Friday, February 14, 2014

chevron wedding quilt (part three)

**Alert! This is going to be a bit of a long post because I'll be writing today about the quilting and binding steps, as well as showing photos of the finished project. After spending so many hours on this quilt, I'm really eager to just have it out in the world. Enjoy!**

When I left you off on the progress on my sister's wedding quilt (previously written about here and here), I had so far:
• taken wedding reception fabric + coordinating fabrics and cut them into triangles
• paired the triangles together to make squares
• counted the squares and designed a chevron-pattern layout in Illustrator
• sewed the squares into rows
• sewed the rows into a quilt top
• laid out the backing, batting, and quilt top and pinned them together.

On a small scale, like a doll quilt or a baby quilt (both of which I've made several of before), this doesn't take much forethought or effort, but this was my first queen-sized quilt and the logistics were way beyond me.

When it came time to sew the layers together, I had free-motion quilting in mind. In the end, I decided to go a different way because: a) I don't own a long arm quilting machine; b) hiring someone else to do it is way too rich for my blood; and c) it would have taken three weeks before it was returned to me. So I scrapped my plan and my "out-of-my-league" ambitions, and went with something a little simpler.

I started out by "stitching in the ditch". That is, with every row and column, I stitched along the seam, hidden in the crease. Then, along each diagonal, I borrowed a method from Rachel Denbow over at Smile and Wave and stitched along either side of the seam to emphasize the chevron pattern on the back.

With a large quilt and a regular-size sewing machine, what made this possible was using thin quilt batting and keeping the quilt rolled as I worked on a section at a time. If I hadn't taken the time to keep the quilt rolled, I would have ended up with a bunchy mess or possibly with weird corners of the quilt sewed together.

I used scraps to make the binding using this method, again using a tutorial from Smile and Wave. Basically, I cut all my leftover squares into three-inch wide strips and stitched them together.

After ironing, I attached the binding by following the tutorial seen here. It looked really, really nice. By far the nicest quilt binding I've ever made. Also the most labor-intensive, so there's definitely a connection between effort and results on projects like this.

To finish things off, I embroidered a mason jar with their initials onto the back of the quilt.

When all of the machine sewing, hand sewing, and embroidery were finished, I tossed the quilt into the dryer with a couple of dryer sheets and two damp hand towels to give it a finished look, a fresh smell, and to help remove some of the cat hair my house tends to add to projects. Nothing's worse than a labor of love covered in pet hair. (exaggeration)

Phew! So the next step was to wrap it off and send it. I'm sure those of you who've attempted a project like this can empathize with that stress. I wrapped it in parchment paper, put it in a cardboard box, and absolutely covered the box in packing tape. And then I paid for an extra $250 worth of insurance, because dammit, if anything happened to it in transit, I knew I didn't have the moxie to start a new one right away and I'd just have to buy her a quilt. I had my eye on this one.

Luckily it arrived in stellar condition, and my sister loves it to bits. I hope it lasts a long time in her happy home, and survives to be the heirloom I mean it to be. 

Thanks for reading along as I tackled this! Top tip for anyone who might be thinking about starting their first large quilt: take time for all those time-consuming preparatory steps. I'm an anxious crafter and I tend to prefer immediate results, but I'm always happier with the final product (always) when I take time for things like measuring and ironing and trimming. Word to the wise.

p.s. you can make these photos larger by clicking on them, but I'm sure you already knew that, clever you!

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