I'll do with this block yet - perhaps I'll save up all my Mighty Lucky blocks to make into a whole quilt top.

The original keyboard in the sky quilt block with the offset keys

After posting this, my friend Jacqui pointed out that my white keys are completely wrong. How embarrassing! I can't believe I didn't notice, especially since my sketch is correct. I ripped out the stitches and re-did it.

The final keyboard in the sky quilt block
And finally, here's a video I took of my Grandma playing her piano the way I remember her. She's accompanied (or rather, upstaged) by Miko, my Uncle's dog. Miko is 15 now and mostly deaf, but he still sings occasionally.

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