Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Sarah's Chevron Memory Quilt, Lazy Day Quilt Progress + Pineapple Nostalgia Quilt Back from the Cleaners

Good morning and happy Tuesday, friends!  I have so much to share with you today, so let's dive into it.  First up is a lovely, snuggly flannel-backed Chevron Memory quilt that my client Sarah made in remembrance of her grandmother.

Sarah's Chevron Memory Quilt

70 x 90 Chevron Memory Quilt with Filigree E2E Quilting

Sarah pieced this quilt while working through the flood of emotions following the sudden passing of her beloved grandmother, incorporating some of her clothing into the quilt top and pieced backing as well as new fabrics with novelty print themes that reminded her of her grandmother.  We chose the Filigree pantograph design because it reminded Sarah of her grandmother's lace tatting and I knew it would give Sarah the loosely quilted, old-fashioned feel she wanted for this project.

Sarah's Pieced Backing, Flannels and Regular Wovens, with Filigree E2E quilting

Okay, so when Sarah first reached out to me about this quilt, she warned me that it was only her second quilt ever when she started it three years ago, that it was "full of flaws" and learning experiences, etc.  I was bracing myself for there to be challenges for me to work around -- and then this beautifully pieced top and pieced backing showed up in the mail.  

Once you have poured your heart and your soul into creating something, it is already awesome no matter what may have gone wrong along the way.

Why are we quilters so hard on ourselves?  Why do we insist on believing that everyone else's quilts are perfect, and only our own quilts bear the (extremely minor!) imperfections that are the hallmarks of being handmade?  No one, and I mean NO ONE, has ever made a perfect quilt. There is no such thing.  If anyone is out there reading this right now, thinking that their quilt isn't "good enough" to be professionally quilted, or isn't "good enough" for them to finish themselves, to bring to guild Show & Tell, to enter in a show or whatever, please know this: If you made a quilt, it is already awesome -- not because of the parts that came together perfectly, but because it is a one-of-a-kind handmade work that never existed before, that never COULD have existed without YOU.  

Chevron Memory Quilt, Prior to Quilting

I absolutely love this quilt.  The flannel backing fabrics are as soft as the fur on a puppy's belly, and they are just going to get softer as the quilt is used and washed.  I love the mix of reds, pinks, and neutrals with just that splash of pale blues and teals here and there.  I think Sarah's fabric mix evokes the old-fashioned scrap quilt look she wanted, while still feeling fresh and modern at the same time.  

I recommended Quilter's Dream 80/20 batting (affiliate link) for this quilt for two reasons.  First, I knew that the extra bit of loft coming from the 20% polyester would help to camouflage and take up slack in any areas of the quilt top that had extra fullness and were not laying flat.  But the 80% cotton fibers will still shrink a little in the first wash, creating the soft and puckered antique quilt look that Sarah wanted for her finished quilt.

Filigree E2E Stitched in Omni 40 wt Thread, Natural White

Although I often choose unexpected thread colors for quilting, I went with matte off-white threads for a traditional look with this one to ensure that the fabrics were the star of the quilt, not the quilting stitches.

Omni 40 wt in the Needle with So Fine 50 wt in the Bobbin

I used Omni 40 weight matte polyester in the needle with So Fine 50 weight matte polyester in my bobbin, both from Superior Threads.  These threads have the look of cotton, but are much stronger to withstand quilting through places where a seam in the quilt top might be right on top of a seam in the pieced backing, and the needle might be slamming through six layers of fabric plus batting.  I like the lighter weight thread in the bobbin because more thread fits on a bobbin when it's skinnier thread, lighter weight bobbin threads make it easier to get beautiful tension and stitch quality on a long arm machine, and I like the subtler impact that a lighter weight thread has on the backing fabric, almost as though the quilting design had been embossed.  (For those of you readers who want to try this thread pairing on your own Bernina Q16, Q20 or Q24 machines, I set my bobbin tension to 220 per the owner's manual recommendation and then increased my needle tension to 5.25.  My needle was a size 100/16 Schmetz Universal Pro, my go-to needle choice for quilting computerized pantograph designs).  

