Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Grunge Quilt

You probably noticed that it seemed like I wasn't making much lately. That's because there was a bit of secret sewing going on. At the end of May a giant squirrel rose up in front of me in the form of the realization that my brother and sister-in-law were having an anniversary in June. An anniversary ending in zero. What to give them to celebrate that milestone? Well, of course, a quilt!! I had made them some tiny wall hangings over the years, but I hadn't made them anything bigger since the baby quilts for their girls in the 80's. Could I make a quilt in less than 3 weeks? Well, sure! If I didn't do anything else, like clean or cook, or--wait, I don't do much of those things anyway.

Now that my brother and sister-in-law have the quilt, I can share it. Let's look at some photos and then I'll tell you more. 
Helpful Hubby holding quilt. It was too long for the usual fence shot.


I knew that I needed to make a simple pattern due to the short time. I also knew what their living room furniture looked like and had some photos of family gatherings that seemed pretty true to color. They have a dark blue couch, golden yellow chairs and some red accents. Using my Quiltography app, I colored in the courthouse steps block in two different ways, going for a bold, kind of modern design. For the first time, I also used the yardage calculator on the app instead of trying to plan the yardage myself.

I went to the closest fabric store to see what I could find that would work. I was thinking solids to continue the scheme of the living room, but I wanted a little texture and was having a bit of a love affair with Moda Grunge fabric. I found exactly what I wanted in two different blues and a red. There was a yellow that was too light. But here's the neat thing. This store is a half block away from another fabric store, and when they buy fabric, they coordinate so that they have different colors of the same lines. The first store sent me over to the second store, where I found the exact shade of yellow I needed as well as a cream color that had some gray in it to coordinate with another living room chair. It was the easiest fabric search I have ever done. 

Here are the two versions of the block:




My initial plan was to make them 14 inches square but somewhere along the way, I went with 16 inches instead. This was supposed to be a throw quilt--now it's big enough to cover two people. But that's fine for an anniversary quilt, right? I added the lighter blue in random places and alternated the blocks in a 4 by 5 layout. When it came time to choose a back, I decided to go whole cloth instead of my usual piecing. I tried to find a floral or abstract print with all of the colors. I looked in all of the nearby stores and couldn't find anything. I did see a couple of fabrics online that might have worked, but I just wasn't certain--and then there was the whole problem of losing time waiting for the mail. So I went back to the second fabric store and bought the cream Grunge for the back--it was a wide backing, which really saved time. 

Here's a close up to show the quilting. 

Planning it really stumped me. I hadn't done much free-motion quilting since I broke my shoulder last year, but I didn't really want to do the whole quilt with my walking foot. I ended up using the walking foot for three parallel lines on the yellow strips and then did free-motion quilting for the rest of the quilt--meanders in the cream and blue areas, back and forth squiggles in the borders around the middles and free-form flowers in the red squares. I really wanted to do a vine with leaves in the blue parts, but decided that was really pushing it for my arm on a quilt this size. The squiggles and flowers are pretty wonky, but intentionally so. I knew I wouldn't have the greatest control, so doing it in a more folksy style was the solution. I did my usual initials and date in the lower right corner. I used two different thread colors, lighter in the cream and yellow fabrics and gray in the blues and red.








I love how the setting sun shows off the texture of the quilting.




The back ended up much better than I thought it would. I used a very thin cotton batting because I wanted a light weight, scrunched up quilt, especially since it was bigger than I had first planned. My machine was not thrilled with the batting. My needle sounded like a hammer on nails the whole time I was quilting. In addition, I may not have pulled the backing taut when I basted. The combination of unfamiliar batting for machine quilting, lackidaisical basting with an unfamiliar backing (wide back--different thread count?), and less than optimal control with FMQ resulted in some concerning puckers and pleats on the back. (Nevertheless, she persisted!) Aside from running my finger along the underside to check the tension from time to time, I stopped flipping the quilt to check the back because it was too discouraging. I just crossed my fingers hoping that washing would cover a multitude of errors in the end. And you know what? It worked. The puckering and pleating blended in to an acceptable degree, and I advised my brother and sister-in-law that if it shows up more over time, to just rewash and dry the quilt. I do love the scrunchy effect of the batting even though it was hard to quilt. It's just what I was hoping for.






For the binding I chose both the red and the yellow--partly because I only had enough red fabric left to cover a couple of sides. I brought the two colors about 8 inches around the corners so that I wouldn't have to splice in right at the corners to make the color change. 


