Saturday, November 11, 2017

Quilt for Vegas

I've been away from social media more than I've been on it recently, but a few weeks ago I noticed that the Las Vegas Modern Quilt Guild was collecting quilts to give to first responders and families of victims of the mass shooting there on October 1. They were asking for quilts (as well as quilt components and financial support) made from Grayscale blocks and heart blocks from patterns by Cluck Cluck Sew. The recommendation was for each block to be made from white fabric and a cheerful color. So while I was on vacation in East Tawas a couple of weeks ago, I selected some bright prints in rainbow colors at the Ben Franklin store for my contribution. I'm not sure why I chose those colors--probably because that was the range of colors of the sample quilt the guild shared and I liked the look. Certainly cheerful! I already had some white fabric, so I figured I was all set, and on October 31, I got started. 

Okay, first a teaser. Then the story of how this came to be. Then some photos and stats--

My first decision was to make just Block A of the Grayscale blocks and place them in a zig zag like in the sample quilt. And I thought I might mix things up and make the colored parts of the block scrappy. I also thought I would make the quilt from 42 blocks (41 Grayscale blocks plus 1 heart block). While cutting strips, I realized that I did not have enough white fabric, so I made a quick run to the closest fabric store for some Kona White. When I got home, I noticed that the fabric didn't look and feel quite like the white I already had. Perhaps that first white wasn't Kona after all. No problem. I cut the rest of my pieces and then stacked the two sets of white randomly so that if they looked or felt different from each other, it would look like I planned it that way. 

Before I started chain piecing everything, I decided to make a test block. Here's what that looked like: one pieced, one laid out.

I have to say, it just wasn't grabbing me. Since then, I have seen other quilts made with scrappy colored blocks, and I like them a lot, but I just couldn't picture the end result. I stopped sewing long enough to color some ideas on graph paper.

Somewhere along the line, I knew that what I really wanted to do was make each block with white and just one color. I colored 7 blocks of each color, cut them out and then just played with different arrangements of the 42 blocks. As I messed around with them, I discovered that the arrangements I liked best were actually square quilts made with 36 blocks.

I kept arranging and came up with this:
It looks like it, but no wine was involved.
And finally, this:
The blank spot is for the heart
So much easier than making a bunch of blocks and then arranging them on a design wall. Since I had cut enough material for 42 blocks, I decided to make them all and put leftovers on the back. Once all those decisions were made, piecing was a piece of cake and the top was done in no time. I made one more trip to the store for backing fabric and batting (no wait, it was two trips; on the first trip, the store was closed due to a power outage--that's a whole other story I won't go into here).

I really wanted to do something special with the quilting, but my time was limited. My plan was to quilt straight lines (or something like that) in the colored parts and meanders in the background. I pin basted carefully (I thought) and then did the background quilting first. Not the best idea I've had. After the background was done, I could tell that the colored strips were too puckery on the front--and especially on the back--to do straight lines without problems with pleating. I ended up doing meanders in the colored parts, too. During that time, I had all manner of problems with my presser bar adjustment, needles breaking, and tension problems, and I spent a couple of frustrating hours cleaning, oiling, adjusting and doing whatever else I could to get things back on track. The quilting on the front didn't look like I had envisioned it, and it looked worse on the back with lots of bunching. I was so bummed. 

I pressed on. I had enough fabric to make a scrappy binding. I placed the colors pretty much randomly but made sure that I did not use the color of whatever block was next to the binding. It went together without issue, and I spent Thursday evening and Friday hand stitching it to the back while watching Christmas movies (really, already!) on TV.

As soon as the quilt was done, I ran outside to photograph it on our neighbor's fence. The light was terrible, so I'm not going to show you those photos. It was also freezing--literally. Temps in the 20's (F). Cold for this time of year, and especially after having ridiculously warm weather this autumn. Here are the bits of snow that stayed on the ground ALL DAY because it was so cold. Thanks, Canada. I'm assuming this is a gift from you.

I ran back in the house and threw the quilt in the washer and then the dryer, drying it on medium instead of low to work as many crinkles into the back as possible. And you know what? It worked. It came out cozy and just crinkly enough to hide the problems. This is the second quilt I've made this year that gave me fits on the back. Both quilts were made in haste, so maybe that's part of the problem. I may not have been careful enough to pull the backing taut. But I'm thinking now that some adjustment problems with my presser bar might have been putting too much drag on the quilt, so before I do the next one, I'll have to do a little more fiddling. But I sure am glad that a good wash and drying cover up the problems. I took more pictures this morning, with decent light in our living room and on the driveway, and now I'm pleased to share what I made. 

This next one is actually from the evening photos, but I wanted to record my initials/date. See the blue cast? Thanks, Eastern Standard Time change.