Trimmed and Half Bound, Ready for Hand Stitching

Sarah is a quilter after my own heart who enjoys hand stitching binding to the back of her finished quilts, so she asked me to trim her quilt and machine stitch the binding to the front of her quilt rather than opting for a complete machine stitched binding on her quilt.  I hope she feels wrapped in her grandmother's love as she stitches the binding on this beautiful quilt, and every time she uses it thereafter.  Sarah, thank you for trusting me to quilt this special project for you!  I can't wait to see what you'll make next!

PSST!!  I'd Love to Quilt for YOU!

By the way, if you or any of your quilty friends has a quilt top or two that needs quilting, I'd be delighted to quilt for you!  I am currently accepting quilts for January & February of 2022.  Click here to learn how easy it is to book a quilt with me!

Meanwhile, Alex's Lazy Day Quilt is a Finished Top

90 x 93 Lazy Day Top is Ready for Quilting!

I did manage to get the Lazy Day top completed for my nephew's belated college graduation gift, but it's going to have to wait its turn for quilting while I get caught up on customers' projects.  I found the perfect batik backing fabric for this one, a deep navy batik with green, turquoise and purple leaves, and I'll need to piece that with two seams to get the size I need for this quilt.  But first, since it's a dark blue batik fabric, I wanted to test for the possibility of Catastrophic Dye Bleed...

Testing the Backing for Potential Dye Bleed

To test fabric for unstable dyes that might bleed, I snip or tear a small piece of the fabric, put it in the bottom of a clear drinking glass, and fill it with boiling water.  Then I wait 30 minutes or so, remove the fabric, and set the glass on top of a white paper towel so I can clearly see any dye that released from the fabric into the water.  I also squeeze the wet fabric between white paper towels to see whether any dye will transfer and stain the paper towel.  The idea is to subject the fabric to much harsher conditions (boiling water for 30 minutes) in my test than the finished quilt would ever encounter (cold or warm water washing on the Gentle cycle, hopefully).  Now, if this glass of water looked like Easter Egg dye after 30 minutes, I would be prewashing my batik backing fabric even though my quilt top fabrics were unwashed.  The small amount of loose dye that was released in this fabric test is something I'm willing to live with -- such a small amount of loose dye is just going to wash away in the rinse cycle, and I'll tell my nephew to throw a couple of Shout Color Catches into the wash with it to be on the safe side. 

...Speaking of Laundry, My Pineapple Log Cabin Quilt Survived!

My Pineapple Log Cabin Quilt, After Laundering by the Dry Cleaner

My pineapple log cabin quilt came back from the dry cleaners yesterday, where I'd dropped it off for cold water laundering with low/no-heat drying.  I had to take it to the cleaners because it was so big that I couldn't cram it into my washing machine at home, and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get all of the soap completely rinsed out if I tried to wash it by hand in my tub.  Thankfully, my quilt survived!!  

The quilt that measured 120" x 120" prior to quilting now measures 110" x 112" after quilting and washing, representing approximately 8% shrinkage overall.  Most of the fabrics in the quilt top were unwashed, and the backing fabric was unwashed as well, so the majority of the shrinkage in this quilt was likely due to the shrinkage of the fabrics themselves rather than my Quilter's Dream Wool batting.  The quilt is so much softer and feels a lot nicer now that all of the heavy spray starch has been washed out of the quilt top, and I love the way it drapes on the bed after washing.  However, the puckering, crinkly texture of the washed quilt does obscure the edge to edge quilting design.  If the quilt was being entered into a show, it would have been better not to wash it.  But for a bed quilt that is meant to be used, I am much happier with the size and feel of the quilt after washing out all of the spray starch, dust, and whatever else accumulated on the fabrics over the 7 years I worked on this project off and on.

110 x 112 Post-Laundering, Much Better Fit for my California King Bed

As you can see above, the quilt is fitting the width of my California King bed nicely now, but there is excess length folded back at the top of the bed.  My options for sizing were limited by the large size of the blocks (17 3/4") and my preference for a square quilt that could be turned any direction on the bed versus a quilt with borders on the sides and bottom but not at the top.  Also, I went a lot brighter with my colors in this quilt than I'd intended when I started out, and it's not playing as nicely as I might like with my upholstered headboard and drapery panel fabrics.  I could tie everything together better with an assortment of pillows, but then my husband would be launching pillows across the room like missiles every night and I would have to pick them up and arrange them neatly on the bed every morning.  Been there, done that, not sure I want to go there again...  For now, I'm just enjoying sleeping under a handmade, IMPERFECT quilt that I made myself!

