The Chalk Line

#70 & #71 rolls

I finished up two more custom quilt orders this week and I am always happily surprised to see how much more I like the quilts once they are laundered.  They just pop and that cuddly look gives them the overall feel that I want from a quilt. Of course I had to take a picture of them rolled up because this is my new favourite way to show the puffy goodness of a handmade quilt 🙂  It’s also the way I package quilts for sale because I just like how it looks.

I used to sell my quilts with a tag that suggested immediate laundering so they would become soft and cuddly, but found that some people were afraid to put them into the wash.  So I’ve started washing and drying all the quilts I make for sale because when they are soft and cuddly they seem more attractive to buyers, and that way they get to see exactly what they are getting, instead of buying something crisp and flat and then having it appear differently after it comes out of the dryer.  As well, this gives me a chance to make sure everything is good for the long term before a new quilt goes to its owner.  I have no reason to doubt that it will all hold together of course, but this way I and they know that the quilt has successfully been laundered and they don’t have to worry about doing it from then on.

These were both done with panels on the right side (you didn’t actually think I had pieced all the little funny shapes, did you?) bordered with bright coordinates, and fabric called The Chalk Line on the left.  Words and phrases on everything have become a popular style and, because there was so much to this fabric that I didn’t want to distract from, I did a simple loop stitching pattern just to give it the quilting it needed and to add little splashes of color with the cool variegated thread I am having so much fun with.

 

Jungle Baby

 

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This is a quilt that was custom ordered by a soon to be Gramma who wanted something bright and colourful.  She was really happy to see the jungle print fabric as it fits the theme of the nursery awaiting the arrival of her grandson.  Even the back is wild and fun!

Again, not a lot of piecing, but sometimes with a big bold print fabric, it’s nice to not cut it all up (Ok that is true, but it also supports my well-known-by-now lack of interest in piecing, so I know what you’re really thinking …)

 

I don’t have a lot to say about this one, but I figured I better post something since being away for a few days this month and now getting caught up on projects!  More bright and bold custom quilts to come …

(This quilt has been sold.)

Strip Quilt Variation

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I saw a picture of a strip quilt done with several different colors and patterns – which I would never normally put together – and it had an “urbanish contemporary” look to it, so I wanted to try a similar one.  I decided to use my go-to-easy-9-fat-quarter layout again, which I originally found here, Strip Tango Baby Quilt, and achieve the variations by using some wide strips and some narrower strips, piecing some strips etc.  This layout uses strips that are 4.5″ X 20.5″ so as long as whatever is pieced ends up being a strip that size, it all works!  I grabbed a bunch of fat quarters that were wildly mismatched and this is what happened…

Yay!  I love it!  As much as I’d also love to keep it, it’s available for purchase on my Quilts For Sale page.

The best laid plans

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Let this be a lesson to all me, don’t just skip a step because you’ve “done this before”.

I’m no sewing or quilting teacher, so I don’t write tutorials or make videos showing others what to do.  I can, however, write a blog post about what not to do, just to remind people who might not yet be in their prime in quilting years.  Maybe no one else does this, but if you ever have, you will relate, and if you haven’t yet, watch out for that moment when you think you can save some time by skipping a small step you’re all too familiar with.  In my case it turned out OK, but definitely cost me more time and work than the little step I skipped would have taken!

This was to be a simple design, one block with horizontal strips sewn to the next block with vertical strips and so on across each row, making the end result a quilt top with alternating blocks in each direction.  I believe it’s called a Rail Fence design.  Good plan, always sewing the block with lots of seams onto a straight strip, minimizing the work of matching seams.

Obviously I made the blocks by sewing long strips together and then cutting them down to size, so I ended up with a few more than I needed.  I counted my blocks once they were nicely trimmed and squared up, and decided on the configuration that would use up the most blocks and still be a reasonable shape: six across and seven down.

Then, because I have “done this before” (more than once) I set about stacking the blocks for each row by alternating the horizontal and vertical strips.  Now you’ll notice there is a brown strip on one side of each bock, and other than the alternating of strip direction, I was planning out where the brown strips would end up, so I was going along happily with the brown on the left, then the top, then the right, then the bottom, and back to left, making sure to start the next row in sequence, so the brown would be evenly spaced all over the top.

Once I had each row stacked I decided I was ready to sew the blocks together. I didn’t bother to lay out the rows because I “knew “what it was going to look like and how it needed to go together;  I had “done this before”.  So I completed each separate row, oblivious to the issue I had created and would only notice when it was time to sew the first two rows to each other.

Here’s my glitch: If you have an even number of blocks going across and you are doing a simple one-block-this-way and one-block-that-way design, and you keep the sequence going from one row to the next (because you aren’t laying them out), it isn’t going to work out because each row will start with the same block, or the strips going in the same direction, whatever the case might be.  Of course, this would have been easy to anticipate, and I could have just started each row with the alternating block if I wasn’t already focussed on where that darn brown strip was going to be each time.  Had I taken a minute to lay out even just two rows of blocks, I would have caught the problem, fixed it, and saved a lot of hassle.

As it was, I started pinning the first two rows together and realized that not only was my configuration messed up and I had no idea how it was going to look when finished, BUT every second block join meant lining up 5 seams from each block back to back so that they would meet perfectly and look like they were meant to be that way!  Yes, I could have taken apart seven rows of blocks and fixed it.  But I quickly calculated the time that would take compared to the time I was about to spend matching all these seams and, with the frustration level being equal,  I just went with it.

In the end, the top turned out fine, and without this lengthy explanation of my oversight, it probably wouldn’t be obvious that the whole thing was an error in planning.  I’m really not sure how the brown strips ended up the way they are, but since I piece only to quilt, I wasn’t going to spend too much more time trying to analyze it!  Once the border went on and I was happily quilting, I chalked it all up to a lesson learned.  Thankfully on this one, there was no actual disaster.  But from here on, no matter how familiar I am with the design, I will be laying out at least two rows every time just to make sure!