Monday, January 19, 2015

First time for everything - a QUILT!!

    My brother got married last fall to an awesome girl and I love them both. My girls were flower girls in their wedding, my dad was the best man, my husband and I were both in the wedding party as well and it was one of the most special days of my life. Her family is great too, my mom was of course on cloud 9, everyone was so happy. The toasts were classic, the setting was gorgeous, the band was amazing, the list of awesome just doesn't stop. 
This is my brother and his wife along with my folks, myself and my hubs and our little girls
What a crew. This picture kind of makes me cry. 

    I wanted to do something special for them. One of my favorite gifts from my own wedding was a beautiful quilt sewn for us by a close family friend. So I decided I would make them a quilt.  
    I have also been planning to make quilts for each of my girls. It might change by the time it actually happens, but I picked out a quilt block that I planned to use as the design for each quilt. I like the idea of big designs, so just one massive quilt block. I have the fabric purchased (although I have since been dipping into it for other projects) and everything. So I figured that I would sew those quilts first and I would get some practice in making quilts and I would be an old pro by the time I worked my way onto their wedding quilt. 
    But those practice quilts weren't happening, and as other sewing projects lined up and time kept on ticking by I could tell that if I wanted the quilt to be completed before their five year anniversary, I needed to just START SEWING IT. Because I wasn't going easy on myself for my first ever quilting project, and this was going to take some time. 
    I had my quilt image already mapped out. The first time my husband and I ever met my sister in law, she accompanied my brother on a family vacation to Cape Cod with my folks and ourselves. We stayed at a place called the Lighthouse Inn. It doesn't have a very picturesque lighthouse attached, but the idea of a lighthouse stuck with me as I thought about designs. Currently, the happy couple live in Boston, so I ended up going with the Boston Harbor Lighthouse. It is a cool one, located on a little island off the coast. I used this image as my inspiration:
   I drew this image in a pencil sketch. Then I drew it again trying to make it as simple as possible. The paper I was using was 9 x 11, which was pretty close to 1:10 to the life size of the quilt, which was convenient, so I went with that. I considered making a life size drawing of it. My husband brings home large sheets of paper from work (they are used as packing material for inventory sent to him) which I use for patterns etc. It was three sheets wide for the length and four high for the width. It was absurd to do this though, so I ended up only doing it for the island / base of the lighthouse and again for the skyline and lighthouse light. 
    I did postpone a couple weeks waiting for the big sale dates to line up with my coupons at JoAnn's to go buy my fabric. I had to though. I couldn't not get 50% off of everything. So I finally had all my supplies in hand the week before Thanksgiving.
    But then I could really start! I would measure each piece on my life size drawing and cut out its fabric equivalent with 1/4 inch seam allowance added on. A lot of time was spent measuring and cutting! I also tried to mark places on the smaller drawing where trapezoids and rhombuses came together to make some sort of rectangle so I could keep track of the best order in which to sew all these pieces together.  And slowly but surely, it all came together. 
    I only had to go back to the fabric store once. Not too bad. I had picked up a roll of high loft batting sometime over the summer. I wanted it to be really cozy, so the high loft was exciting for me.
One thing I regret is that I didn't take any in progress pictures. And by the time I finished it (Christmas Eve morning I believe) I had to wrap it up right away so I didn't take too many pics of it completed either. It is gigantic. It ended up being 96" x 93" I believe. Somewhere around there. So a generous queen sized quilt. It will work on a king too, just won't hang down the sides quite as low. 
So I had to stand on the couch and use the panoramic feature on my phone to capture it! 
Here she is:
    The water actually extend down another inch or two beyond what the picture shows

       I had a lot of fun choosing the fabrics for this. I knew I wanted a chevron for the water, but the rest of the patterns were chosen on the fly at the store. You can never tell until you stand there and look at all of the colors / patterns together. I like the theme though of all of the blues and neutrals and the little pop of red on the roofs. (I don't even have closeups of the fabric details! Sheesh. I suppose photography: more of it and better light - is my blogging resolution of the year). I used the same red fabric from the roof to make my own 3" wide bias tape to bind the quilt. I used this tutorial, and was so thankful that I did. It was so clear and was so much simpler than how I would have done it otherwise; a huge time and headache saver. It is hard to see in the picture, because of the rug it is laid out on, but I love the way the red comes back into play with the binding. It also plays well with the backing fabric I chose:

         I just love cherry blossoms. This was the perfect color combo and such a sweet print. I did have to cut a strip of sky off the top and of water off the bottom to sew to the back along with the cherry blossoms in order to not make another trip to the fabric store. Oh well, I still think it came out lovely. 
         The quilting is very simple. Stitch in the ditch style for most of it. Some lines mimicking the way the sky comes together in sunburst styles. I followed the chevron pattern across the ocean a few times. Getting that high loft batting and all those inches of quilt rolled up tight enough to fit in my 6" arm machine was no joke! Phew. Glad that is over. I was looking at quilting machines online after that for kicks and was shocked at the price tag on some of those babies! There are some reasonable ones out there for hobbyists such as myself though, so I am left to mull over what I need more - a serger or a quilter. Fact is, my babylock is serving me well on all projects right now. But if I win the lottery sometimes soon, it will probably be a serger first. Then a longarm! (If we can't dream, what's the point....)
        One thing I would do differently if I were starting over right now, would be add a border. The quilt is so large that if you actually put it on a bed, the island detail is completely draped over the end of the bed and is lost a bit. Oh well again. It's a wrap-around image quilt. Now I will hopefully remember to incorporate that into my measurements for future projects. 
       I do believe there will be future projects. I think garment sewing is still my favorite, but I did catch the quilting bug a bit here. My babylock has a darning plate, so I can go free motion the next time if I'm so inclined. I have 3 more ideas brewing away right now....

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