FINISHED!!! Finley’s Quilt

June 28, 2013 at 8:28 am Leave a comment

Finley outside

Finley on her quilt, Nixon Park, 6/22/13

I managed to finish Finley’s quilt before she was four months old!

Finley's Quilt

Finley’s Quilt, 2013, 53″ x 53″

I can technically claim I started this quilt while in the process of giving birth to her. When I was in a holding pattern at Labor and Delivery, hooked up to the monitors with my IV started, I found myself all worked up with nothing to do. I had filled out all the forms they had given me; I had handed off my phone to Dan so it wouldn’t go missing (no pockets in a hospital gown, go figure); and I had no one to talk to, because Dan and my parents were working out the logistics of who would be with Ronan at various points throughout the day’s events. So, to keep myself amused and centered, I started to do math longhand.

Fons & PorterI had seen this Rolling Stone quilt (Emeralds, by Mary Fons) on the cover of Fons and Porter’s Love of Quilting magazine, and thought it would be perfect. I 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 previously, I try to avoid the “corner cutter” methods when possible; I find them to be wasteful of fabric, and I’m an accurate enough piecer for my purposes that I don’t need to avoid cutting triangles. So I did my calculations for the pieces I would need to cut, and kept my mind largely occupied until they were ready to wheel me to the operating room.

quilt notesNeedless to say, I didn’t start to actually cut and piece the quilt until Finley was a few weeks old. Since I was making thirteen blocks, I pulled twenty-six pink and purple fabrics from my stash and cut 2 rectangles and 2 square-in-a-square pieces from each. Then from half of them, I cut an additional square for the block centers. I cut the background triangles and rectangles from eight light taupe fabrics, and then pieced everything together into component units. I didn’t plan the individual blocks until I had already pieced all the square-in-a-square units and rectangle squares, so when I laid out the blocks (my favorite part!) I couldn’t always achieve my goal of keeping similar fabrics as far apart from one another as possible. Still, most of the blocks avoid repeating fabrics.

design wall 1

That’s not it…

Originally, I had imagined using another light taupe for the setting triangles, but when I actually tried it on the design wall, it really washed out the blocks. From there I tried a taupe and wasabi green floral on a light background, and if anything, that was worse. But that inspired me to try a very odd fabric that I’d bought some time ago to coordinate with some of my dark taupes that had wasabi green highlights. It’s from the Odyssea collection by Moda, and as soon as I put it up on the design wall with the blocks I knew I had a winner.

design wall 2

That’s it!

The only downside was that I didn’t have enough for the corner triangles. However, even that became an opportunity because it gave me a place for applique. This was the only new fabric I bought for this quilt, as I didn’t have a tone-on-tone or solid in the same green. Searching for that was the impetus behind Finley’s and my first Mommy-daughter trip to the fabric store.

Finley JoAnn's

She was great until I got to the cutting table, then melted down.

I appliqued Finley’s initials, as I had done with Ronan’s quilt, in the upper left corner, and used the remaining three corners for her birthdate and two swirly hearts based on the design on a yoga t-shirt I have. In the interests of time I just did fusible applique with a mini zigzag in matching thread, and then quilted the daylights out of them. Those appliques are not going anywhere.

Applique detail, Finley's Quilt

Applique detail, Finley’s Quilt

I managed to finish piecing the quilt before my maternity leave ended April 8th and I went back to work. I used the rejected taupe and green floral for the back (after all, it matches!) using the remnants of the green from the corners and a rejected green pin dot to stretch it to fit. The quilting was a mix of my old standbys and some new techniques; I did freehand flowers and leaves in the pink and purple rectangles and square-in-a-squares. I wanted to emphasize the illusion of circles created by the straight line piecing of the Rolling Stone block, so I quilted freehand feather wreaths in the center of each block, marking only the circular spines. I then filled in the other background shapes with pebble filler. I quilted the setting triangles with a 60-degree grid of serpentine lines, using the centers of the flowers in the fabric print as my guides. The corners got freehand mini Baptist fans with strings of pearls in the applique.

Quilting detail, Finley's Quilt

Quilting detail, Finley’s Quilt

I left the center squares unquilted, both to avoid obscuring the print and because I couldn’t decide what the best design for them would be. I’ve been heavily influenced lately by Wendy Sheppard’s Ivory Spring quilting blog; she does gorgeous, creative, prolific work on a domestic sewing machine. She frequently leaves much larger pieced areas unquilted than I’m used to seeing, adjacent to elaborately quilted designs, so I thought I could do a lot worse than to emulate this in my own work. As of now, I think it’s successful! And there’s the additional advantage that if at any future point I change my mind, I can always add more quilting. After all, I learned my lesson from Alice in Wonderland:

`I’ve had nothing yet,’ Alice replied in an offended tone, `so I can’t take more.’

`You mean you can’t take LESS,’ said the Hatter: `it’s very easy to take MORE than nothing.’

I finished the quilt with a binding with inserted rickrack, using Susan Cleveland‘s technique, as I thought it added an appropriate element of whimsy.

Quilting and binding detail, Finley's Quilt

Quilting and binding detail, Finley’s Quilt

And the quilt was done in time for Show & Tell at the June quilt guild meeting, a full week before Finley turned four months old. I think a happy dance is in order, don’t you?

I’ve gone to the Silly Symphonies well before for these video links, and this one from 1933 is esthetically beautiful, delightfully bizarre and, appropriately for this post, baby themed:

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Entry filed under: New Projects. Tags: , , , .

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