Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Quilt #2: Heart Quilt for Marissa

***Updated February 14, 2014***
I was thinking about hearts today and remembered Marissa's heart quilt. It hasn't even been a year since I first started quilting but boy, does this post ever prove that I have learned a lot! I can't believe there was a time when I didn't know about squaring up my fabric and cutting strips when I made this quilt. I'm thinking I might have to make another that I know what I'm doing!

At the end of my rag quilt tutorial, I offered a sneak peak of my second quilt, a heart quilt I was working on for Marissa, our exchange student. Wow, did I learn a lot! It was much harder than D's Thomas the Train quilt, and as I got going I realized I was making it even harder by not following directions very well! Most of the directions went over my head, so I tried to figure it out by the pictures. It doesn't matter though, because it's done, and Marissa loves it!

The reason I made it harder on myself is that rather than carefully reading the directions, and using one large piece of fabric for the back (called backing material, how fitting), I did what I did for the rag quilt, and put a pattern on back. In this case, I reversed the heart. 

I found the idea for this quilt on Pinterest (of course). It's called "Summer Love" and was featured on U Create and designed by Jera from Quilting in the Rain
heart quilt tutorial by quilting in the rain
Please DO NOT pin THIS photo from our site. Please pin from the source: Quilting in the Rain.
If you know what you're doing, I suggest you follow Jera's tutorial. In fact, if you are an experienced seamstress, I will warn you that the following tutorial may make you cringe as I have no real technique and am muddling through. If you'd like a good laugh, or if your are a newbie who'd like to learn from my mistakes and "creative stitching," keep reading. 

Step 1: Choose Your Fabrics
The objective for this quilt was to give Marissa something to snuggle with as she remembers her year in America. We brainstormed ideas for fabrics that would symbolize her favorite memories of the year.  

For that reason, I didn't follow Jera's instruction to buy jelly rolls, which are thin strips of pre-cut fabric. Wouldn't that have been easier? Why, yes it would have. 

Looking at the quilt pattern, there are 10 stripes to the heart, so we chose to make two stripes each out of five fabrics.

It took us a few trips to find what we needed, but this is what we ended up with:
Marissa has been involved in choir, select choir, and glee club so a lot of her friends share her love of music. (Bought at Joann). 
Over the winter, Marissa and I put together several puzzles. Or as she pronounced it, "poo-zles."  (Hobby Lobby)
The Thomas the Train fabric will forever remind her of her American brother and all the hours she played trains with him. It makes my heart happy to know that both of their quilts share this fabric. (Walmart).
We wanted something to symbolize America, but we didn't want it too over the top. The stars and dots fit the bill (Joann).

We tried really hard to find a Bulldog fabric to represent her Green High School mascot, but ended up falling in love with this Green pattern instead.  (Walmart).
I also selected a white fabric for the background at Hobby Lobby. And cut an old sheet into strips for the batting to make it a little thicker.

In total, the fabric distribution looked like this:
  • white background fabric: 2.5 yards (I started with 2 yards and was just a little shy).
  • other five fabrics: 1 yard each
  • one old but clean cotton sheet. 
Step 2: Determine Your Pattern.

When we brought the last yard home, we laid out all the fabrics to decide the order we should put them in. Here's what we decided:

Jera posted the template on her website.
Go to Quilting in the Rain for a full size template.
I printed out two copies--one for the front, one for the back--assigned letters to each row and noted what fabric I would use in each section, like this:

Step 3: Cut your fabric.

I followed the templates to cut the 2.5" wide strips into their appropriate lengths. (Sort of. I'll get to that).

Only my white fabric was 52.5" long, so I had to stitch together pieces to get the right length for the other five fabrics. 

To keep the fabric for each row organized, I again used Ziploc bags. Marissa was a great help with this. 

Finally, I cut our old sheet up into +/- 1" strips for the batting. There were twenty-three rows, so I cut twenty-three strips. I just followed the stripes!

Step 4: Check your fabric.

Once everything was cut out (except the border, because I wasn't sure what I was going to do about that at this point), we laid out both sides to see how it looked. 

 I was a little short on the white fabric so I bought another 1/2 yard. 

What I should have done, if I was following directions, is sew all the strips in each row together first and then lay them out so I could check to make sure the length of each row was exactly 52.5". I missed that in the instructions, so I didn't sew each strip together until just before attaching it to the row above it. That was the hard way, as I had some snipping to do at the end to even things out. 

 Step 5: Make a practice quilt.

Since I ignored the advice to put the backing fabric on, and had the grand idea to put a batting layer in, I was a little scared to proceed. I couldn't figure out how to quilt and attach rows (which to do first? how do I avoid ragged edges?). So I made a practice quilt.

I cut three strips for the front, three for the back, and three pieces of batting. Then labeled each piece with masking tape.

First I sewed the three sample "front" sides together. Easy peasy.

Next, I pinned the batting strip to the front side, then placed the top strip of the back side on top of it. 

I used a red thread so I could see my stitches clearly. I had fun playing with the fun stitches on my machine

I placed the second strip on top of the first strip (right sides together), and stitched again, using a different stitch.

I added the batting in the same way, and then moved on to the third strip. It seemed tedious, but I accomplished my goal of not having any ragged edges and it attached the batting to the front and back, so I was pretty happy.

At this point, I was thinking I would do a rag quilt edge, so I sewed a 1" border around my sample and snipped the edges.

