As you can imagine, self-isolation translates to some of the fastest progress I’ve ever made on a project of this magnitude. I’m hopeful that I’ll actually finish this quilt in a reasonable amount of time (or at all… it’s much more fun to start quilts than it is to finish them). But I’m making lots of progress and keeping momentum.
Now that all my squares are cut, it’s time for the fun part: sewing my HST blocks. In my first QUILTID-19 post, I laid out some blocks to start to visualize the layout and decided that I do want to aim for a rainbow gradient approach. So the majority of my HST blocks will be pairs of the same color: pink-pink, orange-orange, etc. But there will also be a smaller number of blocks that I’m calling “bridge blocks”, whose two triangles are from different but adjacent color families: pink-orange, orange-yellow, and so on.
I made lots of stacks and began methodically pairing fabrics to make sure I didn’t end up with a bunch of identical blocks. In the end, there will be 2 or 4 of each block in the quilt, since each of the squares makes two identical HST blocks. With a total of 270 blocks, that means there’s a lot of different blocks! I love math, but I never liked statistics… but this was a permutations problem for sure.
I chain-pieced my way through the stacks. Chain piecing is fun because you don’t cut the thread in between blocks – you just keep sewing, and the thread makes a chain connecting them all. It’s nice and fast. Of course, 270 blocks, so it still takes time, but it’s efficient.
Here’s a preview of the quilt idea on a small scale. I’m excited about one addition: at the last minute I decided to add this ivory + metallic gold “sprinkle” print. There aren’t too many of these blocks, but just enough to add some contrast and make the bright colors pop even more.
Next: pressing the blocks flat, trimming them square, and laying out the quilt itself!
Click here to see all the posts about my Quarantine Quilt, QUILTID-19.
Disclaimer: “quarantine” is technically not the right word because I am not sick, thankfully. But sewing a quarantine quilt sounds so poetic, doesn’t it? Megan of Designing an MBA wrote a really fantastic blog post a few weeks ago about making “art babies” during self-isolation. Yes, it’s a weird way of putting it, but her post really resonated with me as permission to start a BIG project. Especially with the very likely possibility of staying home for multiple weeks, I knew a big project would keep me motivated, healthy, and clear-headed.
So as soon as the stay-at-home order began, I began pulling fabrics for the quilt that’s been rattling around in my brain for quite some time now.
I have many fabrics that I just love, especially my happy/cutesy Japanese prints, and sometimes I worry I’ll never get the chance to use them all. I’ve long considered a quilt to show off my favorite prints, and I realized there will be no better time: this is my art baby, QUILTID-19.
I’ve been saving aspirational quilts to my quilty Pinterest board for years, but these are the three that inspired me most for this project:
I made stacks and stacks of fabric, combing through all of my cottons for everything bright. I’m aiming for super saturated jewel tones. I ended up excluding the blacks and grays of my initial pull, as well as green, sticking to five main color groups: hot pink, red-orange, yellow, turquoise, and cobalt.
I did so much ironing, and then I cut squares for hours. Quilting is tedious but it’s also fun because so many of the steps are mostly mindless. And I’m using fabrics I really, really love, so it feels great to get to work with them.
The most consistent theme of my quilty Pinterest board is TRIANGLES. I am strongly drawn to triangle quilts and have always wanted to make my own. I’m still somewhat intimidated by the thought of lining up the points on equilateral triangle quilts, and I didn’t want to have to worry about cutting out something other than squares, so this time it’s half-square triangles (HSTs for those in-the-know).
Before I could start sewing blocks, I had to make one more big decision: random, like inspiration image #3 above, or rainbow gradient like the Alison Glass quilt (#1)? I was strongly leaning towards random – it seemed easier and more fun – but I laid out some sample squares to check my gut. And I’m so glad I did. The picture above shows the drastic difference in impact between the rainbow-sorted blocks on the left, and the random blocks on the right. Rainbow wins, hands down.
Finally, with most of the planning out of the way: the sewing can begin.
If you’re working on an “art baby”, I’d love to hear about it! And of course, if you’re making your own QUILTID-19… please share!
Click here to see all the posts about my Quarantine Quilt, QUILTID-19.
Even before all this practice, I’ve always been fantastic at self-isolation. There are very few things I love more than hiding inside with a pile of projects and sewing away, with occasional breaks for yoga, walks, or snacks.
So it should come as no surprise that this is what my sewing room table looked like a mere 48 hours into enforced isolation. I cut out a quilt! I made cushions for my mid-century lounge chair! And I made a very happy new couch pillow.
The front is a fabric I snagged as soon as it was released, llamas as part of the Stencil collection by Ellen Baker for Kokka. I never buy fabric online, so this was a rare exception!
As usual, it was hard to cut into one of my favorite fabrics… but, as always, I’m so glad I did because now I get to look at the pillow every day, instead of the fabric sitting buried in a bin.
I made my own piping using store-bought bias tape and some tiny cording that’s meant for Roman shades. I feel like piping elevates a simple project like this pillow so much, and it’s really not that hard with the right tools. I finally caved and bought this set of piping feet… it makes all the difference in the world.
The back fabric is a remnant I brought back from Japan on my recent (pre-pandemic) trip. I’m really happy with the way the colors coordinate with the llamas without being overly matchy.
I can never hide a happy colored zipper, so I left this one exposed rather than using a lapped installation as a couch pillow “should”. No-rules sewing! I’m such a rebel.
Especially when I’m spending so much time at home, it’s fun to change things up. I’ve been wanting to make new couch pillows for ages, and this one adds such a nice dose of brightness to my white couch! Are there any overlooked home projects that you’re diving into with this extra at-home time?
I often sew in silence, but lately I’ve been listening to audiobooks from the library, or watching through classes from the Bluprint Creative Care Package. Bluprint is offering unlimited free classes through April 9 to help with social distancing. It’s free to sign up, you don’t even need to give a credit card! Jen Hewett has a new block printing course for Bluprint and even though I’ve taken her class in person, I’m planning to listen through it to soak up even more the second time around.
Full disclosure, I am a Bluprint affiliate, but I’m also taking advantage of this special they have right now and I’m excited for the opportunity to learn some new tricks.