My block-of-the-month quilt is at last complete!
Actually it was completed almost a week ago, but since the day I finished it, my husband has come home from China, he’s had jetlag, I’ve had a job decision to make, and so has he, so everything else went on the back burner. But now, my job decision is made (I’m going back to teaching!), his is almost finished except for some points of negotiation, and it’s Sunday, so I have time to post about my new quilt being done!
The finishing was nothing complicated; a simple binding with leftover backing fabric, trimming any threads left over from the quilting, and attaching a hanging sleeve. It doesn’t have a label yet, but that’s because I haven’t decided what to call it. I’m thinking something like, “Quarto in Gray,” to follow the thread of my unusual venture into “modern quilting,” but I haven’t made up my mind yet.
In case you’re wondering, the framed pictures were already in that configuration; I put them up almost as soon as we moved in, two years ago. (I love having lots of pictures on the walls; to me, blank white space cries out to be filled.) The curtain rod where the quilt is hanging also went up just after we moved; I hung it up first, as the centerpiece of this display area, but until this week another quilt has hung there: “Three Churns of the Wrench.”
It saddened me a little to take it down, but it’s good for quilts to rest once in a while from hanging up, if you want them to last. I’ll be stowing it rolled-up to prevent creases, in a place where it can breathe but be safe from pests.
I intentionally designed the new quilt to fit in the space. It’s really brought out the cool colors in the surrounding pictures.
The nightscape in the top left is a Van Gogh print that my father brought back for me from a business trip when I was in college. The girl in the woods on the bottom left is a woodblock print that my husband Aron gave me for my birthday when we were dating. The wizard on the right (whose glory is unfortunately diminished by glare) is a cross-stich piece done by my mother-in-law, Gloria.
And now that “Quarto in Gray” is completed and hanging up, I’ve finally turned my attention to my first vintage-block quilt: Marigold.
Here you can see seven of the twelve blocks, and the corners of the sashing and backing fabrics. All the blocks are the same design, but the colors are wildly different, especially in the solid diamonds that make up the corners of the blocks. Some are pink, some blue, some brown, one black, others red and others green. I knew I would want to put sashing in between them, but it took a while to decide that the best fabric to come between all these colors would be a light gray.
This modern gray leaf-pattern will be the sashing fabric. It goes nicely with the white fabric that forms the background of the blocks, and the gray is mild enough to complement each of the strong colors in the blocks while blending them into a cohesive whole. (I hope.) (The fabric, by the way, is part of Valori Wells’ “In the Bloom” line. I got it at Pennington Quilt Works.)
I had been planning to back the quilt in white, but as I prepared to actually layer the blocks and start quilting, I realized I didn’t want to quilt it in only white thread, and the thought of every detail of my imperfect multi-colored quilting showing on a pure white background filled me with dread. After much deliberation and hair-pulling, I chose this as the backing fabric.I worried at first that the dark gray (somewhat less black than it looks here) would make the quilt too cold and un-homey, but eventually I decided that it really was the best choice if I wanted to use lots of different colors in the quilting. The printed stitch design will only be augmented by the quilting, and it has enough color in it that I don’t think it will make the overall quilt too dark. It should balance out against the light sashing and the colorful blocks really well, and if I have enough left for the binding, it will frame the whole quilt very nicely.
I decided to do this project quilt-as-you-go, so that I could do some detailed quilting on the blocks without wrestling the whole thing through the sewing machine. (I have a Singer Quantum Stylist, an extremely versatile domestic-sized machine that quilts really well, lacking only a deep throat to make it perfect. Someday I will have my own longarm… Someday…) The blocks are about 18″ square, and the sashing will be about three inches wide, so I’ve cut my backing and batting into 21″ squares (which, if you’re doing the math, gives me just a little wiggle room. The sashing may end up being 2.5″ instead…).
I’m building up each block as an individual quilt-sandwich: top, batting, and backing. I use basting spray (best thing ever) to baste the backing square to the batting square, reposition to match up the corners, and smooth it down; then flip the whole thing over and baste the quilt block to the other side of the batting, and add a few curved safety pins to hold the whole thing together. (The basting spray has never given out on me, but since it’s just a temporary adhesive, it would be easy for me to peel the layers apart by accident and have to baste them together again.) The pins will come out one by one as I’m quilting; the basting spray will stay in till the finished quilt is washed.
I have five of the blocks layered now, and I’ll be doing the other seven tomorrow. I should be posting about it again in a few days, once I get started with the quilting. I’m hoping I can get through this project fairly quickly, re-open my Etsy store, and post Marigold for sale!
Oh, and if you’re wondering how my cross-stitch angel has been coming along…
I had it on the frame right-side up, and was planning to scroll down when I was ready to move to the lower part, but then I realized that once I started to put the beads on, it would be impossible (or at least, very inadvisable) to scroll up or down to reach the other parts of the pattern. So, since I was going to have to do it eventually anyway, I took the whole thing off the frame and put it on again sideways (having first made certain that the whole design would fit in the available space that way). This way I won’t have to move it at all to do the rest of the stitching, or to complete the beading. It’s a little disorienting, but as long as I view the pattern in the same orientation as the needlework, I can still see what I’m doing. (No, that is not the original pattern with all the highlighting on it; it’s a smaller copy that I carried around when I was working on this project overseas. The original pattern is still folded up safely in its envelope.)
For the last ten days I’ve been concentrating my attention on the right-hand wing, and as you can see, it’s almost done! (Complex cross-stitch takes FOREVER. But it’s so pretty!)
Updates on Marigold in a couple of days. In the meantime, thank you for reading!