Tuesday, January 24, 2012

the panda quilts: #4: small plates / outfoxed quilt

i don't know when the idea first occurred to me to make my two sisters quilts for christmas - must've been sometime in early november, because that's when i placed my fabric.com order for the outfoxed prints for carrie's quilt.  regardless, at some point i got it in my head that a month and a half was surely enough time to complete 2 twin-sized quilts. i'm not an ambitious person, but this was certainly an ambitious undertaking (considering that most of my weekday hours are occupied by my day job- hence my sewing time's limited to the weekends).

i had purchased elizabeth hartman's "the practical guide to patchwork" book some months ago, and found that the "small plates" quilt pattern really appealed to me. since this was the first official quilt pattern i was following (the others had been more free form and random), it seemed like an easy enough undertaking, and i decided to use it for carrie's quilt.
i fell in love with lizzy house's outfoxed line the moment i saw it, and since carrie loves animals, purple and orange, it seemed like a good starting point for the fabrics. i used a few things from my stash and made trips to textile, joann's and hancock to fill in the rest.

the quilt calls for 80 square-in-square blocks made from 20 different prints and a solid, but hartman suggests a few alternatives (i went with option 3, which makes the same number of blocks using only 10 different prints). i used kona neutral for my solid.
i didn't keep a ongoing tally of my hours spent making this quilt, but it did seem to occupy every spare minute i had. i spent one afternoon doing all the cutting (80 center squares + 80 long strips + 80 short strips. hartman lays out all the cutting instructions in such a clear & non-fabric-wasting manner, so it wasn't that bad). then one night sewing the print blocks. another sewing the solid blocks. and another pressing all the seems open (time-consuming, but totally worth it).

i realized that most of my blocks didn't turn out as perfect 9" squares as called for (a lot were a tad short), so then i had to square up all 80 blocks to 8 3/4".  after posting cries of frustration to the discussion board for the elizabeth hartman flickr group, i concluded that i wasn't using a "scant" 1/4" seam allowance. (hartman personally responded to my inquiry in the discussion thread, which i greatly appreciated).

i spent a few hours laying all the blocks out for the final design. it about drove me crazy trying to come up with the most visually-appealing layout (and trying not to repeat the fabric motifs in the horizontal and vertical rows).  i never realize the extent of my obsessive/perfectionist tendencies until i do something such as this.

at that point i was finally able to sew the blocks into rows, and then all the rows together to complete the quilt top.  phew!
i made the quilt back a few weeks later, since i had to wait on my fabric order. i found a couple of coordinating lizzy house prints from one of her other lines:
(i didn't get a picture of the quilt back before i gave it to carrie, but this is one of the fabrics i used)
rather than basting + quilting carrie's quilt, i decided to start on courtney's quilt top. it was mid-december at that point, and i was kinda thinking that there was NO WAY i'd be able to finish both in time for christmas. i figured i'd rather have 2 incomplete things on christmas day rather than having 1 fully-realized blanket for carrie and nothing for courtney.  (spoiler alert: i got them both finished!)

basting on my kitchen floor went well (although i realized that i don't have the room for anything much larger than twin-sized). for the quilting, i went with straight, outline quilting around all the blocks, and i was able to complete it over the course of an entire day. thank goodness i had the entire week off work, otherwise i would not have finished. i used kona eggplant for the binding.
i was a little apprehensive about washing it, since i had some dark purple fabrics and i hadn't pre-washed the fabric. i scoured the 'net for advice, and washed it cold, gentle cycle with shout color catchers AND a splash of vinegar. probably a little overboard, but it turned out ok.

carrie was speechless when she opened it on christmas, so i take that as a good sign?


Judi said...

Amazing story - amazing work - amazing gifts - by an amazing girl. Keep up the good work.

Tara Celeste said...

I love this! The fabrics and quilt design are perfect :)