Last weekend, I made a quilt from start to finish! It felt like my little quilting version of Project Runway or Top Chef. There are lots of advantages and disadvantages to this weekend quilting frenzy. But let’s start at the beginning.
We had a baby shower to go to on Sunday afternoon…which we’ve known about for a few weeks. When we got the invitation, Pat asked me if I would want to make a quilt for the baby shower. To which I said, “In just a couple weeks…not really enough time, I have other things going on.” I can definitely make a quilt in a couple of weeks but we were wrapping up all our spring sports events and had weekend plans and it just seemed like I didn’t need to add that to my plate.
Fast forward to the Friday before the baby shower and Pat and I were talking about what we were going to bring. (Pat’s not usually this interested in baby shower gifts but the new dad was a good family friend of his. And it was a BBQ baby shower to which our whole family was invited.) I started wondering if I could actually make a quilt in time. I had no Saturday afternoon plans and a free Sunday until the baby shower. Gears started turning.
Saturday morning, we took the kids kayaking. When we got home, the kids ran off to their iPads and Pat ran off to play golf with friends and I started looking through my fabric for something that would make a quick quilt.
The beauty of not having a lot of time to make this quilt is that I didn’t have a lot of time to think about things. I had to make decisions quickly and be ready to move on to the next step as soon as I was done the previous one. I think that was an advantage with this quilt. Sometimes I think and think and think about what the “perfect” fabric would be whereas in reality, several of my choices would have worked. In the end, I was happy with my fabric choices on this quilt and I was glad I could make do with what I had on hand.
I was trying to figure out the quickest quilt to make with the least amount of piecing. I pulled out an Out to Sea map panel that had been sitting around waiting for me to make it into a pillow. It was actually two panels across the width of fabric and as soon as I realized that, Eureka! – I had my plan. I decided on a simple patchwork of nautical fabrics and colors with the panel about 2/3 of the way down the quilt. The baby’s dad is in the Navy and baby’s mom grew up living near the water so I thought this would be a great theme for them. Plus I loved the fabrics and was glad to get to work with them again.
Then I got to work! I figured out how many 5″ squares I needed and started cutting. I cut more than I needed, figuring I would have enough for another quilt and plenty of different squares for the arrangement. Once I was done cutting, I actually let the kids arrange them on the dining room table for me. I figured I was killing two birds with one stone…they were having fun, I was able to spend a few minutes playing fetch with the dog and the quilt was still coming along. (I guess that was three birds.)
After making some adjustments to the kids’ work, I didn’t like it. It wasn’t their work I didn’t like but the fabric that had looked great piled up around the panel now looked way too busy. I was frustrated because I wanted to be working faster and didn’t want to have to rethink my plan. I almost just started sewing it together the way it was for time’s sake. But the more I looked at it, the more I knew it was wrong. I decided to add some white squares. It took a little more time to cut the fabric and adjust the layout but as soon I saw the white mixed in, I knew it was the right choice. The eye needed a little break from all the pattern and it also made the colors pop even more.
Time to start sewing. I got all the rows sewed together by 6pm. (I had started at 1pm.) I was thinking I would get the quilt top done and finish the rest on Sunday, but we got invited to friends’ house for dinner. And I hadn’t really changed out of my kayaking clothes or taken a shower so I thought I should make myself presentable and take a break from the sewing.
Sunday morning, I was up at 7 to get started again. The dog helped out with that…she’s not really a big fan of sleeping in. But she wanted me to take her for a walk at one point so I had to take a few breaks. Plus, the kids actually thought I should feed them breakfast. But, I finished the top and moved onto the backing. I didn’t have a lot of options for the back as I don’t have a lot of larger yardage cuts sitting around. But I had a few that I could piece together and make a back. And I picked a fabric for the binding in record time and before I had even quilted it.
While I was making my binding, I stupidly left the quilt top on the ironing board and just ironed over it. At one point some water bubbled out of the iron onto one of the red pieces of patchwork. And the red started bleeding onto its white polka dots and onto the adjacent white square. I hadn’t really thought about the red bleeding and was not planning on washing the quilt before gifting it. But now, I realized I would have to wash and dry the quilt and hope the color catcher worked. I thought it might be tacky to gift the quilt along with a bunch of color catchers. And I really hoped the color catcher would work and my white would no longer be pink.
I thought I had to wait until noon for JoAnn Fabrics to open because I had no basting spray and I had some batting but it would be a lot easier if I just got one in crib size. Turns out they were open earlier than I thought so I got my supplies and came back to work. I went pretty minimal on the quilting. Horizontal lines on either side of the seam. I didn’t do anything through the panel except a horizontal line at the top and bottom. This is where the lack of time was a disadvantage. I would have put more thought and probably more quilting on this quilt but I just didn’t have time. And my tension was giving me such a hard time, so it is not the greatest quilting. I still don’t know what was wrong with it. I cleaned out the lint and re-threaded and used a different bobbin and re-threaded and re-threaded and adjusted the tension and re-threaded and adjusted the tension again. There are some questionable lines of quilting, but only one did I have to rip out. However, with more time, I would not have moved on until the quilting looked good.
And finally, I was ready to add the binding. I normally hand-sew the binding onto the back but (deadline!) I decided to use a zigzag stitch and I really like how it came out. The corners were tricky but other than that, I think it came out well.
Into the washing machine on quick wash and then into the dryer. It was not dry by the time we needed to leave…still damp. And it was raining out so I couldn’t even roll down the windows for a little breeze. I just spread it out in the car on the way there and I think it was pretty dry by the time we got there.
I was actually kind of sad not to be able to spend a little more time with this quilt. And I didn’t get to take any pretty pictures because a thunderstorm was rolling through and I needed to snap some shots fast. The baby shower was held at a great little house on the water. Would have been a great place to take some pictures of the quilt but the BBQ baby shower was a lot more BBQ than baby shower…which was pretty fun.
And that is quilt-in-a-weekend. When Casey realized on Sunday morning that I was planning to have this quilt finished for the shower she said, “Oh Mommy…don’t worry, we’ll leave you alone so you can finish this!” Great feeling of accomplishment with a little bit of crazy mixed in!
The Out to Sea map panel is still available in a few online stores, so I think I’ll be making this quilt again. Just need to take a few days off first.