August 2013

One of Mr. Pirate's nieces is expecting and a baby shower is this coming weekend. I had a baby quilt pattern all picked out. I was about to pull the fabrics for it when I came across a blog at "Lovin' Life at the End of the Dirt Road". She was talking about a baby quilt she had just finished using a Moda line called "Oink a Doodle Moo". Now honestly, how could you possibly resist such a name? Yep .. the name of the fabric line caught my fancy so I tracked it down.

Even better than having a complete fabric line to choose from, there is also a panel print of 6 barnyard blocks. Now, as much as I disdain "cheater" quilts, this one is too cute to pass up! Using the quilt shown in the "Lovin' Life at the End of the Dirt Road" blog post as an inspiration on use of the panel print, I designed a quilt for Mr. Pirate's niece.

Constructing the Center Medallion

My original thought was to use a three-dimensional pinwheel instead of her 9 patches. Allegedly, babies like textural and three dimensional stuff, so the 3D pinwheels might be just the ticket. A terrific tutorial is available at "Pumpkin Patch Quilter". I thought one BIG block with ONE pinwheel would be a good idea.

I made a mock-up to test it out. Construction was easy but the resultant block turned out to be *very* heavy. Each block is made like a 4-patch. Not only do you have the base fabric for each segment but you also have the fabric for the pinwheel. The center intersection was *very* thick ... not even furling the seam allowances on the back would make this a flat spot. Additionally, the one big pinwheel is VERY big. Since I was going to put these pinwheels between the panel blocks, I was concerned that the pinwheels might completely overwhelm the panel blocks. I abandoned the idea, as cute as it seemed.

Instead, I alternated a 4-patch of (pieced) pinwheels and the panel blocks. This actually turned out to be much cuter than the one ginormous 3D pinwheel idea. The smaller pinwheels were a much better counterpoint to the panel blocks. Being pieced, they were completely flat (I'm so proud of me!) and would be easy to quilt.

The Border

"Lovin' Life at the End of the Dirt Road" had a lovely, lovely border. It's really, really cute but might be a tad more involved than I have time for. After all, not only do I need to construct the top but get it quilted and bound by *this weekend* ... 6 days away.

What I *did* find was another darling border at the Moda Bake Shop. It's the woven border (#1). I am changing it a bit: the Moda Bake Shop sample is a multi-colored background with a solid "ribbon"; I am doing exactly the reverse ... my background will be my white fabric and the ribbon will be different colors.

Generally speaking, I don't mind sketching out pattern layouts and figuring out the math for the required pieces. I get a pretty satisfied feeling when it comes out looking so well. :-)

And then there are the times when it doesn't. It's really annoying when math fails ... (as opposed to *me* not doing the arithmetic correctly, but *that* couldn't possibly be the problem, could it?)

If you look at the center medallion, you can see that there are (3) blocks horizontally and then a narrow border.

I'm putting on a border like this:

I want those border segments to be evenly distributed across the blocks and need to take into account the narrow border in the measurements. This really is not a problem.

I took the measurements, figured out what the finished border segments would be, and added on the seam allowances.

Did I mention that I have LIMITED amount of the white background fabric? It was truly a remnant from my stash .. not even yardage. Pretty stuff, though. I have NO idea where I got it. It's not even quilting cotton. After very careful calculations, I determined that I would have JUST enough of the white fabric for my needs. What could go wrong? :-)

Then I started cutting the fabric. In order to be more efficient, I cut the white fabric for the top & bottom border at the same time, since they are the same measurements.

Carefully, I sewed the border segments together. Carefully, I pressed the seam allowances to one side, then the other so they would nest. When the top border was sewn, I matched it up to the quilt top.

The border was short. WHAT?!?!??!!? WHAT DO YOU *MEAN* THE BORDER IS SHORT!??!?!? Impossible! I measured carefully! I calculated carefully! I cut carefully! I sewed carefully! I pressed carefully! Impossible! In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

And yet ... there is was: reality was staring me in the face. Clearly, my border segments were NOT the correct size. And even worse, I've replicated the problem for the bottom border because I've already cut out those pieces. Ay carumba. There might have been some stamping of feet and less-than-ladylike words spoken.

I could not afford to discard what I had sewn ... there wasn't any excess of the white background fabric. So, a Frankenstein workaround was devised: I would simply add on a small segment to the ends of the border row to take up the slack. It mostly looks OK. Careful inspection would reveal that the colored fabric pieces are NOT the same size throughout the border but since the size discrepancy is relatively small, I don't think it stands out (too much) like a sore thumb.

The expectant Mom is not a seamstress. I sincerely doubt that she will even notice the problem. And let's face it: this is a baby quilt. I do hope it will be used regularly and laundered frequently. It's definitely not a show quilt. While I *do* try to do my best on every quilt I make, this one really got messed up. I've certainly made lemonade out of that lemon ... and that's the best I can do at this point.

I progressed onward with the rest of the border pieces. I am prepared to be paranoid with my measurements.

So here I am, working on the side borders. And dagnabit ... one of them came out "not exactly correct" either. Obviously, my one remaining brain cell is misfiring. This is very annoying. And remember .. I have a limited amount of the white fabric.

But, pressing onwards, because I really do want to get this top completed soon so I can start quilting soon.

I re-calculated the remaining side border pieces and cut them out. Uh oh. Something is seriously wrong.

Remember that I had a LIMITED amount of the white fabric? Well, that "limited amount" has now become ... none. As in, I've run out of the white fabric. I still have 2 border blocks to make and 2 corner stones. See that bloody mark on the wall?? That's where I've been hitting my head.

Well, my Mama didn't raise no quitter, so I Frankensteined another solution for the 2 border blocks but there was NO magic solution for the 2 corner stones.

What I eventually ended up doing was using a plain white fabric for those 2 cornerstones. Luckily, if you squint just right and have less than adequate lighting conditions, I don't think you'll notice that 2 of the cornerstones are a completely different white fabric than the rest of the quilt. ::sigh::

In this photo, the red arrow points to the segment I inserted to make the top & bottom borders fit the center medallion. I was that much too short on both ends.

The blue arrows point to the segments I needed to insert on one of the side borders to make it fit correctly. I thank my lucky stars that I did everything right for the other side border. Luckily, I was able to find enough pieces of the white fabric leftover to make these segments.

The green arrow points to the corner block that is made from a completely different white fabric. If one were to look closely, one would see that two corner blocks are of the original white background fabric and two cornerblocks are of this "other" white fabric. So, yeah .. take a close look at the photo of the entire quilt. I'm sure you'll spot these areas immediately.

It was the best I could do, seeing as this quilt needs to be completely finished and gift-wrapped in 4 days.

The Quilting

On to the quilting .. which THANK GOODNESS .. was completed without any complications at all!!

I had on-hand a yellow/brown plaid fleece blanket of just the right size. I found this blanket (and some others like it) during an end-of-seaon sale last year ... they were $2.50 each. Man, you can't even find yardage for that price!

All the horizontal and vertical seamlines were stitched in the ditch. The pseudo-seam lines of the panel prints were also stitched in the ditch. This not only defined the areas but served to stabilize the top so I could come back and quilt the individual blocks later.

The border got a scroll:

The pinwheel blocks got a free-form flower and leaves

and the objects in the panel (pre-printed) blocks were outline stitched.

I made multi-colored bias binding from a strip set using all of the fabrics in the pinwheels.

And you just can't call it a proper quilt until the Quilt Inspector takes a gander at the workmanship.