Finished at Last, My Gradient Quilt

final design

Finished quilt top

For what is essentially a small quilt (final size 37″ x 20″), it took ages to get this one right. After having to give up on the circles (dots) that were in the original plan, I was pleased to come up with a layout I liked and that used asymmetry and negative space.

With the tough part done, the tougher part was about to begin.  I had been thinking about what to do in the open space throughout the design and construction periods. Although quilting is my least favourite part of making a quilt, I knew I had to step up to the plate on this one. After all, I could hardly feature negative space and leave it blank.

The first thing I took into consideration was that I wanted the diamonds to stand out, and for that I had to densely quilt the background. Did I think of trapunto-ing the diamonds or using a wool batt? Unfortunately, not. Not until the quilt was finished, that is. Hopefully I’ll remember these options next time.

My second consideration was that there was too much negative space to fill with just a single quilting pattern, so I’d have to delineate sections and use a variety of patterns. I uploaded a picture of the quilt top to my computer and, using PowerPoint, drew different quilting layouts.

Three options for quilting the quilt. In the end I used a little of each of these.

Three options for quilting the quilt. In the end I used a little of each.

It was easy to decide what to do for the left side of the quilt since the coloured section ended in mid air. The wavy strips felt free and fluid and I continued with that vibe, quilting wavy lines interspersed with pebbles. The upper-right corner was more challenging. Ultimately I opted to have sections radiate from that corner.

Rather than using straight dividing lines in the top right corner, I echoed the angles of the diamonds by using a zigzag design. Talk about over thinking and trying too hard! It can be difficult to know when less is more versus more being more. On this quilt, I think more quilting is great. More angles? Not so much.

Painters tape indicates where the different quilting patterns will go. Between the orange/red diamonds and the green strip to its right, you can see how the sandwich puckered.

Painters tape indicates where the different quilting patterns will go. I quilted around all of the diamonds first, and you can see where the quilt puckered between the orange diamonds and the green strip to their right.

Generally I quilt from the middle out. This is probably the first time I started by outlining components, then filling in the surrounding spaces. As a result of this strategy, and/or the quality of my basting, I ended up with quite a few unintended ripples and ridges. I was able to fix a number of them by ripping out the quilting stitches in a few really bad areas, holding down and distributing the fabric from the resulting fabric bubbles, and quilting over them. The remaining ripples, however, are noticeable enough that I won’t be able to enter the quilt in competitive quilt shows.

Fully quilted but not yet trimmed.

Fully quilted but not yet trimmed.

The facing on the back of the quilt.

The back of the quilt

After trimming the quilt pretty close to the pieced design, I finished it with a facing instead of a binding or birthing-style finish. This was new for me, as was glue basting the facing before hand stitching the facing down.

Finished quilt against woodI gave DH this vertical quilt. He turned it horizontally, something I had never done, and it’s amazing how different it feels. When the quilt is horizontal the wavy lines in the bottom right corner look like water flowing over pebbles. It’s very peaceful. While it is a known design fact that vertical compositions have more energy and horizontal compositions are more relaxing, it is cool to see this in play.finished quilt horizontal againdt wood

Detail of lower corner

Detail of lower corner

You may perceive two different shades of grey background fabric. This is not a play of light on the photos; it is real and unintentional because I didn’t realize I was using Kona Shadow at times. The whole quilt was meant to have been made in Kona Silver, and the two colours are so alike that it wasn’t until the quilt was quilted that I noticed I had used two shades of gray in the background. Despite the various setbacks and compromises, I’m quite happy with this Gradient quilt. In fact, I’m quite proud of this quilt as long as the viewer doesn’t get too close smiley face - cropped


Is it the Quilt, or its Creator, that’s Cursed?

Can a quilt be cursed? And if it can, is it bad luck to give a cursed quilt to someone as a gift? Such is my dilemma.

I had a free weekend and was desperate to get to my sewing machine. Although I have a decent stash I couldn’t come up with enough compatible fabric to make the quilt I had in mind so I grabbed some charm squares and made a disappearing  9-patch.

12 blocks of a disappearing 9-patch

12 blocks of a disappearing 9-patch

The mostly low-volume fabrics seemed good for a baby quilt, yet to my eye, the edge-to-edge setting was a little overwhelming. My solution was to reduce the number of blocks from 12 to 6, and add borders.

The first try

The first try

What’s wrong with this quilt (above)? Could it be that two-and-a-half-blocks are facing the wrong direction?

This is the same picture as the one above but with the problem areas circled

This is the same picture as the one above, with the problem areas circled

Although I don’t particularly care for this quilt, and therefore didn’t want to invest a lot of time on it, I couldn’t in good conscience gift a quilt with such a glaring error. My stitch ripper became my best friend and I took apart most of the quilt and stitched it back together.

Finished quilt top. Just needs binding.

Finished quilt top. Just needs binding.

As I was sewing the second-last line of quilting in the borders I noticed a little cut, just one thread wide and five threads long, in the turquoise border. I stitched over it crosswise to secure it, and am trying to decide whether to appliqué something to hide the damage.

And then attach the binding. If I have even one more unforeseen problem this may be a dog quilt instead of a baby quilt. That I could gift with tons of errors. Now why didn’t I think of that before?