At this point, I was reasonably confident, but I gave Marissa that sample and said, "This may end up being your quilt. Cherish it!"

In hindsight, I think  I should have made the front all in one piece, then the back piece all at once, then placed the batting between the front and back, pinned like crazy, and then sewn the rows. I suppose that's the quilting I couldn't figure out how to do, so I did it the long, hard way. I'm VERY EXCITED about the quilt along I'm starting with Becoming Martha and Create.Craft.Love. I expect to learn all sorts of new tricks.

Step 6: Sew the Front Together

First I sewed the pieces for each row. In some cases, it was two pieces of the same fabric. In some cases, it was five separate cuts of fabric. In all cases, the goal was one straight strip 52.5 inches long.

The first error I made was grabbing the wrong bags. Apparently, I can't read my own handwriting. So I stopped to my bags in alphabetical order in a bin. 

As I was ripping out the seam from Bag D, which I thought was Bag A, I lost my grip, my seam ripper went flying and landed in the cork floor.

This was not my first freak seam ripper escape, so I took the opportunity to look for holes from when I did my first quilt, and I am happy to report that the cork is quite forgiving, and indeed, self-healing. Yet another reason I love our cork floors!

Once I got re-situated, it didn't take long to get into a rhythm: sew pieces into one strip, measure, trim as needed, stitch to previous row, repeat.

Twenty three rows done!

I learned a new trick with this quilt. I made a point of clipping threads as I went along so I wouldn't have to do it later. I kept a little container next to the machine to hold on my threads. This made clean up much easier!

Step 7: Sew the Back and Batting Together

To put the back together I used the same strategy that work on the sample. 

For the quilting, I settled on this wavy one, which was trickier than I anticipated to keep the waves even.

One of the challenges of the doing the back was matching up the lines with the front. I was not quite as precise as I should have been. By the time I was working on the back, I found a better way to measure my strip. I used a clothes pin to secure the fabric to my cutting mat. 

Then I carefully slide my template across the fabric, being careful not to stretch it. (When I first tried this I used tape to secure my fabric. The clothes pin worked better).

More often than not, my strip was just a little too long.

My quilt would have been much more precise if I had done this on the front!

If my measurements had been more precise, I wouldn't have had as many of these issues. 

Fortunately, it was fixable, if not a little time consuming. First I used my trusty seam ripper to cut out an inch or so. Then I cut a piece of fabric the length I needed. Then I stitched it on.  

Good as new. 

Then I re-sewed the strip.

Even Steven.  

I had a nice long afternoon to work on the back and get it done. 

I was feeling pretty good until I got to the end and saw that the bottom row of the back was noticeably higher than the bottom of the front. 

To fix this, I ripped off the bottom stripe, and cut a new one that was 3" wide. 

Not perfect, but much better.  

At this point, Marissa was pretty excited!

Step 8: Attach the Border.

By this point, I decided that a border would cover more flaws than a rag edge. I had plenty of the music fabric left, so I made the border out of all the same fabric. 

I cut the border strips 6.5" tall, thinking I would attach one side, fold, and attach to the other. 

I had to stitch together several strips to cover the length and height of the border, especially on the vertical sections because the fabric I had left was very short.

I started with the most uneven border, and placed the outside of the border fabric along the shortest piece of the quilt. 

I sewed the border on one side, then the other. I started with the short sides, and made the borders as tall as the quilt.  That way the top and bottom borders could be long, straight pieces. 

After the two short sides were done, I flipped the quilt over and folded over 1/2 inch to create the seam.

Here's what the sewn seam looked like.  I did not trim the raw edges. 

Next I folded the border over and pinned the new seam to match the seam on the other side. 

 I carefully sewed the back part of the border by following the seam.

I followed the same general idea for the top and bottom borders. To prevent raw edges, I folded the end into an arrow, like this. (My strip was a little long, so I trimmed it after I made the arrows.)

Then I folded down the arrow and sewed along the edge. 

When I folded the border around the quilt, I had a nice smooth edge. Wish I would have thought about that on the short borders. I had to improvise with those a bit. 

I had to be careful to make sure all the fabric was sewn in, especially on the short parts.

When I stitched the edge, I went around the corner to make sure the border piece was secure and the end was sewn together. Done!

Marissa was thrilled with her gift, and I am glad I am no longer a perfectionist. I told her the quilt was a reminder of me: brain-injured. Parts are great, but there are lots of mistakes, which are part of its charm.

Quilt #2 is done! 

Even with all the challenges of this quilt, I am still hooked on my new hobby. I already have the fabric for quilt #3!

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  1. You are a quilting maniac! (The best kind of maniac.) I love it! First of all, how amazing is this gift for Marissa? The fact that not only you made it with her in mind and specific fabrics just for her, but that she got to help you with it? So many gifts in one!

    I chuckled at the seam ripper in the cork floor, photo. I love me some humor in a tutorial.

    And I need to take your advice with having a container nearby to catch stray threads. I always end up with them everywhere (mostly on me). And as I muster up the courage to take on my market bag pattern next week, I know I will have stray threads a' plenty. Thanks for that tip!

    Can't wait to see quilt three - - or even just the fabrics you have picked. Choosing fabrics might be even more fun for me than sewing itself! #ihaveafabricproblem

    1. So when we meet up in Florida, we'll have to have a sewing AND Silhouette date! :-) I'm delivering quilt #3 on Friday and then put up the post.

      I am definitely getting addicted to buying fabric and having way too much fun organizing my stash!


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