To be a bit cliché, this shoemaker is a professional Web Developer and her child is this blog, but it was past time to launch what I have of a new design. All the content is still here, everything else is a work in progress (kind of like most of my sewing projects)!
When you are the one who makes the quilt from start to finish. You know its story; the whys, the hows, the whats—they are all part of the narrative born from your choices (of course, how that narrative is interpreted by others is another story all together). But for this quilt, I don’t know the whole story. I only made ~1/10th of the blocks in this quilt. The rest came from other women who endued them with their own stories that aren’t mine to tell, but I can tell you the story of turning the blocks into a quilt.
My contribution to the story is all about traveling. I travelled outside of my comfort zone to work in Civil War reproductions, and at a level of piecing quality that I felt comfortable handing off to other women.
While some of the fabrics came from the LQS that hosted the swap, others came in my travels around the country—every where from MA to KS, and various parts of NY. The fabric that I included in two corners is one of those; it came from Old Sturbridge Village, and wasn’t intended for this quilt until I realized I had miscalculated how many piano keys I needed when I donated spare blocks back to the group for a charity quilt. I think it works perfectly.
Measurements travelled a bit, too. Particularly with the piano keys, the blocks weren’t all perfectly square. The borders worked out, but not according to my original plan. I had fewer stars than expected, as three women decided not to continue the swap (it was a busy spring!), but it worked out fine in the end.
Our final swap was at the end of June—almost eight months after we started—and much had happened in that time. More travel was in my future, as we moved to VT in July. I finished the block piecing before that final swap, but had to wait for the meeting to collect the piano keys and signature stars. The quilt traveled from NY to VT before it had borders…
…and then back to NY this past weekend as I completed the hand-sewing portion of binding while volunteering at the Mohawk Valley Quilt Club’s biennial show.
I tried photographing it at a beautiful old bridge spanning a river in the Adirondacks as we travelled back to VT, but it was late and the shadows were overwhelming the details.
There was a bit of dye that traveled from red fabrics in the border to the thread and lighter fabric on the back of the quilt (barely noticeable). Because of the cotton batting (Pellon Nature’s Touch), the measurements travelled a few inches after washing, too, shrinking to 58″ x 89″ from the 60″x92″ pre-quilted, pre-washed size (a generous twin-sized bed quilt).
I traveled to the store three separate times for quilting thread. I started with a spool that was previously used, and forgot just how large the quilt was, and how much thread it would take to quilt. I used up the fourth spool while sewing the binding to the front of the quilt.
The quilting is simple, with a grid in the center based on the seams in the uneven nine-patch blocks, and feathering in the borders. The stars are outlined in both locations, with some echoing in the center of the quilt, breaking into the grid.
It’s done traveling for now. Its current home is adding a bit of color to our very neutral bedroom. (There’s a problem with moving from a house full of colorful walls where you buy neutral decor to balance it out to an apartment with beige walls: you end up with one big palette of blah.) But, I’m sure it will have future stories of traveling to tell. After all, I still need to get better photos.
The final block swap meeting for the puss-in-the-corner/uneven nine-patch blocks is later this month (we’ve been postponing and rescheduling for a while).
Since I finished up my signature blocks and piano keys, I thought I’d get a start at piecing the center of the top. It’s going to be twin-bed sized, so too large for my current batting scrap on the wall.
I have half of it pieced, and as usual, its presence on the floor is a magnet to Moof.
The rest is on the wall, sideways and unpieced.
I hope to finish piecing it this week, and am looking forward to getting all the border pieces on the 29th.
I did a bit of sartorial sewing over the weekend, but I haven’t yet managed photos. In the mean time, I’ve been plugging away on additional signature and piano key blocks. They’re quickly filling the design wall. All of the signature blocks are complete; the three that will be in my quilt are at the top of the wall, framed with scraps from my other blocks to build them out into 8″ finishing squares to mix in with the uneven nine patch blocks. I stil have another set of 12 piano keys to finish up, but then I’ll be done.
A note on the design wall
I received an email asking about my design wall. Mine is very low-tech—a scrap of batting (currently what is left from a queen pre-cut after two baby quilts, something around 50″×80″ or so) hanging from Command hooks with safety pins.
