In the past month I’ve felt like I’ve mostly just been futzing around. Nothing was getting done–though lots of things were on the go–and I just felt like I was getting nowhere with my sewing. I had figured that once I quit my job and was home all day I’d be sewing non-stop, but in the two weeks after I’d left the job I hardly got any sewing done at all. Firstly, because we went down to London for a few days, and secondly because I’m trying to pack up my life, since Quilting Rainbows is moving to Munich in three weeks. THREE. WEEKS.
So like any panicky person who needs to wrap up her life promptly would, I’ve spent most of the last two weeks in front of my sewing machine. I’ve started and finished a few little things, and made progress on a few big things.
Right before I left work, one of my colleagues commissioned me to make a baby quilt for the baby girl her daughter was expecting. She had a very broad idea of what she wanted–something pink, with a big heart. I did a quick search around the internets and found this adorable mini-quilt by Plum and June. My colleague really liked it, though we both agreed that the grey wasn’t really on for this and that I’d go with whites and creams instead.
For all my love for half-square triangles, I’ve not actually sewn any, other than in my sister’s chevron quilt, for which I used the tutorial from Missouri Star Quilt Company. I thought I’d try the traditional method, with marking a line along the diagonal of two face-to-face squares, and well… no. That was not going to work, because the end of the line kept running sideways on me in the sewing machine. Plus, marking lines on fifty squares? Do you people know me at all?!?! (I think since about four of you read this, two of which are related to me, the resounding answer in Toronto was “YES!” while elsewhere, it was “Nope, not really.”)
Beginning square size x .64=finished square size
The problem was that the tutorial (like most Missouri Star Quilt Company tutorials) uses pre-cuts, and I wanted to end up with 4” finished HSTs. WHAT TO DO?!?! (Google, of course.) The formula is essentially “beginning square size x .64=finished square size”.
Handy! Speaking of handy, guess what Germans call mobile phones? That’s right! So I saved that handy little chart right onto my… Handy! Ich muss deutsch lernen, people! (Germs also capitalize Nouns<–see what I did there?!) But anyway, I digress.
So once I had the square size sussed out, I got busy cranking out 7” squares to make 4.5” HSTs. I used fabrics I had on hand, and chose three dark pinks and three lighter pinks/creamy pinks. I don’t know why I chose the design I chose for laying out the hearts (which, looking at it now, makes it look like a startled chicken), and I made a couple of placement errors that meant the same fabric was aligned on some of the blocks, but it was a fairly minor distraction (which I only really noticed after I’d quilted the thing–oops!). Once I laid out the pink HSTs, I made cream/pink HSTs for the heart border, and then filled out the rest of the space with white/cream squares.
To quilt, I decided to put to practice one of the patterns taught by Leah Day in Craftsy’s Free Motion Quilting a Sampler class (*affiliate link, see disclaimer below). I used the echo paisley design inside the heart, using a pink variegated Aurifil 40wt (4668) thread. I’m not delighted with the free-motion quilting results, but it came out okay. While I was able to create really nice paisley echos on a practice block, it’s a lot harder to do with the weight of a quilt to move along (and that’s just a baby quilt, which makes me worry about anything bigger). I think my main problem with FMQ is scale–I quilt too small and too tightly together, which means I’m working harder, and also that the design is less apparent than it would be if it were bigger.
Once I finished the FMQ, I used white Aurifil 40wt thread to straight-line stitch around the shape of the heart.
This is where things got ugly and words were sworn. I’d had no trouble with the thread for the FMQ, but I was getting constant thread breaks for the straight lines. I admit, I thought I got a bad batch of Aurifil and I might have said some unkind words about Alex Veronelli (but not really–how could you swear at that punim?! He’s flipping adorable), but it really made no sense that it would be the thread, because I’d been working on a bunch of QAYG straight lines a couple of days earlier and got no thread breaks at all. Then I started messing around with the tension, but still, thread breaks and skipped stitches. I looked in the manual (which, if you happen to be reading this, Janome people, you have A LOT of work to do) to try to identify the problem and narrowed it down to the needle. I don’t have many needles at home and had managed to violently break my last quilting needle when switching feet the day before. All I had was a 70, so I was using that, which is where things went wrong.
The following day I rushed off to my ghetto fabric store, where they don’t sell anything brand name (and honestly, I hate brands, but sometimes they are the only thing that works) and bought a bunch of needles. I rushed home and stuck one in, only to discover that things had gotten worse! WELL. On closer inspection, I realized I bought overlocker needles :(. The following day I went to the local sewing machine shop (not my favourite shop, but a Janome dealer) and bought some Schmetz needles. HALLELUJAH, people. I tried an 80 needle first and though there were no thread breaks, I was getting an occasional skipped stitch, so I switched to the 90 and the angels rejoiced and I finally finished quilting the damn thing.
For the back I used a Tilda fabric I’d had in my stash for ages (Huh. Just noticing how crookedly I put it on.), and for the binding I used Full Moon Lagoon from Mo Bedell for Andover Fabrics. I kind of love how the FMQ creates a really subtle heart design on the back.
I fully machine sewed the binding, and while it’s still not perfect, I’m pleased enough with it. Below is a detail of where the binding went wrong, but since it was right on the edge and was holding the binding together, I didn’t fix it. In other instances where there was a gaping hole, I stitched over to keep things tightly shut. I did accidentally stitch the binding to the wrong side, so the “top stitching” side faces the back and the ditch side faces the top, but I’m sure I’m the only one who’ll notice that.
I know I’ve pointed out all the things that went wrong or that I only consider to have turned out ok, but I’m really happy with how this quilt turned out! It took far longer to make than I’d wanted to spend on it, and in financial terms it was probably a loss, but it was interesting to make and taught me a few things, so I’ll consider the “loss” my tuition fee.
While I was working on this, my former colleague discovered her other daughter is expecting a baby boy in February and asked me to make a quilt for him. More on that in a separate post.
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