Tuesday, January 27, 2015

From Start to Almost Finished

I recently spent several evenings putting together kits to take to the About.com quilt forum  Valley of the Sun yearly retreat (that's a mouthful).  I've been going to this gathering of ladies from the quilt forum for several years now and it's one of the highlights of my year.  I've discovered I'm more productive if I have kits prepared ahead of time so that when I get there I can focus on sewing (and talking).  I finished a couple of mending projects last week and decided I didn't need to take all 5 kits to AZ.  I picked out one to do this weekend.

The pattern is called Crossroads to Jericho.  I had a number of large triangles that were left over from a previous project and this would be a good way to use them up.  I drew the quilt in EQ to get an idea of how it would look and the fabric requirement for the background.  But the block size in EQ of 12" gave me a strange size for the 9 patch squares.

I wanted the 9 patches to be at least 3" finished so that you could identify the pictures in the fabric.  I drafted the 9 patch out on paper, then added the corner triangles.  The geometry math makes those corner triangles are a very odd size so I transferred the drawing to a ruler to use as a guide.  The 9 patch will be made of nice even 3" blocks.  The corner triangles will be larger than needed, then trimmed to size.  The overall size worked out to 11.25" unfinished, not a standard size but with my special marked ruler, not difficult.

I laid out those large left over triangles from my scrap box and determined what colors I needed to add for a good mix.  I then pulled additional fabrics that would blend with the large triangles to use in the 9 patches.  For some of the 9 patches I couldn't come up with good blender fabric so I used the same fabric as the corner.  After making sure I had all the letters of the alphabet represented, I then cut the 3.5" squares for the 9 patches and the additional large triangles needed.  I laid the pieces out on my design wall, played with the arrangement until I was happy with the balance and contrast, then labeled the triangles with the row and column flags. 
Thinking I'd save this for the quilting retreat I packed everything away in a kit with my printed EQ sheet and notes.  But as often happens I talked myself into not saving it.   I decided that since the marked ruler was critical for the project, it made sense for me to go ahead and make this one at home.  I didn't want to carry that large a ruler on the plane and take the risk of it getting damaged.  Plus I really needed the design wall to help with the placement of the 9 patches.  See, many reasons to make this one at home.
I put everything back up on the design wall and started sewing.  I put together the nine patches for each block first, then added the corner triangles, centering the point of the triangle over the center of the nine-patch.  Since the edge of the triangle is on the bias, I added 3 pins, one in the center and one on each end.  I had starched the triangles pretty heavily but I didn't want to take any chances.  I decided to sew these with the bias piece down next to the bed of my machine to prevent the presser foot from stretching them.  My machine does pretty good about sewing over pins if I go slowly, but I still made sure the pins didn't extend into the sewn seam. 

After sewing all four corner triangles to the 9-patch unit, I then trimmed the block to size.  You can see in this picture that my 9-patch units weren't quite right but since I was trimming my block to size it wasn't critical.  My seams when sewing the 9 patches were just a little little large, making the 9 patch smaller than the intended 9" finished.  I should have tested before I sewed them all.  On some of the blocks the point of the 9 patch won't be perfectly on the seam but for this pattern it won't be too distracting.
Once all the blocks were sewn, I realized I really didn't want to sew them next to each other.  All that fabric at the point of the 9 patch (center top, bottom, and each side) would make joining them difficult.  Plus that would highlight that my sewing was a little off and matching those points wouldn't be fun either.  So I decided I'd rather have sashing, everything much simpler.

 Initially I had thought to use a simple sashing with no corner stones.  Then I realized I had cut too many sashing strips the length of the blocks, so I added corner stones rather than throw them in the scrap bin.  (Another unintended design decision).  I started with some black multi-colored fabric for the cornerstones, but when I put the long strips on the design wall, it looked too much like spots and just didn't work well with the blocks.

I then tried using scraps from the blocks themselves in place of the black fabric corner stones.  I like this version,  less contrast and ties in with the blocks better. 

Now to go remove those black squares.  Fortunately I checked the long sashing strips with the black corner stones before I sewed them to the blocks, so the ripping is minimal.  Almost there!

Well the little squares got pretty small by the time it was all sewn together, only 1".  So you really can't see any figures.  But I still think I made the best choice.  And the intersections of the 9 patch units with the sashing don't float too terribly bad.  Certainly not anything that detracts from this particular design.
Crossroads to Jericho
I don't know if I'll add any borders.  For now this is going to stay a top as I don't know yet who the recipient will be.  If it's to be a newborn I'll likely finish it as it is.  For a toddler I'll add borders to make it a bit larger than the current 3'x4'.  Overall I'm pretty pleased with this one.  I like the colors and the balance.  The pattern was relatively easy, not too fiddly, and I enjoyed sewing it.  This one might get repeated at some point down the road.

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