Thursday, April 29, 2021

I've got the Blues

It all started with the Chain Linx quilt pattern I got in a giveaway from Karen at Sugar Free Quilts through KaHolly in a Blog Hop honoring the legacy of quilter Paula B about a year ago. My plan was to make a quilt to donate, and when I looked through my drawers, I challenged myself to "use up" my blues. And only blues. I thought I might make a quilt that would appeal to a man--although, I really don't like to stereotype people that way. 

The design of the quilt I chose to make is unique in that it's constructed from four big rectangles arranged around a square. I first shaded in the link parts to get some idea of how they might look and to help me keep things straight while cutting the fabrics. 

I had two fairly large solid blue fabric pieces that were leftovers or rejects from other quilts, and my idea was to use the grayish blue for the links and the darker blue for part of the background to appear sort of as a border. 

With that in mind, I made the rectangular blocks first, choosing tone on tone fabrics.

 I made decisions about which fabric to use based on how much fabric I had available for a particular sized patch.

I wanted all four of the rectangle blocks to be alike. 

Always good to match your outfit to your project

As I cut, I pinned sets of four patches together and then bagged different sections up to keep things organized as I sewed.

After making the rectangles, I laid out other fabrics to decide how to make the center square. I had enough of the solid blue that I used for the border to make the whole center. So that's what I did. it kept everything symmetrical-ish. 
Everything went well, until I took photos of the top. And. I didn't like it. At all. There was one fabric I had used that was a sort of bubble pattern in blue and grayish blue, but in the quilt it looked dead gray. And it was one of the bigger patches. Do you see it there? 
Actually, there are two, but the big one is what was bothering me.

Times four. Yuck! I could not unsee it. So out came the seam ripper and I performed four surgeries. And replaced that patch with three smaller, darker ones. Four times.
Do you see them? (Never mind the stray thread.)

It really didn't take that long and made a big difference in how the whole quilt looked. More depth and vibrance. Even in the bad indoor light.
I thought I would use up all my blues, but we all know that didn't happen. Sigh. For a few minutes I thought of piecing all the leftovers into a scrappy back. But there were a lot of seams in the front, and I wasn't looking forward to quilting through those and a bunch of seams on the back. So, being fully vaccinated (Yay!), I ventured out to a local fabric store I hadn't been in for more than a year and found the perfect navy. And at another store around the corner, I found a good medium gray blue thread that wouldn't stand out as much as my usual off white on the quilt. 

I dithered for awhile about how to quilt. At first I thought I might like to highlight the links somehow, but everything I considered would have required lots of stops and starts and thread burying and I just wasn't feeling it. I wanted simple. And what's more simple than stipple?? (It's so relaxing--almost trance-like--for me. I know stippling isn't for everyone and that some people struggle with it. My tip is to go slowly, picture jigsaw puzzle pieces while you quilt and try for gentle swoops. It probably also helps to have the pressure light on the presser foot.) I had considered using a kind of turquoise-y blue thread for the top thread, but in the end I used the same thread that I had chosen for the back. I knew I'd probably lose at playing thread chicken, so I did run out part way through quilting to buy one more spool of thread. I almost did win at thread chicken, but I did need that second spool for the last bit of quilting. (Maybe 5 to 10 yards?) 

Early on in the construction process, I set aside a bandanna print for the binding. It worked really well for a subtle edge on the front and good contrast on the back. If you have a treadle machine, or another machine that doesn't show you guidelines for making sure your width is consistent when you turn the corner while sewing on binding, here's a little tip. I fold a square sticky note on the diagonal and then line it up with the edges of the quilt when I get near the corner. I sew up to the diagonal edge of the sticky note and then out to the corner. That always gives me the same measurement no matter what seam allowance I use when sewing on the binding. It's really helped me to have sharper corners. 

The quilting pulled everything together, and I finally decided that I liked the quilt after all. And there was someone making complimentary noises the whole time I was making the quilt. Someone who loves blue a whole lot more than I do. (He still misses his old navy blue car.) When it was almost done, he finally came right out and said he wanted the quilt. Well, who was I to say no to my husband? After all, I have never in all these years made him his very own quilt. Our other quilts have always been for us, not him. So, this quilt that was going to be donated to an organization is staying right here. 

Here are the stats:

Pattern: Chain Linx by Karen Chase at Sugar Free Quilts I really liked following her detailed instructions, which worked fine even though I was using a lot few colors. I appreciate it that she noted how to press important seams and left it up to me to decide how I wanted to press others. 
Fabrics: Prints are scraps from many years of quilt-making; solids are Kona Cotton in Prussian and Delft; backing is Moda Marbles (I'm not sure of the color--maybe Indigo? It's a dark navy.) Nautical.
Batting: Fairfield 80/20. First time I've used this. My machine loved it.
Thread: Superior Masterpiece in Granite for piecing; Mettler Silk Finish Cotton in Smoky Blue for quilting. (I haven't used this before, but it was what my local store had, and it worked out well--a slight sheen), Old Coats and Clark black cotton hand quilting thread for hand sewing binding to back
Binding: 2 1/2 inches cut, double layer, machine sewn to front and hand stitched on back. 
Size: 60 1/2 inches square before quilting; 59 1/4 by 59 1/2 inches after quilting. Since this quilt is staying home, I haven't washed it yet.
Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer Treadle 115 for free motion and for machine work on the binding.

