Since my first foray into quilting, the motifs and quilts that appeal to me most have been those that lean modern. Bold, graphic motifs, simple but rich fabrics (often solids), minimalistic and often improvisational final pieces -- this is what I am drawn to most. And so that is what I myself have mimicked, used as inspiration, and found immensely and continuously compelling. Most of my quilts have had little pattern to them at all, let alone instructions provided to me. But being a quilter, I understand the massive amount of skill and precision, and the investment of time that goes into each traditional quilt, the many squares on top of squares, the grid of tiny pieces, patchwork that creates a larger pattern when they're all stitched together. I am equally in awe of quilts like this, and in fact have often thought I could not do them because I had not spent much time learning the foundation skills of quilting.
So this was my attempt to overcome those fears and lack of ability. Triangles, y-seams, circles -- all things declared "scary" by quilters over the years, all conquered in an online quilting class I took over the summer. This is by far the most traditional quilt I have ever made, but I've made mine modern. A modern sampler, using a pretty unorganized assortment of fabrics I love. There was something very satisfying about every single one of these blocks, which I created over a three-week span. I left one block out of the finished quilt, the Dresden Plate (pictured below), because I hate the way it turned out, both the coloration and the size, and it was miserable to make as well. To take its place, I sort of improvised a Bear Paw square, which I was moderately pleased with, and which made it into the final quilt. You live and learn, and I know now that I hate Dresden Plate -- too old lady anyway.
Whereas watching the points of my triangles come out crisp and seeing them created an Ohio Star was an absolute thrill. I loved making the Pinwheel so much, I went ahead and made its slightly-more-advanced counterpart, the Double Pinwheel. I took the Drunkard's Path, a square I find usually quite boring and old-fashioned, and made an interesting wave-like motion with my arrangement of the tiny pieces within it. I turned it into something I love. I even had someone in my class say they were going to skip the block, but once they saw the pattern I'd created with the square, decided to make it and copy me. A great compliment! We also made the Modern Chevron, from Sew, Mama, Sew's Modern Block of the Month quilt-along. While some members of my class hated it, I loved its fresh approach to a chevron motif, and loved the way it turned out. The Card Trick might be my most favorite block, and that is a tough call -- but it was the most satisfying to see come together. What a great, classic quilting optical illusion, using fabric and thread. And how can I not mention those y-seams happening in the greatest optical illusion block of all, Tumbling Blocks. This one petrified me; turns out it's not scary, but it is time-consuming and you must be seriously precise with your quarter-inch seam allowance. Not for the faint of heart, for sure. But so fun to have tackled it and come out with a beautiful quilt square.
Then I ignored the blocks, together in a pile, for about five months. I decided I would like to use them, as a throw-size sampler quilt, as a Christmas gift for my boyfriend's parents, who truly deserve one of my pieces, for all their support, love, and kindness over the years. The sashing and border, in Kona White, took me way longer than anticipated, but made it look so crisp. I mitered the corners of the borders, because I just love the classic line of the mitered corner so much (even though I doubt anyone is looking to see whether I cut corners anywhere). I am being super frugal right now, so I used an old (stained, even) tablecloth-style fabric I found at Urban Outfitters years ago in the sale bin, as the backing for the quilt; the batting I purchased months before, anticipating that I would be making this for Christmas, luckily. I bound the quilt in a solid orange shade by Kona, which turned out so fun and bold.
For this quilt, I learned (or experimented, anyway) with another major quilting technique: free-motion quilting. I have never spent any time with this style, mostly because my own little sewing machine at home needed a few extra parts added on in order to rescue me from the feed dogs' mind their own -- pulling my fabric through from front to back before giving me an chance to try to make a wavy or curved line at all. I finally got the feed dog cover and the darning foot for this quilt, and the free-motion was so fun. It was also a lot of work, and took great amounts of concentration and arm muscle, but I see how people get addicted. I want to do more with it, for sure. That said, I am a die-hard straight-line quilting gal.
The McCrarys loved the quilt, which I finished at 2:07 on Christmas morning, with the hand-sewing part of the binding process. I'm happy they have it, because it means I'll still be able to visit this little gem, with all those skills I picked up embedded into each of its squares.
From left to right, starting at the top left:
Tumbling Blocks Pinwheel Drunkard's Path Bear Paw Modern Chevron Double Pinwheel Flying Geese Card Trick Ohio Star Rail Fence Log Cabin Nine Patch