Reading through my previous posts about the Tula Pink City Sampler I can see that I was just brimming with optimism about the whole process. It’s like I knew right from the start that I would absolutely hate making this quilt. But the thing is, even though I often wanted to stab myself in the eye with an ice pick rather than work on it, this quilt was an incredible learning experience. For starters, I learned–oh, who am I kidding? Like I didn’t already know–that I hate fiddly. These tiny, tiny pieces did not get any less annoying as I made my way through the quilt.
But the fiddly aside, I realised through the making of this quilt that I’m a pretty confident quilter and that I’ve seen and read enough about quilting to be willing to take some risks and to rely on my own intuition. I took a lot of chances with this quilt that could have ended badly, but didn’t.
The City Sampler book is laid out in sections. The introductory section gives basic instructions regarding how to read the cutting and piecing instructions. The piecing section, which is split into shape-based subsections, is arranged in two-page spreads and shows a photo of the finished block on the left side, and cutting instructions and a piecing illustration on the right side. The final section shows various layouts for the finished quilt.
Here’s how this quilt came together. I made about twenty five blocks in 2013, another twenty or so in mid-2014, and then over fifty blocks in a single weekend this past January (I really just wanted to get it over and done with already). I did not buy any fabric specifically for this quilt, and used mostly my scrap bins and some of my stash. As for the colour scheme, I knew I wanted to make the gridlock layout and that I wanted it in the same rainbow arrangement, so when I made my blocks I loosely kept to the colour scheme of the blocks in the book.
While I was sewing the blocks, I put them up on the design wall in the order they appeared in the book (pardon the iPhone photography, as usual. I tend to sew in the evening and the light in my sewing room is appalling).
From 1 to 100. At this point, I was still wholly unimpressed with the whole thing.
When all the blocks were done, I rearranged them in the same order as the gridlock layout in the book, and then I started playing around with them, since the colours and values of my blocks weren’t an exact match to the book, so some of the blocks just didn’t look right. After my first layout attempt, I brought the Germ in to consult.
He had thoughts.
Schnitzel said she was no expert, but agreed to take a look.
Eventually I settled on a final layout and even remade one block that was really bothering me.
I’m not a particularly skilled free-motion quilter and didn’t want my quilting to detract from the quilt. I was also pretty sure that I didn’t want to piece the entire top and then quilt it, because the quilting I had in mind would require me to turn the quilt around constantly, and I knew it would be too heavy for me to manage that easily. I decided to try the quilt-as-you-go method that Maureen Cracknell demonstrates in this tutorial.
I split the blocks into six segments and added the sashing to each segment. The segments were each five blocks across, with four segments made up of three rows, and the last two made up of four rows. Once the six segments were sashed and basted, I quilted each block, mostly echoing the shape of the pieces in each block.
A quilted segment. Guest appearance by tracked kitty litter.
Next, I sewed together each pair of segments into three rows across, and quilted the horizontal sashing with straight lines about half an inch apart. After that I sewed together the three segments, and then quilted the vertical sashing with the same half-inch apart lines. At this point the quilt was already fairly large, but still manageable through my large machine.
Rub my belly mom! The only thing that’ll make this quilt better is drops of your blood! At this point the sashing was quilted and I was working on the borders.
Last, I added the wider borders and extended the quilting lines from the sashing to the edges of the quilt, and once all the borders were on, I circled the entire quilt with four half-inch apart lines.
And everything fit! I was able to line things up really well (using lots of pins), and the QAYG just worked! It was magical! The next picture shows how the segments were sewn together. I gave it all a good press before I started quilting, though the quilt is a little bumpy in the back where the segments are connected, but please, reader, ask me if I care. Go on, ask! This picture also shows how I quilted each block. Lots of extra threads that I didn’t trim, but it doesn’t really matter since they’re hidden behind the quilt back.
Merging the segments
For the back, I made a diagonal rainbow to more or less align with the rainbow on the front, and to attach the back to the front I simply stitched in the ditch along the sashing borders. Again, it was a fair bit of quilt to fit in my machine, but it was such quick and simple stitching that it didn’t seem at all unmanageable.
Echoing the front with a rainbow in the back. You can see the bumps where the segments were connected.
The binding was also a rainbow, mostly lining up with the rainbow on the front.
And here it is in all it’s glory. And you know? I love this quilt so much. It was worth all of the annoyance and all of the itty-bitty pieces and all of the risk-taking.
Here are some details of the quilting.
And last but not least, I entered this quilt into a show! I finished it on Thursday and dropped it off the same day, and today it was on display for the day at the Patchwork Messe in Erding.
The woman on the left with the striped bag looked at it, turned to her friend, and said: “Now this is art.” I squeed.