Still cold (below freezing), but sunny.

And a bit windy.


Self-portrait--the challenge of sunny.

I had to restrain myself from grabbing fabric markers and coloring in the backing.

I have two leftover blocks, which I'll send along with the quilt for other quilts.

How about some stats?
Dates constructed: October 31 to November 10, 2017
Pattern: Grayscale Block A  and Heart Block from Cluck Cluck Sew
Fabrics: Kona White and possibly other white (who knows); Polynesian Waters by Liora Manne for EBI fabrics (turquoise); Greta Lynn's Boo Basics Baby Zebra in Orange for KANVAS Benartex; KANVAS Studio's Zoo Baby Plaid Yellow, Benartex; mystery green, red and purple fabrics (no info on selvage, and no bolt info because they were flat folds), Coloring Book Floral in Black and White Keepsake Cotton (Joann)

Batting: Warm and White
Thread: Superior Masterpiece cotton in Granite for piecing; Superior King Tut cotton in White Linen for quilting and machine binding, Superior Treasure cotton in Old Lace for Hand stitching binding.
Binding: cut 2 1/4 inch wide, pieced from scraps of front
Size: Blocks: 10 1/2 inches unfinished, Quilt: 60 1/4 inches square pieced; 59 1/4 inches square quilted; 56 1/4 inches square after machine washing on cold and machine drying on medium.
Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer 115 Treadle for free-motion quilting.

This quilt was a bit more of a challenge than I expected due to traffic/power outage problems, machine issues and quilt bunching, but it's really an easy, versatile pattern, and I have a feeling I'll make it again someday. 

The greatest challenge was trying to make something to cheer victims and responders of one horrific event while hearing the news of other unimaginable, devastating events. When will the madness end? I won't say anything further about it here, but you know how I feel. 

I'm linking up today with Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing for Free Motion Mavericks (because this is the first quilt I've been able to totally FMQ in more than a year since my accident), Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? and Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it Up Friday (yes, this is Saturday, but it was finished on Friday).

Keep quilting comfort!


travelinsewl said...

so many things to say, but I will keep it simple and say, What a Gift of Sunshine this will be to the receiver.
Thank you for this wonderful gift!
one more thing- I absolutely LOVE your leaf photo! I don't know exactly why, but it speaks to me.

Unknown said...

That's a wonderful quilt! And definitely cheerful. Some special person is going to love it.

Kaja said...

Lots of little details about this that I love, including the clever layout, the blue corners on the orange squares and the scrappy binding. Also, a bit hooray that you machine quilted the whole thing!

Louise said...

I love everything about this quilt!! Your color choices, the layout with sashing that makes each square "float," the scrappy binding, and how deliciously crinkly the meanders made it. I think the diagonal line of blocks leading to the heart look like a group of arms reaching out to hug the center. And yes, I want to color in the backing, too :)

I wasn't able to make blocks for Vegas, for a variety of logistical and emotional reasons, so thank you for making an entire quilt. I understand how frustrating it can be when your fabric and machine are fighting you, but you Persisted and came out with a wonderful finish. This quilt will help soothe a hurting heart or two, I'm certain of it.

Claire said...

I like the finished product very much--a perfect quilt for the purpose! And thanks for the hint concerning designing with small pieces of paper instead of full blocks. I plan to make use of it.Claire aka knitnkwilt

Love Of Quilts said...

You did yourself proud. Lovely quilt.

Miaismine said...

Your quilt is all a quilt should be in this situation: cheerful, cuddly, encouraging and precious. I'm sure the recipient will be blessed by your lovely creation!

Val's Quilting Studio said...

I love the heart the very most!! Such a creative finish.

Bev said...

Very clever. I wondered what you were going to do with that blank space and it is perfect.

Bernie Kringel said...

This is gorgeous - the idea of coloring the blocks and cutting them out is so cool. I haven't done that before and it seems like a great way to see the possibilities available with the block design you are using.
I think it is so pretty - love the layout you finally decided on.
How cool that you finally FMQ'd a whole quilt again over a year later. I a sure that makes you so happy, even with all of the machine difficulties you had to deal with.

Muv said...

Hello Janine Marie,

Delighted to hear you are able to tackle big projects again! This quilt is so beautiful and is sure to be loved and appreciated by the person who receives it. Experimenting with the layout with the graph paper is a stroke of genius.

Thank you for linking up with Free Motion Mavericks - your quilt is this week's featured project!

Love, Muv

Preeti said...

It is a beautiful quilt, Janine. Thank you for sharing the design process. It is amazing to most people when they realize the work that goes into designing a quilt.
I am sure it will bring comfort to the recipient.