I knew I would need to make a replacement quilt to honor my pledge to make a donation quilt, but although I still have blue fabric, it's not enough to make a similar quilt without a lot of hassle. What to do? And then I read Preeti's blogpost about her upcoming Quilt Along to make quilts for the same organization this quilt was originally meant for. Perfect!! What a great solution to my dilemma! I don't think it will be another blue quilt, but it will be fun. And of course, I'll keep the Chain Linx pattern for another time.

But I'm not done yet. Oh no. April was blue month at Rainbow Scrap Challenge, and since there were 5 Fridays in April (my self-imposed due dates for 52 weeks of Scrappy Triangles), there were 5 blue half blocks made. Here they are: 

And randomly with most of their mates from January through March (my, this year is moving fast!)

How about that navy corner on the upper left? Yup. That's leftover from the Blue backing, How neat is that? I will need to buy a bit more to make sure I have enough for a whole quilt worth of triangles, but I think it will pull all the colorful bits together. 

Whew! that's a lotta blue. Oh, just a little more. Here are the blue fabric bits I ordered to enhance my stash this month. 

This time I ordered from Winter Creek Cloth. I know it's weird complaining about not using up all my blues and then ordering more. But I'm really trying for a more modern vibe, and this is such a fun purchase this month. Now that we are more free to move about the community, I might purchase my next colors locally. But maybe not. I know there will always be backings and such to buy nearby. And maybe some fabric for Preeti's project...Stay tuned. 

I'm linking up this week with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread ThursdayWendy at Wendy's Quilts and More for Peacock PartyMichelle at from Bolt to Beauty for Beauties PageantAngela at So Scrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday, and Cynthia at Quilting is more Fun than Housework for Oh Scrap.

Happy Quilting, whether you've got the blues or not. (homage to Buddy Guy)

(Just a reminder: I'm not affiliated with any company, so when I mention products, services, or stores I'm just documenting what I used or liked.)  


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

that is an interesting quilt and I have not seen that tip with the paper before - thanks

Susan Smith said...

It's gorgeous!! Well done & I loved reading your progress through it and I'd not heard of your sticky note corners before, so that is one I'm going to remember. Your 'hero' shots are great & I too like taking good photos for both my blog and for my archives. Thanks for sharing, take care & hugs.

Linda said...

I love that your husband asked outright for the quilt! It’s spectacular Janine. The blues are beautiful in that neat pattern. Your gray switch with darker blues turned out well. Thank you for the binding tip - I have saved it for my next binding!

Vicki in MN said...

What a great finish, blues are so pretty and calming.

Bernie Kringel said...

As I said on Instagram the other day, this quilt is amazing. I looks like a Celtic Knot design somewhat. I really love it and can see why your husband called Dibs on it! Good for him. I hope he enjoys it for years to come. It is just stunning.
It is surprising what a difference trading out that gray-ish piece made. I am unsure I would have caught that but you knew what to change.

Thanks for the sticky note tip. That would be great and I plan to try it with the next quilt I bind. :-)

LIttle Penguin Quilts said...

What an amazing quilt, JanineMarie! It sounded complicated to put together, but so worth it. I definitely think you picked the most deserving recipient!

Maggie said...

You had a journey with this one, love the stipple. It is my go to as one can freemotion it and before you know it, the quilt is quilted. On a longarm this must be a lot quicker than on my regular domestic machine. Now you have a new pattern. Have a great week.

Kat Scribner said...

What an AMAZING quilt !!! and love how you signed it on the back. Hope I remember that. I do not enjoy making labels or distorting the back view with a label.

Mari said...

I love this quilt! It turned out so well, no wonder your hubby claimed it. In the pictures, it almost looks like denims, which is a great fool-the-eye trick. I love the chains and how you drew it all out, And, as always, the quilting itself is terrific. I can't believe you do all this on a treadle! I'm in awe of your skill with color and stitching.

scraphappy said...

I really love how this one turned out. I can see why your husband wanted to claim it. So many pretty blues used up! Best of all -- you made room for new ones to fill the empty spots in your stash. Sounds like a perfect plan.

The Joyful Quilter said...

Congrats on your fabulous BLUE finish and you made some really great fabric selections for April's stash enhancement, too!!

grammajudyb said...

That is a amazing quilt! Good organization tips. And I like the one about the folded sticky note! I have a little purchased guide, but every once in a while I misplace it! This is an awesome trick!

Louise said...

What a beauty! Or should I say, what a blue-ty! No wonder your DH wanted it. The pattern is so cool, and you did a fabulous job with the fabric selection and distribution. The tight stipple gives it fabulous texture for that oh-so-snuggly finish. Hooray! :)

Sylvia@Treadlestitches said...

What an amazing quilt! No wonder your husband wanted to keep it. Thanks for showing us how you kept it organized.

Margo Yang said...

Your quilt is so beautiful. I'm so impressed that you quilted it with Singer Treadle 115 for free motion. How you managed that is beyond my comprehensions. Two thumbs up for you!!

Preeti said...

Gorgeous finish. Love everything about this quilt. Hope you are feeling upbeat and peachy after this accomplishment :-D
You will need to buy some more??? Oh the horror :-p
I am so happy that you will be joining in the Positivity QAL.