Sunday, December 18, 2011

Three Men Quilting: A Father and Sons Quilting Bee!

Anders, Bernie and Lars laying out blocks for Lars's quilt
With all 150 blocks completed for Lars's Drunken Dragons quilt, I enlisted the whole family to help me determine a layout last night.  We crawled around on the floor in the foyer and everyone pitched in to arange the blocks into a 10 x 15 rectangle, trying not to place blocks with the same fabrics adjacent to one another, and making sure none of our dragons or lizards were placed upside down or sideways. 
Scrappy Drunkard's Path quilt, c. 1910, Michigan, Wonkyworld
Before I recruited the assistance of my menfolk, I played around with a couple of alternate layout ideas.  I considered doing the traditional staggering path layout that gives the Drunkard's Path block its name, as in this vintage quilt at left (featured on the WonkyWorld blog here).  However, when I laid out a few of my own blocks in this pattern, I quickly realized that the success of this layout depends on your fabric having enough contrast in values (each block should combine one "light" fabric with one "dark" fabric so the "path" will stand out in the finished quilt). 

See what happened when I tried this layout with my blocks, made of similar-valued fabrics?  The pathway design disappears and it just looks like a mess.  So, circles it is!  Just as an aside, I should point out that the pathway design would have been a little easier because there aren't as many seams to match when you sew the blocks together, but hopefully my piecing was precise enough that everything will match up nicely for me. 

Here's the final layout for this quilt (drumroll, please...):
Final Layout for our Drunken Dragons quilt
My exuberant puppy dogs were outside while all this was going on, or I'm sure they would have loved to have helped...  :-)

Before I let the dogs in, I carefully picked the blocks up row by row, left to right, and labeled them with sticky notes so I that (hopefully) I won't mess up when I sew all the blocks together.  I also printed out an 8" x 10" picture of the layout that I can use as a map, and I'll be checking that frequently throughout the process to make sure I don't get confused.  If this was a smaller project, like a lap quilt or baby blanket, I would have laid the blocks out on a flannel sheet on a vertical surface in my studio and then I could have taken the blocks down as I needed them -- easier on my knees, and easier to stay organized, but unfortunately impractical this time around.  

I can't wait to get these blocks sewn together so I can move on to layering (yuck), basting (double yuck), and machine quilting (scary-but-exciting, like a roller coaster) this quilt so it can snuggle around my little Lars at night!


verykerryberry said...

The layout is wonderful the colours are so well balanced, what a great family effort, you will all remember that each time Lars has his quilt out!

Turid said...

Lovely father and son quilt. I really love the colours.