The auction quilt (The Auction Quilt! I will capitalize it!) has left the building. At least for a week or so, until it comes back to me for binding. And by "left" I mean "is tidily packaged up waiting for me to drop it off tomorrow for the quilter to pick up, only I have to go buy a spool of thread to send with it first," so obviously my entire metaphor is seriously flawed, but whatever, it is ALMOST DONE.
So now, I can talk about it without hyperventilating. Without hyperventilating, & also at tremendous length. Ready?
has been an interesting process for me. The Auction Quilt is a little bit larger than the other ones I've done (70" x 80" finished top) & it's the first one that has been entirely pieced, plus it's going to be auctioned off, so, you know, no pressure, for sure.
To start, each of our preschool graduates drew a picture representing friendship, which I then scanned & printed out on inkjet fabric. Washability is important for a quilt like this, so I chose the EQ Printables Regular Inkjet Fabric from Electric Quilt Company (as recommended in the Purl book), & after some struggles with getting printer & monitor colors to match, was very pleased with the printouts (using Epson inks). Bottom line? I'd use the EQ sheets again.
A few specific comments:
- The fabric initially looks off-white, but after printing, removing the backing & rinsing, is a bright, clear white.
- The Regular sheets are very...crispy. I assume they'll soften some with washing, but I don't know whether that will come at the expense of some color fade. I am not unhappy with the texture for this project (plus, we were able to gang six 5"x5" images with 1/4" seam allowance on all sides onto one 11"x17" sheet, so the Regular was definitely the most economical choice), but if my design depended on more printed real estate, as it were, I think I'd give the EQ Cotton Lawn a try.
- I saw some pretty significant color bleed, particularly in the magenta/purple/brown range, as the sheets were drying after rinse. I got mostly around this by letting the sheets sit longer the recommended 15 mins after printing (up to a couple of hours), then doing an initial room-temp rinse, then a very warm soak with a little Synthrapol, then back to room temp rinsing until clear.
- Probably because I used a warmer than recommended water, I saw about 1/2" shrinkage widthwise across the sheets. Even when sticking to room temp water, though, I was still getting up to 1/4" shrinkage, so I definitely recommend factoring a generous seam allowance with this stuff.
Ok, so, printing aside, the overall plan was 5" art squares, framed with squares of red, blue, or green, then finished out with a linen/cotton blend to make 10" blocks. We ended up with 37 art squares; I made a series of smaller log cabins to go in the center of the remaining 19 blocks. Everything was improvisationally pieced, though eventually (& arbitrarily, it just made things go a bit quicker, plus I loved those specific blocks) I settled on doing sets of 3 when it came to some of the smaller log cabins.
Maybe a quarter of the way into piecing the blocks, I suddenly realized that if I just made the center parts & then chain-pieced the centers onto the linen strips, things would go much much faster. It was revolutionary! Also head-slappingly obvious, & I am grateful that I was only about twenty-five percent done when I figured it out. The way I did it was not particularly thrifty of fabric (though I generally don't worry about this, since all leftovers but the smallest trimmed-off slivers go right into the scrap boxes), but it was an efficient way to get the off-center grid look I was after.
I cut my linen, selvedge to selvedge, into strips of various widths (3", 3.5", 4" mostly, though I did use some 5" strips on the smallest of the non-art centers), & then chain-pieced as many block centers as would fit on one strip. I made sure to leave some blank linen space between the blocks, so I could follow the existing block angle through the linen strip when it came time to cut them apart. Trim, rotate, repeat. I varied the width of linen strips I used based on the size of the log cabin center, so that when it came time to trim the blocks to their final 10.5" square, I had plenty of flexibility in terms of angle & centeredness.
Possibly the most challenging part of the entire project was figuring out the final layout for the blocks. There are three major color groups (reds, blues, greens), & since I was working improvisationally, choosing border colors based on the colors in each child's drawing, I had no particular layout plan other than: "Oh, you know, kind of random. In a cool way." My friend Kirsten worked on it with me, & eventually we came up with something that had 1. a reasonable color distribution of art blocks; 2. a reasonable color distribution of non-art blocks, with careful attention to scattering the three sets of three far enough away from each other; 3. no awkward clumping of art vs. non-art; 4. no obvious color diagonals of three blocks or more; 5. no accidental straight lines. It took us kind of a long time, & Kirsten is very patient, but we got there. Eventually.
(I made sure that this particular square, made by my particular daughter, is prominently placed. There has to be some payoff for all this work, right? Kirsten's son's square got good placement too, but sadly I do not have a picture of his fine, fine, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.)
Here it is, laid out in sandwich form for basting, looking more or less like I first imagined. You might notice that the top is far less bubbly than in the first picture of it above -- after looking at the first pictures I took of it, I fled back to the ironing board to do some serious further work on pressing my seams out. You might also be able to imagine my relief upon discovering that it was my ironing, not my sewing, which had caused the problem.
Tomorrow it goes out to the woman who will quilt it (2" diagonal grid, natural colored cotton thread), & I will have a week to
breathe work on other auction stuff before binding time. When it comes back it will be all grown up into a quilt (Quilt!), & I will have no choice but to sit under it for three days, watching DVDs & handstitching the binding. The sacrifices I make, right?