Saturday, June 9, 2012

Quilts big and small

I promised that I would soon post a post (redundant?) about a large project on which I was working, and because I waited long enough, you'll get a two for one deal. If you stay until the end, you may even get a bonus project.

Quilt number one (drum roll please....)

My SIL commissioned me to make this quilt for her niece that will be attending FSU this Fall (Congrats, Brianna!!). This was the very first full size quilt that I have ever completed... or really attempted for that matter, so I was a little intimidated. I didn't really have many guidelines for the quilt, just make it FSU and preferably a twin size rather than a lap blanket. The finished product is about 90" x 60" (its shown on our queen size bed and reached the edges).

I didn't really take pictures as I made it since, quite frankly, I was flying by the seat of my pants on design. To start, I based my design a bit off of Nancy Zieman's "fat free triangle" method. It made the sewing part go super fast, but I still hate all the cutting. I had to go back to the fabric store a few times since I miscalculated material amount (hey, I'm an English major, not a math major). I also didn't realize how difficult it would be to find coordinating fabrics to match the FSU licensed stuff. The yellow (or gold or whatever the "official" color is called) is really a bizarre color, so I found it was actually easier to find material that matched the crimson color (which I thought would be really difficult to match). If I were to do something like this again, I would probably make the double blocks of the crimson FSU fabric actual rectangles to save some time.

I did some basic machine quilting which you can see in the first small picture. I chose to go around the diamonds as the simplest design element. This was my first experience machine quilting something this large, and my machine and I exchanged quite a few words. I definitely recognize the benefit of having a long arm machine, now. In addition to the machine "stitching in the ditch," I also tied with crimson and gold floss around the solid squares. The one thing I discovered with this is make sure you have a needle with a large enough eye so that you're not killing your fingers trying to pull the floss through all of the layers.

For the binding, I cheated a little and used a self-binding technique. I researched many different sites on the internet to find some help with this, but I liked the binding help on Annie's Attic and Ludlow Quilt and Sew the best. There was also a series of videos on YouTube by the Missouri Star Quilt Company that was great, too (be careful, though. I got lost for quite some time watching all of their fantastic tutorials). I also machine sewed the binding rather than hand slip-stitch since I was on a bit of a time crunch. I think that it turned out quite nice.

The other tip that I found while layering this quilt was that you need a large space (thank you living room floor). A hard floor is nice. In order to make the backing nice and tight, you really need to tape the backing fabric to the floor (if you have carpet, you can also pin it into the carpet). I never knew that, but I'll admit that it took me a few frustrating hours before I caved and looked up why my backing fabric wouldn't stay smooth during my layering process. Let my frustration be your learning experience. And if you're curious, I used a 100% cotton batting that isn't as fluffy as polyester batting but is just perfect for Florida.

Also, since I didn't use all those scraps left over from the fat-free triangle method, I do have more FSU fabric for anyone interested :-) It's probably not enough to make another full size quilt, but we could work out something.

Quilt number 2 is much smaller and in a pattern that I have done several times before:

It's a crib size quilt I made for a friend who will soon be blessed with a little boy. As you may have guessed, the theme is dinosaurs (ROAR!). The fabrics are a mix of 100% cotton, cotton flannel, and fuzzy-material-that-should-not-be-manufactured-because-it-is-a-nightmare-to-use-and-makes-a-huge-mess (although I think the official name is warm & cuddly). I declared that the little pieces of green fabric it left behind should be dubbed fabric poo. I love using the satin binding on these baby quilts because I feel that every baby needs a little oy-oy (as my brother used to say) in their lives. I just wish that I would remember how I attach it so that I don't have to rethink the process everytime I make this pattern. For this quilt, I did a little hand quilting around all the fuzzy fabric. I found that it was so much thicker than the cotton, that it just needed a little something to help ground the whole thing together.

And the bonus project is fancy burp clothes for the same baby. What baby doesn't need some camo in his life?