Finished this quilt a couple of days ago, now. Although a very simple quilt, I find it’s simplicity appealing and I’m happy with how it turned out. I particularly like how the two narrow borders frame the inner panel bringing out the darker greys and highlighting the golden colours in the batik fabrics.
Nine Shades Of Grey
I’m happy with the back as well. Finding a way to use the small half-square triangles along with the cornered blocks was satisfying.
NIne Shades Of Grey – Quilt Back
I elected to bind the quilt in the same fabric as the wide outer border so the binding would be relatively invisible. I also didn’t use a decorative stitch to apply the front of the binding – I just straight stitched it down – harder to do accurately than working with the decorative stitch which is more forgiving! But I didn’t want to introduce any distracting detail into the overall simplicity of the quilt.
I finished the quilt on Thursday – quilted the last four squares and the border, then added the binding and label.
Magic Squares IV – Quilt Top
Final Size: 51.5″ x 62.5″ – largish for a throw but useful to keep at the bottom of a bed to use when it’s cold.
The quilt back:
Magic Squares IV – Back
I had four blocks left over which I bordered and inserted into the backing fabric. I was pleased with how the backing echoes the dark teal feel of the quilt top and the inserted rectangle stands out nicely.
People ask “How long does it take to make a quilt like this?” It’s not an easy question to answer particularly since in this case I was working on another quilt, making a gazillion zippered bags and sewing other things.
I started this quilt somewhere around Nov 10 when I started sewing jelly roll strips together, cutting the panels into squares in preparation for the sewing retreat (Nov 14-17) where I assembled the “magic squares” blocks. I got to laying out the squares on Dec 2. On Dec 5, I created the top panel by adding the sashing. On Dec 6, I added the outer border. Sometime during the next several days (while I made more bags, finished knitting a pair of men’s socks, worked on and finished the second “fish” skinny quilt got some baking done), I created the quilt back. I began quilting it a week ago – the quilting took three days finished on Dec 25. Binding the quilt took a morning; I added the label that evening – Dec 26.
So you could say I worked on the quilt for 6-7 weeks, but the actual working time was much less – probably not more than 10-12 days.
And now I’m quilting “Nine Shades Of Grey” which is going quite quickly. My goal is to have this second quilt finished before Dec 31. I think I will make it.
Top done! I finished the sashing early this afternoon and just this minute finished the border with mitres all done properly the first time! And you can see from the photo that I managed to get the sashing to intersect well – that’s tricky on a quilt like this because all of the block outer edges are on the bias and therefore stretchy. To make sure I’d come close on size I carefully cut all the sashing pieces the same length and then eased the quilt block edges into place. The quilt top is square.
Sashed And Bordered!
It’s too bad really that I can’t capture the vibrance of the batiks with my iPhone camera – the quilt top is a lot brighter than it looks here. I’m much happier with the final panel than I thought I’d be – the light sashing toned down the 4-strip block corners and the border ties the many colours together, making the panel overall less red/green and more turquoise.
Now I need to construct two quilt backs – one for this quilt (I have lots of leftover half-square triangles with which to work), and another for the grey/gold quilt (and I have leftover blocks there as well).
So marching along with both projects at the same time.
I completed the panel sashing this afternoon. The light fabric tones down this “quilt of many colours” somewhat. Now I need to add a narrow border using the sashing fabric to frame the panel. (Here’s what it looks like without the sashing.)
Quilt Of Many Colours
Then a border – I found this batik fabric in my stash a couple of days ago – it wasn’t the fabric I was originally planning to use to frame this panel but I think a 2 1/2″ border of this dark teal might just bring the colour hodgepodge together – fingers crossed.
Possible Outer Border
I plan on looking again through my stash – there may yet be another largish piece of fabric that works with the panel although I don’t see any in my mind’s-eye. I may even take the panel shopping to see if there is a fabric that says “take me.”
Yesterday, I gave away my “Fish” banner to a friend. Last evening, I dug out my remaining fish and this afternoon, I found some ombre fabric that might work well with them to create another skinny quilt/banner. It’s a quick and easy project to fill in my wall art collection for this year’s showing in Parrsboro. I lost close to three months of sewing/quilting time this summer with my fractured wrist. I’m trying to catch up so I have enough new creations to show.
And while I’m at it, I will have a go at another couple of these skinny quilts – however, not until the two throw quilts I’m working on are finished – I try to complete one piece at a time before starting something else – that way I don’t have unfinished projects sitting around. I don’t know how other quilters live with a closet full of UFOs – I need closure.
