[Sugar-free] Finished!

{Sugar-free] Finished!

This quilt is a study in freehand cutting (not using the straight edge of the ruler to make cuts) and improv piecing; and it was born out of a need to calm my fears and a want for a stack of pretty quilts in our home.

I realized not long ago that our household lacks quilts. How did that happen? I see stacks of quilts piled high on Flickr and on quilt blogs. And I feel like I am missing out. I want a stack! Most of the quilts I have made have gone to others. So I am now on a mission to make some quilts for us to use, wherever and whenever.

But a big reason that this quilt came to be is a bit of a convoluted story.

[Sugar-free] Finished!

I was asked to demonstrate a block at the last DMQG meeting. I decided to demo a technique that is new-to-me: cutting and piecing gentle curves without pins. I pulled out my stack of Hey Sugar (by Cosmo Cricket for Andover) prints + Kona solids (that I had planned to use for one of my bees) to make a couple of sample blocks incorporating freehand cutting, gentle curves and improv piecing (did you catch all of that?!).

[Sugar-free] Finished!

The first couple example blocks I made, I loved. But as I continued the process, I started to doubt my vision. After getting a few more blocks made, I placed them side-by-side and they just looked messy; kind of like I did not know what I was doing.

[Sugar-free] Finished!

Following the meeting and over the next few days, I quickly worked on more blocks, hoping that the more blocks I saw together, the more they would make sense as a whole.  I made three to four blocks at a time, utilizing chain piecing as much as I could. Since there were only 24 (12″) blocks to make, the top came together seemingly quickly.  I put all other projects on hold — projects with deadlines — to work on this impromptu quilt-for-no-reason.

In the back of my mind, I kept telling myself, it will look good in the end, it will look good in the end…

Even though I tend to avoid quilt designs that involve a lot of precise piecing and matching points (like here), my block corners do a pretty good job of matching up in this top, enough though it is not crucial to the design (hello, run-on sentence!). So, apparently my piecing skills are improving in all of the sewing I have done lately. Maybe that is a sign that I should try some designs that incorporate more intricate piecing??

And now, the back… the back began as an exercise in thrift. I started putting the back together using the leftover Hey Sugar pieces. Once I was about halfway done with the back, I hated how it looked. It was too patchworky. Too many pieces. Too busy. In thinking about the time and heart I put into the top, I felt like the hobo-style back would ruin the entire quilt. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the look of the pieced backs I see out there. Somehow though, when my backs incorporate too many prints, they look amateurish.

[Sugar-free] Finished!

So despite trying to resist the urge to buy more fabric, I decided that it would be more than worth it to fork over a few bucks to get a Kona solid to use on most of the back (Aloe, I believe?). A large area of solid + a little print + a little piecing = a much happier me.

[Sugar-free] Finished!

For the quilting, I did horizontal organic “straight” lines that were irregularly spaced. The wavy lines mimic the feel of the improv piecing in the blocks. And for the binding, I loved that I was able to use the print with the diagonal stripes, so my binding only looks like it was cut on the bias. And I used a new-to-me method to join my binding that Juanita (of Settler’s Peace and fellow DMQG’er) posted about.

[Sugar-free] Finished!

I have not washed this quilt yet only because I fear that those chunks of red may bleed over all of that ivory. I did not prewash any of the fabrics and I will soon find out if that was a mistake or not. I have a box of Colorcatchers ready for the inaugural laundering. Here’s to hoping that I have a smile on my face as I pull it out of the washer!

25 thoughts on “[Sugar-free] Finished!

  1. Oooooh I adore this! It’s not fair to use such a cool fabric line that’s out of print, though–you’re just mean using fabric that I now love but can’t get! 😉

  2. I love your quilt…..the story of how you put it together was really interesting too – I have doubts about most of my projects half way through but they usually turn out ok in the end.

  3. what a great quilt lucia and im over the moon to hear its for you andyour house! i have had to do that…a quilt just to lay around our house…we have blankets, but no Mom made quilts!

  4. Hello–I am new to your blog; I love this quilt and it definitely works for me!! I love the improvisational feel to it. The back looks smashing, too. I have been quilting since I was a little person (some 60 yrs ago–not telling just how many) and I have begun trying new “easier” types of quilts. You have inspired me to try “rulerless” cutting. Thank you for sharing Julierose

  5. Next, a question – because I struggled this week with straight line quilting – what kind of machine do you use and do you have any tips? (I have an old viking with a walking foot but am getting uneven stitches…) Thanks!

    1. Elizabeth,

      I apologize for just now getting back to you. I have a Janome Memory Craft 6600 that I generally love (last week I only ‘liked’ it because it didn’t want to FMQ, but now it’s working fine so I love it again 😉 ). It has an integrated walking foot. I used to use an old 30 year old Singer and I upgraded last year about this time to the Janome. I have to say that the catalyst for me to start the search for a new machine was because I was disappointed in the results I got when straight line quilting on my old machine.

      If your machine is skipping stitches, have you tried all of the usual fixes? (new needle, different kind of needle, cleaning out under the bobbin and bobbin housing (may require a screwdriver to get under there), rethreading, different kind of thread, talking sweetly to it (Ha)) If you have tried all of those things, it may just mean your machine needs to be serviced. Hopefully one of those things will work for you and you can get back to quilting pronto. Good luck!


  6. Wow – this is so amazing…I love the colors you used and it just all works so beautifully!. The back is so perfect too – love everything about it!

  7. Great job! It looks like a very happy quilt that I’m sure will be well loved by your family! Thanks for the story of how it came together, what a fun blog post.

  8. Love the story behind the quilt! The blocks look so lovely together, and the colors are great. You have me thinking I don’t have a ‘stack’ of quilts either, most of my finished quilts have been gifted! Time to make some more to keep!

  9. Beautiful quilt! There is great comfort in having a stack of quilts in the house :). So glad you are getting your stack started.
    Thanks for the link on the binding tutorial!

  10. I think the quilt is gorgeous and the colours inspired. If you decide it isn’t for your home after all I know someone’s home it would great in (hint, hint). Okay, I know. I’ll go make my own.

  11. Love everything about this quilt particularly the coral and blue colours together and the non-perfectness of it all. Well done you! So inspiring 🙂

  12. I love your quilts and admire your courage to continually try new things. You are an inspiration to me! Also, I enjoy reading about your process. I am completely new to quilting and hope to be as free and confident as you seem to be!

  13. Loving your quilt. I just finished piecing the back for a quilt and it was so intense I should’ve used the back for another top. I’m done with that and am anxious to try a simple backing and some free style cutting and piecing. My color catchers have never failed me and I never pre-wash any fabric.

  14. Love the quilt. I should make this quilt and make use of my ginormis scrap bags! Thanks for the inspiration. Oh I adore the way you finished the back super duper!

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