My brother recently got remarried and his new stepdaughter just graduated from high school. I decided to make a quilt for her graduation gift. My hope is that she will take the quilt with her to college (which happens to be my alma mater).
To make this quick-ish quilt, I used Blush pre-cuts (a charm pack and jelly roll) plus 3 yards for the backing and half yards of two Grunges for the inner border and binding. The quilt finished at around 48″ x 72″ (prewashing).
To make the top, I paired a charm square and a jelly roll strip, making sure there was contrast between the two (I used 40 charm squares and 40 jelly roll strips). After framing each of the charm squares, I had about 14″ left on each jelly roll strip. I used those leftover strips to make the pieced border and a pieced strip for the back.
I want to try something new with each quilt I make, to expand my skill set and hopefully learn something new. Seeing as how the top was pretty straightforward, design-wise, I decided to try something completely out of my comfort zone for the quilting: oversized pebbles or what I started dubbing sloppy circles. And as a result, this may be the first quilt that I think I ruined with my quilting.
I thought the large circles would look nice since several of the Blush prints have circles or dots, including the fabric I picked for the backing. I also thought the circles would be a nice juxtaposition to the square-in-square design. Well, it would have been a nice juxtaposition had the circles/pebbles been executed cleanly. Or maybe I should have made them smaller and limited their placement to the borders of the charm squares. Argh.
Overall, the quality and scale of the quilting is distracting and takes away from the quilt top. By the time I realized this, it was not worth my time to go back and pick out all of the stitches, so I just kept chugging along.
As much as I do not want to show any close up pictures of the quilting, I will; but only in the hope that it helps someone else avoid doing what I did.
I probably should not have tackled a project this big for my first time trying pebble quilting. The resulting quilting looks pretty bad. There are a couple of okay spots, but overall, it is just not good.
I do not have control of my machine yet when I free motion quilt. I struggle with my stops/starts and end up with jagged-y uneven stitches when I do. Therefore, I try not to stop in the middle of the quilt as much as possible. I usually try to work my way off to the side of the quilt when I need to rest. Since I am trying not to stop, I think my brain/foot just think GO! GO! GO! so I feel the need to rush through the process.
I wish I could embrace the sloppy circles (the worst ones shown above) but I just cannot. I want them to be tidier – not necessarily perfect – just more even and less rudimentary.
When I was more than half way done quilting this, I realized that I was moving the fabric way too fast and if I would slow my hands down, the quilting stitches would be smaller and I could control the look of the circles better.
As always is the case with me, I did start to get the hang of the circles just as I was about done with the quilting. One corner has cleaner looking ones (see photo above).
I used a chalk pencil (made for quilters) to mark where the circles would go because I knew I would not be able to do a decent job of spacing the circles on the fly while quilting. I also tried a pencil and another colored marking pencil but they did not show up on the variety of Blush fabrics. I thought the chalk would easily wash out. It turns out that it does not (it gets trapped in the fabric/stitches where it is sewn over). Three washes, two soaks and a couple of stain treatments later, it is almost completely out. I can still see chalk residue in some of the stitch lines, but I doubt anyone else would notice unless I point it out.
Another disappointment with this quilt, is my binding choice. I should have picked a Blush print instead of the brown Grunge. The semi-solid brown Grunge is too dark and contrasts too much with the border. Now, to give me a little credit, when I picked the binding fabric I had not planned on doing the pieced border. I think the brown Grunge would have been a fine choice if there was not a pieced border.
Aside from my disappointment in how I finished this quilt, I am quite pleased with my new labeling method which I used for the first time here. The label is inconspicuous and yet provides a lot of information.
I washed a pink Grunge jelly roll strip (which was leftover from piecing the top), let it air dry, ironed it, stamped my labels on it using a mixture of black and brown ink, then heat set the stamped labels with my iron. I then trimmed the fabric and added the three label bits into the pieced strip for the back.
For the personalized part of the label, I used some alpha stamps leftover from my scrapbooking days. I wish I had number stamps the same size so it would be easier to put a date the quilt. Instead, I used a date stamp which worked fine in this instance since I could use the date of the graduation. Generally though, I like to list just the month and year to date a quilt.
Since I washed this quilt several times already (trying to get the darn chalk out), I can see that the ink does fade a little bit. That makes me think that I should only use black ink so as to start with the darkest stamped image possible, in case it fades any more.
I used a new-to-me batting (a soy-cotton blend) and generally was happy with the results (lighter than 100 percent cotton and great drape). I did encounter a bit of fluffy debris (bearding?) while basting, binding, and post-washing. I am going to write more about my experiences with different types of batting and hope to get that post published later this week.
Ok, that is more than enough about this quilt. We will be traveling to visit my extended family in less than a month, so we will get to deliver the quilt in person. I do hope she likes it (I am sure she will not see all of the issues that I see in it)!