Okay, so what's on my quilting agenda for this week?

Tuesday's To-Do List:

  1. Piece backing for Alex's Lazy Day quilt & set aside
  2. Work on LOTS AND LOTS of fabulous customer projectsđź’–
  3. Spend some time purging and organizing in the Spare Bedroom Where Everything Got Dumped, to transform it into the Sewing-That-Is-Not-Quilting Room!

Hey, Rebecca -- What About That Deco QAL?

Oh Yeah, I Was Doing a Quilt-Along!

Now, some of you may have noticed that I haven't said a peep about the Deco QAL that I'm supposedly quilting along with right now, and that's because I'm three weeks behind schedule in the 7-week Quilt Along.  All I've done is the Week 1 part where we planned, picked fabrics (and then I changed my plan, picked a few different fabrics, and prewashed/preshrunk my fabrics).  I have not cut into the fabric at all, and the cutting list for the bed size version I'm making (see mockup below) is DAUNTING, y'all!!  Lots and lots of skinny 1 1/2" strips, for one thing. Those who are keeping pace with the QAL are already making the last bocks for their quilts this week, with U.S. Thanksgiving week as a "catch-up" week next week, but I'm not planning to do a darned thing with my Deco quilt this week.  Because I decided that my sanity and my time is worth investing in with a little splurge right now, a splurge that will help me maximize what I can accomplish with my personal sewing time that is separate from the time allotted to working on clients' quilts.  

My Bed-Sized Deco Quilt Plan

AccuQuilt  (affiliate link) is running some really good holiday promotions right now and I decided to order some of their strip cutting dies.  Although I love Accuquilt dies for cutting curved shapes like Apple Core, Clam Shells, and Double Wedding Ring units, I never really saw the appeal of the strip cutters before because after all, how hard is it to cut a strip of fabric with a rotary cutter and an acrylic ruler, am I right?  But with a 1 1/2" strip cutting die that cuts through six layers of fabric at once, I will be able to cut 15 perfectly accurate strips in a single pass, with no risk of a crooked cut from a sliding ruler, no stopping to straighten up the cut edge before the next cut, etc.  What's more, the Deco quilt pattern uses strip piecing techniques that will let me use the same 1 1/2" strip cutting die to subcut my pieced strips into the smaller units I need to create the checkerboard blocks.  That will dramatically speed up how long it takes me to cut out my quilt AND sew the blocks, because more accurate cuts make for more accurate piecing and less seam-ripping and swearing when things don't match up the way they're supposed to.  In the current climate of delays on fulfillment and transport of consumer goods, I don't anticipate receipt of my AccuQuilt order (shipping from Nebraska to North Carolina) before the Thanksgiving holiday, but I'm looking forward to SPEED CUTTING this quilt as soon as that order arrives!

If you've stuck with me all the way to the end of yet another rambling novel that was supposed to be "just a quick blog post," thank you!  I'm linking up today's blog post with my favorite linky parties (listed on the left hand side of my blog).  Have a great week, and happy Almost Thanksgiving to those of you in the United States!


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

the pineapple quilt turned out wonderful- just the right amount of shrinking and antique look to it - sorry the quilting doesn't show up so much but that is the way they usually are if washed but it looks great.
Sarah's quilt looks great too - and a beginning quilter- one would never have know she did great work - we are always hard on ourselves aren't we - the other bright color quilt looks great too

Ivani said...

Gorgeous pineapple quilt. And the Chevron quilt is also a beauty.Beautiful quilting.

LIttle Penguin Quilts said...

I love the chevron quilt! That's a favorite design of mine and looks so great in all those scraps. Your quilting is perfect for it, too! I so agree with you on not worrying about perfection in our quilts - but we do all seem to want to qualify our work by pointing out the mistakes to others. I'm trying not to do that anymore! Your pineapple log cabin is so beautiful - glad the washing gave it some shrinkage. It looks great on the bed!

