My childhood friend Sarah was married last weekend, and I was lucky enough to return the favor of being her maid of honor just like she was for me four years ago. The couple did not want any gifts, but I couldn’t resist making a quilt for the occasion… after I put away my craft table for a couple months, I was itching to start a new project and this was just the ticket. I experimented with a few new “modern” quilting techniques and am really pleased with the outcome. The end result is quite a bit different from my original vision (you can see my inspiration for the red/grey/yellow color scheme blogged here), but it developed organically during the process.
I’ve dabbled a little bit with improvisational methods – I learned how to create wonky letters for Cora and Tali’s cat mats and nautical mini quilt, and wonky log cabins for my extra mini nautical quilts – but this is my first bigger quilt. This quilt never left my mind… whenever I wasn’t working on it, I was sketching as the quilt evolved… and grew.
Originally I wanted a wall hanging or small baby size, but somehow it grew to the finished 50 x 55 size!
Let’s start in the middle, since that’s where I began too. I went through a few different ideas for the central message… Unity (reference to Unitarian Universalists), Bliss (as in wedded), Merge (too weird), etc… but in the end, it felt like too much of a “statement.” I liked the mirror image of the initials S and Z, so I went with that.. and a little patchwork heart in the middle (easy tutorial found here). I’m still learning how to control the wonky words (inspired by Word Play, by Tonya Ricucci) and play with the balance of color.
I thought I would do all red, but it was looking too boring, so the initials became yellow. The S turned out way bigger than the Z… so to balance it out a bit, I added a scrap (cut off from the 3 below) on the Z side. That addition actually led to the inserted squares later on in the borders… this quilt definitely evolved as it was created!
Next comes a border of “stitch and flip” blocks (inspired by Quilting Modern, by Jackquie Gering and Katie Pedersen). They’re basically wonky half square triangles, which you know I love (here’s an example of my HST obsession).
I used a random combination of yellow and cream background squares and red scraps. These also ended up bigger than anticipated… I was originally envisioning a narrow border, but two rows of 4.5-inch squares were a lot easier to manage. Plus I like the look… you can see that the “zig zag” pattern wasn’t consistent up top, but I’m fine with some imperfections.
Next came the cornerstone blocks – wonky log cabins with fussy cut centers (cats!). Here again, my original plans adjusted as I went along. Instead of log cabins around the entire border, I just made four for the corners. I used randomly cut strips of red and yellow, with fussy cut images of cats in the centers. This was my favorite part of the quilt top!
I really had a lot of fun putting the log cabins together – I loved playing with the colors and not having to worry about being too precise. They’re not as “wonky” as the inspiration from Quilting Modern, because I didn’t worry about creating angles and just added strips regardless of the width.
To connect the corners, I brought in more grey from the background as borders. I didn’t want huge swaths of grey so I inserted two rows of squares on each side.
Easy peasy, and I love how it brings everything together. And then the quilt top was all done!
When it comes to finishing up a quilt, I can admit it… I’m scared of binding. I will do almost anything to avoid it… so I avoided it entirely with my favorite pillow case method… and let me just say it upfront: it was NOT a good idea with a bigger quilt! It works quite well for quilts up to a baby quilt size, but it just doesn’t give enough leeway for shifting fabric during quilting. I dealt with some major bunching issues and it was not pretty… boo! It’s just so upsetting to put so much work and effort into a quilt top, only to have it marred with bunching and wrinkles that will never iron out.
But anyway, that’s what I did: layer batting on bottom, then backing and quilt top right sides together (the quilt top will be on top, with the right side down), then pinned all layers together (Cora helped).
I sewed a ¼-inch seam all around, leaving a 5-inch gap for turning. After trimming the edges flush and clipping the corners, I turned the right side out. I poked out the corners and sewed another ¼-inch seam all around to close the gap.
For the quilting, I drew inspiration from Crazy Mom Quilt’s honeycomb quilting.
Whew! This quilt was quite a journey, but I really enjoyed putting it all together for the occasion.
I was going for modern and unique, just like my lovely lifelong friend. Congratulations again, Sarah and Zach!
I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it Up Friday.