Wednesday, March 1, 2017

It's Small and Fast and Sneaks up on You

Nope that's not the start of a juvenile joke I know. But it does describe the quilt I made last weekend.

Ya, one weekend, one quilt. Take that, Eleanor Burns.

It all started with the idea that I could use the leftover nine patch blocks from my big nine patch quilt for a baby quilt. (I have a coworker who is expecting.) I played with the blocks on my coffee table and decided I was on to something. Since I found fabric for the alternating solid squares in Missouri, I was all set.

Saturday turned into a free day for sewing, and sew I did. It turns out I didn't have enough nine patches by about half so I had to make 10 more. That was because I realized I couldn't use just any of the nine patches--for a proper design, I needed to use ones that had five dark squares, not four dark squares.
This creates the strong diagonal lines across the quilt. So I fished out some of the 2.5" squares left over from the big quilt and made sets for 10 more blocks. I also cut into some of the scraps I had just purchased in Missouri, like the reds in these two blocks:
And used some of the mini charms I bought, like these darling puppies:
And, after a time, I had this quilt:
It's about 36" square. That size, partly because I like the 6x6 block arrangement better than a 6x5 or 6x7, but also because that's about all you can get on a one-yard piece of fabric for the backing! As it was, I was very close on a couple of the edges. Fortunately with a smaller quilt, it's easier to make sure things are centered and that you haven't lost part of the backing in the layering process.

For the quilting, I kept it simple by following the grid lines suggested by the nine patches:
I marked the lines on the solid squares with a water soluble marker. I generally avoid stitching in the ditch (which is sewing right in the seam line) because it's not as easy as it is simple, but that's what this quilt needed so that's what I did. (Sometimes quilts are so bossy.)

A lot of times this quilt layout (called "Irish chain") is quilted in diagonal lines along the diagonal lines of the red squares and then a special motif is put in the solid squares. But that is not the type of quilting for me (right now). I wanted to fill the space simply and consistently.

Originally I bought the navy airplane fabric to go on the front but it didn't work at all with the nine patches. Fortunately, the light airplanes worked much better. This left the navy for the back.
It's pretty dark for my taste, but it's cute enough to make up for it. But it definitely meant I was not going to bind in the navy because I wanted at least the contrast of a lighter border.

I decided to try machine stitching the binding. Not something I've had the best of luck with in the past. This time I stitched the binding to the back of the quilt and folded it over to the front. I cut the binding 2.25" wide which made sure it was a little longer in the front and the stitching line would be in the field of the backing fabric. In other words, I wouldn't have to try and line it up with the edge of the binding on the back.
So I folded it to the front so I could sew it on the front and see what I was doing on the "good side." The navy thread blended so well into the backing fabric that I felt any wiggly lines wouldn't be noticeable.

In fact, besides one or two spots in the beginning where I did "jump" onto the binding on the back, the stitching all looked pretty good from the back and front. Maybe I'm getting better at this! And it helps that with the quilting lines I did, this extra row of stitching on the edge blended right in and just looked like another quilting line. I think it looks pretty good from the front too. :)

The baby's not due until mid-May, so I am done with plenty of time for this gift! Oh wait. I still have to make and attach the label. I guess I still have a chance at "last minuting" this gift....

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