Finished! Ronan’s Quilt

December 16, 2011 at 7:25 am 2 comments

Getting ready for Christmas!

Getting ready for Christmas!

Way back in March, I had posted a picture of the quilt I was making for Ronan. I had finished Arianna’s quilt to give to her on the day both babies were baptized, and I really did believe that I’d finish Ronan’s quilt shortly thereafter. So here we are, more than nine months later, and hey, it’s done! Obviously, it’s not that I’ve been working on it all this time, just that the small amount of studio time I get these days hasn’t been devoted to this project. I put the borders on over the summer, pieced the back, made the binding, spray basted the quilt, and… stopped. It was mostly fear of ruining this quilt top after all the thread problems I’d had, especially considering how many seam intersections there are in all those hourglass blocks. However, Halloween Buzz Saw was a great confidence builder, so I was willing to venture a try. My guild retreat the first weekend in December was a great opportunity to get a large portion of the quilting done.

Ronan's Quilt, 52" x 52"

Ronan's Quilt, 52" x 52"

I started by stitching in the ditch with the walking foot to stabilize the whole quilt top, which allowed me to start the free motion quilting wherever I wanted to. In this case, I wanted to start with the feathered border. I’d been excited about this border ever since Quilting with Machines, since it was really the only place on the quilt where elaborate quilting would show. I used Robison-Anton #40 polyester thread in a light blue to quilt a Patsy Thompson-style free-motion feather after marking the spine and  a 1″ margin inside the borders, then echo quilted on either side of it using Isacord polyester thread in a light tan. Although I’m happy with the overall effect, I had expected the light blue to contrast with the taupe border fabric enough to stand out slightly, and I expected the light tan to blend in more closely and nearly disappear. Instead, the opposite happened: I think the tan has better contrast with the border fabric than the blue. I can’t call it a failure, not by a long shot, but it’s a learning experience, and hopefully not a mistake I’m going to repeat.

Border quilting detail, Ronan's Quilt

Border quilting detail, Ronan's Quilt

The next section to be quilted was the hourglass blocks. I did have some difficulty getting my free motion quilting foot set properly to deal with the bumps where the seams meet, but I found that switching to the closed circular foot attachment rather than the open-toed one I’d been using solved the problem. It’s a little harder to see around, and it requires an extra step when starting to get the thread ends out, but it glides over lumpy block centers rather than getting hooked on any imperfectly pressed flanges of fabric. There must be a good reason why this is the style of all the longarm feet I’ve ever seen! I think I’ll be using this one from now on unless I’m working on a wholecloth, which isn’t particularly likely.

Since I knew the heavy piecing and busy prints in this section weren’t going to allow anything fancy to show, I kept it very simple:  just some continuous-curve-variation loops. It looks prettier on the back than on the front, and I’ll have to remember it as a filler pattern for the future. However, once again I learned something about thread choice, in that I wish I had made a different one. I used the same fine tan thread that I’d used in the border, which means it vanishes in the light and medium triangles but contrasts highly in the dark ones. In retrospect, I don’t know if the better choice would have been to use a variegated thread, which would have played peek-a-boo throughout all the patches, or to use something that would have contrasted with all the fabrics, like a fine orange thread. I just know I should have used something other than what I did. It’s not terrible, just not right.

Applique quilting detail, Ronan's Quilt

Applique quilting detail, Ronan's Quilt

I’m happier with the results in the applique blocks. I used the fine blue thread from the border and quilted more heavily over the applique than I ever have before, because I didn’t want to take any chances with a little boy peeling off the pieces. The monogram block got an allover freehand mini Baptist fan, which only shows up on the dark letters but looks good that way, and the hearts block has echo quilting inside the appliques and a loop-de-loop filler in the background.

Handprints quilting detail, Ronan's Quilt

Handprints quilting detail, Ronan's Quilt

The large blocks featuring the owl print were left for last, in part because I kept equivocating as to what I was going to do with them. This print has so many large solid open areas that I didn’t want to just do a stipple-equivalent filler pattern, but it has enough busy areas that I didn’t want to get too elaborate, either. I also want to introduce meaning through the choice of quilting design whenever possible. So I traced Dan’s, Ronan’s, and my hands and used our handprints as the primary design, stitching them in orange So Fine #50 by Superior Threads. As this wasn’t enough quilting for these large patches, I then went back in and stitched the loop-de-loop filler in the light blue thread, as well as a heart inside each handprint. I am entirely happy with how these sections turned out. I love the idea that in years to come, Ronan will be able to place his hand over his tiny handprint and see how much he’s grown.

The binding is scrappy, using the longest dark taupe scraps I could find among the leftovers from Taupe Winding Ways. I made the binding over the summer when I finished the top and pieced the back, and I made more than twice what I needed for this quilt:  I have no memory of whether that was a conscious decision or just bad math! Oh well, I know this isn’t the last project I’ll have a use for taupe binding on, so it’s not going to waste.

What’s a Ronan-appropriate happy dance? This was my best guess:


Entry filed under: WIPs. Tags: , , , .

Eastern PA Quilt Shop Hop 2011 Finished! Quilting Retreat Tote

2 Comments Add your own

  • […] I think this project was a solid success. I wanted this quilt to be softer and more pliable than Ronan’s fancy blue and taupe quilt, so thus much less heavily quilted. The batting is Quilter’s Dream Orient, a blend of bamboo, […]

  • 2. FINISHED!!! Finley’s Quilt | Sarah Loves Fabric  |  June 28, 2013 at 8:28 am

    […] wanted to use stash fabric, and I didn’t have an appropriate focus print handy like I had for Ronan’s quilt. However, I didn’t want to make it exactly as written, because as I’ve stated […]


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