Here are the stats:
Design: Courthouse Steps, with Quiltography app used to help plan and figure yardage.
Fabric: Moda Basic Grey Grunge in Peacoat, Regatta, Red (I think it is Rocacco), Elafin (yellow) and Creme. The Creme was wide back.
Binding: Rocacco and Elafin cut to 2 1/4 inches and folded. Machine and hand applied.
Threads: Superior Masterpiece in Granite for piecing, Superior King Tut in White Linen and Silver Bullet. Superior Treasure in Old Lace for hand sewing on binding.
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose, cotton
Size: Blocks--16 inches square with 2 1/2 inch cut strips (finishing 2 inches wide) and 4 1/2 (4) inch centers.
Quilt: 64 1/2 by 80 1/2 inches before quilting, aproximately 63 1/4 by 79 inches after quilting, approximately 59 by 75 inches after washing/drying.
Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer 115 treadle for quilting

Here are some closing thoughts:
1. Overall, I'm really pleased with the quilt, but I might need to have a stern talk with myself if I am tempted to make an almost twin sized quilt in less than three weeks again, and I would definitely check weather predictions. Not only was I racing an anniversary date, I was also racing to get most of the quilting done before a heat wave set in. (My quilting room is in the least comfortable room in the house, even with air conditioning.) Thankfully, the weather has settled down this week. I won't even complain that I had goosebumps writing this on the deck and had to come inside to warm up. 
2. I love the look and feel of Cream Rose batting. After washing, it is light and scrunchy. I used to use it a lot in hand quilted work. It was a bit much for my machine, though, so I would need to consider that for future projects. Maybe I need to figure out an alternative to topstitch needles for quilting with it. 
3. I love the look of Grunge as an alternative to solid fabrics. If I use the wide backing again, I may need to be more vigilante about anchoring it tightly when basting. 
4. I can free motion quilt again if I'm not too picky about consistency in my design. With time, though, I might improve. 
5. I was pleased with the Quiltography app for figuring yardage. It was generous without being over the top, and a real time saver. The app doesn't show how to lay out the fabric, of course, but that's understandable and okay. At least I had reasonable figures for how much fabric to buy.
6. I should probably stop calling this the Grunge Quilt. How about J and J's 40th Anniversary Quilt? That sounds better. But Grunge Quilt is accurate.

Okay one more photo. Here's the quilt in its new home:

I'm linking up this week with Freemotion by the River (Linky Tuesday), Sew Fresh Quilts (Let's Bee Social), Confessions of a Fabric Addict (Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?) and Crazy Mom Quilts. This will probably show up on mmm! quilts (DrEAMi--Drop Everything and Make it) at the end of the month. Buttons for most are on the side bar. 

If you'd like to see what I'm up to in non-quilting, check out my Instagram button on the sidebar. I'm making a blouse! Garment sewing in a summer sew along with Bernie over at Needle and Foot. Fun! And a real trip down memory lane. It's not too late to join!

Now it's time to tell the squirrels to go away. I've chased them a lot the last few months. I need to get back on track with my Deconstructed Coins quilt. Have a wonderful quilty week. 

12 comments:

  1. A very ambitious project that came out beautifully! Well done! XO

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  2. Oh my gosh it is so, so gorgeous! You could not have done a more perfect job, IMO. From the fabric choice to the quilting to the binding - it is so impressive. And it looks wonderful on their sofa. Geez the quilting alone would have taken me 3 weeks! I have a love affair with Grunge also and am going to save this post as inspiration.
    I am knocking on wood, but I no longer have the big puckers and pleats I used to have on the back since I started using spray basting and my acrylic ruler to smooth out the wrinkles, as suggested by Late Night Quilter. :)
    I finally purchased the Quiltography app and looked at it, but was surprisingly intimidated by it. And that is unusual for me because I'm usually fearless in the "new stuff" department. But I'm going to keep trying!

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  3. I am standing and giving you a round of applause. That is an impressive amount of work in such a short dead line. I love the design you chose and the quilting just rocks. It looks so snuggly and soft after its first wash. I'm sure J&J will cherish it for years and it really does look great on that couch.

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  4. Oh my goodness! It's PERFECT, Janine! I'm so glad you were able to show a photo of this GORGEOUS quilt in its forever home :) I love the texture and the modern take on this traditional block. Well done, lady!

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  5. Love your design and the colors absolutely could not be any more perfect--for a gorgeous quilt AND for J and J's living room!

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  6. Amazing! Such a pretty quilt and the quilting is such a compliment to those blocks. I love how crinkly it looks after the wash. This will be a treasure and remind them of how much you love them!

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  7. Such a sweet thoughtful quilt. I am sure it will be loved and cherished for years. The grunge fabric looks beautiful and your quilting has made it perfectly snuggly.

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  8. This is so lovely! I'm sure the recipients love it. The quilting may have given you fits, but it turned out great. I love how you "sign" your quilts, too. One thing about the backing-- wider backings do have a lower thread count, and I always wash the wide backs before I use them because they shrink up. (I don't wash other fabric.) Maybe that would help if you use it again.

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  9. Wow, that was quick work! I love grunge fabrics, just enough variation but still reading as solids, and they look great in your log cabins. I also really like your quilting on this - how cool that your shoulder let you do it.

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  10. Great job. Ambitious, but look how well it turned out. Love the colours and quilting and I'm sure the recipients do too.

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  11. A beautiful present. Grunge was a great choice, the bold colour blocks are beautiful. I love the quilt photos on the grass with setting sunlight on it. It looks perfect in its new home :)

    -Soma

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