Darlene S said...

Sarah did an awesome job on her Chevron Memory quilt. It was certainly made with plenty of love and memories, making it a great comfort and huggable quilt. Your quilting on it is stunning. I love seeing your Pineapple quilt on your bed too! Brilliant.

TerryKnott.blogspot.com said...

I Love Love LOVE Sarah's quilt! What a precious project it is! I'm glad that your pineapple quilt turned out so well from its laundry experience AND I still am intrigued with the QAL although. . .I have done nothing more about it!

Gretchen Weaver said...

Your pineapple quilt looks great on your bed, I bet it's warm too with all the seams. I hear you about pillows on the bed, I have better things to do with my time than to arrange pillows every morning! I'm proud of myself for just getting the bed made every day! Have fun with the deco quilt whenever you get started. Happy stitching!

Sandy said...

Your amazing pineapple quilt is even more gorgeous now that it's washed and on your bed!

Vicki in MN said...

I am glad you got your pineapple to shrink up so you are happier with it. Sarah will remember her grandma every time she sees that quilt or wraps up in it.

piecefulwendy said...

I always learn something from your posts, even if I don't longarm, and your quilts are gorgeous. I have the deco quilt pattern, but haven't gotten any farther than thinking about what colors I'd use.

Linda said...

Oh my goodness I learn SO much from your posts! I know how valuable your time is, and I appreciate you for taking the time to write it all down. Tell your client that is one of my most favorite quilts I have seen! I love her design and fabric placement, and your quilting is just perfect for it.

I love your Pineapple quilt! It looks so pretty on your bed. I need to plan something like that for our bedroom.

Thank you for linking to To Do Tuesday!

Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

Wow, I think it looks great with your headboard and curtains!! Glad to hear it shrunk down to a size that fits--looks just right! And yes, that old pillow-disrepect thing--LOL! I save the throw pillow for the guest bed that is not getting much use, with a pandemic going on!

Marsha Cooper said...

I wish I could make the beautiful quilts that I see along the way in these link ups.
I can only dream of owning a long arm and no where close to having the funds to have them quilted on a long arm by someone else.

MissPat said...

Lots to like in today's post. The edge to edge motif on the the chevron quilt is perfect with the loops softening the edges of the chevrons. It will be a quilt that Sarah will cherish. Glad the pineapple quilt shrunk enough to fit the bed better. I had to laugh though, about your comments on perfectionism. I've read enough posts where you agonized over every seam that didn't match exactly. I fight the perfectionism battle every time, too, so I sympathize completely.

Rebecca Grace said...

Marsha, I understand how you’re feeling. I can assure you that every quilter has felt that way at one time or another, thinking they could never make the beautiful quilts that others are making. The only way you get there is by making the next quilt, and the next one, getting better and better every time. There are so many other options besides long arm quilting. Traditional hand quilting, big stitch hand quilting, hand tied quilts, domestic machine quilting on your own machine either with a walking foot for straight lines or with the feed dogs lowered for free motion. Quilters have made beautiful quilts for hundreds of years before long arm machines were ever invented! Hang in there!

Miaismine said...

The Chevron quilt is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing the batting your used! I have several flannel backings, but was unsure which batting to use.
Your pineapple treasure is so lovely! Congratulations on such a beautiful finish!

Susan said...

Wow! Pretty quilts at your house!

Anne-Marie said...

I was anxiously awaiting the shrinkage report. That's so interesting!

Tracie said...

Rebecca, this blog post is full of eye candy -- I love every quilt! The memory quilt reminds me so much of my own grandma...just love it. Your pineapple quilt is amazing and the shrinkage report surprised me. Thanks for sharing all the details so we can learn from your experience.

The Joyful Quilter said...

Your bed looks very well dressed, Rebecca. I don't think is necessary to be all matchy-matchy and from here, everything coordinates beautifully!

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

Lots of great projects this week! That memory quilt is very special and I'm sure Sarah will love it. Love how beautiful your Pineapple Log Cabin turned out!

Thanks for sharing on Wednesday Wait Loss.