So I will get the Magic Squares Quilt IV top done in the next day or two, then set up backs for both the grey/gold and this quilt and get both of them quilted – I’m aiming for end of December.
I thought this would be a relatively quick quilt top – simple enough to work on at the sewing retreat a week ago. I began with leftover jellyroll strips – sewed them in groups of four – that yielded a width of 8.5″ – I cut those 4-strip panels into 8.5″ squares. That’s what I took with me to the retreat. While there I arranged two blocks right sides together with the stripes in the two blocks at right angles, stitched around the edge, then cut in four along the diagonals – that gave me blocks with a diagonal – two strips of fabric on one half-square triangle, four strips on the other.
Although the four-strip pieces were colour coordinated, what I didn’t bargain for was the lack of colour coherence in my blocks. I tried several random placements but nothing worked.
I came across a layout that nested bordered squares giving me three sides of a block butted agains three sides of another block – but the layout was just a jumble. There was no obvious colour flow at all.
Several attempts later, I decided to group four blocks into larger blocks with an internal square on-point that would stand out. That organized the colour somewhat but overall the top was still a jumble.
This afternoon I stopped at the fabric store to pick up fabric for backing the grey/batik quilt and came across a Northcott Stonehenge fabric: Monogram-Lichen
Perfect for creating sashing between the blocks. The sashing will lighten the whole, mute the strips outside the on-point square at the centre of each block, highlighting the central square.
I’ve cut out the sashing pieces – now to sew the whole thing together. Can’t wait to see how it will turn out.
The way I quilt I’m never sure how anything will look until I see it emerging. I may start with a known quilting technique – in this case half-square triangles created from 2.5″ strips sewn four together then cut to form 8.5″ blocks….
In this quilt top I let colour rule itself with unanticipated consequences. However, I think I’ve found a way to tame the assembly. We’ll see once I get the sashing sewn to the blocks and the large top panel put together in another couple of days.
Even experienced quilters from time to time make fatal mistakes – I made one two days ago. I’d finished assembling the blocks for the grey/batik quilt top and had found fabric for the borders. I set up the borders by sewing a narrow gold strip (.25″) to a grey strip (.75″)and both to a wider (3.5″) outer pale grey strip. My plan was to mitre the corner, not by doing each strip separately but by doing them in one mitre.
I added my compiled border to the sides – no problem. I added the border to one end, successfully executed the corner on the bottom left side and then began working on the right bottom corner mitre.
Mitred Bottom Left Corner
My mistake wasn’t in sewing the mitre – although I drew the 45° angle line in the wrong direction and stitched it along the line. No that wasn’t my fatal mistake. My fatal mistake was trimming the seam before opening the corner to confirm I had it laying flat!
How stupid was that.
So when I went to press the mitre I discovered it curled over the quilt corner rather than lying flat.
Screwed Up Mitre – Bottom Right
I unstitched the seam and thought about reattaching the cut….
There was absolutely no way to fix this mess except by going back to the original fabric joins, rebuilding the binding on two sides and creating a new mitre. Which is what I did – the next day!
Fixed Bottom Right Mitre
I correctly executed the remaining two mitres – checking each when I pressed them BEFORE trimming the mitred seam.
Finished Quilt Top
The lesson – check and press, before trimming a mitred corner – I can always take a seam out, press it flat and stitch it in the other direction if I haven’t cut off the excess.
This project is totally unexpected – I thought I was starting a much larger quilt by building a central block on which I was going to improvise further. The responses I got to the panel were interesting, however – suggesting this was a complete piece as it was.
Worth considering. If it was a piece on its own it still felt unfinished to me – I thought it needed another narrowish border. After auditioning quite a few fabrics from my stash I decided this wild, vibrant batik (which I used in the blocks themselves) was precisely what the emerging piece needed.
I mitred the corners because if this is a wall art piece it needs the finesse of mitres and I’ve overcome the butted piecing of the grey border by stitching in the ditch in both directions creating the illusion of squares in the corners.
I’m not finished stitching in the ditch – I stitched the borders and began on the diagonals. I will continue that tomorrow, emphasizing the squares on-point and the triangles.
It’s so interesting how I start in one direction and find I’m actually going in another – totally unexpected, and yet interesting. It’s about colour, it’s about shape, it’s about visual impact.
I’m not going to do a standard quilt binding – definitely a hidden binding since the outer border stands comfortably alone. The challenge will be establishing a seam allowance that successfully fudges the slight shortfall in a few spots and yet manages to catch the border fabric so it won’t pull out and fray and leave enough width to the border for it to look even.
We’ll see where this goes.