I do want a better solution in the long run, but this actually works very well—and I can swap out batting scraps as needed. I know most people swear by flannel or felt for their design walls, but I much prefer batting. It seems to hold on to the blocks much better, and can be purchased much cheaper than flannel if you pay attention to sales (assuming you want something wider than 45″). I also like that it’s not on a rigid board—this way, I can roll it up if I want, preserving the layout on it, and hang up another scrap for another project as needed.
Aside from the baby quilt I finished earlier this week, I’ve spent most of my sewing time lately on the various samplers and block swaps I’m currently involved in. My sewing space is a mess, but my design wall is rather colorful at the moment.
The final swap for this round of my bi-monthly LQS block swap is a 6″ Ohio Star signature block for each member (10) and however many sets of three 6″ piano key blocks we want to use for our final layout. I’ve finished four of the signature blocks and 20 piano key blocks (out of 44 that I plan to make at this point). My other stars will use different fabrics from the four completed ones (seen in the blue/purple/green/orange piano key set), while the other piano keys will be made mostly of the same fabrics used in the previous swap blocks.
Rounding out the wall this week is another block for the Modern LQS sampler, and another for the SYWTQ Amish-esque block. Because we traveled over Easter weekend, I didn’t make it to the other sampler meeting, so I should have two to finish next month.
Proper photographs of the full block sets I made eluded me, but we’ve now swapped three full sets of Puss In The Corner/Uneven Nine Patch blocks in the LQS swapping group.
My January set had these fabrics:
These comprised my third set, which we swapped last weekend:
All told, we have 60 of these blocks, which will finish at 8″
We are also doing one final swap for this project in May—a mix of piano key blocks and Ohio Star signature blocks for a border.
Though it’s not a quilt I would have done on my own, I’ve really enjoyed playing with these fabrics, and love the scrappy result. Here are some of the finished blocks on the wall:
I haven’t decided on a final layout. The swapped blocks and upcoming border swap will allow for a twin-sized quilt on their own. I’m considering building out borders to make it a full-sized quilt, but we’ll see.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I joined a group doing block swaps at the LQS. It seems to be a sort of democratic process, in that there’s not a specific goal in mind for the full quilt, but we meet up and choose a new block after each swap. The first swap is of a very simple Puss in the Corner block (their name; I would probably just call it an Uneven Nine Patch, because I think Puss in the Corner usually has additional pieces around the outside of this portion).
We get instructions and materials requirements for making 20 blocks (in this case, 10 “positive” and 10 “negative” ones), then when we’re done, we turn them in and get 20 blocks back. It will result in a scrappy quilt of 19th c. repro-style fabrics.
You don’t get your own block back (unless for some reason there are fewer than 10 people who submit blocks), but there is enough extra fabric to make a spare pair if you’d like.
There’s also been a discussion of having additional mini swaps of smaller blocks from the scraps for a border or something of that sort.
I like my blocks, but I haven’t decided whether I want to make a pair for myself or use the spare fabric for other blocks in the quilt.
When I picked out my fabrics, I just went with what drew me in. It started with the white vines and pink flowers print, and I picked up on that pink color to try to tie the selections together. Have you ever had a color that you once despised, and then found yourself using all the time? Pink is that one for me, particularly magentas, fuchsias, and shocking pinks. I don’t know what it is, but all of the sudden it’s appearing everywhere for me. In my clothing, in my stash, in my projects. I am still not a huge fan of baby/pale pink, though, at least. If I ever am, you might want to search around for a body pod.
Quick journal of fabrics used for future reference:
More Pink & Chocolate c. 1860-1885 (Windham)
Friendship Collection for a Cause [c. 1855] (Moda)
Leesburg by Jo Morton (Andover)
(I’ll add the other three prints when figure out what they are…)
I can’t wait to get my swapped blocks back and to see what’s next!
Two blocks down, 18 to go for the LQS’ block swap. (Actually, I’m about 80% there, I just need to do two seams on each of the remaining blocks).
You know what would make a better Foto Freitag? A photo of my baby niece who was born this morning! Alas, I won’t be able to take her photo until December. But, that’s the latest news in my world this week.