Thursday, July 20, 2017

Uphill Climb - a traditional nine-patch with a modern twist

     I recently took a detour from my current white and bright quilts to get back to basics, with a nine-patch lap quilt made from a beautiful assortment of rich colored traditional fabrics for my friend Priscilla.  The colors didn't show up correctly in pictures taken in the shade.  The pictures in the sun show the depth of the colors.
     Sometime back in the early 2000s, I received a very generous gift of a bundle of  36 Moda Patchwork Garden fat quarters.    The fabrics were beautiful, and so richly colored.  I put them in a basket on my shelf, as I didn't have a project immediately in mind,  and then somehow over 10 years went by.  

     My friend Priscilla and I power walk a few miles every morning, and I started thinking about a quilt for her. During one of our conversations she mentioned her love of sage green.   I pulled out my stash of greens to see what I had.
       I was not inspired by my green bin.  The old (but beautiful) Moda bundle caught my eye.   I thought this might be the perfect bundle for her quilt.    I wanted to use up as much of the bundle as I could, and decided to go back to a favorite traditional block, a simple nine patch.
      I started cutting 2 1/2 inch wide strips from the fat quarters, and cut those into 8 inch long strips.
The leftovers from cutting the 8 inch pieces.
      I grabbed three strips each of two colors to make two three strip blocks.

I  made many blocks that alternated light and darks, but some used two darker fabrics since the bundle contained more dark than light fabrics overall.
These pieces then got cut into three 2 1/2" wide pieces.

Not much waste in making those pieces. 
     I really concentrated on keeping the seams a very accurate 1/4" (not easy for me for some reason), and carefully pressed the seams towards the dark side of each piece.  As a result, piecing together the nine patch block was painless!

I started laying out the blocks, and loved the checkerboard look.  (The photo really washes out the gold tones in the light fabrics.)

Plenty of the sage green that inspired the quilt!
     I was torn with what to do with the darker squares.  I didn't care for just tossing them in, and decided to stack them on the bottom.  When we do our daily walk, we end with a climb up a hill, thus the name of the quilt!  I fiddled around with a few variations, before settling on the finished layout.

The final lay out.  
  I backed the quilt with a dotted tan wide backing (Blank Textiles Chromodot 108 inch) and quilted a stipple design in a beige Aurifil.   I thought the fabrics and checkerboard pattern provided plenty of visual interest - a simple quilting suited me.
     I used some of the leftover fabric for the binding, and fussycut pieces to make sure that the dark section had darker binding and the lighter sections had lighter binding.  I had never planned the binding colors before, but it turned out nicely.  To me, despite the traditional pattern and traditional fabrics, I think it has a bit of a modern feel.
Close up of a portion of the quilt.
     It was a joy to surprise Priscilla with this quilt!  I was delighted to find the perfect project and perfect recipient for the fabric bundle!  The quilt finished at 60 x 72 inches, and washed up nice and crinkly and soft. I did not wash the fabrics before completing the quilt.  Despite being at least a decade old, the fabric was in beautiful condition. 
     I have kept the leftover pieces (some big and some pretty small) and will try to create something using up those scraps in the near future.  I was surprised that I didn't have more left over from 36 fat quarters!  There is plenty for another project, so stay tuned!  

Thanks for stopping by the blog, and enjoy the rest of July!

Take care,

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Baby Union Jack

     Five years ago, my niece married a wonderful guy from Great Britain.   Later that summer, I happened upon this blog, which had such an adorable quilt using the Union Jack pattern.  I thought that if Kim and Thomas ever had a baby, this would be a perfect quilt!   
     Earlier this year, I was delighted to hear that a baby was on its way, so I started thinking about this quilt.  There are many very different Union Jack patterns out there.  I found this you tube tutorial  which in turn, directed me to a book that I was able to find at my local library. 
      I didn't follow the pattern exactly.  Like the you tube quilter, I only used the middle part (the Union Jack part), and adapted the process to cut down on the paper piecing.  Instead of paper piecing the whole block, I only pieced the four corner units, then sewed then together with strips for the center cross.
      I could only imagine doing this quilt in bright 30s prints.   I have always loved those bright whimsical prints for children's quilts.  My stash was pretty well depleted (See some older 30s print quilts here), so I ordered up a bundle of Judie Rothermel Aunt Grace fabrics and a bundle of Darling Barnyard by Kaye England, and mixed them with my remaining other pieces.  
          Trying to cleverly ascertain whether the expected baby was a boy or a girl, I asked my niece about her color scheme.  Gender neutral - grays and whites and creams.  Uh oh!  While I am certain I could make a very cute baby quilt in that color scheme, I didn't want to do it for this pattern!   I kept the quilt light, but used blues, yellows and reds, which in my mind are gender neutral! 
          I began putting together the blocks, and chose a blue, yellow and red solid to use for the narrow strips. I created one block at a time, and had to be careful when there was a clearly directional pattern.
Chain piecing the four units needed for each block.  I used the light table to help with the fabric placement. 

            I had marked a 1/4 inch around the pattern before scanning and making copies, but realized that it didn't come out accurately, so I ended up using my ruler to trim the pieces.
             I learned from working on my New York Beauty blocks that it speeds up the process to remove the paper just from the seams before sewing pieces together.  I have also found that the pieces hold their shapes better if some of the paper is left on while putting units together.

One down, three more to go!

Adding the middle strip
          After I finished the first three blocks, I took a look at them, and realized that my yellow solid was really the wrong shade of yellow - a bit too orangey.  No problem - I ended up using the yardage in my Eye Candy Quilt.  Once I fixed the yellow solid, I started making more blocks.  
The orangey-yellow is on the lower left.
       I had purchased a Moda Essential dots - creamy white with small red dots to use as sashing to keep the top light and airy looking.  After laying it out, it needed a little something more, and so added a white and red fabric from the Aunt Grace bundle 

The sashing  with the added little blocks.

Check out these adorable little fabrics! 

      The finished quilt was 42 inches wide and 48 inches long, but shrunk a tad when washed and dried.  (And I promise I washed it after draping it on the beach logs for those artsy quilt shots at the beginning of the blog!)
My trusty quilt holder at work!. 
     Keeping in mind that I had totally ignored their preferred color scheme, I backed the quilt in a cream and gray fabric.  

          The baby is here, and is a beautiful little girl!  Welcome to the world, baby Pippa! 
Aunt Gretchen